I had always thought marriage was not for me. I did, up until Paa Kwesi came along. Ours wasn’t a Disney fairy tale nor a well brewed African romance. Ours was just plain reality. I was satisfied with it. I had never dreamt of having a clone of the plush celebrity marriages. I couldn’t take the drama.
We met at a business party in his apartment. But no, we weren’t working together. It was my first year in the corporate world after my national service in the northern region and my well-meaning colleagues in the office wanted me to have some fun. They thought me too artless. So here I was that night trying to make my way through some kebab and an annoying boastful guy they had set me up with. Before he could tell me his name, I knew he was an Ashanti. You would have known too if you hail from that region because I did. I was trying hard to send him away but he stuck like gum. So I couldn’t have seen Paa Kwesi but I did.
I still cannot tell what made me notice him. Doubtless there were too many things. On top of the list would be his gentle laughter that echoed through the room, his neatly ironed shirt with rolled sleeves, his neat cut hair roughly contrasted with his bushy beard and his strawberry scented cologne. Yet it wasn’t love at first sight for me. I didn’t believe in throwing my heart to anyone at first sight. But I wanted to know him. He seemed the ladies’ man and so I felt I’d have won over all the girls if he singled me out. I’ve always been competitive. And of course it would serve me a good riddance of my current companion. So I wished hard. I didn’t know how to talk to God then. I had no need to do that about anything before.
My wish was granted but only after the night was dead. He walked over to me and teased.
“You must have had a tough time with him”.
“Yes. All thanks to my colleagues”.
And the conversation spark off. We had little time to talk so we both agreed to exchange contacts and talk some more. We had too many common interests.
He loved country music and so did I.
He loved fried yam chips and so did I.
He watched whatever was on TV and so did I.
He wouldn’t trade Kelewele for Pizza and I wouldn’t too.
A year later, Paa Kwesi organized another business party and proposed. Everything happened too fast for me. We had started dating for only 6 months and I wanted to wait longer but I loved him. I decided to take my chances. I said yes simply, disappointed a lot of the female guests who anticipated what they called a much more feminine reaction but leaped inside me. He never ceased to be my romance. I told him that every single day after we got married.
The event was beautiful. Paa Kwesi made sure everything was perfect. I did nothing but taking out invitation cards and letting him make me laugh all night before the wedding day.
He saved for the ring and made sure it was customized just as I told him I’d want my ring someday when we became friends. He forgot no detail. He did everything for me – even shaved his beard he has kept since Senior High for the wedding.
The honey moon was our first disagreement. He wanted us to travel and see some places outside of Ghana but I wanted to stay in Ghana. At first, he seemed resolute but I won. We stayed in Ghana, in our new apartment and had a week to ourselves. He treated me like a queen. We made only two resolves – we would enjoy everything we could out of life together and put off having kids for two years. And we did just that.
Wherever Kwesi was, you’d see me. On every Friday, he drove about an hour from Adenta to Pig farm just to take me to Barceló’s. We did everything together.
We even got saved together and baptized together. For us, that was besides our marriage the biggest landmark in our lives.
Our priorities changed. We wanted kids right after our second year. We wouldn’t put it off again.
And that also changed everything.
We tried for three years without any good. We prayed, had friends pray for us and finally decided to visit my parent’s doctor friend. I didn’t want us to at first because I was scared it’d be my fault.
There are times I wish we didn’t. Nothing would have been different.
But we did go and found out Kwesi could never have children. It was difficult for us both but worse for him. The Kwesi I knew just left me with another person I couldn’t understand. He was no longer the easy – going man I fell in love with. He suspected everything I did. The guilt that he could never get me pregnant weighed on him. But I chose to put up with it.
We were starting to improve a year afterwards. I was elated. Kwesi took me out for a date night to celebrate our third wedding anniversary privately.
It was on that night we fell apart finally.
I hadn’t expected it. I couldn’t have guessed what was on his mind.
Paa Kwesi wanted us to adopt.
I should have agreed to. I was too hard – headed. Possibly, the idea of winning all the time was more than skin deep. I didn’t want to lose to him.
Quarrels turned into fights and fights got worse. There were days I slept at a friend’s just to avoid him.
Looking at it, I was selfish. The idea of not having to deal with taking care of a child as a woman advancing in her career had become welcoming for me.
I left Kwesi to go through the pain alone. He took to drinking and resigned from his job. Life for him was not worth it without someone to bear his name.
We couldn’t have one decent conversation.
There were times I prayed for a miracle so I conceive and didn’t mean it.
I knew the right thing to do.
God tugged at my heart too many times but I played numb. I should have just gone to him on one of those cold nights he sobbed clung to a bottle of whisky. I should have gone to him, taken the bottle, allowed him to lie on my thighs and sob and after tell him I was ready to adopt.
But I didn’t.
After two years, I packed out, left him a note and our divorce papers with a pen. I was scared he’d come home one day and beat me. I was scared I’d walk out of our apartment one day and be part of the beaten wives. I was scared my friends would call me foolish.
He never did. I should have known him better but I was too afraid.
I was also afraid he’d sign those papers and he did.
So l left Paa Kwesi after 6 years of love from him. He sacrificed everything for me.
I left despite my heart knowing otherwise. I left despite the counselling of my pastor. I left despite knowing the Lord wasn’t in favor.
I knew I could have saved the marriage and I didn’t. I took a transfer from Accra to Kumasi. I did leave.
So seeing Kwesi in our old house shuddered me. It was after 5 years but he still looked the same as he did when I first met him here – funny, easy – going and a gentleman. I came back because I had seen an advertisement of the house on sale and I wanted to buy it. It would give me back the memories of the good times I had with him.
I made sure he wasn’t the owner. After we separated, I still kept my eyes out there for him.
I knew he had sold the house and rented a small apartment some miles far away from East Legon. He had gotten his job back because his best friend, the CEO, kept it open for him in case he’d change his mind.
I also knew he never remarried nor entered a romantic friendship with another woman.
But I convinced myself it must be a fib from my sympathetic friends to keep from breaking my heart.
I couldn’t face him when I saw him. I didn’t know what to say. Hence he did, as always when we’ve had an occasional fight.
“Hi Freda.” He smiled chivalrously. “I didn’t know you’d also be interested in the house.”
“Well…” I mumbled. I didn’t know what to say. He was so relaxed and I was the one who left.
“Well. I am. Just say that and I’ll leave it for you.” He teased. A lot was unalike but nothing was altered. All these years and we were still just Paa Kwesi and Freda.
I laughed instinctively.
“You haven’t lost your laughter. I’m glad the Lord kept it.” He came closer.
I nodded. Before I could talk he’d handed me the keys to the house and was walking away. I turned sharply, run and blocked his way. He stopped with tears in his eyes. I couldn’t say anything.
“You deserve a proper settlement.”
I still couldn’t say anything but I wanted to say something. I wanted to let him know I was sorry for having my way every time.
I wanted him to know I meant it when I insisted he kept everything.
“You have my number. Maybe you don’t.”
He said, gave me the same card as from the party, said “I have yours” and drove away. I stood and stared till the car was out of eyesight.
He gave me his number again.