I was traveling from Kumasi to Accra on that day. When I got into the VIP bus, I realized the seat next to me was already occupied by a gentleman. I checked my ticket number and looked at the seat numbers. I told him, “You’re sitting on my seat.” He looked at me and said, “But they are the same seats. You can sit anywhere.” I told him, “No they are not the same seat. One is next to the window and the other is on the aisle. The window side of the seat has my number on it so I have to sit there.” When he realized I wasn’t going to listen to what he was saying, he grudgingly moved to the next seat on the aisle and I went to sit by the window. I told him, “No hard feelings. I like this side more because I don’t want to be disturbed by those who walk on the aisle.”
He said, “Don’t worry, I’m ok.” I said, “Thank you.” He responded, “You’re welcome.”
Not too long after the bus moved, I started dozing off. Each time I opened my eyes I realized my head was on his shoulder. I would apologize to him and go back to dozing again. Three or four times it happened and each time I apologized. At some point, he said, “You don’t have to worry. Your head isn’t too heavy that I can’t carry.” That was funny and got me laughing. I told him, “I don’t know why I keep falling on my right side when I could fall on my left and lean on the window panel.”
That was when I saw the book he was holding in his hands; “The Richest Man in Babylon.” I told him, “I’ve read that book and I love Arkad’s Five Laws of Gold.” We started a conversation. We discussed the book, discussed other books we’ve both read, moved to other areas of our lives, and spoke about the reason we were both going to Accra. He said, “I live in Accra. Achimota. I went to Kumasi for a funeral.” I told him, “I live in Accra too. I went to Kumasi for a wedding.”
I didn’t understand how the journey got so short. By the time I realized, the bus driver was shouting, “Pokuasi?” I told him, “Oh, we are in Accra already?” We exchanged contacts and promised to meet each other again. He got off at Achimota. His name, he said was Derrick. “Derrick, “ I’m sorry for the fight over the seat, hope to see you soon.”
That was 2014.
In 2016, I put my head on his shoulder once more and I never lifted it again. It was on our wedding day and both of us were at the center stage dancing to Ron Kenoly’s “You Are.” The whole thing felt surreal. I said in my head, “Was it not only yesterday that I was fighting over a seat with this gentleman? How did this happen? Two total strangers on a bus become a couple on a forever journey. Isn’t life strange?”
After the birth of our first child, I started gaining weight. He didn’t complain directly to me but judging from the subtle swipes he took at me, I got the hint that he was concerned about my weight. “Are you sure you can fit into your wedding dress if you had to wear it again?” “Eiii your arms are growing big ooo.” “Your belly winks at me but I can’t wink back.” Those were his subtle way of telling me to lose weight.
I didn’t mind at first. I wanted to finish giving birth then I’ll concentrate on my weight and other stuff. I didn’t want to train to get the kind of body shape I desire only for another birth to destroy everything I’ve worked very hard for so I ignored him any time he passed those comments.
Accidentally, I found a half wrapper of a condom in his car one morning. It was under the driver’s seat. It looked like the wrapper found it way there and he forgot to look for it. I should have been very angry and start to ask so many questions but I wasn’t. I blamed myself for his infidelity if actually he was involved with one. It was me who grew bigger when all he wanted from his woman was a slim figure. Instead of getting angry and blaming him for his actions, I decided to use that energy to work on myself. In my mind, If I achieve the size he had always wanted me to be, then everything would be fine. I didn’t have to act aggressively to push him into the arms of whoever he was cheating on me with.
I registered for a gym nearby and joined a girl gym group in the neighborhood. He was very supportive I must admit. He paid my membership fees and even drove me there whenever he could. Dear, gyming was hard at first. It felt like all my bones had melted in my skin and was walking around without a support system in my body. I nearly gave up but anytime I remembered the half-wrapper of the condom, my strength was renewed to go the extra mile.
I asked myself the questions I wasn’t able to ask him; “Who’s the other lady? What does she look like and when do they meet? How often and where?” “If he’s happy with the other lady, then why is he still with me?” Come to think of it, he hasn’t changed towards me? He’s still the lovely Derrick I once met on the bus. Yeah, he has his shortcomings but he’s still the man I married.”
I wanted answers to those questions.
I started watching him closely and studying the movement of his fingers when unlocking his phone. He was very swift when typing the password so I learned to be swifter when observing him. I got it. It was the date we got married.
One evening when he was in the bathroom bathing, I picked his phone and tried unlocking. Just one try and boom, I was in. I headed straight to his Whatsapp and there were hundreds of chats. I couldn’t read fast enough before he returns from the bath. I scanned through, picking any chat history at random to see if I could find anything. Nothing. I was in a hurry and that didn’t help. I gave up so I can try another time.
When a man sleeps in comfort, he lets his guard down. When he was asleep one night, I picked his phone and went to sit in the hall. One after the other, I took my time and went through all his chats even the ones with his male friends. I got the clue I was looking for from a chat between him and one of his friends. He asked my husband, “Is that girl giving you stress?” He asked, “Which of them?” They both sent laughing emojis to each other. Then his friend said, “I’m talking about Nancy.”
I went through looking for chats with Nancy. The only name closer to Nancy was Nan. I went through the chats and I could literally hear the sound of my heart breaking. She had visited him in the office. They’ve had sex at the beach. She had sent him dozens of nudes. I was virtually shaking while reading their conversations. I wanted to stop but each line made me anxious to go on and on with it. I heard the bedroom door opened and later his footsteps. I sat still with my head laid back on the couch.
“Why are you sitting here with my phone in your hand?”
“You always complained about my size. I made an effort for you, to get in shape because I thought that was what you wanted. But here you’re, seeing another woman who is twice my size. Look at her pictures and tell me who is bigger. What do you see in her? or I’ve been a bad wife to you?”
He stood still, clearly confused. He couldn’t believe I could unlock his phone.
“Why would you go through my phone?”
“Is that the most important question to ask at this moment?”
I threw his phone at him and went to bed. He sat there for almost an hour before coming in. He came to kneel by the bed and started apologizing. I turned to look at the other side. He got unto the bed, pulled me up to look at his face, and continued pleading for forgiveness. I asked him, “What did I do to deserve this?” He kept saying he was sorry. “You’re not sorry. You got caught and all of a sudden you want to make me believe you’re sorry. I’m not interested in that. I want to know where I went wrong. What I did to make you go for another girl.”
He didn’t explain because there was nothing to explain. I pulled my cloth over my head and left him there on the bed talking to himself.
As I said, he wasn’t a bad husband. He did what every good husband would do, except taking a mistress who was fatter than I was. I didn’t talk to him for days no matter how hard he tried to. I stopped doing everything I was doing in the house; cooking, washing, cleaning, everything. My only concern was our child. He cooked for himself, washed his clothes, and even added mine to score some points. He cooked and served but I never tasted any of his dishes. I could see he was in distress. He even took some days off from work to work on our marriage. I saw his effort. I enjoyed his newness.
After a while, I learned to let all go. I did that to set my own heart free and begin to live a life of true freedom from anger. I wasn’t concerned whether or not he was going to do it again. I left him to his conscience to know what’s right for him but I made it clear to him, “If I caught you this once, then I will catch you again if you try it again. If that happens, I would walk away and nothing will make me stay, mark that. And know also that I wouldn’t walk away just like that. I will make you pay for every moment of my life I’d wasted on you. Mark that too.”
So far so good, I haven’t heard or seen any sign of infidelity from him. I’m not even checking on him to see it. He’s free to live his life and he’s joyful about it. Somedays when I want to be mischievous, I call him Bra Nancy. He’ll turn to me and say, “You never forget, do you?” We’ll both laugh about it and continue living.