He warned me before he took me home. He said, “My mom can be very archaic sometimes. I’ve heard her make some unsavoury statements about your tribe so she can say no to us. Anything at all can happen but don’t worry. I will stick with you to the end.” I didn’t want to go home with him. It took him several attempts to get me to say yes. The very day we had to go, I fell sick. He said, “Is it because you still don’t want to go?” I answered, “You know I’m sick. How can I go and meet your parents in this condition?”.
I didn’t go that day because I felt there was more to talk about than my tribe. I have a child. A four-year-old girl I had with my ex. It was rough with my daughter’s father. He was the reason I swore not to fall in love again. but love is very sneaky. Just when you think you’ve had enough, another one comes along and gives you a restart. In my case, it was Asante who came along.
The first day we met, I was with my daughter. I was in a hair salon fixing my hair while he was there waiting for another woman to finish fixing her hair. Every now and then, my daughter would go and sit on his lap. She would pick something from the ground and go and give it to him. She would ask a thousand questions and would try to play with him. He was patient. He was playing along with her. I will shout, “Heerh Efia, stop worrying the man.” He would respond, “No, it’s ok. I’m enjoying her conversations.
Several minutes later, I wasn’t hearing my daughter’s voice again. I looked in the mirror and she wasn’t there. The guy was also not there. My heart skipped many beats. I looked around and saw the woman he came with. That was when my heart rested still. I asked, “Where are they?” The woman responded, “They’ve stepped out. You don’t have to worry. Asante is like that. He loves kids.”
A few minutes later, I saw them coming in through the mirror. My daughter was hanging on his shoulder. He sat down and placed her on his lap. He said, “She’s sleeping. All the restlessness had been reduced to nothing. Kids.”
I smiled and looked at him very well through the mirror. I said to myself, “Wow, such a good father material.”
I finished my hair before them. I walked to him and said “Thank you” while lifting my daughter off his lap. He said, “She would wake up and wonder where that man is. It’s confusing being a child. You sleep on a man’s lap in a salon and wake up in your mother’s arms. No wonder they behave the way they do because nothing makes sense to them.”
When I walked out he followed. He said, “I would love to talk to Efia again. Can I have her number?” I laughed. “She’s just four. She can’t have a phone.” He said, “How about you? Do you live with her? Is she your daughter? Can I have your number?”
So I gave him my number and left with the beautiful impression he left on my mind.
He called later in the evening. He asked me, “Is she around? When she woke up she didn’t ask about me?” I answered, “No she didn’t. She’s living her life as if you don’t exist.” He responded, “Kids. Little heartbreakers. They make you fall in love with them and the next minute your memory fades in their minds.” I gave her the phone. She spoke to him as though she knew who she was speaking to. She was happy. She was jumpy. She was a kid being a kid. When I got hold of the phone again he said, ‘I don’t even know your name and who you are to Efia.”
I screamed, “Of course, I’m her mother. Don’t you see the resemblance? My name is Felicia but when you call me Efia Maame, I will respond.”
THREE MONTHS LATER…
“Yes, I would be your girlfriend. I thought I would never fall in love again but you made things easier. So yes, I will give love a chance again. I hope this one ends where all love story ends. Thank you for doing this.”
That’s how our love story began. The reason I thought I won’t find a man to love me became the reason I found a man. My daughter. She was the reason I clung to my ex-boyfriend even when I knew there was nothing to cling to. I didn’t want to be a single mother. I didn’t want to raise a child who doesn’t have a father. Living a solo life got me scared so even when he maltreated me, I held on to him like he was everything I ever needed.
When he hit me with his leg and was walking away, I was on the floor breathless but I gathered the little strength I had and held on to his leg and screamed, “Please don’t walk away from me. For the sake of our daughter please stay. I promise I would be a better woman. What do you want? What do you need in a woman? Just tell me and I will do just that.”
Our daughter was only seven months old. Everyone told me to let him go but the future scared me so I held on to him like my brazier holds my breast together—tight.
Our child was a year old when he told me he had found another woman. He said, “This isn’t working and you know it. I will be a father to our daughter but I don’t think I can take you along.” I understood him but I still wanted to be in his life so I pleaded with him not to leave me.
He was with that girl while he was still with me. I didn’t know who he was cheating on, whether me or that girl. He would come to me and talk to that girl all night. I felt I deserved better so one night I told him, “I’m also a human being. At least, respect me the way you respect her because I was once like her in your life.”
That night when he left, I didn’t call him again. I’d come to accept my humanity and had accepted that I deserved better than what he was giving me. When he called a week later I told him, ‘It’s ok. Just go ahead with her. I would be fine.” That was the last of us.
So when Asante came along and was treating me better and loving my daughter the way a father should love a daughter, I fell head over heels in love with him until he also introduced that catchphrase, “My mom can be archaic sometimes. She doesn’t like your tribe…”
His mom is all he has so that statement really got me scared; “He is the one my soul yearns for but I’m going to lose him because of his mother? How much strength do I have to fight this? Haven’t I fought enough battles in my love life already?” That was the reason I gave excuses each time we had to visit his mom. He pepped me up. He said everything would be alright. “I want us to get married as soon as possible so the earlier you meet my mom the better.”
I went with him one afternoon. She’s in her late fifties. She has a smile that’s not easy to ignore because of how beautiful her teeth is. She has wrinkles at the ends of her lips when she smiles. It only shows that she had been smiling a lot. She welcomed us with that signature smile and acted happy all day until she asked me, “My daughter, so where do you come from? When the time comes for us to come and see your parents, which town are we travelling to.” I answered, “My parents are here in Kumasi so we don’t need to travel.” She smiled and I smiled.
“That’s fine but where do you come from?”
I mentioned my hometown and the tribe I’m from and all of a sudden, the smile on her face dried up. The wrinkles at the end of her lips got straightened as if she had never smiled in her life. She said, “That’s unfortunate but my son can’t travel that far for marriage. I’m surprised he didn’t tell you.” Asante came in right there. He said, “Mom, I didn’t say I’m going to marry her. I’m introducing a friend to you and I’m only expecting you to be nice to her. Don’t you think you’re going too far?”.
It became banter between them so I left the hall and left them there. Minutes later, she called me in and apologized. “I’m sorry about what I said but it’s my son who didn’t give me all the gist. I’m sorry. Don’t take it to heart.” On our way going back, I asked him, “So what’s the next plan? This is where we kill our relationship dreams, right?” He said, “It just started. I will bring in my senior brother. We’ll settle it in just weeks so don’t worry.”
Weeks later the story changed. His mother said she won’t allow her son to marry a woman who already has a child. I told him, “No matter how you look at it, I can’t win. I’m from a tribe she doesn’t like. I’m also the woman who came into a relationship with a child. It can’t work, let’s not pretend.” He told me, “If you accept defeat then it can’t work. If you hold hands with me, it will work in the end. Just snap out of your fear and let’s do this.”
His words though encouraging, I feared to cling to them. The last time I clung onto something, that same thing collapsed on me. I didn’t have the heart to go on another round of love battles. I’d rather give up and enjoy my solo life than go on and on again. He kept assuring me that things would change but weeks and months later, his mom’s stand didn’t change.
One day I was desperate for a final answer so I took his mother’s number and gave her a call. We spoke for about thirty minutes. She was calm and receptive. She sounded like a thoughtful mom who won’t allow her children to make the wrong decision. She said, “His father won’t be happy if I allow him to make that decision. It’s not about you. It’s where you come from. You’re a beautiful woman. Another man will find you and make you a happy wife. This one won’t work.”
I discussed it with everyone in my life and they were shocked. My senior brother told me, “Just stick around and annoy her because she’s very annoying. How can a woman think like that in this century?” I found it funny but my life wasn’t for a joke so I decided to pull away. Asante noticed it and kept coming at me with all his speed. He wanted me desperately but there was nothing I could do about it. My life should have meaning other than being on the wrong side of love all the time.
Their father’s senior brother died and I attended the funeral with him. I went with my daughter. His mom was very busy so she didn’t have eyes to see me. Efia found some kids and gravitated toward them while I sat watching passersby. A few minutes later, I cast my eyes around and couldn’t find my daughter. My heart. I started running around the compound looking for her. I got to a door and heard, “Whose daughter is this? Parents of today. They don’t suffer before giving birth so they leave their children anyhow.” I didn’t even knock. I went in straight away and saw Efia sitting on the lap of Asante’s mother.”
I smiled and she smiled back. She said, “Oh you came?” I nodded my head. “Asante didn’t tell me…” While we were talking Efia was screaming; “Mommy, mommy.” She asked, “Is that your daughter?” I nodded my head. She looked at her and looked at me. She said, “She looks like you.” I picked her up and was about to leave when Asante came in. We talked for a while and I left.
A week after the funeral, Asante called me. He said, “Good news. Mom wants to see you.” “What’s good about your mom wanting to see me?” I asked. I went to him and we both went to meet his mother. She said, “I’m sorry about everything. I think my son has a point. I think I’m pushing things too far. I just want to say I’m not a bad person but… you don’t worry. You two have my blessing. When you’re ready, come home with him. You have all my blessings to go ahead with whatever you want out of this.”
A day after our wedding I asked Asante, “What changed? You keep swerving this question. You have to tell me today. What really changed?” He said, “I don’t really know for sure. What’s important is that she changed her mind. But I think Efia had a role to play. I’m not sure but that’s the only conclusion I can draw from this. My mom struggled for a daughter after I was born. She didn’t get it and she didn’t give birth again so maybe meeting your daughter caused a change in her, I’m not sure but that’s the only conclusion I can draw.”
I believed his explanation because, on our wedding day, she was with my daughter throughout. Wherever she went, she held her hand and pulled her along. Even today, whenever she calls me she asks about my daughter before we can go ahead and talk. Before she hangs up, she talks to her. We’ve been married for a year and a half. My only prayer is that our firstborn would be a girl so we will name her after her. She had been the greatest mother-in-law I could ever pray for.