Tuesday, August 18, 2009

At least he tries



Main Market, Bamenda. Everything that can walk, walks on and off the market. We parked our car. My father-in-law is sitting behind the steering wheel. Three of us sit in the back. With Sister Jane on the right side, Small Quinta in the centre and me right behind my father. My wife is looking for some jewelry for her brother on the market. The sun is high in the sky. All windows are open. We wait patiently.


A hawker with 10 breads on his head and one in his hand walks up to the car. Pushes his hand with a bread through the driver’s window and asks: “Bread?” With a short movement of the arm, father makes it clear that the hawker is not wanted. Now my window, same bread same question: “Bread?” I answer politely: “No thanks.” He pushes his arm even further into the car. Small Quinta answers: “No!” Then he even tries, as far as it goes without dropping the ten breads on his head, to reach Sister Jane. And repeat his question. Sister Jane answers: “No!”

The hawker moves from the car. With some respect I say: “At least he doesn’t give up that easily.” And he shows up on the other side of the car. Putting his arm through he right front window. With the same bread he pops the same question. Followed with the same gesture of my father in law. He moves to the right back window. “Bread?”, he asks. “No”, answers Sister Jane. The predictable answer of Small Quinta follows: “No” Now his whole arm stretches over the back seats. Just out of curiosity I ask him: “If I don’t want your bread on the left side of the car. What makes you think I want to have it on the right side of the car?” Not understanding the question he looks at me. And repeats his question: “Bread?” I answer: “No.” And recognize, at least he tries.

Auke VanderHoek

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