September 23, 2023


For splendid leisure

Remorse For A Past Misadventure

2 min read

Sally Green had been a young woman sent to Ghana in 1985 by the British Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO). She was one of a number of volunteer aid workers, mostly young people newly graduated from university. They were assigned to projects throughout the country, many teaching in schools, but Sally was given a particularly tough task at Yendi, a remote town in the Northern Region, about 70 kilometres east of the regional capital, Tamale. Sally’s work in helping to promote new income-earning opportunities for rural people, especially women, was supported by the Intermediate Technology Transfer Unit (ITTU) in Tamale, where Kwame Mainu was employed as an assistant manager.

Yendi was notorious as a centre of tribal conflict requiring the periodical intervention of the Ghana Army. When trouble erupted, Sally was relocated at the Tamale ITTU where she spent most of her leisure time in the company of Kwame and they became close friends. At that time, Kwame Mainu was focussed on finding a way to escape overseas, and he came to wonder if Sally might present the opportunity he was seeking. A romance blossomed and expectations were raised, but the end of Sally’s posting came before plans could be finalised. Shortly afterwards, however, Kwame had a chance to attend a short course in England and Sally sought a reunion, but he had succeeded in enrolling on a three-year degree course at Warwick University starting the following year and felt that Sally was no longer needed. They met only once, at Gatwick airport on his departure back to Ghana. Now, 13 years later, she had returned as Mrs Lockington-Smythe and Kwame hadn’t recognised her!

He sat for a long time, head in hands, deep in thought. Why hadn’t he recognised Sally? Perhaps the first reason was a change in her hair. In Ghana it had been pale blonde, today she had light brown hair. In Ghana she had an unkempt look, today she wore her hair permanently waved. In Ghana her skin was very pale, today it was concealed under a layer of make-up. Then she was thirteen years older and had risen in VSO to a senior position requiring the projection of a mature and responsible image. She had appeared at short notice and said nothing to reveal her identity. She even gave a completely different name, presumably her married surname. If she had planned to deceive she had succeeded.

The interview had taken him through a brief re-run of his career at the TCC and GRID from 1980 to 1992. It had provided an Ashanti road ride of emotions from pride in success to pain of failure. Above all, it had brought back feelings of remorse over his treatment of Sally. Such past mistakes cannot be undone, he reflected miserably, the future can be faced without pain only in the firm resolve never to repeat them. With such self-counsel Kwame slowly recovered his balance of mind and the power to look forward to life with his restored family.

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