Maybe, this is what it means when they say men will always be men

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One morning, I met a gentleman where my two kids go to school. When we got there, the teacher who usually meets the kids at the gate and takes them in wasn’t around. It was rather this gentleman who was there.

He greeted me politely and took the kids in. The following day too, he was there. In the evening when I was going for my kids, he was the one I met. I asked him: “Where’s the lady who used to be doing what you are doing now?” He said: “She’s no longer here so I’m the one replacing her.”

Due to how early I go to work, I sent my kids to school earlier than normal and picked them later than normal. The other lady teacher was helping me a lot and all of a sudden she was no longer there. So I had no option but to strike a new agreement with this male teacher. I told him: “I bring my kids to school earlier than normal.” He said: “I’ve realised.” I said: “And I come for them very late.” He said: “I’ve seen that too.” I said, “The other teacher used to help me a lot so I’m wondering if you could extend the same help to me since my case is special.” He said: “You have no problem. I would be there for you.”

We exchanged numbers so we could communicate. When the kids were facing certain challenges in class, he called to tell me about them. When something didn’t go well with them, he called to tell me. Soon we became friends who talked about other things too. One day he said: “Your husband should have been in Ghana to help. Doing all these alone isn’t easy at all.” I said: “My husband? I don’t have one.” The man I gave birth with, things didn’t work out. We didn’t even get married.” He said: “Aww, sorry to hear that.” I said: “There’s nothing to be sorry about.”

One day the conversation changed. I asked about him and what he did to become pupil’s teacher. He said: “The school belongs to a relative. When I lost my job, I fell on the owner of the school to help. He asked me to become the bursar of the school due to my accounting background but then the other teacher resigned and I was asked to take her place until another teacher is appointed. The rest is history.”

We got along just fine. He was a fine gentleman who liked kids. It was obvious in the ways he handled the schoolchildren. While he worked to keep those kids at ease, he slowly worked his way into my life. He came to visit sometimes. Then his visits became frequent, especially on weekends. He would come around, put his hands in everything I was doing and help out. He would teach the kids for a while and then help them do their homework. I went to his house once and he told his father jovially that I was his girlfriend. His father said: “Can you get a woman of this caliber as your girlfriend?” We all laughed. The man welcomed me and asked me to feel at home.

And then one day he proposed. I liked him too but there were other things I needed clarifications for. I asked him: “Our age difference, doesn’t it bother you? I’m three years older than you. You don’t care?” He answered: “What’s age gotten to do with it? Who even made that rule? That the man should always be older than the woman?” I asked again: “I have two kids. That doesn’t bother you?” He said: “Not at all. See, they are like my kids too and I love to be around them.” I asked him again: “How about your family? You think they’ll be okay?” He said: “Are they the one coming to marry you?” We laughed over it. Then I told him: “I’m not a kid. I’m way over this boyfriend-girlfriend thing. If I say yes to you, I’ll do it with the future in mind. How does the future look like?”

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He said: “The only thing for me now is to get a better job as soon as possible. The next move would be to settle down. My target was to get married even before I hit the 30 mark. Now, I’m 30 and not married because of job.” So a few weeks later, I said yes to his proposal. I also told him: “Do your best to get another job. I would be in the corner, pulling strings here and there, and see if something may happen very soon for you.” Three months into our relationship, a man I spoke to about his job situation called him for an interview. Some days later, he was offered the job.

He started working in June. July, August, September, the main accountant resigned and he was promoted to act until another one was appointed. He submitted his CV for the main accountant role. He was interviewed but couldn’t get the job because they wanted someone with a Master’s degree in accounting. I could see he was hurt and disappointed. I told him: “You didn’t get it because of certification. It’s not your fault. What you can do now is to enroll in your Master’s programme as soon as possible.” He listened to me and enrolled. I remember I paid half of his fees. Something he said he would refund very soon but the refund never happened.

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After a year in a relationship, I asked him what was the way forward and he said: “The way forward is for us to get married but let me finish the master’s programme so I could have a clear mind to pursue the marriage.” I obliged. Then he started traveling to different towns, auditing for his company. Sometimes he spent days on the road. Sometimes he spent weeks. Communication between us started suffering. I brought his attention to it and he said: “I’m sorry about that, this work is killing me. It’s taking all my time away. I would be better.” Things got worse. I had to be calling him every day, every night. If I didn’t call, he wouldn’t call.”

Then one day he told me: “I spoke to my father about the marriage. He doesn’t think it’s a good idea for me to marry you.” I asked why and he said: “Hmmmm, it’s about the same obvious reasons.” I asked: “Reasons such as?” He answered: “You’re too mature than me and you have two kids too. He thinks I should start from a fresh page.” I asked, “That’s your father’s mind. How about you?” He said: “Don’t worry. That man is old school but I will convince him. He knows how you’ve helped me. He would understand. Just give me some time.”

Since then his attitude changed completely. He used to live with me but slowly he picked his stuff one after the other until there was nothing left in my room. He rented a new place without telling me. I saw evidence of him getting closer to another lady. He posted pictures of them and talked with her a lot on Facebook. I saw the signs but I kept hoping he wouldn’t do what he was doing to me. When I asked why he left my place he said it was his father’s idea. When I asked why he hadn’t made a move on the marriage, he said his father was still not accepting our marriage intentions.

One afternoon, I went to see his father and put everything before him. I asked: “So what is wrong with me that you will tell your son not to marry me?” He said: “Me? Telling him not to marry you? The last time I asked about you he said you’re beyond his league and you won’t marry him. I even urged him to try harder and he said he had tried but you said you only want him as a friend.” I was stunned. I told the father everything including the fact that he said his son shouldn’t marry me because I have kids. His father laughed and said: “When I married his mother, she had three kids. He is the only child I had with his mother. So how can I discourage him?”

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Right there the father called him on phone and asked if he could come around. Hours later he was there. He was shocked to see me but he kept cool. The father asked him, “Why don’t you want to marry her?” He was silent for a while. He said: “I didn’t say I won’t marry her. All I’m asking from her are time and space to decide. That’s all.” I asked him” ”Is that what you told me?” He said: “I said what I said because I needed more time.” His father said: “I think both of you can go back and think about things clearly.” When I was leaving his father’s place, I knew what my heart wanted.

I stopped calling him and he never called me. A few weeks later, he called asking if I’m hurt. He told me he was sorry for everything that has happened but he didn’t want to marry me and make me unhappy. He said: “You’re a good person and deserve happiness. I don’t see myself giving you that happiness. I’m sorry.” When he hung up the phone, I looked at the faces of my kids and said: “You’re all I got. Life goes on.” He’s living his life and I’m living mine. What he did to me keeps haunting him. He calls sometimes and tries hard to make me laugh. He’ll ask if I’d forgiven him. He’ll ask if he could pass by sometimes.

I told him: “I don’t want to see you anywhere around me and I don’t have anything against you. Free your mind and live but remember where I picked you from. Never go back again because you might not get someone like me to push you up.” He asked: “Are you cursing me?” I said, “I’m advising you.”

—Agyeiwaa

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