Six Years Late

I closed from work late and tired. Good thing Kweinuaa was sleeping over at Wendy’s. I was a little too exhausted for her bedtime stories and long goodnights… and I was having one of those emotional evenings when weird flashbacks from the past were unsettling me. I smiled, remembering her incessant requests last night – mummy, maybe a piggy back ride will make me fall asleep faster than Beauty and the Beast.

It was our turn to have the power out, so I wasn’t surprised at the darkness in the neighbourhood, with a few lit houses, and the loud hums of different generators as I turned onto our lane. I hope Sule remembered to buy the fuel, I muttered to myself.

When I got onto the compound, I thought of taking a shower and just going to bed. Then I thought, it’s a Friday night, and you haven’t had one like this in ages, maybe call the girls and meet up for some drinks? Or maybe just go to bed? Or maybe get yourself a glass of wine and that book you planned to read last month?

I’ll think of something once I get inside. I sat in the car for five minutes. Maybe I’ll just close my eyes and breathe out all the stress for just five minutes.

I woke up with a jolt. I had ‘dozed off’ for the past hour and 48 minutes. 12:26AM. Screw that shower. Straight to bed it is.

I walked in the darkness first to the outhouse to put on the generator – no fuel.

I groped my way inside, stripped of my clothes, and lay on the bed. I didn’t even have the mental capacity to think.

Then I heard a sigh.

Why was there a sigh that wasn’t mine? It must all be in your head… you’re tired.

“I thought you’d never get out of the car.

Goosebumps. I clutched the blanket to my chest instinctively.

I knew that voice. Knew it too well.

My pulse was thundering in my head. I hadn’t heard that voice in a very long while.

It was a voice that had calmed my nerves many times. It’d sung to me on several occasions. It had whispered sweet nothings into my ears in the past. It used to be my favourite voice.

My eyes had somewhat adjusted to the darkness. And I could see his outline. Couldn’t make his face out… it was too dark for that, and his eyes were either only half open or closed. His voice was raspy. Like he had just woken up? I was still silent.

“I’m so sorry.” His voice cracked.

It was also the same voice that had accused me of infidelity, and walked out without even listening for an explanation. It was that same voice that had angrily asked me to carry my pregnancy to ‘whoever was responsible.’

It was the voice Kweinuaa should have heard daily, growing up.  It was the voice that had been away for the past six years, without much of a trace.

The first time Kweinuaa asked me where her daddy was, I thought I’d faint. She was barely four, and I was not prepared for it. I took her to my mother’s that night, and got drunk. I hadn’t had to think about him in so long, and suddenly, I not only had to think, I had to explain to her. What would I say? Your daddy thinks you’re not his daughter… and he didn’t even stay around long enough to check and be sure!

It was quite ironic. We’d wanted kids for two long years. One year after marriage – for we dedicated one year to being ‘crazy in love’… we started trying. After that year, we tried… two years of trying. One year with no interventions, and the last year with all possible tests and medication, etc. We almost tried IVF.

But then it finally happened. I got pregnant. I decided I’d surprise him. You know, these extra things that people do. Bake a cake and put a note in it? Or balloons? I needed it to be special.

But I couldn’t. I was too excited to keep it in while baking a cake. I ended up blurting it out over dinner. I was expecting the excitement I felt to be mirrored in his eyes. I was expecting a kiss, maybe some dancing, and a very steamy night.

But when I told him, he looked me in the eye, and called me a cheat. Me. Ekua.

I’d never seen him that way. Three years of marriage – and it was not a marriage that hadn’t had issues – yet I had never ever seen him like that. He stormed out into the night, and left me too shocked for words or tears. He returned the next morning, and asked me to send the baby to the father, whoever he may be. Did he think he was infertile? Or was he having some sort of mid-life crisis? Because the baby couldn’t possibly have put itself there. I had been a faithful wife. He was an amazing husband, and nothing would have made me cheat.

He spent less and less time at home after that, till he was practically only returning on the weekends to pick clothes and leave. His parents tried to talk to him. My mother tried to talk to him. Our pastors. A couple of colleagues. I tried. If he wanted a DNA test, I was completely for it. He wouldn’t even listen. I’d never been that depressed. It was a classic case of the broken heart.

Three months later, he took a job promotion that sent him to Mauritius. He didn’t tell me directly. He left a note on our bed, together with signed divorce papers – The very bed he sat across from right now. I was six months along then; I’d survived the horrible months of morning sickness without him, I’d survived the back pain, and odd feeling feet. I’d driven myself about 45 minutes at 3am one day, to get a pork sandwich from the only place I knew to run 24hours. I’d considered an abortion on so many occasions. I’d wondered what the point was. I was 27, pregnant and alone – for no reason whatsoever.

The night he left, I planned to go to the airport. I’d spoken to his best friend who was going to take him to the airport. He would stall and ensure we met.

That afternoon, I started bleeding!

I drove myself to the hospital, in a frenzy. I called his phone – of course he didn’t pick up. I called his best friend, and explained it to him. I listened as he told him. I listened as he scolded him, to try and make him reason. I heard the silence.

And then after the long silence, he said “Ebo… Mi’ya!” It was the last time I heard that voice.

I made up my mind that night. I’d be fine. I would get over him and be okay. Of course, easier said than done!

I had Kweinuaa a month later. A premature little girl, with little chance of survival – at least that was what I was told. I thought of leaving her at the hospital. Or giving her up for adoption. But then I held her the first time, and knew I couldn’t do it.

Nature wasn’t cruel to me. She looked nothing like her father. She was a spitting image of myself.

So after close to six months of hospital shenanigans, I brought my daughter home for good, with a resolve to be okay. And we were okay. For the first year, Mama came to live with me. And I threw myself into work, and into my Kweinuaa. She was lovely! She started swimming lessons at 2, Ballet at 3, and mini piano at 4. She started reading at 4 – well ahead of her peers. She was a smart child.

My friends, and family had tried to set me up with so many different men, on so many occasions. One – third of them were idiots who didn’t want a woman who already had a child. Another one-third were men who wanted to be babied and pampered and chosen over Kweinuaa. The final one-third just didn’t work out. They were good men. But so was my husband…. or ex-husband.

So six years down the line, I did not expect him back, and I certainly did not expect that he still had the keys to the house.

“I don’t know what to do to make things right.”

I laughed when he said that. Hearty laughter. I was devoid of any emotions. Was this a dream? Was I hallucinating? Because this was absurd. It was all too funny. “God if this is a dream please make it stop.”

“It’s not a dream. Ekua I’m here… and I’m sorry. And I’m ready to make it work.”

I rummaged through the drawers, in search of my pepper spray. This was the work of the devil… and I did not have the time for it!

Mi’ya – I’m leaving (Ga, A popular Ghanaian language)