I was seventeen when I had my first girlfriend, Mansa. She was peerless. She was nineteen and because I was a tall boy, she believed me when I said I was twenty. I loved her like I’ve never loved any other but when the new guy came to live in the neighborhood, her attention switched to him and before I knew it, she was rolling with that guy.
I rushed to her with my heart in pieces begging her to leave that boy for me. I said, “Is it because he came from Accra? Or it’s because he’s fairer than me. Mansa, he’ll be gone when school reopens but I’ll be here. Take me and leave him.” She said, “When he goes back to Accra, I’ll visit him. I’ll travel to Accra for the first time because of him. I can’t leave him and I can’t come back to you.” The village boy never wins when the city boy is involved and that’s how I lost my Mansa to a boy who only came for a vacation in Anomabo. I cried whenever I saw the two together so I decided to stay indoors. When the boy finally left town, I went back to Mansa again, asking her to be mine. She said, “We go forward in life and not backward.”
Just within two months, I’d become everything that represented backward living just because a fine boy came from the city to live among us.
At twenty I’d become a playboy. When you love one and it fails, you bounce back to love many. By the time I completed secondary school, I had five girlfriends; Sandra, Emelia, Alimatu, Joyce, and Grace. When I got admission to the University of Ghana, I added two more girls to the stock. Because why not? I was the only guy in my year who attended the university and that brought girls.
When I completed university and had a job in Accra, I met Ama. I fell for her deeply and wanted to do everything to woo her. She didn’t like me that much but did enough to keep me around. Not too long afterward, I met Louisa who liked me right from the start and was ready to do everything for me. She was the girl I moved with while thinking of the day Ama would say yes to me. And then Efua came along. And then I had Naana. I was living with all these girls but the one I had eyes for was Ama. She kept playing with my emotions like the guitarist would play his strings until November 1995 when she said yes to me. I was so happy I ran to Naana, kissed her so deeply, and began dancing with her. She asked, “Why are you so happy?” I told her, “You won’t understand so just dance along.”
I thought winning the heart of the girl of my dreams would make me walk away from all these girls. Soon, I came to realize that no matter how you love a girl, she wouldn’t have it all. So while I loved Ama with all my heart, I continued seeing Lousia, Efua, and Naana because they too had something I liked in a woman. Juggling all these girls without being caught made life very difficult for me. I needed a Scheduling degree from Harvard to be able to schedule them without a crash.
When I was getting married to Ama in January 1997, I still had Louisa, Naana, and Efua innocently hovering around. Two months after marriage, Efua got the hint. It was my own mother who confirmed my marriage to her. She reported me to her family and her family demanded that I “Push” her. They took huge sums of money from me and made me buy a white goat for her. They said, “This is for making her look like a fool for all these years that she was with you.”
When Louisa learned about my marriage, she came to my workplace to cause a scene. She came with white eggs and schnapps to curse me. To end matters and ensure the curse was reversed, I went to meet her family and they too demanded an amount, fowls, and schnapps. They said, “That’s the only way we can turn things around.”
I didn’t wait for Naana to find out. I went to her one evening and confessed everything to her. She was hurt but she was kind enough to forgive me. She asked, “Why would you do that to me? I thought you loved me?” I said, “Dear, it’s family pressure. It’s my dad’s idea and I couldn’t do anything about it.” She forgave me easily when I didn’t deserve any forgiveness.
The kind of peace that fell on me afterward was nothing I’ve ever experienced. It was like some heavy burden had been lifted off my chest so I could breathe easily. My mind was at peace and I could love my wife with all I had, without holding anything back. If I knew loving just one woman without hiding anything can bring such an aura of peace into my life, I would have done it when I was a boy.
It was one early morning in August 1999. I traveled to Nigeria on a work assignment. I said goodbye to my wife and she said, “It means for the next one week I’m going to live here all alone?” I said, “One week would come so soon. Time is magic.” I was in Nigeria for three days when I realized I didn’t need to stay for all one week. What I went for was over in three days so I decided to travel back to Ghana to be with my wife. I got to Accra at 4am by bus. I picked a taxi and went straight home. I got home around 4:50am, opened the door to the hall, and tiptoed to the bedroom to surprise my wife. I opened the bedroom door and there was a man in bed with my wife.
I mentioned my wife’s name and they both woke up. When I saw them, I didn’t scream but when they saw me, they both screamed their heads off and started shivering. I asked her, “What’s happening? Who is he and why is he in my bed with you?” She started crying. The man got frozen while fixing his gaze on me. I could see he feared for his life. While my wife kept repeating that it was the work of the devil, the man kept saying, “I didn’t know she was married.” I knew the man was lying to get away from blames because the walls of our house were decorated with photos of us, some in our wedding clothes.
I left them and went back to the hall. I thought the man would dress up, walk through the hall and leave. Thirty minutes later the man hadn’t come to pass. I went back to the room and he had jumped through the window and gone with the wind. My wife had tucked herself in the corner of the room, still crying. She was traumatized, to be honest. I didn’t say a word afterward. I was so hurt I didn’t know how best to express my hurt. I woke up at dawn and cried for several days. I went to work and cried there. My wife had no reason at all to cheat but she did and that left me broken.
She didn’t sleep well. She would wake up suddenly at dawn in a pool of her sweat. If there’s love, there’s forgiveness. So I learned to forgive. It wasn’t easy for me and it wasn’t easy for her too. She told her pastor to ask for forgiveness from me without telling the pastor what she really did. I told the pastor, “We are family and we’ve learned to solve our problems no matter how big it is. We’ll overcome.” Because Naana forgave me easily without making a fight, I learned also to forgive my wife without ever mentioning it or bringing it up whenever we had a fight. We buried it and decided never to own a shovel, lest we are tempted to dig it out.
Because of that single act of forgiveness I showed towards her, my wife worships me like a god. It’s the year 2021 and we’ve done twenty-four years of marriage already. Our marriage is always new as though we got married only yesterday. People see us and say they want our kind of marriage. I say in my head, “You can have it if only you can go through our troubles.