|Picture Culled From:
MARSHABLE’s ‘Black Armor’
Written By: David Yi
When Ebo Kofi met Iminathi Thato, he and Farhanah Ekow were checking themselves out. For a minute there, he thought he was in love with Farhanah but all that flew out of the window when Iminathi spoke to him.
He and Farhanah worked at the premiere advertising agency in Kumasi, an agency where he was a bit of a celebrity. Iminathi did some work for the agency and during one of her presentations, they met. He was impressed with the quality of her creativity. He wished she did more work with the company so he could see her often, but wishes weren’t horses. Whenever she was around though, he watched her from afar as she did her job. She kept to herself a lot, making her irresistible to men and women alike.
There were many days Ebo wished he and Iminathi were friends but he kept his distance too, maintaining his faux mysterious aura so people thought there was more to him than he portrayed.
And then she sent him a message. She was sick and wondered if he would do a major presentation for her. The client was the biggest telecommunications company in Ghana and the account was going to be big for their firm. He agreed to do the presentation and asked her to send her work. When the time came, he delivered a flawless performance and got the account. He made sure to tell the company that he was making the presentation for Iminathi, who was unavoidably absent. The commission was written in her name.
When he told Iminathi everything that had happened, she was so grateful. She shared the commission equally with him and that day, they became friends.
They started texting each other and somehow, he knew he was falling in love with her. She on the other hand, seemed to just be having fun. It was obvious that she was attracted to him but he wasn’t sure if her emotions were invested in their attraction dance.
Farhanah on the other hand, was transferred to the Nigerian bureau and Ebo was glad she was out of the way. He could now focus on getting the girl of his dreams.
From texting, they started sexting and he knew that they would invariable be together. While he couldn’t wait to be with her physically, he also wanted to connect with her emotionally. But he was scared; she was a fully functional girl with big dreams. She had even bigger dreams than he had ever had. She wanted to own the world; or a huge slice of it. That was a bigger motivation for her than any other thing OR person. He wondered if he would be in competition with her career and if that would be okay with him. He could see that she was clearly different from Farhanah, who was content with him as her prize. He however believed that if he could get her, he could change her. And so, he put on the charm.
Soon enough, he was in Iminathi’s head. He knew this because whenever she saw him, she burst out the biggest smile. He could be in a group of people and she would walk up to him, say hi, and walk away. Soon enough, he was the envy of the guys in the office. Everyone wondered how he got THE Iminathi to like him.
And finally, Iminathi invited him to her home. They had quality dinner and even better conversation and soon enough, they were wrapped around each other. Ebo knew that it was a glorious night for him and he hoped it was equally so for Iminathi. When he got up to leave, she smiled and him…and shattered his world.
‘Now that this attraction has been sated, we can get on with our work. No more distractions for me.’
Ebo was shocked; Iminathi didn’t want a relationship with him. It had just been a one-night-stand for her. This was usually what men did but for the first time in his life, a woman had done it…and to him! He was beyond shocked. But he hid his disappointment and said, ‘You are my girlfriend now and I am going to make you the happiest woman in the world.’ Iminathi laughed and said, ‘Darling, I am happy already. My happiness is not dependent on you, or anyone for that matter. No beef, but I am good. And no, I am not your girlfriend.’
He laughed – painfully – as she saw him out of her house. As he walked to his car, he promised he was going to make her fall in love with him; if it was the last thing he did.
Ebo layered the charm and pursued Iminathi like his life depended on it. He was suave, charming, and peppered his speech and actions with enough romance to make Mills & Boons look like child’s play. And soon enough, Iminathi fell in love with him. It was the start of a beautiful love story. Or was it?
Ebo noticed that Iminathi didn’t become less interested in her career. If anything, she was more dogged about what she wanted to achieve with her life. He knew she loved him but he also knew that if she was to choose, she would choose her career over him. He wanted to be her all, to be the reason she was happy and somehow, he felt that if he offered her marriage, that would happen. In less than six months, he started dropping hints about wanting to spend the rest of his life with her.
One night after an intense love making session, he cuddled her and said, ‘I love you so much. I am happiest with you around and I think I could do this forever. What do you think?’
Iminathi squirmed and broke out of the cuddle.
‘You know there is no ‘forever’ for us, right?’
Ebo sat up. ‘Why would you say that?’
‘Well, I am not the committing type. I admit that you have broken some of my walls and all, but you and I cannot be together in a commitment institution. You want a woman who loves you and cooks for you and takes care of you and cuddles you; basically a woman whose life is built around you. I am not that woman. I believe marriage is a part of my life and not the entire essence of it. Moreover, you are Ghanaian and I am South African. Our cultures are vastly different and in many aspects, clashing. I definitely won’t want to bring children into the drama we are sure to have. Anyway, don’t spoil something beautiful with thoughts of the future. Let us take things a day at a time. Be rest assured that someday, I will leave Ghana, maybe back to South Africa or even Nigeria – you know they love us South Africans – and I know that isn’t what you want. So darling, enjoy the moment. That is the only guarantee I can give you.’
Ebo looked at her as she turned away, preparing to sleep. For the first time in their relationship, he knew that she had seen right through him, that she had broken the walls of his mystery and realized exactly who and what he was; a man who thought he should be her prize.
For the next three years, their relationship continued and with each passing day, he knew Iminathi would never settle with him. He gradually became frustrated because he wondered why she was even with him. She made her own money, worked hard at her job, was building a healthy reputation for herself in Ghana and didn’t seem fazed that almost every other girl was getting married and playing housewife. When he did spend money on her, it was because she allowed it and those days where they fought, she settled not because of his apologies but because she wanted too. He couldn’t make her do anything. She was sufficient in herself. And the more everyone asked when they were tying the knot, the more annoying her quirky laughter became.
Then Farhanah returned to Kumasi. All the time she was away, she kept calling him, begging him to accept her in his life. He was bored with the neediness and stopped picking her calls. But on her return, he began to wonder; could he carry on with Farhanah when everyone knew he was dating Iminathi? Something they all knew because he made sure they did? He knew he wouldn’t know if he didn’t try.
So, he started seeing Farhanah.
Soon enough, Iminathi found out and told him they were over. He knew he was losing a rare gem for a bauble so he went to her, begged, cried, and worst of all, lied. He swore with his life that there was nothing between him and Farhanah. He said she was all over him and he was only nice to her. He said he couldn’t trade someone precious for someone like Farhanah. And the more he talked, the more he saw the light in Iminathi’s eyes fade out. When he thought she was going to kick him out, she smiled and hugged him. She told him it was okay and she had forgiven him. He left her house that day knowing that the relationship was over; not because of anything Iminathi said or did, but because he knew he had crossed an unforgivable line.
He started avoiding Farhanah and sometimes, deliberately treating her like crap. But she wouldn’t budge. She sent even more messages, tried to talk to him in public and eventually, stopped speaking to him completely when she saw his devotion to Iminathi.
He and Iminathi continued dating for a year after that incident but many times, he caught her staring at him as one would look at an errant child…or a fool. The sex was still great but he felt she was probably playing Mahjong in her mind while they were at it. The conversations became mostly work related. What hurt the most was that she no longer respected him. Oh! She didn’t do anything to show him that, but he knew! He knew.
Iminathi finally left Ghana and went to Jamaica, taking up a position of management in a top global advertisement agency. In less than a month, she was in a relationship with someone she saw a future with. He wondered at how quickly she moved on but remembered that her heart had not being in the relationship for a whole year. He also wondered at her sudden willingness to get married, especially because the man she was dating was from Barbados and the cultures were different too. It confirmed to him that she wasn’t wary of the institution called marriage, she was just wary of being in the institution with him.
And so, he did what thought would hurt her the most; he went public with Farhanah. All the things he used to do with her, he started doing with Farhanah. And they started planning for a wedding immediately. He made sure the word got out that he had dated Iminathi for years and didn’t marry her but Farhanah whom he was in a relationship for less than three months was already being called his wife. He tried to make it look like it was his choice not to marry Iminathi, dropping hints about women you marry and those you just…have sex with.
Deep down, he knew he wasn’t hurting Iminathi. Rather, he was confirming exactly what she thought he was; a little boy trying to fill a man’s shoes. He also knew that Farhanah was too much of a downgrade from Iminathi. He knew she could arouse him, cook for him, clean after him, take care of him, make him babies, and be the exact woman he needed, but she could never titillate his mind. Deep down also, he wondered what kind of low self-worth made Farhanah accept him after rejecting her over and over again because of his love for Iminathi.
Maybe he deserved her, maybe he deserved the woman who saw him as her prize, who depended on him for her happiness, who was willing to do anything to make him happy and who was incomplete without him. Maybe he deserved a woman he could control, a simpleton who would be content with just being his wife. Maybe, just maybe, he deserved the boredom he was sure to have as the marriage progressed. But he knew that in his heart of hearts, he would always love Iminathi, the woman who didn’t need him to be content, the woman who didn’t need ANYONE to be the person she has always wanted to be, the woman who knew there was more to life than seating at his feet, waiting to fulfill his every desire.
To the world, he had moved on from Iminathi and she had probably lost her prize. To Ebo, he knew that he was the one who lost his prize. And now, he had to settle, not for second, third, or even tenth best, but for what was available.
He knew he would always love Iminathi, the one woman he never completely had.