My husband has long told me that many Ghanaian men would stare at me in an obvious-creepy-manner. Almost shamelessly… or better: proudly. To put it shortly, my husband often tells me that some man is ogling me (since we’re in Ghana, that is).
Isn’t he sweet… –my husband? I always thought that he would say things like that to help me feel beautiful or sexy or interesting. But I knew better. Such thing is impossible. Not because Ghanaian men don’t ogle, oh they do. The Ghanaian men would ogle the Ghanaian ladies in their super tight clothings, and the Ghanaian ladies would know that they are being ogled, and play along by smiling flirtatiously, or fiddling with their stylish hairs, or moving around in the most interesting manners. I have watched such behaviours between Ghanaian men and women happened in the mall, restaurants, clubs, alliance francaise, etc.
Anyway, despite my being familiar to the Ghanaian ogling business, I couldn’t believe it when my husband said that I am being ogled quite frequently. As I said before, such a thing is impossible. Why is it impossible, you ask…? Oh, don’t make me explain.
See, people ogle Angelina Jolie’s smoldering look.
Or people ogle Meriah Carey’s voluptuous boobs.
But surely people won’t ogle me.
That photo of me above, was taken last Sunday, yes… only 2 days ago, taking my son for a little trip around our compound. That is how I look these days: a very comfy t-shirt, shorts or jeans, and a pair of flip flops. My dress code for most occasions.
Now tell me, who would ogle me…? You wouldn’t, would you? I can imagine I could get some well-deserved-disgusted-stares from fashionistas out there, but definitely not an ogle. 🙂
Having said all that, little did I know what was about to happen a few days ago.
— A Few Days Ago —
So off my husband and I went to Accra Mall –to do our weekly grocery shopping. He parked our car near Gate 1. We walked from our car to the gate, holding hands as usual, complaining about the dust as usual, and having our little conversation as usual (about quantum physics, numeric trigonometry, DNA mutations, bla bla bla mundane stuff).
Just before we reached that God-blessed-gate, my husband jolted my hand and abruptly stopped. I was stunned for a few seconds, but before I knew what was happening I heard my husband was talking to a schoolboy who stood –strangely– very near to me with a big grin on his face.
He must be about 12 yo, or 14 max. Perhaps about 5 cm shorter than me (and I am not tall, mind you). He was wearing his school uniform, a white shirt, and a pair of dark shorts.
I vaguely noticed that a group of schoolboys were walking in the opposite direction, but I didn’t pay attention to any of them. But my husband obviously did. He said to the boy, “Do you know her??” pointing a finger at me. I stood silently, flat faced, bewildered.
The boy, with a big grin on his face shook his head and said, “No”
My husband turned to me and asked, “Do you know him??” to which I answered “No”.
This is weird, I thought.
All that time the boy managed to keep the grin on his face. He looked somehow amazed at what he was looking at (that’s me, fyi). The look on his face was priceless.
Trying to be polite, I took my sunglasses off, and calmly said, “How are you?”
At the very sight of my-uncovered-eyes, his own eyes were widened, and his big grin got bigger, and he just stood there marveling at me (or so it seemed). He nodded as a response to my small talk. Not the right answer for a ‘how are you’ but he was probably off somewhere else in his head. 🙂
Never will I say that I have pretty eyes, but they are the best feature of my face (I think), and to make things clear, let me describe how I looked that day we met the boy. I was wearing a loose comfy t-shirt. A pair of tatty jeans. A pair of worn out flip flops. No make-up none whatsoever. I didn’t even brush my hair, it was simply tied back to a simple pony tail. Suffice to say that I was not dressed to impress.
To break the awkwardness, my husband suddenly said in a light-hearted tone, “Isn’t she the most beautiful woman in the world?” (I kicked him –furtively– for saying that) 🙂
The boy, still oddly grinning, raised both hands and gave us 2 thumbs up! He said, “Yes!” promptly and nodded vigorously (still grinning, mind you).
I got shivers down my back, and cued my husband to move on to the gate and leave the poor thing alone. I put my sunglasses back down on my face, and casually walked away from the boy taking with me my sometime-hard-to-believe husband.
At the gate, I curiously turned my back to see if he was still there. Lo and behold, there he was. Standing still, facing towards me (still grinning!), not caring that all of his friends were already along way ahead of him.
So my husband was right. I do get ogled sometimes. 🙂 But the whole experience lit a light bulb inside my head. All the things about how the Ghanaians would be so generous with their expression to the beauty in the world.
The morals of the story are:
- Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. 🙂
- If something is beautiful, don’t be afraid to marvel at it. If something is attracting you, let the world know it.
I remembered how many times I have been stopped by strangers at the market (in Makola) just so that they could tell me that they think my bracelet is pretty. I remembered how many times my maid told me that she thinks some of my shirts are nice. I remembered how many times the nurse at my chiropractic stroked my hair and said it’s beautiful.
Yes, marveling the beauty of God’s creation is not a sin, and the Ghanaians know this since a very young age. God bless the Ghanaians. 🙂
Dian Retno Wulandari. Lessons learned.