He paid Memuna her 50 pesewas and moved out of the que, black polythene dangling in his left hand. Someone shouted a morning greeting but he did not hear, he was caught up in his own thinking, something bothered him, but that was no news, everyone always said something was bothering him. From a distance you could distinguish his tall frame and hunched back from everybody elses as he slowly made his way towards Papa Niis compound, he was never in a hurry.
Adoley, cloth draped around her chest said something to him at the door to which he simply nodded before entering.
In the Morning where he lived, where the bathrooms were outside and the toilet was paid for, there was always more human traffic on the road than there were cars, the land belonged to them, the ga, and no government would tell them otherwise.
Inside, he came out of his room with a stool and a tiny radio set, the black polythene craftily wrapped around his little finger. More people from the other rooms in the compound house greeted as they passed by to work and to school, still he heard nothing. He set the radio down and tuned it with a lot of difficulty before taking his breakfast out the polythene bag, the porridge was small but he wasn’that hungry anyway.
It did not come on the news that morning, he knew because with every advertisement he would change to a different station, it did not come on the news and when they came back from work, he sat outside and he watched the women cook the evening meal, and the children run around and no one spoke of it, it was no news at all, he was furious.
That night he went through the book again, cover to cover, there was something he was missing, there was a reason the people in the book were known.
He always sat in the front seat of the bus because of his knees, always because he was never in a hurry yet he was never late. He was always the first to sit in the bus, always. The mate called for his fare and he took out his old wallet and paid, “TV3…”, the mate repeated “TV3!” It did not matter that he was right next to the driver.
He intentionally bit the sachet of water a little too much so it would drip from the side of his lips into the fake beard, his chin itched from underneath it and he was too careful to scratch. From where he stood amidst a moving crowd of people he stared at the TV3 building with a strange intensity, a brown envelope tucked under his armpit. No one noticed, noone paid attention, but he watched for a full minute or two, then looked around, he needed someone who would hold their attention.
Rafia was scared to enter, but she turned round and the tall man was watching, she swallowed saliva and pushed the door open, her bare feet felt cold on the Air conditioned floor. Everybody turned to look at her, she stood frozen, the brown envelope gripped tightly in her hands.
Rafia did not understand when they brought her into the staff kitchen and told her to eat, but she ate because she was hungry. She was still eating when the receptionist came in with two police officers and the manager. The famous news anchor who had stayed behind to watch her eat after she was brought in moved from against the wall and shook hands with the officers.
“Now what did you say your name was?”
“Rafia Ayishatu Abu Bakr”
“What do you do?”
“I carry things for people for money”
“so you’re a Kayayee”
“Who gave you the envelope? How was he like?”
“He was tall, very tall and skinny, his back had, you know?” She gestured an arch with her hand. “He was dark, not very dark but he wasn’t light skinned”
“Rafia if I bring an artist here, can you help him draw this man?”
“Yes, yes…” she wiped the hands she had eaten with on her dress and looked up at the anchor “ Please, water.”
In the evening he locked his door behind him and made his way towards the gate, hands in pocket. No one saw him leave, the women were speaking excitedly amongst themselves, the men waited inside for their food, from outside a little girl in just a panty rushed past him laughing.
The evening sounds greeted him, there was traffic on the road, cars dodging the more severe one on the highway used a shortcut through the interchange through here to the main road. He walked along the road, more children whisked by laughing. The kenkey seller was late, her customers stood around in protest from behind the gutter while she packed her wares and screamed orders at her daughter in ga.
When she looked up he waved, she waved back with both hands and a grin that showed the gap between her teeth. The fat in her arms wobbled from side to side.
“Its hot today”
Before the news came on he had been waiting infront of Quarteys shop a while and had been offered a seat. He sat now with his legs crossed, a crowd gradually forming behind him.
“A serial murderer in our midst? The Ghana police Service is currently investigating a unanimous note dropped here at the TV3 premises detailing the alleged murders of four women and a child around the Laterbiokoshi stretch. The note signed to The son of Man were accompanied by pictures of the alleged victims. Viewers are adviced, the footage to be shown is graphic”
The news cut to a video of Rafia looking up at a camera with a female voice over, “The news team were around 3 p.m on Tuesday the 27th of March alerted when young Rafia Ayishetu Abubakr, a Kayayee around Kanda and it environs was brought in after allegedly dropping off the said parcel at the front desk of the TV3 office. Rafia who claims…” The video cut to Rafia surrounded , being spoken to by police officers, “..the parcel was given to her by a man in exchange for monies, said she had no idea what the parcel contained and was given strict instructions not to open it” The camera cut to pictures spread across a table, it waned and gave a closeup of a naked woman with a slit throat, moved slowly to another on her tummy arms bound behind her back.
From behind him the murmuring rose to a crescendo
Rafia spoke now, “He was tall and black” she looked up and nodded as if listening to someone. “Yes, Yes, he gave me 5 cedis” The picture returned to the studio anchors, “Police who say investigations are still ongoing advice everyone within Laterbiokoshie and its environs to exercise caution” The male anchor turned to the female, “And then I get to wondering Jane, what is the world coming to?”, she sighed, “Perhaps Kwame these are the signs of the end times”, both laughed.
He got up angry, almost toppling the chair over. They laughed, they had the nerve to laugh.
Rafia watched herself on the news that day with her friends and felt more important than she had ever felt her whole life.