Updated: Mar 31
Immanuel watches Mr. Ofori, the old watchman, as he completes his morning inspection of the data server. Probably the only real bit of work he has at the site. Today, he walks awkwardly and looks rather feeble. Maybe there was a celebration last night? Immanuel thought he had heard music playing from the main market center in Ejura. The sandy city is growing but still small enough for every event to be heard. Mr. Ofori might have attended said function and maybe had had more than one glass of bitters to tantalize his spirits.
Unlike him. Unlike the other days of the week. And today of all days, he is different.
Immanuel realizes he has spent too long standing in this corner of the street. He walks over to the Koko seller and joins the line. His eye on the camera that never moves. He turns his attention to the line. Yawning and stretching to feign morning drowsiness.
The truth is he is more awake than he has ever been in his life and it is probably because of some cosmic contrast. "The moments closest to the end are the most alive you will be.” He feels the logic of the argument pumping in his veins, at his temple, strained in his fingers wrapped in a clinch.
He wanted to sleep the night before. He tried to. He knew it was important to be fully rested. But the plan was knotted in his head. It twisted and tightened all throughout the night.
Papa had always said the night before an exam “it is better to have your mind sharp and rested, than tired and overloaded.”
He briefly sees his papa’s image. Not in those dying days but youthful and upright. If his papa were to ask him why he didn’t sleep last night he would say, “Papa, this is no written exam. This is a different kind of test.”
The tests Immanuel answered in the class were difficult in a different way. Papa knew he gave everything to those tests in school. To those papers in uni. To his thesis at the PHD level. Papa was proud of him. Believed in him. He believed in him to the point of sacrificing his life savings slaving on the cocoa farm to send him to school. Send him so that he returned with hope. Not just for his siblings Alfred, Solomon, Daniel and his little sister Joy. Oh, Joy. But for Babaso. For the great Afram Plains. The place where all was given but nothing returned.
“My dear, did you want a bowl of joy?” The large jovial frame of Aunty Serwah bounces in front of Immanuel. Serving her patrons with a beautiful wide smile.
“Excuse me? Oh. Sorry, Aunty. Please a bowl of Koko and bofrot extra sugar.”
“I always tell you that this extra sugar will spoil your you-know-what! You see how you are even going mad, asking for joy.” Immanuel looks at Aunty Serwah but doesn’t see her. Every node of his mind is strained on the task at hand. His eye ever peripherally aware of Mr. Ofori. His every movement. His slightest twitch.
She scoops sizeable portions of Koko, the millet-based porridge, and pours white sugar before stirring. Immanuel spares a glance over his shoulder. Mr. Ofori is wiping sweat from his shiny bald head. That is more like him. The old man has just flicked the switches on the power-board outside the compound of the data server, close to the backend of the security fence, turning on the alarms and electric fence. He then shuffles to the guard’s room reaches for his morning drink takes a big gulp then settles on his rickety armchair placing the drink, issuing with silver vapor, on his right-hand side.
Immanuel continues staring. The plan depends on Mr. Ofori’s willingness to believe this is a ‘normal day.’