When I Count My Blessings, I Count My Ex-Girlfriend Twice…No, Thrice

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She came to the banking hall every Monday to make a deposit. I noticed her in a queue one day looking frustrated. She was beautiful. Though she had a frown on, that couldn’t hide her beautiful face. I kept hoping she’ll come to my side but when it got to her turn, she walked to my other colleague because I was serving another customer. When she was about to leave, I called her to the counter. I asked, “How are you doing?” She said, “I’m doing awesome.” I said, “You come here very often and I can see the queue frustrates you. Take my number. Whenever you want to come, call me. You wouldn’t have to join a queue next time.” 

The following Monday she was there. She called before coming. She said her name was Barbara. Barbs for short. When she entered the banking hall, I signaled her to come. She left the money plus the account details with me and went away. Later I credited the account on her behalf. One day, I sent her a message, “Are you coming today?” She responded, “Nooo, I come around only on Mondays.” I said, “I know. I miss your presence and I was hoping you could come around.” She said, “Awww I’m sorry. Pray for Monday to come quickly so I see you.” 

Because I didn’t have time during the day, I chatted with her only in the evening time. One day I proposed. She said she wasn’t ready for a relationship because the last guy she gave her heart destroyed her heart. I told her, “Don’t worry I can wait. I have time. A woman like you deserves all the wait and patience.” She said, “I don’t want you to waste your time on me. I might not love again.” 

We kept our conversation going until one day she agreed to be my girlfriend. It was a Sunday, I remember. I was in Church when her message came. She said, “Thanks for the patience and understanding. I think I’m ready.” I was so happy I couldn’t sit still in the church. When the church closed, I went straight to her house to pick her. I brought her home. We cooked. We ate. We got tipsy. I kissed. She kissed back. We were in love. 

For close to two years were together. I knew I was going to get married to her and even started making plans towards that when one day she broke the news to me. Before the news, I got some signs but I trusted her so much that I couldn’t think she could do that to me. There was this politician who was chasing her. When the chase started, she told me about it. She said she wasn’t interested and nothing could make her date a married man. I believed her until she started acting funny. She gave me a distance. She wouldn’t come to visit saying she was busy at the store. When she missed my calls she didn’t call back. When I sent her a message, she read and seldomly responded. 

She said, “I have to be honest with you. I can’t keep going out with you. As you can see, I’ve been distant for some time now and it’s not the best. How long can we play this hide and seek? It’s better we let each other go.” I asked why she was leaving. She said, “I want to be alone and assess my life very well and see what the future has for me.” I knew she was lying. I knew she was leaving because of that politician. I said, “That man can’t take you anywhere. He’s even married. You think he’ll leave his wife and marry you? Don’t follow the money and leave a better future behind. Barbs, don’t do something you’ll regret for the rest of your life.” She answered, “It’s not about him. I told you I don’t like him. It’s about my life. I want some solitude.” 

She left me. I spent over one month trying to get her to see reasons. I gave her my future plans and how she fits into my plan. I said all a man can say. She didn’t mind me. I told her, “One day you’ll run back to me, I know. But it would be too late because someone would have taken your place.” She said, “I wish you and that someone well.” 

When she left I followed her, hoping one day she would change her mind. One month, two months, three months later, I was the one miserable while she kept posting beautiful photos of herself at beautiful places. One day I commented on one of her photos, “Madam, you’re chilling oooo. Remember me small.” She jumped over my comment and responded to all others, leaving mine lonely and wretched. I deleted the comment and moved on with my life.

Over a year later, the banking sector crisis hit. It hit our bank so had that I was laid off. Just around that time, I lost my life’s savings through bad investment. The investment company I invested in collapsed. I couldn’t even retrieve a penny of my investment. For months, I was home counting the days until our severance package would be paid. I used the time available to me to start looking for a new job. I sent CVs wherever I felt there could be an opening but nothing came through for me. When my rent was due, I called home asking my parents to give me a loan to pay rent. My dad said, “Come home. There are a lot of rooms here you can occupy. Why stay where you can’t afford.”

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The thought of going back to my village scared the hell out of me but it was the only option since I had no money to renew my rent. One afternoon, I was loitering around the mall when I saw someone who looked like Barbs. I got closer enough to be sure it was her. Yeah, she was the one. Immediately she saw me, she threw her hands around me and hugged me the way people do when they meet someone they had missed. I walked with her as she moved from one shop to another buying everything she could lay her hands on. She asked, “So how is life? Married? Kids?” I said, “I’ve had no life since I lost my job.” She stood still for a while. “You lost your job?” I said, “Not only that. I’ve lost everything I’ve ever labored for.”

After shopping, I thought we were going to wait for Uber. She led me to a Hyundai Santa Fe, opened the door, and asked me to put the things inside. I couldn’t believe my eyes. “Wow, she even owns an SUV?” She said, “Call me. Let’s meet one of these days and see what we could do.”

That same evening I called her line, she didn’t pick. The next morning I called again, she didn’t pick. Afternoon, I called, she didn’t pick. “She doesn’t want to talk to me again?” Later in the evening, she called. She asked, “How much is your rent, let’s fix that first.” I said, “Ghc550 a month.” She asked, “For twelve or twenty-four months?” I answered, “He’ll take twelve months.” She said, “Send me your account details.” The next day, I received a notification of GHc7,000. She said, “I’ve given you everything I have. I know it’s not enough but you’ll get a job soon and everything would be fine.”

I was so shocked and confused. I wanted to laugh and I wanted to cry at the same time. I thanked her profusely. She said, “You’ve been a lot of help to me. This is the little I can do to pay back.” 

One afternoon, I was taking tutorials from a friend on how to win a bet when she called me. She asked, “Apart from the banking, is there anything else you would like to do?” I said, “At this moment in my life, I would do anything. Forget about qualifications, if it pays enough to keep me afloat, I would do it.” She laughed. I said, “Yeah I’m serious.” She said, “I’ve been talking to some people. I’m getting positive response but what they can offer isn’t banking related.” I asked, “They want cleaners?” She laughed again. 

Another day she called and gave me a number to call. She said, “When you call, tell him I’m your junior sister.” I called. A deep voice came through. I shivered. He asked, “Yeah, how can I help you?” I said, “Barbs gave me your number…” He cut in…”Oh Barbs brother, right?” I said, “Yeah, Barbs senior brother.” He said, “Come by the office tomorrow. Come with all your document and let’s see where we can fix you.” I went. I spoke to someone there. I did a series of interviews. They told me, “Great to have you here. You’ll hear from us.”

It took them over a month to call me. It was a manufacturing company. They offered me a job in their accounts department. I called Barbs; “I got the job.” She said, “Yeah, I know but don’t ever forget that I’m your sister. The day you change that story, you’re doomed.” I said, “You’re my sister. Don’t you see the resemblance?” She laughed. She said, “I’m still on the lookout. I will get you back into the banking hall so you make me jump queues.” I laughed.

I met her only once at the mall. I’ve never seen her again. I try to see her but she doesn’t have the time to meet me. She calls when she can and whenever she calls and I pick the phone, I say, “Hello sister Barbs.” She’ll laugh and say, “You know the deal.” So I don’t forget, I’ve saved her number on my phone as “Sister Barbs.”  

—Geoffrey   

 

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