So it was a Saturday and the lights were on which was good news because it meant I could do the cooking marathon I had in my mind for some time now. Thanks to dumsor, one had to up her organizational and time or should I call it electricity management skills? Because procrastination has no place in this era. Whatever needs to be has to be done in the fastest time possible because even within the ‘Sor’ period, there could be intermittent “dum-dum” which almost every Ghana is used to by now.
And in case I’ve lost you, Dumsor is the latest Ghanaian term to go international. Doubt me? Why not take a minute and check Wikipedia and find out for yourself? Yep!
So back to my story. Thankfully, the lights behaved well…no unpleasant surprises (though expected). Little did I know ECG had a little trick up its sleeve. I finished my chores around 4p.m. Whew! I didn’t know I could multitask in a few hours until now. I guess the saying that in every opposition is an opportunity stands here-at least I learnt how to do much in a limited time. The last but one thing I had to do was to visit the salon. My hair needed some special treatment after being scorched by the merciless sun all week.
I rushed there, putting other stuff on hold so I wouldn’t be found wanting when the clock struck 6p.m. and the lights went off. And the punctuality of the Dum time is impressive! If all state institutions could be prompt about their duties, Ghana would be totally transformed in six months! But ironically, what deserves the most attention is relegated to the background and what need not be is executed to the letter (or I should say to the second, since when it comes to Dumsor, every second counts?)
I arrived at the salon to find the hairdresser cleaning up the place. She asked me to wait while she finished up. I looked at my phone to check the time almost every minute to make sure I was still in the safe zone. It seemed so but one can never tell with ECG.
She washed my hair amidst chatting with a friend which slowed her down a bit. I was getting agitated. Had she forgotten what era we were in and there was no time to be dilly-dallying about? I managed to keep my cool, waiting for her to finish. Then she received a phone call just when she started putting on the rollers. Why were my guts telling me I wouldn’t leave the salon happy?
Like an eternity later, she was done and I got up to go sit under the drier. Just when she turned the knob, ECG came a-visiting! I couldn’t believe it. I looked at the hairdresser, not sure whether to blame her for my predicament or find something else to displace my displeasure on.
“Oh, so what are we going to do?” she asked. Was she serious? I checked my phone and it was a few minutes after five. What did it mean? Was it just one of their silly jokes which would end in the next minute or two or did the plague of darkness just arrive early today?
I tapped my feet in frustration. Should I wait a little while or just walk home with my head looking twice as big than usual? I decided to wait. Five minutes turned to ten and then to fifteen. I got up. I wasn’t ready to spend the little day time left waiting in the uncomfortably warm salon whiles there were other things I had to attend to before darkness fell.
I quickly walked home since time and tide wait for no man. I think the Dumsor era has made a lot of sayings make sense to me now. As if someone was trying to play a trick on me, immediately I stepped my foot into the house, I heard the familiar “Yay!” shout which signified jubilation for the lights being back on. When people were celebrating new inventions and people travelling into space and all, we on the other side were rejoicing because the lights were back on? No wonder, the continent kept trailing behind the others.
I looked at the clock. It was 5:35pm. 25 minutes till the real deal. Do I rush back or just forget about it? I could find a way around my hair for church service the next day. I chewed on my lip for a moment. It would be better if I rushed back.
I scolded myself for not exercising a little more patience before coming back home. The time spent on walking to and fro the salon could have dried up my hair a bit. I quickened my steps. I sighed in relief when the salon came in view. The sigh of relief turned into a look of disbelief when I heard “Oh!” from all over. I froze in my tracks.
This wasn’t happening. It was as if I had signed up for some twisted version of musical chairs; only in this case it was ECG being the D.J. I looked back where I came and then at the salon. Here was the promised land but it seemed I would never get there. I could feel my lips growing longer with frustration, possibly longer than the famous Pinocchio’s.
“Ah!” was all I could say. I turned back and I took painfully slows steps towards home, hoping and praying that the lights would come back on before I got too far. Suddenly, I heard some kids shouting “Yay!” again and for that moment, it was like music in my ears. I practically ran to the salon. The hairdresser smiled when she saw me. I quickly sat down and she turned on the knob. I looked at the phone. 5:43p.m. Not enough but better than not at all.
A woman in need for a hair wash entered. Was it wise for her to even try it? Few minutes to six. Ah well, it was her cup of tea, not mine. The hairdresser, not willing to turn away a customer despite the high chance of dumsor interrupting her, began washing her hair.
I checked my phone again. 6:05p.m. Okay, maybe my neighbourhood had found favour in someone’s eyes at ECG. She finished with the washing and started putting on the rollers. She seemed pretty quick this time. What dumsor can do!
I came out and she sat in my place. The hairdresser took out the rollers and combed it out. Eh, I hadn’t ironed for church! If only I got home just in time to….
“Oh!” Darkness was upon us again and it was obvious it was going to stay till dawn. The woman under the drier started grumbling. I tried hard to stifle my laugh. I paid the hairdresser, thanked her and walked out.
I could still hear the woman’s irritated grumbles as I walked on.The ‘dum’ session was on and you can bet it was here to stay!
*ECG: Electricity Company of Ghana Limited-for the non-Ghanaians reading this piece.
Josephine Amoako (c) 2015.