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Friday, October 22, 2021

I own wedding dress I never wore

File photo: Wedding reception

This is what I remember the most the day I fell in love with him. I had gotten to the place where I will alight. He asked me, “Do you mind if I come for you when you close?” I said, “No I will be happier.” He said, “Then expect me at 5pm. You shouldn’t be surprised to see me here before that time though.” I laughed. I said, “That would be kind of you.” He drove off. 

I looked at my time and it was 5pm. He wasn’t there. I decided to leave. I walked towards the main road thinking of how fast I could get a car home. I heard, “Hey” from behind. I turned and it was him. He said, “I was looking around for you. I’m parked behind this building. Here, let’s go.” I said, “I thought you couldn’t come.” He said, “I told you. I was here before 4:30pm” The next question on my mind was, “Why didn’t you call me?” But I remembered he didn’t have my number. 

I sat next to him and he drove off. I was looking at him. Before he said a word, he smiled. After every question, he smiled. I didn’t know so much about him. It was our third time in his car together but I was already in love with him. When I got to my junction, I told him, “Maybe you’re too shy to ask. Here’s my number. You can call me.” He said, “Thanks for the favor. You’re right. I didn’t know how to ask.” I said, “It’s the 21st century. Everyone asks for a number these days.” 

He drove off and I didn’t hear from him again until the next Monday when I was by the roadside waiting for a car—or waiting for him. A lot of taxis came around shouting for me to get in. I hesitated a bit. I knew he would come and make things easier. I was getting late but I waited. He wasn’t coming so I took the next taxi and left. In the evening I was waiting to be surprised. He didn’t come around. I had known him for just a week but when I didn’t see him for a day, I thought of him like I’ve known him forever. “Am I in love?” “No,” I answered. I barely knew him. 

I didn’t see him for a week. He had my number but he didn’t call. It was a Thursday morning. I was by the roadside waiting for a taxi. I wasn’t waiting for him this time because I wasn’t sure he would turn up. Then he came to park right in front of me. He screamed, ”Your favorite taxi here.” Immediately I saw him, I heard a loud roar in my head, “Yaaayyyy he has come o” I rushed in. Immediately I sat down he said, “Break my heart. Tell me you haven’t missed me.” I laughed. That girlish laughter that says, ”I miss you but I won’t say it.” He said, “I had to travel. It was impromptu.” I asked, “So why didn’t you call me?” 

I was embarrassed by my own question. “Why didn’t he call me? Does he owe me a call?” But his answer made me laugh out loud. “Sorry, I got the wrong number the last time. I missed a digit. I spent the whole weekend fixing different digits at different places, thinking it will lead me to you but it didn’t happen. I ended up talking to people who were not too kind to me.” I laughed at him. I was at peace knowing he tried. I took his phone, dialed my number so I could have his too. I said, “You have the right one now.” He said, “Now get ready to be disturbed.”

One month later, at a bar nearby, he proposed to me while looking elsewhere. ”I said, “Look at me and say what you just said.” He looked at me for a second. He dropped his eyes again without saying a word. I was already in love with him but there was something I didn’t know about him. I said, “I have a 31 year old heart. It has been through a lot but it looks beautiful with its scars and dreams. What is your story? How old are you?” He said, “I’m 35…” I screamed, “You’re a liar! Tell me you’re 22 years and I will believe you.” I wasn’t exaggerating. I didn’t expect him to be over twenty-eight, to be honest.” He said, “I’m grown ooo, just that I’m handsome.”

We went to that bar as friends and came out as lovers. When we were leaving the bar, I didn’t think too much of the bar. But today, that bar holds a memory that keeps haunting my heart in a bitter-sweet way.

We dated for a year. Within that year, everything you would expect from lovers happened. I thought he was a shy guy but when we fell in love and got to know each other very well, he started dropping the shy mask so I could see the real him. 

It was August 17th, 2018. He called me around 10pm. He said, “Something came to mind. Have you wondered how the beach would look like in the night like this?” I said, “I’ve been to the beach in the evening before but not this late.” He said, ”Great. I’m coming for you. Let’s go and see how it looks like.” I asked, “Are you serious?” I didn’t finish the statement when he said, “I’m in front of your house. Come and let’s go.” We were barely a week old as lovers. He took my hand and we walked down the beach, spraying our footprints in the sands on the shore. It was around 11pm. There were few people at the beach, couples mostly. I was a little bit scared but his palm in mine kept soothing my heart. At some point, he stopped. We kissed. I said I was feeling cold. He asked, “You know what I’m thinking about?” I said, ”I don’t want to know. Let’s go home.” 

He was getting naughty. I was getting scared. I forced him out of the beach. We came home to continue what we started at the beach. Nothing was beyond the two of us. He only had to suggest it and I will say yes. We were drunk in love but we liked it. We didn’t want to get sober. 

We talked about marriage on my 32nd birthday. We were only a year and some months old. A few months later, he came with his family to do the knocking. When he got the list, he started buying them immediately. We couldn’t wait to get married. I spoke with my pastor and he gave us a date for us to start counseling. I was with him when he went to the shop to get his wedding suit. He tried different colors on. He wanted black. I wanted blue. He said blue means sadness. I sad blue means happiness. He said, “Then why do people say “I’m feeling blue” when they want to say they are sad?” I said, “Get blue and let’s get going. He got it and we left. 

A month before the wedding, I went with him to the shop to also try some dresses. I wanted to rent. He insisted we buy it. I asked, “Where else would I wear it to after the wedding?” He said, “We’ll think about it after the wedding.” When I got home, I hang the dress right in front of my mirror, fantasizing about myself in it on my wedding day. “God damn it, I will be beautiful.” “I hope my hips show.” “I hope I get the most beautiful pictures to frame for my walls. “I will smile a lot.” “I will wave like a queen because I will be one on that day—my husband’s queen.”

We were ready. We’ve got everything we needed for the wedding. We were almost through with counseling when one morning, I called his phone to ask if he had reached Takoradi. He traveled at night so he could get there early, do whatever he had to do, and return the same day. I was the one who advised him not to drive. I told him, “Night driving is dangerous. Pick a bus instead. After all, you’re making a returning journey. 

When his phone rang another person picked. A female’s voice. She said, “Hello…” I was quiet. I removed the phone from my ears and checked if I dialed the right number. His name was flashing on the screen so it couldn’t have been a wrong line. “So why is a woman talking?” I said calmly, “Who am I speaking to?” She asked, “Are you related to the owner of this phone?” I said, ”Yes, he’s my husband.” So sure and so ready to attack. She said, “He’s at the Takoradi university hospital. His condition is very critical.” I screamed, “Jesus! What happened? How? Who am I talking to?” 

I called his dad. His mom called me later asking questions.

We took the bus from Accra. We got to the hospital, went through the identification process. When we got to the end of the process we were told, “Those who were brought here last night didn’t survive.

I got numbed. Nothing I say here will describe the kind of pain I went through that day. I told him, “Naaa, this is not true. Maybe he was not brought here. Where else did they send some of the victims? He might be there.” We were taken to the morgue where they were kept. I didn’t go inside. I was scared to confirm what I heard. When his father came out, he had a firm face. I said, “He’s not there, right?” He burst out crying. That was the answer. He was there. I could virtually feel my heart being torn apart with a blunt blade. I said, “I’m dreaming. I want to wake up. Why am I trapped here? Get me out of here. I want to wake up.”

There are dreams you wake up from. There are dreams you live through it all your life. The latter was the kind of dream I found myself in. I never woke up. A year and ten months later, I still feel the whole thing is just a bad dream I will one day wake up from. Our beginning felt like a dream. Everything we did and say felt like something that would happen in a dream. I don’t fall in love easily like that but I fell so easily and desperately for him.  After giving it my all, I’m left with nothing but memories of our footprints in the sands of that beach. Memories of our first kiss and that lousy bar he proposed to me. Every now and then, I pass by the bar and remember that night when his eyes were wandering but was determined to say what was on his heart. I own a wedding dress I never wore. How harsh. 

 I got the harsh side of things but it’s ok. Someday, everything will make sense. The dream will be over and I will see what’s on the other side of the dream. Daylight? I wonder. 

–Nyamedɔ

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