Monday, July 17, 2006

The Cast of Magnolia House

Madame Janet
She is formidable, in every sense of the word. Madame Janet is statuesque, (surprisingly all of her siblings I have met are not tall at all) and she does in fact top 6 feet by one or two inches. She is a woman of principle and has strong opinions of what is right and what is not; she doesn’t have insecurities – rather, she has points on which she wants to improve. She is at once humble and proud, measured with her words, until her fiery temper is unleashed and she is yelling into her mobile phone in one of the many languages she knows – all in all about 10 languages, plus English. She is on first person terms with God, not overly religious, but always sure that God will serve justice and good will. At the same time, the woman can make dirty jokes like you wouldn’t believe.. Hehe. She likes to drink Guinness, she likes to ask questions about my family, and for some reason I am more her friend and sister, and she is not the typical ‘homestay mother’.

Madame is full of initiatives and ideas, she is incredibly resourceful and is currently running both a soap making business and a groundnut farm. She is well respected; she is on good terms with her ex-husband, and pretty much every in Salaga knows who she is. In fact, if I wanted to, I could probably buy things on credit by saying her name! Her father was the chief of a local village, and she’s descended from the royal family of the Bono tribe.
Madame Janet does not ask for things. She loves her baby incredibly, and she always listens patiently while I endlessly describe Canada, my family, and my friends when I’m homesick. She believes in truth, righteousness, justice, hard work, and having fun; she always gives me helpful tips like: “Apoorva, your pants (underwear) are showing and some man will follow you home! And then I will have to beat him! Save me the trouble!”.
She is truly a self made woman, having only completed 7th grade, but probably more business savvy than the average MBA: she has a catering business, a weaving business, tie-and-dye business.. all in addition to the abovementioned soap and farm. She also sews things for people on the side.
The thing that strikes me the most about Mme. Janet is that she is genuine, and that is a statement you can’t make about just anybody.

Megan is witty, sarcastic, and definitely the first born. Used to taking care of her brother, plus managing the two girls, Krofiye and Sadia (Monkey 1 and Monkey 2), she’s incredibly responsible. Megan is the exact same age as my brother, and yet (haha Nishant! Haha!) seems many years older. She’s studying “JSS 3” or 9th grade, and she likes school. She’s a good student and wants to be a doctor or a nurse one day – she’s got it all planned out; first she wants to go to Japan to learn Japanese and study, and then return to Ghana and be a doctor here. Megan likes going to church, and she likes singing – although for some reason unknown to me, she will refuse to join the church choir. She likes to sleep (my family has carefully noted that ‘Nobody likes to sleep as much as Sister Apoorva’…), she likes Celine Dion, Brandy and West Life, and her best friends are Maybelle and her cousin Souraya.
She is an acute observer of people – probably something she got from her mother – but as for her observations, she is quite silent about them. Megan lived for a long time in Accra with her mother’s sister, but you could never tell that she is an ‘Accra girl’ – she doesn’t whine or complain about Salaga or the north. She cooks excellent shenkafa or rice, which happens to be her favourite food. She’s very beautiful, but very modest – constantly putting off her steady stream of annoying admirers. Megan, she has plans – she will only get married when she ‘returns from Japan’. She likes reading books and her favourite subject is science.

“Boncat” aka Rafael
Boncat is the baby. I’ve nicknamed him ‘akulonku’ or peanut, and he is the Cutest Baby in the World. Ever. He is learning to talk and talks all the time – except nobody knows what he’s saying. His hobbies include biting things with his 2 teeth (including fingers), putting EVERYTHING in his mouth, crawling around and chasing chickens, climbing the dog, dancing (anytime there is music, he will start dancing). His least favourite pastime is bathing – every morning and evening he will kick up a royal fuss when its bath time. He definitely enjoys bicycles, motorbikes, and trucks and cars scare him. He also likes peeing everywhere, and on everything. Since Boncat doesn’t really wear diapers, you’ll be holding him and playing with him – suddenly your skirt is wet! In the words of my family “HAHAHAHA! Boncat has urinated on you!”. He has teddy bears but mostly they are for biting. He smells nice, like baby, (except when he pees on you that is..) and every single person who has ever come to our house likes him a lot. He’s not a “sitting down” baby – he likes moving around and crawling (with the eventual goal of finding interesting things, like sticks, or beetles, or sand, to put into his mouth). Pretty much, he’s a ninja.

Sister Abeyama
Sister Abeyama lives with us. I’m pretty sure she’s not actually related to us technically, but is definitely family. She likes to wear toques, laugh a lot, watch Nigerian films, and Boncat. She doesn’t know much English – well, almost none – she can understand some words, but mostly its Gonja or Twi. I have learned most of my Gonja from Sister Abeyama since I kind of just point at things and she repeats them in Gonja. She has 4 children – 3 of whom live in the nearby village of Kpembe and 1 daughter, Munira (who is also hilarious) is friends with Megan and lives with her father. I’m not really sure why she doesn’t live with her children, but sometimes you don’t ask questions. She cooks, takes part in the soap making, weaving, and catering businesses. I never know what she’s laughing about – she loves jokes – because I don’t understand enough Gonja or Twi to get jokes. But when she’s laughing, you can hear from halfway across my house!

Auntie Maisie
Auntie Maisie doesn’t live with us, but she’s very much a part of the family. She’s also part of Mme. Janet’s soap making business, so she’s here very often. Auntie Maisie is in mourning for her husband, who has a lawyer in England, and so she always wears black. She has to do that for a while …maybe a few months? But wearing black doesn’t hamper this woman one bit. She is a big, loud, boisterous lady who is always laughing and joking. She loves Ghanaian football and I swear every time Ghana scores a goal, she will run around the compound whooping and screaming and generally making us all go deaf. She has been to England so she knows a lot of stuff about foreign places – but nevertheless she enjoys making merciless fun of me, and its always hilarious. For example, if I am washing my clothes, she’ll remove my clean underwear from the line and start dancing around holding it. It also seems to be the funniest thing in the universe if I wear yoga pants because my “buttocks” are showing (seriously, that is how they say it here..).. She won’t call me Apoorva, but rather ‘Approve’. “Approve – Janet told me you had diarrhea! How is it?!” (this announced in front of 10 other people..). Auntie Maisie, jokes aside, is always there for me. If I have a bad day, or miss my family and friends, or anything – she will always be there to listen and try to make things better.

Krofiye and Sadia
These are my sisters, also known as Monkey 1 and Monkey 2. The next entry will be devoted to their hilarious antics.


At 2:00 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol sounds like these are great people to live with. It's always interesting to meet new people. Its great that you're enjoying yourself!


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