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The Love Of My Youth And The Daughter of Our Mistakes

The Love Of My Youth And The Daughter of Our Mistakes

From JHS until I completed SHS, I lived with my father. He was a military man and a very hard guy. His favorite quotation in the bible is Proverbs 13:24, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” Whenever I went wrong and he wanted to resort to the rod, he made me recite this quotation before he finally unleash the rod on my butt or my back. He’ll later tell me; “I know you believe in the Bible. I didn’t put that quotation there and I’m not going to go to hell because I spared the rod. Put me not into temptation. Stop being a bad boy and I’ll rest the rod.”

His presence scared me and it showed. I couldn’t talk in his presence and couldn’t exchange words with him. Neighbors saw it so whenever I was happy and playing around, they’ll scream, “Soldier man is coming oooo!!!” I will stop whatever I was doing and look over my shoulders to see if it was true. They did it to me on several occasions and not once did I tell myself, “I won’t mind them. They are lying.” I’d rather stop to confirm than to be caught off guard by my father.

While attending vacation classes in Ebenezer secondary school in Dansoman, I met a girl called Olivia. She was so beautiful every guy in the class wanted to be her friend but it was me she chose. She became my pride. She became the reason guys in my class envied me. She was a daughter of a rich man. She was driven to the school compound and was picked after classes each day. Because of her, my peers put some respect on my name. Some even changed my name totally. They called me Olivia’s guy and I was proud of it. 

After the vacation classes, one day, she took me into her home. When I entered their hall, I screamed, “Wooow!” I’d never seen any living room as magnificent as that. My favorite thing in the hall was the chandelier. I asked her, “Is that a light?” She answered, “Yes it’s a light.” I asked, “You mean it’s a light that could be turned on?” She walked to the switch and turned it on for me to see. It felt like Christmas. Christmas without the sound of the jingle bell. 

Just like me, Olivia lived with her father. Her mother was abroad. Her father didn’t think it was a good idea to raise her in the white man’s land so he brought her to Ghana when Olivia was only eleven. That day in her house, I proposed to her and she said yes. Because we were alone, we went into the corner and had our first kiss. Young souls in love. We wanted to consume each other that day but somehow, my father’s voice pierced through the sky of my conscience just like Jesus’s father’s voice did the day he was baptized. I pulled away from her. I said, “I’m afraid. Someone can just walk in on us.”

School reopened. We went to our individual schools but wrote to each other every week. It was around 1999. Phones were not popular. Social media was not yet born. Letters were the only ways through which we got connected. Her letters had the words I yearned to hear. She ended every letter with, “I can’t wait for us to be together in the future.” I ended mine by saying, “The future isn’t far away. When we hold strong to each other, we will make it there in one piece.”

In 2002 we completed secondary school. The very day I got home, I rushed to her place. I hung around her house until she came out to see me standing there. She screamed, “Douglas, you are here!” I said, “Yeah, I couldn’t wait for a single day to pass without seeing you so here I am.” Fortunately for us, her father hadn’t returned from work so we went inside and I saw the chandelier again. I said, “Can you please turn it on for me?” She walked to the switch and turned it on. It changed colors. It sparkled at the left side and shone brighter on the left side. I stared as if it was the first time I was seeing it. She announced, “My dad would be home soon. Hurry up and leave before he comes to meet you here.” 

By the time I realized it, we were locked in each other’s embrace. She pulled me to the corner where we had our first kiss. We kissed. We smooched. We sweated the pent-up emotions out. By the time the chandelier changed color at the left, we were both lying on the floor naked. Adam had finished eating eve’s apple. We were running around looking for leaves to cover our nakedness. From that day, I went to her place every day to look for her. Somedays, I will walk around her house but she won’t come out until I walk back home with a broken heart. The next day, I will wake up, put on my best dress and go there again with hopes in my heart. I will pray, “God, let today be my lucky day. I want to see Olivia. If you’re God indeed, cause her father to leave the house so I can walk in and see the chandelier again. You know I love how it sparkles and how it shines. Please make a way.”

For close to one month, I went there and I didn’t see her. One day, their main gate opened and I saw her walking around the compound. She didn’t see me. I cursed the stars and cursed the moon. I went home again with a broken heart. The next time I saw her, she told me, “I’m not well. I’ve been vomiting. I haven’t seen my period. It should have been in four days ago but it hasn’t.” I said, “You want to tell me you’re pregnant?” Nooooo don’t say that. It will come. Don’t scare me.” I blamed it on the weather—it’s too cold that’s why your menses hasn’t come. I blamed it on the sunshine—“It’s too sunny, let’s wait until the sun goes down.

A week later, her menses didn’t come, we concluded that she was pregnant. I saw the collision of my world flash before my eyes. I said, “Olivia, if my father hears that I’ve impregnated a girl, he will kill me. He will disown me. My future will come to an end. Please don’t tell your father. Let’s do something about it before he gets to know.” She asked, “What can we do?” I said, “I learned mashed Guinness bottle and sugar works. You mashed the bottle and you take it with the sugar, minutes later it will come.” She said, “What if I die? No, I won’t try that. It’s too dangerous.”

We were young. I was eighteen and she was seventeen. We were too young to do things that will kill us so we tried looking for other alternatives. All the alternatives I found scared her. She didn’t want to die. She wanted to live so my future will rather die. One day, I was around her house when she came out. Immediately she saw me, she went back in. When she came back again, she was with her father. She pointed at me and his father came to fetch me to his hall. Olivia was crying. Her father made me lie on the floor with my face facing the ceiling. The chandelier was on and sparkling but for the first time, its sparkle didn’t excite me. I was in trouble. A troubled heart doesn’t get wowed by sparkles from a chandelier.

Her father came with a belt in his hand. He asked me, “Are you ready to be a father?” I was in tears when I answered, “Please no. I’m not ready. I’m only eighteen years old.” He asked again, “You are eighteen but didn’t think about it when you were sleeping with my daughter. She said you forced her.” I went to look at Olivia’s face. She turned away. Her father screamed, “Why did you force her to sleep with you?” I didn’t answer. He asked about my father and I said he was a soldier. He said, “Go home and tell him what you have done before I come there with my daughter.” He gave me about seven lashes before setting me free.

I couldn’t tell my father about it. I shuddered when someone knocked on our door. I shivered when I saw a man and his daughter in the distance walking towards our place. One week, two weeks, three weeks, I didn’t hear from Olivia and her father. It was then it dawned on me, “Olivia doesn’t know my house. That means they can’t find me.” The thought made me smile but I said, “Her father is powerful enough to find whoever he wants to find. I can’t hide. Moons walked the skies and disappeared but I never heard from Olivia and her father. My father didn’t hear about it so he couldn’t rain the rod on me. At some point, I got curious and went around the house to see if I could find her. I couldn’t find her and that was the end of me and Olivia.

When I was in the university and thought of myself as a man, I went to the house and saw a gatekeeper there. I asked about Olivia and he said there was no one there like that. I asked about the owner of the house and per the description he gave me, he wasn’t the father of Olivia. I asked him, “There was some family here in this house before these ones came. Do you know about them?” He said, “I started working here not too long ago. I didn’t meet any family here apart from the ones I’m working with currently.”

There were questions I couldn’t answer. “Where is Olivia? What happened to the pregnancy? Do I have a child who doesn’t know his/her father? How does she /he look like? Is Olivia looking for me? If she’s not, why did she give up on me? Questions upon questions but no answer. 

In 2008 when I completed my national service, my father had a serious stroke that he couldn’t recover from. He was fifty-two years. I sat by his bed one evening and told him the story of me and Olivia. How she got pregnant and how she disappeared. How I’d tried over the years to find her and how I wouldn’t rest until I finally find her. At that time my father’s stroke was so severe he couldn’t talk back. He could only try to speak but what came out of his mouth was saliva. I told him not to say anything. I told him I could understand how he felt about the story. “It’s not your fault dad. I was only a bad child.” 

I helped him to sleep that night and he didn’t wake up again. In 2010, I made it my full job to find where Olivia was. I went to where she used to live again. I spoke to the neighbors around. Most of them were not there when Olivia and her father were living around there but the house opposite Olivia’s house had a man who had lived there all his life. It was him who told me the man and his daughter traveled abroad and never came back. At least, it was satisfying, knowing that they traveled. When Facebook became a thing around 2014 I typed her full name in the search bar to see what I would find. Nothing.

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In 2016, I had a friend’s request from a lady I didn’t bother to check her profile. Days later, she sent me a message; “So you mean you don’t remember me?” That was when I went through her photos. I screamed, “Olivia!” She had changed her name on Facebook. “How could I have known it is you, Olivia?” I wrote back. She responded, “It’s me. I’ve been looking for you.” I said, “I’ve combed through the shadow of death looking for you. I nearly crossed the red sea to look for you. Where have you been?” She responded, “USA.” I asked her, “So what happened?” She said, “Give me your number. When I’m free I will call you.”

She called. 

We had a daughter. She named her Dorcas. A name she chose because it sounded like Douglas. She was thirteen years old and she already knew our story. “One day she asked me about her father. She was nine or ten. I told her everything I knew about you. She asked when she could meet you and I told her someday.” I cried on the phone, but not too loud for her to hear. She said, “It’s alright, don’t cry. We were both young. We can’t blame us now.” I said, “Shit, she has heard me cry.” I pulled myself together and asked her, “So when are you bringing her to Ghana?” She asked, “When will you come to the USA to see us?”

I couldn’t go until they were in Ghana in 2019. I saw my daughter for the first time and I asked Olivia, “Can I keep her?” They spent two months in Ghana. All through the months, I stayed with Dorcas, building bonds. Telling her stories of her grandpa. Filling in the lost years. Olivia’s husband never stopped calling her. He called every day asking when she would return. So one day, they left for the US again. I’ve been in touch with them since. I lost them once and I’m not ready to lose them again.

–Douglas

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Source: CelebritiesbuzzGh | The Love Of My Youth And The Daughter of Our Mistakes