This is the third story in my series, A Story that was Mine. It tells the various forms of abuses faced by different women and how they go through it – the good, the bad, and even the heartbreaking ones. If you haven’t read any of these stories, just click on the category “A Story that was Mine” and have a swell time!
I met her one vacation, my last Christmas as an undergraduate. I heard someone call out my name from across the street but I was too engrossed in my music to be bothered by whoever it was. On my way home from my errand, we met outside their rented house. But for her big cheeks and forehead, I wouldn’t have recognized her. She looked very old and worn out. For a moment I was confused. I didn’t want to be rude but I could hardly remember her daughter’s name, let alone hers. That was my mistake. It was her. I did not want to embarrass her so I feigned splendid surprise, which was not really false because I was truly surprised that a woman in her mid-thirties could look older than my mother of fifty-something.
We exchanged pleasantries and talked for a while. After all, it had been eight good years since we last saw each other.
“Are you done with school?” she asked with a smile.
“Errm, no, I’m not done,” I paused to have a better look at her face. “I have one semester more to finish”
I don’t know if she fully understood what I said or not, but if she didn’t, she did not give a hint. “Oh nice”
Out of curiosity, I asked about her kids. Believe me, this was a harmless question because the last I heard, she had two children – a boy and a girl.
“Oh, they’re all fine,” she beamed with smiles.
All? I thought to myself. Well, I guess she has three kids. How could I have not seen the baby strapped to her back?!
I must have been lost in my own thoughts because all I heard was her finishing statement, to which I smiled widely too. “—all four of them are here, they must be playing around somewhere.”
“I have to go,” I said after a while. Standing there with her, all I could see was a poor stressed overaged woman with four children. “It was nice seeing you,” damn, was I getting extremely good at lying!
“Keep in touch!” she shouted after me.
I walked briskly home but all through my walk, I kept thinking of the weird woman I met on the way. Well, judging from the fact that I once knew her when she was pretty and didn’t look anything older than a twenty-year-old girl, there was nothing really to write about her. Well, not until I heard her story.
I went out with my friends from JHS one afternoon and whiles at the bar, she came to pass with her kids. I didn’t recognize her at a glance. Well, not until one of the men at the table behind us made a comment about a woman called Salome who cohabitated with a man and had four kids with him, only to be sacked by the man who said he was going to marry another woman. After twelve years together. When I heard this I was surprised and confused and I thought the name sounded familiar as well. One of the girls saw the look on my face and laughed. Apparently, it was a normal thing and she did add that if she was any smarter, she would have gone to fight – literally – for her “husband” back. More shocked, I looked over the banister of the bar and saw the weird lady I had a chat with yesterday. I would have asked the men but I could tell it was her they were referring to.
“It’s a shame, you know, I wanted to make a real wife out of her,” one of the men said and shook his head.
“Yeah, she was on board that ship until she met the rich father of her four kids,” his companion added with a chuckle.
I turned my attention back to my mates and listened as they chit chatted on about the latest weave shop in town and how affordable their hair was. I made a mental note to look them up on Instagram,
“Anything planned for next weekend?” one of my colleagues, Sandra asked.
“What do you have in mind?” asked Imelda
“I was wondering if you girls would like to go to the Accra Goods Market fair with me,” Sandra responded. “It’s being held at the AnC Mall.”
“Well, I heard lots of vendors will be there, plus there will be good music as well so…I’m in!” Imelda said with a smile
“What about you Mary,” Imelda asked our fourth colleague.
“Oh no, not me,” she said shyly. “I’ve got this thing with my Dad.”
“This thing?” Imelda asked incredulously. “If you’re going to turn us down, at least be creative about it.” She ended her sentence looking directly at Mary.
“Sorry I can’t make it,” Mary responded with a knowing smile.
We all departed after we planned a rendezvous for the fair. I got home a little after 6 p.m. I met the weird woman again, Salome, suppose she was the same person being discussed at the bar earlier. I asked about her kids and she gave some lame joke about the holiday. Without asking, she offered me the information that she and her four children recently moved in with her mother in her one bedroom house. Hearing that saddened my heart but it also made me realized that what I heard about Salome could really be about her.
Being the gossip that I am, I went straight to my mom’s room to tell her the news I had just come by.
“Hi dear,” she greeted me in front of her room. “How was your outing?”
“It was exciting”
“Oooh, do tell”
“Do you remember Salome?” I asked with uncertainty. I love gossiping with my mother. Well, most of the time, until she spirals and becomes all aggressive and condemns the person under our scrutiny.
“Yes, she just moved in with her mother last Sunday.”
“Yes, my dear,” she said as she took a seat at the dining table. “It is being rumored that her husband, Kojo, has sacked her from their home after twelve years of being together to marry another woman. I hear he only did knocking and did not ask for her hand in marriage properly”
“So technically they are not married, traditionally or legally”
“That sucks,” I said after a long pause. “And with four children to cater for.”
“He made her quit her job as a teller to be a housewife so now she’s jobless, husbandless, and with four children,” my mom shook her head as she got up and headed to her room.
After leaving me at the dining table after our little chat, I thought about all that I had heard about this weird woman, and I realized that no matter what I may be going through, she definitely was going through worse than me.
I started an online business in October but unfortunately, it was a failure. And by December, I was totally broke and downright broken. However, Salome’s story made me realize that I’m not the only person going through a tough time and that I deserved a break.
After Christmas, I didn’t see or hear from Salome again, no one did. Well, not until the last day of December. I saw her with her son strapped on her back. She was walking hastily and I didn’t get a chance to say ‘hello’. But that was early in the morning.
Nsawam, unlike many places, was very quiet during the yuletide. There were no Christmas tree, or fireworks, or play. Thus there was certainly not going to be any celebration to signify the last day of the year, except, of course, the usual 31st all night services held by various churches. Like most people, I decided to get ready by 8 p.m. I think that’s around the time that the tragedy struck. I had put on my dress and was just about to buckle my strap heels when I heard the loud shrieking voice of an old woman. Everyone living around the area heard it. Many people rushed out to check what had happened and it was only when I heard the wailing voices of both men and women, including young and old that I decided to step out of the house.
Salome’s mother had traveled to their village the previous night and because she didn’t have money she went to her husband’s house to ask for the children’s upkeep. Unfortunately, she went to meet his new wife who was very mean and hurled all manner of insults at her. Poor woman. Thus heartbroken and forlorn she made her way back to her mother’s house. No one heard from her or her children, not even a cry from her baby boy. Around 6 p.m., her neighbor decided to check up on her. She knocked and knocked but there was no answer so she assumed they were not around. Two hours later her mother returned from their village and yes, she was the old woman with the shrieking voice.
I met my mother in front of the house and she told me what had happened. Just hearing her description made me want to puke. It was such a terrible thing to do, but who am I to judge. From the story I heard, Salome was found dead with all four kids. She poisoned their food with rat poison. I felt horrible hearing the news. I mean, I perceived she wasn’t having a field day but I could never have guessed that it would be that bad for her to take her life along with that of her children. The whole vicinity was silent for a very long time. People trooped into their house to give her mother their condolences. It was such a terrible way to end the year. I wasn’t even feeling so enthusiastic about the coming year any longer.
That’s how Salome took away New Year.
Asiedua Yeboah © 2017