There are two stories that changed my life. The first one is the story of my mom and dad. The distance my dad went to ensure he gets married to my mom. There’s a photo frame in my parents’ hall. It’s a letter my mom wrote to my dad when they were young. According to my dad, it was that letter that changed everything for them. They were young and in love and thought they could conquer the world with the content of their heart. They had both completed training school and were waiting for where life would take them. My dad was living in a village closer to Kumasi and my mom was living in Koforidua. They didn’t bother about the distance. My dad said, “We were connected in our hearts and it was all that mattered.”
One day he received a letter in church. He opened the letter and it was from my mom. My mom said, “There’s a man who came from abroad recently. My parents want me to get married to him. I’ve protested. I’ve fought it with everything in me but they insist I should marry him. It’s you I want to marry but if you don’t act, our story may change.”
Right after reading that letter, my father packed his bag and left for Koforidua. He said, “I didn’t know where I was going to sleep for the night and I didn’t care. All I cared about was being closer to her to influence her decision. I picked up my bag and left without saying a word to my parents.” He got to Koforidua in the night so he went to the police station and spend the night there. The following morning, he was at my mom’s house talking to my grandparents. He told them about his intention to get married to my mom and how he was waiting to get a job and do justice to that promise. They laughed at him. They called him a love-struck toke-bɛlɛ . My dad said, “Her father looked at me and said, “Young man, this is not the woman for you. She’s already married so go out there and look for another woman who will wait for you.”
My dad left and looked for a friend who lived in Koforidua and perched with him. He started looking for a job. He said every week he went to my mom’s house to tell my mom’s dad about the progress in his life. So when he got a job at the post office, he went to my granddad and told him about it. When he had another job in the church he was attending he went and report it to my grandfather. All that while, the borga had travelled back and they had not heard from him. My dad said, “One day I went to them and said, “Look at me here. I’m ready and willing to marry your daughter. I’m willing to give all I have to make her my wife. This is all the money I’ve made since I started working here. Have it. If you want more, I will work hard and bring more.”
My grandad walked away from him and came back later. He told my dad; “I will be shaming the God who created me if I keep saying no to you. There she is. Bring your family when you’re ready. I will accept whatever you bring to have her.” My dad spent two years in Koforidua doing menial jobs just to win the woman of his heart. That story changed me. I wanted to have a woman I can have the same dedication to and be willing to go the extra mile to make her mine.
The second story that changed me was a tragedy. It happened a few weeks before I left for the university. Josh was my very good friend. We went to the same senior high school and got admission to the same university, Legon. He was dating my friend Alice and they were madly in love. Most of the time I served as their ‘betweener’ because Alice’s parents were good to me than they were to Josh. One evening, Josh called me. He said, “Alice is spending the night with me, can you imagine it. It’s going to be fireworks.” I asked, “But where are her parents that she’s going to spend the night with you?” He answered, “She said they had travelled for a convention.”
I went to Josh’s house and spent a few hours with them before coming home. Early morning around 6am I saw about eleven missed calls on my phone. They were all from Josh. When I called back, he was crying and shouting in anxiety, I asked, “Hey man, you’re scaring me. What’s the matter with you?” He couldn’t say it. He was wailing and talking about things that didn’t make sense to me. He said, “I’m dead. How do I explain this to anyone? They’ll kill me ooo my life has come to an end.” I knew there was trouble. I asked, “Where’s Alice?” He answered, “She’s lying here unresponsive. She’s not breathing. She’s gone. Alice is gone oooo, I’m dead.”
I thought he was joking but the tears and wailing couldn’t be a joke. I rushed to his place to see Alice completely burnt on the floor. She was electrocuted in the bath. Josh heard her scream but it only happened once so he thought maybe she was shouting due to the coldness of the water or something. He said he didn’t do anything until he realized she was keeping long. He went there to see her in that state. It was around 5am when it happened. She was bathing so she could leave early and sneak home early to her house as if nothing happened.
I was the one who called her brother and her brother called their parents and by the time we realized, the police were knocking on the door. I spent a day and night in the cells until my parents were able to secure bail for me. From the beginning, I was tagged as an accomplice. I told them I wasn’t there when it happened. Josh also confirmed it so they left me out but before I could be set free, I had tasted the cells mosquitos and inability to sleep all night. It was the longest night of my life. Josh suffered for months. When the case was finally over, his parents withdrew all support for him. He couldn’t go to university. I see him today and I tell myself, “Life would have been better if Alice’s issue didn’t happen.”
That case changed my perception of love and women. I was in school for four years but I didn’t have a girlfriend. There was a lady closer to me in school. I liked her but I never told her. Whenever she asked to visit, I screamed, “No…no…no you can’t visit. My place is a no-go area for women.” She called me Roman Father but I didn’t care. Some said I was scared of women but it didn’t bother me. I knew what I’d been through and wouldn’t allow it to happen again. I completed the university girl-less. I came home and saw mom’s love letter frame on the wall but it didn’t tickle me to fall in love. My heart was done. It was caked and nothing could melt it to fall in love again.
But when I was doing my national service, Kate came along and thawed what was frozen within me. After national service, I proposed to her knowing that we both would be going our separate ways. Long distance relationship was fine with me. She accepted my proposal and the first day she came to visit she wanted to come inside my room. I said, “It’s hot in there. Let’s sit outside here.” The same with the third day and the fifth day. She said, “What are you keeping in your room that you won’t let me come in?” I answered, ‘It’s messy in there. It’s smelly. I can’t let you see me like that.” She answered, “Allow me, I will fix it and make it clean again. I’m a woman. I’m in your life to fix what’s not working. Allow me.” I said no and she concluded I was hiding something.
After service, she wanted to travel from Apam to Accra to see me. She told me, “I would sleep over and come back after the weekend.” I answered, “Please don’t come. I will come there myself.” I will visit her and won’t spend the night. She asked, “What are you scared of? Or you’re uncircumcised?” I laughed at her but she was serious. We dated for two years and that girl didn’t know where I live. She got angry; “If you love a woman, you allow her into your space. For two years? Two years of me not knowing where you live? What kind of love is that? It’s better lonely than this. It’s over. I wish you well in your next relationship.”
I begged her to stay. She asked me to give her assurances. I promised I would change. She told me, “Take me home. I won’t sleep over. That would be the first step for me to trust you.” So I allowed her in and even introduced her to my mom. Dad wasn’t around. She was happy. She forgave me and came back to the relationship with a beautiful demeanour. A few months later, I got a job and left home for my own place. She got a job too in Accra. She wanted to live with me but I said no. “We are not married, remember?” She got her own place and visited when she could. I went to her place often so she won’t come to my place.”
A year later, she broke up with me again. She said, “This is final. Nothing you’ll say would bring me back to you. What kind of man are you? Or you’re impotent and hiding it? Am I not a woman enough for you? Why waste my time this way.” I begged her again. I promised her marriage in a year but she said no. she said, “Prove to me that you’re not impotent.” So in her room one day, I went naked for her to see me.” She looked down at me and said, “Let it get up.” I responded, “How can I raise it up like just like that?” She got closer, she kissed me and we had our first shuperu.” She asked me, “So what’s wrong with you, tell me.”
I told her everything concerning Alice and Josh and what we went through that day. She said, “Wow! That’s enough to break a man but I think it’s been long enough to let it go.” I answered, “I’ve let it go but I’m scared it may happen to me one day. Anything at all can happen so I’m being careful.” “Ok, I get you but you have to talk to someone. You need therapy.”
She handed me over to her friend who is a therapist. That woman worked into my past and made things easier for me. We did it for weeks until I told her, “I’m fine. I know now how to deal with my fears.
We are getting married in August but we still have not been able to spend a night together. She asked me, “Will marriage turn me into rubber so I can’t be electrocuted? Does it mean when we marry I can’t be electrocuted and die?” I answered, “I hope you don’t go closer to electric wires but marriage makes you mine so there’s nothing to fear.”
My fears are gone. My demons no longer scare me. Soon I will marry and the first night would be worth the wait. I won’t be scared because I would be living with what’s legally mine.