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When we were in school, we formed a study group to help each other develop a grasp of the various subjects we were studying. At first, we were five in the group. Yayra joined later, making it six. When she joined the group, she confided in me, “Last semester was hard. I failed three subjects. I don’t want a repeat of that so I’ll need your help.” After class each day, we met and discussed what she didn’t understand. When the main group met too, she joined. She said, “My problem is big so I need a bigger solution.”
She wrote her failed papers and did very well. She did well too in the end-of-semester exams. She thanked me profusely for playing a part in her success. From there we became inseparable. I went to the library with her. I helped her with assignments. Sometimes, I did the whole assignment for her. At some point, the feelings between us changed. It became a vacuum when we were on vacation. I was missing her presence each day. I couldn’t wait for school to reopen so I could see her. Just around that time, she also increased the rate at which she was calling and texting me.
I remember one night we were talking when I said, “I really miss you.” She said, “I miss you too but we have three more weeks ahead of us before we can meet.” I said, “Why don’t we meet before that?” She said, “If you’re ready to see me then I’m ready to see you too.” Days later, we met. A week after that meeting, we met again. That was when I proposed to her. I couldn’t keep it to myself so I told her everything. “I think I love you and want you to be my girlfriend.” She said, “I’m ready to be your girlfriend but I hope it doesn’t change the reason why we are together.”
We went back to school and nothing changed. Well, something changed but it had nothing to do with academics. We spent more time together. I went to her hostel more often. One day, when no one was in her room, I got closer to her and pushed her to the corner side of the wall. We kissed. She asked me to stop it yet she was the one kissing harder. It lasted for so long until her roommate turned the knob on the door. We left each other and threw ourselves on the bed as if we were not doing anything.
We played our roles as lovers, we hid often and kissed but we didn’t let anything stop us from learning. When there was an assignment she couldn’t do, I will be there to do it for her whiles she stayed behind and cooked something for the two of us. We completed school one day and we both left campus. After school, she came to my house one day to visit. I did the introduction to my parents; “Mom. Dad. This is Yayra. I completed school with her and she’s my friend.” Dad said, “Yayra, welcome to our abode.” Mom said, “Yayra, you’re pretty. Welcome to our house.”
When I visited her house one day, she did the same thing. She went for the hook right at the introductory stage. She said, “Mom, see my husband. You think I don’t have a man in my life. Here he is.” Her mom laughed. She asked, “If he’s your husband, where is your ring?” She said, “Oh that one, very soon I will wear one.” Her father wasn’t there when she did that introduction but the next time I met her father, she introduced me as a friend.
A few months later, we started our national service. We were determined to make it work so the distance between us didn’t scare us. Where she was doing her national service wasn’t far from home so she didn’t have to change location. I was the one who got posted to a different town. She was visiting every now and then until at some point she stopped coming. I asked her the reasons and she said it was due to her work. But I knew that girl very well. I knew her too much to know that it wasn’t about work. One day she opened up to me, “It’s my dad. He has warned me against visiting you. He says you’re not my husband and it’s not right for me to travel to visit you.” I didn’t complain. I said, “Then I will come and see you myself.”
I went to visit her thrice or so. Each time I went there, I met her father and I greeted him. He responded happily and gave me a cheerful welcome. One day, Yayra called again; “My dad. He says he doesn’t like the rate at which you’ve been coming to visit me in the house. He says I should tell you not to come here until you’re ready to marry me.” I thought she was joking or she was seeing someone else. One day, I went to her house unannounced and met her father. He said, “I thought my daughter gave you my message? Why are you here?”
I was shocked about how raw the father was but I kept my calm. I told him, “I came to say hi. I will leave just soon.” He said, “If it’s hi you came to say then there’s no need to be here. Call her phone and say hi to her.” I saw Yayra coming. He warned, “Yu better walk back to your room before I get angry.” Yayra turned around and went back.” On the phone, we discussed meeting in town instead or she’ll come and visit me and make a return journey. She didn’t come often but I understood her.
After national service, I went to her house one day, thinking her father might have changed his stands concerning our relationship. When he saw me, he said, “You again?” I greeted and he signaled me to sit down. He said, “Let me tell you something. You’re a young man just about to begin life. You don’t have to begin life with a burden. Yayra is your classmate. No matter how much you love her, you can’t marry her. You need a job. You need to sort your finances. You need a place you can live. You need stability in your life before you can marry her. All these needs can’t be met in a day. It will take you at least ten years to attain that. Ask yourself, ten years from now where would Yayra be? You two are too close to make it together. Yayra can see a man tomorrow and marry him but you can’t. Think about that and start walking out of this thing that you call a relationship.”
That night I couldn’t sleep. Yayra told me not to mind him. She said, “He’s just being archaic, don’t mind him.” I was comforted but the fact that her father was against me was eating into my heart. I told myself, “I’ll prove him wrong. All I need is a job.”
I was doing everything to get a job but the worse day of my life happened when Yara got a job. I should have been happy for her but I saw the end of our relationship dangling right before my eyes. She didn’t give up on me. She sneaked into my place whenever she could. She supported me with some money whenever she had to. She was doing her best as a girlfriend but her father was the issue.
One evening, she called and said, “Ato, we need to talk.” I asked, “Would you come over or we should meet in town?” She said, “I’m coming over.” I waited patiently for her. When she came she said, “I’ve been talking to a man quite recently. We started from Facebook and we later exchanged contacts. We’ve been talking but nothing serious. Yesterday, I got home from work and I saw this same gentleman sitting at the hall with my dad.” My heart skipped a beat. I was wondering how he got to know where I lived.” I cut in; What does he want?” She said, “Before he looked for me on Facebook he had already discussed marriage with my father. He’s someone my dad knows. The whole thing sounds confusing but the bottom line is that he wants to marry me and my dad has already agreed.” I asked her, “So you’ve agreed to marry him?” She screamed, “Over my dead body.”
Two years later, Yayra isn’t dead but she’s married to that same man she said she would marry over her dead body. At some point, I saw the signs but she kept telling me nothing was happening until one day she told me, “I can’t disobey my father. The guy is traveling back to the US and wants us to marry so we can go together.” I cried and asked her to consider how far we’ve come. I told her, “I will be rich someday ooo. All I need is a job and you know I’m looking for it.” She said, “You’ll be rich I know and you’ll find someone better, that too I know,”
She’s doing very well in life now but I’m still here still trying to sort out my finances. I’m still chasing that stability and the last time my rent expired, it took God’s intervention to be able to renew. Her father is right. It might even take more than ten years unless I run into a miracle.