I met Collins some years ago. A young teacher who had been posted into our community. It’s a small community. Everyone knows everybody’s name and everyone knows everyone’s family name and the history of every family. We met in church. His first time coming to the church so he was called to come in front to introduce himself. He got up, “My name is Collins. I’m a teacher. I was posted here not too long ago. I’d come to worship with you.” He got his applause and the lady on duty directed him to my table. That was the first encounter. I was supposed to write his details down and track his development in the church.
He asked my name that day and I told him. He asked for my number and I gave it to him. So on Sundays he’ll call and ask if I would go to church. He’ll walk from his house to mine so we go to church together. Soon, rumors were ripe in the church that the two of us were dating. They saw us and cast weird looks on our way. Groups gathered only to talk about us. Even our pastor called me to ask what was going on. “Pastor, we are just friends and nothing else. We met in the Lord so we won’t do the things that the almighty doesn’t approve of. Forget the rumors. They just want to destroy the vine of friendship I have with him but God is on our side.”
Not too long afterward, Collins proposed. I said, “Ah, my brother in Christ. Why would you do that? Isn’t friendship enough for you? I’ve taken you as my brother so stop saying that.” He said, “Everyone here knows that we are dating. We can’t pretend to be deaf for so long. They see us and see how good we look together. It’s the reason they call us a couple. Let’s make their wishes come through because I’ve loved you for a very long time.
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“So you mean people are saying it so even if you don’t like me that much, we should date just to satisfy their wish?”
“Not at all. Didn’t you hear me say that I love you? I do and I want to make you mine. It’s been an age-old dream.”
“Give me some time. I will pray about it and hear what the Lord says about us.”
“Eiish, you and this your chrife thing. When will you stop?”
“Should I be ashamed of being a chrife? We met in the house of God. It’s the reason I have to take this to him in prayers.”
It took me two weeks to pray and think about it. It sat well within my spirit so I said yes to him. We dated for three months and he asked me to marry him. I laughed. “Marry you? What did you see? Who is chasing you? You’re not even ready so why the rush?”
He was a young teacher who had been posted not too long ago. He didn’t even have a TV in his room. The curtains in his room, I bought them. His mattress was on the floor. I made a bed for him so he could lift his mattress off the floor. All within three months. So I asked him, ”Is that the reason you want us to marry? Because you see me as someone who has it all? Please, take your time and make your own. I’m not saying you should be rich before but take your time. Use a year or two to build a foundation for yourself. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.”
Then he started being jealous. I’m an administrator in a district assembly office. All the colleagues in my office were men and I vibed very well with them. This guy will see me walking with a colleague and he would be angry. He would see me talking on the phone and he would be asking me questions. Sometimes he screamed at me to cut the call. He knew the password to my phone and yet accused me of deleting messages and call log details. My explanations didn’t work for him. He wanted to be with me all the time because when I was not with him he thought I might be with someone else. I said, “Collins, you look at the way I am and still suspect me of cheating? You may not respect me but respect the respect I have for God and know that I won’t do any of the things you suspect of me.”
It didn’t change anything but I wasn’t worried. We dated for a year and he came back with the marriage proposal again. I said no. I loved him but the future was so important to me that I wasn’t ready to gamble with it. He had worked for a year but his finances were all over the place. He didn’t have a fridge. He made plans to buy it. Every month I asked how far with it and he said, “Oh by next month I will buy it.” The month will roll into the next one and he still didn’t have the fridge, yet he wanted to marry. I asked him, “So what have you put in place since we talked? Can you tell me your plans for us after marriage? Where are we going to live?” He answered, “But your parents have a big house already? Should we be thinking about all these?”
I said no to the marriage.
He said, “You’re not serious. All my life, I haven’t met a woman who is not serious about her life as you. Most women will jump and grab marriage in the sky. You’re here playing with a man who is ready to marry you. Continue. How old are you now? You think you’ll be beautiful all the time? You think you’ll always have men running after you? You prayed to God and he gave you me but you’re here toying with our destiny.”
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I listened to him like a child would listen to a father. I got all the nuances in his speech and carefully predicted how our future would be if I marry a man like that. I told him, “You know what? Obviously, our dreams do not align. Go find one of the women who will grab you in the sky. I want to take my time.” He screamed, “Oh I don’t care. I already know it will come to this because you have men chasing after you. Go and chase after them too but remember you won’t stay beautiful forever. Beautiful flowers wilt. Leaves dry and fall. Women wrinkle. Your time will come.”
So we broke up, I thought. But a month later he was back chasing me and apologizing for his harsh words. I hadn’t moved on but I wasn’t ready to accept him back. It was my mom who told me to give him a second chance and I listened. But I didn’t go all in. I was keeping him as a friend when one day he asked for a GHC2,000 loan from me. He promised to pay when the month ends. After he took the money from me, he traveled to his hometown. The school was on vacation. A Few days later, I heard Collins was married. I told the informant, “Herh…herh…her, you better stop those gossips you people go around making about innocent people. How can Collins get married and I wouldn’t know? How can he get married and not invite anyone?” She laughed and said, “Call him.”
I did call him and what he said was, “Abi you’re not ready? I couldn’t wait until I’m old and grey before you accept to marry me.” I was like, “Collins, are you alright? Is that what you have to tell me? No, you’re not alright. Yes, you’re not walking naked on the street but trust me, not all madmen roam naked on the street. So you took my money because of that? May God forgive you.”
Everyone in the church was shocked but then, they turned on me, making a mockery of me. Those who knew the details of the story said I’ve invested in a man only for another woman to come and carry go but they didn’t know Collins as I did. If you miss a man who can’t afford to buy a fridge for himself or buy curtains to decorate his own room, you haven’t missed anything. The pain I went through was because of the deception. He came back after the breakup only to get married. Anyway, we moved on.
He came back with his wife and even came to church with her. The attention should have been on them but they rather looked at me instead. Everything goes away in the end. Our pain, our shame, our low moments, and even our joy have a way of going away. So I healed.
It took him four months to pay my money in full but I didn’t hold it against him. The day he brought the last installment, he started talking funny; “You know it’s you I want. You know I’d wanted to marry you at all cost but you didn’t mind me. Now, look at me. You made me marry a woman who was forced on me by my parents.” I paid him no attention. Then his calls started coming endlessly. Messages and voice notes, all seeking to get me back into his life. I told him one day, “When I pray I pray for you. May God change your heart so you can respect the marriage you’re in. Leave me alone.” He had the gut to come to my place and even try to force his way through me. I screamed out loud and he quickly arranged himself and dashed out before anyone comes to see him. He never stopped. He had been married for almost a year but he still pursues me.
I want to gather all the messages and voice notes he had sent me and give them to his wife when she comes around. I’ve told him I will do it but he never stops pursuing me so I want to go ahead and do it. Would that be fair? The annoying part is that the community thinks I’m still dating him because of how he behaves around me. They look at me with eyes of condemnation. It’s a small town we are in. He only has to walk for five minutes to get to my house and he does it often, unashamedly. I want to make him stop.
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