I used to hop across the road and bring her home from school.
We would have lunch together.
I enthused her so much about Ghanaian food that on the first occasion she visited Ghana and she was asked by the hotel staff what she wanted for breakfast, she replied: “Fufu and soup!”
She was bemused when they laughed at the idea. But they brought her the fufu and soup – early in the morning as it was.
She’s back to have lunch with me today. She’s looking radiant – I flashback unintentionally to how her Grandma used to look all those years back! There’s no doubt at all that she’s inherited some of her Grandma’s genes – those that produce beauty in a woman.
I feed her – fufu and soup! Chicken-and-groundnut soup, I’ll have you know.
She likes the taste and asks me whether I’d done some “magic” on it.
“I added a bit of mint sauce to it,” I revealed.
She laughed. “I thought you only used fresh stuff in your cooking?”
“I do! But there were no fresh mints to be had. I used to obtain mint imported from Kenya. But those I find in the supermarkets these days are of an inferior quality. So I make do with mint sauce, but it’s got to be done carefully. Too much and you ruin the soup! Too little and you might as well not have bothered.”
She liked my soup. And I was satisfied with that.
Then, she casually asked me what I thought of the “Friday, the thirteenth” massacre in Paris.
“Oh, it was Friday, the Thirteenth, was it?”
I like to blot that date out of my mind. For on that date, a simple operation performed on me went terribly wrong. I heard the doctor who performed it talking to her senior as I lay on the operating table, undergoing “corrective surgery”. She must have assumed that I was unconscious.
This lady doctor confessed to her boss with a little laugh: “As soon as I started operating, I said to myself, ‘Today is Friday, the thirteenth and I shouldn’t be operating!’ I shouldn’t have said that, for my mother is Irish and we believe that Friday, the thirteenth is a very bad day. And then I found myself nervous as I operated. And the operation all went wrong!’
“Yiee!” I thought to myself. “A doctor who has been through scientific training for seven or so years can become nervous because she is operating on ”Friday, the thirteenth”? I thank my lucky tars that I am alive to hear that. I could be as dead as a door-nail right now!”
I was incensed at what the doctor said. I thought a dirty trick had been perpetrated on me!
For I had not been due to have my operation that day at all. My appointment was for the coming week. But at about 5 pm, just when the hospital’s day clinics were was about to close, a woman called me on the telephone and asked me whether I’d like to have my operation brought forward to the next day.
“On Friday, the thirteenth?” I asked innocently.
But the woman at the other end of the phone was the devil incarnate. She very quickly swerved my mind away from the Friday, the thirteenth issue. She said, “Yes, 13th July” (omitting the “Friday”).
Now, the media are always talking about “waiting lists” on the National Health Service in the UK, so I actually regarded it as a bit of good luck that my operation was being brought forward.
So I said, “That’s will be okay.”
And I had been put in the hands of a scientifically-trained doctor who was psychologically under the influence of the superstition regarding Friday, the Thirteenth! I still quake with anger when I think about the irony behind it.
I told my grand-daughter: “Yes, the murders in Paris took place on Friday, the thirteenth, but they may not have chosen that day deliberately.”
“But they would have had to plan it ahead?” she shot back.
I said: “Sure! But they could have planned it and got ready, waiting. Then when something happened that they thought was advantageous to them, they struck.”
“What could that event have been?”
“It was probably the murder, by drone, of the notorious ‘Jihadi John’ who had been posting videos of himself on Youtube conducting the gruesome beheading of Westerners captured by the Isis terrorist group.”
“You mean that triggered the attacks? But that was done by the Americans?”
“Yes, I know, but in the eyes of ISIS, the entire West is one entity. What I am saying is that the coincidence is amazing – if it was one. You find the Americans openly telling everyone – if not boasting – that they had killed Jihadi John. Then this happens in Paris the next day. And there is absolutely no connection? I doubt it. ISIS is absolutely convinced that its cause against the West is right!”
“So they were ready and waiting, and then they got an event that triggered them to action?”
“Yes, it’s not above them to have “sleeping agents” on the ready, with targets selected, weapons primed, who have the capability to strike within moments of a signal being given!”
“Wow! And they don’t care about killing civilians?”
“Sorry – they would tell you that the war the Western countries are waging in Syria, principally, but also in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and other countries, are all against targets that immolate thousands of civilians. Have you seen the Al-Jazeera TV footage, taken by drone, showing how the big Syrian city of Aleppo has been laid to waste totally? You can find it at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQjw2BVRVg8
“Thank you, I shall look for it.”
“When you view it, ask yourself, ”If I were a Syrian, what would I think of such wanton destruction in my country?”
“The West bombs these places from the air, knowing what damage their powerful bombs can inflict on civilian populations, yet they complain when their civilian populations are targeted in revenge?”
“The hypocrisy is beyond belief. As if the non-Europeans who are killed are not human beings! They see people trying to reach Europe to escape from the devastation in towns like Aleppo, and they are horrified: ‘They are coming to enjoy and ruin our style of life!” That they are genuine refugees from a genuine Armageddon in their countries doesn’t cut any ice with people like the Hungarians, or some of the British Conservatives. They can see people willing to die on the sea in overcrowded, rickety boats than stay to be burnt by bombs from the sky, and they call them “migrants!” in order not to feel any responsibility towards them.
There is a complete disconnect, in the typical Western mind, between Western governmental actions (bombing many foreign territories with each country’s powerful Air Force and drones) and death and destruction on the ground in those territories, that cause people to flee with their entire families, hoping to reach safety in Europe. Let me read to you, a quote from the Daily Telegraph, a British right-wing newspaper which does not exactly carry ‘anti-Western’ propaganda. An article by its Correspondent, Harriet Alexander says:
Quote “14 Nov 2015….
“Every Western capital knows that Islamist extremists would love to strike a blow at its heart. But few are so tantalising a target as Paris. Why? The short answer is that France fights jihadists worldwide; has one of the largest Muslim populations in Europe… It also has a steady stream of guns pouring in from across continental Europe’s porous borders. It is a potent, explosive mix – as shown by the Charlie Hebdo [magazine] attacks of January,  and now the Paris shootings.
“This is for Syria,” one of the Paris attackers reportedly said. But he could have said it was for Mali, or Libya, or Iraq. Indeed, France takes pride in its proactive stance against Islamists worldwide, especially in the face of what is frequently seen as British and American retreat.
“Over 10,000 French troops are currently deployed abroad – over 3,000 in Western Africa, 2,000 in Central [African Republic], and 3,200 in Iraq. French intervention in Mali, against al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, in 2013 was seen as pivotal in the weakening of the jihadi group. ….And last week President Francois Hollande announced that France will deploy an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf to assist the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil), setting him on a collision course with the Islamist leaders.” Unquote.
“So the attack on Paris makes sense, from the jihadist point of view?”
“I am afraid so. And given that background the French were remiss in not seeing it coming.”
I used to hop across the road and bring her home from school.