As I strap into my seat aboard a Starbow flight from Kumasi to Accra, I groan a little inwardly. It's becoming pretty standard to find myself always next to the woman with the fretful baby. We're both in our respective aisle seats in the small aircraft, so even though a space separates us, we're still very close.
The child is annoyed. He slides off his mother and practically lands under the seat of the person in front. I think he bumps his head, and proceeds to give us an earful of his powerful lungs. I want to whack his bum and give him another reason to cry, but I summon every bit of my earth motherliness, and flash a sympathetic smile at the mum instead, in a I-know-I've-been-there-before sort of way. Though of course, I haven't quite yet.
She hauls him up with one hand, while simultaneously unbuttoning the top buttons on her shirt with the other. An instant later she releases a breast and the child latches on to it enthusiastically.
It is at this moment that an air host approaches. He is holding an extension seat belt meant for passengers with infants. And before he has taken the remaining steps towards our nursing mother, before his face registers what is going on, before he realises too late that he's picked a rather delicate time to do this, I decide I'm going to enjoy their exchange.
He is the same one I smiled at when I boarded the plane, who returned it with a shy one of his own. As he stops by the mother's seat, he looks so awkward I want to burst into laughter. I can't decide if he is generally uncomfortable because the child, sensing his presence, has stopped suckling and is clenching and unclenching distractingly at his mother's nipple. As babies do. This is compounded by the fact that the mother is totally unaware of the host. She has her eyes closed, while his eyes follow the action of the baby's fingers.
Our man looks a little lost and totally embarrassed. I prod the woman gently, and she opens her eyes and smiles at the air host as though she doesn't have one breast out. Unperturbed, she shuffles about in her seat as he straps them both in. The entire process happens with the boob still out and doing the odd jiggle here and there. I think the air host is about to expire with discomfiture. When he straightens up, our eyes meet briefly, and I flash him one of my meaningful smiles. I think this one says, you've-been-booby-trapped.
Later as we disembark, he is standing by the door smiling his shy smile again. Obviously, I don't want to milk it - ahem - but I can't help but completely ignore his other colleague as I wish him a very Merry Christmas. Why not? We're practically breast buddies.
Ah, Ghana. Never a dull moment whenever I am home.