My mom gave birth to me when she was twenty-one years old. She had married my father because she got pregnant for him. She was young and was learning the ways of marriage with all diligence. Many said the marriage won’t survive because my mom was too young. She didn’t know how to cook and didn’t know how to wash her own clothes. “How can a girl who doesn’t know how to keep herself keep a man?” They questioned. According to my mom, those questions didn’t bother her. It rather encouraged her to learn all these things while in the marriage. My dad was a royal in the town we lived so it meant a lot to my mom to keep him happy and be accepted into the royal family.
The day I was born, my dad came to the hospital, lifted me up, and said, “I thought he was a boy?” My mom answered, “That’s what we prayed for but God decided otherwise. Who are we to question him?” My dad slowly placed me down in my bed and started walking away. My mom asked, “Addo, it’s everything alright?” He answered, “Yeah, everything is alright. Some people are waiting for me in the house. Great men of the land. I can’t keep them waiting. I will be back in the evening to sit next to you.”
His demeanor wasn’t the kind my mom expected. A man who had a new baby should wear a happy face but it looked like the smile my dad came to the hospital with dried up immediately after he saw that I was a girl. He promised to come around in the evening but he never came. My mom concluded, “He’s disappointed that I didn’t give him a boy but how is that my fault?” My mom took me on her chest in an act of consolation. She rocked me slowly and said, “You’re my own. A piece of me. He may not love you but I will do everything in this world to give you the love you deserve.”
From the hospital, she took me to her parents’ house. My dad visited only once and never came back again until I was two months old. That day when he came around he came with an announcement. He cornered my mom in the dark side of the room, away from me as if he didn’t want me to hear what he was about to say. I can imagine my dad whispering to my mom and all along stretching his neck toward me checking if I was eavesdropping on them.
My dad said, “I know what I’m going to say would be difficult for you but you have to listen to me and do what I say. I’ve decided to marry a second wife. It doesn’t mean I love you any less. I still love you and would be there in full for you and our daughter.” My mom said she walked away from him to where I was sleeping. My dad asked, “Won’t you say anything?” My mom answered, “I have a daughter who’s only two months old. You haven’t been here the way a father should. You stay afar and send messages to people who come to visit me. You appear out of nowhere and tell me that you want another woman? I’m the only one but see how you treat me. And you think you’ll treat me any better when another woman comes along? It’s ok, go ahead and marry her but the day you marry her, we’ll return your drink. I’m not the kind of girl who would play a second fiddle to any man.”
She thought my dad would get scared and rescind his decision or even argue with her until there was a compromise. After she said that, my dad walked to the door, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “So be it.”
My dad got his second wife. My mom got her divorce. They both walked away with their dreams tucked in their armpit. I should think my dad was the happy one judging from what happened afterward. My mom’s own parents turned against her for having the gut to divorce a royal. They insulted her each day until one day, she packed her bag and traveled with me to Kumasi to live with her aunt. She said, “From that point on, I told myself it’s over with men. I was not going give my heart to any man to toy with it the way your father did. I had you and you were enough. Your father named you Efe, after her own mother but the day I left town to Kumasi, I changed your name to Nsroma because that is what you are to me.”
In Kumasi, a lot of men started hovering around my mom. Even my aunt tried to give her a man but she said no; “I came here to work and that’s all I want to do.” She first had an office job in Adum. She was the secretary or something of that sort. Her boss was chasing her around. Her boss was married and it made my mom angrier each time he made an attempt on her. Later she resigned from that work and found another work with a Lebanese company. There too she faced the same problem but she decided to stay and fight them off. My aunt told her, “You’re like a flower today that’s why the bees keep hovering around you. The weather will soon change. Your petals will fade. Your stem will bow. You will wilt. The bees would abandon you. Get one now. Nsroma needs a father. What’s Nsroma without her moon?”
I was around eleven years when my mom told me one morning; “We are traveling to Accra tomorrow. I have a new job there. You’ll have a new school and make new friends. We would be fine.” I closed my eyes in Kumasi and the next time I opened them, we were in a new house in Accra.
There was this man who wanted to get to my mom through me. Mr. Agyei. He was overly kind to me. He would come for me in school with his car, buy things for me and bring me home. Some evenings he’ll come for me and we’ll go out.
I remember one evening we went out with my mom and it felt like a whole family. Mr. Agyei was holding my left hand while my mom was holding my right hand. It felt safe being sandwiched between two people who loved me. Their love radiated through my arms and I felt like I could take on the world and win. I thought my mom was falling for him until one evening she came to my corner of the room and said, “You’re not going to see Mr. Agyei again. He won’t come for you and won’t take you out again. Don’t go to him too.” I asked, “But why?” She said, “He smokes a lot. If you continue staying with him, you’ll turn into a cloud of smoke.”
It’s true. That man smoked a lot. There was always a cigarette scent in his car and if you looked around, you’ll see the brown butt of a cigaret in his car.
After Mr. Agyei, I never saw any man around mom again. When I was going to the boarding school in SHS, she choked with tears. She won’t cry in front of me but I saw it. She came to visit me in school every visiting hour. I completed and went to the university and she came to the campus as if I was still in SHS. One day I told her, “Mom, look for a man and leave me alone.” She said amidst laughter, “My petals are faded. My stem has bowed to the sun. I started to wilt years ago. Who wants me?”
She was forty-three years then.
All of a sudden, mom stopped coming around. She would only call on the phone sometimes. Her attitude on the phone was different. She was laughing a lot and giving me excuses when I asked her to visit me. I came home on vacation and there was this glow in her strides. She goes to work very early in the morning and comes home very late in the evening. “Mom, what’s happening to you?” She would smile and say, “I’m getting mad, don’t you see it?” She never said anything and never left a clue but I started making wild guesses. “Mom who is that man you’re seeing? The man you go to after work, who is he?” She would answer without looking at my face, “Me? A man? Nsroma, wo da aa da wai.”
I was on campus one day when she called that she was around. I got down and didn’t see her. I called and she said, “I see you, just keep walking to your left.” I kept walking until I got to this big white Toyota vehicle. The door opened and my mom called me. I screamed, “Eiii, is that your car?” I looked at the front and there was this white man in the seat. He turned to me and said hello.
“Mom, who is this albino?”
“Idiot, can you see ofri when you see one? Be nice, he’s my boyfriend.”
“Huh?” Obroni boyfriend? Where did you find him? I want one.”
“Go to Makola, they are there selling fose.”
“But he looks younger than you?”
“Just shut up and let me introduce him to you.”
“He’s Albright. A doctor.”
We shook hands and she introduced me to him too. Soon they were gone.
In the evening, I called her. I said, “But mom this is my size ooo. I thought you were bringing him to me. Why would you do that?” She screamed, “Stop fooling. He’s not that young. I’m just four years older than him but he’s more mature than you think.” I asked, “And he’s serious about you?” She answered, “Only time will tell.”
A week after my graduation they got married. They had a simple wedding in the court and for the first time in a very long while, I met my grandparents and my other aunts and uncles. They all came to witness the marriage ceremony. I was doing my national service when my mom and her husband relocated to the United States. I don’t live with them but I visit them often when I can. Mom wants me to find a job there and stay but I have my own plans and path to follow. She’s happy and in love with the kind of man who makes her heart smile. I don’t want to interfere.
My dad has three wives now. He’s also happy living the life he envisaged for himself. I don’t have any relationship with him though he calls sometimes.
Currently, I don’t have a boyfriend. I’ve had it very rough in the arena of love but each time I speak to my mom about my love life she tells me, “Be patient. Love won’t pass you by. You’ll definitely have what you deserve. Look at me, I was found when my petals were faded and my stem bowed. You’re still fresh like the morning dew. You’ll be fine.”