I went to Adum, Kumasi some years ago to get a new phone. I entered a shop and met this young sweet guy seated behind the counter. He asked what I wanted and I told him I needed a phone. He asked, “Which phone do you like?” I said, “I want something not too expensive that can do all the things the expensive ones do.” He said, “You’re chasing an impossible dream. How can something inexpensive do what the expensive ones do?” He asked about my budget and I told him. He picked three phones from the shelf and said, “You can buy any of these phones and they would serve you better.”
I picked one of the phones and walked away. Three days later, this phone refused to work. It won’t come on and when it finally did, it shut off when you least expected it. I went back to the shop to see the guy. I told him what the issue was and he said, “Just leave it here for a day, I will get it fixed for you.” I asked, “Ain’t you supposed to give me a new one? It’s only been three days?” I left and came the next day to collect my phone. Just a day after, the phone started acting up again. I was so angry I decided to go to the shop there and collect my money.
Immediately after school, I rushed there; “Young man, I’m tired of coming here every day just because of a phone. I don’t want it again. Just take your phone and give me my money.” It turned into an exchange of words. He didn’t want to take the phone. I insisted I wanted my money back. Then a man in his late thirties came from behind the shop and asked what the issue was. I explained everything to him. He was very calm about it. He said, “Young lady, please follow me to my office.” I did. He took the phone, looked at it and said, “I’m sorry you have to go through all that. This brand of phone is like that. When you’re lucky, you won’t have problems with it but people often buy and regret it later.”
I sat there listening to him, hoping he would solve my problem for me once and for all. He asked, ”Are you a teacher?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “I like your uniform.” I said, “Thank you.” He checked the phone for some minutes and called the guy to bring a new phone. He said, “I like teachers and I hate it when they go through troubles. Take this one and take my number too. If you get any problem at all, just call me.” I said thank you and before I would leave he said, “I want to learn how to speak English, would you teach me?” I laughed and said, “I can if you want to.” He said, “I’m serious.” I said, “Just let me know when you are ready.”
A week later, the phone fell from my hand and got cracked right through the middle of the screen. That was when I remembered to call him. He said, “Come to the office when you’re free.” I went there after school and met him. He said, “You are come back again?” I laughed and said, “Yes I’ve come back again.” He asked, “Is my Engrish collect?” I said, “You are trying. Small small you’ll improve.” He said, “When my Engrish come, I swear I won’t talk Twi again. Everywhere I go, Engrish nkoaa.” Instead of fixing my phone for me, he gave me a new phone and asked me to teach him English in return.
We began talking to each other often and whenever he made a mistake, I corrected him. He picked new words effortlessly and used them in a sentence immediately. One day, he called and asked the English name for bankye. I said, “Bankye is called ‘cassava’ in English.” He said, “Saturday, buy cassava and do fufu…” he said the rest in Twi. He wanted to tell me to prepare fufu so he comes around and visit.” I laughed it off. He said, “Fufu is my best friend.” I said, “Say fufu is my best meal.” He repeated the sentence effortlessly. I said, “Good, say it that way. Fufu is not human to be your best friend.”
We started bonding in a special way I didn’t anticipate. I enjoyed conversations with him because of the fun he brought. It got to a time, we were always on phone talking about meaningless things. One day he said, “It’s like am love you but my mouth is heavy to say it.” I told him, “Say it in Twi because I can’t understand what you’re trying to say.” He laughed and said, “Twi is heavy for my mouth. Love is easy in Engrish than in Twi.” I could make him pronounce all words correctly but strangely, I couldn’t make him say ‘English.’ He will always come back to say ‘Engrish.’
I had known him for over six months and had come to appreciate the kindness in his heart. He hadn’t gone to school. He didn’t know how to speak English but he understood the language of money and knew how to turn a cedi into two. He had two phone shops and sachet water making machine that he rents out to people. He lives in his own house and drives his own car. I had gone to school to learn English and arithmetic but still didn’t have a bicycle to my name. So that day when he made that lousy proposal, I said, yes to him. He asked, “Madam, say you’re doing me roff.” I said, “I’m serious.”
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So we started dating. Every day of our dating life became English lessons. He always had questions in Twi that ought to be translated into English. The fun that came out of teaching him filled my days with laughter. On Saturdays, I will go to the shop with him. We’ll count the money at the end of the day and I would send the money to the bank. There was nothing I asked that he didn’t give. When I started my degree program at the UCC, he paid for it. Somedays he would drive me to campus and come for me when lectures close. He’ll meet my friends and begin to speak his bad English. They laughed. I laughed with them.
Some Months before I finished my degree, we got married. During our wedding rehearsal, the pastor asked which language we would prefer for the wedding. He shouted, “Engrish.” The pastor asked, “Are you sure?” He said, “Yes, Engrish is easy!” The pastor read a line and he repeated after him. He was getting most of the words wrong but he told the pastor, “My wife is my teacher. She’ll teach me and I’ll say all correct.” In the house, I taught him the lines. During the exchange of vows on the wedding, the pastor said, “I…” He said, “I Amos Boateng…” The pastor continued, “Take you Evelyn Osei to be my wife…” My husband echoed, “Take you Everyn Osei to be my wife…” Pastor: To have and to hold from this day forward..” My husband responded, “Pastor, you it’s ok, take me to Twi…” The congregation roared with laughter.
When we got to the hotel room after the wedding, he stood in front of the mirror admiring himself. He said, “I look like a president, don’t I?” I said, “You’re the president—my president from this day forward.”
Of course, if a man dedicates his life and resources in search for a better life, not for himself but for you, he can be nothing less but the president of your life. I was a classroom teacher when he found me. Today, I’m climbing up the GES hierarchy. He’s indeed my president.