Story By Aaron Ansah Agyeman
Location: THE DIVORCE COURT
There is a divorce hearing inside the courtroom. Outside in the lounge, the families of Takyi Barima and Afia Agyeibea are also waiting tensely. Their case is going to be called next. Afia had started a painful divorce process against her husband, Takyi, which has dragged on for almost a year. Today is the final day, and everyone is aware that today her divorce application will surely be granted.
The members of the two families are sitting together, sad and praying for a miracle. Across from them, on a lonely bench, Takyi Barima is sitting. He is not a tall man, and he is a little bit portly, with flecks of grey in his otherwise jet-black hair. He is in a grey suit that looks wrinkled, and his round chubby face is a picture of misery as he looks across the lounge at his beautiful Afia. It is evident that Takyi Barima is really suffering.
Afia is sitting morosely with her lawyer, Naa Shormei, as they go through final points. Afia is wearing a dark-blue dress. Her hair is styled short, framing her beautiful face. She is also looking sad, but her jaw is set firmly.
On the bench in front of Afia is a beautiful eight-year old girl called Adobea, and she is the only child of the couple. She is wearing a beautiful white dress with gold trimmings, and she is resting her head on the arm of the bench, occasionally wiping tears from her eyes.
Just a few metres away from her, an elderly man wearing khaki overalls is using a dry long-handled mop to clean the floorboards, humming a song to himself. He is in his early fifties, and he is tall and a bit too well-groomed to be a cleaner. The khaki overalls look new, and his hands are encased in black leather gloves. His close-cropped hair is grey, and he has a well-shaped handlebar moustache. His eyes are tingling orbs of brightness, filled with a look of warmth that makes his lined face look handsome and intelligent.
Soon he gets to where Adobea is sitting. He twirls the mop a few times, and then he sighs and sits down beside Adobea. Smiling, he dabs at his face with a brown towel hanging around his neck. He sighs and shakes his head wearily, making funny noises that make Adobea look at him with sudden interest.
Are you a servant here, mister? The kind-faced man turns and looks at her, and then he smiles a most fetching smile that makes him very handsome indeed.
Well, you can say that, yes, my dear. But the name they give to it is ‘Cleaner’. So yes, I’m a cleaner here.
ADOBEA (indignantly )
But you’re old! The man chuckles and holds up a finger, wagging it at her.
Not old, my dear. Not sixty yet, but I’m strong. As strong as an ox, I tell you!
Liar! You look old! Her mother, who is sitting just behind them with her lawyer, scolds her daughter gently.
Adobea, dear! That’s not kind! Don’t call older folks liars. The cleaner turns round and smiles at her, displaying a set of very white and strong teeth.
Oh, I’m fine, I’m fine! She’s a lovely young lady, and I like her already!
Across the lounge Takyi has seen THE STRANGER sitting with his daughter and, being the protective father that he is, he gets up and walks towards them. He stands in front of the cleaner and raises his eyebrows.
Hello. I’m Takyi Barima, her father. You seem tired, sir. Taking the weight off your feet for a while? The cleaner looks up at Takyi, and suddenly his face is filled with a compassion so deep that it reaches out to Takyi. There is something about the old man that suddenly makes Takyi’s hard face soften, and takes away the instant paternal worry he had experienced when he saw the man sitting beside his daughter.
THE STRANGER (gently)
Ah! I’m pretty well, Mr. Barima. On the other hand, I can’t say the same for you, can I? You look like a man who is really hurting.
Takyi is startled. He looks first at the kind-faced stranger, and then he looks across at his wife. For a moment he sees real pain in Afia’s eyes, and then she looks down suddenly. Takyi turns his gaze on the elderly man again and tries a wan smile.
Well, you can say that again, my friend.
Suddenly Adobea begins to weep. It is a sad pathetic sound that knifes through the hearts of the older people. She covers her face with both hands and weeps, her little heart shattered.
ADOBEA (heartbroken) Oh, please, please, pleeeeeeease! Mommy, Daddy….please don’t get divorced, pleaaaase!
Takyi reaches out for her, but the stranger shakes his head at him and rather draws Adobea into a warm hug.
There, there, my dear! It is okay, it is okay! Come on, tell Uncle all your problems! Uncle will make your problems go away!
Adobea looks up sharply into the man’s face, her eyes desperately roving the man’s face, her own face filled with hope.
Really? Can you help? You will not let my Mom and Dad get divorced? You can do that? Because nobody can! My grandparents and my aunties and my uncles and my pastors and all the good, good people we know have talked and talked and talked and talked and still they have not been able to make the divorce go away and I’m so so so sooooo sad!
The man looks very sad indeed for a moment, and he nods slowly, his kind eyes never leaving the face of Adobea.
Well, sometimes these things happen, dear. But it’s okay. Let me try and talk to them too, okay? I know you go to church, and I know you’ve been praying very hard to God to help you.
ADOBEA (nodding vigorously)
Yes, yes, I have. But please don’t ask me to pray again. I prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed for many, many, many days and still God is not willing to answer me. That made me really sad because Sunday School Teacher says God can do anything, and nothing is impossible for God. But God has decided not to answer my prayers!
The old man laughs then. It is a rich laugh filled with such good and genuine mirth that Adobea begins to smile too.
I understand you, Adobea. I heard a story once about a man who prayed and prayed but God would not grant his wish to own a car, and so he stole a car and prayed to God to forgive him. He said God always finds it easier to forgive sins than to grant requests!
He and Adobea begin to laugh, and Takyi laughs too, just like Naa Shormei, the lawyer. It is only Afia whose expression does not change.
To be continue tomorrow, comment and share