When I was about eight years old, we had a garden-boy called Kwaw. He claimed he was eighteen years old, but – granted I was a tall kid – he wasn’t much taller than me. He had the darkest skin and the largest belly button I had ever seen in my life.
And the guy was always smiling. Didn’t matter how hot the sun was or how hard the soil was. He went about his obviously difficult job with such gusto that I couldn’t help but wonder how he did it. Watching Kwaw always lifted my eight-year-old spirit and made me happy.
I remember one afternoon, after sitting on the veranda for over an hour, watching Kwaw work in the blistering sun, and laughing at his jokes and funny songs, I went into the house for some water. I opened the fridge and found a great big watermelon sitting on the middle shelf of the fridge. I suddenly wanted to do something nice for Kwaw, so I took a knife and carefully cut a very thin slice of the massive fruit, placed it on a plastic plate and took it out to him in the garden.
You should have seen his face. It was like he’d won the lottery. Laughing dancing around and mumbling “NyameNhyira wo”, while eating the fruit and spitting out the seeds. I stood, watching him and laughing with him for a few minutes before I went back to reading my book. Suddenly, there was a loud scream from the living room: “Hey! Who ate my watermelon?”
I knew exactly who that was. It was Esi, our housekeeper. Now, Esi was the direct opposite of Kwaw. She hardly spoke, but whenever she did, it was to complain. Nothing was ever good enough for her. One of her jobs was to clean the living room. She would never stop complaining while she worked, insulting everyone under her breath for leaving things in the wrong place, (which always made me wonder what job she thought she would have if we tidied up ourselves). She was the gloomiest, most miserable, most permanently morose human being I had ever known, and it sounded like I had just given Kwaw a slice of her watermelon without realising. I was in trouble.
I went in and told her I had taken it. After giving me the scolding of my life, she kept screaming and shouting at me all day long. Every time she opened the fridge and saw her lovely big watermelon minus a thin slice, she would look like she was about to cry. Then she would spot me walking by and restart her tirade of abuse.
Even as a little eight-year-old, I couldn’t help but notice the difference between Kwaw and Esi. As I saw Esi rant and rave about her mutilated melon, I remembered how pleased Kwaw had been to receive that thin slice of fruit after working so hard in the hot sun all day, digging holes in the hard earth with his “sosow”. Kwaw had been overjoyed to receive one slice. After eating it, he had nothing left, but he was still smiling. Esi had only lost a small slice of her melon. Yet, she was sad, upset, depressed and glum for the rest of the day.
At that point, a profound thought became very obvious to me: Happy people think about what they have, while miserable people think about what is missing.
So today, my message to you is simple. Have you been praying for a son? A promotion? A cure? Or have you been thanking God for your daughters, your job, your treatment? Are we measuring the value of our lives by what we have or what we want? Joyce Meyer said, “As the mind thinks, the man follows”. Whatever you fill your mind with, that is what your spirit attracts. So if you are obsessed with the things you don’t have, you will end up having nothing Of course, if we are thankful for whatever we have, we will be amazed at how many people will be moved to bless us with a slice of watermelon to ease our toil. We need to choose carefully, because if we choose to be like Esi and focus on what we have lost, we will lose everything. Be like Kwaw. Celebrate what God has given you and see if he doesn’t shower you with more.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and I’m loving my slice.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!