Happy couple
Happy couple

It was a bus journey from Kumasi to Accra. I had my daughter(three years old) in my arms while I sat next to a man in his late forties. He wore a cap and a spectacle. He looked like a man who didn’t want to be disturbed so immediately he sat down in the bus, he laid his head on the headrest of the seat and began sleeping. My daughter won’t give me peace. She wanted me to leave her to roam in the bus but I didn’t think it was a good idea so I bundled her up and forced her to stay in my arms.

She started screaming and kicking with her legs. She kicked the man in the legs and the man woke up. He looked at us and went back to sleep. I said sorry to him but he didn’t say a word. The loudness of my child’s scream drew attention to us so I left her to roam a bit until the bus started moving. I held her in my arms and then she kicked the man again. I said sorry again but the man didn’t even lift his head. Children, I wonder what comes over them when they find themselves in a public place. It’s there that they begin to display all their follies to draw attention to you. Along the line, she stepped on the man, leaving a dirt mark on his trousers. He looked at us. I pulled a handkerchief and started cleaning the dirt and all the while saying sorry to him. He uttered no word.

At some point I got worried. From all indications, the man was angry at us. I didn’t know what would happen the next moment my daughter steps on him again so I placed her on my shoulder and started rocking her so she could fall asleep. The worse happened. She reached out and removed the man’s spectacles. I said in my head, “Today if this man doesn’t beat us before we get to Accra, I would be very surprised.” I had to struggle to collect the specs from her hands. I handed it over to the man and just when I was about to say sorry, he said, “If you have to say sorry each time she does something here, then you’ll be saying sorry until we get to Accra. She’s only a child and children don’t understand. I have one in the house, just four years old. He’s worse than this so I understand.”

I could finally sit at ease. My daughter fell asleep so I began dozing off. I might have slept too deep. When I woke up, my daughter wasn’t on my lap. I turned to the man and saw my daughter peacefully sleeping on his lap. I felt embarrassed. I asked, “She fell?” He said, “I don’t think she did. She just walked up to me so I picked her up. She likes me, I guess.” I tried picking her up and he said, “No, don’t worry I’m fine. Allow her.” But I wasn’t feeling at ease at all and he might have noticed it so at some point he lifted her up and placed her on my lap. I said, “Thank you.” He said, “You women don’t trust men to properly handle kids so you’re always worried.” I said, “Far from it..” He said, “Oh it’s true. My wife had issues with the way I handled my son.”

The conversation went on and on until we couldn’t shut up. We talked about what sent us to Kumasi—Funeral. We talked about the relationship we had with the deceased. We talked about work and we talked about parenthood. He said, “I only realized how you women suffer from kids when my wife left.” When we talked about where we lived in Accra, he said, “I lived in Dansoman for so many years until my wife left, and then I decided to move to Oyibi to live closer to my mom.” I said, “I live in Adenta.” He said, “Oh really? Then we don’t really live far apart.” Then we talked about the schools our kids attend. He said, “I didn’t think my child should go to school before he turns five but when his mother left, I had no option but to take him to school early.”

I wanted to ask where his wife went to but I thought it wasn’t proper to ask until he finally used “died” in place of ‘left’ when talking about where his wife was. I’m very bad at consoling people. I didn’t even know what to tell him. I said, “Oh, your wife is late? That might have hurt like hell.” He said, “That was three years ago. I have healed now so it’s ok.” Then the conversation ceased for a while. All I had for him was sympathy but lacked the proper way to let it show.

We both alighted at Achimota. It was around 10:15pm. He said, “I’m taking a taxi home. You can join me and alight at Adenta.” He carried my bags as we walked toward the taxi. So kind of him. Along the way, he said, “It’s late. Why don’t you call him to meet you halfway and take you home?” I asked, “Who?” He said, “Your husband.” I said shyly, “There’s no husband. I live alone.” He said, “Oh I’m sorry. That’s nosy.” I said, “There’s nothing to be sorry about. You made the right suggestion.” When we got to Adenta, he told the taxi to take me home before continuing to Oyibi. I said “Thank you,” and he said, “Don’t mention it.” When I got home, I said, “Take my number and let’s talk sometime.” He said, “I was about to ask. Thank you.”

Days later, he called. Another day, he called to ask about my daughter. One day I told him I wanted to meet his son. A certain Sunday, he came to visit with his son, a bubbly boy with the energy of his father. He said, “He took after his mother, too bad.” I said, “That’s actually good. A boy to a mother and a girl to a father. Perfect exchange.” We laughed about it while the two kids played and fought over toys. One day he asked about my story; “What happened to the man. Your daughter’s father I mean.” I said, “Nothing happened to him. It just couldn’t work out.” He asked, “Just that?” I said, “It’s a long story.” He said, “We have all day, I can listen to a long story.”

“I got pregnant when we were not married. We made plans to get married after I’d given birth. A week after I gave birth, another woman also gave birth for him. He asked me to forgive him and accept the other woman’s child as my own child so we could marry. He didn’t want to have his children separated. I told him if he didn’t want his children separated, he should have given birth with one woman. He wanted to marry me but with terms and conditions. I didn’t want to marry him, let alone talk about terms and conditions. When he left, he wanted to marry the other woman and the other woman also rejected him. That’s my story.”

He invited me to his church one day. He’s a Methodist. I’m also a methodist. We talked about food one day. He doesn’t eat Fufu and I’ve never eaten fufu all my life. We went to a party one night. He’s a good dancer and I’m a very good dancer too. When I went to his house the very first time, he was playing Daddy Lumba. We had an argument; Lumba or Kojo Antwi? We both screamed, Lumba! He asked, “Would you marry a born one man? I asked, “Would you marry a born one woman?”

We had known each other for two years. My daughter called him Daddy when we had no intention of being together. His son came to me and didn’t want to leave. He cried each time they had to leave. We needed no other sign—no other motivation. The stars were perfectly aligned in our favor. The two of us were a piece of a jigsaw that fitted together. The day we got married, we said we wanted only one child—something of our own to cement what we have. A year ago, I went to the labor ward and came back with a triplet. He said, “How do we deal with these troubling blessings?” I said, “God giveth strength. We’ll survive.”

—Monique

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