My Valentine Story (I): Motivational Broken Heartedness – By Manasseh Azure Awuni

I abhor this master-servant relationship so I had asked Mr. Nyavor to stop opening the door for me. But he would not take that. He was as old as my father and I was not comfortable the way he virtually worshiped me. I did everything to assure him that the gifts I gave him often were not as a result of his virtual worship. But he seemed to relish it and would not listen.

“Madam, ebi you dey think say you be small girl but if you hear de tins wey people dey talk about you, you go say I no dey serve you well well,” he once said, grinning from ear to ear.

“What do people say about me?” I asked.

“You no sabi say some people dey respect you pass de president sef?”

“Sure?”

“Why I go lie give you?”

“But I’m just an ordinary girl and would not want to be worshipped, and by someone as old as my father. I’m OK. Just drive and I’ll be alright with everything else.”

“You dey talk of father den age matter? Eno bi you talk for your book inside say business den family matters for be separate?”

“Ei have you read it?” I was surprised because though Mr. Nyavor could communicate in Pidgin English, he could not read. He had dropped out of school at the basic level and joined his late father to fish. Unfortunately, the country’s educational system was in such a way that anyone who dropped out at the basic, and sometimes the secondary level depending on the school, was not better than the one who didn’t learn to recite ABCD at all. According to him, he left for Accra to look for a job after they had depleted the stock in the Keta Lagoon. I had met him five years ago when he was a taxi driver. So nice was he that I took his contact details and traced him when I needed a personal driver. His loyalty, honesty and frankness are peerless.

“I no read um but somebody talk for radio wey e call your name say ebi you talk um for your book inside.”

All my attempts to dissuade him from opening my car door for me had failed so on that day he still held on to the door even when I was seated.

“Ebi like say dem send that man after you,” he said when I enquired why he would not close the door.

“Errm, Ms. Owusu, would you please autograph my copy of your book?” the man stammered. You’re an inspiration and some of us have vowed to rise like you.”

“Thank you,” I said and raised my head for the first time to look at the person as I handed the autographed book back to him.

He froze. I gaped. Mr. Nyavor was confused. And for a long time, or so it seemed.

I only realized that he too was weeping when I finally reached for a handkerchief and dabbed the tears that coursed freely down my cheeks.

“Let’s meet and talk later,” I said after some time. We exchanged contacts. We had a lot to talk about but neither of us knew where and how to begin it in that sun. As my car pulled out of the car park, I turned and found him still transfixed in that position, shaking his head in disbelief.

“Madam, you sabi um for some place?” Mr. Nyavor asked as we pulled away. I didn’t reply him. That was unusual of me, but I just didn’t know what to tell him, how to tell that story and where to begin from. Mr. Nyavor doubled as my godfather, my chief advisor. I didn’t hide anything from him. I realised knowledge was powerful but wisdom was more powerful when I met him. Mr. Nyavor was a wise man and anyone who despises the illiterate despises wisdom. Some of them, like this driver of mine, are philosophers.

But I could not bring myself to tell him what had happened. I was dumbfounded for the rest of the day. I had to cancel my appointments and spent the rest of the day in my room.

Kofi Pra was partly the architect of my success. As I lay in bed that evening I tried to collect my thoughts together, to arrange the series of disjointed events and to convince myself that the text message I had sent him in tears years back did not amount to a curse. But that brief encounter had brought back many feelings – pity, love, hate, victory and of course pride – the pride of a determined feminine heart.

If there are two things in my life I will not forget even on my dying bed then they are the day I broke my virginity and the day I broke my heart. And one individual was at the centre of both events – Kofi Pra, my first boyfriend. It’s been many years but I still remember the day he called.

I least expected his call that morning. He had stopped calling for the past three weeks and our misunderstanding the previous day had worsened the situation. I knew all was not well with our relationship and things were getting to a terrifying peak as far as I was concerned. So I was itching to know what it was that he had to say, but it was only ten minutes to the time of commencement and the bell would go any moment soon He knew I had a difficult paper to write. He also knew I was ill-prepared. And he knew he was the cause, though he would not admit that.

“Please, I’m just about to enter the exam hall so if you wouldn’t mind, let me call you immediately after the paper,” I pleaded with him when I heard his cold voice.

“I don’t have the patience for that stupidity of yours anymore. What text message did you send to Selina? Are you my wife that you should keep people away from me just because of suspicion?” he snarled.

My end of the telephone went dead. It was not my intention not to mind him. I just didn’t have anything to say. I wasn’t shocked. He was corroborating my worst fears.

“Are you now getting out of your mind?” he went on. “If you care to know, I’m going out with her. But is it her fault that I love her? Or have you been told she proposed to me and not the other way round?”

“Kofi, I’m sorry. Can we, please, talk things over after the paper? I’m…” I tried to cut in as harmlessly as possible. The bell had gone for the start of the paper.

“I have nothing to talk over with you,” his voice was rising. “I only called to tell you that today marks the end of everything between us. Don’t ever call me again; not even God can intervene in this decision. Thanks for everything and better luck in your next relationship,” he said and the line went dead.

The phone dropped from my hand, and I had God to thank because it was a Nokia 3310, one of the most fashionable phones in those days. I was visibly trembling and everything around me was spinning round and round. The ground under my quaking feet began to dance. I could have collapsed but for Akosua’s quick intervention.

“Nyarkoa, take it easy. Remember you have a paper and that is your life,” she said and helped me onto the garden bench under one of the shady trees that dotted our faculty. “Was that Kofi?” she asked.

I nodded absent-mindedly. Then suddenly my head began to throb like a set of agbadza drums paying homage to Togbiwo at a durbar. My colleagues were rushing into the exam hall and I could see Akosua becoming very nervous. But she could not leave me alone.

I picked up the phone and dialed Kofi’s number. I wanted to tell him to give the chance to explain after the paper. I wanted to apologise, apologise for his wrongdoing. That would have given me hope, an assurance that I still had a chance in his life, an opportunity to mend the broken pieces and move on with him. That alone was enough to put me at ease, at least for as long as the paper lasted. But he didn’t pick my call. He only picked when I used Akosua’s phone.

“What is it?” he snarled when he recognized my voice.

“Please, I kindly allow me to explain…” The phone went dead and after several vain attempts I picked up my phone and sent a text message, the text message that defined my life.

It was when I stood up and made for the exam hall that my tears had the opportunity to flow, as if I had barrels of it concealed in my eye sockets.

“Does the exam law say that you should not write a paper when you’ve just lost a loved one?” I snarled at Prof. Nii Abbey when he tried to prevent me from entering the hall in that state. He felt very sorry and apologised profusely. It was his subject we were writing that afternoon. As a class secretary, I was very close to him. He was debauched man of matchless notoriety. It was rumoured that the only lady Prof. Abbey had did not sleep with were those who had referral in his course.

I became free with him after initial squabbles following my refusal to yield to his demands. But the anger Kofi had welled up in me was this time directed at anybody who stood in my way and he happened to be the innocent victim. I had indeed, lost a loved one. And I’m sure the A+ I scored in that subject might have been a gift from the lecturer. I don’t still know what I wrote that day.

The real import of the day’s happenings dawned on me like day when I lay in bed that night after Akosua had tried in vain to console me. I could not believe I was losing Kofi to anyone else. My heartache intensified when I called only to be told that his phone was switched off. Phone off on Val’s night?

I imagined Selina in my place, moaning and groaning with pleasure in response to Kofi’s tickling and rhythmic thrusting. Until I met Kofi, I didn’t understand why Diana should still stick to her “Monkey No Fine” McAnthony and why Aba had dumped “Freshboy” Peter. The two were my roommates and when the subject first came up one night, I didn’t quite agree with them.

“Listen to this nonsense from a so-called Man of God oo. What’s the essence of entertaining a man who can’t entertain you when it matters most?” Aba was reacting to a TV panelist’s argument as if the man was physically present. It was a few months after he broke up with his handsome looking boyfriend.

“Is that why you left Peter?” I asked teasingly, not expecting her to agree with me so easily and frankly. She had always kept the reason for their separation secret. But this night she said it.

“Is it not annoying? He’s never tired of pestering you and yearning for sex, but when you give him the chance, you’ll never know when he starts and when he finishes,” she said, still angry with the TV panelist.

“So were you able to tell him in the face the reason you left him?” I was inquisitive.

“I didn’t tell him to let us quit. I made him realize it and he rather called it quits. I told him one night when he was climbing on to me that I was tired and wanted to sleep, so when he finished, he should wake me up to put on my clothes. He knew I was not used to sleeping naked after such things.” I shook with laughter.

“Apart from him panting like dog that has been running all day, you could sleep without knowing someone was making love to you. That was exactly what I told him and when I opened my eyes to see his reaction, he was dressing up. You know men have this stupidity in them they call ego! He left the room without a word and that was the last time we spoke to each other.”

“That was too unkind of you, Aba,” I said.

“So you now understand why I can’t leave McAnthony,” Diana, who had been reading as if she was detached from our conversation sprung up at this point. “Men, they say, enter into relationship with their eyes but we ladies have our criteria. It doesn’t it take a long time for a charming man to look ordinary. What some men lack in looks is made up for in others.” …..To be continued…

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