Right as we passed, he stepped out of his dusty, black Toyota and smiled. “Hello, my boy. How are you? Where are you from?”
The conversation began and Kojo was captivated by the broad space between his two front teeth and the distance between his wrinkled eyes. The grey hair atop his head seemed to be growing at different rates which made the outline of his head a bit blurry.
“How do you like Ghana?”
I told him how lucky we felt to be surrounded by caring people. I explained how walking slowly here feels safe because everyone knows everyone and looks out for each other. There was a kindness radiating from him that invited me to keep talking. “Do you live here?” I asked.
“This isn’t my house. I’m visiting my brother’s wife. She’s been a widow for a long time now.”
Kojo and I still had questions but we said our nice-to-meet-yous and see-you-agains and continued on our walk.
On our way back from visiting the deserted digger filled with rain water, we saw him again at the back of his car with a few older boys who were helping him empty the trunk. There were bottles of water, cases of juice and boxes of soda. He stopped me.
“Come here, please.” He waited to continue until the trunk was empty and the boys had gone inside.
He then proceeded to deliver his story. “I have brought drinks for the upcoming family meetings. You see, my brother’s wife has just lost her son unexpectedly. Tonight, she must tell her grandson what has happened because he doesn’t know yet. She’s been keeping it from him until today. I am here to be with them. Others will be coming from far away to start making arrangements for the funeral.”
The news hit me heavily. We had stopped many times to stare at the dog sitting on their roof not knowing the stories that were unfolding inside.
He didn’t ask for anything from me. His story was simply too heavy to sit inside him alone and so he gave me a small piece of his sorrow. I imagined how that young boy would react upon hearing the news. Would he scream and run, sit shocked and still, or cry loudly into his grandmother’s arms?
Here, people take care of each other. No one is ever really alone. Soon, there would be other family members arriving, distant relatives alerted and they would all deliver the news to their neighbors and friends. Each of us would carry a bit of the burden and the load would be lifted ever so slightly from the young boy, his grandmother and the kind old man with wide eyes and bushy hair that stopped me to ask about my son.
Hurriedly we walk anxious to hug Kojo Daddy when we get home. When we get to the gate, I am still undecided whether to share the man’s story with him or carry my part of the load all on my own.