“When you finish washing the clothes, my mother says you should remember to do the shopping at Kantamanto market for her. She says she would WhatsApp the list of foodstuffs”, Ernest shouts to Maame Esi. It’s a sunny Saturday and Ernest is on the phone with his mother. Maame Esi, his wife of three years is on a short wooden stool sweating. You would be too if you had to wash your husband’s clothes, your clothes, your brother-in-law’s clothes and those of your two children as well. The youngest child is tied to Maame’s back, wailing loudly, runny nose and all.
No, the story doesn’t begin with a smart Maame Esi being forced to give up her schooling to get married. That’s a bit old isn’t it? In fact, Maame Esi wasn’t too bright at all. Like most people, she fell in love at 19 and got married at 23; after school of course, with a third class lower in education.
“Please clean my room, Maame Esi”, her brother-in-law says.
“Of course,”, Maame says, smiling indulgently.
“My toy ma, I can’t find my toy”, Maame’s two-year old son wails.
“Here it is Nana, it was under the chair”, Maame sighs, handing it over to him.
“Darling, my father will be coming this afternoon. You will prepare his favourite mashed plantain, won’t you?”
“Yes, surely”, she replies.
Even though Maame Esi must have once been the brightest girl in the room I remember she had dreams. They were killed at thirteen; held at gunpoint and executed. Maame Esi’s mother would often spend every afternoon after school with in the kitchen cooking. The evenings were spent cleaning. At the end of the day her hands smell like key soap and ginger, too worn out for school.
There is nothing more to say when they buy dolls for girls and race cars for boys. Well, Maame Esi is still our favourite wife.