Maa I could go on and on, and I know I would not be justified in what I did; yet, I had real needs; needs that I had to meet in one way or the other, needs that somehow, gratefully, was being met at no cost at all to me. Sometimes all I needed was someone to talk to; someone to laugh with, someone to go to places with.” Pat forced down an emotional blow which caught the couple right in the throat.
“So did you tell your husband when he came; what you had done?” The Rev. Canon asked lamely.
“No! I dared not”
“Did he meet Sam?”
He did. And it was on a cold and suspicious note. He was surprised Sam showed up in the house because I had stopped talking about him and I was certain he assumed I had gotten over him. He was very much upset about how Sam and Carol got along. Yet it took about a week for his daughter to warm herself fully into him. That was not exactly amusing to him.
When George Left, I suddenly felt vulnerable; Sam realised the kind of man I was married to and knew he had to do more to take me away from him. I didn’t know what I was thinking when I kept quiet and watched him knowing very well what he was up to.
“Did you know his family?”
“Yes Daa; and after George returned to Ghana, his family’s involvement became intense; I was virtually part of every family gathering of theirs. On my birthday I got a car for a gift; his mum gave it to me though I suspected it was from him. It was obvious he used his mother as a cover up so George won’t tell me to return it.”
“And so where is the car?”
“I sold it off when coming to Ghana”
“And did you per chance have any other intimate relationship after the incidence in the car?” The priest asked not knowing what to expect, but expecting a yes for an answer.
“Yes… a couple of times. But we had sex once.” Pattie responded defensively yet not displaying any sign of embarrassment.
“I want us to be spared the agony of knowing the details,” the priest said tastelessly displaying his disapproval for Pattie’s behaviour.
Mother Genny could feel the anger in her husband. Comments like that were not typical of him. This was the last thing anyone was expecting; Maadwoa and now Pattie. God why now? Why?
“I am glad, however, that you recognize whatever you did with him was wrong. Don’t you find it amazing that you could keep your husband and related with him as if everything was ok?” he added not expecting an answer. “That is the effect of sin on your conscience; it can make you juggle men and feel it is ok”
“Daddy, please.” Mother Genny intervened when further unpalatable words started flying in. “How often did your husband meet him when he was in England?”
“Not so many times. We were once invited for dinner at their house. George didn’t want to honour it but I insisted. After that dinner, Sam’s sisters suddenly grew fond of him and were always coming to our house. I tried to restrict Sam from coming along with them. I don’t know whether it was the right thing I did because George started reading meanings into his sudden absence as well…well Carol also kept asking about him.”
After that dinner the family started giving me space. I didn’t know why, but now I know I should have taken advantage of it and concentrated on my visiting husband. But I did not; I rather blew it up by getting worried I had done something to displease them. That meant I overly tried to please them. That put more strain on my relationship with George. After George left they drew me back into their fold with a renewed intensity.
“You said George started reading meanings into Sam not coming to the house again? Wasn’t it what he wanted?” Mother Genny asked curiously.
“Yes. But Maa, you see when Sam comes around, he seems to behave in a very normal and very familiar way; the way people you talk to and see every day behave. They know their way around the house and where to get what or put what. And George is more than a smart man; he is like a detective. If I wasn’t talking about Sam for a while, then the impression was that I had gotten over him and I was not in touch with him that often. So how come he was that familiar with me? How come my daughter is so comfortable with him? How come I mistakenly call George ‘Sam’?”
“Yes Maa. And that got me into a lot of trouble”
“Yea. So when he stopped coming around it was just obvious, that was not the norm; it was because he, George, was around. So question started popping around: Why didn’t I stay away when I was told to? If I did, which I did not, how come the guy is so familiar with things around the house? How come his family seems so comfortable and familiar with me? So what are you not telling me?
And I couldn’t then tell him all the needs I had because a very simple question might have been asked. ‘Why didn’t you have those discussions with me?’ Maa, I messed up a lot of things and if my husband is leaving me, I guess he is justified.”
“What happened at this dinner you two attended in Sam’s house?”
“Nothing Daa; except probably they realised George and I made a beautiful couple that they did not want to separate...or so I thought at the early stages when George left”
“So what happened that you two ended up sleeping together?” Neither Pattie nor Mother Genny saw that question coming; but it came and the force hit both so hard Pattie turned pink and then pale and then started crying. Mother Genny held her close, rubbing her shoulders. Her own eyes turned watery but she dared not look at her husband nor prompt him for his bluntness in asking what had to be asked eventually.
Pattie felt so naked, so useless and definitely so cheap. Since that act, she had tried all she could to erase the memory from her mind. So the question was, ‘why did you do it in the first place if you will end up with a world of regrets?’ Why draw what you might want to delete? She had seen the fire; open, raging and very dangerous and had still toyed with it.
She knew she had done a good job erasing the graphic images from her mind. There has never been a time she had ever recalled the act as it happened in graphic details. The images she is now having of it are broken, distorted and jumbled up. She had been tipsy, desperate and out of herself when it all happened. The reality remains, however; another man other than your husband slept with you and that is a fact. You could have been chloroformed, but it still happened! It is not called modernity or woman empowerment, you have been used! An empowered woman keeps her values and stands for what she builds. Stand for your marriage Pattie, stand for it! Her mind always scolded her
And that harsh reality had never left her mind; neither had she allowed her memory to deal with it. It was the only part of the entire incident she was refusing to let go. It was the guilt of betrayal she couldn’t handle. It was no rape; it was something she ran into with both arms wide opened. She was responsible no matter how she minimized it. Pattie you are bloody responsible, you weak bastard. Sometimes that was how hard her conscience scolded her.
She swallowed hard dabbed her eyes dry, took a direct gaze at her adopted father and started telling her story, choosing her words gently.
“Sam came to my house one evening just before a rain storm. They had announced it on radio that it was going to be a bad weather and he was working late. By the time he was ready to leave, he realized there was no way he could make it home before the storm came. So he called me and I told him he could come over.
“To sleep over?” Mother Genny asked.
“Well it was not being contemplated when I told him to come over. But by implication that was what it meant since the rain was going to take a little longer before it subsided for him to drive home.”
“How far was his house from yours?” Rev Ofori probed for his own calculation
“About 65 miles away.” She replied briskly. He only nodded in response. “When he came Carol had gone to bed. So we had a couple of drinks and we talked about almost every subject until George called. He sensed I was excited and I told him it was something on TV. I was emotionally ignited that I decided against all reason to get him off the line.”
“Your husband called, and you got him off the line because of another man?” Mother Genny stated as if she wanted to confirm if that was exactly what she had heard.
“Maa, my intention was not to sleep with him. It was not. I don’t know what came over me except, I just wanted to have an evening chatting with Sam rather than George. And we ended up sleeping together. ”She said regretfully
“When did he leave?” The grieve-stricken Priest asked distantly.
“Early morning of the following day” the words were probably the longest sentence Pattie had ever made. And when she finished saying it, she felt so enervated and empty she simply slumped into the sofa, away from the Grips of Mother Genevieve.
“Jesus. You shared your matrimonial bed with him for a whole night? Wow. Whatever God does it is for a purpose. I know for a fact you would have kept if from your husband but for the card. That explains why you are now here to tell us this after six months in this country.” The priest said feeling very disappointed in his daughter.
You must know one thing; I am not standing in my stead just as priest to you, I am standing here first as your father and as a Priest and as an elderly man. And you might find some of my pronouncements quite damning and very straight forward. But I will not handle this any softer considering the fact that your husband had to find this out for himself and in a very difficult way. I am a man and I know what he must be going through by now.
But I am glad this has come out so we can all help you face and deal with the gravity of the sin that confronts us. As you said, it is better to tell him and leave judgment to him; as to whether he will take you in or will put you out. At least you would know you did what was right and God will never hold it against you.
“But Daddy, if I may ask this;” Mrs. Ofori interrupted, “Pat why did you bring the card to Ghana? Were you holding on to this guy? Was it out of your bond to him or affection for him?”
“So why did you keep that card.” Rev Ofori pressed the query
“I dropped the card among the things I was going to dump in the trash, I do not know how Carol saw it, but she took it and put it right back in the diary, and I had no clue until we got to Ghana. When I saw it and I asked her she said she put it there. I left it in the dairy with the intention of destroying it in time and I forgot about it. Jesus I am a big mess. I am simply done”
“No don’t say that My daughter,” Her mother consoled her. “You are not dead. And things will just work out fine ok”
“Where is George now?” Her father asked
“I don’t know Daa”
“What do you mean by you don’t know?” The Elderly man asked a bit confused, not privy to the information that George had abandoned his family.
‘He has not been home since Friday” His wife informed him.
“What? And you have absolutely no idea where he is?”
Have you informed the police?”
“No Daa. His friends seem to know where he is and they say he is safe; but he has warned them not to disclose his whereabouts. Daa it is killing me.” Pattie burst into tears again. “What have I brought upon myself?”
There was silence except the sound of her wailing.
“And Genevieve; for how long have you known this?” He asked his wife with anger lurking at the edge of his tone.
“Daddy, she just told me. It was all part of the reasons why I personally called you in, please.” Mother Genevieve went on the defensive at the same time trying to make it easy for her husband to calm down.
“Give me his number and let me call him.” He ordered Pattie.
“He will not pick. He has switched to a different number only few of us know so he will not pick a strange number that is not saved on the chip.”
Then I must speak with a friend of his. Those who said they know where he is; otherwise we must report this to the police. This is serious. And I am a serious man. I don’t tolerate this childish, escapist buffoonery. What manner of man is this? Run away and then what happens? Problem solved? Nonsense!” The priest sounded indignant. “So where is your daughter?”
“She is with Abi.”
There was silence, while everyone tried to internalize and rearranged everything they have heard. Pattie was sobbing quietly, each sound piercing through the heart of her father, so badly, if he could, he would have walked out of the room to find a place to weep. His own daughter has brought him similar agony a few years ago and just when the pain was fading another daughter comes in with another case of a woman who cannot place value on herself and command the respect of men.
He needed to find a place to cry.
The Rev. Canon exhaled slowly trying to gather his thoughts as best as he could, “listening to you talk Pat, one thought comes to my mind; and as a priest I can assure you there is nothing that can happen to you that has never happened to someone whose story is captured in the bible. The preacher says in the book of Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under this sun. So there are people who faced the same situation and came out either with victory or with defeat.
I know you are here for anything but judgment, so we will leave judgment to God. But I want to draw your attention to something I observed while you were talking; you seemed to have a reason or reasons for everything that came together to walk you into the mess you find yourself in. If you should talk like this to George, I can promise you, you will only serve to get him very angry. You do not justify your actions in front of someone you are seeking forgiveness from. Who wants forgiveness for actions they deem justified?
I won’t however pretend I did not observe you also assessing yourself in your own estimation and passing judgment on yourself. At least that is evidence your conscience still convicts you. It is very important that as human beings we occasionally make serious assessment of our own lives and pass judgment on ourselves so that no one will surprise us with their own judgment.
When you are certain to a considerable extent how you stand in the eyes of the sea of witnesses encompassed round about you, very little things will end up worrying you. But if you walk around without any self-assessment and any personal opinion of yourself, then anybody’s opinion, true or not, informed or not can blow you to where they want you to be.
And I hope your self-condemnation is not induced be the fact that you were found out and your marriage is on the brink. It is important that you do not confuse it. If you are truly sorry; whether you got caught or not, you will not repeat this shameful act again. But if you are sorry because you got caught, then chances are that, when the storm calms down, you are likely to repeat it but in a smarter manner. So while you are here crying and feeling all broken, you must ask yourself ‘why am I crying?’ That distinction cannot be made by any of us for you but by you.
Another thing I will add is this; you young folks of today take life very lightly and you give little attention to the things of life that must be taken seriously. When we tell you, you call us old school. But life has principles that if adhered to, bring a lot of peace and sound mind to us and then the people around us.
Certain codes of conduct are expected of married women and their general behaviour and in their relationships with others. There are certain expectations for single people and for every other person, man or woman, adult or child. But we now live in times where we do not respect the vital principles for safe living. But the truth is, consequences are consequences whether you foresee it coming or not, and the effects are always the same.
All the excuses in the world and all the reasons you can give for whatever you are doing or have done can never give you the inner peace that comes with a moral conviction of doing what is right. Even those without conscience do break down at times in the face of terrible actions they have taken.
But as I said, No one is here to pass judgment, and though I know I am already sounding judgmental, trust me that is not the effect I want our meeting here to have on you.
“But before I go on, let me ask; is this Sam individual still there in England?”
Is he still single or he is now married?” Mother Genevieve asked a follow up question.
“He is still single”
“Are you two still in touch?” Rev Canon asked.
He used to call me almost every day until I realised my relationship with George was deteriorating by the day. That was when I stopped picking most of his calls”
“So you are not talking with him?”
“We talk but not as often”
“Have you spoken with him since George left home on Friday?”
“Yes Daa.” She responded almost inaudibly.
“Daa,” Pattie realised that the silence said a lot than it could have been said in words. She decided to defend herself. “Please, It is not as if I am holding on to him. I am not.”
Rev Ofori decided to let it go because that would have meant making certain references to what she said earlier.
“But my dear,” Mrs. Ofori stepped in to counter Pattie’s defense, “as long as you are in touch with him, you are still holding on to your past and you are acting in contradiction to the very thing you are crying about. Why are you here? You want to get your husband back isn’t it? Yes. Your husband has disappeared and you strongly suspect it is because of your affair with this man. The last thing you want to do is to be in any form of contact whatsoever with this same man who has brought you to where you stand now. It is inexcusable. And you are only aggravating an already bad situation. Do you have any meaningful reason for calling him?”
If there was anything Pattie could undo, she would have undone her confession that she was still in touch with Sam. But that could not be done. She felt so pathetic in her own eyes.
It was not as if it did not cross her mind that Sam was a wrong person to call when she decided to talk to someone; it did cross her mind and it took her over 4 hours before she made up her mind to call him. Looking back, if she knew she would end up confessing to her foster parents, she would have come to them immediately George disappeared.
Calling Sam had not been a simple decision; she had gone for two weeks without picking his calls; that was enough a torment for him. She was on the brink of breaking every form of emotional attachment she had with him. Then she woke up one day and her husband had gone AWOL. Who could she talk to without having to add that someone else visited the King’s chamber?
Everything was in disarray in her head. If chaos had a form, then it must be living in her head.
“Genevieve, kindly offer her a Bible and let us look at a scripture that is on my mind.” Rev canon said in a voice that showed a lot of restraint. Turn with me to 2nd Samuel Chapter 11. Pat, if you are there, read it for us.
“Second Samuel Chapter eleven” she started reading with a pleasant English accent
And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.
And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.
And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?
And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.
And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.
Watch Out for Part 4
TO LEAVE OR TO STAY… THE DILEMMA OF A CHEATED HUSBAND
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