The first time we spoke to each other, there was something apparent in her voice; regrets.
She spoke about the wasted years and how she wished she could turn back the hands of time and undo certain mistakes of her life.
I wanted to know more about her story but it was our first meeting and didn’t want to irritate her with questions.
We met a lot of times afterwards, maybe it was the universe’s way of telling us to be together.
I took my time to listen to her, to understand her story and to know the reason for her regret.
She was 30 years old when we met. She got married when she was only 24. At 25, she had a daughter with her husband and at 27 when her daughter was barely two years old, her husband called for divorce.
She said: “To date, I don’t know what I did wrong for him to leave us when we needed him the most. He stopped eating what I’d laboured to cook. He stopped calling me by name. He preferred calling me ‘Hey’ but I didn’t mind.
“Then he stopped touching me and started coming home very late. I dared not ask him why. The few times that I tried to ask why it turned to a verbal assault which nearly resulted in physical assault. I thought it was a phase until he told me he doesn’t want the marriage again.”
She narrated her story with deep sadness in her voice. I could understand her. Many women get married at 27 but at 27, she was a divorcee with a daughter as a prove of a failed marriage.
That’s enough to break a woman’s spirit and she was right to mourn her circumstances. When she’s not talking about her failed marriage, she’s the sweetest girl you could ever find. She smiles a lot and makes jokes about everything.
She even made jokes about her failed marriage and we both laughed. At some point, I asked her, “So where’s he? Does he take care of the child? Does he play the father figure in his daughter’s life?” She answered: “The last time I heard of him was through his brother.
“He told me my ex was travelling abroad. He doesn’t send child support and my daughter doesn’t know her father.”
When we became very close to the extent that we were seeing each other each day, her daughter asked her one day in my presence: “Mum, is uncle Obed my father?” Before her mother could say anything I said, “Yes, I’m your father okay? Call me dad.”
She smiled and asked the mother, “Is it true?” She hesitated before telling her, “He’s a man so he can be your father. Every man is a father.”
Later when the child was away, she asked why I would tell such a lie to her daughter. I told her: “If you give me the chance, I would be her father and she wouldn’t bother about her real father because I’ll be everything she needs.”
She asked: “Are you trying to use my daughter to get at me?” I answered, “I’m trying to use you to get to your daughter.
Just give me a chance.” It wasn’t easy to get her to believe the purity of my intentions but I expected it and I was ready for it.
Three years later, we were ready to move to the next phase of our relationship; to get married and move to a place where the three of us can start a family of our own.
Her parents knew me and they even referred to me as their in-law. My parents were so fond of her because of her humility and her willingness to help.
In January this year, we did the ‘knocking’ and decided to use the months ahead to prepare for the main marriage ceremony. It was a short ceremony. My family went to see her family and drinks were given to her family.
We started making plans toward marriage but in February I realised a change in her character. She looked like something was eating her up but no matter how hard I tried, she never spoke about it.
I started digging. That was when I realised she had been in touch with her ex-husband. From all indications, the two of them were trying to mend the hurt of the past. What for? I didn’t know.
I asked her: “I realised you’ve been in touch with your ex. What is the issue about?” She was surprised I knew about it but she didn’t ask how I got to know. She went straight to the point; “He called me one day asking about his daughter.
“He wants to come to his daughter. He’s talking about giving her the best education abroad and raising her to become a better human in the future.” I asked her, “So what did you tell him?” She said, “I told him he can’t take her away but I’ve been thinking of it too.
Maybe, if he takes her away, it would give the two of us the opportunity to start our life afresh.
That’s what’s eaten me up. On one hand, I don’t want to lose my daughter but on the other hand, I want a clean start for us.” I asked, “So what are your parents also saying about it?” “Nothing,” she said. “They’ll accept any decision I take.”
I didn’t want to interfere in the issue, lest she tells me I’m being jealous. In late February this year, I learned her ex had come to Ghana.
She didn’t tell me about it. It took a mutual friend of ours to tell me. It was just around that time that it became difficult for me to see her. She was making a lot of excuses not to see me.
When I finally asked what the issue was, she told me, “Sika’s father is in Ghana. He’s bent on taking her away and that’s giving me a lot of headaches.
“Emotionally I’m not in a good place right now. I need space to clear my head so I’ll know what to do next.”
All this while I thought the problem was about her daughter and the father. Not knowing she was also involved.
I was very tight with her senior brother so it was he who told me the whole story. He said, “My guy you have to look sharp.
“My sister is not being truthful to you. Her ex has reconciled with her and they are making plans. It’s not about the daughter. It’s about herself.”
That night I confronted her. She said: “Please don’t make the issues more difficult than it already is. I’m in turmoil. Please don’t make it worse. Yes, he’s trying to reconcile with me but I haven’t accepted anything. I’m still thinking about it.”
I said angrily: “So why don’t I know about this? I’m the stupid one here, right? Where was he when Sika needed a father? Now that things are getting well, he’s here talking stupid and you’re stupidly falling for him.” I didn’t hold back on my words.
Maybe she needed a little push to decide to go to him and I gave her that push. She didn’t talk to me for a week and when she finally spoke to me she said: “I don’t think I can continue with you again. Your anger scares me. Is that how you’re going to treat me anytime you’re angry?”
She needed a reason to leave me and every reason was enough. I begged her. I went to her parents asking them to talk to her on my behalf.
What didn’t I say and what didn’t I do to prove that I was sorry? She never rescinded her decision. They returned the knocking drink to my family a few days later.
Not too long afterward, the COVID-19 reared its head and the lockdown happened. I learned that was when the family of her ex went to see her family to officially announce their coming back together “for the sake of their daughter.” That news broke me into pieces. The fact that we were on a lockdown also didn’t help matters.
I even contemplated suicide. I thought of where I found her and where we had gotten to and how she was giving it all away just to go back to the place where her biggest regret was manufactured.
The borders were closed. That meant her ex wasn’t able to go back at the time he was supposed to go.
In September when the borders were opened, he no longer had a job. He was laid off from work so it was difficult for him to travel with both of them.
According to his senior brother, he left promising her that he’ll get a job as soon as possible and make arrangements for them to join him.
I’m very bitter but not to the extent that I would wish her evil, especially because of her daughter. She still calls me daddy and I wouldn’t wish for her to suffer.
She’s still my daughter so I pray that indeed, her husband finds a job and a better place so he can come for them as he promised.
I meet her every now and then and she’s so ashamed to look me in the face. We never said a word to each other in all our recent encounters but I can see she’s not happy.
She wears the same face she wore when she told me about her regrets the first time we met.
If I have a spare prayer, I’ll always offer it on her behalf, not because she deserves it but because her daughter deserves someone she call a father.