I called Bertha the love of my life. She had dimples. I’ve always been obsessed with women with dimples. She had diastema. I’ve always thought women with diastema had the most breezing smiles. She was slim and tall. The slim didn’t do it for me but her height compensated for that plus, I knew at some point, every woman would grow bigger especially after birth so I wasn’t worried about her size at all.
I loved everything about her but there was one huge problem; how to make her my girlfriend.
Friends told me, “Don’t try it, man, this girl is way out of your league.” Some also said, “If it’s ‘no’ you want to hear then go ahead and propose to her.”
All these naysayers succeeded in making me scared to go forward but sometimes a man has to do what a man has to do. I woke up one day and planned to go and see her. I prepared my lines, I rehearsed how I was going to deliver the lines. I went through the lines and identified all the likely questions she might ask and answered them in my head. Everything was perfect so I set off to meet her at her place.
I knocked and she came out; “Eiii Edem, what brought you here this late afternoon?” I told her, “I was passing by and decided to say hello.” She sent me in and offered me water. I spent close to an hour with her and couldn’t say a word of all the perfect lines I had in my head.
All the rehearsals and prepared lines came to nothing.
Some months later, I gathered the courage and sent her a message. I expected the worse but the response she sent back was encouraging; “Since when have you been harboring such feelings for me?” I put my fears aside and went all. She said, “Give me some time to think about it.”
We used some time to get more closer. We went on a date twice and had a lot of fun. Eventually, she said yes. I was over the moon and out of happiness made a lot of promises I wasn’t going to keep.
Just when we were stepping into the second gear of our love, she had a job in Accra and had to leave Ho to settle in Accra. Looking for accommodation in Accra was one hell of a job. I had to travel with her to Accra every weekend to look for a place to rent. It was tiring but it was an opportunity for us to solidify what we had already built. Eventually, she had a place and I had to scrap every dime I had in my account to pay for her rent. There were other things she needed but we took things a day at a time until we finally got all of those things.
The distance was always going to be an issue but when two hearts are committed to each other, there’s no place that far. Some weekends, I traveled to Accra and some other weekends too she traveled to Ho. During one of her weekends in Ho, she took me to her house to meet her parents. They liked me and I was very happy to meet them. It was a step closer to our dreams. Some months later, I also introduced her to my people.
One weekend, I had traveled to Accra to see Bertha. On my way to the house, I met this woman who also lives in the same house as Bertha. I greeted her and she responded heartily. Just when I was about to go she said, “Wait let me tell you something.” She held my hand and pulled me to the other side of the road. She said, “It’s not in my place to tell you what I’m going to tell you but I believe someone has to tell you.” Immediately, my heart started beating fast. “Is there something wrong with Bertha?” I asked myself.
She continued, “I saw you the very first day you and Bertha came to the house. You were with her when she was moving in. You helped her fix the room, spent some days before you left. From that day I knew you two were either engaged or planning to get married soon. And true to my observation, you’ve been coming here most weekends and it’s obvious you two are on a journey but talk to your girlfriend. You’re not the only man in her life. There are others.”
Suddenly, I started sweating profusely. I asked, “What do you mean there are others. What have you seen?”
She said, “I live in this house and see everyone who comes in and goes out. Some nights, a gentleman in a black car brings her home and stay until it’s very late before he leaves. Some times he leaves early at dawn. There’s another guy. He doesn’t come here often but anytime the guy with the black car doesn’t come, That guy also comes over and he stays too long until it’s late in the night.”
I asked her, “Are you sure of what you are saying?”
She said, “What do I stand to gain if I lie to you? I’m not telling you to believe me. I’m only asking you to put your eyes on the ground, you’ll see more than I’m telling you.”
All weekend I was feeling jittery. I was looking in the room to see a sign that will confirm the woman’s claim. There was nothing of that sort. She sensed my restlessness and asked what the problem was but I couldn’t tell her. “How can I scrap all I have to rent a place for my girlfriend only for another man to come and enjoy?” I was really haunted. When I went back to Ho I discussed it with a friend. He was equally shocked. He said, “If that’s really true then Bertha is heartless. How could she?”
I told him, “I won’t rest till I find out.” He asked, “What are you going to do?” I told him, “I will go to Accra and spend a week there with a friend. I won’t tell her but every night, I will go to her place and lurk around. I should catch her if indeed it’s true.” Then my friend asked, “If you catch her, then what? What would you do to her?”
I retorted, “If I catch her, she would smell pepper. I swear I will deal with her. I will make her pay for all the pain and hurt. I better not catch her.”
One Monday evening, I packed my backpack, went to the lorry station, and boarded a car going to Accra. I was in my feelings throughout the journey. I got to Accra and went to lodge with my friend.
That evening I was in the vicinity. I saw her walked into her room and never came out. I hung around until it was very late. I didn’t see a black car and there was no other guy. I went back home to my friend.
Tuesday, I was in the vicinity. I picked a spot where I could see her every movement in and out. Around 6 pm, she came from work and walked into her room. She called me at 7 and we spoke for about fifteen minutes. Around 10:20 pm, the light in her room went off and never came back on until I left the place around 12 am.
On Wednesday while in a car going to her vicinity I asked myself the same question my friend asked me, “If you catch her, then what?” The answers were the same, “I swear I will deal with her. I will make her pay for all the pain and hurts and embarrassment she had caused me.” I asked myself again, “And then what? Are you going to break up with her?”
The answer really embarrassed me; “No I can’t break up with her. We’ve come a long way. But I want her to know I’ve seen her cheating ways. I want to catch her red-handed. I want her to apologize to me and promise not to do it again.”
Then the voice in my head said, “You’re ready to go through all this hurt when you can’t break up with her? Then why bother? Guess who will be hurt…not her? It’s better to leave things the way they are if you can’t walk away afterward. You’ll be the one to bear the heartbreak when you discover her sins.”
I alighted midway and took another bus back home. When I got home, I called her on the phone and we talked throughout the night. The next morning, I packed my backpack and left for Ho.
Several months later. I decided to surprise her on her birthday. I traveled to Accra without telling her. I got to her place very late in the night. The light in her room was off. There was a Camry parked outside but it wasn’t black. My heart skipped a beat, “What if I knocked on her door and there’s someone else inside there with her? What happens?”
I stood in the middle of the compound for several minutes thinking of what next to do. I told myself, “Surprises are good but when you’re visiting someone, the right thing to do is to inform her first.”
I turned around and walked away with my gift in hand. When I got to my friend’s place, I called her. “Her voice was hoarse. She had been sleeping. I asked her, “Didn’t you go anywhere to celebrate your birthday?” She answered, “There’s nowhere to go. If you were here, we would have found us a place to go but you aren’t.” I told her, “Don’t worry, early tomorrow morning, I would be on your doorstep.”
She screamed, “Really! Well, I won’t believe it until it happens.”
The next morning, I was at her doorstep.
What that woman told me might have been true but if you can’t do anything after the truth is told, then you better stay away from it. She wasn’t my wife. She was only a girlfriend and yes I was expecting some loyalty and fidelity from her as a girlfriend but we all know shit happens sometimes. And for the fact that I couldn’t leave if I caught her, there was no point.
Today, her two daughters call me daddy and I call her wife. If there were others, it didn’t matter, because I got the most important thing.