I visited my parents on Christmas Day. The plan was to stay for a day or two and then return to the city for more Christmas celebrations. This was in the early 90s, and even adults like me looked forward to Christmas.
I came home and saw Adelaide. The first time I saw her, something inside me stirred. It felt like my ribs were saying, “This is what was missing. Take action.”
I stayed up all night thinking about Adelaide and how to win her over. My ribs had spoken, and I believed in their message. The next day, I sat outside my house all day, hoping she would pass by. She didn’t. I was supposed to leave the village the following day, but I changed my mind.
Two days later, I saw her. I couldn’t find the courage to say anything; fear held me back. A day after that, she walked by with her friends. I wanted to approach her and talk, but her friends were too loud, and I retreated into my shell. The next morning, I went to her house to look for her and met her father instead. He asked, “Isn’t it too early to be here looking for a girl? Did you even sleep last night?” I replied, “I’m leaving after this. I have an important message.”
He called her, and she came out. I stepped outside with her and said, “I’ve been seeing you around. I even asked my mom about you, and she showed me where you live. Can we be friends? I’m leaving for the city soon, but I want us to be friends before I go.”
She was taken aback. “That’s all? You came all the way to tell me this? When I tell my dad, should I say a friend gave me money? That doesn’t make sense.”
So, I reached into my pocket and gave her everything I had in there. “When your dad asks what I told you, you can say a friend gave you money. He’ll understand.”
Back then, we didn’t have phones or social media. I didn’t get her number or contact. I told her where I lived, and she came to visit in the afternoon. She asked, “Tell me the truth. Do you really want friendship, or is there more?”
I was like a ship in the wind, and she gave me direction. I told her how I felt and she laughed. I said, “I’m not wasting your time. I want a wife. If you say yes, it means yes to marriage.”
I was 26, and she was 23. She agreed, and I ended up spending the entire Christmas vacation in the village for her. When I left, I assured her, “I’ll be back in a month to marry you. Tell your family about me. I’ll send my family to your house soon.”
A month later, I returned to the village for our wedding. One late afternoon on a Thursday, a guy I didn’t recognize came looking for me. He stood in our compound, searching for me. When we met, he asked if we could talk outside.
I wondered what he wanted. Maybe he wanted to come to the city with me? Many guys in the village believed the city could make them rich. There was something about city lights – they believed it could turn their lives into gold.
He started, “I see you’re with Adelaide now. I heard there’s a wedding this weekend, is that true?”
I nodded. He didn’t seem happy. Talking about weddings usually brings smiles, but he looked worried. He had the demeanor of an unhappy child asking that question. I nodded and asked if something was wrong.
He continued, “She’ll leave you. I know her, and I’m telling you she’s not marrying you out of love. She’s doing it because it’s her chance to move to the city.”
“Who are you?” I asked. He said, “I’m the guy who was here before you. We were fine, things were going well, but she left me when you came. We didn’t fight, we didn’t argue. She left because you showed up. She sees you as an upgrade. So, imagine when she finds a better upgrade in the city. I’m not angry, and I’m not saying this out of bitterness. I’m telling you as a brother. She’ll leave you. I know her.”
The first time I saw Adelaide, I felt something. I believed she was the one. This guy’s words couldn’t change my mind. He seemed bitter and seeking revenge. I thanked him and said I’d think about it.
I didn’t mention the encounter to Adelaide. The wedding went smoothly, and happiness spread through the village. Everyone caught the joyful atmosphere.
A day after the wedding, he returned. This time, I was angry. I asked him, “Is there something she should do to apologize to you? Let me know, and I’ll do it on her behalf.” He replied, “I don’t need her apology. I feel sorry for you. When the time comes, you’ll come back to this village to divorce her. I’ll be here.”
I talked to Adelaide about him. She dismissed him as bitter and said they had dated for over two years. I thought he had hoped for marriage, invested a lot, and when he needed her the most, she left. Despite his warning, our first year was turbulent. We argued almost every day, mostly about money. My teaching salary was modest, and she wasn’t working. I had a wife without income. We fought over trivial things, fueled by my insecurity and lack. I was a teacher, and she deserved better. These doubts echoed her ex’s words, “She’ll leave you for an upgrade.”
Adelaide started walking home after work. She followed my unreasonable demands, even when they made no sense. When she used too much salt in food, I’d complain about expenses. Silly fights ensued, but the root was my insecurity. I’d even smell her clothes and check her belongings for signs of cheating.
We had no phones or social media, or I would have monitored her more. Her friendship with a guy named Mathew fueled my suspicions. He had money, something I lacked, which made her ex’s words resonate. I confronted her, questioning her interactions with Mathew. She asked if my demands were the only thing I wanted from her. Her words made me feel ashamed, but I couldn’t take them back. She contributed her earnings to our marriage, and we worked together to achieve our dreams. We bought land and started building a house. Eventually, she returned to school, but my fears were far from extinguished.
I entered school as well, pursuing a degree in Management. She financially supported us, her earning a critical backbone. I admired her dedication, a woman who stands by her man and propels him forward. I looked at her and thanked God for bringing her into my life. I had a woman who stayed and pushed, a rarity. I told my demons, “Not today.”
I stopped fighting, and the voice of her ex grew faint. There were times it resurfaced, but I countered, “You’re a liar. She chose me for a reason.” After 26 years, we’re still together, strong because Adelaide refused to fight back. On our twentieth anniversary, I apologized for my lack of trust. She responded, “We grow because we’re always learning. We were young and naive.”
Today, relationships differ. If I could advise my son, I’d tell him to marry someone he trusts and never doubt her. Doubt can kill love’s roots before they grow. I was fortunate; he might not be as lucky.
Years later, about six or seven into our marriage, I met Adelaide’s ex-boyfriend. He still lived in the village. He smiled at me but avoided eye contact. I thought he might want to talk, but he didn’t. I pitied him because I knew if he had married Adelaide, life would have been better. She brings light to darkness. If you doubt, just look at my life now.
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