The Man I Chose

Kwaku wrapped his hands around Bernice and rested his head on her shoulders.

“You seem to have been taken by the view from this side of the house.”

Bernice smiled faintly. Her eyes were set straight as though she could see beyond the mountain tops.

“I love it here.”

“Then I love it too.”

Kwaku kissed her lightly on the neck.

“You know I love you.”

Bernice nodded and stroke his cheeks. She chose him four years ago and with every increasing day she is sure she was right.

“You have a meeting due at 10 Kwaku.”

Bernice turned to face him. This is the man she went against everything and everyone, even herself and fears, to marry. He was then a mere struggling young man. But she from the start saw him for who he’d be; the charming man who loved God more than himself and had the gentlest heart she knew.

“I’ll. Just give me my kiss.”

Bernice laughed, tiptoed and kissed his forehead.

This was without thought Kwaku ‘s favorite part of their morning routine.

“You tiptoeing every morning is like a promise you’ll always do your best to reach out for me no matter how far. And I just love it.”

He’s said that twice this week already. The exact same lines. She could pass him for a good actor the way he says them if she didn’t know him any better.

“Lock the front door on your way out.”

Bernice watched her husband go. His attire for work was always what she picked out. Today he was in a black trouser, a blue and baby pink stripped shirt with a black tie. His suit was already hanging in his car.

Kwaku’s build is to die for.

Janice, her best friend always reminded her of it.

And his personality too. He keeps that smile everyday and it’s genuine.

She’ll add that quickly like it blows her away.

I miss her.

Bernice fixed her gaze on some lone little trees spotted on some parts of the rocks on the Aburi hills.

Too bad Janice was in far away Germany. She could have just called her up to talk.

Especially in view of her partner meeting.
Kwaku suggested they switch places. If it’ll make her feel any better. She insisted she’ll handle it.

Her Keep reminded her of her Bible study schedule at 12 and her meeting at 2pm over lunch.
She snoozed both and made for her prayer room.
Living in a six bedroom house will make you afford using space for that.

When she got married to Kwaku and moved into that shack, what her aunt told her her mum called their single room self-contained, her balcony was her prayer room.

Then the business got better and they relocated to two bedroom house at East Legon. Kwaku loved that place. It came with a feel of accomplishment.

But it was the house he loved – the spacious compound, the built-in garage and those adorable terrazzo chippings with some of the brightest colours.

Bernice laughed and turned into the kitchen for a glass of water. She gulped it down.

Besides allowing her relieve the various helps so she did house chores herself, getting Kwaku to move from East Legon to these beautiful Aburi mountain view houses was tough.
He could get snappy and worked out so easily on issues like this. If there was anything she could wish away from him, it’d be that.

And Bernice was uneasy about this new partner. Whatever the case, she couldn’t accept her mum wanted to just put her money where analysts are calling the new market takeover. Since taking over the meet, talk and trash part of the business, Kwaku’s name for their Clients and Partners department, she’s learnt not everyone comes interested in business.

Her thoughts and guts keep saying Mrs. Michel had more planned.

She was also afraid to meet her again after all these years.

Her mum boycotted their wedding and left home for a week. She never saw her after, even when they go visiting. Dad also has his share of the cake. When you team up in anyway against her mom no one goes unpunished.

Mrs. Felicia Michel will even mete it out to herself if she went against herself.

Mum.

Bernice looked at her phone’s clock and sat on her chair facing an empty one.

Two chairs facing each other were always set up – the second for whom her prayer was addressed.

Junior said she had a sense of humor the first time he saw it. And he set up two little chairs in his playroom just like it that evening.

Rays of sunlight bathed the red curtains and gave the room this stage lighting effect.

She closed her eyes and grinned. If there was a time to talk to God it was today.

Her phone rang. Talk of distractions.

“Mrs Quarchoo.”

Bernice’s personal assistant, Farida hurried on the other end.

“Call me Bernice. Farida you’re my PA and Mrs. won’t guarantee any more respect than you want to give.”

“Sorry please.”

“It’s alright.”

Bernice stood and played with the embroidery of rings in the curtains.
Mrs. huh. It warmed her heart.

She’s Kwaku Quarchoo’s Mrs.

That name got on Kwaku’s nerves on some occasions.

My parent’s could have switched the Kwaku for another name.

He says it whenever someone mentions his full name and that, often. It did sound funny on some lips. Confusing on others.

What? The new partner wants an earlier meeting at 11?

“But Farida you do know it’s already some minutes…”

“20 minutes to 11 madam. I did explain that to her but she said you will give that space. That she’s your mum.”

“I… You know what it’s okay. Call her and settle the time.”

“Actually she’s already on her way to the restaurant. She was sure you’ll come.”

“Settled. I’ll be there. Thank you Farida.”

“Sorry for the schedule upset.”

“It wasn’t your fault anyway possible. Pass by the house on Sunday. There will be some noise making for Junior’s third birthday. Bye.”

“Thank goodness I stuck with my wake up dress up routine. I can at least step out I’ll just grab my heel in the car.”

She looked at herself quickly.

“Sorry.”

Bernice whispered to the empty seat looking intently at it and dashed out of the room. Her keys were at one place all the time when not with her. They were on the TV Stand.

Bernice picked them up, locked the door behind her and entered her Range Rover.

She jilted the seat back a bit and took in some rush of air. Her mum. She’s missed her.

It’s been four years and more and she felt like a little girl waiting for a fairy.

Bernice drove out, got down and put her thumb on the green blinking box by the gate. She tugged at the gate. It was secure. She sat in her car and sped off to join the main road.

From here, it’ll take 5 mins to get to Efie Eat and Drink Corner.

She smoothened her dress, pursed her lips to get her stain in place as she waited for her turn to take the left curve. She looked at her face in the mirror.

She was a striking resemblance of her mum. Like she smudged her features off her yearly.

Her beautiful eyes, broad nose, small curvy lips and scattered eyebrows.

I’ll meet her without you Kwaku.

She could do better with him by her. Yet it was better he wasn’t here.

He gives perfect peace to those that trust him and keep their purpose firm in Him.

She let the verse settle in and turned left. In a few minutes they’ll be standing face to face.

Here we go Bernice.

*******

He still is jobless Bernice.

She had squatted and pulled the chicken out of the oven. The smell of nutmeg mixed with that of ginger and onion took over the place. Bernice would have shut her eyes and then inhale all that but not that night.

But that’s not the point. You always said I should look at potential.

Bernice brought the salad from the fridge.

Yes potential. Kwaku doesn’t have any potential.

The colour left drained out of Bernice ‘s face.

I was so heartless that night.

Mrs. Felicia Michel, Bernice’s mum, pulled her hair band up the pony tail.
She sat at the table farthest from the entrance.

She picked it so she could see Bernice before she got to their table.

The conversation was more than four and a half years ago and she was sure, too sure, that Kwaku will be no good.

He does. You can’t just write him off. He’s trying to do something in the mean time of getting his grip on a good job.

And that something is selling coconut?

Felicia had straightened the oil cloth on the dinning table. Their Sunday evening meals were taken in the kitchen rather than the main dinning hall.

Bernice had put down the bowl of yam. She almost dropped it. She brought the chicken, salad and tomato stew and sat down absent minded.

She smiled.

It was hard having those conversations. It was on Bernice. But at least they talked. She’s not heard her voice since she took her vows and chose Kwaku.

Then she had been strong on it. Bernice was her only daughter. She wasn’t about allowing her throw her life away by marrying some guy who couldn’t afford anything above a hundred Ghana Cedis for a present.

Well that guy now can buy you a house if you’d accept it.

Gideon told her Kwaku called him and made the offer. Her husband knew of course that she won’t accept it.

Even if it meant moving to McCarthy, a neighborhood she’s daydreamed about most of her life.

My daughter won’t throw her life in the gutters because of love. I’ve seen too many women end up with empty lives.

Bernice looked away that evening, her eyes gathering tears.

Felicia sipped on her melon juice and looked at the door.

She caused Bernice a lot of pain. What was she to say when she’s sitting across her to discuss the business deal.

Mum, Kwaku isn’t that kind of guy. I love him. He loves me, respects me and takes God serious. And that’s all I want.

Bernice defended him every step of the way. She, Felicia, saw nothing more than just some blind love.

This idealistic things you see in him won’t feed you, clothe you, buy you a house, cars. It won’t take your kids to school or buy them toys. Love won’t mean anything then.

Felicia was clearly agitated.

Those words gave Bernice the strength to rebel maybe. She’s never really gone against her wishes. But she did that night and Gideon supported her.

Bernice’s choice affected her ego and her marriage. However more, it helped revive it for lasting.

She smiled.

She made up with Gideon some hours back and she rescheduled so she won’t put off letting her only daughter know that she was ashamed four years ago she was a difficult person to live with.

She lifted her head.

A lady in a loose trouser and a pink top and a silver two inch heeled slipper was almost at the door. And she looked just like her.

“Bernice.”

She said the words softly to herself. A few people at the restaurant might have heard her. Bernice did too. She looked at her mum and smiled faintly.

How she must be feeling right now.

Felicia smiled back and lifted her glass.
Bernice hesitated for some seconds and started walking towards her mum.

It was so awkward. Like how their last real conversation ended years ago.

That night, when they couldn’t agree on anything about Kwaku while setting up for dinner, from the corner of her eye she saw her dad walking out from the study and making his way into the kitchen. And she decided to muster up and speak.

If she was going to be the bellwether for this in the whole extended family, she didn’t mind.

The day before Adwoa Duah, her cousin had been married off to the US by a random beyond rich man. Her mum had drooled on how expensive and classy the event was. Her mum wanted that for her too.

So the argument about Kwaku was more about her mum’s sybaritic view of life. She was determined to let her know she wasn’t a little girl anymore.

The last sentence she spoke to her mum in four and a half years was said that night.

I’m sorry to disappoint you mum. I have already given my word about marriage in six months time to Kwaku.

You didn’t.

Her dad just entered.

She has. He came over and spoke to me.

Her mum’s eyes were bloodshot. Cherry red. And then she looked at her and her Dad and walked away.

And she walked out of her life too that night.

“I’m sorry I’m late.”

Bernice sat opposite her mum. She thought her eyes were softer.

“It’s alright. I should apologize. I rescheduled.”

“That’s alright too mum.”

Felicia smiled. She called her mum. It makes it easier.

“Bernice I actually rescheduled so I can talk about us before the business.”

Bernice nodded. Mrs. Felicia Michel had a plan. Her eyes though say it’s not sinister.

“I want to ask your forgiveness and ask to be your mum again. That’s the summary. I want to know your openness to the conversation or otherwise before I go into it.”

Bernice smiled and reached for her mum’s left hand. She squeezed it.

Her mum is asking.

How much courage did she work up to do this?

He gives perfect peace to those that trust him and keep their purpose firm in him.

She never expected a new mum with it.
She sighed and nodded.

Here we go Bernice!

© 2016 M’afua Awo Twumwaah

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