I looked at our wedding pictures on the wall and realized I hadn’t looked at them for so long. I see those pictures every day but I hardly look at them. But this day, I walked closer to the one we were kissing. My husband, he looked thinner with pronounced jawbones as though he was starving when I found him. I was thin too.
A little girl with nothing but dreams of raising a happy family. I looked at the date we took those pictures—“Oh it had been nine years already. How time flies when you’re not looking at the clock amazes me. Was it not only yesterday that I found this gentleman at the seminar?”
Yeah, at a seminar, that’s where I found my husband—or it was he who found me? Ok, we found each other. After a lengthy talk by the resource person that day, all participants were put into four different groups to work on different assignments. We had only fifteen minutes to come up with the best idea to solve environmental degradation. That was where the two of us collided.
I’m used to having my way when it came to debate. I functioned so well in groups because, in the end, they all say “aye” to my suggestions. But that day I got challenged. Everything I said, this gentleman said it differently and his suggestions were accepted by the group, leaving me feeling so small and useless. I decided not to talk again. Even when they asked me questions, I said, “I honestly don’t have any idea.” Why have an idea when you know deep in your heart that your best idea would be thrown into the dustbin immediately the next gentleman speaks?
I was angry but I put up a fake smile throughout the discussion. My groupmates didn’t care about how I felt, after all, we were all strangers. After the discussion, he walked up to me and said, “You don’t have to take it personally. I liked everything you said, I was only challenging you to say more because I was fascinated by your intelligence. Forgive me if I appeared as rude and overly forceful.” I shrugged my shoulders and said, “I’m ok. It’s nothing personal. As you can see, I was smiling through it all. I’m fine.”
He saw through the facade and tried to get back to me. I was determined to keep up the appearance so he wouldn’t find me petty. We kept talking. After the program, we exchanged contacts. When I got home, he checked up on me. The next day he called to ask how I was doing. The following day, he cracked jokes on the phone for me to laugh. A week later, we met again at a lonely bar where we ate and talked about our interest in life, our dreams and our fears. He said, “I find you intelligent but what’s more intriguing about you is the way you carry yourself around. I had my eyes on you during the program. There is this grace and soothing calm about the way you do your things. I like you. Can you be my girlfriend?”
I nearly choked on the food I was swallowing. That was so unexpected. Yeah, I liked him too. He’s everything he said I am—intelligent, unassuming, persuasive and graceful. Hell, I liked him but his proposal was too sudden. It had only been a week or so and I wasn’t going to accept that though I had accepted him in my heart. I coughed a little. Took a sip of juice and calmly said, “Don’t joke about things that are connected with emotions. How can you like me just like that? How can I be your girlfriend? We just met—well, we’ve met before but this is just the first time both of us are meeting. How can I be your girlfriend?”
He answered, “I know what I want and it shouldn’t take me so many years for me to identify what’s good for me. You’re good for me and I know it. Just think about it. We could be good together.”
How did he know I needed to think about it? How did he know that was what I was going to say? Yeah, I liked him. I loved him actually but just not to make him feel that he got me easily, let me pretend I’m thinking about it. Time has a creepy way of making things look expensive, the longer time it takes. Look at wine—the longer it stays in the oak barrel, the more expensive they become. I kept his proposal in the ok barrel of my heart too, to care for it, fidget with it until I’m ok of its quality.
Guess how long it took for me to say yes…one year? Two years? Hell no! It took a longer time than you can imagine. It took a whole three days for me to run to him to say yes to his proposal. Don’t judge me, I couldn’t hold on any longer. It could have been two days but God helped with another day to make it three days.
I don’t know why lovers always meet problems just when love had made a way for them. The first day I kissed him, I knew he was the one. If there was any justice in the world, the path love paved for us should have been made of gold and decorated with roses and the air infused with expensive perfumes but no. The first obstacle we met came from my father and mother.
Dad said, “Look at the man your cousin Rose got married to. He didn’t belong to our church. He promised Rose’s parents that he’ll come to our church right after the wedding. What happened? Where’s Rose now? She has lost the ways of Jehovah and now following the unapproved rout to the kingdom. Don’t fall victim.” I said, “Dad, I’m not Rose and Kusi is also not Rose’s husband. We’ll work things out.”
Mom chipped in, “That’s the problem with you kids. You believe easily and always think the adults are wrong. We have seen a lot to know what’s true. Listen to us when we talk to you. That guy can’t take you to Jehovah. He doesn’t belong in your life. Let him go!”
They both walked away and left me sobbing until my eyes got swollen. Kusi’s parents were a little bit receptive but they also had something against my way of worship. Their favorite quotation against our relationship came from 2 Corinthians 6:14. Until that day, I didn’t know the bible had a quotation against two people in love. His mother told me, “Francisca, I love you as a daughter and I won’t hesitate to have you as my in-law but tell me, are your parents cool about this? Are they happy you’re not marrying someone from your church?” I was honest, “They are not happy and they say Jehovah won’t be happy too because our marriage is not built on a stronger foundation. But I want to ask, is there any greater foundation than love, friendship, dedication and all the other things we have?”
We spent two years convincing our parents to see it the way we do. Finally, my dad called Kusi in to have a man-to-man chat with him. He was point-blank, “I won’t let you take my daughter to your church. If you try, I’ll be a thorn in your flesh. I’m not also asking you to come to our church, if you do, you’ll see the face of Jehovah but I won’t force it on you. But promise me you’ll not force my daughter into your church.”
Kusi promised him. He even added that he wouldn’t have any problem if our kids go to my church.
From that day on, Dad softened his stand. Mom was still skeptical because all the examples she had in her mind didn’t end well. I could understand. She loved me too much to leave me in the hands of the devil.
Our marriage was simple and straight to the point. We did it according to the doctrines of my church. My husband even attended service with me for some months before the wedding. When I was leaving home to the home of my husband, my mother said, “If you even miss one service, you’ll see me the next day in your house.”
After nine years of being with my husband, the only days I didn’t go to church was the days I delivered my babies and couldn’t get up and go. I’ve always been present and my husband had always attended his church. When it becomes necessary for me to escort him to his church, I do it with love and an open mind. Honestly, I enjoy their church service but I can’t say this to my parents and it doesn’t also mean I’m being forced by my parents to stay in our church. It’s where I belong and I will always be there. It’s my first love.
They said it wouldn’t work. My mother had a thousand examples to show. My father had my cousin’s marriage troubles to show as a reason not to marry. Kusi’s father’s favorite quotation against our union is still 2 Corinthians 6:14, but we are still here. Nine years of a beautiful relationship that had resulted in four adorable kids and a business we call our own, we are still here holding tight to each other as we battle the storms of life together.
He calls me J but none of my names has the alphabet J in it. When he wants to tease me, he doesn’t mention the J but calls me “Jehovahba Francisca (Daughter of Jehovah).” What ought to be the source of our problem is now our joy and laughter. It’s the way you look at things that makes it a problem or joy. From the way I see it, both of us will be here until our dying days. God will ultimately be the judge if we did the right thing or not. Until that day, our cup will continue to overflow with love and commitment. He’ll call me Jehovahba Francisca and I’ll respond, “Your head like coconut,“ just as I always do.