He’s run out of matches again so, squatting on the ground, he strikes one small rock against another, trying over and over to create a spark. The click, click, click of the rocks is the only sound in the dark of the night. The pile of sticks beneath his hands is doused in lighter fluid, so it will take only one spark to ignite.
As he strikes stone against stone, he considers how this action isn’t so different from how an automobile works — the same spark that starts his cooking fire is what fuels a car’s pistons to move up and down, which sets the wheels turning.
Thoughts of machines often swirl through Richard’s head as he goes through his morning routine. Once he has the fire crackling, his mom begins to make the porridge she’ll sell at the train station in Tema, Ghana, to passersby for breakfast. She’s already soaked and ground the millet. Now she cooks it in a large silver pot over the fire, stirring in ginger and ground chili. Curls of steam carry the scent up to the sky.
Once the porridge is ready, Richard helps his mom hoist the pot onto her head and watches her silhouette disappear over the horizon. It’s now 5 a.m. and Richard grabs a yellow jug to begin his own long walk. He’ll spend the next three hours gathering water to ensure his family has enough for cooking, washing and drinking.
But Richard’s thoughts are on later that day when he can finally go to the little corner workshop he’s set up at his home.
Richard is an inventor.