Dark clouds grumbling overhead meant today was going to be a bad day. He had been out a few hours but he had nothing to show for it. His basket was still heavy and discomforting his infant skull. The downpour throughout the night made many oversleep. The streets were not as packed as always. Traffic eased by, which for a street hawker was terrible, but joy for the drivers.
His counterparts weren’t as bothered as he was; selling dog chains, shoe polish and dusters was an advantage when the June rains came storming into Accra. Their goods won’t perish or be destroyed by the rain like his. The plantain chips he had hawked for three days were close to their end. He had grown to accommodate the cold of the night but the hunger always stung. Some of the hawkers had begun to walk from the Kaneshie traffic light, where they all were stationed, to Nkrumah Circle. It was a long walk but one they simply had to complete. Going hungry was not an option. He couldn’t beat the competition over there. The young Ashanti women hawking there had so much energy, chasing and harassing people to patronize their wares. Hunger battered him like an orange in the middle of a busy walkway. Weak and exhausted from the stress of hawking and the bad nutrition that it came with, he had no option but to hope for something good to happen. A little sunshine, for starters.
Nothing irked him more than the inspirational messages behind the trotros and taxis that passed, as he stood at the traffic light every day. Messages like “E go bee”, “God dey”, Nyame bεyε”, were shoved in his face. How was he supposed to remain hopeful and optimistic when his whole life had been a series of unfortunate events? His mother, raped by a madman on the street, had birthed them into a world which she herself couldn’t survive. Twins, a miraculous birth which is usually celebrated in Ghanaian culture, but that was not the case. All his fifteen years on this earth had been spent scavenging for the next meal, like hyenas in the Serengeti. His twin sister was sold into prostitution to ensure that she survived this life. “A good choice”, his mother had said. One less mouth to burden her pocket.
It began to drizzle, which signaled an unwelcome end to the productive part of his day. Rain, nature’s blessing to man, was now a curse to him. Within a few minutes it was madness all around, as if the sky was provoked, shooting water pellets from a mini gun. Chaos all over. In the confusion, he ran frantically across the busy highway in search of shelter. Before he could reach safety, he heard the roar of an engine getting close very fast, then a sudden numbness. He woke up in a white room staring at a bright white light above.
“Aunty Kai, come and listen to the radio. They are saying some car bi has killed people at Kaneshie”
“Eh? When? Ei! I hope my son is safe. That is where he usually sells”
Radio broadcast: “Blood bath at Kaneshie. Twenty Hawkers killed after a fuel tanker skidded of the slippery road during this morning’s heavy downpour. We now go to our reporter at the…..”
“OH LORD NO!!!”
“THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING TO ME, SOMEBODY HOLD ME”
“Obaa! Be quiet so we can hear the rest of the report and pray our children aren’t dead”
“Death is certainly better than this struggle called life”
“Sssshhhh. Don’t speak of death. We are not sure yet.”