Mr. Nkrah is famous for singing: loudly and not always soberly, in a beautiful East-African accent, in a suit he has worn every day for a month. He claps, he stomps, and hymns fill the air. I think he is told to "shut up" more than anyone else who visits us on a regular basis, but I don't see how anyone could be annoyed by that kind of joy.
I had not seen Mr. Nkrah for a while, since before Christmas, and when he came in my office today, his joy was gone. As he was walking in, I realized how different he looked when he was not smiling, when his shoulders were slumped, when his eyes were turned downard instead of upward. He was a different man.
He slammed four quarters three nickles, and nine pennies on to my desk, and then, as if apologizing, slowly and silentely arranged them in small towers.
Then he said:
"I need mo-ah."
"That's not what you need, Mr. Nkrah."
I started tapping my hand on the desk, in a slow steady rhythm... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
and then started humming... ... ... ... ... ...
and I watched a miraculously beautiful change in Mr. Nkrah's whole body. First he started nodding, then his whole body started rocking, then his glowing teeth emerged and his eyes came alive, and he slowly started singing:
... "when we walk wit da Lord
in da light off His word
what a glo-ry He shed on a-wa way!
when we do His goodt will,
He abide wit us still,
and wit all who will trust and obey!"
He got louder and louder, and by the last line, he was banging my desk...
"Trust and o-bey! Dere is no otha way! I am hap-py in Jesus! Trust and o-bey!"
He stood up, scooped up his change and said,