The Melancholic James

Old man James sat in front of his porch as the sun caressed his harsh features. His face was relaxed- a rarity indeed, considering he always has a frown etched on his dark face. On Sunday afternoons like this, when all the folks were in church, he sat outside exuding a moment of serenity, like now. I almost gave in to the urge to take a picture commemorating oldman James's first smile in decades. Almost. Consequently, the chattering of people permeated the solemn atmosphere, effectively putting to death old man James' peaceful aura. Kickstarting his feet to life, he stood, grunted a good afternoon to me (much to my surprise since he'd effectively ignored me for the two and half hours I'd been staring at him- or maybe four hours, anyways-), he adjusted His brownish-whatever-coloured cap on his thinned hair and entered his salon before anyone could shout "Old man James". He doesn't look as old as his name implies, however, his never-smile-till-I-die demeanor added a decade to his 50ish self. On the flip side, not many could mess with old man James. I mean, his cold demeanor could give anyone a brain freeze. That, however, doesn't stop the people of Achimota from giving him names. A little payback for all the times he'd declined their festive dinner invitations, or their housewarming parties- which is everytime. So, behind closed doors, he's known as 'memuna' (always frowning), kakai (beast), James Debond (don't ask) among many other derogatory names- by kids and adults alike. I also didn't like him at first. Don't get me wrong but he is rude and scary. The last time, for instance, he'd sacked his client for crying too much and snotting in his shop. The client was two years old and it was raining heavily outside. Both mother and child would have been drenched if my mom hadn't let them in her shop. So yeah, Old man James has a terrible rep. However, hearing his life story from the town's Wikipedia, which is my mother, and writing it down, put things in perspective. Apparently, there was a time Old man James smiled. Believe it or not, he even laughed. Yep. Teeth and all. That was eleven years ago, before he lost his wife in a car accident. According to my mom, it broke him so bad he moved out of their town house in the estate-y side of Achimota, into his barber salon. It finally explains how he manages to keep up with his rent even though few people frequent his shop. Apparently, he's loaded. Anyways, sitting here side by side with Old man James' as he narrates his tragedy, in a voice with more than just coldness in it, will forever be one of my dearest moments in life. It's a shame you think I'd tell the most vulnerable parts of a person's life without said person's clarification. However, It's more shameful that no words can accurately describe the pain, longing, misery and regret running across his features. Apparently, 20th July, was his wife's eleventh year anniversary and he needed someone to talk to. Guess who played incompetent therapist to the melancholic old man James, this girl! For accuracy sake, let's ignore the "he needed someone to talk to" part. This is how the session began Me (suspiciously cheerful): Good morning Mr James Old man James (eyes narrowed in suspicion): *grunts* Me: How are you doing today Old man James: *less enthusiastic grunts* Me( still with a huge smile): Is it me or you sound...sad? As our elders say, happiness is the uhm... antidote for the uhm.. .heart but sadness...sadness is veeery bad, like terrible, you- Old man James (with a heavy sigh and wistful voice): I see your mother told you.. Me (with a heavily dumbfounded face because that's the longest sentence Old man James has ever said to me): Uhh

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artist, musician, writer, Luddite

Troy, United States