Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Box of talents

When my mum told me to work for my uncle in his shop during the vacation I wasn’t very happy until she mentioned that I would receive an allowance. I was saving to buy a new xbox so this wasn’t a bad idea after all. I collected games. As soon as a new game was release I had to get it. My first day at work was boring. My uncle introduced me to all the people who worked for him. There was Mrs. Owusu his supervisor, Jackie the cashier, Dela and Fiifi the porters. It’s really not the biggest of shops and besides the time people came to buy stuff in bulk to resell, Jackie was the only one who really did anything. My uncle really felt proud of his place though. He would always narrate the story of how he started off selling tins of milk and canned tomatoes on a table for his mother and how his amazing business skills was what put my mother and him through school. He never got tired of that story. After 3 days of doing practically nothing, well besides drawing comic characters and watching TV in my uncle’s office I felt bored.

My uncle was usually not around. Jackie would really not talk to me, for reasons I don’t know and Mrs. Owusu was always busy so I decided to go hang out with Dela and Fiifi. They usually sat together outside so I joined them. “Ei little boss.” They called me. I tried to explain to them that I was the boss’s nephew and that it’s his kids they should be calling that. They didn’t seem to understand. They were pretty boring so I decided to just stick to the TV but before I left I saw a girl about my age walk over to them. Fiifi stood up and went to pick some empty boxes for her. She collected them smiled and walked away. I went back to them and asked who she was. Just as I expected they teased me. They told me she would be back the next day.

The next day I waited for her. When she came I said hi. She said hello and asked for empty boxes. Dela got them for her while I asked what she was going to use them for. She seemed surprised. “I...I make gift boxes with them and sell them.” She replied. I smiled. “Do you put glitter and pink hearts all over them?” I teased. She giggled. “I don’t have glitter. I just draw.” She said collecting the boxes from Dela. My heart missed a beat. For some reason she looked cuter all of a sudden. “Let me see some of your drawings.” I said eagerly. She nodded and turned to leave. “I’ll make a box for you and bring it tomorrow. Bye.” She said and left. She was so cool. I noticed after she had passed that I didn’t ask her name. Tomorrow.

I was at work early the next day. My uncle came for a few hours and left as usual. It was Mrs. Owusu who ran the shots at the shop. She was so stern she gave me goose bumps. I brought my big notebook so I could show….the girl my own awesome drawings. She probably just drew flowers and butterflies. I sat outside with Dela and Fiifi after lunchtime. Their conversation wasn’t the most interesting but I was drawing anyway. “Cool.” I heard. I raised my head and saw her smiling. She was looking at my Spiderman drawing. “Thanks.” I said and sat up straight. I noticed a black plastic bag in her hand. She noticed I was staring and handed it over to me. “This is for you.” She said. I smiled and took it from her.

I opened the bag and saw a small black box with a drawing of Wolverine on the front and X-men written on the side. It was so awesome! “Wow!” I said. I couldn’t hide my excitement. She smiled. This was the coolest girl in the world. “Wait a minute, how do I know you didn’t trace it or let somebody else draw it?” I asked. She just sat down next to me, took my book and flipped over the page. In minutes she drew the same Spiderman I was drawing. She didn’t even go back to look at the picture. “Did you just do that from your head?” I asked after I noticed my mouth was open. “Yea, when I see something it stays in my head so I can draw it anytime.” She said. Dela brought her some boxes. “Wait! Don’t go. What’s your name?” I asked. “Samira. What about you?” she asked. “Frank.” I said. “Ok, I have to go now, bye.” She said shyly and turned to leave. I saw the box and called her back. “Samira, I didn’t give you the money for the box.” She turned around. “Oh that one is free for you.” She said and waved. I thanked her and waved back.

For the next few days Samira and I a lot of drawing together anytime she came to the shop. She even showed me how to make her boxes and how much she sold it for. She just got cooler and cooler every day. “What is this? One of your games?” My uncle asked pointing to the box Samira had made for me. “No, it’s just a gift box. A friend of mine made it for me. She comes here every day to collect old boxes.” I explained smiling. My uncle nodded. “What does she do with them?” He asked again picking it up and examining it. “She sells them.” I added. My uncle turned to look at me sharply. “For how much?” He asked again. “2 Cedis a box. Why?” I asked. My uncle put him hand on his hip. “Ei so this girl is making money. One empty box can make at least 3 of these. I’m going to start charging her.” He said and called Dela. He told him to start charging Samira 2 Cedi per box. I was speechless. “Uncle, but you don’t use the boxes. You always throw them away.” I shot out. “But now I can make money from them.” He replied and picked his keys to leave we went outside and counted the boxes. “When I come back I should have 8 cedis ok?” He said to Dela and left.

Samira was shocked by the new rules. She didn’t have any money to buy the boxes. “How about the money you get from selling the boxes?” I asked. She looked down. “I won’t be able to buy a ticket.” She explained. She was almost in tears. Her father had remarried. She lived with him and her step mother. Her church had an annual youth camp at Tamale, where her mother was and she was trying to make money to go so she can visit her. I felt sad instantly. I had both of my parents with me. She needed 60 Cedis for the trip and she just has 24. I decided to help her.

The next day I asked my uncle if I could get my allowance a bit early. He didn’t hesitate at all. I bought 10 boxes and enough water colour to make many boxes. We worked on the drawings together and finished 25 boxes. I took 20 to my mum’s bank and they bought everyone. My mum was so excited when I told her the idea so even though I sold 15 she bought the rest. Samira sold 3 but we had more than enough money for the trip. She was so excited. She could totally afford it now with lots of change.

My vacation ended when at the same time Samira travelled. It was the best vacation ever. I knew I was going back to school to envy my friends whose parents bought them new games but I didn’t care. So when my mum surprised me with an Xbox on my birthday I didn’t know what to say. She told me about how proud she was of me for helping Samira out. I couldn’t believe giving could ever let me get what I wanted.