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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

African Timing

Okon puts his finger in the baby.


When he wasn't doing that, he was outside clearing the bushes. He didn't let the grasses grow 5" above the ground, he kept them trim, just the way oga liked them. He also watered the flowers, fed the dog, and on days he still had a lot of energy left, he took the dog for a walk. There was no way oga would know he didn't take the dog for a walk everyday, especially since he wasn't very diligent in feeding the dog also. He preferred the dog's meals to his own 'Boil the rice very soft' Oga would say 'then mix it with tuna and throw in a chicken thigh, that's the way Toby likes it'.


 Since Okon started serving the household 5 years ago, no one had bothered to ask him how he liked his own rice, fortunately, he liked it just same as the dog's. When he wasn't outside, Okon was in the laundry room, he did laundry for the whole family, everything except the baby's clothes, madam liked to wash those herself. Okon liked working for this particular family, they made his job so easy, a lawn mower, a washing machine, a rice cooker, a pressure cooker, he could cook beans in 10 minutes, madam loved beans for dinner.


He caught an image of himself in the laundry room mirror, and smiled his crooked smile, his tobacco stained teeth was turning white again he thought, five years of good tooth paste, oga's toothpaste, five years of balanced diet, then soft rice in Tuna, throw in a thigh, and things like that. One thing Okon never did for madam was hold the baby, madam made such a fuss over it that Okon had even stopped to try. 'Okon did you use the anti-bacterial handwash', 'Okon i have some anti-backterial wipes on the stool', 'Okon when last did you have a medical check up'. 'Its a human baby' Okon thought, 'children eat sand and still survive, I cannot kill a baby by touching her'.


Then madam had to go back to work, her maternity leave finally had to end, but madam was prepared. She employed a nanny, a qualified nanny, who came bragging of her resume and years of experience. In her words to Okon, she was not an everyday nanny. Madam arranged for the nanny to leave at 4pm, just when oga came back from work, then oga watched the baby till 5pm when madam came back from work. It was clear to Okon, feed the dog, walk the dog, trim the bushes, do the laundry and cook dinner, the baby was not Okon's Job. Then the nanny gave it to what madam called 'the disgraceful habit of African timing'. Even the most professional people you work with, madam said, still fall for this habit. She showed up to work, 10 minutes, 20 minutes late, with tales of traffic, making madam run late to work. Madam hated being late to work, 'I wont be one of those disgraceful Africans' she insisted.


So for 10-20 minutes on most week days, Okon finally had to watch the baby. Madam would wrap her up in what seemed to Okon like swaddling clothes, and lay her in a buggy, looking like the little angel that she was. 'You don't have to hold her' madam made a point of always saying to Okon. 'If she gets fussy, just push the buggy, but don't forget to first use the anti-bacterial hand wash, and there are some anti-bacterial wipes on the stool..' Okon would listen with an amused grin for a minute until madam left, then he went into the living room where he was sure to find the buggy, then he put his finger in the baby, for 10-20 minutes until the nanny came in with tales of traffic. Then he went back to his little room by the gate, and ate soft rice, with tuna, not forgetting to throw in a thigh.

1 comment:

Enkay said...

Oh dear! Okon is fingering this precious innocent baby. Talk about the enemy within.

This post makes me sad. My heart goes out to all the mothers out there who are trying their best to protect their precious little ones from predators like Okon.

God help us!