Daddy has been having car troubles for quite a while. He still has the Nissan pickup from the 1990s, but also a Mercedes minivan and a newer Nissan which has given him trouble since he picked it up from the Tema shipyard just a couple years ago. We took both the pickup and the minivan to Nzema.
The plan was to go to the farm in the pickup. Not too long after our departure from Bonyere, the pickup refused to move. It just stalled. A tro-tro stopped and the guys in it got out to help us push the pickup to the side of the road. Daddy hailed a cab to go back home to get the minivan which the previous day he and his brother were commenting on the state of its tires.
We get to the farm and enjoy our excursion.
By the time we leave, we are all tired and dirty. It is pitch black. We stop at a mechanic’s place as a preventative measure. It takes forever for the mechanic to show up. He and Daddy talked then we left. We didn’t even drive five or ten minutes then POW! the tire blows. We are just like, what now? It’s pitch black outside. There are no street lights. Daddy pulls to the side of the road and we get out. The tire is shredded. Here we are, stranded at the side of the road and the way they drive over there, they drive at such high speeds. They just zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom! M’sa turns on the minivan’s headlights so at least we can be seen. Not that it makes much of a difference.
It’s dark as fuck. I use the flashlight from my phone while M’sa tries to find the spare tire. Mama and T’ni just stand there while Daddy is on the phone with the mechanic who is refusing to come and help us. M’sa finds the spare tire under the car and here we are sitting on the road trying to get it loose. Mama begins to announce, “there’s a car coming. Oh, be careful there’s a car coming. Be careful ooh, there’s a car coming.” I guess that was her way of helping in the situation but it became annoying especially as the spare tire refused to come off.
By this time, Daddy has called a young man he knows who comes by in his truck. It’s been over a half hour. He pulls up behind our minivan and turns on his headlights to provide us light. He is able to get the tire out. But of course the spare is flat. Completely flat. Daddy and the young man drive off in his truck to the nearest village to put air into the spare leaving us four women alone in this abandoned car on the side of the road in pitch blackness with cars zooming by.
We try to sit in the car but we don’t want to sit in darkness so we turn on the inside lights. This attracts the mosquitoes. So we get out of the car, spray it, and stand by the side for about ten minutes. During that time we are getting bitten like crazy. We finally get back into the care. We were bored out of our minds. Weary. But also scared. Each of us. Even Mama, though she didn’t want to admit it. Anything could have happened. Yes we have our blinkers on. But what do the drivers care about blinkers? They just keep zoom-zooming like crazy.
Another half hour or so, Daddy and the young man return with the air filled spare tire. He parks behind us and turns his lights on again. We try to jack up the car. The car doesn’t want to jack up. Big brouhaha. I must say, M’sa really took command of the situation. Finally, the car is up. Then we try to take off the shredded tire. It doesn’t want to come off. M’sa is kicking. The young man is kicking. Everyone is taking turns kicking. But the tire doesn’t want to come off for nothing for us to change it.
Now throughout this whole ideal, we have noticed a motorcycle with two young guys on it who keep coming up and down along the road. At one point, even Mama says (in Nzema), “Ah, but these boys too, what are they doing? They keep coming up and down”. Finally, the young man with us flags them down. Turns out they were selling weed. Didn’t know we had a weed operation in Ghana. All the motorcyclist does is give one kick to the tire, and boom it comes off. He gets back on his motorcycle and continues along his way. We finally get the tire changed and get back into the car glad for the ordeal to be over.
No, not yet.
Now the young man can’t get his car started because his battery has died after leaving the light on for us for so long. It was probably about three hours that whole ordeal. Luckily, someone coming along knows him and stops. He is driving so fast (surprise) and stops so close that Mama begins to shout at him for trying to run her over. “But madam, we weren’t going to hit you?” they replied. Mama was about to start…but we diffused the situation quickly.
We finally get home to sleep and comfort.
The next day, Friday, the plan is to get back to Accra. Since we can’t drive all the way to Accra on a donut, he tries to find a tire for the Mercedes minivan unsuccessfully in Bonyere. So we drive as slow as permitted by the donut tire to Half-Assini. No, no tires. Takoradi. No tires. So we just keep on driving. Along the way, we are given directions to a tire shop. It’s behind us on the other side of the road. We are told that we can’t do a U-turn and that we have to drive to the roundabout and come back that way. So we do just that. At the tire shop, they bring out the wrong tire and try to convince us that it is the right one. M’sa and Mama make a stink and finally the correct tire is brought out and put on the car. It is now well after noon. No one has eaten. Everyone is hungry. We are all grumpy. It’s not like we want a five-star meal in a restaurant. Just water, plantain chips, cookies, FanYogo will suffice. Thirty minutes later, Daddy pulls out of the tire shop and drives a couple seconds down to a gas station where we go get some refreshments and use the bathroom.
We finally are enjoying our refreshments, me sucking down on my FanYogo, waiting for Mama to get back to the car. Daddy is quiet, in a pensive mood, in the driver’s seat. Obviously the whole trip has been stressful for him. I watch as a young police officer approaches us and while doing so he’s talking to a man and pointing to our car asking “this one?” while the man says “yes”. So the policeman gets to the driver’s window and says in Twi “something something I’m here to arrest you” or something like that. “You did an illegal turn”.
Daddy remains quiet for a second more then just explodes sending us all jumping in our skins. Abba! With what eyes did you see me do this? With what eyes did you see me do this? With what eyes? What nonsense? Stupid? What are you talking about? While the police officer, obviously startled stammers “oh, but the man….” But he doens’t get to finish his sentence, because Daddy is still shouting, “With what eyes? Where did you see me come from?” By this time Mama has come back. She sits in the front passenger seat, hears what’s going on, and you know Mama. She don’t back down for nothing even if she’s wrong. She joins in and they tag-team shout at the poor boy. I felt so bad for the young kid. Probably doing what his superior had told him to do. He don’t know nothing. Probably twenty-one or twenty-two. “Do you even know where we came from? Go and ask the vulcanizers down there. Go and ask them and they will tell you where we came from”, Mama was yelling. I had never heard of “vulcanizer” in my life.They just kept going off on him. He was speechless. He didn’t know what to do, what to say. Nothing.
I don’t know what he expected. Like he thought Daddy would say “oh, ok” and walk away with him to jail. His expression, priceless. After composing himself a bit, he says “You old man, how do you talk to me like that?” Daddy got p-i-s-s-e-d!! After all, we were not in the wrong. “You too, how do you speak to an old man like that?”, emphatically pointing at the policeman through the rolled-down car window even actually poking him in the chest at times. Even Mama is trying to clamour over Daddy to try and get to him as well. We are just in the back, still sucking on FanYogo, like please don’t kill us.
Finally another police officer comes by, a superior. Daddy explains everything to him. Then the gas station employee comes out to corroborate Daddy’s story and the senior police officer apologizes for the whole misunderstanding.
And so we finally drive off. In absolute silence. I don’t know what started it though. I think it might have been T’ni saying something like “what the hell was that?” and everybody burst out laughing. It really did help diffuse the tension in the car.
Abba! With what eyes did you see me do this?