It was 12:05am according to Justin's Swatch though he did not know this. He was fast asleep with his breath streaming in a steady gush and toying on the no-man’s land between normal breathing and vicious snoring.
His phone suddenly sprang to life ringing and shattering the sanity of the innocent night. He picked it without opening his eyes and shoved it a 1,000ft under his orthopaedic pillow. But the phone won’t simply be silenced.
In a mild rage he forced his rebelling eyes to open in time to catch a glimpse of the last ring from George. Just before he could start to wonder why he was calling at that time, the call came through again.
"Ei Massa you no dey fit sleep?" He answered the phone in Pidgin English. I hope you know what time it is?
"Charlie issues." George said with grave deliberateness. "Kwame is on the line as well."
"Why, what is happening?" Justin asked suddenly feeling awake and realising his bladder was about exploding with unattended urine.
"It’s Pattie, man. I am going to London tomorrow. I need to see things for my self. I am getting conflicting signals and very disappointing ones at that."
"You know what," Justin said cutting in, "let me take a pee and get a drink and come back yea. Hang on."
"Sure." George responded as calmly as he always sounds.
"Back!" Justin said briskly, feeling relieved and sipping a can of Lucozade. "Talk to me man; what is she saying? I thought you returned from England 2 months ago?"
"Charlie. As you guys know, I am pretty secretive. That is how I was brought up and I tend to deal with a lot of things on my own and in my head." George said rather pitifully.
"Yeah" Justin responded pensively but was quick to add, "which can make you go mad if you ask me." They all chuckled at the remark but decided not to drag on it.
"But am worried about Pattie. Seriously."
"Why? Is she acting up?"
"Well," Kwame attempted to explain, "George thinks that there is a possibly she is involved with someone; or she is susceptible to being involved with someone in a way that will have intimacy as its final outcome, if such is not already in force; and such intimacy might not be one off, but likely continue and ran parallel to their marriage."
"Yea, and I think that our marital circumstance is promoting this." George concluded for Kwame.
"Ok these are a lot of Legal assumptions." Justin said realising he was about to assess the most secretive life among the five friends and he did not have a clue where to pick it up from. "Why do you say that? Obviously these are not conclusions based on just assumptions."
"Obviously not," George Said, "I have followed series of abnormal events leading me to these conclusions. Some of them she was self-prompted and apologised, others I prompted her and she corrected herself and apologised others I just let go."
"Ok." Justin said deciding that until he knew the whole story, he would be more economical with his words and views.
"Two weeks before I travelled to England the last time, I was rounding up a conversation with Pattie on the phone when I requested to say hi to Carol. It was very early in the morning, and I normally do not do that since she would be sleeping, but I did it anyway. She went to the bedroom to give the phone to her. Baby daddy wants to say hello to you. I felt that was a bit dry but then I realized that was how she had been saying it for a while now so I kept quiet. The girl took the phone and said hi. I said hey baby trying to sound alive despite the observation I had just made and the depressing effect it was having on me. My girl paused a while and said, the chocolate you brought me had nuts in it. can you bring... then Pattie yelled in the background hey this is not Uncle Sam. This is your daddy in Ghana."
"Okaaayyy" Justin responded pretty much shocked.
"She took the phone from the girl before she could speak again. Can you imagine? She said and laughed uneasily I don’t know where she got that idea from that Sam was the one I was referring to as daddy. George hurry up and come. She added. These are some of the reasons why you need to be here. A growing child needs to have more of her father around. The conversation ended."
"But prior to that, had she made mention of this Sam individual to you?" Justin pried.
"Yea," George responded, "a kid her age, Ghanaian parents, British born, goes to the same church with her and they both sing in the choir."
"They sing in the choir together?" Justin asked, his heart rapidly picking up beats.
"Yea in the same choir" George said laughing it off and trying not to sound too- upset. "The name started coming up a month or so after she joined the church; after I forced her to abandon Anglican and join a livelier charismatic church.Sam this, Sam that. Was here with Sam and Sam led worship, and Sam was at the hospital with her [Carol] through out while I was sorting things out with John – Her very possessive boss."
"This Sam, is he married?" Kwame inquired
"Nope...unfortunately." George Said. "And he has no girlfriend because according to her, he is looking for a home groomed Ghanaian woman to settle down with."
"Does he have a job?" Justin asked
"He owns a firm that employs over 200 people in London alone"
"How well paying is Pattie’s job?" Kwame came in further.
"I know where these questions are leading to guys." George observed sadly. "Does she make enough money to support herself and the child? If not, do I send her money? Does she regularly ask to be remitted? Her job I know for sure pays her well enough to be ok, not so much more. I take care of carol's upkeep because that is my responsibility as a father. But she keeps coming up with good reasons why I need to put the money I send her into the building project here."
'These are good reasons that should make a man grateful to God for such a wife and go on to appreciate her. But when she tells you she got a car for a gift on her birthday from Sam, then you know Sam might as well be paying all the bills. That is very worrying."
"It is George, it is." Justin said sympathetically.
"Its scary man." Kwame remarked, though unnecessarily.
"She picked me up from the airport with Carol the last time I went to England. She was all excited to see me, Carol I mean. Daddy see what Daddy Sam got me? A teddy bear. I was not in the mood to be upset; the day was too young to let little things mess us up so I let it go, cuddled the teddy and hugged my baby real tight. Along the way I made a joke and she, Pattie, laughed her head off and said you are crazy Sam. I kept my smile on while she kept laughing. Carol said quietly mum, this is Daddy George not Daddy Sam"
"Your 4year old girl said this?" Kwame and Justin asked spontaneously.
"I am not kidding you guys."
"And what did Pattie say?" Kwame asked, very much heartbroken for his friend and wondering if he would have kept his cool had he been in George’s shoes.
"What could she say?" Nothing except to laugh it off and ask if she did really say that. Hey it’s mum and dad talking ok.But soon afterwards, I couldn’t pretend again. I just relapsed into silence"
"What else was Sam even though it comes out as George?" Kwame asked barely audibly, in a more rhetorical way.
"Exactly. During the period I was there, there were a lot more of such name swapping. And they happened in ways that were so casual as if Sam was a daily part of her life. Sam can you get me my bathrobe? Sam this, Sam that; Sam every now and then."
"Were you ever upset with her? Did it ever bring you two to a point of quarrel or exchanges?" Justin asked.
"I tried not to. Carol was always by me and I could see the looks in her eyes during such moments so I always restrained myself."
"Did you meet this Sam Guy?" Justin probed further.
"I did. We were once forced to have dinner with his family."
"Oh so it's a family affair?" Kwame asked feeling almost dizzy. Emotional Kwame.
"Sure it is. He is the only guy in three ladies all of whom know Pattie as well as his parents. I realised his father was a bit disappointed when he saw me in person. I cannot tell the reason why, but I figured then that he might have perceived me to be the kind of guy whose wife you can easily take and give to your son."
"And I won’t be surprised that was the perception they all had about you." Kwame observed. "So chances were that, they were luring Pattie away in a very natural but highly schemed way."
"Definitely. And as we sat and ate, I could feel his sisters and mother trying to shift their mental positions about me. This is me; I make jokes happen, I walk with an encyclopaedia in my head, and as we all know, I am a major league ‘self-aware’ person. Naturally I hijacked the dinner for the entire period we were there, to the annoyance of Pattie in the end."
His two younger sisters did not stop calling the house to speak with me nor drop by anytime they could. Once, I overhead Sam himself telling her I was such a great person...whatever they were talking about. But after that dinner I realised she mellowed; Sam, whether in name or in person, started going away until I came to Ghana.
Immediately I came down, a new trend developed, Can I call you back? I am driving; Carol is not feeling well let me put her to bed and call you back; I am attending to something let call you back. Sometimes she does call back with very flimsy excuses, sometimes she does not until the following day or until I call again. Massa, this whole thing is killing me.
"This evening I called her and she picked up giggling; she was overly excited. I asked why and she told me she was watching something on TV. I was happy there was something to entertain herself with. But all of a sudden I realised the giggles had ceased even though I did not pass any comment nor do anything to change her mood. Then I realised she was getting distracted; her responses were not consistent. I asked if she was ok, she then told me to hold on. But she cut the line instead. I decided not to call for about 10 min by which time she would have been through with whatever she was doing. It was raining so guessed maybe she was trying to fix up things inside. .."
"...Or Sam was there." That was Kwame.
"Exactly!!!! So I picked the phone and called. She answered in a very terse voice and said she will call me back and cut the line before I could ask what was wrong. This time I was upset so I called again but she did not pick up. I called about 10 times but her voice mail took them all up after the phone rang itself off. She called me 5 minutes before I called Kwame and she told me someone knocked at her door so she went to check and it was Sam. The rain was getting a bit fearsome so he decided to stop over at her place till it was safe to drive home."
"Wow. Do they stay in the same neighbourhood?" Justin asked with ample display of alarm
"The guy's office is located close to her apartment than it is to his home which is a bit outside of London."
"So what did you say to that?" Justin asked fearing the worse.
" Oh I just told her I was sleeping so we should talk tomorrow. She apologised and hanged up like it was a normal thing. I still feel the guy might sleep in the house tonight."
How long did it take for her to call back after she told you she will get back to you? Justin inquired further
"About 45min." George guessed.
"And what was she doing all that while?"
"I didn't want to know."
"Hmmm Wow." Justin said when he sensed George had pour enough of his heart out. "Kwame, do you have anything to say?"
"I am stunned. Charlie you take it up." Kwame answered, really bereft of words.
"Well this is very sad." Justin quietly. "But I have a few things to say. First I want say that you have really handled this very maturely. I really wonder if I am the best person to advise you because maybe I might not have been this matured and big hearted about it.
Again you have really put a lot of things together to come up with these powerful observations which I don’t think are the figments of your imaginations, and crumbs of your fears and insecurities.
I would also want to say that if you think going to London will get things worked out, fine. But from where I sit observing, I think it would do you more harm than good if you go to London now.
"How do you mean?"
"You do not just get up and go visiting do you?"
"Good. You plan it out with her, you guys get to put stuff together and you go all excited and she, all expecting. If you appear in London any moment soon, unannounced and unplanned, you’d need a story. It couldn't be your company that sent you there; and whatever it was couldn’t have been so important and sudden that you were not given any prior notice. What could be wrong?"
"Are you trying to catch her living with this Sam guy?" Kwame came in. "No. Because I do not think you have even considered the fact that they could be staying together. But I personally do not think they are doing so. From the little slips from Carol, I don’t think you have picked anything to that effect. So if you appear there, what are you going to prove?"
"Ultimately, it would be clear you wanted to catch her in some act" Justin picked up from there. "What act? And the last thing you want to do is to let your wife think you do not trust her. For all you know that is what is she is looking for to push herself into this young man’s arms, that is if there is that intention. Do not give it to her.
If you give her the slightest opportunity, the only person available to cry on, talk to or vent her anger on, would be Sam. That will be the beginning of:can I see you tonight Sam? I can’t eat Sam, George is killing me; I am tired of this whole thing.
"And do you think when that moment comes Sam will tell her to hold on, call you himself and try to make you see that your wife is an angel?" Kwame stepped in. "Nope. I can picture him saying something like, Sorry Pattie, you will be fine; Guys are like that; But a guy should know his wife anyway; How can you just suspect your wife; Sad but what can we say; Let’s hope it gets better; You can always talk to me; I understand; A friend of mine went thru the same problem, the lady nearly committed suicide; Eventually they had to break up; some guys don’t know what they have until it is gone...Etc"
"And what do you think he would be doing?" Justin asked quizzically. "Undermining your marriage. And once you start that path, trust me man, you will be on a slippery road down to the very bottom. And remember one suspicion will lead to several accusations and reactions and further accusations and in turn generate further talking to and crying on Sam. You would be driving her right into his arms."
You said his family was rather taken aback by the person you turned out to be. So chances are that, even if she is not actively painting a wrong image of you, she goes a bit silent on the George subject anytime it comes up and thus create the impression that probably you are not the ideal man she wanted. This can indirectly spur his family on to push him to her. But let us not be prejudiced in our judgment of the issue based on mere assumptions; we would not be fair to her.
Then again, they are in England, you are in Ghana. Except they are staying together, you will really find nothing. They can choose to be discreet about their relationship, if there is any such relationship going on, until you leave. You will do more harm than good if you do not act tactfully. Besides, for all you know it is just comfort she has found with this Sam guy, a position you should be occupying but for distance.
"I personally think there is a vacuum in her life that telephone conversations and your 6 weeks in a year visit is not doing much to fill." Kwame remarked objectively. 'People become promiscuous and unfaithful in their marriages not always because they have little or no self control, or because they want to get back at their partners or because someone ‘better’ showed up; people do that because sometimes they are unduly exposed the source of the temptation.
People have needs they want to see met. Ordinarily they would have had it met in one way or the other or they would have decided that those needs could not be met and just settled down with it. Once you go into their lives and agree to take it upon yourself to help them meet those needs, two things happen; the first one is that you create in them a measure of dependency on you and secondly you also create the impression that they should not do much to deal with those needs alone because they would be catered for somehow by the two of you together.
if your wife were not married, she would have found ways of coping with her loneliness. And she would have probably done stuff singles do to go through that experience of being single. Again if you two did not have a child she is taking care of singlehandedly, the need that comes with such responsibility would not have been there.
You agreed to marry her and by implication told her you would help her cope with life and all its challenges including her loneliness as a woman created to exist in a world like ours. By that same marriage you also created the impression that it’s alright to have kids, and that both of you would raise them up together.
Now she has let go of her ability to wholly cope on her own, as well as allow an extra responsibility she thought would be carried by the two of you. Suddenly the man who came into my life to alter many things is miles away. He has become a face I see twice in a year for three weeks each. That is not enough.
There is a dependency that must be met and a responsibility that must be shared. You are not there to meet them, therefore consciously or unconsciously there is a transfer of those responsibilities to someone else who easily fits into that role.
I do not want to think your wife is being promiscuous otherwise Sam would not be the only name you would hear. I also do not think your wife is doing this deliberately otherwise she would have been more than careful. This is a natural occurrence that can befall any of us.
You have been spared this, probably because we are constantly together; because you are naturally an indoor person and because you really love your trophy wife. Any guy your make having all these girls tripping after him would have had a field day making good use of them.
"Justin you have anything you want to Add?" Kwame paused sensing he had spoken enough, an attribute Justin lacks.
"The facts of the issue as I see them are these" Justin took his turn trying to address George's problem as best as he understood it. "You have a 4-year old child who needs a father figure in her life; someone to help fill a critical vacuum. She needs someone who would provide a good measure of emotional, psychological, educational as well as social support vital for proper adjustment as a child going through that crucial stage of her development.
There must be someone she can come home to and rant unending about what happened at school and the beautiful picture she painted. She needs a listening ear. There has to be someone to take her to the park; someone to run to if mummy gets too boring or too upset; someone to buy her sweets and go for grocery shopping with.
There must be someone to go for PTA meetings, read bedtime stories to and help with her homework. She needs someone to call daddy; who knows how to apply a right balance of love, affection and discipline.
She doesn’t want to explain to her friends where her father is, it is too big a task for a 4 year old. It pushes her away from them. It affects her confidence even at that age and ultimately her proper social adjustment.
Your wife is aware of this and she dreads it. Sam is probably taking up most of these responsibilities off her hands so she can concentrate on other things. She cannot raise a child without a father figure and the last thing you want to see is your child raised in the image of another man. You might lose her to him in attachment.
I don’t want to think he sees her every morning; I don’t want to think he picks her to and from school; I don’t want to think he goes for PTA meetings and takes her to the park. But the propensity to do same is very high judging from the fact that he is self employed and an employer; a 30year old unmarried man who might as well be interested in your crown. He might have a lot of time on his hands.
You can mark it anywhere; if you raise any argument or you give her the opportunity to react to this suspicion, the first thing that would come out of her would be a defence in the name of the child that must be well nurtured.
The truth, however, is you cannot let your child be raised by a single mother or by your wife with another man you do not even know. It is ok if you lose your child to a relative, a priest or a good friend wilfully or for the right reasons. But you cannot lose your child to a man who might as well be interested in your wife. A lot can go on under that pretext. I have seen in very dramatic ways how children have brought certain people together. Do allow this to happen to you.
Another thing I see is the discontinuity in closeness as a result of the distance between the two of you. Your wife wants to wake up with you; wants to hear your breath; watch your gentle heart beat as you lie like a baby sleeping away. She wants to wake up and see you are up already staring down at her. She doesn't want to have phone sex with you neither does she want to starve till you come around. She wants to make love every time she is in the mood as long as it is permissible. She wants her man to love her, comfort her; hold her through the thicket of the cold dreary nights. She wants you besides her to play with; someone she can deliberately upset just for the fun of it.
When her boss gets on her bad nerve and she desperately need someone on whose shoulders she can download a bit of her anger, she must find her husband ever near. When she gets frustrated and she is telling a man, she doesn’t want to hear empty sympathies; she needs to look into his eyes and see real empathy there. When you keep silent, she doesn’t want to assume you are listen and feeling sorry for her; you could as well be texting some other lady. When you keep silent, she wants to see it in your eyes and read her own meanings into them. Sam is doing that!
When you disagree and quarrel on the phone and she says she is sorry, she wants to see you have forgiven her; it must tell in what you will do immediately thereafter. Telling her she is forgiven on the phone might as well mean, ‘it alright woman, shove your sorry self down your long throat and fly off to hell!’ No!
She needs guidance herself; she needs direction and indeed a lot of manly interventions in a lot of areas in her life. They must not be well rehearsed; they must not be sessions between 8pm to 10pm on the phone. No, they must be spontaneous.
She does not want to call her man and tell him how drained she is; He must see it for himself. Sometimes telling someone how you feel and what you are going through is in itself a task you do not want to undertake, so you just hmmm it off and forget about it. You just want the person to see it in your face, feel it in your voice, your touches and your general response to them. You are missing in action there as well.
I hope you know we communicate more non-verbally than we do verbally. Just a single body movement paints a picture worth a million words.
Pattie wants to be pampered. She wants to have her dress pressed for her by the time she comes from the shower. She wants someone to fix her bracelets and necklace and wrist watch. She wants help in choosing which suit to wear for that meeting and the right perfume to suit the occasion. When she stands in front of the dresser, she want to see a man behind her stealing glances at her back side... a Man who tells her as often as she wants to hear it that she is beautiful. the one who gives surgical attention to her weight and comment on it as often as necessary.
I am not talking about empty comments based on old mental images; I am talking about real-time, I-see-you compliments. This is the advantage Sam has. Probably he is a cute young man born with a silver spoon in his mouth and hasn’t got a single care and therefore can afford to flatter and dazzle her with compliments all day long. Aren’t we all aware that women have softer spots for verbal appeals?
Another vital thing you need to know is the man-head missing in her home. A woman is not supposed to carry all these burdens of daily survival. Indeed no one person is supposed to. She wants to see someone help with the groceries; someone to call the guys to fix stuff at the kitchen or better still a guy who fixes things up himself.
Do you know the pride it gives the average lady when she steps out with her man; the joy of showing off a great fine guy? Your absence is probably preventing her from being a lot more social because anytime she thinks of going out to places, she thinks of you and the other many men out there who might hit on her and all the many things a pretty lady is likely to go through when she finds herself in out there without her man by her side. She would rather go with Sam than go alone. Innocently, the idea might be to protect herself for you, but in consequence it is building closer tie with Sam.
When you call and she tells you about something she is faced with, you give your opinion based on the mental images you can form on the issue at that moment; do it this way, do it that way; no this is unacceptable, you are wrong, and all the instructions that can come up. But there is someone who sits with her most evenings going through whatever challenge she is faced with step by step. Someone with a pen and paper jotting down points for her, making the mistakes, correcting it together and laughing it off.
Carol is picking bad language, granted; there is someone who can offer better help then you can on the telephone. Carol is not feeling well; all you can do is to ask as much questions as you can trying to find solution options available. Someone is there carrying your daughter around looking for the solution. Just the feeling that that burden has been taken off her shoulders is enough to make your wife give a big sigh of relief.
“George,” Kwame stepped in, “there are many things we can talk about, but after all said, depending on how they both see their‘relationship’, a big hug, a peck on the cheek and thank you would be enough to call it a day. But what if there is a measure of attraction? An intimate relationship will not be far-fetched; One of those moments when the evening was cold and we couldn’t help it;one of those moments when I was a little tipsy and so turned on that stuff just happened. One of those moments when I was so upset, frustrated and emotionally wrecked...I just gave in. This is more likely a result than a big hug and a good night pat at the back if you ask me."
You cannot let any of these happen.
"Have you guys talked about getting to stay together?" Justin asked quietly. "I think that is the ultimate solution. a place where the two of you can be together. Even if she moves from UK to the Arctic, some Eskimo might fill Sam's place. You guys need to quickly find a way of coming back to stay together."
"Hmmm. She is not interested in coming down until she gets a job here that pays as much as the one she would be leaving there. And until this evening I did not see myself leaving Ghana. But I don’t know now. I am so torn apart right now. The prospect of moving up in my business is now clearer than ever. Moving away from Ghana means a whole start from the scratch." George lamented.
"I understand." Justin comforted him, "But you guys need to be as objective as you can on this whole situation. You need to consider various pull and push factors that are in play now. The factors that are pulling you to England and pushing you away from Ghana and the factors that must push her away from England or pull her to Ghana. Most definitely, you cannot find those push and pull factors for her.
your number one push factor from Ghana to England is your marriage. But there are other inhibiting factors such as the urge to stay in your job and grow it, the comfort you find in your established life, the whole prospect of starting again out there and all that. The odds seem to be against you but if you love your family you must choose it over the rest.
"But in choosing your marriage over the rest, you need not lose sight of the fact that it can also cost you dearly." Kwame said bleakly. "The last thing you want to go through is to go to London and struggle to find a job. You would become a burden on your wife. And we do not think you would want to close all your life time investments in pursuant of that as well."
"I would advise you start looking for a job in England as aggressively as you can while she starts looking for a job here as well. You guys need not see this issue as one of those marital problems. Staying together need to be given a top priority; and top priorities are given the best of time and efforts." Justin advised.
Have a chat with her, if she does not see it from your perspective, talk to your pastor about it and let him talk to her big brother. It would be easier to convince your pastor, who can convince her brother to convince Pattie to listen to you.
But first let’s pray about it. God is faithful and he will do it. The Bible says that the rod of the wicked will not rest upon the lot of the righteous. God will watch over that which is yours and he will keep it for you no matter how exposed it is. Just as mountains are round about Jerusalem so is the Lord round about his people. [Ps 125]
Take heart. Don’t be rash. God has got it all in control. Spend the same length of time we have spent together talking in prayer when we hang up. Tell God all you have told us; who knows, He might give you better insights than we have; or he might only deepen what we have said in ways that we could never have done.
"cheer up man, you will be fine." Kwame added
"Thanks guys. Sorry to have disturbed you though."
"I really appreciate your support. Thanks a lot"
"You are always welcome Brother. I am even glad that you have given us this opportunity by allowing us into your closed life." Kwame said revealing a sense of fulfilment coming from the fact that he has also been able to help a friend deal with his issues.
George let out an uneasy laughter." It’s a pleasure. But please this conversation is very personal to me. I wish we can keep it private. I don’t want the rest of the guys who were not part of this conversation to know of it for now."
"Sure, if that is your wish." Justin said understandingly.
"Sound sleep guys." George quietly.
"thanks and don’t forget to pray." Kwame said.
Justin hanged up, put on a tee-shirt and started pacing up and down his room praying for George.
George Went on his knee and burst into tears immediately he opened his mouth to pray. He was too weighed down with the frightful prospect of losing his wife. He loved her so much. He fell asleep crying.
At 6am in the morning Pattie called. She wanted to relocate to Ghana with or without a job.
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