After a long lecture about being careful and studying hard, with his forefinger pointing at me and in a deadpan tone my father said: “You better not come home with just a degree, you should come with a responsible man as well.” Although it was said jokingly, it had a massive impact on me back at school. I lived each day on campus with a burning desire to get good grades and a fine, responsible man as an icing on the cake.
I was buried in studies for the first two years but the focus changed a little in my third year. I met my husband, Micah through my then roommate and best friend, Dede. In the second semester of our third year, Micah, together with a lady called Darkoah used to visit Dede in our room. Dede said they were both her course mates and study group members. Micah and Darkoah were assumed to be lovers because they were usually seen together. Before I met them, Dede used to tell me about them and expressed her admiration at the way they laughed at each other’s jokes and were fond of each other in class.
According to Dede, the two had been inseparable since their first year in school. Aside from reading the same courses, they were in the same hostel but in different rooms. We also heard it on the grapevine that Darkoah spent more time in Micah’s room more than in hers. It was said that she only slept and took her shower in her room. She rode with Micah in his car to and from lectures always. Their frequent visits to our room got me close to the two. Fact is, neither of us had the courage to ask any of them to confirm or deny the rumours that had been going round on campus. We also assumed they were together.
Micah took a liking for me after eating jollof rice I prepared one time they came around to study. He kept saying it was the best jollof rice he had ever tasted. Hmm…! I must say that I felt a bit uncomfortable each time he passed the comment in the presence of Darkoah. Not only that, in her presence he would always compliment me. For a wonder, she never showed any signs of jealousy.
One night, Micah surprisingly came alone to visit not Dede, but me. “How is the tongue here without the teeth?” I wondered. Before I could hide it, Micah saw the shock that registered on my face after he said he came to visit me. He said his roommate was out with Dede and Darkoah for dinner. Isn’t that strange?
He told me about how he had asked Dede all about me and how he wanted us to be friends, “close friends,” he qualified. “I believe all your roomie Dede has told me, but I want to get to know you better,” I remember these words vividly. But I thought, “Is this guy okay? Does he think I’m stupid? He clearly knows I’m aware of him and Darkoah so why would he ask me out?”
“I don’t know what exactly you mean by being close friends with me. If it is what I’m thinking, then I’m sorry but I don’t do ‘taken’ guys. It’s obvious you and Darkoah are together, what game are you trying to play?” I asked.
“I’m not taken. You got it wrong, Emefa. Darkoah is my childhood friend. There is nothing going on between us. I know it is common knowledge on campus, but she and I are just friends. We are that close because our parents have been friends for a long time and we both attended the same schools and did a lot of things together. She is like my sister and I’m like a brother to her since we both have no siblings. Believe me, we’re just friends,” he explained while I looked straight into his unblinking eyes with raised eyebrows.
A part of me was happy to hear that but my face washed blank with confusion after hearing it from him. After all I had heard from people and seen with my eyes, I must say it was hard to believe what he said. To the extent of involving Darkoah, Micah did all he could to prove to me that he was just friends with her.
It is worth mentioning that Micah is an attractive man. He is the intelligent and devilishly handsome type that not too many women can resist. You know where this is heading right? Well, the only thing that prevented me from dating him was the rumour but that has been cleared, so why waste more time? No, I wasn’t ready to and didn’t miss the boat. Dede my roomie even warned that if I didn’t date him she would on my behalf. That was hysterical.
Micah and I were exclusive after going on two dates together, of course the rumour-mongers did not spare us at all. They claimed I had snatched Darkoah’s boyfriend. Meanwhile, the three of us used to do almost everything together.
Truth is, at the beginning of the relationship, I thought with time, Darkoah would give us some space but no. She was always there, I mean always. It was over eight months and she would still prepare food for him and complain when he refused to eat. “Hello? He has a girlfriend now. He doesn’t need you doing all that no more.” These words would almost come out of my mouth each time I met her at Micah’s place helping with chores. The worst was when Dede and I met her early one morning at Micah’s place. Apparently, she had spent the night there and guess what? Micah didn’t think it was an issue because she used to sleep over at his place way before I became his girlfriend. I trusted him, but I thought that was a bit too far.
I loved Micah and I knew he cared about her, but I wasn’t comfortable with their kind of virgin relationship, no matter how sincere and innocent it was. Darkoah told me her boyfriend was studying medicine in the United States. “No wonder she had all the time to offer help where it wasn’t needed.” I thought. I literally shared Micah with her and each time I raised the concern, Micah would treat it as a non-issue then we would move on. Dede, my bestie advised that I had a heart to heart talk with Darkoah. I thought of how I could do it without offending her.
I approached her one day and told her how I felt about her closeness with Micah. Far from what I thought, Darkoah took it well and apologized to me. Let’s heave a sigh of relief now things are going to change. The next thing we knew, she was gradually parting company with all of us. She made up excuses whenever we called her for something. Micah was concerned but after all his attempts to get her to open up failed, he decided to give her some space. I pretended not to know anything about it. After all, we were just a few weeks away from ending our four years stay on campus.
You have no idea the difference Darkoah’s absence in Micah’s life made. It was as if a huge wall that stood between Micah and I had been broken. We were much closer than we were before. I was the first person he would call to share stuff with and he spent more time with me than he used to. It felt good, I must say. The idea was not to keep her at bay totally, but I do not regret my actions at all.
Dede and I heard from Micah that Darkoah travelled outside the country for an internship programme immediately after school. Micah, Dede and I served the nation for a year. Soon after the end of the national service, we all got employed. They say time flies like an arrow and it waits for no man, so Micah and I got married as soon as we both landed ourselves jobs. I fulfilled the promise I made to my dad by getting a good grade and marrying not just a handsome and responsible man but a man in whom my dad was well pleased.
Transitioning from student to employee and from Emefa Klenam to Mrs. Anderson all happened so fast. Marriage I heard is a long journey but when you have a man that an entire ocean of ink would not be enough to describe, you would know it would be a joyous journey. My Micah was everything to live for. Our plan was to have our two children, further our education and then set up and manage our own business.
Everything was on course until trouble knocked on our door one day. Just about a year into the marriage, we still had not been able to have any child yet despite all our efforts. We had seen numerous fertility specialists and were told all was well with both of us. I was worried, very worried because all those who used to ask, “when are you getting married?” had changed their question to “When is the baby naming?” But my husband always consoled me with these words “God gives children my love, let’s keep praying our time will come.”
I would go to church, cry and pray to God all the time, hoping for a miracle to happen. My friend Dede always cited the stories of Sarah, Hannah and Rebekah in the Bible to encourage me each time I brought up the issue in our conversations.
In as much as my husband was there for me and all that, I didn’t forget that there is a limit to what everyone can take in the name of love. I knew he would give up one day as his parents continued to mount pressure on him to give them grandchildren. But I didn’t see that time coming that soon. Amidst the anxiety, my husband returned from work very late one day and guess who the newbie at his workplace was?
No other than Darkoah, his childhood friend. “When did she return? Why your workplace?” those were the questions I was tempted to ask him, but I smiled and said: “Oh wow, how is she doing?”
“She was unrecognizable when I first saw her at the office. She has gained so much weight but she looks better than before, you need to see her. We had a lot to catch up on.”
There, right there was the reason he came home late.
He wouldn’t stop talking about Darkoah that night and how he thinks she deserves the position she has been given at his workplace. About a week after the return of the ‘great’ Darkoah, my husband made coming home late his new habit. He would come home and refuse to eat my food or talk to me. It wasn’t like we had any misunderstanding. He just changed suddenly, and that was so unlike him. Micah would confront me if I said or did anything he did not like, so what has changed?
He would come home, take his shower and go right to sleep. His answers to my questions were so straight and simple. I wondered if it was because I hadn’t been able to give him a child or if his parents were mounting too much pressure on him.
Dede advised that I gave him some time and space and that he would come around. I stopped hoping after about a week and woke him up in the middle of one night and asked him what the matter was.
“Do you really want to know, Emefa?” He quizzed.
“Hun, we cannot live under the same roof and not talk to each other. Share whatever it is with me, my love. If it is about our fertility problem, please don’t give up now. Having you by my side has really brought us this far, please don’t give up.” I urged him. But far cry from what I thought it was.
“Why did you confront Darkoah about her spending the night at my hostel and helping me out with chores? You knew that was the reason she drifted but you kept quiet, why?” Micah asked with disappointment.
After a while of silence, I shifted uncomfortably, glanced around shamefully and apologized to him. But my husband looked at me in a way he had never done before and said: “You are sorry? Sorry? You watched me literally beat myself over why she would not even talk to me. You could have said something, Emefa. You disappoint me.”
Without any more words, he went right to sleep, and I cried myself to sleep too. I woke up to a note saying he had some work to do and was going to stay late at the office to finish it up. “Is he ever going to forgive me?” I thought as I went about my business that day. I should have told him something, I should have! But blaming myself at that time wasn’t going to undo what I had done. I had to find a way to get my husband to forgive me.
I prepared my husband’s favourite meal and planned to surprise him with dinner since he was going to work late. The main entrance to the office building was usually locked at 6:00 PM. I arrived at his office at 6:15 and wondered how I was going to get in without calling him on phone. But I guess the heavens were with me on this one. One of my husband’s coworkers walked right when I arrived and let me in. Wearing the best dress and smile, I stood and stared at the silver marble walls inside the elevator as it slid to the eighth floor without stopping.
I stepped out as soon as it grinded to a halt and walked in the carpeted corridor, straight toward his private office. Before I turned to grab his office door knob, I heard voices. Who could he be working with at this time? Is your guess as good as mine?
My brain was sent reeling as it could not process the images my eyes were sending. Through the glass door, I could clearly see my shirtless husband, standing behind his disorganized desk with a woman’s legs wrapped around his waist. With her head literally in his hands, his forehead resting against hers, I watched his insisting mouth part her lips.
Unfortunately, her sitting position denied me a full glimpse of her. I could only see her long wavy weave, her arms moving around my husband’s body. Who could that be?
It was hard to watch but the shock or probably my curiosity about the mystery woman in there urged me on. I watched him slant her head further and explored other parts of her body with his hands right there, on his desk. With my eyes as wide as they could stretch, I took a closer look when he let go her head and she leaned back slightly and there! There she was, someone I knew!
And no, we all guessed wrong. It wasn’t my husband’s best friend Darkoah. He said she was scheduled to begin work in about a month from when he told me about her return.
They felt my presence, pulled apart and you should have seen her face shinning in shame. It was my best friend, Dede. Yes, Dede, the one I shared almost all my secrets with; the one I had befriended since college. The same person from whom I sought advice all the time.
I dropped the lunch box containing the food right where I stood and stormed out of the office building without uttering a word to either of them. I wondered how long it had been going on. My ignorance had been their power all this while.
In the end, “sorry” was all I was going to get. And guess what? They won’t be sorry for what they did, but for being caught. What a world! But Micah is still my husband, and everyone deserves a second chance right?
It’s fiction, written by Akosua Asiedua Akuffo.
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