Albert’s parents and my parents are friends. From what it looks like, my father and his father attended the same school and were friends from their younger days. When my mother came into the picture, his father naturally befriended my mother too. From what it looks like currently, my mom and his father are even closer.
When Albert came to visit his father from school one day, his father brought him to our house and introduced him to my parents. My parents knew him when he was just a boy until he went to live with his mother. It was that kind of moment when parents look at a grown-up person and remind him of his childhood days. My dad said something like, “Is that Albert? Was it not only yesterday that he was running around here shirtless?” My mom added, “He was even bathing in front of their house each morning.”
I was a spectator that day. I didn’t know him so I didn’t make any contribution. I could only imagine him running around pant-less and screaming to disturb the ears of resting elders. He left the town when I was very little myself. His father looked at me and said, “Maabena, this is your husband ooo. When you two were little you were inseparable.” I only laughed because I had no memory of him and from the shy look on his face, he also had no memory of me. After that day, he came around often. We talked and became friends. If there was something happening around town, I will talk to him about it and we’ll go. He had completed the university then and I was about to complete training school.
His father called us a couple. Anytime I went to visit him he would ask me, “Are you here to see your husband?” He had said that over and over again that I responded without thinking about it. Immediately he asks me, I respond “Yes.” I would be in his room, we’ll watch movies, talk about anything and later leave for my house.
My mother started making that comments too. “Your husband is coming…” She is my mother so I could control what she tells me. I would retort, “He’s just a friend. Stop referring to him as my husband.” She’ll say, “Look at her. Will you get a man like Albert to be your husband?”
I liked him as a person. He’s calm, very considerate and he cares a lot. I was in school one day when he came to visit me. He didn’t tell me before coming. He meant it as a surprise and I was indeed surprised looking at all the things he bought for me while coming to visit.
He said, “I had a job in town. You know what that means? It means I’m never leaving town again for anything. From now onwards, I will be around anytime you come around.” I congratulated him and took the gift. From there, he visited often and each time he came around, it was a celebration.
I completed school and came home. His dad called me “In-law.” My mother saw him around and also called him “My daughter’s husband.” My dad didn’t have a name for him but he looked like he was ok hearing that Albert was my husband. The friendship between us grew to the point where we could talk about anything. One day I asked him, “So when are you introducing your girlfriend to me?” He looked surprised by my question. He asked, “What do you mean when you say girlfriend?” I answered, “I still don’t know your girlfriend and I’m asking when you’ll introduce her to me.”
Any sharp guy would have taken that as an invitation to propose though that wasn’t my intention. If he used it as an opportunity to address the smell of the elephant in the room, it would have solved the problem for us but he didn’t.
All he said was, “If I have you, why would I need another woman to be my girlfriend?” I said jovially, “Be there and be building castles in the air. I would show you my boyfriend soon.” He responded, “Then the guy would be in a deep problem. Who is going to accept him when everyone around here, including your family, knows I’m the man.” He laughed at his own jokes and belched out with satisfaction in his eyes. He didn’t propose. If he did, I would have said no.
I started my national service in a village not far from home. I was coming home every weekend and each time I came around he was the one I hung out with. Obviously, he saw me as his girlfriend but did nothing to confirm it with me. He told everyone who would listen that I was his girlfriend. When I was around, I would correct the mistake, “I’m not his girlfriend as in a girl he’s in a relationship with.
I’m a girl who is his friend. That’s what he means when he says I’m his girlfriend.” He didn’t take my explanations seriously. He would often say, “Don’t mind her. Ask around who her boyfriend is and everyone would point at me.”
I thought we needed to talk. I asked him, “Albert, be true to yourself and me. Apart from the friendship we have, do you have any feelings for me? Let’s address it once and for all because I don’t know how serious you are when you call me your girlfriend.” Another invitation was extended to him to discuss the issue but guess what he did. He brushed it aside as, “This is not the time to talk about this.” I was waiting for him to be true to me so I can also be true to him. If he took the opportunity and said that I was his girlfriend, I would have told him, “No, you’ve been my friend all this while. I don’t feel those feelings for you and you should know it.”
I started withdrawing from him. Because of him, I stopped going home on weekends. He would call and ask if I would be coming home. I would say yes and later wouldn’t go. I knew if he knew I wouldn’t come, he would have come to the village to visit. I was doing everything to keep him at arm’s length. At some point, I stopped picking up his calls or responding to his text. He told my mom about it. When my mom sought to address the issue she said, “Why are you doing that to your husband?” I got angry. I told her, “Stop saying he’s my husband. He’s just a friend. I don’t like him that way but you guys keep empowering him to feel that way towards me. He’s not my husband.” My mom said, “Is he aware of what you’re saying? Have you told him?” I answered, “I can’t say no to a question I haven’t been asked.”
So the problem now is this…
I came home some weeks ago and my dad hinted that Albert had come home to ask for a marriage list. I found it laughable but also very annoying. I told my dad, “Don’t give him anything. He has never proposed to me and I’ve never said yes to him in any way. For christ’s sake, he hasn’t even held my hand before. How could he go to this length? I called him. I said, “Albert, what did you ask from my father? Marriage list? For what?” He answered, “When the time comes you’ll know.” And then he laughed. I told him, “I have a boyfriend and that is not you. Stop disrespecting me by going around behind my back. You’re getting me angry.”
As I’m writing this, he has come home with his mom and dad, trying to make things official. I was in the village when my dad called to tell me. I told him, “If you have another daughter for him, that’s fine.” It was that night that he called. He said, “We need to talk.” I answered, “I’m all ears.”
“I want us to get married.”
“No, I won’t marry you. I have a boyfriend.”
“Your parents have accepted me already so which other man are you talking about?”
“If my parents have accepted you, then why are you talking to me? Go ahead and marry them? I haven’t accepted you. We are friends but you’ve decided to destroy everything by feeling entitled. No, I’m not your woman.”
My parents have been on me every day asking me to marry him; “He’s a good guy. This is a man we all know. When the vultures from your own hometown eat your flesh, they don’t eat everything. They leave some behind. We know him. He knows us. You know him too and you know he’s a good man.”
I don’t like this kind of man and I don’t like his kind of good. I’m beginning to even hate him. He has succeeded in bringing the heads of my family against me and making it look like I’m the one being ungrateful.
Is it normal for a man to behave this way? Going around in circles about a woman he loves? That’s not how I fancied my love story to be. I wanted to be proposed to. I wanted to feel that urge of being in control of who I chose as a husband. I wanted to sleep at night and think about the proposal before saying yes. I wanted to experience the beginning of love and the rush that comes with it but this guy came along and just jumped into my love story and started muddying the water for me. No, I don’t like him but it’s strange the way he went about everything.