THE WOMAN IN ME

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Kojo Akoto Boateng

My friends call me the crazy one because of the way I live my life.

I am dependently independent. Dependent on God, my two lovely kids and the few people I trust. Independent because if God doesn’t provide, then no one else does because I won’t go to anyone else. God is my provider.

My kids provide the spark that ignites me and I’m the engine of this lively yet stressful place we call home and the uncertain condition we call life.

After our marriage failed it’s been one hell of a life. A hell filled with God’s benevolence.

My kids live like royalty while I put my shoulder to the wheel everyday. Kojo is the ‘Prince of Dubai;’ cheerful, hardworking and supportive (even at his age). Akosua is my own ‘Taylor Swift’, a baby whose cry gets my nipples erect and whose laugh gets the neighborhood popping.

My kids, my joy, my warmth.

My marriage failed about two years ago. I was 7 months pregnant then. I had had enough and Kwame too wouldn’t budge. We could have saved the marriage if we had acted a bit more mature. I was always attacking him for his escapades with other women yet I related to other men and sweet talked them more than I did him.

If I had given him just 50% of what I gave other men and if he had given just a little bit more of what he gave them, if we had shared our fears and redirected our emotions, I’m sure he will be watching all of Manchester United games this coming season in the comfort of the sofa on which we first made love.

That sofa still sits in my living room. Whenever I’m down and lonely, I rest my 24, 38, 36 on it. I hold on tight to the pillow like it was him. And I cry myself till I get dehydrated.

On this fateful day I woke up around 4am. That’s the usual time I wake up. I always sleep with my kids. Kojo is 4 and Akosua is 15 months old. I usually hold their arms and do my quiet time before I set out to prepare for the day.

However, things were different this particular morning. Kojo was burning hot when I reached for his hand. He was looking pale and lifeless on the bed. I had never experienced anything like this.

“Oh God, oh God, what is happening to my son,” I sobbed as I tried to pick him up.

I called Eunice but she didn’t answer. My doctor friend, the only person who would tell me what to do wasn’t answering my call.

I must confessed I used more swear words than 50 Cent, Lil Wayne and Kwaw Kese have used all their lives as I rushed my prince to the hospital.

I had forsaken God just when I needed him most and using cursing my way through to the hospital.

I managed to get to the Trinity Hospital in no time and got the medical staff to attend to Kojo. There was no doctor on duty at the time so they had to administer first aid. The doctor as I told would report to work at 6am.

I stayed with my dear son. He looked as though the spirits of my ancestors were wining and dining with him in Asamando.

I wept.

Then I prayed.

It was around  5:30 and the next thirty minutes felt like some thirty years as we waited for a doctor to report to work and attend to my son.

I was asked to excuse him while he attended to my son so I went to the lobby.

About 5 minutes later, Dr. Eddy showed up and assured me that my son will be alright but he had to be admitted for further treatment.

My face brightened up and my heart sunk simultaneously. The brightness was borne out of the warmth Eddy exuded while giving me the assurance and my heart sunk because I could feel the pain my son was going through. I couldn’t also come to terms with how I was going to combine work at that particular hectic season in my career, a sick son and the usual monthly menstrual cramps.

My phone alarm sounded and it was 6:20am.

“Oh shit!” I shouted embarrassingly in front of Dr Eddy

“I left my baby girl at home, she must be awake, scared and crying by now,” I told him as I raced for my car.

“Please take good care of my son, I’ll be back soon. Please please please,” I hurled those words at the gentleman as I sped off.

I got home minutes later and saw some neighbors at my door, with worry written all over them.

As I pulled up the drive way, I was gripped by fear. Goose bumps covered by skin.

I immediately felt like peeing.

“What could be wrong?”

“Father, why is this happening to me. What have I done to deserve such a bad start to the day?” I prayed.

Aunt Monica ran up to me and the first words she spoke shot straight into my heart like a snipers bullet.

“Sonia, it’s your daughter o. This is very sad but you have to deal with it,” she said with a worried look that made me go pale.

I rushed to the front door and lo and behold it was AKosua

“Oh God, oh God, oh God.”

I locked her up when I rushed Kojo to the hospital. She had been crying helplessly for the past hour. She actually woke the whole neighborhood up in her moment of grief. My neighbors had decided to break into the house because they didn’t know why she was crying. Aunt Monica told me they tried reaching me on phone but I wasn’t answering. I could see the fear in my neighbors faces.

Their moods suggested they feared the worst.

Was Akosua crying because something terrible had happened to the family? Could it be that she woke up with two lifeless bodies in bed with her? What had happened to make her cry continuously for over an hour?

My neighbors didn’t break into the house because they were waiting for the police and an ambulance service before they do that. As much as I felt that was a good move I felt that was dumb too!

Assuming something terrible had or was happening, was waiting for the police the quickest way to get me aid? I fumed at the thought of their feet dragging attitude as I made my way to the bedroom.

I picked her up, she wrapped her arms around my neck, her tears travelled down my skin and she trembled with excited relief upon seeing me.

My tears soaked her hair as I whispered “I’m here baby. I’m so sorry. Don’t cry. All is well love. This won’t happen again. Mummy is sorry luv…”

I lied flat on my back on the bed and put her on top of me for a while. Her head was on my chest and she held so tight to me as if to suggest that she’ll never let me go again.

The clock ticked and it was 7am.

Wow! I rushed out of bed. I called the office that I was going to arrive late. I had a make or break deal to complete. My company was merging with another one and I was supposed to close the deal this fateful day.

I readied Akosua for school and I called the hospital to check on Kojo. I was told he was sleeping.

Minutes later, Eunice called to ask why I called her that early. I explained everything and she promised to take care of the children for me while I sorted the office related stuff.

I sat Akosua down for breakfast but she wouldn’t eat. She felt the absence of Kojo because his bowl was empty. In my home, we always have breakfast and dinner together.

It is one of the sacred moments we get together as a family. That is one of the moments I get to really talk to my kids and even play with them afterwards.

Akosua seem to have lost appetite because her dear brother wasn’t around. See swallowed about 5 spoonfuls of the porridge and wouldn’t eat any more. I packed her lunch and got ready for the rest of the day.

Dr Eddy was all smiles when I went to his office.  “Your son is ok now. He’s awake and has been calling for you,” he said.

I apologized for how I had to rush away earlier. A gentleman as he was, he let it all slide and gave me a list of prescribed medication to get for my son.

Eunice came around and accosted herself with the situation. I introduced her to Eddy and handed over Kojo’s clothes everything she may need to her and set off for work.

Even though I knew she would take good care of my children I was still a bit unsettled because I knew how troubling those two can be and considering the events before, all I could manage was hope. Hope that everything goes smooth for her and the kids.

I got to the office around 8:30am feeling exhausted already. The CFO, that man is a pain in the ass always, met me at the main lobby and the look on his face before he responded that to my “good morning sir” greeting was one that smacked of anger.

“You were supposed to be here 30 minutes ago….”

He was just about delivering one of those long confidence slaying rants when I cut through midway.

“Sir, my son is very sick and has been admitted at the hospital. I’ve been through hell this morning. You know I haven’t been this late before,” I explained.

He didn’t take my explanation and created the impression I had made up a story to cover my ass. I pressed further with my story and he reluctantly understood. But before I could enter my office to organize myself for the days big business, he walked up to me and asked.

“But Sonia, you could have asked someone to take care of your kids earlier so that you could come to the office to give us the final brief before today’s meeting with the team from MB. You should know today is not like any other day that we’ll afford to leave anything to chance.”

My heart raced, I could feel some sharp pain in my abdomen because of my menses and before he could utter another word, the lioness in me bit him with a sharp response.

“Mr. Osei, you mean taking care of my son was leaving things to chance? Are you crazy? Adɛn, adwuma no na yɛ bɛ di anaa? What kind of heartlessness is this? Get out of my office before I lose my temper sir.”

I couldn’t believe myself when he left. I had never been this enraged at work. I was the cool punching bag. Every top manager could throw anything my way and I would absorb it and fix the situation later.

I was employed as a Business Development Officer but before long I found myself doing a bit of everything. The CEO would come to me with the most challenging issues that had short deadlines. Sales, marketing, communications and at time technical issues came straight to me. Most of my colleagues were happy to have me around but not that man, Mr. Osei.

My office phone rang and it was the CEO.

“Sonia what just happened between you and Mr. Osei. You know we don’t condone such attitudes here. If it wasn’t because the merger largely depended on you we would have…”

I cut him short too.

“Sir, my son nearly died today and I was late for 30 minutes. Mr. Osei handled the situation like my son’s life was worthless. I did what I did in the heat of the moment. I’m sorry but he deserved it,” I retorted.

I was honest and he took it easy, the mark of a good leader.

We had a quick pre-merger meeting to go over our presentation. I was leading my company to seal a milestone deal.

From the looks on their faces, the team was satisfied. Mr. Osei still had an uninviting face though.

I felt some sharp pain as I made for the washroom. The pain was excruciating. At that point I wished I was a man so that I’d be spared this monthly agony.

I whimpered like a bitch gang raped by horses and wolves, the pain was just unbearable.

I made a quick call to Eunice to check on the kids and she told me they were all well. I asked to speak to Kojo but I was told he was sleeping.

We went into the meeting and everything seemed to be going well. After a presentation that drew applause from both sides of the table, it was time for the question and answer period. One of the managers from MB asked me what my team had planned for the first few months after the merger.

I was just about to move to a slide which had the content I needed to further explain our plans when Eunice’s call came through. If you are wondering why I had my phone at such a meeting the answer is simple, I was using my new Samsung smart phone, the one that can be used as a projector, for my presentation. I forgot to put it on flight mode but it was on silent.

I rejected Eunice’s call and attempted to answer the question. Midway through the answer, a text message came through and I accidentally clicked on it. The content of the message was immediately displayed on the screen.

“Sonia, it’s Kojo. He’s awake but is going crazy here. He’s been screaming his lungs out for you. I think it is high fever. Get here as soon as you can.”

I rushed out of the boardroom immediately. I could see they were all bewildered. While the look on my CEO’s face read “what is going on here”, that of Mr. Osei read “I said it!”

Fred run after me and caught up with me when I was just about speeding off. He insisted I return to finish what I started. I told him to go back and get seal the deal by any possible means. I had finished the presentation; I had briefed them all, what more could I do to make more money soon when my son was going bonkers in a hospital?

I raced on the streets like Lewis Hamilton and got to the hospital in a flash. I’m sure I jumped some red lights as a result. I could hear my son’s voice from the parking lot. His apparent craze made me crazy too. I dashed into the hall way and was in his ward in no time.

He leaped from his bed. I caught him midway. He wrapped his arms around my neck, the same way Akosua did in the morning. I kissed him repeatedly. His body temperature immediately dropped.

“Mummy, where have you been? Mummy I missed you. Where is Akosua,” he asked.

He wrestled himself from our embraced and raced for the door. I thought my son was indeed going crazy and yes, he was! He had seen Eunice walking in with his sister and couldn’t wait to get that sisterly embrace. I went over to them and embraced them both.

My eyes were pregnant with tears.

Dr. Eddy’s voice dismantled our threesome of an embrace.

We went to his office to formalize my son’s discharge. He told me to ensure he eats more fruits and vegetables to aid his recovery. But before I left he asked whether he could visit me one of these days for a heart to heart chat. Before I left his office he said I was ‘a beautiful person’.

“Did he just hit on me?” I asked myself.

“Does he know I’m not interested and would never be interested even though he’s a fine young man?”

Anyway, I had to get back to the office to see what had happened. I wanted the children to go home with Eunice but they wouldn’t. Eunice suggested I take them to the office while she goes home to prepare some food for us.

The first person I saw when I got to the company premises was Mr. Osei. He wouldn’t talk to me when I asked how things went after my abrupt exit. Fear gripped me.

“Did my action cost people their livelihoods? What have I done?  What is going to happen to me?”

Those questions played through my head as I made for the main lobby. I carried Kojo and Akosua to the main lobby and I saw the others descending the stairs. There was this air of uncertainty around. I left Akosua on the couch but Kojo still hanged on to me, he wouldn’t let go.

My boss signaled for me and I started praying as I approached. As I walked past Mr. Sarpong, the CEO of MB, I felt some assuring warmth in Kojo breath on my neck.

“Sonia, you know this is where we say goodbye right?” my boss asked.

“Your actions today have cost us millions in strategic investments. We all love to have you around but we can overlook what happened today. You made your choice when you ran out. I’m so sorry but this is it. Kindly clear your office asap. The HR department will officially see you through the rest,” he added.

From the bedroom to the boardroom, my day had been one hell of a heartbreaking painful yet eye-opening family consolidating encounter.

I picked my daughter up and headed straight to the car. I wept as I drove home. The kids were in the back of the car so they couldn’t see my tears. When I got to the last junction before my house I couldn’t stop to say hi to Kwaku maame, the beautiful woman from whom I buy fresh fruits and vegetables every day.

She called after me and ran after my car but I drove on. Then Kojo asked why I didn’t stop to get him fruits. I had no option than to return to Kwaku maame for some fruits. She immediately knew all was not well when she saw me for she was an older woman and had been well trained by life itself.

After she gave me more than enough fruits than my money could actually buy she told me something that I’ve always known but was forgetting to take solace in at that particular time.

“Sister Sonia, whatever your problems are, know that your kids should be the joy that shatters your gloom.”

I turned to see my angels and Akosua was dozing off and Kojo had a spark in his eyes I had not seen before. I thanked Kwaku maame and headed straight for the house.

The rest of the day moved slowly till Eunice informed me dinner was ready. At the table Kojo asked me if he could pray and I allowed him to.

“God, thank you for all of us. Let this food know that we are ready to eat it all happily. Amen.”

That prayer got all of us laughing. Suddenly a heavy burden seems to have been lifted from us all. Eunice helped Akosua as I fed Kojo the sumptuous meal she had prepared. Midway into dinner, the home phone rang and I moved to answer it. It was Kwame, my ex-husband, and he was on his way to see us.

When he came he told me how uneasy he’s felt all day. He recounted how he woke up around 4am feeling strange. He had called me all day and I hadn’t answered even one of those. I checked my phone and he had called about 15 times.

I narrated all that had happened and he comforted me. He held my hand and said all is well and that God is in control. His honest touch dilated my veins and arteries.

“I’m so sorry Sonia. I wished I had gone through this instead of you. You are a good woman, God will make it all right for you,” he cheered me up.

Kojo was ecstatic when he saw his dad. He ran into his arms and Akosua followed. I could see Eunice wiping a tear off her cheeks. She went into the guest room to give us some family time. Kojo ate like a hungry Somalian pirate.

After dinner, Eunice left. She had already done more than a friend could. I always thank God for such friends.

The four of us sat in the sofa, the same sofa that has been my man all these months, and watch TV. The kids fell asleep on their father’s lap and I looked on admiringly. That was the perfect picture. Deep within me I wanted Kwame to stay but I asked him to leave, it was almost 10pm.

We put the kids comfortably on the sofa and I was seeing Kwame off when Kojo faintly asked, “mummy, where are you going with daddy?”

“My love, daddy has to go home,” I replied.

“But this is home, our home. Daddy don’t gooooo,” he raced for his dad’s hand.

I looked at him and looked at his dad. He looked liked a smaller replica of his dad, handsome and charming.

I couldn’t deny him this simple request after what he’s been through today. I couldn’t deny the fact that I missed him myself.

“Kwame, can you stay?” I asked. He nodded, picked our son up and headed straight to the bathroom. Father and son washed down and mother and daughter followed.

The kids were asleep in no time and we watched the late news in the living room. We were at the extreme ends of the sofa when the news began but by the time the first commercial break ended we were in our ‘honeymoon’ position. My head was on top of him and he was running his long fingers through my hair. My lips were wet with anticipation.

My endocrine system was busily releasing hormones. “I was going to get the thing,” I thought.

I held back the feeling and reached for my phone. I had to call Eunice to thank her and ensure she had gotten home safely. I saw a text message from Eddy, the doctor who had taken care of my son earlier.

“Hi beautiful! Can we talk now?” I read.

I called him ready to tell him I wasn’t interested but I never had the chance to. He wanted me to help him win over Eunice. He told me how he hasn’t been able to concentrate after seeing Eunice. He begged me to link him up.

I asked him why he didn’t take her contact himself but he said he couldn’t gather enough courage to. I assured him I’d do my best and I was even just about to call her before I called him.

I called Eunice

“You know that boy is cute. I was nervous throughout when I was at the hospital. I couldn’t look him straight in the eye. His presence weakened me,” she revealed.

I quickly set up a conference call. Eunice didn’t know I was going to call Eddy and when I did, he also didn’t know Eunice was on the line.

“Hello Sonia, were you able to tell her?” he asked.

“Sonia, who is that on the line with us?” Eunice asked.

Before I could tell them I had both of them on the line, they had taken over the conversation and chatting in unfamiliar biological terms. The rest of their story ended happily at the altar.

Kwame was holding two glasses of wine when I returned to him. He handed me one and told me how life has been a mess for him without me. He apologized for everything and asked that for the sake of our children we give our marriage another chance. He went down on his knees, tears streaming down his cheeks, wine still in hand.

I looked away, my face suddenly wet by tears. I wanted to do this but I wasn’t sure.

“Sonny,” he called. He was the only person who called me Sonny, He had a special way of making me feel special.

He moved up to me and embraced me from behind. My heart skipped a beat and I felt as light as a feather.

My office Blackberry rang.

Who could be calling me at quarter to eleven? It was the CEO and he asked me to hold on for a message.

“Sonia, you have displayed unmatched qualities for the 4 years you’ve been with Stimulus Ghana. Your track record is unmatched by any in the company. Even though things hadn’t been as we expected today, your presentation was on point.

Your passion for your families security, your attention to detail and your ability to meet target within strict deadlines has endeared you to us. This is Mr. Sarpong of MB and I hereby appoint you Chief Operations Manger of Stimulus Ghana. We have bought the company and we want you to oversee the re-branding of the company. It’s yours to run if you accept this offer.”

“Oh my God! Yes! Yes!! Yes!!! I accept!” I shouted.

“Good, it’s quite late. Let’s discuss the rest at lunch tomorrow. Good night Sonia. Congratulations!” he said.

I ran straight into Kwame’s arms. The events of the day seem to have been God’s way of turning my life around. I had been promoted, my best friend met her husband, I had my husband back and my kids were comfortable asleep with their dad under the same roof.

I kissed Kwame. He kissed back. I gulped down my glass of wine. Before long I was being overwhelmed on the sofa.

….and my husband was in me.

I woke up at 4am the following morning in the same bed with my husband and my children.

A beautiful day, a great start to the rest of my life had begun.

If you see me smiling every day, this is why. I always know that at the end of every painful experience is joy.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. Eva isn’t interesting I guess dats y pple r not sharin g plus some of us haven’t been able to read all cos we can’t read previous episode