When Parents Seek To Choose Love For You

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Josh picked his Cellphone at the first beep.

It wasn't that there was another beep coming up; He simply hates loud ring tones. In fact, he hates all ringtones, and vibration is also out of the question. He says it startles him anytime the phone vibrates.

He wasn't sure of what to say if he answered the call, and equally unsettling was what would be said to him. It was Sue on the line.

"Hey" he answered lifelessly.

"Hey big kid..." she said in a thick voice oppressed with lust. On another day and under a different set of circumstance, Josh would have had a hard-on. That voice was a call for a hot steamy sex. Things are not the same anymore and Sue knows it.

Josh was the lukewarm type God was getting ready to spew out of his mouth anytime soon. He goes to church, prays in Tongues... or so he believes... He says he has the Holy Ghost in his heart, serves as a chorister and beds his girl as many times as he could find a condom, and strength would permit...

Josh! You bloody bloody hell-bound sinner!

When he hears that voice screaming in his head, he fasts three days until he feels his sins are purged.

Then Sue would call. And Sue would give him 'The Voice'... And like a lamb to the shearer, he follows his lust right into her panties... And sin again.

Bloody Sinful Josh; you helpless ravenous wolf deceiving the Lord's people as a sheep.  The voice in his head would chide. Thou shalt Purge me with Hyssop Oh God, and I shall be clean, thou shalt wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. His soul will cry in agony.

But that was in the summer of their hot steamy relationship. Then Autumn came when he was introduced to her family as 'The Guy'. The reception was not all that heartwarming; it's alright. In fact, it's normal, he lied to himself. Then he discovered, as time went on, that it was not normal.  Sue's family soon realized he was not just passing through. He was 'The Guy' who has pulled for himself a seat and was reading the newspaper; The Guy here to stay.

That ushered them into the winter of their relationship; a place they are still buried, enduring a blistering cold with its ominous miasma surrounding the future. The future became as bleak and uncertain as his options about it were. Sex rapidly started moving a seat back at a time. Now it is at the back row with the spell of her charm totally shattered.

Sue is also fully acquainted with that reality now, but would not give up; really, she has rather stepped up her game. Why would she give up on Josh? Josh is the best thing that ever happened to her; if there was any honour in standing by him in this cold night, then she would have that honour.

"What have you been up to?" She inquired, almost in a whisper.

"Nothing much; home, reading and doing a search online." He answered quietly. "How is tomorrow coming up?"

"hmmm well that is why I called you"

"Ok?"

"What do you mean by that?" She queried, suddenly losing her cool. She was not upset; she was frustrated, not at him.

"Oh, nothing. OK as in, I am listening" He answered calmly.

"Well sweetheart," Sue started after a sigh, "You know my mum is acting up right now. Well she is..."

Josh held his breath waiting for the almost expected news. The news that was to possibly be the final straw that breaks the sorry back of the camel.

"Tell me, Susan, what is she saying" "She does not want you there; at the wedding or the reception. And  because it is strictly by invitation, you can easily be embarrassed if you show up there without an invitation"

Silence

"No problem" Josh responded fatalistically.

"Is that all you can say?"

"What do you want me to say Susan? Josh flared up. "What have I done to make your mum dislike me to this extent?"

"Please Josh, please calm down" Susan attempted to nip the ensuing eruption.

"I won't bloody calm down. I can't take this any more, Sue. It's too much for me. I have endured this for almost two years, holding on to you and hoping she will somehow change when she gets to know me at a personal level. I tried to make myself known, you have tried to make me known, but to what end? She simply doesn't care.

She knows me well enough to like me, love me, treat me with respect, and accept me. But no! She will not. What should I do?  Tell me, Sue, tell me something new! For two years I have fought a losing battle. Sincerely, what do you think I should do differently to make her like me?"

"Josh, Josh! Are you listening to me? you promised not to flare up like this. You promised."

"And you think it is easy to bottle it up? Do you know what this is doing to me, Susan? I have loved you for who you are, pretending all the raging battle around us is some nasty nightmare that will go when we snap out of this slumber. This is two years of my life with no clue what awaits me around the bend. Two years stuck here and there; in the middle of nowhere! I have held on to hope for so long my fingers hurt."

Sue was audibly crying on the line but Josh had got to the tipping point and nothing could curtail his flow.

"What investment have I not done just to make this work? That is not to say I keep records of what I do for your family, but so you know I am not some opportunistic sucker who is only in your family to take from you. I also contribute my quota yet not even a single appreciation from her. I don't need it from her anyway, but when I come to her house, she should be kind and invite me in instead of telling me to wait outside or lie that you are is not at home. Are we some kids hiding behind the barn to steal love? I have my bloody Masters! I work, I earn a decent living. She should show me some respect!

What is it about this guy she wants you to date? What is it about him? How better is he? I have my goddamn Masters in Risk Management! Are you kidding me? Is it because he has his own house and I  rent a place? Is it because I don't have a "Family Name" on my complimentary card, and I hustle to take care of my stuff? Is it because I am an Ewe and he is a Fante? It is because I am a fresh graduate still trying to get my footings and he's already got it all figured out? What is it? Tell me, Susan, what is it at all that your mum wants me to do to make her accept me?"

"Josh, if I knew I would have told you," Sue said with a cracked voice screaming pain. "If this woman had given me a single reason why she so hates your guts so much, I would have told you. And if there was a reason, then our way would have been clearer. If it was something we could do right, we would do it, if it was something we couldn't help, then we would have had a reason to go our separate ways. But how can we break up for no reason? How can we give up like that?"

"That is a question for you to ask her!" Josh retorted angrily. "I mean, it is a conversation for you two to have. To think she is a thought leader; a woman who is respected and seen as fair, discerning and objective. Apparently, when it comes to her children, her views are final and non-negotiable.

When her car crashed, I used my connections to beat the system to get her an insurance cover so she could put in a claim, what did I get in return? A scorn! Josh you know  I do not tolerate that; that is corruption. So why did she not say so before I did it? Didn't she drive herself to the insurance company to collect the cheque? What was she thinking was happening? God raining down insurance claim settlement? But, well, when someone does not like you, they will collect whatever you give them and use it against you.

"Josh!!" Susan screamed.

"What? Is it not true? Were those not her words?"

You know, please, do not hurt me in the process, baby. Josh, I am begging you. Do not. I am equally upset, but she is my mother. I do not approve of her actions, but I respect her, and you should too. God willing, she will become your in-law, and you should never feel guilty when you look at her, because of the things you would have said about her. Please, baby, please. Let's keep hope alive.

"It hurts." Josh said quietly after a brief pause. "It really hurts."

"I know, Josh, I know."

"I am like a handyman to your family. This guy comes and parks his car at your gate, calls you on the phone for you to go out there. It is your mother who comes to beg him to come inside. He will not even sit. After a brief moment, he is out and gone. I have never seen this guy do anything of substance for your family. Unless you keep them from me.

I miss meetings, because of a family need I have to help you guys fix. Everyone in my family knows, when I have to choose between them and your family, I will go for yours. My parents have tried to be cordial with your mother to no avail. It is like a dead end when it comes to your family. Your father acts like has not seen any of this. I guess I have little or no net worth so, yea, I am good for the heavy lifting, while Mr Style and Suave gets to sit in his Ivory Towers and charm everyone with big family name, credentials and expensive facade.

"Hello?" Josh called out when he realised the line was quiet.

"I am here. Just listening." Susan said distantly.

hmm."

"I mean, it is not like I am not aware of any of these, and it is sad because none of this makes sense to me. I have no connection whatsoever with this guy, he doesn't seem like a guy I would want in my life. Heck, I can't stand him or hold a conversation with him. Gosh!" Susan cussed in exasperation.

The confusing part is that we are not poor for you to say, you are making a business decision; that you are giving me off to this guy so we can be redeemed from our socio-economic demography." 

"This guy is not ahen biaa? I honestly don't understand my mother."

"It is not just your mother. It is the entire family." Josh sought to educate Sue on the enormity of the issue confronting them. " Your father has been playing the ostrich with this. You want to tell me he cannot call your mother and have a husband to wife conversation with her?"

"How would you know they have not done that? No, Josh, I will not agree to that." Susan protested. "My mother is a stubborn woman, we all know that. Maybe my father is tired of saying it."

"I don't think so. Josh insisted. "Your home is not a matriarchy. Your father calls the shots. Your mother is a housewife. You cannot convince me that your father's hands are tied. He is just being a gentleman and pretending to be leaving all of this with your mum. He is hiding behind your mum's stubbornness to absolve himself of the responsibility of having to make a stand. I mean, you cannot convince me.

"You don't know that, Josh. You don't!"

"At least I know he is a businessman and this guy's father is a banker. Who knows. Your dad does business with his dad. Let's not pretend this is all about your mother."

"Josh..."

Ok, what about Richmond and Beryl?

“What about them? Richmond likes you. Josh. He invited you to his wife's surprise party! Please, don't bundle everyone up”

“And Beryl?”

"Everyone knows Beryl is tied to my mum’s apron strings. She is her replica on every levels."

"Well I put it to you, Richmond is your father’s replica too. I am telling you for a fact. I was at the party because he is a gentleman enough not to invite you and leave me. If he liked me in an active way, wouldn’t I have probably been in his circles by now? Are we not of the same age and in similar industry?"

"Really? Josh. Don’t muddy this up. My brother is selective with his space. His circles are not necessarily curved out from his industry; it is from his schooling. All his friends are from Botwe and Tech. same class and course.

Listen, Josh. I know this hurt. It hurts all the way up for me too. But let’s keep an open mind and not get emotional and paranoid. We might accuse people who may not even know they are part of our fight. The problem is my mother. No one else. Ok, Beryl, to a limited extent, since she brought this guy. Arrgh!

But if you keep throwing punches around, you might hit someone in your corner and that may not look good. 

“It hurts, Sue!” 

“I know baby. I know. But I need to to feel secure; sound it. Your outburst sometimes may sound like a man who is insecure. Your fight is not with that guy or anyone; it is with my mom. And she will soon be worn out. Trust me"

" You know, but for the love I have for you I would have walk away a long time ago. I am a man in my own rights. I am respected in my own quarters, I feed myself, clothe myself and bloody shelter my goddamn self. What are you talking about? I do not know whether you tell her stuff that goes on between us. But whatever goes on between us is all part of our relationship. We do have our challenges, you sort me out, I sort you out, that is life; what is her problem?

“Calm down, Baby.” Sue begged. 

“Is it because I am not like one of her many crazy in-laws and prospective in-laws that is why she hates me? I am a decent gentleman and if she can't stand that, well I am sorry for her!”

"Josh that is enough!"

"It is not enough Sue, it is not.”

"Stop yelling, Josh! You think you are the only one going mad about this? It is driving me mad too but that is not the way to go, do you know what I go through at home? Anything from me is allegedly from you. Now you control me, you think for me, you decide what I do. She thinks you have probably used a charm on me that is why I am so bonded to you.” 

"Hmmm, honestly, I wish I knew what to do. For two years all my efforts have proved futile." Josh said in a mellowed voice.

"So what? Baby, so what? We are not letting go"

“I am sorry, Sue, my hands are weak now; I can't hold on again"

"Baby please don't leave me. Baby..."

 It was too much for the two to bear. They cried quietly.

"What is the way forward?” Josh asked after he had composed himself. It was a question they have been trying to get an answer to. “What can we practically do about this situation? And you know I won't allow you to jeopardize your relationship with your family on my account. I love you that much to let you bear that cost."

"Don't say that, Josh! Don't you dare say that to me! Are you that weak? Are you that mean and selfish? If you wouldn't have done it for me, it does not mean I won’t do it for you. 

Don't abandon me… what will you say when you meet me and I am torn apart? Does this guy look like a guy who can take care of me? Am I  not worth more than money can buy? And beyond money and empty words, what substance has he, except a pair of boxers full of his balls which I am sure half the women on this planet might have seen. I am worth more than that. Do not leave me to him, please. I am begging you.

The only reason why I am fighting this hard is because you stick and give me reasons to fight; what becomes of that resolve if you leave me? Do you want to meet me the next time as the wife of a player? Would you ever forgive yourself that you allow me to become a woman who is so messed up in her marriage?

"Well like I said, I am not the one to have this conversation with" Josh said, having lost his steam and fury. 

"Who do I talk to? My mum who would not listen?"

“But what can I do listening to it? What can I change?”

"You can give me the strength to hold on, Josh; that strength is the change you make in my life, every day."

"I do not want to leave you Sue"

"Then Don't!" 

"But I am scared."

 "Of what?"

"Isn't it obvious? What if we fight on for five years and nothing happens?"

"Something will happen, Josh; we fought for a cause"

"Stop being idealistic, Sue; it is not working" It is working baby; me and you are not the problem, so it is working. The problem is her. She can die, get sick, change her mind... anything can happen and turn the tide in our favour. What I won't have happen is for us to part. You can leave me if you so wish, but you will have a stalker to deal with; you will be responsible for whatever happens to me. 

My only way out is to leave Ghana; but where will you be? Are you willing to move to London with me? My only way out is to rent my own place; or move to another city. But would it be respectful to my parents? My only choice is to get pregnant; but will it show honour to me, you and our families? There are no easy options out of this without the willingness and the ability to pay the attaching hefty price.

“Hmmmm. I am not sure anymore.” Josh said resignedly. None of the above options seemed appropriate to him. He vowed at the early stages in his life, not to be the cause of instability in the home of any woman he met. 

“I am dying Josh; this is killing me. You know what, I am not going for this stupid wedding.

"Why? For me? You think that will change anything?"

"Yes, it will, baby; it will. I will start a passive resistance at home; the battle line is drawn and I will bring disruption until my father and Richmond explicitly speak out"

"And how do you intend to do that?” Josh asked curiously.  "Well I can start by having 'an upset tummy' tonight and get so weak by the morning no one will tell me to go for any stupid wedding. Then you get to come visit me and we spend time at home together. Then we move on, a day at a time, one sabotage at a time."

“And then this other guy?”

"If you live it to me, I will play a lady with it, honestly. Please compose a text for me to send to him. The message should be something to the effect that, I have put things in perspective and I do not intend to be with him, as I have always told him. It is nothing he did or said. I am concentrating on my current relationship and I would need some peace to do that. It is non-negotiable. Then I block his numbers. When he comes by, he will be Beryl or my mum's guest. Gloves off!"

"Hmmm. Sounds good. Only if I will not be cited in the future as being the brain behind this” Josh said sarcastically, secretly reveling in the idea.  “Really, Josh?”  “Oh, just saying.”  "You know what, your best friend is calling me; please lemme call you back ok" "Who, your mum?" “Which other best friend do you have in my house? Call you back soon. Mwwaahh”

Sue is 26 and a Chartered Accountant. Josh is 30 and a Risk Manager in an Insurance Company. 

______________________________________________________________________________________

 LET US SOLVE THEIR PROBLEM TOGETHER

  • Genuinely How can two people continue to date when their parents or guardians turn out to resist the relationship so much?

  • Do guardians have any rights at all to decide who their children or people under them date?

  • When is it ok to follow love and fight your guardians and when is it ok to listen to your folks and let love go?

  • What would you do if you were Sue?

  • What would you do if you were Josh?

  • Will Josh be right to let go?

  • Is Sue being a fool to want to hold on?

  • Is Josh's outburst and his choice of words just in the reality of his frustration?

  • Can you identify with this couple's challenge?

Leaving On A Jet Plane - Chantel Kreviazuk
00:00 / 00:00
PG Sebastian 
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