Some years ago, I found a girl in a village where I was sent to work on a project. Every morning, she passed in front of the house where I lived, carrying a bucket of water on the head and holding another bucket in one hand. I always made an attempt to approach her but anytime I tried, something came up to prevent me. Her beauty was rare. A girl without makeup or properly dressed yet you could see the radiation of her beauty shining wherever she walked. One evening, I was seated on the mini wall in front of the house when I saw her passing. I jumped down and chased after her.
I asked her name and she courteously said, “I’m Maame Abena.” I told her to be my friend and she asked me, “Where do you know me from?” I answered, “You pass by this house each morning carrying water. I’ve watched you every day and waiting for an opportunity like this to talk to you. Yes, we haven’t spoken but I know you.” She asked me, “Are you a new person in town?” I said, “Yes I am. I’m the guy who drives that blue pickup. I came here not too long ago.” She said excitedly, “Oh so you’re that man who blasts dust on us anytime he drives by?”
We both laughed out loud and became friends on that day. When I asked her phone number and she told me she didn’t use a phone I thought she was joking. “You don’t have a phone or you don’t want to give your number to me,” I asked. She said, “I don’t have a phone. My father has one but I can’t give his number to you.” Two months later, I got her a new phone. Not any expensive phone. Just a basic phone she could use to make a call and send a message. From our conversations, I got to know she was twenty-one years old and her highest education was junior high school. “Why didn’t you continue schooling,” I asked. She answered, “My dad didn’t allow me. He didn’t have money and he said I wasn’t clever enough for him to waste his money on me.”
She was learning to become a seamstress and I was learning how to make her fall in love with me. two or so months later, I proposed to her. That evening, she said yes to my proposal but the next morning, she called to rescind her decision. She said, “Please I don’t want to be your girlfriend again.” I asked why and she said, “You city boys are like that. You have your beautiful girlfriends in the city but you come here and sleep with us, give us babies, and disappear. If you want me, come and meet my parents.” I told her it was too early to meet her parents. “At least, lets’ date for some time. When we are sure of each other then we proceed to meet parents.” She asked, “If you’re not already sure about me then why are you proposing to me?”
A week later, she held my hand and took me to meet her parents. The father was disinterested at first until I told him I’d come from Accra to work there and I was the guy driving the blue pickup. He said, “So you’re the guy who blows dust on us every time you pass by?” He shook my hand and told me to be a good guy to her daughter. “She’s my only daughter. If you see how beautiful she is, it means a lot of care went into creating her so we don’t joke with her at all. But let me ask you a question, are you going to marry her?” I answered shyly, “Yeah, if God makes a way for us, why not?” The mother spoke for the first time, “God always makes a way. Just make sure you walk on that way he had created for you and you’ll be fine.”
Love in the village is the purest form of love anyone can experience. When you have to hang out, you don’t think about exquisite hotels and expensive restaurants. You think about walking hand in hand around the park and taking fresh air. A gift for a lover doesn’t have to break the bank. A simple dress with a matching shoe can earn you two years of accolades. The only time you’re required to give something as a boyfriend is during Xmas. No birthday gift, Valentine’s day outing, or money for rent. The girls give their all and if you’re a responsible man, you’ll love truly and concentrate on building a relationship.
But my girl’s father started making life difficult for me. One evening he called me; “My son, your in-law, I’m in serious trouble and l need your help. Can you lend me GHC500? Even if I’m not able to pay, you can take it out of the bride price when the time comes.” I didn’t hesitate, I gave him the money the next day. He was full of gratitude and even sent his wife to come and thank me. A month or so later, he called again, “My son I need help again. If you don’t help my enemies would succeed in robbing me of my land. I need only GHC400.” When I sent him the money, he asked me, “Are you giving this one to me for free or you’ll deduct it from the bride price?”
One morning, my girlfriend came to me wearing this long face. Something was eating her up and it was about her father. “My father is sick and in bed. We need to take him to the hospital but no money.” I went with her to see her father. He couldn’t even speak to me audibly. He was clearly in pain so I gave some amount to my girlfriend’s mom to take him to the hospital. The next day, there was a funeral at the center of town. I was passing by when I saw a man dancing and jumping around and money being thrown at him. I took a closer look at him and it was my in-law. “Is it not this man who was dying only yesterday?” I called Maame and asked her about it. “Was your father really sick?” She responded, “That’s the question I and my mother have been struggling all day to find an answer to.” He took the money from his wife. No hospital but he was well enough to go and dance at a funeral.
I stopped picking his calls for a long while. I even stopped visiting their house. After all, Maame Abena was coming to me every day so there was no need to go to their house. One evening, I was in my room watching TV with Maame Ama when we heard a knock on the door. It was my in-law. He came in, took a seat, and asked his daughter to excuse us. He asked me, “So when are you finally coming to marry my daughter?” I said, “Very soon. We are making planes.” He exhaled loudly. He started, “You have to speed up a little bit because as I’m talking to you right now, I need that bride price to sort some family issues out. You have to speed things up because that’s the only money I’m looking forward to in life now.” I’d wanted to laugh but the seriousness on his face made me alert. I asked, “So what do you suggest we do since I’m not ready to marry now.”
He said, “It’s no problem if you don’t want to marry now. You can pay the bride price now so when the time comes, you don’t have to pay again. You’ll only have to buy those petty petty things and you’re done.” May God forgive me but I couldn’t hold the laughter any longer. I laughed like I was going mad. Where in the history of man did that ever happen? Advance payment of bride price? I gave him some days to come back as I’m putting things together.
I told Maame Abena about it. She wasn’t surprised at all. She said, “He did the same thing to the last two guys I ever dated. I never sent those two guys home as I did with you but somehow, he located them and started extracting money from them.” We decide to ignore him. A year later, Maame Abena had finished her apprenticeship. I built a new container store and rented a place to put the store. She started working on her own and started making money for herself. It was just about that time that we completed the project in the village so I had to come back to Accra.
Hearts changed and minds swayed. Slowly we stopped calling and talking to each other until we allowed the distance between us to break us apart. Two years ago I heard she had gotten married to another man. I was very happy for her and wished her well. I asked her, “Now that you’re married to someone else, can I call your father and ask him to pay what he owes me? The advance bride price I paid.” We both burst out laughing like two mad beings. She said, “Surprisingly, he didn’t do that to this one I got married to. He was lucky.”