It was 2008. My friend Kossi asked me, “I’m going to visit a friend of mine down the road, would you go with me?” I had nothing going on in my life at that time so I decided to follow him to see this friend of his. We got there and this lady came out to meet us. Immediately I set my eyes on her I said in my head, “But Kossi, you didn’t tell me we are coming to visit a goddess, I would have taken my time and dressed for it.”
The lady we went to visit was no doubt the most beautiful woman I’d set my eyes on. Butterflies begin to do what butterflies do in the stomach when you see a thing of love and beauty. She had this air of humility around her that added to her appeal. I couldn’t take my eyes off her the entire time we were there. When we left the house, I told Kossi “I like that girl. I want to get to know her. Why didn’t you tell me all along that you had someone as beautiful as this as a friend?” He laughed at me. He teased me about the fact that I could fall easily for a lady I barely knew. I said, “I’m serious. I really want to get to know her.”
Kossi did what friends would usually do for a friend in love. He went to speak to her on my behalf. She gave him the green light to give her number to me. Friends like Kossi always make life easier. He gave me her number and I called her immediately. No time to waste. She was as warm on the phone as she was in person. I asked her, “When are you free? I want to see you again today. Is that possible?” There is something I want to talk to you about.” She paused for a while, thinking through all the things she had to do before she could make time to see me. She said, “I have to do some chores for my grandma. When I finish I’ll call you. If you are not busy at that time, we can meet.” Like the lovesick puppy I was, I responded, “Call me whenever you want. I will never be too busy for you.”
We couldn’t meet that very day. Her grandma had too many chores for her. However, she was able to meet me two days later. I didn’t waste any time baring my heart to her. “There are butterflies that flutter in my tummy. You’re the reason they dance in there. I saw you once and my heart said you’re the one. It’s the reason I asked Kossi to talk to you. It’s the reason I’m here today after seeing you just a few days ago. Is it possible?” She was listening to me with a big smile plastered on her face. It looked like it was working so I kept going and going and going until she said, “I understand how you feel but there’s someone. He wasn’t a man I chose. I was betrothed to him by my family. He’s the one everyone knows I’m dating.”
My heart stopped beating for a while. I was dying slowly on the inside. My hopes were up there until she opened her mouth to respond to me. The light in me was gone and she saw it. She said, “But you don’t have to worry too much. I may not be able to promise you anything or give my heart to you but I can offer you friendship. That is all I have to give.”
The friendship part put a little spark back in my mood. I was convinced that she didn’t like the man she was betrothed to. I told myself, “If I play my cards right, I may be able to snatch her from him.” So I set out on a mission to win the woman of my heart from the man she was betrothed to. I bombarded her with calls and text messages. You know how women behave when a guy they like shows so much care. She loved every bit of the attention. In my youthful exuberance, I saw it as an open contest that I had to win at all costs.
Within weeks, she had fallen flat for my charms. She told me this herself. She said, “ I can give us a chance. I think you deserve it. You’ve succeeded in making me fall for you. Let’s give it a try.” “What about your fiancé?” I asked. She told me she didn’t have much say when it comes to him. Things were at the family level so we just had to leave him alone. I was willing to have her any way I could, even if it meant being the backdrop in her relationship with the other guy. After all, half a loaf is better than none.
She was closer to me than she was to the other guy. She would tell her grandma that she was going to see him but end up in my arms. This gave me hope, that someday she would choose me. At the same time, my heart was often broken. She was still spending time with the other guy and doing shuperu with him. On the days when she was with him, I would stay up at night wondering if he was making her moan louder than I did. Or if she enjoyed his touch as much as she enjoyed mine. These thoughts almost drove me insane. But I only had myself to blame, “I walked into the relationship knowing very well that she already belonged to another. I cannot complain now.”
Somewhere along the line, she introduced me to her biological mother. The woman loved me the moment we met. This increased my hope of winning her. I comforted myself in the knowledge that her mother supported our relationship.
One day, she gave me the news that she had missed her period for about two months. We didn’t take a test but we concluded that she was pregnant. She was certain that it was mine. I was happy. It was my moment to come forward for everyone to know that I was her man. Before I could make a move, her grandma found out about the pregnancy. The family informed the other man about it. This man was also happy about the news. In everyone’s eyes, the pregnancy belonged to him. If I came forward, it would reflect badly on my girl so I didn’t. The best thing to do was stand in the shadows and watch another man claim my child. That hiccup didn’t affect our relationship in any way. I took care of her and made sure she was comfortable throughout the pregnancy.
She delivered a beautiful baby boy. the sad thing was, I wasn’t by her side while she went through labour. I wanted to be there and give her all the support that I could give but the situation didn’t give me space to perform that role. It broke my heart to not be there for her. The other man named the child. I also did my best as a father in the shadows. I provided for them and spent a lot of time with them when I could. No one got suspicious of us because I had become like a family friend.
I was very young then, so I was content with that position. I didn’t have the urge to publicly claim my child. All that mattered to me was that I knew the child was mine. A few years after the first baby, there was another pregnancy. She told me, “This one is also yours. You’re the one I’m always with in my dangerous period. It’s yours and yours alone.” She gave birth and the other man claimed the child. The marriage rites had not been performed but he moved them to his house.
I was devastated. I no longer had access to them. That was when I knew that I had made a mistake by staying in the shadows. I tried to move on but I couldn’t. My heart was with her and our sons. They were within my reach but I couldn’t be with them. I saw them with the other man in town often. They always looked like a happy family. I could only smile and wave at them. After a while, I couldn’t take it anymore so I left town.
They are married now but I didn’t leave my spot. My spot in the shadows. I still talk to her from time to time because of our sons. I asked how they are doing and she tells me about them. She insists they are mine and I believe her. What she doesn’t know is that I am no longer content with staying in the dark. I want to come out and claim my boys. I want to be recognized as their father. However, I am still concerned about the damage it would do to me and her if I try to make a move. It’s the reason I still stay in the dark while another man enjoys the fruit of the seed I planted.
How long am I going to remain in the dark? I don’t know. Something has to give but I don’t know what that is. Please I need your advice. What should I do?