Monday, July 17, 2006

The adventures of Monkey 1 and Monkey 2…

“Aki and Popo” are it again. ‘Aki and Popo’ are popular comical characters from Nigerian films (really hilarious guys) who happen to have some form of dwarfism so they look I don’t know how to explain it, but if you look at them they look like chubby 10 or 12 year old boys, but really are about 25. Anyway, they’re pretty funny in their films and always up to no good schemes…. Which is why I’ve nicknamed my sisters Krofiye and Sadia ‘Aki and Popo’. Other nicknames include ‘Monkey 1 and Monkey 2’, ‘Fulani and Toubani’ (Cow herder and Bean Cake), ‘Chicken’s Prophet and The Chief’s Grandmother’, etc.

Needless to say, those two girls are both hilarious and exasperating all at once. Krofiye by herself, is a fairly quiet, generally well intentioned girl. She loves the animals (the chickens, the guinea fowl, the dog..) and works wonders with any creature. She, as I have mentioned before, for some reason does not really have front teeth, and so is somewhat shy to talk. She’s pretty smart and picks up anything you teach her quickly.

Sadia on the other hand, the older of the two, is the trickster. She always has her own intentions up her sleeve, which makes for an interesting dynamic. She talks a lot and says a lot of unnecessary things (hence..Chief’s Grandmother..), and has a great sense of humour. She’s also Very Very Annoying when she wants to be. Sadia is a troublemaker and she knows it. When she doesn’t know you, she’ll be quiet and shy and meek. But once she knows you, she doesn’t even mind making fun of you mercilessly.

The two are, naturally, inseparable. Krofiye is Mme. Janet’s brother’s daughter, who stays at our house because we have “lights” (power) so she can study. Sadia is..somehow related to us, and stays at our house because her mother is in the village, and also, doesn’t have power. But Sadia has more of a story. She was sent to live with relatives in Tamale, but had a fight with her Auntie, who threatened to kill her because Sadia disrespected her. So she somehow gathered her things, found somebody to buy her a ticket, got on a bus, and came back home. All this, at the age of 11. Because they are the youngest, their jobs in the house are washing the pots and pans, washing the bulk of the clothes, and drawing the water from the borehole. Of course, that is common here in Ghana – it’s the duty of most of the youngest girls, but its strenuous work and they tire of it.

Yesterday they went to the borehole to draw water. Halfway through, Sadia convinced Krofiye to dump the water they had pumped and go to a house nearby that is under construction. They have “pipes” (running water) installed, and they managed to get the water from there instead. Of course they got caught and royally yelled at by Mme. Janet.
They will pool together money, of the likes of 200 and 100 cedi coins to make the coveted 500 cedis (about 8 cents) to buy “500 banku and stew” which they will eat like it is the biggest feast in the world. Both girls are of the type where they will eat, and eat, and eat, and still be hungry. Naturally they look like sticks. Of course, when it is time to purchase the “500 banku” they will consult for about an hour, secretly in their ‘room’ (a curtain of fabric drawn across a closet) and then swiftly and tactically purchase the food. All because Mme. Janet will get angry (she hates the girls going to buy food because it looks like they’re not being fed at the house – and indeed, they are being fed…but girls being girls..).

Of course, both girls egg each other on, so the shy and meek individuals I met when I arrived are all but gone. Remaining are two boisterous, mostly annoying, sometimes vain, sometimes silly, sometimes lazy, fairly regular young girls. Being close friends, they will fight like cats and dogs. They will start insulting each other and suddenly, Megan and I are prying them apart while they’re wrestling and attempting to punch each other.

They like to tease everybody and have their scores of secret nicknames for almost every visitor and acquaintance in the house. When left alone, they will amuse themselves for hours imitating this one’s walk and that one’s funny way of speaking English. In fact, a whole category of their amusement is mocking people’s English – something they never do in front of Megan and I because we’ll yell at them (their English is FAR from perfect..).

Krofiye likes to read and go to school and is very keen on getting reading lessons. Sadia will come along for the lessons intent on not being left out, but her attention span is about 5 seconds. Teaching them together is..certainly a challenge.

Sadia has tons of brothers and sisters (from what I gather) because her father has 4 wives. She can’t even count how many, but they stay at the village. Krofiye has 3 siblings, who stay at Techima in the south with her father, where he works.

Exciting days are ‘akenkembe’ days: when it rains and the outside light is on at night, thousands of winged termites flock to the light and then sort of ‘fry and die’ underneath. Early in the morning, while I’m still peacefully snoozing, Sadia will go and collect the ‘akenkembe’ and spread them on the floor of the courtyard. They will slowly complete their…dying… throughout the day, while both the girls will take turns guarding their treasure lest the chickens eat it. After winnowing them and removing their wings, they will roast the termites with some salt and put them in a plastic bag. The tasty snack (that is a subjective idea I’m sure, personally they’re pretty.. not tasty…) is kept for at least a few days. Since everybody else in the house (Mme. Janet, Megan, Sister Abeyama, Myself..) think that the termites are pretty gross, it is a tasty snack that the girls can have wholly unto themselves. Personally, I don’t discourage the practice seeing as how termites are (in fact) a rich source of protein and nutrients, and the girls don’t always get the lion’s share of the meat at dinner.

They loooooove Nigerian films, and watching the tele, especially (and most especially) the films that are totally inappropriate and rife with violence. Innocently inviting me to watch a film with them, there will be parts where I’ll be covering my eyes, and they’ll be avidly watching. Also popular are movies involving BIG animals – King Kong, Godzilla, Jurassic Park, King Kong 2, etc. I’m not really sure why..

They love dancing to just about anything, especially popular Twi songs on the television, and they love singing, especially falsetto Celine Dion and West Life (remember them? I’m pretty sure they were big when I was in Grade 4 and contained a certain Robbie Williams..yet to be famous..), while they wash dishes. That and devotional songs.

They are the perfect combination of annoying and mysterious, being the kind of 13 and 11 year old girls that leave me constantly wondering what they think about. I never had younger sisters (although always expressed a desire to trade my brother for one, supposedly for their being less annoying..) but its definitely a fascinating inheritance at 19. They are vastly different from the small girls that we were, never discussing the popular “junior high topics” of makeup and crushes and favourite bands and all that junk – being in Grade 4 (Krofiye – 11) and Grade 5 (Sadia – 13) respectively, their world is the world of clandestine 500 banku and wearing a corn husk wig and pretending to be a certain obnoxious hairdresser from church. Ah, small girls.


At 2:07 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

lmao, they totally remind me of me and Katie (and Kendra). We used to do weird stuff like that all the time. We were inseperable and spent like hours making fun of people like that and cooking up odd plots hahaha

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