We hadn’t seen papa doc in a long while. Calls to his cell phone relayed the same old rehearsed voice message. He had accused us of being users who called on him only when we needed rides. On those days, papa doc would listen quietly and depending on his mood, would give a brief harangue about our abrupt calls and the fact that he isn’t a taxi driver that we could have as and when we decided. We would swallow our pride and listen as he ranted with the hope that after the brief nkwasiasem, he would finally show up, and then after we hung up, we would wait hours and hours on end for his arrival.
‘Yes I will be there at 4pm’….
Papa doc would show up at 5 or even 6 amidst a flow of ‘je suis desolés’. On other days, he would appear defensive because after all, the car was his and he was the one giving us a ride. On other days also, he would arrive on time, drive us to our destination amidst love and conversation and general banter only for us to get there and for him to snap at us and create a scene about how slow we were being. ‘Hurry up!’ He would spit, ‘Hurry, I don’t have all the time in the world, dépêchéz-vous,les filles!’. Ei, so was this how life was?! A common ride could warrant this much disrespect?!. We thought we were women, who needed to be addressed as such, but really, where did ‘les filles’ come from?! Had we missed anything? Had he morphed into our dad ?! And did the change suddenly grant him the chance to call us girls?! We had had it and so we decided to buy a car too. It was that simple.We loved papa doc, but, love just wasn’t enough especially when you mostly got nonsense in response to help you wanted. We could no longer swallow the spittle and the words he threw in our faces. Papa doc himself had taught us a Senegalese word, ‘deng’ and this word was supposed to be used in reference to a punk. We concluded quickly that the teacher of the word deserved the word the most. He was indeed deng and no one could wrestle that title from him.
So on one bright day,
well it wasn’t exactly bright, but then our good fortune made it bright enough we decided on a car. We bought the Silver Ford and paid cash for it. It was such a delightful day and the birds seemed to chirp even louder. Progress! Ah such sweet relief! We could go anywhere, any day, anytime and all it took was consistent dexterity of American roads and a slight press of the accelerator. Victory, independence and dignity smiled at us and we in turn, hugged them back. No one could tell us anything! We were women of our own and we could do whatever we wanted… yeah thanks Queen B! we had that hop to our steps and our Friday trips uptown increased. The only intimidating part was THE POLICE..they were bad news from hell and in the era of #blacklivesmatter -ing, we weren’t trying to get stopped, arrested or worse,- killed! So we had fun, but we were cautious, vigilant and responsible about it.
Had we told papa doc about our new baby? No. Had he noticed we had dogged him? Yes!
(..Dog, – a Ghanaian slang that means ignoring someone especially when you no longer have a need for them).
He sure had noticed that we’d dogged him and everyone knew about it thanks to his leaky mouth. Since information had legs, this piece of juicy information about papa doc calling us users and slave drivers came knocking at our door days after he had said it. We went ballistic because guess what, we had called him endlessly to break the good news to him only for him to leave our calls unanswered and unreturned as always. This guy! We called him once again, and guess what? No answer. Days later on a calm Friday afternoon, we caught him in our parking lot! We literally had a huge free space for parking which meant that our friend had come all the way from his hinterland apartment to park right in front of our house without so much as passing by to say hello. And you say papa doc isn’t deng?! We pounced on him and nearly tore him to pieces. He had on a navy blue kaftan that looked starched and well pressed with complimentary slippers and that Taqiyah cap that he hardly washed. He looked dignified enough so we couldn’t rough him up but then for some reason, the stream of ‘je suis desoles’ came out and we forgave him and showed him our latest toy.
A week later, we saw a photo uploaded on Facebook by a worn out papa doc who was perched on a bicycle. The caption beneath the photo read; ‘me and my new bmw’. The caption was both humorous and overly comprehensible; Papa doc’s smooth Volkswagen had developed a fault and he was going to be carless for weeks to come. (Evil grin)…
Who were the bosses now?! 🙂
PS.Do not gloat on the misfortunes of your enemy
* * *
“The part of the towel you clean your bum with today could be the part you wipe your face with tomorrow; be nice” – anonymous
Wonderful piece and I enjoyed. It’s quiet interesting that the Other in seeking reverence engages in the battle of revelance. But waitooh…the borderline of cultural respect for women (not to say there is utter disrespect) has been erased in this space (US) through the discourse of gender equality and feminism. Whether conscious or un conscious ( I can’t decide for Papa doc) such assimilation is at play.
Hilarious! Return of the mean girls.
Papa doc deserves every bit of the meanness he gets from the girls..