“Madam I will be right back!” he mouthed as he walked by, establishing eye-contact when I looked up. He was dressed in a blue uniform with his baton hanging from his belt. I assumed he was as one of the security men who patrolled Coconut Grove’s beachfront. Confused I nodded figuring he feared for my safety and wanted to inform me that he’d be abandoning his security post briefly.
Upon his return he walked boldly towards me grinning.
“I am back o! Good moring”
“Are you a student?” First question. Since I am usually reading or writing in my journal most people assume this. Of course it doesn’t help that I have that close-cropped Afro that in Ghana usually brands one as a secondary school student.
“Where are you from? Where are your people from?” He demanded as though I owed him an answer.
“I am from here.” I responded and immediately returned my eyes to my book hoping he’d get the hint.
“Oh really? I thought you were one of those negroes from Amrika. Your hair and your body structure is like them. Most of these people are students on vacation. Rich kids…you know?”
I’m beyond puzzled as to why I’m his victim for interrogation.
All this while, he was eyeing my backside even though I was seated and fully clothed in a skirt and top.
When I said I was Ghanaian, he wanted to know exactly where my family was from. Then as if on cue he switched languages on me to test my claim to the land.
“When did you arrive?” He now asked in Fanti.
“Around 6 yesterday…” My exasperated look made no impact on his attempt to barrel through his twenty questions.
“Aha! That’s why I didn’t see you. I had gone off duty! How long will you be staying?” He continued.
Exactly what was I supposed to be doing with this information? Where could such an awkward conversation possibly be headed? Was it a botched attempt at a pick-up routine? An attempt to ask for money for school fees or an ailing relative?
Figuring he had the vim to keep going, I decided to break his ascent when I sensed a pause in the conversation.
“Em…I need to finish this book.” I gestured to my saving grace, switching languages on him.
“Oh? Aaah. Ok. By all mins! Continue. Continue.” The awkward pause. And then because he looked like he’d opt for keeping silent company. I leaned back in my chair to end the love affair he was having with my behind. I shifted about nervously, gave him my best this-conversation-is-over look, said ‘buh-bye’ in a loud voice, and buried my livid head in a book.
What gives people the right to just walk into my personal space, stand over me, and quiz me? I am on vacation for crying out loud! I shouldn’t pay mad money to be harassed. Why did he feel I was the most approachable of all the negroes on the property?
I desperately wanted to know why he had approached me and what the long-term goal of that conversation had been. I would have given anything to have a glimpse at his mind map as he walked towards me.