They don’t really do birthdays in Ghana. If you ask a Ghanaian when they were born (something I do a lot), they genuinely have trouble remembering. So having a birthday here, particularly a not-so-impressive one like 36, doesn’t raise much excitement. The neighbourhood celebrated by beating up a thief at 2am outside our window, which was nice.
Auntie came in this morning, as Hannah and I were breakfasting, with a look on her face as if something important was about to be said. I figured she might know it was my birthday. Then she whipped out a pair of pants and threw them down emphatically on my breakfast. They turned out to be Hannah’s, but fortunately were clean. She had found them hanging up on the balcony where we dry our washing, and figured Hannah might need them.
I spent a stimulating day writing about migrant social protection regimes, with occasional breaks to pant and drink water, then Hannah came home and cooked a sort of English comfort-food-with-Ghanaian-ingredients dinner, which was really nice. Suffice it to say that it ended with candles stuck in small plastic whales on top of pineapple fritters, with fan milk. I don’t have the energy to party, so this was the perfect solution. And now I can’t move.
After the last month, if I were one of those people who minded getting a year older, which fortunately I’m not, I wouldn’t. It feels like an achievement to be 36 – now all I have to do is make it to 37 in one piece. And I have everything I wanted for my birthday: health (mostly), reduced financial catastrophes, and a replacement penguin. So thanks to all who participated in getting me this far – I hope it will be worth the effort.