Natural Disaster

Razz writer Krissi Hill mixes it up a little bit with some creative writing about the imagined aftermath of Hurricane Sandy…

The tall palm trees blur into one as we rush past their rare and imposing presence. The majority have been chopped down to build huts and god knows what else, boats probably. That’s all they have here. The land, the goats and the sea. A lonely life for certain with 100 people to a village, or perhaps not. Perhaps it’s serene. Perhaps they’re friendly to each other. Perhaps they all share their food and sit in groups around fires discussing the day’s catch.

Who am I kidding. This is Western Africa. In just three days I’ve seen enough, it’s bad enough to be stared at continually, I can tell you for nothing that ginger haired freckly people aren’t too common in this tiny seaside town –

“Oh no”

The brakes screech as we swerve into the prickly rubber that I’ve been told is grass.

“What the hell happened?” I demand of the sheepish looking driver who’s still muttering good naturedly at the steering wheel, raising his arms in amused despair whilst I nurse the graze my gritty seatbelt has given me.

“I don’t know, I go look. Maybe I think we ran out of petrol”

Great. No petrol, no petrol station, no people, no signal, just one big semi-destroyed jungle.

“Urgh.” I can’t help but retch watching him suck the petrol out of the tank but what do you know the man’s succeeded. I guess the petrol will be mine to buy when we finally make it to the next shanty town. I don’t mind. If I can buy this guy a tank of petrol for 40 quid perhaps he’ll be able to earn enough money; feed his family, repair the leaking roof. That is until the tank runs out again.

I gasp involuntarily as we swerve around a pot hole. I think of Joseph’s home which he proudly showed me earlier. A small room of corrugated iron with a few blankets on the wooden floor, at least it has a floor I thought, and absolutely bizarrely a rather bashed but nonetheless still present flat screen television. That’s the odd thing about Ghana, these people live in absolute poverty but they still have their own televisions. For them football is the only way out, tuning in to illegal Sky Sports is the highlight of their day and even though their good natured jabs are generally the calm before the storm at least it’s only a few nosebleeds.

Photo Credit: Mini Fischel
Photo Credit: Mini Fischel

“How is your wife today, Joseph?”

“Mary has gone to market today to buy new cloth. It is a long walk but Sarra has gone with her.”

Mary. Joseph’s wife. Typical isn’t it that a stray like me should be adopted by the most ironically named couple in Ghana? She distrusts me though, scared of my blotchy face and “hair like fire”, scared that I might convince her daughters that they should go to University, scared about change. Everyone looks scared here. Scared or angry. Angry at me, angry at their unfaithful husbands, angry at the west for imposing ideals, angry at God for not giving enough fish this week, angry that the woman who serves plantain on the side of the road has a diamond ring from the tribe leaders son. This whole country is full of anger and confusion. Like an egg in the microwave waiting to explode.

Do you remember that, chemistry with Mr Lockworth, exploding eggs, the highlight of my cooking career? Of course it’s all gone now, but I can build another, make a start at least.

Create my own Eastwood High. That’s what people do isn’t it? When you lose all you have it puts things in perspective. You realise how lucky you were to have every opportunity, even those you moaned at and didn’t “grab by the horns” as Grandpa used to say. You want to give something back somehow; help those who were born with nothing. Joseph glances in the rear view mirror as an irrepressible sigh breaks the silence. Sandy. The name used to conjure images of Olivia Newton John desperately trying to grind to the beat in skin tight trousers. Not now. Everything has changed.

Written for Razz by Krissi Hill.

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