Saturday, 31 July 2010

Silent No's

22-23 July 2010
These are some encounters with people in the last two days where I had to say no silently.
Last Sunday when I was standing near the Lorry Station of Bolgatanga waiting for Rose, a bulky man came near me and asked me whether I was an Indian and started telling me a story how he had met an Indian who had given him an Indian currency note and blah blah blah. From his ragged clothes which surely had not been washed for many days and his way of speaking, it was clear that this man had some mental problem. Fortunately I could get away from him in a short time as Rose came.
Yesterday I had gone to Bolgatanga for accessing internet and searching information relating to my assignment. I wanted to start for Bongo as early as possible because all the public transport to Bongo just ends by 5:00 pm. It started raining heavily and I had to wait till the rain receded. That meant I was most likely to miss the last shared taxi going to Bongo. Heavy drizzle receded at about 5:00 and I walked to the Lorry Station. While I was searching for the shared taxis, this man caught me again and started asking me where I wanted to go. As I was desperately searching for taxi to Bongo, I just told him so. He took me to the correct location and fortunately I got the last Tro Tro going to Bongo. Now Tro Tro is the name for a small mini bus or Jeep like passenger carrier going. This was a specially arranged one as the taxis could not go to Bongo due to muddy roads which had become unsafe for small taxis.
This man opened the door of the drivers compartment and told me to sit there. I just sat. Then again he started to tell me the stories of how he works hard and gets very little money. Then he asked me if he could give me a cigarette to smoke. When I told him that I don't smoke, he started the story of Rupee note again and whether I could exchange it with him. When I told that I don't have any use of that note, he started asking me at least if I could give him a one. I said I would give him that next time. After realising that I am not giving in to his indirect pleas for giving something to him, he left.
Even though he had helped me and I had an urge to give him something, I did not give him anything. Why? I shall be passing via Bolgatanga Lorry Station at least two times a day, once a week, 52 weeks a year. That means I shall be making 104 visits to Lorry Station and the probability of this man catching me is at least 50% as he is always hanging around the place. Can you imagine poor me giving in to his pleas and repeatedly hearing his story meeting an Indian man for 52 times?
Here is another encounter, though small, but again making me say no by remaining silent. Today in the morning a lady came in the office and started speaking with my boss. She was very loud and vocal and was wearing fashionable clothes and ornaments. My boss went outside for some work and she kept on sitting on the sofa. She asked me what I was doing there in the office. I tried to explain her about pro poor programmes and their designs and management etc. She told me that she was poor and needed a loan badly for the modernisation of her restaurant and further told me to give her a loan. I had to suppress my laugh and explained her how helpless I was in doing so.
After a while I asked her if she uses Shea Butter. Now Shea Butter is an indigenous product of Northern Ghana and is one of the intervention on which I shall be working. Shea Butter is used as cosmetic and food. She started explaining me how she uses it by adding some herbs to the butter and applying it daily to the skin. She repeatedly showed her palms and arms and how smooth they were and how nicely they smell. She further wanted me to go near her and smell her hand. I could perceive that it was all done innocently with the natural boldness in her but I had my own limits. This was all happening when actually I meant to ask her how she uses Shea Butter as a food ingredient. I had to remain silent and just let the subject end their.