Kweku and I have been friends since childhood. We did a lot of stuff together. When we met I was eight and he was ten. We were partners in crime, and we were each other’s shadows. Everywhere Kweku went, I was either with him or nearby. It became an inside joke among our friends. Whenever they saw Kweku without me they would ask, “Where is your shadow today?” And they did the same with me too. As we grew older, we got closer. Any attempt to break us apart would have been like trying to start a smoke without fire. When we got to JHS, a time when some of us became aware of our bodies, feelings, and attraction, our friends stopped referring to us as each other’s shadows. They said we were boyfriend and girlfriend. And they made jokes about it all the time. It made me shy and uncomfortable so I tried my best to ignore them. Unbeknownst to me, Kweku had developed an affection for me that was far beyond friendship.
After JHS, I lost my parents and I had to relocate from our neighbourhood to stay with a relative. Despite it all, Kweku and I saw each other often. Seeing him was always the highlight of my day. His smiles were the warmth that engulfed me on days I felt everything was going to hell. And I was always thankful to God that though my life had changed unexpectedly, Kweku was still a part of it. When it was time for SHS, we headed in different directions. And we only saw each other during vacations but that didn’t affect our bond. We shared our individual High School experiences so it felt like they were shared experiences and not separate ones. Because of this, anytime we met was as if we had never been separated at all.
After SHS, we went to separate universities. This time, the physical distance left a dent in our friendship. University was a different experience altogether and we just couldn’t keep up with it and each other too. We barely made time to speak on the phone. We couldn’t schedule meetups either. I only saw and spoke to him if I bumped into him in public. Then we would stop for chitchat. By that, I mean we only asked the questions, “How are you doing?” and “How is life?” And we always kept the answers vague and general. There was no deep talk or long conversations about our personal lives. At that time, a lot had happened and we had both changed in different ways. I was not happy about the way things were going but there wasn’t much I could do. A part of me hoped that after school, we would make time and reawaken our friendship.
When it was time for National service, we were thrown even further apart. He was posted to an institution in Takoradi while I was posted to a place much closer to home. I remember telling him, “As we get older, we keep getting separated from each other. I was hoping this one year of national service would give us a reprieve from this separation but here we are again. I can’t believe you are going as far as Takoradi this time.” I didn’t keep my sadness from him. He tried to encourage me, “It’s just one year, Lisa. It will be over before you realize it.”
I think that period was the longest year of my life. Unlike the university days when we bumped into each other occasionally, this time around I couldn’t see him at all. It was actually the longest I had gone without seeing him and it was difficult. I went through my national service with an awareness that something significant was absent from my life.
After Service, he came home and we started bumping into each other again. We mostly met while we were looking for jobs so there wasn’t much time for long conversations. We only maintained the usual, “How are you doing?” And “How is life treating you?” I didn’t know if he was seeing anyone or if he had dated someone in the past. Just as he didn’t know that I had dated two people within the space of my time in the university to when I got my first job. It just wasn’t something that came up.
At one point, we had an issue that caused us to stop talking to each other for two years. Later we talked about it and realized it was just a case of miscommunication. I remember how angry I was during the two years we weren’t talking. I felt he had hurt me badly. It turned out he also felt that way about me until we cleared things up. In that period too, he got a job that took him away from Accra. He worked there for a few years before he was transferred back home. That was when we sat down to talk at length. This time we delved deeper into our lives and shared aspects of our personal lives. From that day we spoke on the phone till late into the night. That was when feelings started creeping into my heart. I tried so hard to fight it because I didn’t want to lose him as a friend. But my feelings for him were so strong that I had to face them.
One day he called and asked me, “Lisa, when are you free to go out and talk? There’s something important I need to discuss with you.” I became anxious all of a sudden but I kept my calm as we fixed a date. When we met, he looked very nervous and that only heightened my anxiety. I didn’t even waste time trying to keep things light, “Kweku, what do you want to tell me? You are making me anxious.” He gave me a shy smile and said, “I am sorry about making you anxious. Here’s the thing, I have been in love with you for the past twenty years. I didn’t recognize my feelings when we were kids but they were there. And they never went away through our different phases in life. However, I met someone within the period we weren’t talking to each other and we’ve been dating.”
Jealousy pricked my heart when he mentioned another woman. But I told him, “It’s fine. If you are happy with her then I’m happy for you.” He shook his head vigorously, “No, no, I am not happy with her. That’s why we’re here. Lisa, it has always been only you in my heart and I cannot imagine a future where you are not my wife. If you will have me, I will end my relationship with the other woman so we can give ourselves a chance.” I will admit that I was happy to hear that I was the one he loved. But the empath in me felt bad for the other woman. I felt like I was intentionally going to snatch her boyfriend if I said yes to Kweku. So I told him, “I also have feelings for you, Kweku, but I don’t want to be the cause of another woman’s pain. Why don’t you think things through carefully? If in the end you still choose me, then I am yours.”
After a while, he came to tell me that he broke up with the other lady and that he’d choose me in a thousand lifetimes. I was very happy that he was mine but I also couldn’t get rid of the guilt of hurting the other lady. Every time I prayed, I asked God to forgive me for the cost of my happiness. I never met this lady, and Kweku hardly spoke about her because he felt guilty too. But he always assured me that he was happy he chose me.
We dated for two years and got married in June. I am very happy and I feel so blessed to have Kweku. But sometimes I think about the lady and silently pray that she is doing well and has moved on. I hope she finds the love of her life and ends up happy too.