Every SHS student dreams of the day they will complete school and a considerable amount of them can’t wait to get admission to the university. I had dreams for both but it seemed far-fetched. When the time for our final exams came, I was owing PTA fees. My school authorities allowed me to write the exams but I wasn’t going to receive my result slip if I didn’t pay the PTA fees.
That was in 2009. Immediately after we completed school, I started sending applications to shops in search of a job. I planned to work, gather some money, and top up with what my mom will save to pay the fees so I could get my results.
I applied to 3 shops on the Spintex road as a shop attendant. They all accepted my application. I guess my beauty, curves and infectious smile did the magic for me. I presume the shop owners felt I would be an asset to them. After a lot of considerations,
I opted for a furniture Showroom.
When I started work, I got a lot of advances from men of all ages which I ignored. I knew why I was there. I didn’t want anything to sway me away from my dreams. I was there to raise money for my future and I was ready to do only just that.
One afternoon, an elderly man walked into the showroom and as usual, I sent him around the shop, showing him our various furniture and the prices. He requested an invoice which I gave him. He said, “Give me your number.” I hesitated a bit initially but gave it to him anyway.
He called me just when he left the shop. He asked, ”How much are you paid in a month?” I answered, “GH₵100.” He said “Will you stop the work if I pay you for a year? I’m ready to give you GH₵1,200 if only you will stop working as a shop attendant.” I said, “Yes, I will.” Did he even have to ask? Who would not want to be paid to sleep for a whole year? “Only if it were that simple,” I thought.
“Meet me at Shangrila bus stop tomorrow and I will give you the money,” He said and hung up. What did he just say? Did I hear him right? I couldn’t sleep that night. It was a cocktail of feelings for me. I wanted to tell my mom but I couldn’t. Deep down, I knew what her reaction was going to be and I wasn’t ready for it. I was scared and excited at the same time. I’ve heard several stories of men luring young girls and using them for rituals. I thought about all the possibilities and the what-ifs but what is life without some risk and an occasional rush of adrenaline. I settled on honoring the meet-up the next morning.
He was alone in his Ford Explorer when he pulled over the next morning. He rolled his windows down and said “Get in”. I said “Oyiwa! I’m finished!” That’s how people get killed. I was visibly scared and he saw it. He said, “Feel free. I don’t bite. I mean no harm.” I wasn’t convinced but I entered the car with my heart in my stomach.
After exchanging pleasantries and chit-chatting for a while, he reached for an envelope and handed it over to me, “Here, GH₵1,200. You can count it if you want to but it’s all there. My jaw stiffened after seeing the money. That was my first time seeing such a huge amount in my life. He said, “I am going to have breakfast at Holiday-In Hotel. Care to join me?” I said, “I wish I could but I have to run to the shop.” I picked a taxi and went straight to work.
I continued to work for a while before I stopped and enrolled myself in Avenue Chemist with part of the money. It was so surprising how my life went from 0 to 100. I was grateful for my angel on earth.
Some weeks after our encounter, he called to check up on me and extended an invite which I eagerly obliged. I had a lot of questions I needed answers to. He gave me the money without any conditions attached but I was eager to know what the unspoken terms and conditions were. It’s said that nothing comes free in our world today. I accepted his invite so I can get the opportunity to ask him these questions.
He sent his driver to pick me up. Soon, I landed in his house. He had a lovely home. I got to know he was 40 years older than I was and was not married. I don’t know why but hearing he wasn’t married was such a relief for me. Although he had not done anything to suggest he wanted a relationship with me, I was anticipating it so knowing I wasn’t going to be a home-wreck was such good news for me. My visits to his house after the first became regular. He was a good conversationalist so I loved being with him plus I never left empty-handed. One time as we were talking about my plans for the future and stuff concerning me, he paused and stared at me for a while. “What?” I exclaimed. “What happened to your face?”. I explained to him the skin condition I was dealing with and how it began. He gave me GH₵1,000 to go to the hospital and see a dermatologist.
During one of my routine visits, he started making advances towards me. I made the work easier for him. Finally, we can get down to it. I was expecting it but I must give him credit for taking his time. We began dating. Just around that time, my results came in and I had passed. My grades were good enough to get me admission to the university but I opted for nursing College because of the financial situation at home. With nursing college, I was going to receive some allowance which I would use to support myself. My boyfriend insisted that I go to the university. Admissions had already closed for government schools so I applied to Central University College and got admission.
My parents were worried about my choices. I told them about the man fueling those radical decisions. They wanted to meet him. Of course, I made sure that never happened. He was old and anything could happen while I was in school. I didn’t want any family drama if anything came up. They wanted me to have the best of education, someone was helping and that was all that mattered. He made sure I had everything. I lived a very comfortable life in school and lacked nothing. I completed school. My dream had finally come through. I wanted to get out of the relationship right after school but I couldn’t bring myself to leave. He was my everything. It’s hard to travel away from greener pastures.
As we grow, our desires change and our dreams evolve. I was grateful for the help he had been in my life but I didn’t want the life he offered again; a life of constant and vigorous sex in exchange for provision. I wanted more. I didn’t know exactly what but I knew I wanted more. I also knew I wasn’t the only lady in his life. He had the money so he got what he wanted wherever and whenever he wanted.
He proposed marriage after dating for five years. I was taken aback by it. I least expected that he would choose me out of his lot. I told my mom and she wasn’t in favor. Frankly, I didn’t want to marry him either. I didn’t want to become the wife who had to worry about a cheating husband. After five years of dating him, I left. I left the money and everything he offered.
You may think of me as an opportunist or even an ungrateful person but I did what I needed to do to survive and I don’t regret it. Dating an elderly man isn’t fun! He was 40 years older than me but he took good care of himself so he didn’t look his age. Sex was torture, he demanded it anytime he wanted. There was no freedom, I wasn’t happy. I made a lot of sacrifices for my degree which I don’t regret but I wasn’t ready to subject my life to a lifetime of misery.
I met my now husband when I was contemplating leaving that relationship. We have been married for 5 years and are blessed with 2 beautiful kids. I am the happiest I have ever been in my life right now and I feel so blessed.
However, I am sometimes haunted by the whole relationship when I think about it and get flashbacks. I wonder how much difference it would have made if he just helped me without necessarily sleeping with me. I get angry with him sometimes and feel he took advantage of me. It’s in the past now and I wish it wouldn’t haunt me as much.
Two weeks ago, I heard of his demise—the man whose GH₵1200 made a whole lot of difference in my life in 2010. He was 71 years. He lived, enjoying the beautiful things life has to offer but that brought back a lot of memories. Memories of him. Of us and our times together. May the angels lead him to paradise and Mother Earth gently rest on his mortal remains.
I’ve heard people say when you share your story, the weight of it reduces. I am sharing today in hopes that this will start a healing journey for me. Hopeful to get to a point where I can fully forgive myself and get mental relief.