I woke up from a very restless sleep, thinking I’d been dreaming.
But I saw the armchair he’d sat in. It was definitely not a dream. I thought there was a vague smell of his cologne. How didn’t I smell it last night? And after six years he still used the same one?
“Nii is back.” I half-whispered into the phone to Wendy. I didn’t know what to make of it. My heart was heavy. I didn’t think it would ever happen. That he’d show up with an apology – never in a million years. “Oh God! Well, what’s his story?”
What did she mean what’s his story? Did that matter in any way? I didn’t know the story and I didn’t want to know. And I was too scared that he would somehow try to meet Kweinuaa. I did not want that kind of drama.
Well would you stop him? It’s indeed his daughter is it not?
I was shaken. The events of the previous night kept playing in my mind. I was not sad, I was upset. Livid. Seething.
Six years was too long to decide you could waltz back in and make it work. I didn’t want a story – if even he had one. And I didn’t want to be so affected by his return.
He’d walked out of the room when I ‘threatened’ to hurt him. At least he hadn’t forgotten one thing. My calm threats were never empty. He said he’d be back. “And I promise, I’ll explain it all. I’ll make up for the years and the pain. I’ll make this work”.
You see, I think that the fact that he assumed I would want to hear the explanation upset me more than the fact that he was back. I didn’t want an apology, I didn’t want a story. I wanted to go back to 2 days ago, when it was me, my baby girl, and the beautiful life we had.
My phone rang just as I was driving over to Wendy’s. It was Ebo. We hadn’t spoken in close to two months. The last time we did, he was picking Kweinuaa up for a play date with his kids. I knew why he was calling. But I didn’t want to hear anything about Nii. Yet I owed it to Ebo to pick up the phone. He’d been a good friend. Perhaps the closest thing Kweinuaa could call a father, save for Ofoe, Wendy’s husband.
Saying a silent prayer in my heart, I picked up the call. And suddenly that phone call from the hospital about seven years ago flashed before my eyes. It made me suddenly nauseous.
“Ebo, ofee fine? Long time.”
“Parker Are you okay? Nii is in my house. He says he spoke to you last night. He’s acting weird – he’s been quiet half the time. Where’s Kweinuaa? What happened last night?”
He seemed even more distraught than I was.
“Ebo I’m driving to Wendy’s I’ll call you when I park.” It was a bit of a struggle gripping the steering wheel, I hadn’t even realised I was trembling. Why did he have the power to even elicit a reaction from me?
Maybe you never really forgot him. Maybe you still love him?
I laughed at that thought. I didn’t know how to feel about this. How did people react in these situations? I did not want to ask myself what Jesus would do, because I knew I probably
could would not do it!
But how did people disappear for no reason, and then reappear? How did their loved ones cope?
Wendy knew I needed a distraction. She packed us all up to the beach. Her family and mine. It was not exactly the kind of day I had in mind, but it was a good one – the girls making sand castles that barely stood for five minutes, Ofoe, giving them piggy back rides in the sand, and Wendy and I eating and lounging the whole time. It was hard not to think about him.
Just when we were leaving, Ebo showed up. Of course, Kweinuaa was super excited, asking to go with him, and begging for a sleep over. It was a definite no – the kind that she knew she shouldn’t beg about.
He came with an envelope for me. He looked apologetic when he handed it to me. It was quite a thick envelope. Like some folded documents. “Nii asked me to give you this.” I knew I was not going to open it. But Kweinuaa was looking, and wondering. It was a wonder she didn’t ask who Nii was. I took it and shoved it down my bag. I saw the look on Ebo’s face. He seemed to know what was going on in my head. He offered to follow me home, so we could go talk. Kweinuaa was going to remain at Wendy’s. I took the offer, not because I wanted to do any talking, but because I didn’t want to have to think about all of this alone.
We drove home, and while I freshened up, I thought back to the last time I had given a proper thought to Nii. I’d constantly wondered what to tell Kweinuaa as she grew up. But I’d stopped wondering what actually happened years ago. It was not worth the heartache.
I know that this comes as a shock to you. I know you want to have nothing to do with me – all that happened last night confirmed that for me. I just feel like there are some things that you really need to know. The most important of them is how sorry I am.
Even though I don’t think that you ever wondered if you were a good wife, I want you to know that all the things that have happened had nothing to do with the kind of wife you were to me. You were a good wife. I won’t lie and say that you did anything at all to merit any of what happened. You were a good woman. The kind that any man would be excited to return home to. You were loving and happy, and very helpful, you were amazing in bed, and you were smart and sensible. You were special.
A couple of months after we started trying for kids, I felt very pressured. And I felt that maybe it was cos of me? So I did some tests. Initially, they said that I had no issues. Thinking that the problem was from you, I decided to get a mistress. Just for the purpose of having a baby. (Not that I consider this justified). But when after 8 months, she couldn’t have a baby either, I sought a second opinion. There, it was concluded that there was no way I could father a baby. I really didn’t know how to tell you. And for about four months, I sat on the information, trying to figure out the best way to tell you, and when. And then you came at me, with a pregnancy out of nowhere! I honestly assumed that you’d had another man father the baby. And although it was not in line with your character in any way, I felt betrayed. Around that same time, I got the offer to move to Mauritius. I stalled it long enough to find out if you’d come clean. I didn’t want another man’s child. And I felt like damaged goods, because what man doesn’t want a son of his own? It was very stupid of me, and I acted like a child. I don’t know what made my mind so made up about the whole situation. I don’t know why I didn’t stop to listen.
I sincerely apologise Parker. Truly.
When I left, I assumed that you’d move on with the father of the child. I assumed you’d sign those divorce papers and get on with the other man. I wanted to see who he was. When after two years I was told there was no sign of such a man, I started to wonder.Then I heard you’d named her Kweinuaa; I thought to myself – if she was really my daughter like you claimed, maybe you’d have given her some Ga name of some sort…. I’m an idiot, I know.
I’d met a lady from Sao Tome who was also in Mauritius for work. She did not want any babies in life, so you can imagine her joy when I let her know I couldn’t even have any. Though it haunted me on many nights, the fact that I at least owed you a reason for leaving, I maintained in my heart that if you cheated on me for a child, then you deserved this. It hardly occurred to me that for 8 months, I’d been having an affair for this sole purpose, so I had no right to judge.
Parker, I’m really really sorry!
A year ago, the lady I moved in with found out she was pregnant. My first reaction was anger! How could this happen to me twice? But she was so mad at me – saying I’d lied to her. She was not even planning to keep the baby, so I realised she really didn’t want it, so she’d likely not been having an affair. So I went through a series of tests again. I found out that indeed I could have a baby, I just had a rather low sperm count, meaning it was just more difficult for me to.
Parker, it’s haunted me for a year! It’s kept me up so many nights. I felt like a villain. I wanted to come back home to you. I’ve begged God to forgive me, begged him to let you forgive me. I’ve gotten to my wits end, Parker.
I am so sorry. If there’s anything I can do, let me know. I will do it. If it means that I have to go round the world, I will do it. I know I owe you six years of a beautiful life snatched from you… for something you didn’t do. I owe you so much. But if you’ll let me, I’ll make it up to you. I’ll make sure you and our little girl know what heaven on earth feels like…”
It was when I felt Ebo’s arms around me that I realised that I was crying. I handed him the letter refusing to read what was left of it. There were other things in the envelope that I hadn’t even paid attention to. They looked like hospital reports. I didn’t need any of this. I attempted to push my way out of Ebo’s arms. But suddenly, it felt good to be there. To have someone’s arms to cry in. It really felt like a breath of fresh air. I just held on to him, and cried. Cried for the lonely nights when I wondered if I’d always remain alone. Cried for the times I thought maybe I’d done something to push him away, that maybe for some reason, I was inadequate. I cried for all the children’s parties I attended with Kweinuaa that made me ‘crave’ a husband. And I cried for all the things Kweinuaa may have missed, and would likely continue to miss from not knowing her father. I cried for all the stupid dates I went on, that ended up with me wondering – If Nii left after close to 4 years, what would make this one stay?
I didn’t have any words, just tears. I hadn’t cried about him in years. And I’d vowed I wouldn’t ever. But here I was.
“Ebo… he cheated on me. He cheated…. for 8 months… and I’m… I’m the one who… I’m the one who… who had to… to suffer for it! Ebo please… please tell me you…. you knew nothing about it?”
I was hardly coherent between sobs.
“Parker, I had absolutely no idea!” He said it so calmly, holding me as if his life depended on it.
When the sobs had subsided. I sat there, wondering what next. Wondering if I could ever look into the face of this man I’d once loved, without wanting to rip his throat apart. I wondered if this thing called forgiveness that they’d been preaching to me forever was even possible.
I remembered some random lady from church who’d once told me that if I truly forgave Nii, ‘God would give me a good husband – he would restore the years the locusts had eaten’. It was the first time I’d felt the urge to cuss in church. Maybe if Kweinuaa hadn’t been sleeping on my arm, I actually would have.
Sitting there quietly, trying to piece myself together mentally, and slightly embarrassed that Ebo had seen me at my worst, I heard a key in the lock.
I knew Nii was back again.
I was too spent to say a word. He walked in, saw Ebo and I in the half embrace that we sat in, and made a face. Neither of us made to move.
I made a mental note to change the locks.
‘Ebo, ofee fine?’ – Ebo are you okay?