I’m pulling weeds and trimming the grass outside our compound wall on a Saturday morning. It’s still cool in the shade of the concrete wall and the birds are singing. The air smells faintly of roasting cocoa beans from the plant.
I’m hacking away with my characteristic early morning vigor, lost in my own little world when I look up and notice two little boys staring at me from the other side of the ditch. I notice how their eyelashes curl upward, tiny black semi-circles.
They’re too young to answer my greeting. It’s common for the very young to be shy about addressing a white person. They’ll call out “Obruni, obruni!” until I answer and then run and hide behind their mother’s skirts.
I assume these two are simply curious and continue moving down the grass strip. I notice they are moving with me, nudging each other and playing together a little too loudly, no doubt hoping I’ll look up again but I don’t.
And then I notice Theresa, my next door neighbor has pulled out a chair and now is sitting at the edge of the strip watching me work. We extend our greetings and I keep on working.
I assume she has come out into the shade to work on something, but when I glance her way again, she is simply sitting with her hands in her lap watching me work.
That’s when I decide I’ve made enough progress on the grass out front. I’ve trimmed a yard or so on either side of our main gate and it isn’t getting any cooler. I say good-bye to Theresa and reach over the gate to unlatch it. There are some things I enjoy doing with an audience but yanking weeds is not one of them.