I used to call him Mr. Bannerman until it all changed one day. He said I was a good girl and would do everything to make me his wife. I took it as a joke. He wore a ring—a ring he said he had worn for the past eleven years. Anytime he came by the office, he would come with a gift for me or leave me a tip for no work done. I admired his kindness and his ability to open up to me in a way few men would. He told me about his work and opened up some secret to me, just in case I would love to venture into that area someday.
We became good friends. He will call and talk to me for several hours during the day. I listened to him because he listened to me too. And then one day he came up with his marital issues; “Grace, I should have taken my time before getting married. If I married a good woman, I wouldn’t have been where I am now. I would have been one of the richest men around if I married a supportive woman.” I tried to change the topic. He was married and knew much more about marriage than I did so I was in no position to advise him on marriage. I brought other topics just to sway the conversation but he towed that line until I asked what the issue was between him and his wife.
He said, “I’m getting a divorce. I’ve thought about it for several years and I haven’t been sure than I am today.” I told him to exercise patience. “Women need patience and a little bit of direction. Try that with her too and see.” He said, “I’ve been patient for eleven years. Where did that take me? To this point where I can no longer stand her. My mind is made up. I’m walking away. My only concern is the kids but they’ll be fine.” After talking about getting a divorce and how badly marriage had treated him, he’ll end up saying, “I’m coming for you. I know how helpful you’ve been to me. When we get married, we’ll be wealthier and happy.”
One day when he came to the office, he wasn’t wearing his ring. I don’t know how I easily spotted that he wasn’t wearing his ring. Maybe he was trying to make me see it and ask questions. His hands were all over the place and in my face. I said, “Mr. Bannerman…” I put on a quizzical look. He said, “Yeah, we discussed it yesterday. She had realized the change and surprisingly, she is ready for a divorce too. You see, both of us are irreparable. The best way forward for us is to end this crazy show so we both find a path that would lead to our happiness.”
A month or two after that, he proposed to me. He said, “This time it’s official. This time I’m not only telling you that I love you. I’m telling you so you can give me an answer. Would you be my girlfriend? No, let me rephrase it. Would you be my wife?”
“But Mr. Bannerman, you’re not completely divorced yet so how can I be your wife?”
That question gave me away completely. If he ever entertained the thought that I didn’t like him, that question I asked was everything that erased that doubt and put his feet on firm grounds. I wasn’t ashamed to admit that I had feelings for him. I wasn’t ashamed to admit that his kind gesture and the way he had treated me all these years had made me developed feelings for him. I couldn’t love him explicitly because he was already in a committed marriage.
He answered, “Our marriage is over. What remains now is the ashes of an eleven-year relationship that came to nothing. You are not scared of a dead dog, right? Then why would you be scared of a dead marriage?” I said calmly, “I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. Get divorced. Complete the whole process so we know there are no more shadows. The day you do all that, I would walk into your life without hesitation.” He answered, “You have nothing to fear. I would do all that but you know how long the process can take. I can’t wait to have you.”
He tried on several occasions to make me change my mind and start being with him. “I need the strength of your love to go through these hard times. Why would you hold it from me when all I need now as fuel is your love?” I stood on my ground. I refused to be pushed into the relationship for sentimental reasons. He gave me updates on how far they’ve gone with the divorce. He told me how his wife can’t wait to leave the marriage.
“Today, we both agreed on how we are going to share the properties we’ve acquired. We’ve also agreed on who takes what and who leaves what.” I asked, “How about the kids? How are you ensuring that the process doesn’t affect their well-being?”
“The kids can take care of themselves. They don’t understand what we are going through but someday they will. Let’s leave that for now.”
He visited my home often, sometimes staying as late as 12am before leaving. He had tried to spend the night there with me but I protested. He told me he was scared to go home because of the nagging and confusion in the house. He told me he was scared his wife could harm him while he was asleep. “I can’t trust that woman. She can do a lot of crazy things, especially when she’s angry.”
One evening I heard a knock on my door. I opened up to see two women in front of my door. One was very angry and the other one was telling the angry one to exercise patience. I was confused. I said, “Please are you looking for…” Before I could complete my statement, the angry one snapped; “Shut your stinking mouth over there. We are looking for your mother! We are looking for your father! Ashawo! You think you can take what’s mine? You better be careful!”
I got scared, confused, and had a lot of scary thoughts running through my mind. The angry woman was Mr. Bannerman’s wife. She came with a friend to attack me. The idea was to cause a scene and disgrace me in front of my neighbors. The other woman who came with her started asking her to be patient. She said, “Awula, she looks like a good girl. At least, let’s try to hear her part of the story.” I had started crying at that point. Some neighbors had started looking our way with questions on their faces.” The other woman asked if they could come in. I took them in and that was when the truth unraveled.
I told them everything Mr. Bannerman had told me including the fact that they’ve both signed the divorce papers and are waiting for the official process to begin. The wife was shocked. She opened her mouth for several minutes while standing on her feet. She asked, “Are you sure of what you are saying? Did he tell you all that? Then she started crying. The other woman started talking to her in Ga. Later she calmed down. She started narrating her side of the story. Mr. Bannerman had been lying to me all these months. There had never been a divorce on the table. “I’ve been a helping wife throughout our marriage and he goes around embarrassing me this way?”
The wife asked, “You’re not surprised how we got to know where you live? He showed me. Last night I saw some of the messages you both had exchanged. I threatened him a little and he started telling the truth. He said you were the one pushing yourself on him and giving him pressure to ask for a divorce so the two of you can marry.” Pause. Long pause. The other woman started talking to her in Ga again. They apologized to me and started going out. And then the wife turned to me and asked, “You’re sure the two of you never had sex? You can assure me of that?” I said calmly, “We never did. I never gave him that chance.”
She said, “I’m not surprised. His joystick hardly stands erect. I wonder why he would even attempt to cheat.”
Immediately they left my door, I called him. After several unsuccessful attempts to get him to talk to me, I stopped. I never saw him again until five months later. When I saw him, I put my chin in my palm and looked at him for several minutes. He didn’t say a word and I didn’t say a word either. Both of us had clearly moved on. He was looking better than I saw him the last time. I concluded, “All is well with him now. His demons are gone.”