Joy stormed out of the café, rummaging through the bottom of her Givenchy handbag for her car keys. She couldn’t wait to get out of that obnoxious man’s presence. She fumbled with the key fob as she slid into the driver’s seat, engaging the engine before peeling away into traffic in her BMW i8.
Since returning to Ghana after 6 years and a foreign education abroad, she’d finally caved to pressure from friends and family and decided to follow up on the numerous invites out by this one’s friend or that one’s cousin they were ‘sure to make a beautiful match’.
Rewind Date #1 – Julius. Venue: Ci Gusta. Agenda: Late Lunch. Friday at 3:30pm.
The first thing that wouldn’t have been a ‘thing’ if the rest of the date had gone well at least was her waiting for him for close to 45 mins before he showed up with barely any reason for his tardiness.
“Sorry o, Madam Accountant,” was all he could say before taking the lead to order from the menu he’d snapped his fingers for immediately he entered the eatery.
Strikes 1 & 2 in sequence there – it was hard enough being a woman in a predominantly male world without the condescending ‘Madam’ her male subordinates tagged along to their submissions, even where there was no need for it. Their unspoken smirks routinely set her teeth on edge – poor Julius.
The chatty man then went on to talk over virtually every single word she spoke.
“Well, I never really was involved in any altercation with the traffic police in all my years abroad so I -”
“Oh is that so? Then you were driving there slow paa o – you women! Like if it was me, they would have been stopping me every week once or twice! Hahahaha!” He punctuated his statements with a loud laugh ever so often that started to grate on her nerves.
It went to testify to the height of his level of self-indulgence by how he hardly noticed the peeved look on her face after the 3rd interruption or so. Joy could hardly believe that this was supposed to be a medical doctor!
“Julius, will you let me finish my own sentences for once before you interrupt?”
Apparently that didn’t sit well with him because he then developed a sullen look on his face.
“Oh, but did you have to raise your hand in my face? Did you see how people were looking at me when you did that?”
“I’m sorry you feel offended, but it seemed like that was the only way I could get your attention. You see, I really don’t like it when-”
“Oh, you didn’t try koraa – I’m a man o,” he interjected once more in an admonishing tone.
Joy was now royally unamused and allowed the incredulity she was feeling to show on her face. She’d only just told him what he was doing wrong, and there he was barely a few seconds later, repeating it so blatantly. Almost predictably, he misunderstood what he was seeing.
“Ah, so it’s this small thing I said that has made you angry? Ei, you returnee women are wonderful o” he tried to make a joke about it. “Small thing norr, you’re upset. You forget that this is Africa and we relate differently to our women here. You for calm down koraa o!”
And THAT was the final straw that broke the camel’s back.
She swivelled in her seat, attracting the attention of a waiter who miraculously appeared just then, signalling for the bill. As she rummaged in her bag for her purse, Julius sat there shaking his head.
“Ah, are you serious? Just because of what I said, you’re leaving so soon?”
“I just remembered I have another appointment this evening that I’ll be late to if I don’t leave now,” between my comfy bedsheets, she failed to add.
Dr. Julius Agyarko was now royally offended himself.
“Fine. Let’s split the bill and leave then – I guess that’s what you’re used to from the white man’s land, isn’t it?”
Without a single word more, Joy got up from the table, leaving 3 crisp GHS 50 notes on the table, and stalked away from the table repeating a bible verse she’d recently read as a mantra, “Answer a fool not according to his folly…”
On the way home, she spent virtually all the time crafting the exact words to deliver to Naa Amerley for setting up the meet with her doctor cousin who’s interested in settling down with a Ghanaian woman… It was now obvious that the only thing he was interested in was himself and how everyone and everything else pertained to him.
3 weeks later saw Joy seated at the International Conference Centre with Kojo at a Praise Concert.
Auntie Naana, her mom’s long-time bestie had been steadily pressuring her to clear her schedule to make time for a sit-down with her nephew over the past 2 months or so.
“He’s such a gentleman, I tell you. He’s one of the 3 young architects who only last year launched their own firm and were responsible for redesigning the new Takoradi high-end business district layout. He’s also a worship leader in church and manages a charity for children with difficulty reading, er dyslexia, I think. I tell you, Joy, he’s the full package o!”
Partly just to get Auntie Naana off her back and also to wash out the bad taste a certain Dr. Agyarko had left in her mouth, she allowed her to give Mr. Kojo Akrofie her number. He called up and after a refreshingly different type of conversation, they agreed to meet up at the Praise Festival that coming weekend.
From meeting up in the parking lot prior to the programme, all through the different sessions of it, it kind of went well – he was fairly courteous, funny and intelligent. No red flags popped up and she found herself relaxing as she began to enjoy his company…except for a tiny niggling something that she couldn’t quite place her finger on.
“Now you’re just being paranoid, Joy”, she murmured to herself under her breath as she cast a sidelong glance at the good-looking young man sitting beside her, face enraptured as the gospel choir onstage launched into one of Cwesi Oteng’s most popular tunes.
Joy had decided earlier to leave her car at home this time in favour of driving for dinner close by after the programme with Kojo. He’d decided on Santoku and she’d smiled when he insisted, “It’s my treat, Joy, mine and mine alone, so leave your credit card and purse at home.”
About 10 minutes out from the restaurant, Joy was startled to feel Kojo’s hand brush her left knee by the automatic gearshift just a bit too familiarly, for about a few seconds before moving back to the steering wheel. She swivelled her head slowly to look at him as he whistled along to a Kirk Franklin song on the radio.
“So how difficult was it readjusting to the way we live back here in Ghana after you arrived?” he asked her, seemingly oblivious of the unwarranted touch.
Joy shook her head and reasoned that she was just overthinking the issue. It was just an innocent but weird thing that could happen sometimes in close quarters. No need to read the riot act to the gentleman so soon.
“Umm, well, it’s been quite different I guess – people have different attitudes and approaches to work here and there’s also the issue of having a female superior who is into doing the right thing, so…”
“Oh really? In this day and age?! Ghanafoɔ paa…don’t worry. With time we will change.” He laughed out loud here before continuing. “And how about relationships here? Met anyone you really like so far?”
A bit too inquisitive we are now, aren’t we? She mused to herself, but decided not to address out loud.
“Well…I was going out with someone back in the States about 2 years ago, but he turned out not to be the person I thought he was – I mean, married with children in Ghana and all. Since then, I’ve been more interested in myself and my work than other people.”
“Oh, then the guy’s loss is my obvious gain o, thank God!” he laughed once more as he navigated a bend with the lithe Kia Optima at about 95kmph.
“Excuse me! What do you think you’re doing with your hand here?” Joy smacked his hand away, instantly furious.
“Oh, what’s the problem? I thought we were enjoying each other’s company and getting to know ourselves even better. Why don’t we turn this dinner into a bed & breakfast event? It’s a Friday night and there’s no work for either of us tomorrow I think. I know this beautiful secluded guest house not 15 minutes from here just off the –”
“Are you serious right now?!” she interjected. “What do you take me for? How well do you even know me to ask me for such a thing?”
“Beautiful Joy, you’re taking unnecessary offence to this small proposition. You see, I’ve been thinking of you all night and I want to get to know you even more so we can maybe even become a couple, and then we’ll see what happens.”
“Kojo, I think it’s a very insulting idea that you would think me the kind of woman who would drop not just her clothes but her morals out of the blue immediately on meeting a man for the first time, just because he seems ‘nice’!”
“Oh come on, Joy. Is it too far out of the way for you to just say yes? Isn’t it even more common abroad? What’s the point in waiting for a week, a month or a year when you so obviously enjoy my company and I’m tripping so hard for you?”
Joy was still aghast at the whole untoward situation and couldn’t still believe the words tumbling seemingly effortlessly out of his mouth. It suddenly dawned on her why she felt a bit out of sorts with the evening earlier: the hug went on a bit longer than it really needed to, his hand had ‘mistakenly’ grazed her bosom twice at some point, and his choice of words – consistently choosing to call her look ‘delicious’ and ‘sexy’ instead of ‘pretty’ or ‘beautiful’ when complimenting her initially – all came together to paint a questionable subconscious picture of him…especially for an alleged worship leader.
“Kojo, I’m very uncomfortable with the turn this evening has taken. I think I’d be more comfortable if you were to take me home now.”
“You’re joking right? We’re practically at the restaurant now. Okay, at least eat something first, then I’ll go drop you off, yeah?”
“I’ve suddenly lost my appetite. I’d just like to go home now, please.”
“Ah ah! Joy, I thought you were a big girl – so why are you acting like this? You’re difficult o. Wonnte asɛm ase koraa! Or is it because you trained abroad that you think you’re better than all the other women out there?”
She didn’t even bother offering him a reply this time. Joy silently unbuckled her seat belt, opened the passenger side door, and stepped out with her clutch in hand.
By the time she flagged down a taxi barely 15 seconds after, the Optima had screeched off with hardly a by-your-leave.
This time she chose not to say a single word to Auntie Naana on the failure of her nephew to act like a decent human being at least. It would be a full 3 weeks before she came into contact with her again, proceeding to pour out a politely edited version of events after the woman lightly ‘attacked’ her for abandoning her awesome nephew mid-date with a flimsy excuse.
The poor woman couldn’t apologise profusely enough for the next few times she would see her.
Now, these two events would have surely held their own in respective episodes of ‘Date from Hell’, but she would later have counted herself much luckier with these, after her subsequent experience with a certain Mr. Yao Adjetey…
…to be continued…
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