I’d returned from abroad not too long ago when my junior brother invited me to be the chairman of their youth program at church. It was my first time being invited to do such a thing and I felt very unsettled about it but he assured me, “Don’t worry bro, it’s nothing serious. It’s a youth program and everyone coming is our age mate. Nothing to feel uneasy about it.” I grudgingly accepted to go.
Before the program started, a young lady walked up to me and asked, “Are you the one going to chair the program?” At first, I didn’t answer. I was only looking at her. She asked again and I responded, “Yeah I’m the one and you are what?” She responded, “My name is Odarley, the secretary of this youth group.” We shook hands and she showed me where to sit. Throughout the program, I was looking at her. She was one gorgeous woman. The way she spoke and the way she carried herself about was nothing short of amazing.
We locked gaze twice during the program. She caught me looking at her and she looked back at me for several seconds. I didn’t want to drop my gaze and she didn’t want to drop her gaze too. After several seconds later, she realized I was winning so she smiled and lowered her gaze. I smiled back and continued looking at her.
I’ve spent my life listening to stories of love at first sight but I didn’t attach any meaning to it until I saw Odarley that night. I was in love and I wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass me by. I made it a point to get to know her after the program.
Typical of all the youth programs I’ve attended, it was full of energy, entertainment, and lots of fun. At some point, I even forgot it was a church program. Odarley offered the last prayer to close the program. Immediately after we all chorused amen to her prayer, I walked up to her and held her by the hand; “Odarley, I think we need to talk.” I pulled her by the hand and took her outside. There was no point in trying to garnish my words or hide the intentions of my heart. I was straightforward; “I think I like you. Can you give us a chance to know each other?”
“Frimpong introduced you as his senior brother, is it true?” I responded, “Yeah it’s true. He’s directly behind me. One father, one mother but I haven’t spent much time with him because I left Ghana very early when he was fifteen years or so.” She looked at me and kept nodding her head as I was speaking. She said, “There’s nothing wrong with getting to know each other but you can’t like me now. It’s too soon.”
For the next two months I spent in Ghana, I spent most of the time talking to Odarley or taking her to places to help us bond and know each other very well but there was this thing about her. She always felt uncomfortable when I spoke about my brother. “Come home and meet my parents,” She will respond, “Will your brother be there?” I would tell her, “You can come home tomorrow so we go out together,” and her response would be, “If your brother would be home, then kindly let’s meet outside.”
At first, I thought it was because they were in the same group when I found her or because she was a church girl, she was shy about my brother finding out that the two of us were seeing each other but it went deeper than I thought. The first time my brother came to the hall and met her with me, she immediately shrunk and started acting jittery. My brother’s behavior around her also didn’t make things easier for me to comprehend. When Odarley left, I approach my brother, “Sorry I didn’t tell you from the start. I’ve been seeing Odarley since that day at the program. She looks like a good girl, what do you think?”
I was inviting him to have an opinion about my relationship with Odarley. Again, I was expecting him to be upfront with me concerning Odarley. He said, “Oh yeah she’s a good girl but I’m surprised about how far you’ve come with her in this short time.” I told him, “I don’t have much time to spend in Ghana. I want to see if everything will go well between us before I leave.” He asked, “Are you thinking of marrying her?” That question didn’t bother me than the expression with which he used to ask the question. It was as though he would be concerned if that was the idea. I told him, “Not yet. Now, I’m only trying to see how far the two of us can go.”
That evening when Odarley called she asked me, “What did your brother say about me?” She asked that with some level of anxiety in her voice like she was expecting my brother to say something bad about her. I told her everything the two of us discussed and she gave a huge sigh of relief. I asked her, “Odarley, be honest with me. Do you have a fight with my brother? She screamed, “Nooo, we are cool. Very cool but I’m not sure how he’s going to handle the fact that the two of us are seeing each other. I don’t want him to feel I’m getting between you two.”
The relationship between them never thawed no matter how hard I tried. They were playing cat and mouse around me. Nothing was clear. Each time I asked, they both said they were ok and nothing was really the issue.
I was proud of what I’d built with Odarley. We didn’t have forever together but the little time that we spent together, we were able to agree on so many things. She wasn’t in a hurry to commit to anything. Most importantly, she understood life from my perspective and was ready to roll with me. The day I was leaving Ghana, she was the only one who went to the airport with me. We shared intimates moments together. We made promises. She cried when it was time for me to go. I went with a heavy heart knowing it would take some time before I see her again.
While away, we always kept in touch. According to our plans, we were going to get married on my next return and we were doing everything to make it possible.
At some point, my brother decided to open up on the reason why there was some coldness between him and my girlfriend. He said, “I know that girl and I know she is pretending around you. She’s not as good as she is making you believe.” I asked him, “What makes you think that way? You know her better so tell me what you know.” He said, “In the youth group that we are in, she had dated three different guys and the relationships didn’t work out because of her behavior. The last relationship she was in, she cheated and it ended. She can do it to you. She’s doing all that because she believes you’ll marry her and take her away. She’s pretending.”
All my life, I hadn’t been someone who judges people based on hearsay. I go close to those I want to have dealings with and know them on my own terms so I can be the one to pass my own judgment. Yes, the time I spent with Odarley was very short. Two months is never enough to know someone but there was no sign that showed she was a bad person. When it comes to relationships, we’ve all have had bad ones before. We left some girls and some girls also left us. But somewhere along the line, those we left because they were bad for us are able to find their perfect match. It’s life as we know it.
I thought my brother was being overly protective of me so I didn’t give ears to a lot of things he said about Odarley but Odarley’s attitude at the mention of my brother’s name always left me thinking there was something more to the ice between them. I asked and asked but all she said was, “Your brother doesn’t like me that much and I’m scared he’ll destroy what we have.”
I was supposed to return a year later but I wasn’t able to. The following year, I came back to Ghana, with all preparations done to get married. Her church requested us to do one month of intensive counseling before we could have our wedding. We started it as soon as I stepped foot in Ghana. I was still observing my brother and my fiancée. Nothing had changed. They didn’t see eye to eye. If anything, their relationship was worse than the last time when I was around.
Three weeks to our traditional wedding, my brother came to me; “I can’t continue to keep this in my head. It’s better I tell you before it gets too late. I dated Odarley for close to a year. I had my way with her on several occasions when we were dating. It didn’t work out in the end. Our breakup was only a month old when you came into the picture. She was even begging me to take her back and I didn’t.”
I asked him, “Why are you telling me now? I asked you so many times but you didn’t say anything so why now?” He responded, “I didn’t know it will come to this. I thought you two were just dating…” I told him, “Thank you for letting me know. it’s timely and I appreciate your honesty.”
The next moment after he had left, I went to Odarley’s house. She saw the look on my face and she shrunk.
“Are you ok?”
“No, I’m not. My brother told me what you two did. Tell me it’s not true.”
She smiled wryly; “Oh he told you? Yeah, we dated at some point but it didn’t last because he insisted on making the whole relationship secret because of the church group we were in. I couldn’t stand it so I walked away. He spent some weeks trying to get me back but I didn’t. Even after you came and went back, he kept pressuring me to get back together with him and I didn’t. I’m sorry you have to learn about it this way.”
“Did you have sex with him?”
“We never did. He told you we did?”
I was confused. Who was telling the truth?
I spoke to my brother again and he denied everything Odarley said. He insisted they had sex. He denied he wanted her back after I’d met her. He kept telling me other things he didn’t say before. I met the two of them together to get the truth out of their story. Odarley insisted they never had sex. My brother screamed on top of his voice and called her a liar and went ahead to tell us the many instances under which they had sex. At some point it got overwhelming. Odarley broke down and cried. She said, “I won’t force you to believe me though I’m telling you the truth. Call me when you make up your mind.” Then she walked out.
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For a whole week, I couldn’t get my mind around the whole thing but I had to make a decision; “Ok, he slept with her and so what? Whatever they had was over before I met her. Would it be the greatest sin ever committed if I go ahead and marry her?”
Weeks later, I got married to Odarley.
I didn’t know if what I was doing was right but I was convinced that Odarley was the one for me. Whether or not she had intimacy with my brother didn’t matter to me so much. What mattered to me was whether or not I could trust the woman I was making my wife and everything in me said “Yes! you can trust her” so I went ahead with it. My brother was supposed to be my best man but I dropped him. He didn’t even have the courage to attend the wedding. He told my parents he had a runny stomach on the day of the wedding.
All that didn’t matter.
What mattered was what I found under the veil when the paster asked me to lift it. She was still my Odarley and was as beautiful as the day we both locked gaze at the program.
I came back to the UK and a year later, she traveled here to be with me. She knows I’m sharing this story. When she read it, she said, “Write that you found out later that your brother indeed never slept with me.” I told her, “I don’t know for a fact whether or not he slept with you but I know for a fact that I can trust you beyond measure because you are the one I married.”
—Odarley’s Husband, UK.