Akwei swallowed hard, and then with all the mental strength he could muster, returned his gaze to her face… she looked as if she was living a dream. She was smiling and reaching out to touch his face. He couldn’t say anything. He was willing his mind to not dwell on her half nakedness. But he was lying in a bed with her, and she was awake… and half naked!
Karla realised she was probably not dreaming.
“Akwei… what are you doing here… and how did you get here?” she knew she had morning breath – she could smell it herself. But she really couldn’t be bothered.
He still wasn’t saying anything. When he managed to form words, he asked her to put on some clothes. She was still obviously surprised. She went inside the bathroom to brush her teeth, and came back in a T-shirt and apparently, nothing else.
“I’m going to make a coffee, would you want one?” He nodded. He needed some time to get his mind back to the matter at hand. She was gone for about fifteen minutes, and returned with his coffee. As usual, she had her coffee black, strong and very sweet. He had his without sugar, but with a lot of cream.
She knew how to make him a good coffee. Always had.
She sat on the bed, holding her mug to her lips, and looking at him. He still couldn’t form the words he wanted to say.
“How have you been?” she shrugged. “Quite good. I drove to Kwahu over the past weekend. It was very lovely. I would have done that paragliding thing if it was the season…” He wanted to ask if she went alone. And if not, who had she gone with? He couldn’t bring himself to ask.
“That’s nice. He took a large gulp of his coffee.” Her lack of proper clothing was not helping his ‘tongue-twistedness’.
“K, I… wrote you… a letter.” He stuttered.
She almost choked on her coffee. She knew Akwei never wrote letters. Even when he’d been in high school, he’d according to his friends, been one of those guys that would never reply a letter.
“Okay… what’s it about?” she was quite wary; she placed her coffee mug on the floor, and she drew closer to him.
She seemed oblivious of the fact that all he could think about at that moment was the fact that underneath the T-shirt, she didn’t have anything on. She was eager to see the letter!
He finished his coffee, and put away the mug, determined to get his mind out of the gutter. He took out the letter. “I want to read it to you.” She was even more surprised.
Who was this, and where was her Akwei?
They were sitting facing each other now. He brought out the letter, and started to read.
My dear K,
This is the first note I’ve ever written. You’ve always known it’s not my thing. But it’s probably very long overdue. I may sound stupid. But I don’t know if I’ll have the courage to say all I need to say. So I decided to learn from you, and write this.
Remember the night I asked you out? You had a dazed look on your face – you hadn’t seen it coming, and you were flustered – pretty close to hysteric. You were not prepared.
I think that’s what I’ve been feeling lately. I didn’t see this coming. I have never ever imagined you in the arms of another man – I never wanted to. But for the past few weeks, I’ve battled with my mind on so many things. The worst of them is the feeling that you were with someone else.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I had a large role to play in all of it. I spoke to Mama – not about this situation of course, but generally about you and I. She told me that no woman wants to marry a man and then come second to his job – or to anything or anyone else. She’s been calling me a workaholic for some time now.
K, I want to explain to you, that I never meant for it to get this far. I didn’t think that I would be so engrossed with my work that I would neglect you. My motive right from the start, was to be enough for you. To be able to provide for you. Your aunt Kuukua talked to me about the kind of wedding I need to give you. And I know the kind of life your dad has provided for you. I need to be able to fit in his shoes. I want to be able to provide for the many sons you want to have one day. I’m not justifying any of this, I just want you to understand that I didn’t mean for it to get this bad. I love my job, no doubt about that. And I’ve managed to work my way up the ranks. But I should never have made it happen at our expense. I should never choose anything over you.
Over the past couple of days, I’ve had the chance to think. I don’t think that my reaction towards all that happened was appropriate. I should have been there for you when it all happened. And I’m sorry that I wasn’t. I should have thought about you first – I can’t imagine the kind of things you felt. I know you – you probably kept it all under wraps, and suffered it all alone. I’m so sorry that I wasn’t there to hold you when you needed me to.
He noticed a tear drop onto her shirt. He didn’t want to stop till he was done. But he didn’t want this to make her cry. For a minute he was torn. He looked at her, and she was looking down at her legs. He carried on.
I’ve thought about showing up at Kobby’s office, and giving him a sound beating (believe me, this has crossed my mind so often!), I’ve considered sending him a stern warning about you. I’ve considered so many things. But I figured that if I hadn’t created the opening, he wouldn’t have ever gotten into the picture.
No matter how much I of my fault this was, I still want you to know that I don’t want to ever have thoughts of you in the arms of another man. I know that there are a lot of them out there that deserve a woman like you. I know that you’re a big gift from God to me, and I don’t deserve all the sacrifices that you’ve made for me in the past. So if at any point in time, you begin to want more, just let me know. You deserve so much more! This time, I’m prepared to go wherever you need me to. I think it’s high time I started working just as hard at this relationship as I was at my job.
So today, I want to make some promises to you… they’re not going to be easy to keep, and I’m going to constantly need you to keep me in check. But I promise to work hard on this.
He reached out and held her right hand, and moved her next to him, so that they were sitting side by side now.
I promise to make time for you. Not just now when I’m relatively at the top of my job. Even when there are the struggles and big decisions to be made. Even when I have projects to work on, or deadlines to meet, you will come first.
I will listen to you. I won’t just hear you talk, I will hear you out, and listen to all you say. I realised yesterday that too often when we talk after work, I really only just hear you talk. I can barely remember any of the details of what you say. So I promise to listen to you.
I promise to start doing all of the mushy stuff that I never do. It will be weird, but I’ll get the hang of it. I’ll put my phone away and hold your hand. And I’ll cook for you for a change – I think I’ve gotten enough pointers from you to make a decent meal! I’ll take you somewhere you’ve always wanted to go to.
And finally, I promise to return to praying with and for you… It took all this for me to realise how long it’s been since I prayed sincerely. I took it for granted that everything was going so well. Thank you for jolting me back to reality.
I love you K, and I’m sorry for all of this. You also need to promise me though, that this will not happen again… nothing remotely close to this!
Remember that song you made us listen to for about ten thousand times on our trip to Aburi?
“…If in the dark we lose sight of love, hold my hand and have no fear, cos’ I will be here.
I will be here when you feel like being quiet, when you need to speak your mind, I will listen.
And I will be here when the laughter turns to crying, through the winning losing and trying, we’ll be together – cos I will be here.
I will be here so you can cry on my shoulder, when the mirror tells us we’re older, I will hold you.
And I will be here to watch you grow in beauty, and tell you all the things you mean to me.
I will be here.
I will be true to the promise I have made….”
She didn’t let him finish. She wrapped her hands around his neck, and buried her face in the crook of his neck. The movement was so sudden, that it startled him. He let go of the paper, and hugged her back. He wondered if it would be appropriate to ask her then about marriage.
Akwei remembered Prince’s words. He’d indeed hit the jackpot with Karla!