Day 1: The neighbours still don’t give a shit

Your feet are tired from walking all day, working as a sales rep for a small financial company is the shittiest job you’ve had so far. You tell everyone you’re a Senior Sales Executive and they look at you with such respect because it sounds so fancy. But you know you’re nothing more than a susu collector. It’s your job to bring in more clients, to convince people that they need to save with PortC Financial services. It wouldn’t be so bad if you were tucked safely behind a barely working desktop computer, in fake geeky-looking glasses and second hand clothes. But you have to walk from house to house everyday till your feet are sore.

You would love to head straight home but it’s Friday night, the best time to shop from Eno’s. You find a couple of things you need to try on for size. You walk into a small dressing room and proceed to take your clothes off.

There’s a new sign taped to the right edge of the mirror: Stealing is for low-lives and good-for-nothing whores. Please do not steal – you could be jailed and it will haunt you for the rest of your life.

You struggle to fit into a one size-smaller nylon dress. When you look into the mirror and see a representation of folds of skin, looking like the red sea when Moses parted it for the Israelites to pass through for a  stomach, you wince. But you suck your tummy in and brush away all your insecure thoughts. After all you’ve still got sex as a weapon in your ongoing battle with the Dick team, which you usually win, especially since you set your sights low. Who would’ve ever thought that you’d be dating a guy who could only reach up to your waist?

 Akoto thinks you’re looking three months pregnant. You met him 5 months ago but it feels like a lifetime already. He teases you about banks selecting only cute girls with flat tummies for tellers. Fuck him and his entire family tree. One fine sunny day, you shall be a head teller in the country’s biggest bank.

You pull a black sleeveless dress from the hangar and slip it over your short nappy hair. Having natural hair hasn’t done diddly damn squat to your look. The black dress looks good on you; you wink at yourself and blow a kiss, telling the mirror what a gorgeous girl you are.

You take it off and eyeball the price tag. It is 80 cedis. You only have 50 cedis to spare. You want both the nylon dress and the black dress, you can only afford the nylon dress. You notice the sign at the edge of the mirror again. It will haunt you for the rest of your life. You grab the black felt pen you stole from the lady at the provision shop on the Accra high street  who smells like a mixture of old clothes and depression, and write in block letters underneath the sign: IF YOU GET CAUGHT.

You rip the tag from the black dress and fold it neatly till it fits into your palm, and then you shove it into your bag.

You can almost hear your mother’s high-pitched voice quoting bible verses like she wrote the damn thing, praying for her dear wayward daughter like she was Jesus on the mountain.

Suddenly you’re 18 again and locked up in the small room you share with your mother, flustered and waiting for an opportunity to bolt. Pretending to listen as she screams her head off at you for letting Big Joe squeeze your breasts under the drying line.

You’re not sure if she’s upset about Big Joe squeezing your breasts or the neighbours watching Big Joe squeeze your breasts. “Sex is just the icing on the cake Boatemaa, your character is what will get you a good well-adjusted man.”

You’re sure she means filthy rich when she says well-adjusted. You’re glad you didn’t inherit her screeching voice. She stops in the midst of her angst to answer the door. It’s the nosy overweight lady with the little boy whose nose is constantly in the rainy season from next door. She’s here to sympathize with your mother over the scene under the drying line. She tells your mother to keep you indoors and to have faith and keep praying, God will deliver you from the snare of the devil. Your mother bursts into tears for no damn reason and for a full minute you wish circumstances will reverse so you could lay her over your lap and paddle the black out of her ass. You want to tell her the neighbours don’t give a shit about her, much less her daughter. But you bite your lips instead and clutch the worn out bible to your chest just so she muffles that awful sound she calls crying.

But you’re not 18 and sharing a room with your mother; occasionally borrowing money from her purse when she’s not looking. Not anymore. You’re twenty-seven and struggling on your own, and you’ve learnt anything in these 27 years, it’s these three things:

  1. The neighbours still don’t give a shit
  2. God’s love ain’t enough
  3. Sex is the cake, not the icing

And since you want to keep your crown on the Dick team, you need this little black dress to put a little oomph in your sex game.  You zip up your bag and stride casually to the checkout. You pull out three 20 cedi notes and pay the pimple-faced cashier who can’t stop digging for the national treasure in his nose. He places two 5 cedi notes on the counter. You reach for the black felt pen; holding it like a compass needle, and drag the notes into your bag. The cashier’s head tilts up with a wounded look. You want to dare him with an offended look but the black dress is burning a hole in your bag, so you look down and walk away.

On your way out you pat your bag as though it was an obedient child. You smile to yourself. Now that you have a little black dress, you can seduce Akoto into buying you a washing machine. It’s going to be a splendid weekend.





7 responses to “Day 1: The neighbours still don’t give a shit

  1. I personally don’t like stories written or told second person point of view and in present-tense voice, but this one is somehow different.

    It makes a captivating read, and brings images to mind; which all good stories do. Good write-up.

    By the way, I think “fancy” in the second sentence should rather be “fanciful.” Fancy is a verb; fanciful is the adverb and must modify “sounds.”

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