The first patient who proposed to me was a seventy-two-year-old man. He was at the twilight of his life but he believed falling in love wasn’t out of his reach. He was almost lifeless each morning I went to his bedside to administered drugs. One morning, I could see a spark in his eyes. He looked lively and strong. Immediately he saw me, he got up and sat on his bed and greeted me. I joked, “You look lively today. It’s today your birthday?”
He grinned and kept looking at me. I said again, “If you maintain this posture, you’ll be discharged very soon.” He nodded and said, “When I’m discharged, would you follow me home and marry me?” I was surprised but managed a smile. I responded, “Get well first. That’s the most important thing now.” Just when I was about walking away, he held my hand and said, “I’m not that old. There is more life in me. We can have a wedding if you want to.”
I helped him to his bed and told him to get well. I joked again, “If you are able to walk to the car by yourself when you are discharged, I will marry you.” He smiled and said, “I’m ready.”
From then on, many proposals kept coming. Some were serious and some were just a flash in the pan. One of our matrons advised; “When you give them care they hardly receive from their own family members, they fall in love not with you but the care you give them. Don’t take them seriously.”
That advice always stuck with me until one day, one patient changed everything for me.
He had a car accident and was brought in with broken limbs and other severe injuries. He was brought in at dawn and I was on duty. I stayed with him until doctors came and performed some minor surgeries on him and took him to his ward. I still stayed until his mother came to the hospital in the morning. I told her about her conditions and assured her he will be well in no time.
He ended up spending two months at the ward and within those two months, he was largely under my care. Each day he got better and because I was constantly with him, we talked about so many things. When he was discharged, his mother invited me to their house, gave me some money(which I reluctantly accepted) and thanked me profusely. And then she dropped the bomb, “Don’t you see Charles likes you? Look at the way he looks at you when you are around. Make up your mind, he’s a good chap.”
Every day, the mother called to ask if I’ve given consideration to what she said, I lied that I was thinking about it. Soon, Charles himself started talking about his love for me and how he wanted me to be part of the family and how he will do everything to make me happy.
Indeed he was a good man. He had a way of doing things that pleased me but I had a boyfriend. Kojo. Yeah, Kojo had a lot of faults but I loved him like all I had. He was confused about life, about us and our future but something about him made me loved him more. So I told Charles the truth; “I know you mean well but there’s only one thing that stops me from returning your love; Kojo. We are close to getting married and I can’t leave him now.”
He didn’t say a thing. He just nodded. I thought that was going to be the end of it. He rather changed. He never said anything about the proposal again and rather started being there for me every day. He will call in the morning and ask about my schedules. He will send a driver to take me home after work. I wasn’t seeing him like I used to but he had a way of pushing himself in my thoughts every day.
Surprisingly, that was when Kojo started ignoring me. He wouldn’t pick my calls and wouldn’t return missed calls. He was always busy with something I didn’t know but I knew him. I knew deep down he cared for me. I kept telling him to be there. I gave him subtle clues to indicate that I needed him more than before but nothing changed him.
He made it difficult for me not to think about Charles. Charles was doing everything right while Kojo wasn’t giving a damn. I went to see Charles one day and poured my heart out to him; “I will like to be with you. If today you ask me to be your girlfriend, I will say yes but I don’t know how to deal with Kojo.”
He said, “You don’t need to deal with him. Just leave him if you think he’s not treating you the way you want him to.” He said it as though it was easy to do. From that day on, I decided I wasn’t going to call Kojo until he called. I decided also to spend more time with Charles to get to know him better. Truly, Kojo never called for a whole week. I was getting uneasy. I resisted the attempt to call him and he never called.
One morning, I wrote a lengthy message to tell him it was over. I read it over and over again but didn’t have the courage to press send. That night he called, “Eii Sally, these days you don’t call me. What’s keeping you busy?” I nearly insulted him but I kept my cool. I told him I wasn’t going to call him ever until he learned to call. He got angry and hung up.
By this time I was getting tired of him, especially when Charles was being the man I wanted.
I went to the hospital on an afternoon shift one day and one of the nurses told me, “Your boyfriend came back and was admitted last dawn. Unfortunately, he died early this morning.” Do you remember that 72-year old who proposed to me? Yeah, he came back and died and I wasn’t there. I was so sad for the rest of the day. I couldn’t even eat. I called Charles and he asked me to come over after work.
He did all he could to cheer me up. Later in the night when he was sending me home, he proposed again and said, “This would be the last time I’m going to say this. If you say yes, we would be married in the next six month.” I said yes immediately. I didn’t care whether or not he was serious. I was sick and tired of Kojo.
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Two months after that, we planned to meet my parent and do the traditional knocking so we could start preparation towards marriage. A week before the knocking I started developing cold feet. It was as though I needed more time to rethink the whole thing. What the matron said also kept playing out in my mind. “What if he doesn’t really love me? What if I marry him and I couldn’t take care of him as he expected?”
I asked for more time but Charles got angry. The first time I was experiencing his anger. He told me to leave and return only when I’ve made up my mind. I left and never went back. I went back to Kojo believing his promises.
A year and a half later, Charles got married. He found himself another nurse and got married to her. That same year, Kojo called it quit with me. He too married another woman not too long after. I lost the two and today, I’m still single.
There were so many things I handled badly but it’s all good. There is still life.