Rev. Canon Douglas Ofori entered quietly with a confused frown on his face. His wife was a strong woman who wouldn’t summon him to come and kill cockroaches, so getting summoned meant whatever it was, was very much a big deal.
He opened up his hands enquiringly upon seeing the position Pattie was seated. “What is going on here? He wondered
“Please sit down.” his wife said quietly. Pattie did not look up nor stop the heaves and chokes; the residue of her wailings.
“Pattie daddy is here.” Mrs Ofori whispered into Pattie’s ears. Pattie slowly suppressed the unshed tears, took the tissue paper that was issued her, wiped her eyes and blew her nose, pulling herself up into the sofa. She did not look at the Reverend Canon.
“Hmm. Daddy our Daughter came to have a discussion with us on a problem she was faced with.” Mrs. Ofori started to update her husband. “But because you were busy I did not want to bother you until she broke down. But since you are her father and the head of the family, I felt we needed you to take the helm of affairs. This is one of our own and if she runs to us, we must be that kind of refuge to her that will not leave her disappointed. So that was why I pulled you here. Forgive us if we interrupted any other thing that was pressing to you.”
“Sure.” The reverend said quietly still nursing a frown of his face and still wondering what the issues were. He kept moving his gaze from his over-fasted wife to the young girl who suddenly looked fiftyish.
“We were just about started so I would tell you exactly what I have heard so you can take it up from there. In this day and age and all that we have been through, I know there is no news that can send any of us to our graves; But I plead with you to be gentle with us.” She said tactically as a pre-emptive measure in case he got more than shocked by the gravity of the matter. A man who nearly gave up his pastoral calling when his daughter so shamefully dragged his image in the mud cannot take this any easier.
That caution rather jolted him and he wanted to be spared all the icing. He was spared it.
“Ok, so our daughter has compromised her wedding vow and ...Please Daddy”... His wife calmed him down when a weary look appeared on his face. “Well her fidelity towards her husband has been compromised so to speak.”
“Lord Jesus.” Rev Ofori said; his heart sinking so deep the path could be bottomless. “Compromised as in?” He asked keeping a fixed gaze on the girl who seems not to want to have any eye contact with him.
“Daddy you know what I mean. Please. It happened while she was in London. And I wish I could say it in another way to make is easier, but I guess there is no other way.”
“Let us pray.” The Reverend Canon said and summoned the last bit of his strength and prayed a brief prayer less concise and precise as his wife’s.
“Alright, so what is happening between you and George?” He asked Pattie after a brief digestion of the issue in front of him. “You mean it happened in London?”
Pattie Nodded in affirmation
“So why is it now coming up.”
“She suspect George has found out.” Mrs. Ofori answered
“Tell him” she prompted Pattie.
Pattie swallowed hard, wiped her eyes with the back of her left hand. She did not look at the 69 year old Priest.
Last Friday he woke up very cold towards me. George has not been the man I married since I returned from London. It could be real or I could be me reading too much into things out of my own distorted perception. But I knew something in him was dead towards me by his actions.” Pattie spoke with a warped broken voice.
“When he woke up, he did not greet nor say anything to me. He did not make a comment about my clothes or how I looked. He just got dressed up and left.”
“What happened the previous night?” The Priest asked. “Anything that could have made him put up that behaviour”
“Nothing. When I got home, after Thursday service, he was asleep with Carol asleep in his bosom. I was surprised he had slept that early.”
“You did not wake him up?”
“No, I took the girl to her bed and kissed him goodnight. He responded half awake. But I felt something was wrong in the room. I could not put my finger on it so I went to sleep. I couldn’t eat; whatever the feeling was, I suddenly lost my appetite. I tossed throughout the night with the ever pressing need to have a very honest conversation with him persistently coming up on my mind.”
“A conversation on his attitude or on what happened in London?” the Rev. Canon inquired
“Yes on that one” Pattie answered.
“On the confession” Mrs Ofori suggested.
“Yes. I knew I had to tell him and get ready for the consequence. The worse that could happen was to be divorced. Such a shame; but I could live my life a bit lighter.”
“Sure” The Rev. Canon said.
“So while he was bathing on Friday morning,” Pattie continued her narration. “I had a jolt – My diary. Where did I keep it? I dashed for my drawer where I remember I dropped it when I came to Ghana; the diary was not there. So I started panicking from within, but I had to keep my calm on the outside. I went to the kitchen to prepare breakfast but when I came out, Carol told me he had left.”
“He did not say anything to you?” Mother Genny asked quietly
“No. Which was very unusual of him.”
“Who drops the girl off at school?” She asked further
“So who was he expecting to take her to school by leaving without telling you anything?” the elderly Priest asked mildly upset.
“Daa, I had no idea. So I quickly put her pack together and got a taxi and went to drop her at school”
“You did not call him?” Mother Genny pried further
“I tried but his phone was off”
“I couldn’t believe it and I couldn’t be upset either because I felt somehow we were all congregating at the same spot. The diary. I was sure I kept it in that drawer and I was certain he might have found it last evening and gone through it. Gosh I am dead.” Pattie suddenly sounded hysterical.
“What have you written in the diary?” Finally Rev. Canon Ofori asked the inevitable question Pattie had been hoping will not come out.
She looked up for the first time at her Foster father. “Nothing. It’s not what is written inside; It is a card in it.”
“A card? A normal card, like a birthday card?” the priest pried.
“Yes, only it was not a birthday card.” She said with an embarrassed look “It was an ‘I love you’ card.
“From a friend? A male friend”
“Yes Daa, from male friend. But the person in question is the problem.”
“Oh so your husband knows him?” The Priest asked getting uncomfortable.
“Yes, they met and George was not particularly comfortable with him around me.”
“I see. So you feel he is upset because the card was from him?”
“Daa, he added a note to it. It was a card he gave me the day after the incident happened so he was a bit emotional and a bit vivid with what he wrote in it.”
“And do you think your husband can see through this and make a conclusive judgment on it?” Mrs. Ofori inquired.
“Yes. Maa, I think so; it was very clear. ”Pattie added suddenly wondering if the note was that clear.
“What happened to you in London? How did you get yourself entangled in all of this?” Reverend Canon Ofori asked the second inevitable question.
“Hmm.” Pattie started.
When George and I got married we were both worshiping at a charismatic church in Manchester. When he moved to Ghana, I had to move to London because things were not moving on well for me in Manchester and adjusting to the life of a single mother was not easy in my own unique way. I was also finding it difficult getting a job; you know I was not working when George was there with me.
When I moved to London, I went back to the Anglican church, because there was one just around the corner. George, however, insisted I should rather be in a Charismatic church. So after a short while I left the parish I was attending and started fellowshipping with a small charismatic church which was also close by.
I was mindful of the distance between where I stayed and whichever place of worship I settled on because commuting around where I was, was sometimes stressful.
When I joined the new church I had to find a ministry to join so I joined the choir. Really the person who welcomed me the very first day at church was in the choir so he wrote my name even before I had the opportunity to decide which ministry to join.”
“A ‘he’?” The priest asked sarcastically.
“Yes he was a guy.”
“A white man? “Mother Genny probed further
“No Ghanaian; born and raised in England though. It was an African church with very few whites who were either married to Ghanaians or live in neighbourhoods with a lot of Africans.
Naturally, after church this young man had a lengthy and rather exciting conversation with me. The truth is; it made me miss George the more. I had not had that stimulating conversation in a long time. It was not about church, it was not about anything; we were just talking and talking and talking. And I felt like I had known him for ages”
“On your very first day at the church.” Mrs Ofori said almost in a statement.
“Were you having problems with George at that time?” The Rev. Canon inquired further.
“No, we were perfectly fine; except that he was working so hard here in Ghana trying to establish the company that all our conversations were reduced to the company and its progress and the welfare of the child. We had lost our ‘us’ time. Not that it was a problem to me nor did I realise that something was amiss.
I guess I gradually got used to the routine and the starved relationship; but as I said it was so subtle it was almost not a problem to me because I couldn’t even see it that way. Sometimes my own challenges and my moods prevented us from having any meaningful conversation. So I guess we fell into a depression without both of us noticing it.
Then this young man showed up and just the first meeting, he made a lasting impression on me to the point where I couldn’t wait to attend midweek service and after that, Thursday choir rehearsals.
“Did you tell George about this young man?” Mrs. Ofori asked just to satisfy her curiosity and the nagging feeling that Pattie was confessing because she got caught.
That reminded her of the ‘Kaa wo ho’ incidence that happened in the church a year ago, when the leader of the Guild of Good Shepherd was caught having sex in the Vestry with the church organist after a guild meeting.
She had said the organist pounced on her when she went into the vestry to return a hymnal she had used during service. She said she did not want to scream to draw attention and embarrass themselves that was why she kept quiet and ‘shamefully endured him raping her’.
The question the bishop asked during the disciplinary hearing was simple, ‘when you were caught, you were completely naked, and in the video which we just showed you after you had told us your side of the story, you were telling the organist to hurry up so you can get home before your husband; are we supposed to see this as the evolution of Rape?”
She had laughed at herself and how stupid her excuse had been. She shamefully left the hearing, went home to pack her things from her husband’s house and left for The US the next day.
“I did.” Pattie responded in a quieter tone, raising more suspicion in Mrs. Ofori’s mind.
“And his reaction” She asked further
“As expected, he found it strange that I go to a church and on the very first day the only person to take so much interest in me, and the only person I could take interest in was a guy. He asked me a lot of questions about him which I had no answers to.
When I told him about the first choir rehearsal which was on a Thursday evening and the fact that this guy brought me home, he got unnecessarily upset and we had a heated argument; something I couldn’t see the point. I had a little girl with me, I had no car and I had to wait for about 30 minutes or so for a bus in a very dangerous neighbourhood. What was the crime in getting a young man to give me a lift home?
I did not ask for it; a fellow church member and a choir member offered to do it for free. I didn’t get the point, but I just allowed him to blow up till he was satisfied and we ended the call on a very bitter note.
“Did he tell you anything specifically that got him upset about the young man?” Rev. Canon asked wearily.
“He said, later on, that I spoke about the guy with so much childish excitement. It was a feeling He had not felt in me for a long while, so it was strange I could get so excited about another guy and to that extent. I did not see then where that was coming from, but now looking back, I realized that maybe…just maybe… I got overly excited about this guy at the very beginning of our friendship.”
“What is his name?”
“When you discovered that you had unearthed elsewhere something that was long buried in your marriage, did you look for an opportune time to prompt your husband, or maybe have a conversation on it with him?”
“I prompted him, but it was not at an opportune time. I was on the phone with him and I think I was unconsciously talking about this other young man so much that he prompted me. I remember his exact words, ‘Pattie are we going to spend 30 minutes of my precious credit to talk about your escapades with some stranger?’ I found that very insulting and I blow up. And my husband got so mad he hanged up on me. George? I couldn’t believe he hanged up on me!
I knew I was not supposed to blow up on him. Whether it was an escapade or not, I had spent 30 minutes of his call minutes talking about a church member without asking him whether he was standing in the rain or calling from a police station. I just said hello and I started talking about Sam.
What happened was, Sam had come to visit and he was leaving when George called, so I told him about it and then I continued talking about him over and over again. I apologized later and his express caution to me was to stay clear from him. I did not listen but I tried to keep Sam out of our conversation. And for a while we were ok.
“Any special reasons why you chose to disobey your husband?” The Priest asked visibly not happy with his daughter.
“Daa, Sam had sort of become my new life support. Try and understand it from my perspective; nothing personal or sinister.” Pattie responded defensively. No one said anything, so she went on.
“After a month of meeting Sam things changed for me in ways that tied me to him each and every evolving day. In a way it made my husband feel far affording me an opportunity to break away from my total dependence on him. I felt independent of George.”
“You preferred to be independent of your husband and dependent on another man; is that what you are saying?” Rev. Canon Ofori asked suppressing his boiling anger. He found Pattie’s whole independent-dependent talk totally ridiculous. It was a lame excuse to be used in defending actions she had no defense for.
“Daa please, I did not see it that way then. All I was considering was the fact that I was free to make choices without recourse to George. Again it was not that it was a bother to me to depend on him; except that I was carried away by the joy of knowing that a day could pass by and if there was anything to call him for, it was to talk about the day and not to ask for help from someone in Ghana on what to do in England.
“But after the event that followed, I knew that was the mistake I did – my independence of him, drove me into the arms of another man.” Pattie said retrospectively. “At that time I felt that was ok for him since I wouldn’t have to bother him with certain basic things. Maa you know our challenge; eight boys and four girls, we can’t help it but be dependent on men.
The elderly couple sat sadly looking at someone they thought was deeper and smarter. They felt disappointed to be hearing such hollow argument from Pattie. They both unconsciously decided to keep their thoughts to themselves; they wanted to hear more.
How often was George visiting? Mother Genny inquired.
“Twice in a year, three weeks each visit”
“And how often did you guys talk on the phone?”
“As often as we could; sometimes thrice in a day, but mostly twice in a day. We sent texts and e-mails in between.”
“So that was enough to find him close even though he was far.”
“That was very close, but there were things I couldn’t get him to do on the telephone. And I do not mean sex because sex was never a bother to me.” A frown crept on the faces of her foster parents.
“I was a single mother taking care of a four year old girl; she had educational needs that I had to meet.” Pattie started talking with a renewed strength. “No matter how tired I was, I had to be there for Carol; I couldn’t shirk it. Money to hire a nanny was not a problem because George was sending it. But he was also trying to set himself up in Ghana and I couldn’t afford to appear as a depending lazy wife. Not that he ever complained; but again I didn’t have to wait for him to complain. There were a lot of School activities I wished I could go; some I did go but always at the cost of something.
Carol had her health needs; at her age, she was not far from all these kid sicknesses. Someone had to be there to help me share that burden. Not that it had to be at all cost, but when you wake up one day and there is someone there willing to help you, you really find yourself in a weak position and saying ‘no’ doesn’t come easily.
You wake up one day and there is someone to take your four year old daughter to the park and sightseeing all day, at no time or money cost to you; someone who is just a phone call away when it comes to school activities. I couldn’t always burden George with petty headaches of a four year old girl. Someone passes by everyday on his way to his house after work and sometimes he even discovers things about the girl before my busy schedule could allow me to.
The Priest decided to rethink as the reality of what the young girl in front of him was saying started hitting him. Mrs. Ofori, just sat there nodding and looking pensive as if her emotions were on auto-pilot.
A growing child needs a male authority or a father figure. At four years in a foreign land with all their cultural differences, I couldn’t afford to let her just go through their system without any form or authority. These things don’t get done on the phone.
“So you mean you allow this Sam person to take up the responsibility of grooming your child sort of.”
“Daa, it was not as if I deliberately put George aside and picked up Sam, these things evolve naturally.” Pattie hit back getting all emotional.
"Pat, I understand what distance means in a marriage." The elderly man stated flatly.
And you know it is not easy Daa! There were times Carol would not do anything I told her to until Sam showed up. And it was not because I was not doing something right; I was so close to her that she started taking me for granted. She wouldn't sit for anything until she saw Sam.
“Sometimes all I needed was a good rest but she wouldn't allow me to. I had no support from anyone.” Pattie’s voice broke off but she was bent on speaking her mind. She paused a while, swallowed and continued. “This young man was all too available. I mostly didn’t go out of my way to call him for anything. He was just there and available. What was I to do?
You know how these white people can sometimes treat non-residents. I did not have my papers intact because of those problems that came up which you know of. And because of that I was not entitled to many benefits so it was natural that I couldn’t do certain things. Sam was there; he is a citizen.
I always discussed issues with George, but it wasn’t like another man sitting in front of me having a face to face discussion with me; someone who had a direct relation with the subject at hand and could give me an informed opinion on it.
“I see.” The Reverend Canon said pensively. “This young man had a lot of time on his hands then; what kind of job was he into?”
“He had his own company. A subsidiary of his family company.”
I see.” The priest said.
“And he was not married I presume?” His wife probed further
“How old was he then.”
“Roughly your age”
“Did he ever show interest in you... you know... wanting to have something to do with you?” The Priest asked tactfully, trying to choose his words appropriately.
“He did, but that was long after we met; after we had become very close.”
“And what was your response?”
“I was not amused at all, but I couldn’t express it the way I wanted to; the way that could have gotten him off my back.”
Carol had taken ill with cold and was on admission, George was visiting us in two weeks time and I had to put things in order around the house. I was having problems at work because of Carol’s illness.
One day we had gone to the hospital together, me and Sam, and while on our way back, I broke down and while consoling me he told me how he cared about me. I was so confused; confused about him, honestly for all his goodness to me. I was confused about my genuine love for my husband, my daughter was sick, my work was going bad; all I needed there and then was someone to talk to, hold me, someone I could cry on, he sensed it and he held me and we kissed.
I was very much upset about that, but that was when I realised I had fallen for him; unconsciously. When I met him the following day I knew I had taking a terrible path but I was on it and I was not so much in the mood to get back.
“You mean you enjoyed what happened?” Her foster mother asked with a disapproving frown on her face.
I did not enjoy it Maa, but I did not hate myself for doing it. Of all the people I could hate, I hated George the most for that mess I found myself in. That was how I felt afterwards”
“What did he do?” The Reverend asked knowing very well the answer.
“What did he do?”Pattie asked back the same question rhetorically “I asked myself that question. He did nothing except I needed someone I could blame for my own weakness. She added just in time before the tears rushed out again.
Watch out for Part three!
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