Hours after my story was published, I wrote to Silent Beads; “Please delete my story. The insults in the comments are too much. I wanted help, not insults.” Well, they didn’t delete it but I stopped reading the comments because every comment pronounced me guilty of taking advantage of a girl I didn’t mean to take seriously. To date, I think about what I wrote in my first story and I feel ashamed that I wrote it. I don’t even know what I was thinking—yes I was thinking of leaving her. I wanted to leave without breaking her heart. It’s like falling from the sky without making a sound. It’s not possible. So when the comment didn’t go my way, I decided to take things into my own hand. If she hurts, she hurts. After all, pain is part of life.
Because of the intentions of my heart, I couldn’t look into her eyes. I couldn’t bring myself to be cheerful in her presence. While she was busy loving me and trying to prove herself worthy of my love, I was busy thinking about my escape plan. She wasn’t stupid. She sensed the coldness in my attitude and started asking questions; “Is something wrong with you? Have I said something I didn’t have to say? Did you find out something about me?” When the questions became so rampant, I used my mother’s sickness as an excuse.
My mom had been sick for several months. It started as a stroke but she later regained partial posture. And then it turned into something else—something that got her bedridden for months. I told her, “Sometimes I think about my mother’s sickness and it affects my mood. Forgive me. You’re not the reason for my mood swing.” She’ll say something like, “Cheer up. Mom will be well. Next time when you’re going, I’ll go with you to see her. She’ll be fine. Don’t let this bring you down.”
I will look at her and wonder why she couldn’t read between the lines. I spoke to Derrick about it; “That girl, I want to leave her. She’s too raw for my liking.” He asked, “What do you mean she’s too raw? Neni mbie yɛ anaa?” I answered, “Something like that. I’m afraid one day I’ll take her to a place and she’ll embarrass me.” He said, “Then leave her? What’s difficult about this?” I answered, “I will but I don’t want to hurt her. I’m looking for a way to make it less painful for her.” He laughed. “Where an old woman falls when you push her shouldn’t be your concern. You don’t like her that’s why you’re pushing her so why care where she’ll fall? If you’re scared to hurt her, then you love her more than you think. Take your time and investigate your feelings. If not, then just send her a message now, now, now, that you’ve left her.”
He said what he said because he didn’t understand me. I may not be a good person but I have a loud conscience. How do you leave a woman just because you can? The kind of heart I have didn’t allow me to do that but Derrick said something that was worth thinking about; “If you’re scared to hurt her, then you love her more than you think…” I thought about it and ask myself, “It’s that the case?” I responded, “She’s physically attractive but it’s what’s on the inside that worries me.”
I agreed to let things stay as they were while believing there would be cracks to take advantage of along the way.
My dad called me one late night. Felicia was with me, watching Korean series. My dad’s voice was softer than normal. He was speaking almost in whispers. He said, “We lost your mom. It happened a few hours ago. She tried. She fought hard. We don’t have to cry, we have to be happy that she has been relieved of her pain.” He was crying while telling me not to cry. Tears found their way nonetheless. Felicia saw me crying and said, “You lost your mom?” I nodded my head. She came and sat next to me and started rubbing the back of my palm; “I’m sorry this has to happen to you but God knows what he does. We can’t question him.”
The next day, she sat next to me while we traveled home to meet my family. She had to ask for permission and be with me for a day. I couldn’t introduce her properly when we got home. The mood wasn’t right. Everyone around had too much tears in their eyes to see who I came with. She left the following day but I stayed. She called all the time trying to know what was happening. When I didn’t answer her call, she sent a text. One day she said, “I’m here. Let me know whichever way I can help. Any way at all, I’m ready.” It’s a family issue so I couldn’t involve her that much.
I went home earlier for the funeral. When I got home she called me. She said, “I put an envelope in your bag, did you see it?” I went inside, picked up my bag, and went through it. It was true, there was an envelope in the side pocket of my bag. I opened it and it was money. I counted. It was GHC2,500. I called her, “What for?” She said, “For whatever you may need that amount. My contribution to the funeral.” I bowed my head down as if she was standing next to me. How can someone be this considerate and kind and yet want her out of your life? Am I even sane? I whispered through the phone; “Thank you for everything. I appreciate it a lot.” She answered, “See you on Saturday.”
She came very early on Saturday. My mom was laid in state so I didn’t have eyes to even see her. I met her for just a few minutes, showed her where to sit and I went away. The next time I saw her, she was in the midst of my aunts helping them with the cooking. Another time, she was wearing a black t-shirt she had borrowed from someone and was pounding fufu. The next time I met her she was serving. Another time, she was there directing visitors and showing them where to sit. When my mom’s coffin was carried, I threw my eyes around trying to see if she was part of those carrying the coffin. She wasn’t. She was in the house cooking and serving and mingling with the family as though she was one of us.
In the evening when everything became less hectic, she came to tell me that my colleagues are asking permission to leave. When she left, my dad asked me, “Who’s that girl? Is she one of your colleagues?” I answered, “No she’s not” without giving further details. Fathers are fathers because they gave birth to us. They’ve lived our lives before so they can smell things we are trying hard to hide. On Sunday morning during church service, my dad was looking for me when he came to see me standing there with her. He asked her name and she mentioned it. My dad said, “We’ll talk later errn. When everything is done, come and look for me.”
She left town on Sunday after church service. She came to see my father and my dad thanked her for the help. All my aunts joined their voices singing her praises; “Oh she’s such a human. Very humble and helpful. She had been with us in the rags since Saturday.” She was smiling shyly.
When everything was done and I was leaving town, my dad told me, “If she’s not your girlfriend, do everything you can to make her yours. She has a soul. City girls don’t behave the way she did so for her to do all that means she comes from a humble background. Maybe she’s something to you but you’re not sure about her. Take this from someone who gave you a good mother. She’s perfect. If you go wrong with her, blame it on me.”
I sat in a car going back home and I was filled with the heaviness of losing my mom and also with the heaviness of not seeing the good in Felicia all this while. The first story I wrote came to mind and I wished I had the powers to erase the past and make them brand new. If I had, I would unwrite that story. A woman is not her wig but sadly that’s what I looked out for in Felicia. A woman is how she was raised and the environment she was raised in. The values she was raised with will never fade but the environment within which she was raised and the mannerisms that come from such environment would slowly fade away when introduced into a new and better environment. How was this lost to me? Why was I fixated on leaving her?
On the 9th of April 2022, I and my family were in her house performing the knocking rite to make things official. I have the list now. It’s not something that breaks the bank of a young man like me. One after the other, I will get everything. I’ve given myself just three months to acquire everything so the marriage can be realized. My dad saw her for just hours and concluded that she was the one. I’ve known her for a little over two years. I know her more than my dad. The only difference was I was looking at the wrong factors—the things that don’t matter. The things that don’t make a woman a woman.
Does her interest in Korean series still bother me? Not at all. As far as it makes her happy, I’m happy. Does her rawness embarrass me? Sometimes. But we are both learning to accept who we are and work through our differences. When I bring things to her attention, she smiles and says sorry. Same with me here. We are both growing under the shade we’ve provided for each other. In all this, I’ve learned one thing. That is, it’s only time and seasons that can bring out the buried light in people. It took the season of my mother’s death for me to know that I’ve got the real deal in Felicia. For that, I’m always grateful.