File photo: Couple

On my first day at the university campus, I found a supermarket nearby and went there to buy some groceries. When I got to the counter to make the payment, a woman seated behind the cashier signaled me to come. I went. She looked at my face for a second without saying anything. I felt uneasy. I thought I’d done something wrong. She asked me, “Is today your first time coming here?” I said yes. She paused again. She asked, “You’re a first-year student, I guess.” I said yes. She responded, “That’s why. My name is Shirley, what about you?” I said, “I’m Frimpong.” She said, “Sorry to waste your time but you resemble my husband, that’s why I called you here. I pray he’ll be here the next time you come around.” I smiled and returned to the counter.

She told the cashier, “Don’t take anything from him. I’ll pay.” I looked at her with an eye of gratitude. I uttered, “Thank you so much. I’m most grateful.” I left the shop very happy and prayed to meet her again the next time I go there to buy. That was 2006. I was only twenty-two and was at the university campus with only GHC100 cedis in my pocket. I didn’t know where I was going to get money if what I had on me got finished. That’s why Shirley’s kind gesture meant a lot to me.

The next day I passed by the shop again. She was there. I went straight to her and said thank you. She asked, “For what?” I told her, “For yesterday.” She only smiled. That’s the least I could do for a friend. “A friend?” I said in my head. She said, “My husband is not here today too but if you don’t mind, you can visit us in the house so I introduce you to him. He’ll be very happy to see you.” I said, “I don’t mind at all. I can come over this weekend.”

When I was about to leave, she asked if I needed anything and I said, “No, I still have most of the things I got yesterday.” She gave me her number and asked me to call her before I visit.

On Saturday, I wore my best clothes and set off to meet Shirley and her husband. I called her when I got closer to her area. She asked me to stand at a particular point and wait till she comes to pick me. A little over ten minutes, she was there. As I sat in the car going, I offered a prayer; “God, let Shirley’s husband liked me just the way Shirley likes me. I’m the son of a poor tailor. I wouldn’t mind if they adopt me.”

It was in the house that I realized Shirley wasn’t as old as I perceived her to be. She wore a short nicker with a white t-shirt on top and from the way she looked, I could confidently say she was in her mid-thirties. She asked me to make myself comfortable. She served drinks and served food. After a while a man she introduced as her husband joined us. He looked older. Like someone in the late fifties.

I looked at the man very well and didn’t see any resemblance between us. Yea, he was slim and dark and I was slim and dark too but that was all. Nothing else looked the same between us. Immediately he sat down, Shirley gleefully said, “Dear, watch him very well. Don’t you see the resemblance?” He only smiled and asked me my name. I mentioned it. He asked my age and what course I was doing in school. We spoke at length and discussed some of the things we were watching on the TV. Soon it was evening and I had to leave. The man said, “Nice meeting you Frimpong. If you please my wife, you please me too so be a good boy.” Shirley remarked, “This is your home, you can always come here and feel at home.” I said my thanks and left.

Since that day, whatever I needed, Shirley provided. I only had to call her. I visited them in the house countless times and it was all joy and happiness. One afternoon, Shirley sat next to me on the sofa in their home. The husband wasn’t around. She said, “You’re in university. That means you’re not a boy so you should understand what I’m going to tell you. I’m interested in you and want you to be my boyfriend. Don’t worry about my husband, everything will be alright if you agree to play ball with me. A woman my caliber doesn’t need anything but good intimacy which I’m currently lacking. Don’t feel guilty, life is like that. We don’t have it all.”

I was so shocked I thought I was dreaming or I was being tested by some invisible hands. I stayed quiet for a while pretending I was ok. I said, “I’m only twenty-two and I don’t know what you find in me. You’re like a mother to me and I don’t know how I can do that to you with a clean conscience looking at how you both had treated me so far.” She asked, “Are you a virgin?” I said no. She said, so what are you scared of?”

That day, she coerced me into giving in. Right on the sofa, we did it. The next day, she picked me from school at night. In the dark of the night, she parked at a corner of a lonely road and we did it in the car. I asked where her husband was and she said he had traveled outside of the country. S£x became the norm between us and after the third time, I started feeling no guilt or whatsoever. We did it mostly in their house and sometimes when we were both drunk, we’ll park under a tree in the night and do it right there.

One afternoon, I was on top of her in their house—on their matrimonial bed when we heard the approach of her husband’s car. My heart skipped a beat and was about to jump off her when she held my waist and kept saying, “Hey don’t stop, I’m cumin. He can’t come in, the door is locked. There was nothing I could do. My dick shrunk out of fear and couldn’t go again so she pushed me off and went outside to get the door. By the time she and the husband got inside, I was neatly dressed and innocently seated on the sofa with smiles on my face pretending to be enjoying the movie on the TV.

The man said, “Gentleman, you’re here. Hope you’re good?” I shyly responded, “Yeah I’m good. Welcome home sir.” He said thank you and walked by to the bedroom. I prayed he doesn’t see any sign of our sinful behavior in there. He came back from the room not looking worried. I said to myself, “All is well.”

But I was surprised Shirley wasn’t scared or bothered about her husband catching us in the act. When I asked her she said, “Nothing should come between me and my cum, not even the approach of my husband.” She made jokes about it but I was concerned.

We didn’t stop. We continued until I was in the second semester of second year when one evening Shirley came to tell me; “Unfortunately, I have to travel outside of the country with my husband. He’s working there and he needs me by his side. I don’t know when I’ll be coming back but it should be very soon.” That night I was anticipating a goodbye sex or kiss but I didn’t get any. She only hugged me and drove away. Two days later, she traveled with her husband and I never saw her again. I was heartbroken for months. I went to the supermarket on several occasions, thinking I would miraculously see her there. I never did. She never called or texted.

Two years later, I completed school and left campus. On our graduation evening, I had a call on my phone. It was a foreign number. When I picked up, the voice said, “Hello Frimpong. I called to congratulate you on the milestone. I knew you’ll do it.” I asked, “Who am I talking to?” She said, “This is your Shirley.” I screamed and jumped everywhere. I was like a dog who had seen its owner after a long while. I realized I was missing her. We spoke for about fifteen minutes and each second I asked when she’ll be coming to Ghana. She kept answering, “I’ll be back very soon.”

That was 2010. I thought ‘soon’ was going to be that same year. I never heard from her again till we lost touch completely.

In February this year, Corona turned the world upside down. Borders started getting closed and many people started dying. Ghana started experiencing the havoc in March and everything changed for us. It was in April when I had a foreign call. It could have been my wife who was doing her Masters abroad. When I picked up the call, it wasn’t my wife but the voice sounded familiar. Guess who…Shirley!

After ten years, she decided to call me again. I’d moved on completely and had become my own man, married, and doing my own business. I said, “Shirley…it’s been so many years already. I hope you’re doing well?”

“Yeaaaa I’m doing very great how about you?”

“I’m doing great as well.”

“I learned you’re a family man now. How’s your wife?

“Yeah, I am. My wife is good. How about your husband?”

She took in a very deep breath and answered, “He died. He died some months ago and we brought him to Ghana to bury him.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. That might have been very hard for you to handle. Accept my condolence.”

She took a long sigh and said, “I have news for you. I was pregnant for you when I was leaving Ghana. I gave birth to a baby girl and she’s twelve years now. I feel this is the right time for you to know.”

I screamed, “Huh? You mean you had my daughter all these years and you didn’t mention it? You gave it to your husband and Now that he’s dead, you think it’s the right time to tell me?” She sensed the anger in my voice and she calmly said, “I’m telling you now because I feel you deserve to know, especially now that my husband is dead. And for your information, my husband was aware. I chose you to get me pregnant because he couldn’t. He wasn’t stupid. He knew what was going on between us.”

My head started spinning. All that while, I thought I was the player. Not knowing I was being played. Her husband used me as a cover-up for his impotency. No wonder she wasn’t scared about her husband catching us on that day. I asked her, “Shirley, why are you telling me this now? Why didn’t you die with it just like your husband did? Why now? Why?” She said, “It’s a favor I’m doing you. If I died with it, it would have been a tragedy for you not to know. You know now, thank me.”

Since we had that talk, there hasn’t been a day I don’t think about Shirley and my careless youth. Now, she had left me with a secret I didn’t have when I married my wife. Now that I know, it has become a burden on my conscience—whether to tell my wife or not. Why didn’t Shirley spare me the burden?

For now, no one knows except me and her and it’s going to remain like this until we both die. People die with a lot of secrets and this is one of the secrets a man goes to the grave with. I don’t even know her name and I wouldn’t like to know. Knowing she exists is enough trouble. I’ll keep things like that. No one else needs to know.   

—Frimpong, Ghana