with instruction in pottery, sewing, or the brewing of traditional sorghum beer—occupations by which they could support themselves.
Jamilla said she wished to become a seamstress. I made the arrangements, gave the Mission a hefty donation, and two days before I left for
home took her by taxi to the Mission. She got down at the door to her assigned room and stood there expressionless, forsaken and alone. Abandoned one more time.
It seemed so heartless to leave her there. It was the best I could do,
and it felt so wrong.
Jamilla remained at the Mission for eight months.
Then she disappeared.
By the mid-1990s Wa had doubled in size and become dust choked, congested, and—with the introduction of electricity—unacceptably noisy.
Boris arranged to have a small two-room mud house put up for me in his
village. Getting back and forth from Danko to Wa town was no longer a
problem: the research project I was involved with had put a Nissan SUV
and a driver at my disposal.
James, who was working with another branch of the same project
in Bole, two hours away, was an occasional visitor at my house. Driving home one afternoon, we passed a young woman striding confidently
toward Danko with a heavy, old-fashioned, hand-cranked sewing machine balanced on her head. Under her patterned red cloth, her firm
round buttocks jigged from side to side with saucy elegance.
James, in the backseat, moaned with admiration. Instantly smitten,
he skewed round to look back at the girl’s face as we passed.
I followed his example, then yelled to the driver, “Stop!”
It was Jamilla, brimming with youth and vigor. She greeted me with
a shout of recognition, then clambered into the Nissan to sit next to
James. In answer to our questions, she told us that after leaving the Bap-
tist Mission, she had traveled south to Obuasi, where she had worked for
two years to save money to buy her sewing machine.
Worked at what? I thought. Obuasi was a mining town full of lonely
men. I never pushed her about this, never wanted to corner her that way.
Boris was less than jubilant about her arrival. The family displayed
confusion and uncertainty. After all, Jamilla was mine, really, wasn’t she?
She moved into my mud house. I added another room and bought
her a bed. Our needs dovetailed: Jamilla required the basics of food and
shelter; I was desperate for help with the time-consuming practicalities