I went home for a funeral one weekend and I was approached by a woman I’ve known since I was a child. She told me, “Akua has completed SHS and she’s home. I want her to learn something before she goes back to school. Is it possible for you to take her along so she’ll learn what you do?” I knew her daughter. She had served me on several occasions while I was home. She calls me Aunt Kakra. I tell her to remove the aunt and just call me Kakra. She’s a respectful kid so I agreed to the woman’s request. I told her, “Is a good idea but you know I’m married. I have to discuss it with my husband first to see what he also has to say. I know him. He’ll accept the idea. Whatever happens, I will communicate it to you later.”
I came home and discussed it with my husband. “You’ve been looking for a helping hand for quite a long time now. It’s a great idea if only she’s willing to learn and help around,” my husband said. So a couple of weeks later, Akua came to live with us. We will leave home around 7am to the shop. She’ll come back home at 3pm, cook, and make sure everything is set for dinner before I come home. Usually, my husband will get home first before I do. Sometimes he’ll wait for me so we eat together or if he’s too angry, he’ll eat alone.
Our marriage was a little over three years old when Akua joined us. We didn’t have a child. We were trying to have a child but it wasn’t coming. We were not under any pressure though. We were just following advice and living our life. We knew it would come one so we were not forcing anything. On our fourth wedding anniversary, I don’t know what came over me but I started getting worried over little things. I didn’t know what was wrong with me but I was anxious and restless. My husband thought I was tired and asked me to rest. I took some days off but it didn’t help matters. “Or maybe it’s because I haven’t given birth after four years of marriage?” I asked myself. It was the only thing lacking in my life so I pinned my anxiety on the fact that I was childless.
I woke my husband up one dawn and cried to him. I asked, “What if we don’t give birth? I mean we try and try and we still don’t get a result? Will you continue to love and stay with me?” His answer was evasive at best. He said, ”It won’t happen. Both of us are fertile. We might be doing something wrong but someday those wrongs would be corrected and we will be fine. Stop worrying your head and let’s focus on things that will bring us happiness.” I wanted a specific answer. Yes or no kind of answer but he went on talking and talking. I asked, “So, you won’t leave me, right?” He answered, “We’ll have a baby soon so it won’t it wouldn’t matter.”
I buried my head in my job just to escape that anxiety. Mothers came to my shop with their babies and I couldn’t take my eyes off those babies. I dreamed of them as mine and it heightened my anxiety. I closed from work late and ate very little in a day. I didn’t know the source of my anxiety but I was trying everything to get it off my shoulders. One night I had a dream. Akua was sleeping between me and my husband. My husband’s back was against me while kissing Akua. I will tap him and say, “It’s ok, turn to me too.” He’ll lift his head and say, “Your time is past. This is the brand new wife.”
I woke up from the dream with sweat on my brow. I sat in bed for a while thinking about what I just dreamt about. I’ve had a lot of dreams in my life but none had come to pass. “He reveals to redeem. Is the reason my nightmares don’t come to pass,” I told myself. I knelt beside the bed and prayed. I touched my husband’s hand and prayed for him too. He lifted his head to see me kneeling there. He didn’t ask any questions, he just turned around and continued sleeping. The next morning, I told him about the dream and he laughed. He said, “Stop eating Konkonte at night. It’s affecting your sleep.” We both laughed over it.
There’s a woman who comes to my shop very often to chat with me. She lives in the vicinity and she comes around in the evening just to while away time. She loves Akua a lot because of her humility. One evening, this woman drew closer to me and asked, “Haven’t you seen any changes in Akua?” I asked, “What kind of changes?” She said, “She looks pregnant. Don’t you see it?” I looked back at Akua. She caught me looking at her and she knew we were gossiping about her. I said, “I don’t see anything. She looks just fine. She hasn’t been vomiting or spiting around so how could she be pregnant?” The woman said, “I didn’t say she’s pregnant. I said she looks pregnant.”
When the woman left, I called Akua…
“Akua, when was the last time you had your menses?”
“I don’t remember but it’s been quite long”
“When was the last time you ‘saw’ a man?”
“Me? No, I don’t do that. I don’t have a boyfriend. How can I ‘see’ a man?”
When we were going home that evening, I bought a test kit and she tested in the morning. She was pregnant.
I was shocked to the marrow. “How do I explain this to your mother for her to understand me? You want her to tell me that I didn’t take proper care of you? What kind of trouble have you placed me in, Akua?” I didn’t know what to think or do. I asked her, “Have you told him that you are pregnant?” She answered, “When my period wasn’t coming I told him but he kept assuring me that it will come.” I asked, “Who is he?” She went mute. I asked this question for three days. She didn’t answer. She will talk about everything but the moment you ask that question, she goes mute.” I called her mother and informed her about it. That day her mother spoke to her for several minutes, asking her who was responsible but she didn’t say a word.
My husband suggested we should help her get rid of it. I told him, I’d already informed her mother. They should decide what they want to do so we can help.” Three days later, her mother came for her. In the evening, I called the mother to ask if they had reached their destination. She said, “I was even about to call you. Hmmm. There’s a problem. Akua has finally mentioned a name. She says it’s your husband who got her pregnant.” I screamed, “No that can’t be true. She might be lying to save the boy’s name.” I asked her to give the phone to her. I asked her, “Akua, me and my husband have been very supportive since you came to live with us. It was even in our plans to help you go to tertiary. We mean well but I don’t understand what you are saying. Tell me you’re lying.”
She spoke while choking on her tears, “Aunt Kakra, it’s true. That’s why I couldn’t talk when I was there. He forced me the first time. Anytime I was home and you were not around, he did it with me. I can’t lie. It’s the truth.” Akua was only nineteen years old. What will make her tell a lie like that? The woman in me believed her but my heart and mind said it couldn’t be true. I went to where my husband was seated and said slowly, “Tell me it’s a lie and I will believe you. Akua mentioned your name. Have you ever had anything to do with her?” He jumped off his seat and spoke on top of his voice, “That girl is a devil! Me? How can I do that? C’mon Kakra. If I will sleep with anybody in this world, it wouldn’t be a girl who calls me uncle. I never looked at her twice.”
The following day we both went home to meet Akua and her parents. My husband again denied it. Akua got angry and started revealing how everything started. Where the first one happened. What he was wearing. Where the subsequent ones took place and how my husband warned her not to say anything to anyone. The amount my husband gave her and the panties my husband bought for her. That he loves his women in G-strings so he bought her a dozen of that. I was still doubtful until she said, “He even has a scare in between his thighs. I asked him and he said he had a severe boil when he was just a boy.”
I got up with tears flowing down my cheek. I left the scene. It was the most embarrassing moment of my life. My mother was there, my father was there too. How could a man I hold dear put me in such a situation in the presence of my parents? I came back to Accra without him. I cried for several days while he moved around begging me to forgive him. I closed my store for one month. I spent most of my days in the mountains thinking of how to end it all. One day, I went home and told him to leave my house. He came to the marriage with only a bag. He was then working with a rural bank receiving peanut as a salary but I married him because of the future. The house we live in belongs to me. I started building it even before I met him. It wasn’t a completed building when we got married so we used the money we raised during our wedding to prepare a room and moved in together. He didn’t have anything. At the time the issue came up, he had left his previous job to another rural bank that still pays nothing substantial. We mostly lived on what I made. We had visited many fertility centers. The charges were very expensive but I paid for all those expenses.
A man who has his head well screwed on his neck will worship the grounds I walk because I was the fulcrum that balanced his shaky life. I sacked him from the house and initiated the divorce process as quickly as I can. He brought people to come and beg me. He even called on my pastor, the one who blessed our marriage to speak on his behalf. The pastor declined but he called to inform me.
You can meet a man today and marry him tomorrow but when you want to divorce him, it can take forever. I don’t know why divorce usually drags for that long but ours went on for so long. Akua gave birth. I was told but I couldn’t go there until one day I saw my ex-husband’s call on my phone. He screamed, “I’ve been vindicated. The devil can’t hold down my life. I knew I was innocent. My enemies would be ashamed today.” He did a paternity test and the test came out negative. He wasn’t the father. That was the reason for his jubilation.
He came home one day with his shoulders high asking me to revert the divorce process now that the verdict is out in his favor. I told him, “You’re missing the point. Do you know the time I should have divorced you? It was when I saw you in my dream kissing Akua. How dare you kiss a nineteen-year-old girl in my own dreams? But you didn’t let it end there. Forget that the child isn’t yours. Didn’t you sleep with her? The scare in between your thighs how did she get to know the story about it? She’s a clever girl and I applaud her for that. She wanted you to pay for your sins and she succeeded. Don’t come here jubilating as if you not being the father extricates you from everything. You still wear the badge of shame and dishonor. Flee from me before I make things worse for you.”
So Akua had a boyfriend in the vicinity. The boy was also an SHS graduate. When she didn’t know who was responsible, she gave it to my husband because he had the money to take care of her.
A year after Akua gave birth, I asked her mother to take care of the baby so I can send Akua back to school. She’s currently doing her national service. A beautiful woman she had turned into. She’s now a sister to me. I don’t know what she wants to do after service but whichever direction she chooses to go in life, I will be here to support her. That’s the least I can do to pay for bringing her closer to a damaged man.