That’s what my friend, Efua said when I told her this story. I asked, “Life…what has life done?” She answered, “I don’t even know what to say to this but it’s all part of life.” Maybe she was surprised that I kept it from her or she didn’t believe I could do such a thing but she didn’t lie when she said, “Life…” Indeed, life can bring us to a place where we will say yes to things we never thought we will say yes to.
And that’s the beginning of my story.
The first married man who proposed love to me was Mr. Ankama. He was an elder in our church and also a very good friend of my father. I was so shocked I ran to Efua and told her what the man had said. She said, “It’s always the people you respect so much who turn out to be people who don’t deserve respect.” We made jokes about it and even gave the man a nickname, “Awingaa.” I was twenty-two and he was in his fifties. His firstborn was even older than I was. So when one day he called to ask me about my response to his proposal, I told him, “The next time you mention that again, the whole church will hear about it.”
That was the end of him. He stopped calling and looked away whenever our eyes met in church. Efua said, “If all married men were treated like this, they’ll all stop going around chasing girls and rather focus on building their marriages.” But what I came to learn later is that married men don’t stop going around chasing girls just because one woman said no. They move to another target until they get a yes. Ankama didn’t get me but he got another girl who was very vibrant in the church.
That was not my concern.
I had completed university and was going around looking for a job. I met a lot of men, both young and old. Some were very honest with me. They said, “We don’t have a vacancy here at the moment. When we do, we’ll let you know so you can apply.” The dishonest ones always had something to tell you. They always gave you hope so you can keep coming around until they get their way with you. First, they give you their numbers and tell you, “Call me later today and let’s talk. I could work out something for you.”
Immediately you call them, they keep giving you promises upon promises until they make their intentions known to you; “You’ll get a job only if you’re ready to play ball.” I met a whole lot of such men and all of them had their rings on while they look you in the eyes and say, “I want you to be my girlfriend. Just say yes and let me open doors for you.”
Power in the hands of the wrong man is very destructive. They give nothing until you give something. You always end up giving more than they give back.
We had a youth program in church one day and after the program, the resource person we invited gave me his complimentary card to call him. I didn’t know why I had to call him but the next day, I thought it wise to call him and thank him for honoring our invitation. He said, “It was nice spending time with you guys and I must also congratulate you for organizing such a successful program. You have my number now, whatever you need, just call me and if I can, I will assist you.”
On his card, he was the CEO of the organization he was in. In his speech that day, he spoke about how he took the organization from nothing to something. The sacrifice they had to make and some relationships they had cut off to make things work. He looked younger but in his speech, he said he was fifty-five. If I needed him to do anything for me, it would be to help me find a job but I just met him and didn’t want to rush in making requests.
I didn’t call him for over a month but one day decided to call him and put my request before him. It sounded desperate but I was in a desperate position too. I had completed school for over two years and had nothing going on for me. I called and humbly asked if there was a position in his outfit for me. He said, “Currently we are not employing but I know some people I can speak to on your behalf. Send your CV tomorrow morning and I will take it up from there.”
The next morning I did send. I called him to tell him I had sent the CV and he said, “Good. Just be patient, I will try my best for you.”
Days turned to weeks and weeks rolled into months I didn’t hear anything from him. I took my mind off it. It happens often. People collect your CV and do nothing about it though they promised they were going to work their socks off on it. It wasn’t the first time. I always moved on.
One early morning I had a call from a lady; “Am I speaking with Melissa?” I answered yes. She continued, “I’m speaking from this and that Agency. I have your CV in front of me. Can you pass by tomorrow so we have a conversation about an offer?”
Three days after I had gone to see the lady, she called to offer me the job. That same evening, the man called me; “Congratulations. I trust you’ll do a great job. Don’t disappoint me.”
I was so happy I didn’t know what to do. The offer was good and the job was exactly how I wanted it to be. I went to his office the next day to thank him. He said, “Just go there and do your best. Whatever happens, let me know or should you need anything, just inform me.” We started talking a lot more from that point. He’ll send a message asking about my day. I will send a reply telling him how my day went and also ask him how his day went.
When the time came for me to rent a place, he came through for me again. He spoke to friends and a few days later, I had fully paid accommodation for a year. I told him, “You’ve done a lot already, you should have left this one for me to handle. He responded, “You just started working. You can’t give everything to landlords. You should be on your feet after a year when this rent is over.”
I didn’t know what to think about it. “Why would he do all these for me? Is there something he wants from me?” Then another side of my brain will say, “He’s just a good man. Has he ever asked you for anything? See how he speaks so well of his wife. He doesn’t want you. He’s only helping because he likes you in a good way.”
I closed my eyes one day and by the time I opened, the two of us were in a relationship.
I don’t remember him proposing to me and I don’t remember saying yes to his proposals. All I remember is one night he visited me and he slept over. He said he was looking for a getaway from his wife. He needed a quiet place to pull his thoughts together. He asked me, “Is it alright if I stay for the night?” I didn’t think twice about it. I said, why not? make yourself comfortable.” I gave him something to eat. He took his shower and lied next to me throughout the night. Nothing happened but from that night on, the two of us were in a relationship.
He came around often. Sometimes he came with his laptop and books and will stay at the corner of the room and work all night. He hardly had the time to do anything emotional or sexual.
He provided for me. All I had to do was to ask him and he would provide. We could go a whole month without any sexual encounter so I asked him one day, “Why do you need a girlfriend? Because clearly, you don’t need so much that your wife can’t give. He said, “I’ve been married for close to thirty years. It gets boring some times and one needs a getaway.” I asked him, “Does your wife give you any source of worry?” He said no. “Is she a good wife?” He said yes. “Is there something she’s not doing that you wish she did for you?” He answered, “She doesn’t know when to let me be.” “But have you told her that you want to be left alone sometimes?” “I did once and she accused me of treating her like a second-hand citizen in her own house.”
No matter how good it gets, at some point, you feel the guilt. Someone with my conscience will never stop feeling guilty about the whole thing. He was a good man and did so much for me but I knew deep down that I didn’t deserve all the time he was spending with me. I thought of my own future and asked if I would be happy if another woman treated me this way. Obviously, I wouldn’t be happy so I found a way of assuaging the guilt.
Whenever he thought of buying anything or doing anything big for me, I found a subtle way of reminding him to do that for his wife first. He decided to buy me a car. I didn’t ask for it. It was he who decided to get it for me because he thought I needed a car. For days he spoke about it and asked the kind of car that I would love to drive. I didn’t answer. I told him this, “Why don’t you change your wife’s car first?” He laughed and said, “Her car is quite new. She changed it five years ago and I don’t think she’ll need another one.” I said, “Just surprise her.”
He got me the car and later changed his wife’s car for her.
He took me to places and introduced me to people in high positions. He was bold enough to call me his girlfriend and these people didn’t act surprised. I mean a man is married and he introduced another lady to you as his girlfriend, you should be surprised but these men shook hands with me and treated me like royalty among themselves. It was all fun but my conscience wouldn’t let me be and I wasn’t bold enough to tell him to stay off me. I was scared he might try to hurt me or something so we kept going until one day I had a strange call;
“You’re Melissa right?”
“Who am I speaking with?”
“I’m the daughter of the man you are going up and down with. I won’t say much to you but kindly leave my father alone before I come after you, woman to woman.”
“There seems to be a misunderstanding here. I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Keep pretending but if you know what is good for you, you’ll stay away.”
Minutes later, the man called; “Don’t worry about what she said. I’ll fix it.” Before I could ask any question, he cut the line. I didn’t hear from him for two days. His phones were off and I was scared to go to his office. He called one night around 11pm to ask me to meet him somewhere the following day. When I met him, he looked like a worried man. He said, “My daughter found out about us and that’s bad news. That girl is capable of everything so from now, we’ll lay low. I won’t see you for a while till issues die down.”
I asked him, “Does she know me personally? Has she seen a photo of me or anything?” He said, “No. All she has is your number which she took from my phone.” I told him, “Let’s use this opportunity to right our wrongs. Let’s end things here. I’m always going to be your girl because you’ve helped me a lot but this can’t continue forever. At some point, it will come to an end so let’s use this point to stop everything.”
He wasn’t happy but that was the only option for us.
He didn’t call for months and I didn’t call too. Somedays I watched his Whatsapp status. He posted photos of him and the wife on a holiday. He looked happy. He looked well-fed and clean. He was like a man who had found sudden joy in an awkward place. His wife was also laughing a lot in the photos. I guessed they were happy and things were going great for them.
Some days I miss him and want to talk to him. I’ve been hoping he would call me someday and explain why he took his daughters’ threat very seriously. I wanted to ask how it was to be happy again in marriage. I haven’t been able to call him because it’s a decision we both took to stay out of each other’s life.
But most of all, I’m happy that he’s happy with the woman he got married to