All stories of our lives involve a man and my story isn’t any different. I met Edem at the university. We were in the same class. I don’t remember the specific time that we fell in love. It’s been that long and some details get bleak with time. But I remember when he proposed to me. I didn’t think twice about it. I said yes. I wasn’t that hard to get for him (Smiles).
After university, I introduced him to my parent. My mom didn’t have any problem with him. My dad was skeptical. He didn’t trust the future of both of us. He always said; “School love is school love. It hardly translates into anything of note.” I knew he was telling the truth but somehow, I wanted to believe our story was different. I wanted to prove it to him. We kept going and we hardly had troubles we couldn’t overcome.
After our National Service, it became very hard for Edem to get a job. Luckily for me, I was maintained at the company I had my service with. Life was good for me but Edem always had troubles. The fact that he couldn’t get a job immediately got him restless and almost without faith in tomorrow. I kept supplying some of the things he needed. It hurt his ego as a man. I could sense that from his countenance but he had no choice but to accept that his girlfriend was taking care of him.
Two years came without a job for Edem. Luckily, he got favor from his uncle living in the US. His uncle arranged papers for him to join him in the United States. The day he told me that, I couldn’t hold up my joy for him. At long last, Edem can afford to have faith in tomorrow. “If Ghana doesn’t want you, US will,” I remember telling him that teasingly. I remember seeing his signature laughter that night after a long while. There and there I knew it was well with his soul once more.
The night before the day Edem flies away, we didn’t sleep. We stayed up all night thinking about the future. The past came by but we paid little attention to it. We wanted the future. He said; “Cee, I would work very hard when I get there. I don’t have to live with my uncle for long. I promise you, after two years, I should be able to have you with me there.” I smiled. I trusted him. The truth was shining in his eyes and I had no fears but to believe.
The day came. He had to leave. In that instant, I didn’t know whether to be happy or to be sad. It was a cocktail of feelings running through my head and heart. Yeah, the expected happen. I couldn’t control it. Tears came running on my cheeks. The truth finally came knocking; I was going to live without my Edem for so long. That alone was enough to break my resolve not to cry. We said our goodbyes and the taxi drove off.
One year went by very quickly. Very soon the two years was here with us. Edem hasn’t made it. He kept telling me all the bad news. I kept trusting because I knew his heart very well because I knew he would make good on his promises.
I was blinded by love but my parent weren’t. On my 27th birthday my dad’s birthday message to me was clear; “Cynthia, this is not the time to dream. You are a woman now. This is the time to live. Happy birthday and I pray you find a man to start a family with very soon.” I replied; “But dad, I already have a man. Who else do I need?”
My age was ringing a bell but my ears heard not…
On my 28th birthday, I had a very passionate conversation with Edem. Among other things, I drew his attention to my age and the fact that I’m wasting the flowery years of my life to his distance. I told him about the guy who was close to breaking my resistance with his charm. I told him about my dad’s insistence that I get a new boyfriend. I reminded him of all the friends who have married over the years and raising beautiful families. I poured my heart out to him. And he said something that made me cry all day that day. He said; “You can marry to get off the family pressure. When I’m ready, I’ll come for you. You can seek a divorce when you get here.”
I cried because I felt Edem had given up on us. I knew that boy and his little faith when things aren’t going the way he wanted. I could imagine his face as he said that. I was broken.
But you see, I started considering his proposition. It’s a good idea, don’t you think so? It felt like eating my cake and still have it. I can marry and still not lose my true love, Edem. It sounds good, right? Well, you might think it’s stupid because you are not in my shoes. So I went for it.
Don’t let me bore you with a lot of details. I got married to Fiifi.
I told Edem everything that was going on in my marriage with Fiifi. I even told him when Fiifi performed poorly in bed. I was always comparing Fiifi to Edem and Fiifi never came up on top of anything. I was so sure Edem was going to come for me. I always wanted to create the impression that my marriage with Fiifi wasn’t working so he should hurry up and come for me.
I got pregnant for Fiifi in our first year of marriage. I secretly got it aborted before Fiifi could know about it. I didn’t want anything to come in between my desire to live with Edem someday, not even a baby. Or let’s say, I didn’t want to give Edem any excuse to say we couldn’t be together. I wanted no future complication with Edem.
Two years into our marriage, without a child, I realized Fiifi was getting uncomfortable. He found a way of bringing up children in all of our conversations. I kept assuring him everything was fine but he wouldn’t have that. He tried many other methods to get me pregnant. I got pregnant again in my second year of marriage. Secretly, I went to have it aborted.
I started getting worried too. What if all these abortion lead to my inability to have children when I needed them? To be on the safer side, I had an implant to would prevent pregnancy for the next three years. All the while, I was praying with my husband to have a child. We even started taking herbal drugs to boost fertility. I didn’t take mine but he took his’ religiously.
I didn’t tell Edem about the abortions but I told him about the implant to avoid pregnancy. He was very pleased with it and even joked; “We don’t want any bastard to disturb your peace.” That gave me a lot of joy knowing I had his consent and his unconditional love. My strength came from knowing Edem was at peace though I was married to someone.
Then one day, everything came falling down; my world, my hopes, my foundation of a stronger tomorrow, all of them came falling down. And I fell with them too. Pieces…that was all that left of me.
For one whole week, all my calls to Edem went to the answering machine. I left him messages on Facebook, he didn’t respond to them. I sent him Whatsapp messages. He read them but didn’t answer. Surprisingly, I didn’t get worried. I know that boy. Sometimes little problems could push him away but he always came back to his senses. So I wasn’t worried.
Then one morning a friend called to tell me she had met Edem in town. She went ranting about how good he was looking and Edem was able to recognize her immediately they met and the conversation they both had. At first, I didn’t believe it. Edem couldn’t have done that. And then somehow, I convinced myself that maybe Edem was trying to surprise me. I called most of his friends and asked if they had knowledge about Edem’s arrival in Ghana and the answer I got from all of them was a no. I called the number of his junior brother but it never went through.
His parent didn’t live where they used to live. They had moved homes. For the next week, I kept sending Edem hundreds of messages. He read them but didn’t reply any. I told him I knew he was in Ghana. I asked if he was trying to surprise me, he should cut it because my heart was breaking. None of my messages was dignified with a response. I kept my cool and watched life played out.
One morning I tried checking him up on Facebook; he had blocked me. I tried sending a message to him on Whatsapp. He’d blocked me on there too. I got the message…
One weekend, I received screenshot images from the friend who met Edem. Even when I hadn’t downloaded the images, I knew whose images they were; Edem. The images were Edem’s traditional wedding. My eyes started getting teary but I looked up to prevent the tears from falling. I remember telling myself; “Edem, I won’t let you deserve my tears. You’ve taken me through a lot of pain during these few days. That’s enough. Not my tears, Edem.”
I realized I was shaking. I’ve allowed myself to be overcome by the pain. I felt sick in my stomach but I didn’t want Fiifi to come and see me in that mess. I went to the bath and took a long shower. I put some long dress on and went to the hospital to have the implant removed. I’ve lost everything I ever hoped for so it was time to protect what I had left.
When Fiifi came home that evening, I threw myself on him and gave him a very long hug. I saw how shocked he was but I didn’t care. I felt I owe him a lot and that moment was the right time to make everything alright. I told him I missed him. Yeah, I’d missed him because for once, the blindfold was off and I was seeing him for who he was.
Edem destroyed a world for me but I realized that world wasn’t mine from the start. The only world I had was the one I could build with Fiifi. I started building with him and now we have a world of our own. One kid, a girl and one on the way coming. I couldn’t have asked for more.
Story by Cynthia Prekoh, Takoradi, Ghana.