I was exhausted and heavily drained after work that Friday. It was so bad I could hardly get out of my car when I finally reached home. Finding my keys in my handbag was another stress altogether but I managed that and walked to the door. I could not wait to get that cold shower and the good night rest I needed so badly.
But I noticed something – the light in my bedroom was on. It wasn’t as if it was unusual because sometimes in my haste to get to work early, I forget to put it off. But I was pretty sure I switched it off that morning because I had to go back to the room and put it off after I saw it on through the window.
I reached out for the doorknob and before I could insert the key, the door flipped open. Then my heart skipped. “What is happening?” I murmured to myself and dropped my handbag right at the door. I was alarmed, I couldn’t have left my lights on and the door unlocked, especially when a neighbour had been robbed and stabbed a few days ago.
The most likely guess was that my room had probably been broken into but nothing in the living room pointed to that when I entered. Then I thought of running to my car to grab something for self-defense, just in case there was someone in there. I did. The cross rim wrench was my armour of defense available and I grabbed it, hesitantly took one step after the other into the living room again.
My heart throbbed in fear with my eyes darting from corner to corner as I entered the room. Repeatedly, I shouted “who is there?”, “anybody in here?” but I heard nothing. The loud silence was just as intimidating. I changed weapons- from cross rim wrench to a fire extinguisher- which dangled on my shoulder like a golf player ready to hit a ball into a hole. I doubted if I had courage enough to hit any intruder, if I were to find one.
The kitchen was clear too, except that some things had been moved from where I usually kept them. My heart started beating even faster when I noticed that and this time I was certain that someone had been there. Every room I entered, I changed weapons and knowing now that somebody had entered my house, the knife was easily the most important weapon the kitchen could provide. I grabbed one and headed to my bedroom.
My ears had become sharper at that moment and the only sound I could hear was from my own footsteps and my breath. My eyes were as wide as an owl’s as I walked into the bedroom.
The chamber was the last place to search and now that there was certainty that someone had been to the house I was ready for anything. I always kept my bedroom door half open and before I entered I could see from that opening someone lying on my bed. My fear turned into confusion. Except in my adorable Kumawood movies, I did not think any thief or armed man would break into a home and decide to take a nap. I switched on the light and guess who it was, the ghost in my life, Boakye.
“Omg! Boakye, you scared me!” I said tautly, heaved a sigh of relief and dropped my self-defense tools.
Tapping his fingers on the pillow and lazily opening his eyes Boakye smiled at me and said in a soft tone “Oh baby you are back, come here, I miss you.”
He knew I was pissed and the best way to calm me down was just what he had begun doing.
Then I went on as I walked towards the bed “How about… oh it’s been weeks Esi, how have you been. Then I can gladly replace the how with where and throw it right back at you? Seriously, Boakye wake up, we need to talk….you have to stop doing this! You cannot keep disappearing and showing up when you want…I nearly called the police.”
“…If you still cannot trust me with whatever it is that you do then we’re better off without each other” I added and watched him turn and stretch on my bed.
We had a long discussion about his constant disappearance, the relationship was just about eight months old but that was like the nth time we were fighting over that same issue.
Before that, Boakye sent me a text one morning and said he was going to be away for a few days. I was not surprised because he had been doing that and had explained that it was for work so I thought it was just going to be days just as he said. I replied and told him to take care of himself and get in touch since I was never able to reach him each time he left. I guess I should have known he actually meant few weeks when he said few days. And this time too, I heard nothing from him while he was away until he showed up like a ghost in my room.
Like most young women, I always dreamt of pursuing my education to the highest level, getting a good job, marrying the man of my dreams and starting an amazing family with him. I have almost everything I wished for except for my dream man-I never wished to have a ‘ghost’ for a husband.
At the knowing me knowing you stage of our relationship, Boakye said he was with one of the security agencies in the country and was not allowed to disclose the details of his job to anybody but promised to tell me all about it one day. But I thought that was okay, I mean no one expects to know everything about their partner in just a few months.
But I needed something more than “I work with one of the security agencies”, what was I going to tell my parents, my friends if they asked? But at the same time, I did not want to push too much especially when he had promised to let me in on it later.
Almost all the friends I discussed it with advised that I confront him and demand answers. Some even told me to threaten to leave him if he refused to tell me about his job. But after I thought through it all, I realized I just could not throw away a good relationship over some job issue. For all you know most of these friends just wanted me out of the way. If Boakye could take good care of me did I really have to care about his source of funding? I guess not.
Weeks passed, months then years but I still knew nothing about what Boakye did for a living. But there was one thing I knew for sure, he was not a criminal. He made sure I did not go to his place in his absence and while we were both there, he would stay right close to me until I left. He had passwords on his phone and laptop and would quickly hibernate his laptop whenever I went close to him.
I tried to snoop on him a number of times but anytime I attempted he found out mid-way and jokingly reminded me of what happens to curious cats. Weird huh? I talked to his friend, Francis about it but he wouldn’t say a word. He nodded and looked down when I was telling him everything and how I felt about it then said: “Esi I think you should give him some time, he’ll tell you everything. We all know he loves you and that’s the most important thing right?”
I couldn’t agree more with Francis although I didn’t make him get that sense. What was I thinking when I went to him for answers, though? He’s a man and there was no way he was going to betray his friend even if he knew what he was hiding. I couldn’t just let a very gentle, caring, hardworking, handsome and above all responsible man, that I had been with for two years go. Later, I thought giving Boakye a little more time would be the wisest thing to do so I did.
I kept on praying and hoping that things would eventually change. My prayers for change apparently reached God but not on the exact thing that I expected. I noticed some changes in my body soon after Boakye returned from one of his trips in our second year together. The sudden breast tenderness, fatigue, nausea, frequent urination and mood swings pointed to one thing, pregnancy.
What was I going to do now, carrying a baby for my “on and off” boyfriend was the last thing I needed. You won’t believe what happened when I told Boakye about the pregnancy. The news went right through him and brought out every bit of happiness, it was so amazing to see him that excited. Then came the last thing I expected to hear from him the next day. After clearing his throat several times he knelt right in front of me in my living room with a ring and said: “marry me, please, Esi.”
I was so confused I didn’t know what to say. In as much as I wanted to take that leap of faith, I did not think I was ready to do it with Boakye. Yes because he still had not told me what he did for a living!
I wanted to say yes but the thought of spending the rest of my life with a man who cannot trust me enough to tell me everything about himself got me scared, so scared, tears started streaming down.
He saw my confused brain right through my teary eyes so he got up, placed the box with the ring on a table and held my hands drew me closer to his broad chest and wrapped his hands around a sobbing me. Almost forgetting about everything, I squeezed him back, wishing the moment would never end.
After a while, he gently pulled away and said: “look at me Esi, I love you and…and I know you do too. Just say yes and I promise you we’ll have a great future together with this coming baby, please …”
“I want to Boakye, but I still don’t know what you do for a living. Tell me, have I given you any reason not to trust me? We’ve come too far for me not to know about that one thing, don’t you think? I want to be with you but I have to know what I’m getting into, you know…,” I queried.
It was a long talk but I finally agreed to marry him because he promised that there was just one thing he had to do and would tell me everything about his job as soon as that was done. Also, I thought marriage could make us close enough to share all the secrets with me.
I made my parents believe that Boakye was a businessman who travelled in and out of the country. Each time Boakye and I met my family, we had to rehearse on what to say in order not to give our relationship away. We prepped for the wedding day after the date was set.
Soon, that one day that I can only forget after it ceases to exist, our wedding day, came. And I remember how I looked into Boakye’s gracefully framed dark-brown eyes as he spelt out the words that moved me to tears:
“You are the most amazing woman I’ve ever met, Esi, there’s no doubt that you are my soul mate, I accept you as you are and give myself in return. Not do I only promise to be your partner, friend, and companion but to laugh with you, cry with you, care for you and grow old with you. I devote myself to you from this day and beyond.”
Now we were living under the same roof, could he still hide his occupation from me? Let’s see. We rented a two-bedroom apartment, shared one room and made the other our guest room. We moved in after we returned from our honeymoon. With each passing day, I still hoped my husband would sit me down and tell me everything I needed to know.
Then things began to change, the travelling stopped. Don’t get too excited because it wasn’t for the better. Yes, I was hoping it would stop but not to be kept in the dark on what he was/is doing? For about three months he hardly went out and anytime he did, it was either with me or with Francis and he returned home each time he did. He provided financial support for the upkeep of the family even beyond expectation.
Boakye had still not told me anything so one night when the issue of my job came up in our conversation, I reminded him of his promise to tell me everything about his, after sorting a last thing out.
“Honey, uhm remember you promised to tell me everything…were you able to sort it out? How are things now?”
A harmless question right? But guess what? Hell broke loose that night.
“What at all do you want to know honey…I make sure there is food on the table each day, I’ve been paying all the utility bills and make sure you do not lack anything so why are you still worried, huh? Tell me!” he said furiously.
“Boakye I married you without knowing your source of income and you don’t think I deserve to know because you provide for me? How many women would take the risk I took to be with you?” I quizzed.
“Must you know everything? Why can’t you just let this one go, huh? At least you know I have a job, isn’t that enough? What else do you want to know? If you want me to take you on a tour at my workplace to believe me, fine!” He retorted and walked out.
“I can’t believe you are saying this Boakye, I have been lying to my family for months and this is what I get from you today? Unbelievable!” I uttered in disbelief.
At this point, I took back my words that he is not a criminal because the speed, with which his mood switched when I mentioned his job, was startling.
No one had to tell me from that time that I was putting myself and my unborn child in danger living under the same roof with Boakye. Maybe he wasn’t into anything bad but as the saying goes an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I could have seen this earlier but I thought it was prudent to give him the time he asked for.
I packed a few belongings and left the house the next day. It was the last thing I wanted to do especially because we were expecting our first child. But I had to leave the house for my own safety and that of my unborn child.
I moved in with one of my friends, Naa and planned to stay with her until Boakye was ready to tell me about whatever he did for a living. I didn’t want to put my family through the embarrassing episode of being the first in my family to walk out of my marriage. They knew I had left my matrimonial home but didn’t know what the misunderstanding between me and Boakye was about.
I have some close friends but I can only trust Naa and she is generous to a fault. She did not think twice about letting me stay at her place. She said I wasn’t emotionally capable of driving myself around so she dropped me off at work and back home from the day I moved in. Isn’t she a darling? She’s had a piece of my heart from the day we became friends. She supported my decision to take a break from my marriage.
Yes, just a break, I wasn’t ready to break the marriage. No, that wasn’t the idea. Truth be told, aside from our fights about Boakye’s job, we hardly disagreed over anything else for the years that we had been together. And the love we shared wasn’t something we could just throw away.
My husband came to my friend’s place countless times with his friend, to convince me to return home with a promise to tell me all about what he did for a living. But I insisted we talked about everything before I would move back in with him. And since he seemed unready to do so I focused on preparations for my unborn baby and work.
Boakye called and asked about how we were faring and sometimes passed by to drop foodstuff although I refused to see him each time he came. The ball was in his court, he knew what to do to get me back. The fact that he wasn’t doing it got me scared all the more. Was he into cocaine? A serial killer? No, he is too nice to be one I said to myself many times as I kept wondering what my husband was doing for a living.
Naa’s birthday was approaching and her boyfriend, Kwame wanted us to plan a surprise party. Not only that he wanted to pose the question on the same day so he asked me to go with him and help choose a ring for my friend. Just what I needed to hear, let’s do this Kwame!
Kwame picked me up at lunch time one Thursday, part of our plan to keep Naa out of our big surprise. We visited a number of shops but could not get the type Naa would love so we had to continue the following day. We set off at the same time on Friday, hoping to get what we were looking for. After visiting two shops, we finally laid hands on NAA’S SPECIAL RING. Lol.
It was as if the ring was mine, I was so excited for my friend and could not hide it. Some nosy shop attendants said “Congrats to you both”, “you two look cute together, congrats in advance.” Others looked at me in disbelief and their faces said it all “You’re getting married with this visible baby bump and you’re this excited?” How I wished one of them could say it out loud.
We had just about 35 minutes before Naa’s arrival at my office so we were in a hurry to go back. I flipped the sun visor as soon as I sat in the car to use the mirror as Kwame reversed the car. Then Kwame shook his head and said “Women and mirrors…hmm, can you please lean back a so I can use the right wing mirror.” I smiled and replied, “we just love to look good all the time.” Just after I relaxed in the seat, I saw someone from the side with a striking resemblance to my husband but the person’s outfit made me think it wasn’t him.
Then as the car moved closer, I had a clearer view of the man and you won’t believe it – that was my husband right there, in an army green security uniform! Or? Wait, hallucination is not part of the stages of pregnancy, is it? I wondered briefly then he started moving towards Kwame’s car as he had spotted me too.
“Esi, who is this man and why are you in his car? I get it now, so he is the reason why you have moved out of your matrimonial home ehn?”Kwame and I stared at him in utter shock then Boakye forcibly opened Kwame’s door and shouted “Who the hell are you and what are you doing with my wife? Huh?”
Before Kwame could say anything, Boakye pulled him out and started punching him. Yes, just like that. Unbelievable!
With a rage-filled belly, I screamed: “Stop it! Boakye stop it!” But he wouldn’t listen, he threw another punch and this time Kwame retaliated. Two men separated them at this point. Then I realized there were many onlookers as if they had been specially invited to witness the incident. I was so mortified I could not spend another minute at the scene. I told Kwame to get me out of the place.
Kwame and I had no choice than to inform Naa about everything, the reason why we visited the jewelry shop and everything. So Boakye has been working as a security man all this while? She asked in awe.
Boakye later found out that the man he saw me with was my friend’s boyfriend and you should have seen how shame washed over him like a long slow wave on a shallow beach. He profusely apologised to Naa and Kwame and they both forgave him and I did too.
Yes I forgave him for embarrassing me in public but not for deceiving me. Yes back to the main issue, you did not think I was just going to let that go just like that, did you?
We all make mistakes sometimes and all but this wasn’t like any other mistake we make every day. And the lame excuse that I wouldn’t have married him if he told me from the beginning did not make his story any better to accept.
Apparently, he would go and live with his friend each time he told me he was travelling to make his story of working for a “state security agency” believable. How petty!
But my husband explained that he was unemployed for years after getting his first degree and the security job was the only one available so he took it and was later promoted to supervisor. “So why did you not tell me, Boakye.”
“I was scared of losing you, Esi. I thought there was no way you would marry me with my kind of job,” Boakye explained.
“And after we got married? You had many opportunities to tell me Boakye….to think that you lashed out at me each time I asked you about your job….” I stopped, gave a heavy sigh and shook my head.
“I know no amount of words can undo what I have done Esi but please forgive me. All the times you saw me on my laptop, I was searching for another job and I planned to tell you everything after I secured another job. I’m so sorry you had to find out this way, my love. Forgive me, please,” Boakye said in a voice thick with conviction.
Ten seconds passed, and then twenty and thirty, and finally the pain started to pull back like the tide going out. Then I started: “Boakye, I love you and you have earned my respect for taking the job at a security company with your first degree, not many men will do that. I‘m doing this for our unborn child Boakye, I forgive you.”
“But I’m sorry I cannot get over the fact that you could not trust me enough to share this with me earlier, especially when we both sat and listened to the officiating pastor for our wedding preach about openness and trust in marriages.
Remembering this took me an inch further on our wedding day…He told me all the security agencies were busy preparing for an upcoming parade and so none of his colleagues could make it to the occasion. And because I wanted our wedding to be private, I didn’t pay much attention to that.
Hard to believe that was also a lie…Boakye can actually sell me for an amount and buy me a mansion with that same money! Yes, he can!
I think trusting you from this point will be the hardest thing to do. I don’t know if what I’m about to say is the best option but I’m sorry, I want a divorce.
This is fiction by Akosua Asiedua Akuffo of Myjoyonline.com.
Email: Patricia.firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com| @asieduaschest – Twitter/Instagram