Being 30 and single is one of the most situations every woman can find herself in. Everyone thinks there’s something wrong with you. Your parents look at you and ask themselves, “What’s wrong with this our daughter?” You become their prayer topic and when they’ve prayed for you for so long and you still remain single, they call you home one day and tell you, “Brɛ wo ho asi. Be submissive and humble so a man can approach you.” In other words, they’re telling you to lower your standard, so any average man will find you worthy of marriage.
I was there. At thirty years, I was single but Ok. I had a job that paid the bills and also made me comfortable in my own skin. I had two friends, Belinda and Tasha, who were always there for me, creating fun and also making a joke out of my singleness. Berlinda got married. I was her bridesmaid. At her wedding, she told me, “I know you’re going to be the next.” I said, Amen,” though I didn’t have a boyfriend. Tasha got married. I was her chief wedding planner. After the wedding, they both looked at me. Berlinda said, “Now it’s automatic. You’re the next to marry.” Tasha said, “It’s no more in your hands. You’ll get married a year by this time so you better get a boyfriend today. The earlier, the better.”
One day, my parents called me home. They sat me down in the hall and asked, “Do you have a man in your life?” I knew it. I knew that was why they called me. I said, “No I don’t.” My father screamed excitedly, “Good! That makes it easier.” My mom couldn’t wait to be the one to break the news to me so she said, “We’ve found you a man. I know you’ll like him. He’s exactly the kind of man you’ll love to have by your side.” My dad continued, “He has education. He has manners. He’s well respected. He has his own money too.”
I asked, “And he said he wants me?” My mom said, “That’s the reason we called you here. If you say yes to him today, you’ll be a married woman next month.” “Ok, my appetite is whet. Who’s this man?” They both chorused, “Mr. Anderson.”
Mr. Anderson had four kids. His wife died three years ago while delivering the fourth kid. I didn’t know his age but he could be over ten years older than me. All they said about him was true but I told them, “No I don’t like him. I will like to have a fresh beginning. Not to continue from where someone left off. Tell him I like him as a person but not as a husband.”
They went quiet. My dad said, “The kids already have a caretaker ooo.” My mom added, “These kind of men are limited edition. They don’t create them like this any longer.” The next day, I bade them goodbye and left. When I told Tasha about it she said, “You haven’t seen anything yet. Abi you say you won’t get a boyfriend. The one I’m bringing to you has six kids and two wives, so be ready.” I said, “Idiot.” We burst out laughing. Berlinda sympathized with me. She said, “Your parents too, why?”
I was single. I was ready to catch myself a man. I wasn’t desperate about it and I wasn’t ready to lower my standard. Another time my mom called me. She started ranting, “The way we’ve missed you. Won’t you come and visit us any time soon? Look for us while we are alive ooo. One day we’ll not be here again.” I said, “Mom let’s go straight to the point. What’s his name and how many kids does he have?” She said, “Oh this one doesn’t have kids. He hasn’t been married before. He has lived most of his life abroad and is now ready to settle down.” I asked, “How old is he?” She said, “What has age gotten to do with love?”
I got my answer. That man wouldn’t be less than ten years older than me. I told her, “I don’t like borga. Plus he’s too old for me.” She said, “But I didn’t tell you his age?” I said, “Yeah I know. You not telling me his age is actually his age. Tell him I don’t like him.” She said, “It’s this your I-don’t-like-him attitude that has brought us where we are now. Change oooo change, Sika, change.”
One day at a wedding with Tasha and Berlinda, a guy walked up to Berlinda. He was an old friend she hadn’t seen for so many years. They talked about their days at the university, talked about their old friends, and talked a little about their current life. After everything, Berlinda made the introduction. “Here are my friends, Sika and Tasha. Sika and Tasha, meet my friend Eugene. He’s my mate and a great man of God.” We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. He stayed with us throughout the wedding. At the wedding reception, we shared a table with him. He took over the conversation, making us laugh and telling us stories of the days when he was in school with Berlinda. Anytime he spoke to me he made direct eye contact. I’m not a person to drop my gaze when someone looks me in the eye.
Each time our eyes met, I made sure I wasn’t the one dropping. He kept looking at me for some seconds and later dropped his gaze. After the reception, he hugged all of us and said, “Thank you for having me. It would have been boring without you.” Again our eyes met and they locked for a few seconds. He left us, went to his car, and drove away.
Days later, I had a call from Berlinda. When she said hello, another voice responded before I did. Berlinda said, “Sika, we are having a conference call. Tasha is also on the phone. We have a surprise for you. Guess what…” I asked, “I hope you girls are not planning evil against me.” Berlinda said, “You remember my friend Eugene? The one we met at the wedding recently.” I asked, “The pastor?” She said, “Yeah the pastor. He says he likes you.” Tasha screamed from the other side of the phone, “No we can’t date a pastor. We are not ready to be Sofo Maame.” I added, “He looks like a very cool guy but his profession. Berlinda, just imagine me, me ooo dating a pastor. Is he looking for someone to draw him to the devil? Then he’s welcome.”
Berlinda said, “I thought about the same thing too but the way he spoke about you, it looks like he’s really into you so why don’t you give him a chance and see.” I said, “I will date him if he wasn’t a pastor. Just imaging sleeping with a pastor. Will we pray first before we do it? Adam and eve style all my life? Every day gospel? Gospel in the car, gospel in the church? Where will we go and have fun, Israel or Gethsemane? No, that can’t be the life for me.”
Days later, I had a call from a number I haven’t seen before. He said, “Hey Sika, Eugene here. You remember me? We met at the wedding through Berlinda.” I said “Hey Eugene, yeah I remember. How can I forget a man like you.” He said, “I took your number from Berlinda. I gave her a job but it looks like she’s failing so I’ve decided to do it myself.” I laughed. I said, “She did her best, give her that recognition.” He said, “Well, her best wasn’t enough, that’s why I’m here. Can we have a date? Just name the place and time, I will meet you.”
We met at a joint where they served food and played decent music. I didn’t want to make him feel uncomfortable. Whiles there, they played Jazz all night until the live band took over. Every song the band played he sang along. I was looking at him. He asked me, “Do you dance?” I said, “I only dance in church.” He said, “Then you’re missing a lot.” I asked him, “Do you dance?” He said, “Ask Berlinda, he’ll give you my records. I’m a very good dancer. When God called me I told him, “Take everything away but not my dancing skills.” He listened so I still have that one with me.” I said, “Prove it.” He said, “Wait for the right kind of music. This one is too slow.”
Then the band started playing reggae. He got up and he was a spectacle. Everyone was looking at him. I said, “What if your church members see you?” He said, “They won’t be surprised because I do crazier dance moves than this in church.” By the time we left the place, my mind had shifted about him. Berlinda called the next day, “I heard you and Eugene went out. How did it go?” I said, “Who told this guy to become a pastor? He’s everything but that pastor thing.” She said, “Our squad needs a prayer warrior who can intercede for us. God is choosing you to be that girl and you’re running away. Who do we run to for prayers when crazy storms hit?” I said, “Idiot. Just leave me out of this.”
We talked each day, I and Eugene. I grew fond of him and wanted to hear from him every day. One day I was in his church. I saw what he did when the choir sang. He was the life of the party. He was the one leading the dance. Immediately he gets up, the whole church will get up and dance with him. When he picked his bible and entered the pulpit to preach, he looked like a different man. That day he preached about Acceptance. He said, “God’s gift doesn’t always come in the form we anticipate. That’s why many people feel their prayers are not answered but hear me out. When you pray for a bumper harvest, God will give you rain. It’s you who has to take advantage of the rain and plant your crops. The form may look different but the purpose is still the same.”
After church I told him, “Instead of you preaching, you were there throwing shade at me. I hear.” He said, “When I tell you and you don’t listen, you’ll hear the rest of it in the pulpit. That’s the rest of the proposal. God is giving us rains, let’s plant maize today so tomorrow we can eat kenkey.”
I said yes.
We dated for eight months. Each day of the week, each week of the month he brought something new to the table—something that makes the heart say “awwww.” We got married. I went through a year’s training to be able to play my role as the mother of the church. I was that girl who didn’t see herself marrying a pastor. Today when he shouts “Praise the Lord,” I respond, “Alleluia.” All the fears I had before saying yes to him are gone. I’ve come to realize that a man in love loves first before his profession comes in. I thought Gethsemane will be our entertainment center but guess the places we go to have fun. I thought the sex will be boring but the clerical collar has nothing to do with it when a pastor is in action.
My two friends? We are still together. They are now part of the flock Eugene leads.