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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

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Caught in the middle

My friend Esther, she was in her second year in marriage when she introduced Albert to me as her friend. In front of Albert, she said, “Meet Albert, my new friend. He’s one of the guys whose advice keeps me going.” When Albert left, she told me the truth.

Albert was her side piece. “You know the stories between me and my husband,” She said. “Things keep getting worse and Albert has been my sanity in this insane situation I find myself in.”

Yes, I knew the stories. Her husband had been abusive and a cheat. He had been controlling and was never ready to do the things sane husbands do for their wives. I understood why Esther will go ahead to have a side thing because, for two years, her husband hardly touches her. The only time he touches her is when he’s slapping her on the face. Esther was a good fellow. I grew up with her and knew her too well. I was her maid of honor at her wedding.

She tells me everything; Good things. Bad things. Most of her dark dealings are known to me because she tells them all to me. I’m that friend who only listens. Hardly give advice and hardly judge. I’m no saint either.

When she told me the truth about Albert, the only question I asked was, “What if your husband finds out someday?” She responded, “He can find out today, I don’t mind. What did I gain from him for being a good wife?” I asked her, “But why don’t you leave the marriage if things are this worse?” She said, “Dear, it’s not that simple and easy. If it were, I would have walked out long ago. Maybe the right time will come someday for me to leave but now, let’s live with the noise of the drumbeat.”

She spent more time with Albert because her husband wasn’t there. I was often in their company. Sometimes I took it as she was using me for a shield against her relationship with Albert. In her mind, when people see the three of us together, it would be very hard for them to suspect any foul dealings. I was her decoy whenever the two were out and about. It was very naive on the part of Albert to think I didn’t know what was going on between them. He tried covering up things when I was there but little did he know I was in the known before he came to be who he was.

Esther and I had a mutual friend, Dufie. Dufie was a little well to do and traveled outside Ghana a lot to bring things to sell. Once in awhile, the three of us would meet, have fun and talk about life and living it. In one of those meet-ups, Esther came along with Albert and as expected, introduced him to Dufie as a friend. Dufie jovially said, “So you have such good looking guys in your company and you won’t link one of them to me?” We all laughed it off and continued with the reason why we were together.

I didn’t know how it happened and to date, Esther doesn’t also know how it happened but somehow, Dufie and Albert got in touch after that day and started talking. Everything happened so fast nobody could track the beginning until it ended the way it did. At some point, Albert started drawing away. He didn’t pick calls from Esther and he didn’t try to look for her as he used to. Esther didn’t mind until she found out Albert was dating Dufie. That was when things started making sense but Esther couldn’t put up a fight because she was a married woman and didn’t want Dufie to know the real truth.

Honestly, I was happy, not for Albert and not for Dufie. I was happy Albert got to leave my married friend alone so she could concentrate on fixing what was not working in her marriage. Esther felt betrayed by her sidepiece and also felt betrayed by one of her trusted friends but little could she do. She stopped talking to Dufie and swore to pay Albert back. In the end, Dufie and Albert got married. As I said, everything happened so quickly it was hard to track the beginning from the end.

They got married a little over a year after they met.

I was there. I wished them well. And for a very long time, Esher didn’t come to me with any bad news from their marriage. I Guessed things were going well. At some point, I didn’t even hear from her often but judging from her activities on social media, she was happy.

One night she called me; “Can you imagine Albert had the gut to call me last night to apologize for what he did to me? After close to two years, he now finds the sense to apologize to me.” I asked her, “So what did you tell him?” “I told him to go to hell.” She responded. I said in my head, “That’s my girl!” I told her, “You can forgive him. After all, it ended well between him and Dufie. The only thing is, you have to keep your distance like you’ve been doing. You can forgive and still keep your distance.”

Esther took my advice; she forgave him. She went the extra mile to ignore the other part of my advice not to get close and started getting close to Albert. The thing is, Dufie is hardly around and that made it easier for these two to get back together again. One night, while talking to Esther she told me, “Do you know Dufie is left stranded outside Ghana because of COVID-19? Countries have locked borders and she can’t come back to Ghana until it’s all over.”

There was this subtle joy in her voice. It felt like a little victory for her because she knew Dufie being away meant she could have more access to Albert. Old flames burn brighter but somehow, someone must have the sense not to restart the flame. Albert didn’t have that sense and Esther was equally senseless so when the president announced the lockdown, the two found it as an opportunity to take it from where they once dropped.

One morning during the lockdown, Esther’s husband called me; “Esther left home last night and I know it’s your end she came to crash. Can I talk to her?” I answered, “She’s here but she says she won’t talk to you.” He started screaming on the phone and making a lot of threat but I calmly said to him, “She’s crying. Maybe when she puts herself together, I’ll try to convince her to talk to you.”

I don’t know how I became such a good liar but when you stick around truant friends, you always have to learn what to say to cover their behind. The night before, Esther told me she had a fight with her husband and again, her husband threw his hands so she left the house for her own safety. She didn’t tell me where she was going but I knew where and if you’re following this story very well, you also know where she went. To Albert.

She stayed with Albert for four good days and throughout the four days, her husband kept calling me. I also kept telling lies. She came to me only when she left Albert’s place. That day when her husband called, she spoke to him. The conversation started angrily. The two of them kept shouting at each other. Some minutes later, it calmed a little bit. Esther was silent on the phone for several minutes, apparently listening to what her husband was saying. Later she smiled. Not long after she laughed. Minutes later she said, “I’ll be home very soon.”

When she was leaving I told her, “It seems my lies are working now but I don’t know for how long so kindly do me a favor; decide once and for all on what you really like and stick to it. If it’s your husband you want, you two can seek help and work things out so I can also have my peace. Just imaging me going to hell only because I lied for you to have an orgasm. Crazy!” She laughed and said, “This will be the last time. The next time he punches me again, I’ll leave and never go back again. It’s a decision I’ve taken.”

I screamed, “Good! And please when you finally leave, try as much as possible to leave Albert too. It’s getting complicated and scary.” She smiled. She didn’t say anything for a while. She smiled again and said, “One day, I will walk away from it all. I only need some strength and for you to be there with me.”

I know I will be there for her no matter what but will she…will she have the strength to do what she has to do? Only Time will tell.

—Humu, Ghana

#LoveOnALockDown ##SilentBeads

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