TAKYI (painfully, shattered)
Yes, sir. We’ve been married for fifteen years. We’ve remained very faithful to each other. Some months ago I ran into a lady called Adwoa. You see, when I was a young man I wanted to marry Adwoa, but her parents wouldn’t let me near her because she was a pastor’s daughter, and they considered me a boy of the world. They made her marry an elder of the church, and that was about the last time I heard from her.
I got a scholarship and travelled abroad for my training. When I returned to Ghana I settled in Accra and got married to Afia. I used to be in Takoradi, you know. Well, as I was saying, I went back to Takoradi some months ago to close a Project for my company. I stayed at a hotel, and I bumped into Adwoa, who turned out to be the Manager of the hotel.
We were pleased to meet each other. She told me the elder she got married to turned out to be a wife-beater and was involved with some shady drug deals that eventually landed him in prison. She was alone, and she had no children. In the end, she needed to move on with her life, and so she divorced her husband. It was all quite friendly, you know, old friends just meeting again.
She took me home to meet her mother. Her father passed away about five years ago. Her mother was filled with remorse for being so hard on me those years I wanted to be with Adwoa, and said she had bitterly regretted separating us.
Takyi breaks off, and he is trembling, his face filled with a lot of shame now. He cannot look at the rest of them. His eyes are fixed morosely on his shoes. The strange man nods sadly.
So, you took advantage of that, didn’t you? The vindicated man, the man they rejected but who has now become a big shot! You just had to teach them a lesson, right? Takyi turns and looks at the stranger with horror.
No, no! Lord, no! I’m not that kind of man at all! For many years I’ve lived as a good Christian! I still serve at the feet of the Lord, and I love my wife, sir! I was in my hotel room when Adwoa came in, two days after I spoke to her mother! She was drunk and was weeping and was all broken up, saying she wished she had been strong enough to stay with me.
Well, I tried to comfort her, and after a while she appeared to quieten down. She fell asleep on the sofa and I went to take a shower, meaning to drop her off at home afterwards. I was in the shower when she walked in, quite naked. I told her…
Indeed I was quite firm that it was a sin, that I couldn’t do that to my wife! But she just wouldn’t listen. She said she still loved me, that I belonged to her… and I fell from grace, sir! Yes, I cheated on my wife with Adwoa that night!
THE STRANGER (nodding)
And it continued after that? You still went on seeing her and making love to her until your wife found out? Or Adwoa called your wife and informed her she was back in your life?
TAKYI (stressed out)
No, no, no! What’s the matter with you, sir? I told you I’m not like that! She slept over, yes, but in the middle of the night I realized I had done a very bad thing! That wanted to continue being my lover. She told me she wouldn’t mind being a mistress, and that she could take care of herself. All she needed was a child from me.
I told her it was wrong! It was a mistake, and it would never happen again! I cut short my stay and came back to Accra. I was so distraught that I couldn’t go home, and so I checked into another hotel and fasted for a day as I sought God’s forgiveness, and then I went home and told Afia everything!
The elderly man looks startled. He leans forward suddenly and regards Takyi with surprised eyes.
Oh! I see! It wasn’t Adwoa who told your wife, and neither did your wife find out on her own? You confessed to Afia?
Yes, yes, sir! I can never live a lie with her because I love her so much! She was shattered, and her heart was broken! She just couldn’t trust me anymore! The man turns in his seat and looks at Afia with mild disbelief.
Your husband cheated on you, came and confessed, and you decided to divorce him? Afia’s face is shattered as she looks at the man. She is really going through pain.
I prayed, and I fasted, sir. Indeed I genuinely thought I could forgive him, but there was this pain in the core of my heart. I felt so shattered, so betrayed! I couldn’t take care of my daughter, and myself. It was a terrible period of asking myself why he could hurt me in such a manner, and I couldn’t breathe, and I found myself hating him! It was so hard, and I just couldn’t take that, sir.
Finally, it was only when I decided to leave him, to get a divorce, that I found a little peace. I don’t hate him. Truth is that I’ll always love him. But I can’t take the pain, sir, I can’t. I’m so shattered.
There is a pause as Afia Agyeibea weeps silently. Naa Shormei gathers Afia into her arms and whispers gently to her whilst glaring with venom at Takyi. And then, in that most painful moment, the stranger does a most terrible thing. He laughs! It is so shocking, so amazing, so unexpected that they stare at him with total consternation! This is not expected, and this is way out of the norm.
This is madness even, something abnormal. His rich, bass, laughter, full of genuine mirth, and it brings a look of anger to Takyi’s face, a look of pure pain to Afia’s face, and a look of murder to Naa’s face.
You’re laughing? You find this funny?
Afia jumps to her feet, about to leave, but the man, still cackling with laughter, raises a right hand and wags his forefinger at her.
Forgive me, forgive me, dear! This is very unpardonable on my part, and you have every right to detest my actions awesomely, to wish for death for me, really, but I simply cannot help myself. I was thinking about how unique human beings are, how incredibly different we all are, and how we all react differently to the same set of events! You must admit it is quite remarkable!
What are you talking about, please, sir?
The elderly man finally gets himself under control and wipes tears of mirth from his eyes with the towel around his neck.
THE STRANGER (smiling)
A thousand apologies, my dear. But please, do sit down, dear, sit down. You see, I happen to have a tale, a real-life, true, no-nonsense tale about a couple who had a similar experience, and how differently they all reacted!
TAKYI (still unappeased)
Similar experience? Similar? How do you mean similar?
THE STRANGER (a faraway look in his eyes)
Well, as similar as it gets, with just a little off-beats. The couple in that story didn’t have a child, for instance. But apart from that, they had very similar conditions. The Kuntus, yes. Yaw Kuntu and his wife Kwansema Kuntu. Like you, they had been married for fifteen years, childless, like I said.
Again, just like you, Yaw went on business trip and met an old flame he had been denied marriage to when he was younger, by her parents, because he was poor. Like you, he stayed in a hotel. And, like you, he had an adulterous relationship with this lady, also called Adwoa! And guess what, it also happened at Takoradi!
Afia Agyeibea sinks down slowly on the seat and looks at the stranger with total incomprehension. There is a strange look on her face. A look of wonder, a look of lost disbelief as if she thinks the stranger is lying. But looking at him, they all know in their hearts that he is not joking, or making fun of them. They know, somehow, that he is really telling them the truth.
Surely, that can’t be true!