Remember Every Road Leads Somewhere (I) – By Emmanuel Takyie-Appiah

Every morning the sun wakes me up amidst cock crows and shuffling of feet around the house and muted talks that sounded like whispers from the distance. Sunrise on a weekend meant a short day ahead for me and my playmates as time rode fast on a horseback, a minute ago it was sunrise and then in the next it was already sunset and the fowls who announced the birth of a play day were all away to rest the night.

Unfortunately, the sun rise and the cock crows and all that comes with sunrise did not announce a weekend but rather a week day, a school day. School days except for Fridays when we have afternoon games that end the week meant a long day ahead of me as time chose to sit on the back of a snail and travel like a day was a thousand years as it is in the eyes of God.

“Not again” is what I normally said to myself even before I said my usual “Thank You Jesus for this wonderful day” prayer even though God knew from the bottom of my heart it wasn’t what I normally called a wonderful day. Startling was my mother’s amplified voice calling out my name Essumang and then came my usual response of not uttering a word, I really loved the part when she came storming into my tiny room and pulls off the cover cloth hastily, stood me up and shook me awake and told me to stop being naughty and go take my bath.

My eyes heavy with sleep and my feet weighing about a ton I would stagger myself into the bathroom. Sometimes I wished I could get mummy so angry that she won’t give me any pocket money for school and ask me to stay home for a week for being so annoying and naughty. That was only a wish that I knew too well will never come true. At breakfast, I would normally eat slowly and complain about the food being too hot to take or something that just couldn’t be an excuse at all for trying to be late for school.

This was the emotional part of a school morning, the realization that I am in school uniform the usual light brown and deep brown attire and shoes laced in the usual bow tie fashion. Just as the bull shrugs when the harness for the plough comes around its neck same it was with me when the school bag came down around my shoulders. The usual long goodbyes that for some reason got my mother almost in tears every time followed.

I knew she was going to miss me and that was her reason for filling her eyes with tears but my reason was partly my going to miss her and partly my going to miss being at home where there is no teacher on your neck asking you to recite the multiplication table in a mental exercise nor another asking you to spell the name of a fruit you never saw in your “Look and Say” text book. Sometimes in my mind’s eye I could see the house wave back at me and I am sure that is why even when my mother stopped waving I kept on waving.

I normally walked to school in the company of my three classmates; we normally took the longest route and walked as if we were not in a hurry at all. The truth if I should say was walking slowly and taking the longest route meant we just make the assembly bell call, as lazy as we were we couldn’t afford to sweep or do any other chores.

Kweku is the first of my friends who joins me on the way to school. Kweku comes from a family of four, his elder sister Maame Esi was by then in a Senior Secondary School in Cape Coast. Kweku’s father was an accountant at a bank and almost every time I saw him, he looked like a person who didn’t have any time at all. He was always jabbering about not having time. I always wondered why he kept on going on and on about not having time when I could clearly see a clock hanging from the wall in the sitting room every time I visited. Kweku took very little of his father in resemblance. Kweku’s mother was not very tall and was quite smallish in stature; she had a mini mart in front of their house.

Oko is the next to join the troop on our way to school, Oko lived with his grandmother. Oko’s parents were abroad, Oko is an only child. Oko was the boy with all the toys, a BMX bike and the latest video game so we frequented his house on weekends and school vacations. I remember Oko’s grandmother God rest her soul always cooking and serving us lunch anytime we went to visit. I still do remember the many stories she told us, she was such a wonderful person indeed.

Amartey was the last person to join the troop to school. He was actually the leader of the troop since he was year or two older than all of us. He lived with both parents and two siblings. His father was a banker and so was his mother too. He is the second child of his parents, his elder brother Tettey was in secondary school whilst his younger sibling was a new born baby boy.

School days were fun when teachers were sick, at meetings or were out for other reasons. It meant we could play quietly in the classrooms, that teacher element was gone for a moment and it felt like being at home and being free.

We went through Basic School and Junior Secondary School as close pals who were there for each other, we never missed walking to school together and the games we played continued like always. There were a couple of times that we disagreed on issues, had quarrels but as bonded as we were, we quickly resolved differences and moved on as if nothing had ever happened. The Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) brought us even closer to each other as friends than any other times in our lives.

We spent time together throughout the day and late into the night learning and coaching each other. I can still remember the jubilations of all in our year group after we wrote our last paper. I remember playing football, getting so dirty and coming home to my ever loving mum like a man returning from an underground mine. I remember her hug and squeeze that day. The dawn of the tomorrow that followed the yesterday in which we completed Junior Secondary School was the beginning of a new life for each of us as friends.

It was the birth of the day that the single road we had traveled as the dynamic troop was going to diverge into four different roads. Four different roads having different curves, turns, traveling through different jungles and having different road signs. I started missing school days now that I was every day at home and boredom was slowing becoming the sibling I never had. I missed our loud chatters when there was no teacher around; I missed my classmates and all the fun Junior Secondary School came with.

Kweku found a job at his mother’s mini mart of course as a shop assistant; slowly Oko and myself became shop assistants at Kweku’s mother’s mart since we were running the shop everyday with him. I guess in no time I came to know the unit price of almost everything in their shop. Amartey couldn’t day time with us since he was taking computer classes, the order of the day back then……to be continued!

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