My insatiable desire for sex cost Maggie her degree

Dear Fred,

I’m writing this letter at dawn and you know what it reminds me of? It reminds me of our beginning when we could talk on the phone from morning till dawn. We knew when to start talking but we didn’t know when to stop. So when the cock had crowed and we had looked at the time, you’ll ask me, “Is it dawn already?” And I will respond, “Yeah it is but there so much more to say.”

Both of us had no work to do because we were new graduates waiting for our National service postings. Time meant nothing to us except to wake and to go back to sleep. We had nothing to our name but we made love look like everything that we have. If an hour passed and you didn’t hear from me, you’ll call to ask me, “Are you planning to break up with me?” I will laugh and ask you, “Why would I do that?” And you’ll say, “Then why would you take a whole hour for yourself?”

You made love looked flowery. You made it look like something that can stay evergreen even during hard weather. I remember the day we receive our National service postings. I was posted to the Ashanti Region and you were posted to the Volta region. We both heartbroken. We believed we were going to be posted to the same place or the same region or at least somewhere closer to each other. It didn’t happen but that night when we met, you told me, “What we have is stronger than any distance. With love, no place is that far.”

And you proved to me that indeed no place was that far. You came to me every weekend. Thank God it’s Friday meant a thing in my life because of you. I called it “Thank God it’s Fred’s day” because it was the day I got to see you. As time went on, I learned to travel that far to also come and visit you. Seven hours’ journey didn’t look long enough because we knew what we were traveling for. Love.

To date, I don’t know when things started changing. I loved and trusted you so much I didn’t notice when you changed. Even when you didn’t call me, I trusted it was due to something beyond your control. When you didn’t visit, I believed you wanted to but something equally important came up. I was busy making excuses on your behalf so I didn’t realize when the bell of doom begins to toll. We had completed service and you had gotten a job where you did your service so you were always busy. I was home, looking for a job so you and I could plan a better future together. But your presence kept dwindling each day until I got nothing from you unless I complained; “Fred why are you not calling me these days?” “Fred, why don’t you return my calls?” “Fred, you’ve changed drastically.” “Fred, please call me tonight, I miss us talking till the dawn comes.”

Your answer was always, “Don’t worry, I will.” But you never did. I blame myself for accepting less from you. It’s the reason you kept giving me less and less until there was nothing more to take from you.

I remember that night when you were on my bed talking to someone on the phone. You had visited me from the Volta region after several months of persuasion. I didn’t want to start a fight. I wanted us to have a good night and use the opportunity to catch up. But something you said on the phone got me thinking about who you were talking to. You said, almost in whispers, “Two thousand cedis for just a wedding dress?” I can swear on the ghost of my mother that I heard you say that. But when I asked you, you said, “It’s not about me. It’s a friend we are talking about.” I asked, “Your friend is having a wedding?” You said, “No it has got nothing to do with a wedding.” I said, “But I heard you mention a wedding dress.” You said, “Then you didn’t hear right.”

As I said, I didn’t want to spoil the mood of the night but it kept me thinking the whole night. Your kisses were empty. It was as though you were thinking of someone else while kissing me. Your touch didn’t feel right. Everything was wrong but I endured. Days after you had gone, I kept thinking of what I thought I heard but in the end I chose to believe you again, “Maybe I didn’t hear right.”

Saturday 10th August 2019. I woke up feeling sick in my chest. I called to tell you. I called twice you didn’t pick. I called again at around 2:30pm, that’s when you picked. I could hardly hear your voice because of the noisy background. You said, “Let me call you later. I’m at a program.

The later never came.

Monday 12th August 2019, Suzzy called me; “Are you aware Fred got married over the weekend?”

“Fred? Which Fred?”

“Which Fred again do we know? I mean your own Fred.”

“My own Fred? How can he get married?”

“Give me a second.”

In was in a split of a second when the images of your wedding started pouring on my phone.

I said, “Suzzy, he might have been the best man for a friend’s wedding.” She said, “Please look at the photos very well, he’s wearing a ring.” Trust me, I didn’t have the courage to watch the photos again. I was scared of what I would see so I told Suzzy, “Thank you very much. I know what next to do.”

I had nothing to do next but to cry like a baby. Fred? He got married? That was when I started calling you. You remember how I called you a million times and you didn’t pick any of the million calls? Yeah, that was the day. You’re clever. You sensed I might have gotten a hint of it so you stayed away from my calls until a week later when you appeared to give me a lousy excuse, “You know this is where I come from so when I got here to do my service, they got me a woman and forced me to marry her.”

May the gods of force marriage deal with you, if there are any. You shamed them with that excuse.

A girl with a broken heart and dreams have nothing but tears. I poured it all out and it lasted for so long but I healed. It took so long but I healed nonetheless. I circled the date in my calendar so I may not forget. Not that I want to remember the evil deeds you did me but to remember all the steps that took us to the point where you got married to someone who wasn’t me.

I’m a better person now because I learned. I’ve studied the signs and it’s what makes me better today. Now I know I shouldn’t accept less no matter how much I love the man. I’ve learned to believe in what my ears heard even if it was said in whispers. I’ve learned to question every change that comes into my relationship. I’ve learned to communicate my discomfort even if he’ll call it nagging. I’ve learned not to believe in “I was busy” excuses. True love knows no ‘busy.’ I’ve learned to notice when I’m no more a priority. Yes, I’ve learned a lot and it’s the reason why the man in my life right now doesn’t take me for granted because he knows I will know and question it when the slightest of thing changes. He knows I always stay aware so he automatically is invited to bring a lot more awareness onto the table of our relationship.

I wanted to wish you well for my own healing but I heard what you said to Kofi when he asked why you did what you did to me. You said, “She should even be thankful that she got to the semi-final of the relationship. Others didn’t even qualify from the group stage.” Six years of my hard earned existence was wasted on you. I deserve better than what you said. You’re married now and you might think that’s final but if you ever play in any game in life, whether financial or career progress, may you also not qualify from the group stage. You don’t have regret and I have no pity for you.

—Sylvia, Ghana