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Monday, June 17, 2024

Apprenticeship

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The Adventures of Fast Joe

www.ghanareaders.com

One evening, Uncle Somuah invited Joe to sit beside him, where he was puffing on his old pipe. Joe hated the smell of the tobacco, but the old man liked to talk whilst puffing, and Joe was forced to sit close by in order to hear what he was being told.

“So, mi wofase Kwame, I can see that you have finally settled down,” Wofa Somuah said.

“Yes,” said, replied Joe shortly. He was nervous.

The pair were seated on the verandah in front of the quarters of Wofa Somuah and his wife in the large compound house. It was early evening, and the sun had just set. The whole house was quiet after the last meal of the day had been consumed. Normally, the children could be heard regaling themselves with tales about Kweku Ananse the Wise One, but today, they all seemed to be in low spirits. It has been so since Salome had left the house to move in with her husband. Normally, she was the life of the party, and her loud giggling was often to be heard in the evenings. It was clear that the whole household was missing her presence.

Joe missed her too, but not for the reason that everybody was missing her. Their last time together had been when the family almost caught them having sex three weeks ago. After the escape, Salome had concentrated on the plans for her wedding, and Joe had concentrated on assisting with the wedding preparations. They missed each other sorely, but limited themselves to long looks at each other when they thought nobody was looking.

Maame Yaa, the wife of his uncle, had noticed, and thanked God that her wayward daughter was leaving before the family was disgraced. Even though Wofa Somuah had never mentioned it, the suddenness of Joe’s arrival and his unusual looks suggested that he had left his hometown in a hurry. And what could chase a boy like that away from his mother, if not some scandal involving a woman?

Then, of course, there was her own daughter Salome, who looked so much like her in her younger days. She herself recalled how, at a much younger age than sixteen, she had felt that her body was always burning for the presence of a man. She had no doubt at all that the heat she had felt then, was being reproduced in her daughter. Indeed, that afternoon they had returned suddenly from the farm, she had had a distinct feeling that there was an odd look about her daughter, but she had not brought it up, and her husband Nana Somuah had behaved as if he saw nothing out of the ordinary, and so she had not said a thing.

But she was glad that her daughter Salome was no longer in the house. She was too tempting a fruit not to be plucked by the devilish looking Kwame Donkor, and come to think of it, he was too good looking for Salome to resist taking a bite.

Another person who had suspected immediately that something was amiss with the young woman who was about to get married, was Joe’s mother. She had seen a different problem. She had noticed immediately that the young woman was with child, but was probably unaware of her predicament. And almost as immediately she had noticed the meaningful glances that was shared between her son and his cousin, and her heart had stopped for a wild moment in her chest, followed by a deep relief that the girl was about to be married off. Having to run away from his hometown for an undisclosed problem was one thing. Being disgraced in the family for putting a cousin in the family way, was a wholly different matter. She surmised that her son was headed towards great trouble in future, if he was going to do his thinking with his manhood, and not his head, or his morals. So like his father, she thought.

As soon as she saw the situation, she determined that she would need to talk to her brother Somuah to keep his promise and put the boy in trade. Kwame has been living with his uncle and serving him for several months, and it was time the uncle made a decision on the future of the boy. 

So, the very next day after the marriage ceremony, she had sought audience with her uncle and confronted him about putting the boy in trade to learn a profession.

It turned out that Wofa Somuah had already taken steps in that direction. In his early forties, he was looked upon as elderly, but he was not that elderly, and neither was he that dumb.

Four weeks ago, he had noticed that his nephew had suddenly started claiming stomach problems, thus depriving the farms off the boy’s services. 

Then he had noticed that his daughter, who was a few weeks away from getting married, had taken a sudden interest in nursing her cousin, which was nothing unusual, until he heard the birdlike flute-like singing of his daughter in the mornings, and put two and two together and came away with five.

To put his theory to test, he had given his own wife some serious attention one night, and listened with grim awe as mother and daughter engaged in a singing competition one morning.

More than one manhood was at work in the house, he told himself, and the other one was getting a free service. Almost immediately, he also realized the danger that the development portended. 

The boy was his nephew, and if what he had hanging between his legs was anything similar to what his uncle carried, then he knew that his daughter would be crazy about that manhood. He needed to be very diplomatic in his handling of affairs, to avoid bringing disgrace to the family. So quietly, he had started pushing his wife to start with the preparations for the marriage ceremony.

He had also gone to speak to Agya Tailor, a local tailor in town who was also his friend, on the possibility of sending his nephew to learn the trade as an apprentice. 

So that when his sister came to him with question about putting Joe in a trade, he had been more than ready.

And now, here was the boy. He went straight to the point, “I’ve decided to put you in trade as an apprentice tailor.”

Joe was over-joyed. He had always been interested in clothes and dressing up, and he told himself that as a tailor, he can fashion beautiful clothes for himself.

To be con’t. 

(The Daily Searchlight appears every day on the newsstands and for sale 24 hours every day and all week on www.ghananewsstand.com. Visit www.ghananewsstand.com for a wide variety of newspapers published in Ghana and from across the world.)

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