Years ago I was dating this married man who from all indications loved his wife from here to the moon and back. I’m not assuming, he told me that himself. He said, “I loved my wife and my family and there’s nothing I won’t do for them but you here serve a special purpose. A purpose my wife is too old to serve and too distracted to care. I asked him, “So what purpose is that?” He answered, “Of course, you should know. We’ve been married for over eighteen years. Things are not the same. We have kids and have responsibilities. Sometimes it looks like we have the world upon our shoulders and if we drop it the world may crash. We are always solving a problem and this process of solving a problem today and tomorrow gets a man tired. Sometimes I need a distraction and that’s where you come in but that doesn’t mean I love you any less. I picked you because if I met you today without my wife in my life, I would have picked you.”
I was a twenty-two-year-old woman who was looking for her place in the world. I hadn’t taken a step yet but the world was already difficult for me so I looked up to him for so many things and he provided. He paid my school fees and he paid my hostel fees. He paid for clothes and paid for shoes. I could stand in the mirror and look at myself from hair to toe and ask, “What on me didn’t he buy?” I wouldn’t get any so I will look into the eyes of my reflection and say, “I’m grateful for him. Had it not been him, where would I be? Naked? Maybe not but it would have been difficult to look the way I am.”
I didn’t go home to look for money because my parents didn’t have it. The little they had, they were using it to take care of my younger siblings. My dad asked me, “How do you do it? How come you don’t come for fees but you’re still in school?” Mom was like, “I hope you’re not into rotten stuff in school, sleeping around with men for money.” I said in my head, “I’m not sleeping with men but if the one I’m with is a married man, does it qualify to be one of the rotten stuff?” I couldn’t tell them that. My explanation was, “No I’m not doing any of that stuff. My friend is a rich man’s daughter. She knows my situation so she told her father about it and her father helps.” Dad didn’t believe it but mom bought it. They left me alone to live my life.
I was in school in Kumasi. This man I was dating was a top executive of a company in Kumasi. He travels a lot and wherever he went he went with me if only I wasn’t in my period. I remember one early morning before we woke up his phone rang. He didn’t pick up because he was still sleeping. The phone kept ringing so I took the phone and checked who was calling. It was his wife so I taped him to wake up. I said, “Your wife had been calling. It could be an emergency.” He took the phone from me and they started talking. A few seconds into the call, I sneezed.
He got frozen for a second. He gave me a face that said, “Why the hell would you sneeze when I’m talking to my wife?” Seconds later, I sneezed again and again until I rushed to the washroom. He cut the call and followed me to the washroom. He screamed at me, “Why are you doing that? Why would you sneeze when you know I’m on the phone with my wife? Is it intentional? Is it your way of causing mayhem in my home so you’ll take over?” Just when I was about to say sorry, her wife’s call appeared on his phone again. He was still shouting at me. I said, “Your wife is calling. I won’t sneeze again.” When he picked up the call I heard him explaining himself. His wife obviously didn’t believe him. I could imagine her asking, “As early as this and someone is sneezing in your room and you tell me it’s coming from the outside?” He answered, “I came out when I picked up your call.”
They went to and fro on the call for over an hour. I felt sorry for him but I was also angry at the way he spoke to me. I coiled in bed with my heart in tatters. After the call, he didn’t talk to me. We ate our breakfast in silence. We dressed up in total silence. We picked up our bags, checked out, and sat in the car in silence. We were silent for several hours until I said, “Sorry.” He didn’t respond. I said again, “It wasn’t intentional. You know this thing is involuntary. I’m deeply sorry.” He was quiet. He kept driving as if I didn’t exist next to him. He dropped me in my hostel and drove away. He said no word to me. And for a whole week, he ignored my calls. I thought it was over so I started thinking of how I was going to continue this life without his support.
One evening he called, “Can I see you? I’m right in front of your hostel.” I rushed out to see him. I was missing him and I was grateful that he had come back looking for me. I sat in his car and he drove away. We were silent for a couple of minutes. “I’m sorry for everything,” he said. “You caused me a lot of trouble I didn’t know how I was going to fix them. All this while you haven’t heard from me, I was patching the crack you left open in my marriage. My wife is overly sensitive. She’s not stupid so she suspects me oftentimes. I don’t have to give her a reason to continue doubting me. Your sneeze broke us down but we are back together and good. It’s the reason I can come and look for you. When the home is good, I get the free heart to be with you so you have to help me keep my home.”
He was always frank with me. He never wasted a minute putting me in my place when it came to his marriage. Sometimes it hurt—it hurt often times but there was nothing I could do. I’d grown teeth because of his maize farm. When he takes the farm away from me, my teeth would be useless so I had to swallow whatever he said to me. Regardless of whatever the trouble we went through, he was a very considerate man. He won’t wait until I ask. He gives according to my need. Sometimes, he made me feel like he was reading my mind. I would think about a new phone while going to bed and the next morning, he would call and tell me, “Here, I bought you a new phone. I knew the one you have was giving you problems.”
I hardly made demands but my demands were sorted out even before I could give them a voice.
One day, I travelled with him to Accra. He didn’t drive so we took the VIP bus. He was going for a medical procedure that would make it hard for him to drive back to Kumasi. A few minutes after the bus moved, a man got up to start dishing out information. The way he started, it looked like he was a staff of the VIP bus. “If we get to a place where you want to urinate, don’t feel shy. Just call the driver’s attention and he will stop at a safe place for you. Watch your properties very well. When you go down, go with them else, you might leave it here and won’t come back to meet it. It happens, that’s why I’m warning you about it.”
After those series of announcements, he dived into preaching. My man was already dozing off next to me. Every now and then this preacher would look at me while talking. “A young woman that you’ve just started life, you say it’s only married men you’ll chase. Your time is coming.” I lowered my head just to avoid his gaze. “You know this man you’re going up and down with won’t take you anywhere. When a great storm happens right now this man would run to his family and leave you there, yet you cling to him like a baby clings to its mother. What do you want in this world, young woman? Don’t you fear God? Don’t you know his judgement would find you soon?”
I was trying hard not to listen to him but his voice was piercingly high and you couldn’t avoid it even if you try. He’ll turn to the married men and give it to them and later come to us. My man was sleeping so he wasn’t hearing what was going on. I was left sitting there in the shroud of my guilt. I kept squirming in my seat whenever this preacher looked my way. “Flee, I say flee! Wait patiently for the man God is preparing for you. When you cling to another woman’s man, how would God make one for you? He gives you money so you can’t leave him? Do you think the God who brought you here isn’t capable of taking care of you? You’ve abandoned God and have placed your faith in that man you’re following that’s why God has abandoned you. Leave that man and test God with your faith and see if he won’t provide for you.”
I was getting uncomfortable. I don’t know where the tears started coming from. I put my head on my seat and wiped the tears off gently so no one would see. When I’d had enough, I put my earphone in my ears and shut off my eyes. Even that, I could still hear him. I had to try very hard not to hear him. Somehow, I fell asleep. It was when we got to Linda Dor that I woke up. The preacher was gone but what he said hadn’t left me. I kept thinking about it. I knew that message was for me so I had to do something about it. We got to Accra, entered the hotel and I said, “Oh wow, it’s coming.” He asked me, “What is coming?” I answered, “My period.”
He stayed away from me as if I was an acid. He completed his procedure and we went back to Kumasi. While on the bus going back, the preacher wasn’t there but I could hear his voice sounding in my head. Every word he said kept echoing in my ears. I looked forward and I saw his silhouette standing there shouting at me. I told myself, “Don’t turn your heart away. Just obey.” When we got to Kumasi and I got to campus, I sent him a message, “I can’t do it again. I’ve hurt your wife for far too long and it’s about time I left you for her. I feel guilty about everything. I hope you understand.”
The next day he was in front of my hostel. “Is it about another man? How much is he giving you to leave me? Have I ever treated you badly? Why would you just walk away like that?” I didn’t give him further reasons. I was determined to let everything go and be free of guilt and shame. I started avoiding him at all costs. I didn’t pick up his calls and didn’t answer his text. He was even calling me at dawn, and it made me wonder, “Where is his wife that he’s calling me at this time?” One day he sent me a message; “Now my wife knows my heart is broken because of a side chick. My house is on fire because of you but it’s you I want. Please talk to me before I do something stupid.” I didn’t say anything back. The next day, he sent GHC2,000 into my bank account. I still didn’t see him.
He was at my graduation. I hugged him and said, “Thank you for all the help.” He said, “I’m ready to do more. Just give me a chance.” He chased me when I was doing my national service and now that I’m done, he’s still chasing me from left to right. Even when I threatened to tell his wife he told me, “Go ahead. If that would make you come back to me.” I block his line and he will get a new line to call me. I move and he follows.
He’s been kind to me and helped me a lot. That’s the reason I can’t chop him off in a bitter way but where I’ve gotten to, there’s no way I will go back to that kind of lifestyle. It’s hard but I get through all the time. I won’t call myself a devoted Christian who does things to please God always but where I am now, I’ve been able to conquer one of my demons and I’m grateful for it. There’s no turning back .