Hi y’all. #TeleTuesdays had to take an unceremonious break due to some personal affairs I had to take care of and an impromptu journey to the Fatherland. Allow me to appease you with an interlude from our scheduled Appointment – Chris & Adjoa. A simple story that isn’t as farfetched or separate from reality as you think…enjoy.
For different people it starts differently – a twinge or just a feeling of emptiness that doesn’t go away after a while.
The thoughts behind it start building up until the symptoms also become more pronounced – some people begin to hyperventilate, others develop severe headaches, but far and wide the most common symptoms are felt in the chest. It’s a tightening, twisting, dull throbbing ache that won’t let up. It usually surprises the victims that something which was initially purely emotional could manifest so strongly physically.
Chris, 27yrs of age and having just passed the Bar exam, was elated for all of 5 minutes when Adjoa came to meet him for a late dinner at an exclusive eatery he’d recently discovered. He’d known it was cheesy but had gone ahead against his best friend Kobby’s advice and had a customised silver promise ring made so he could surprise her with it just at this moment. He’d have gone for an engagement ring straight up but he hadn’t yet spoken to Mrs. Yankyera – her mother – so he didn’t want to offend her by jumping the gun according to Ghanaian standards.
Unfortunately, this euphoric state of mind could simply not compete with the invisible punch to his solar plexus that was currently preventing him from taking the next breath of air as she watched him quizzically. He replayed the words over in his head one more time “Ummm Chris, I know you have something important to tell me as you hinted, but please let me go first…I don’t think we’re on the same page anymore and frankly you’re such a good guy that I can’t bear to waste your time anymore so I’d like for us to call it quits. What do you think?”
She tapped his arm as he shook his head in attempt to clear his suddenly blurry vision and sank into a deck chair on the patio. “Did you hear me? I said we can still be friends though – nothing else really has to change,” she added smiling slightly with a placating tone of voice.
Were Chris a violent young man, he might have considered lashing out in frustration, confusion and anger but truth be told, right there and then, it was all he could do to remind himself to breathe in after breathing out and repeat the cycle afterwards. Similar to what one was rumoured to experience at death’s threshold, he’d just had a split-second flashback on their relationship: Meeting at a bus terminal on the way to Uni from Accra, meeting her siblings at Christmastime back in Accra, doing the official ‘asking out’ thing 3 months into getting to know her, a shared first kiss 8 months into the relationship, his presence at her Dad’s funeral 2 years later just after her graduation from Business School, taking her home to meet his mother a year ago (his first time of doing so to any girl), and then the poem he’d written to her every year since from their meeting at the Terminal…
“Oh Chris! You can’t honestly tell me you’re really surprised by this”, she flippantly answered turning away slightly as the evening breeze caught her hair, whipping it up behind her. “You know we’ve not exactly been on the same page for a while now. You never answer my calls and have stopped checking up on me as frequently as you used to initially –“
“Oh. Adjoa, you know I’ve been busy with this Law School thing, I wasn’t spending all my time ignoring you and playing you know…” his voice sounded dry and hoarse to his own ears as he trailed off, still confused. The incredulity didn’t help its timbre either.
“Oh don’t give me that Chris,” she retorted caustically with a smirk. “Aren’t Kwesi and Marjorie both even in your class? Do you see him ignoring her the way you’ve dawged me the past few months?!”
He looked up sharply at her words but she was already on a roll and ploughed on, venting what was on her mind in full at last.
“I think I deserve so much more and so I met someone else and we’ve been seeing each other for the past 2 months and it’s pretty serious now. I hope you’re able to forgive me someday but I think life’s too short to force something that just isn’t there anymore, you know?”
Ah. So that was it.
Marjorie – Adjoa’s roommate from Uni – had been dating Kwesi Ofosu, another guy in his class in Law School, for just over a year now. He’d had a niggling thought at the back of his head that something wasn’t quite right or would soon go wrong some months ago when Adjoa had wanted to double date on an outing to Akosombo with them. Chris had gone along with it reluctantly because frankly speaking, he considered that couple’s outward ‘face’ to be too saccharine-sweet to be real – from matching Facebook profile pictures, to matching outfits at every function they went out to during the year, to broad declarations of love all over his Facebook wall (damned be the bloody inventor of tagging!) – he was fed up with their constant PDA.
Such love will stifle a man, he’d thought on more than one occasion. Maybe that was why Kwesi had to have a monthly dose of ‘real’ girls whenever he managed to sneak away from under Marjorie’s all-encompassing tentacles…
Of all the convoluted likelihoods and possibilities, this was the absolute last manner in which he could have expected their faux-relationship to blowback on his life. “Ah Adjoa! Are you comparing what’s between us to what those two have?! Do you know what goes on between them behind closed doors?”
She visibly paused at that. “What do you mean by that?” Chris threw his head back and laughed mirthlessly.
“I’m glad you’re sitting down for this. Listen well: You know Marjorie has aborted 2 pregnancies so far, right? What your bestie didn’t tell you is that Kwesi found out later that just one of them was his! He has been guilting her about it for so long and that’s why she turns a blind eye to his trysts on the side. Being the picture-perfect couple matters to them far more than being honest with each other or everyone else!”
Adjoa was now dumbfounded but Chris was on fire now as his bewilderment and hurt turned to anger now. “I thought you could see past all that silly façade they always put up but I guess I was wrong.”
The war of a number of emotions across her face couldn’t be hidden but Chris was past caring now. Her words had unseated something deep within his chest and he was out of balance. He hurt, but he was instinctively pouring all his energies into trying to suppress the pain, rage, loss and confusion.
A wry smile spread over his face as he threw his head back, passing his hands through his short-cropped hair. After a few seconds he drew the attention of one of the waitresses passing by with glasses of sparkling wine and liberated two glasses from her tray.
Setting one before each of them, he breathed out slowly before looking up at Adjoa’s face again. She now had that stubborn twist to her mouth that she affected whenever she wanted to have her way that he usually hated to love. He smiled more broadly now.
“Ahoɔfɛ, it doesn’t have to be a fight. It’s okay. I don’t mean to offend you by smiling as if I’m not taking this seriously, but I think maybe this is just a case of displaced emotions, or responses. I hear you, and I release you from all this entanglement with me. It shall be well.”
“So,” he clapped his hands together, “what shall we be eating today?” He raised a finger to attract the attention of a passing waiter to place an order. He was suddenly famished and also determined to make the best of this last night together – a mundane sentiment he knew, but in times like these drowning men had to clutch at even straws in an attempt to stay alive. The least bit of normalcy might help somewhat.
“Ummm, I didn’t plan to be here that long Chris, h- someone’s picking me up.” The way her cheeks coloured in the context of her pause in the middle of the sentence left no doubt to exactly who she was expecting.
His hand froze in midair as he allowed himself to feel the last bit of shock at the whole matter for the last time. He shook his head slowly as he let his hand drop a second later. What did I ever do to make you treat me like this Adjoa? He mused internally, staring at the brazen stranger across the table.
Finally, with a sigh, he raised his glass as if in toast “To the price we pay for love, and the unlucky bastards who eventually bear the cost!” He clinked his glass to hers, still untouched on the table, before downing his in one gulp.
She sat there stoically just before her phone beeped a WhatsApp alert and she almost gratefully dug around in her clutch for it.
Placing a GHC50 note on the table beneath his glass, he pushed away from the table and got up without another word, walking into the cosy restaurant, and then out of the main doors.
Pausing for a moment to take in the crisp, cool evening breeze, like a sixth sense moment his attention was drawn to a sleek silver Audi A7 that had evidently just drawn into the parking lot with its headlights still on. He walked past it on his way to hail a taxi cab and noted from the glare of a phone screen that the young man in front was engaged.
His hands balled up into fists as he stopped and turned, taking a single step towards the car before freezing in his tracks. Not worth it, she’s not worth it anymore he silently ministered to himself as he sighed.
“Bros, good evening!” He stiffened as the driver hailed him. “Abeg, this be Marian’s Inn? I dey meet somebody for here but I’m not too familiar with the place and directions.”
Looking up at the neon signboard just a few paces away, the absurd thought that she had fallen for a dunce who couldn’t read made Chris laugh inwardly as a smile lit up his face.
“Yeah, this be the place.”
“Thanks man,” the man answered, punching the car’s horn in a three note pattern conveying some urgency, if not irritation.
“You’re welcome,” Chris replied, turning away and resuming his walk, adding under his breath, “And may God be with you both – I think you’ll be needing Him a lot pretty soon”