The first person who called me on new year’s day was my mother. She said, “Last night I prayed for you. I prayed to God to give you a husband this year. Next year by this time, we would all be singing songs of joy.” I said amen and she said, “But you need to mellow yourself so someone’s son can find you worthy of marriage.”
Two years prior, I was living in the same house with my parents. There was not a single day that my mother didn’t remind me to get a husband. I was 29 going on 30. I had a perfect job and contributed immensely to the growth of the family. I was the ‘husband’ of the house. I paid utility bills and paid for food. I paid their medical bills and bought them whatever they needed yet they didn’t see me as a complete woman because I didn’t have a husband. When I bought my first car, it caused a huge uproar in the house. My dad said: “These are the things you do to drive the men away. When they see you in a car, they would be scared to approach you.” My mum: “It’s not a woman’s duty to buy a car. Wait till you marry and then think about it with your husband.”
At some point they became unbearable so I decided to leave the house and move into a rented apartment. My dad objected: “As a woman, you wait in your father’s house until your husband comes for you. Didn’t you see Abena? Didn’t you see the day Alice’s husband came for her from here?” Alice is my immediate junior sister. Abena comes after Alice. Both of them are married and both of them bring nothing home yet, for the mere fact that they are married and living with their husbands, my parents respect them than me.
One morning, I went to inform them: “I’ve rented a place. I’m moving out this weekend.” You should have seen the look on their faces. They spent all week trying to convince me to stay but my mind was made up. That weekend, I left the house and went into my rented apartments. For months my dad didn’t talk to me. My mum called only when she needed something or felt like asking me to return home. I needed my peace of mind so I stayed away from them.
A year later my dad called me: “There’s someone I would like you to meet. He’s Josh…the first son of my long time friend. He just returned from abroad and I would like you to meet him.” I asked him, “where and when?” He said, “anytime you’re ready, just let me know. I’ll inform him so both of you can come home.” That weekend, I went home to meet the gentleman my dad wanted me to meet. He looked quite a gentleman. He talked slowly and delicately. He looked at me with an eye of interest but when he spoke to me, I could only smile. My dad said: “You see, both of you look good together. See how tall and handsome he is, both of you would make beautiful children.”
I wanted to just go ahead and give him a chance. After all, I didn’t have a boyfriend. At this point, all I wanted to do was to make my parents happy. We exchanged contacts and started talking from that very day.
Me: “What do you do?”
Him: “I came from abroad not too long ago after staying there for the last six years. I’d come to settle down and begin life afresh.”
Me: “So what do you intend to do when you finally settle?”
Him: “I’ll import and sell. I have some friends abroad who are ready to partner me to do that business.”
One week later he visited. He said: “What do you say to what your dad suggested?” I asked him: “That’s my father’s opinion. What do you also say?”
So we started dating. Two months later he said: “Let’s get married already. Let’s make our parents proud.” I said: “It’s been only two months. Let’s get to know each other very well. Marriage is something we don’t have to treat lightly.” Few days after we had that conversation, my father called me. There was some tint of anger in his voice: “A man is ready to marry you and you’re there playing hard to get? Time is going. You’re not getting any younger. Make a decision already.”
I was very angry but I let it go.
On weekends, Josh would pick my car to do his rounds. He’ll later return the car with an empty tank. Not once and not twice. He would stay in my house for days, eat everything in the house and bring nothing back. I was observing. For close to a year, he never came to my house with anything in hand. He would come with an empty hand and leave with something in his hands. After a year, there was nothing to show for his import and selling business he said he was going to do. I asked him about it. He said, “Everything is in place. Waiting for my friends to make a monetary commitment so the business can begin.” A few months later, he came asking for a loan; “My friends are delaying. I’ve used everything on me for the initial setups. I’m hard up, please help.”
I directed him to get a loan from a financial institution. “If they need guarantors, you can call me and I will help.” A day later, it was my mother who called; “Nkwã, this is a man you’re going to marry so you have to help him establish. In the future, both of you will enjoy.” I asked, “Mom what are you talking about?” She said, “He only asked you something small to help his business and you didn’t mind him.” I asked her, “He came to tell you that?” She answered, “That’s not important. You have money, help him!”
I’ve had it to the neck so I called Josh; “Why do you run to my parents to complain to them anytime I say no to you?” He answered, “I don’t talk to your parents. If they said something to you then it might have been my father who told them.” I asked, ”So you run to your father whenever I say no to you?” “That’s not the case,” he answered.
I knew the depth of the issue from that day on. It was like both parents were behind pulling strings to ensure we get married. I didn’t wake up at 30. I lived through it all so I know what trouble looks like. One day, I called Josh so we both sit down and put our future in a better perspective. I told him: “You want us to get married but you don’t have a job or anything that brings income. You have no home of your own. What were you doing all these years abroad? What did you bring and what did you do with what you brought?” He said: “I have things on the sea coming. I have an investment there that is yet to mature. All I needed was a little push. A loan…but you refused.”
He said it in a way that made me believe him. I wanted to give myself some time to see what happens. One day he came for my car and as usual, he brought it the next day with no fuel left in the tank. The passenger seat was a little bit reclined. I looked on the floor mat and saw a tiny earring. I looked at the seat very well and could see strands of hair trapped in the cushions. He’d been busy in my car. The next day when he came around, I put the earring in his palm and said, “Maybe she’s looking for it.” He asked, “Who?” I said, “The lady you were with yesterday. She left her earring.”
He denied ever picking a lady in the car. He put up a strong defense but I wasn’t listening. That earring couldn’t have come from me. The next day, it was my dad who called me, “Why are you accusing Josh of something he hasn’t done? Mellow, my daughter. I say mellow and stop driving men away. You won’t marry yourself.“
When next I saw Josh I told him point-blank: “It’s clearly not working between us. We both have different ideologies and I don’t believe we can live together now or in the future. It’s better we end it now than later.”
The next day, my dad called. Hours later, my mum called. Even my sisters called to ask me to give Josh a second chance. I said no. For several months, my own parents refused to talk to me. But I wasn’t bothered. It’s better not to talk to your parents for a few days than to marry wrong and live in perpetual regrets.