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  • Writer's pictureChef Nii

Unassuming Pepper Soup

Updated: Feb 1, 2021

Chalé to begin with, in this household wrestling is a real something oh! It is real! There is no convincing my father that they are indeed only tickling his brain. Look! He is way too smart for that. I mean, how can they be joking like that! “Was that not a real chair?” And “Oh! Did you not see the blood? You definitely do not know what you are talking about!” It is real and that is that! “Is this your house?! ... I thought as much!” Yes o! The Oga at the top! At the topmost top because he is a top “shatta”! This man can cause! Lord! He will just scatter everything and not even blink. He must speak his mind, and this is done without a care in the world. Threaten him and you tickle his fancy; try to intimidate him and you fuel his fire. “He will show you who is who”, which is a very Ghanaian way of saying, “It is in your best interest not to push his buttons.” And I did not get that from him, at all!!! Well I do speak my mind … a lot … in my head. But sadly, by the time it comes out, it is nothing other than a … squeak, which then turns into a nervous laugh and eventually morphs into a “Never mind!” I tell you, that used to annoy him! If he could shake me he would have. Hold on! Hold on! So I think I might have gone ahead of myself. Let’s pause, rewind and take things from the very beginning. Casting my mind back, the first thing that comes to mind when I think about my father is … his … stutter. My father has a serious stutter which made communication difficult sometimes, and thinking about it now, I believe this used to get to him a lot. It took more time and required more effort to work past his stutter yet sadly, that effort came across as a form of aggression. When in all honesty, all he was trying to do was put his points across, and that was the only way he knew how...aggression. This attribute of his, on most days, came in handy. It came in handy always when I needed help fighting for justice or when I needed help calling out people in authority at times when they were trying to abuse their power. Like when the policeman at the check point opened my back door, took my shawarma and told me to drive off… I mean!!! He really could attain the impossible, like passionately, or in other words aggressively putting his points across - refusing to take no for answer. Like the one time he was able to reduce my expulsion from school to a punishment because my phone rang during an exam, when phones were not allowed in schools... I know! I know! The internal punishment taught me a hard lesson. Trust me, after that I stayed far away from trouble. He just couldn’t condone stereotypes and purposed to fight them and breakdown those kinds of mindsets.

But the sad thing is, aggression also has the tendency to to tear others down and tends to suck the life out of people and situations when there is no balance. So, when it came to Oga we fled! Looking back on it now, it saddens me because I see that he was always there, wanted to be there, however the moment he showed up, we fled! Now time is running out, I am on a whole different continent and I am here thinking I would rather be there with that aggression than to be so far away... I need a moment please.

Bow ties, white shirts, braces and striped! Bespoke clothing designed and executed by himself, even to the haircuts, curated and executed by none other than himself. Then we proceed to the assembling of all these magnificent pieces, yes pieces, we were his show pieces. Let’s begin with a crucial step, IRONING, an attribute my brother embodies so well, me... not as much. This action could complete your look, only if it is executed properly. It requires technique but most of all, a lot of patience to achieve the required result. Did you know handkerchiefs must be ironed with no creases? Or that trousers ironed with the seams properly aligned gives a slimming effect? Yes, that is Oga for you, a wealth of knowledge on any and everything. Nobody irons for him, I repeat, NOBODY! So, to be called upon to iron for him was such a statement of approval. And you were determined to do a good job you know, just to seal that approval. As for me, let’s just say that that was definitely not how we bonded, AT ALL! You nail the ironing, then you seal the deal with properly polished shoes. Even the brush stroke movements were such a thing for him. You think I have OCD?! Well you haven’t met my father. Did you know you need to wet the shoe and leave it for a couple of minutes so the leather can loosen up? Did you know you need to apply the polish and then leave it for a while in the sun for the polish to properly coat the shoe? Did you know that you need to brush against the gradient flow of the shoe fibres to achieve the distinctive shine you are looking for? There was always a particular way of doing things, and you had to adhere to them.You had to do what he had asked you to do, exactly how he asked you to, else you had to repeat the entire process all over again because it definitely wouldn’t be good enough. The thing is, till this day I don’t know how he knew, but he always did!

Teaching us these things excited him because it meant he was pouring his unique wealth of knowledge into us. His face will light up, and he will begin to talk very quickly, and you had to keep up because he gets extremely frustrated when you don’t get it. So as for me with my attention span that needs praying about and my visual learning, let’s just say I frustrated him a lot. But when I eventually caught on, when it came to the shoe game, I was the go-to guy! And Shoes! Shoes!! Shoes!!! THEY CHOP MY MONEY!!! It is only at those times that we feel connected to him, when he is teaching us these things you know, for my father is such a closed book, you cannot reach him. Car rides meant silence with BBC playing in the background...wait! Is that why I enjoy driving by myself listening to the radio or podcasts?? And If you were not talking about football or school, then there was nothing to really talk about. And as for me, after googling and researching and reading and trying to understand football and still getting kicked off the team the first day of practice because I caught the ball with my hand… Well in my defence the ball was about to hit my face! My face oh! Let’s just say this meant we barely had anything to talk about. As for school...let’s not even go there! But there were those rare occasions, when he will open up about some experience or childhood, we cherished those moments. And you could not interject. A couple wrong questions will just throw him off and annoy him and then he will just stop.

I have always wondered how he knows so much about fabrics and how they feel on the skin, their life span, how to wash them, their value, did he sell fabric at a point in time? Or who taught him how to cut hair? Was he a barber once? Why does he know so much about cars and car parts? Was he a mechanic once? Where did he get his knowledge on electronics and how to fix them? Was he an electrician once? Why does he love fashion so much? Was he a fashion designer once? Who taught him how to wash and iron so well? Did he work at a laundromat once? There is just so much he knows, and I wonder, WHO TAUGHT HIM ALL THESE THINGS??!!! I look at him and all I can do is wonder. My fear is that in the end, all I will be left with is just a few memories and questions, lots of questions. WHO AT ALL IS THIS MAN??!!!

Chalé until the cock crows again, keep enjoying your kelewele “against” your pure water.

The Sun, Shine

And Sunflowers.

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