Monday, August 25, 2008

Sermon in the Street

Imagine you get a telegram (or in this day of technology, an email) with the words emboldened, highlighted and underlined LET THEM SAY. How would you react? As mind baffling as it is, we see these things so often on our streets that they have become commonplace and no. Here’s how I see it: If you’re ever in need of inspiration, when life puts you down, when you think there’s no hope left for you to go on, when everything that could ever go wrong in your life goes wrong all at once, well I come bearing good news.... Next time you’re in traffic, just read there is to read all around you; writings on trotros, taxis, kiosks and you’ll see all your troubles disappear. Well …… not exactly.
Seriously, have you ever taken the time to look around and see all the elements that are at play. Besides drivers over-speeding, others under-speeding, projectiles of spit from windows, cars developing problems right in the middle of traffic, jaywalkers zigzagging across the road, beggars trying to sweet talk you, thieves laying in ambush, etc, you will see a doze, perhaps more, of yellow-writing-coded morale-boosting. With all these proverbial statements written all around us, it’s a miracle any of us ever feel down.
Picture this, a trotro crosses you, and behind it, is says “NO RUSH IN LIFE,” "ABOTRE" or even “PATIENCE”. Nothing quite gets to you as bad.
Still, some leave you feeling rather baffled. Take for instance “GOOD NEVER LOST”. It’s taken me almost a year now and I can’t tell what that truly means. Are they saying, “good people don’t lose their way”. Or is it that “good people don’t die”? Perhaps they mean, “good deeds are never forgotten.”
I’ve come to the conclusion that you can preach an entire sermon while driving from one end of the street to the other. You even have Bible quotes to go along. Just in case you need confirmation.
At one time, a trotro said on its rear window “PRAY TO GOD” and right afterwards, another whizzed past saying “AMEN”. Alternatively, you can find writings on vehicles that support your present state of being. Take for example “IT’S NOT EASY, BUT FOCUS,” this could represent a past emotional down of the car owner, and hence seeks to encourage his ‘brother man’ on the street. Another one I saw that just blew me over was, “You, next time”. Possibly, they had it in with someone and deemed it fit to let out his emotion out in a more public way.
One time I went pass a car crash wreck and it said “IT COULD BE YOU”. Almost immediately, I held back any prejudice I had in my mind.
However, religious quotes take up the bigger chunk of all the writings. “Still ADOM,” “KRON KRON” (Holy Holy), SHOWERS OF BLESSING, BY HIS GRACE, HOSSANA, KRISTO NTI (For Christ’s sake), ASEDA SEWO (You deserve the praise), YEHOWA ADOM (God’s grace), PSALM 35 POSITION IS NOT HEAVEN, “NO POSITION IS PERMANENT”, "REPENT", “HEAVEN GATE, NO BRIBE”, and "BY HIS GRACE".
These phrases run the gamut from Genesis to Revelations. Some as I said make absolutely no sense; either because some of the writings have been wiped off from excessive washing or the rain and shine have weathered them away. Consider "HIRO MAJOR", "ROAD TO SUCCESS", "FULL OF POTHOLES" (probably referring to the road’s condition) and "STILL PLAY FOR LIFE".

to be contd...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Shrink in Distress

You all know this all too familiar feeling of self-condemnation. One voice tells you to go with choice ‘A’, another tells you not to. You battle with which voice to listen to. Then you make an unsound choice of voice and end up feeling foolish?
Well, just now, I’ve had to retype 300 words for this blog entry. I didn’t save and “the operation quit unexpectedly. Would you like to report this to Microsoft…?” uhhhh…no?

But before I head on, accept my apologies for not being frequent enough with my updates. These words don’t always spill forth so easily. Like every work of art, you require inspiration.

Back to business.

Yesterday, my car broke down. We all hate that don’t we? Especially when it happens right in the middle of a major road. This old rickety pick up truck, has served us well. You know those family cars that help out so much they more or less become a part of the family? That’s the kind we have. As with every car after a few hours with the mechanic, a quadrillion other issues develop. Possibly the fault of the mechanic, but he makes it seem as if the car has never been kept well. But we try to keep the car in pristine condition, truly we try.

Anyhow, barely a week ago, the car came back from the repair shop and I squeezed out enough new Ghana notes to pay up for it. It’s a painful experience each time.

I’ll narrate what happened.

I set off to meet a friend at the Accra Mall. This was just at the peak of the rush hour. A mistake in itself. The traffic, the exhaust fumes, the pollution, the crazy driving all in one place. After about 30minutes in the jam I started to notice worrying signs on the car. I prayed to God that I didn’t get stuck in the jam. I’d be the cause of an increased jamming of cars right to the very end of the last taillight. Plus I’ll be at the receiving end of several indistinct car toots. I might even be cussed at.

The signal’s changed colours but my gears wouldn’t change. As though on cue, the honks started. Sweat beads mounted, heart rate increased, tear glands were ready, and the ignition went off.

Under my breath, I whispered a prayer. Promised God the world if He got me out of this fix. It’s a wonder how God takes center stage when things go wrong. I put gear in first position, turned key in ignition and then there’s a jerk forward. I was going nowhere like this. After a few feet, the ignition died again. I didn't even turn my head to the left or right. Eyes fixed on ahead as if by so doing, I’ll magically move the car.

Where was Superman when you need him?

I gave up and the hazard lights come on.

SOS calls began. First to the mechanic. No answer. Next to my brother … MTN – network busy. SOS calls end. Panic begins to mount.

With jerky movement, I managed to move from the traffic light at the Imperial Peking restaurant all the way to the Mall intersection. I succeeded in getting into the median, safe from all attacks I hoped. If there’s anything worse than angry bypass-ers, it is the pity-look they give you. Worse I tell you, worse. I hoped I wouldn't see a friend who obviously would laugh and tease me till kingdom come. In no time, there’ll be a snap shot of me on Facebook with comments from people whom I don’t even know. There goes my street cred.

SOS calls started again. What’s this with the network?!!! I finally got through with my TIGO and a saviour came through. It’s the friend I’m meeting. God is good. I sit there for what seemed like 24hours and I hear the good inner voice speak. Try it again. Who knows it just might start. And start it did! With my hazard lights still on, I crawled on the shoulder of the road into the parking lot of the Mall. Safe. Sweet Jesus thank you.

After a few moments of wait, along came my friend with a mechanic named Prosper. I’m not quite sure what Prosper did. In fact I doubt he did anything major, yet he charges me a clean ¢3 for lying under the hood and stepping on the clutch a couple of times. I give him ¢2 and send him off.

One word for this experience - TRAUMATIZING. But at least I’m alive to tell the story.

Now just in case you’re asking yourself what the moral of the story is, let me tell you right this moment that there is NONE. I just might need me a shrink to talk things through, that's all.