Kwame Mainu’s estranged wife, Comfort, had stayed in Kumasi, Ghana, throughout his absence in England and so she was much more familiar with the local social scene. In trying to discover if drugs trafficking was being revived, he needed to know what was happening in the Lebanese community with which Comfort had some connection, so he asked her if she could provide any information about their notorious parties. Comfort told Kwame that she would ask one of the girls she knew, who had recently attended the parties, to call on him at his university chalet.
It was one evening in July 1995 that the expected visitor, Janet Dery, arrived. She told him that she had seen some instances of drugs use at the parties but mostly confined to the locally-available wee, or cannabis, and not the foreign hard drugs cocaine or heroin. She also said that she no longer attended the parties since Comfort had helped her to start a shoe trading business. Kwame thanked Janet for her help and they sipped soft drinks in silence. The interlude gave Kwame a chance to appraise his visitor.
Janet Dery was certainly an attractive young woman, well up to the selection standards set by the Lebanese in past generations. He could be excused for having mistaken her in the shadows of the street for a youthful Comfort. Now he saw her in the light, however, Kwame had to admit that he still preferred the original. This thought surprised him, and he wondered how Comfort would feel about it if she knew. She would probably say something about him growing old, he reflected ruefully.
‘Do you want me to stay the night?’ The question roused Kwame from his reverie. Did he? Should he? Was Comfort playing a joke on him? Was she testing him? Or was Janet taking a chance to augment her income? That was it; she wanted some money. ‘It’s kind of you to offer,’ he said, ‘but I’ll telephone for a taxi to take you home.’ Then he told her that the information she had given him was valuable and pressed a twenty pound note into her hand. He knew she would prefer the hard currency, and that exchanged into Ghanaian cedis at a Forex bureau it would be regarded as a large sum. He added a few cedis to pay for the taxi.
It seemed to Kwame that Janet departed happy and a little confused. I guess she doesn’t get turned down very often, he mused. Had he made the right decision? He knew that whichever way he had turned he would regret it for years to come. Why were women sent to inflict such torture? At the same time that he agonised over Janet, however, he knew that Comfort posed a much bigger challenge to his peace of mind. That night, there were many more beats of the ceiling fan before sleep released him from his torment.