A couple of days ago, I went to a pub in search of a tranquil escape. As I approached the entrance, I was politely welcomed by a strikingly beautiful young lady; she was heavily endowed. Her angular anatomies were to the precision of a protractor, and the flesh that wrapped her coccyx was enormous. I felt immediately seduced by the welcome. Her blue pair of fitting jeans demarcated her curvaceous contours, and her tight white turtleneck top highlighted her nipples on her chest.
As she was ushering me in, I looked at her burgundy pair of stilettos—red high heels, in the language of the classroom teacher. The heel breast of her stilettos was slender, but it was strong enough to support her voluptuous body. In short, one or two principles of gravity or pressure were defied. She glided on the heels with finesse and style. I shudder to believe that she had gone to the School of Stilettos to practice how to walk on them. I swear, if I were given the whole day, I wouldn’t be able to make a step on those high heels. The “kop-kop” sound the heels’ top piece made with the tiled floor created an aura that I was in an expensive environment.
I walked straight and richly to sit by an azure-tainted glass, so that I could look over the rumbling sea waves and lose myself in its beauty and serenity. The lady said I could not sit by those tainted glasses. She mentioned that those seats were exclusive and required payment. I almost asked her, “Because of why?” Just sitting on those seats to catch the clear and mesmerising seascape requires payment. She told me that I could use any other seat apart from those that were marked exclusive. I gnashed my teeth in anger. I mean, how can you commodify an unencumbered view of the sea? It’s God’s free gift to humankind, and I thought that was the lowest point of capitalism.
I moved to a different seat with reluctance. The reluctance was obviously my ego deceiving me because my pocket knew very well that I could not afford the seat. Where I moved to sit deprived me of a free view of the splashes of the sea’s waves and its cool breeze. I could not catch sight of the coastline where the sea kisses the land in wonderment. Out of my glimpse was the moment where the snaking sea waves retreated. Occasionally, I giraffed to behold nature’s events yonder the sea. This was not what I bargained for, but my account balance provided me with no options.
The bar lady came over and asked politely, “Can I pick your request?” First, I ordered a 500-ml bottle of water because I was told I could not come in with my own water. She attended to my order. She returned in a fraction of an hour to take my order again. Clearly, I realised that their pub was not an escape destination for mere water sippers. I particularly didn’t have anything in mind, and she read my thoughts like a fortune teller. “Can I pick something nice for you”, she asked with a broad smile, as if she were auditioning for a Colgate’s advert. I nodded my head in the affirmative, and she left, walking like the famed femme fatale, Mata Hari.
She returned swiftly with a small Collins glass of yoghurt with a slice of pineapple affixed to the edge of the glass. There was also an egg dissected and sandwiched with pepper, garnished with fresh vegetables. But for the finely sliced vegetables in the egg, it would have passed for the common “kosua ni moko” sold in every street in Accra.
I took five considerate sips of the yoghurt and the glass was technically empty. However, the taste of the yoghurt was very familiar with my favourite yoghurt drink, Hollandia. So, my thirst buds yearned for more. I gobbled down the egg in two bites. It was so delicious that I had to tongue-roll the last bite for several minutes in my mouth to relish the sumptuousness.
I raised my head and saw the bar lady in the distance, and I beckoned for her. I wanted to re-order her “pick for me” but I was seized momentarily by the wise spirits of my ancestral home, Savelugu. Rather, I asked her to give me the bill for my orders.
She returned with a booklet and opened it slightly on my face, as if she were showing me her nude picture in the precincts of a holy cathedral. I saw the three-digit bill clearly, and I started gazing around for a possible scalable fence that I could jump over. I told her that I have a serious eye condition known as diplopia, a medical condition that causes me to see things double-double. I requested that she mention the bill to me, as my eyes were not “eyeing” at all. She mentioned the bill figure individually, “Oh! Sorry for your eyes. The amount is ‘just’ three, one, nine cedis”. I panicked under my bottoms. It was not the 319 that necessarily got me terrified, but the “just” in her statement. That amount is a significant portion of my meagre salary, and I can’t take it lightly with anyone disrespecting such a gargantuan amount with a four-letter word, “just”.
I was quiet for a moment, and the first idea that came to mind was to play deaf and dumb, but I discarded the idea as quickly as it was formed. I knew two good slaps were enough to blow my deaf and dumb cover. So, the first thing I said to the lady was, “The 319? Is it in the old Ghana cedis or the new Ghana cedis?” The lady smiled and said, “Sir, you are really funny. I like your sense of humour?” I know it was a compliment, but what I didn’t know was the appropriate response to give her because I was really serious and had no intention to sound “funny”. Nonetheless, I gave her a muted “thank you”.
My next bold move was to strongly insist that she provide me with an itemised bill. I wanted a bill in spreadsheet format, with headings including at least “item” and “unit price” on columns and my specific orders clearly written or printed on rows. She thought I was still in my “sense of humour” mode, but I made her appreciate that the pleats that sported my countenance were not my normal face. She eventually acquiesced and left to retrieve my itemised bill.
She returned with the verdict—the bill—and it felt like I was handed an exam paper on financial accounting. I have heard of the term net loss, but it has never really soaked into me until that very moment. I did a quick debit on the money on me, and I was left with a negative balance. The bill stared at me, ostensibly asking me, “Who sent you?”
Water (500 ml): 40 cedis
Bahcivan yoghurt: 185 cedis
Virgin egg with devil tongue pepper: 94 cedis
I asked the bar lady to excuse me for a moment. I then tried waking up from this no-longer-funny dream, but I returned to reality when the lady came back to remind me, “Sir, are you ready to settle your itemised bill?”. She enunciated “settle” and “itemised.” I excused her for the second time to have a deeper inner reflection on the cost of each item. But she was back in a blink of an eye. Clearly, she understood that I was unsettled with the bill, and she didn’t want to lose concentration on me before I embarked on the Journey of the Great Escape.
I started dialoguing with myself like a madman. So, this bottle of water is 40 cedis? Is it Zamzam water from the holy city of Mecca, or was it bottled from one of the most-talked-about springs in Heaven, where honey and milk flow unceasingly? The 500-ml bottle of water costs 3 cedis at Circle interchange; even the biggest 1.5-litre bottle is in the neighbourhood of 10 cedis. I began questioning the sanity and mental lucidity of whoever was in charge of the day-to-day running of the pub, especially on pricing.
For the yoghurt, I knew there was nothing “Bahcivan” in it. As a Hollandia connoisseur, I relished the familiar taste of it in the distal portions of my jaws and salivating buds. The 185 cedis charge on it could afford me at least ten Hollandias, not just a glassful of it. I was left wondering if I should enquire about the cost of the pineapple slice that was affixed to the edge of the glass. I know if it had a price tag, it would be more than a whole pineapple at Ashaiman Market.
The “virgin egg with devil tongue pepper” was the toughest one for me to accept because even fried ovaries will not cost this exorbitantly. To be absolutely honest, I wouldn’t even pay 50 cedis for an egg harvested from the loins of a nymph. Am I mad? How did we get here as a nation? How could the ubiquitous “kosua ni moko” that is sold for just 2 or 3 cedis skedaddle to 94 cedis? For a moment, I felt like requesting another itemised bill on the “virgin egg” and the “devil tongue pepper”.
Apparently, I knew there was no way out of my self-inflicted WKHKYD. I blamed myself for picking the wrong place for my relaxation. I mustered all the courage I had to pay the bill with the hard currency in my Momo wallet. To add insult to injury, my pain was further aggravated by the transfer charge and the notorious e-levy. On my way home, I kept asking myself if the police were aware of such open scams that ran in broad daylight. Obviously, allowing such scams to run in the heart of the capital city is a national security matter that could lead to a possible coup d’etat.
It has been almost a week now but I am yet to recover financially from the incident. The experience is hurting, but what is persistently hurting and recurring is the “kosua ni moko”. Undoubtedly, I was sold an ordinary egg at the cost of an ovary. I had imagined that if I ordered Banku with virgin tilapia; by now I would have been captured as a slave by the pub to wash dishes to defray my debt.
From now on, while in Accra, I am going to be extremely careful about where I go to relax or grab a drink. But as for the name of the pub, I won’t mention it. I desperately need co-victims to connect and share our experiences with one another.
Source: Hanan-Confidence Abdul