David was the love of my life or at least he was at the time. Perhaps it was how he was overly invested in my life or maybe the effect of dating for about six years that led me to decide that he was the one I would share with the rest of my life. There was nothing extraordinary about our relationship besides the fact that it had survived six years even though he was outside the country most of the time on missions.
He had met my nuclear family in person after two years of dating. After six years, even the friends and family members who hadn’t met him knew him by name. As expected by the third year, I had already started getting questions on when we planned to take the relationship to the next stage. David mainly was away, and the timing never seemed to be right. In fact, during our fourth year of courtship, while away on one of his missions, he had told me to start looking around for wedding venues.
In my late 20s, many of my friends were settling down, and it was finally going to be my turn.
“Mum, and don’t tell anyone yet, not even your sisters, David has asked me to start checking out wedding venues,” I told my mother with so much excitement.
Of course, my mother told my aunties because whoever keeps anything that starts with ‘don’t tell anyone a secret. For the next couple of months, it was an open secret that I would walk down the aisle at least within the year. So I dragged along my best friend Diana to every venue recommended by friends, family or social media reviews. My Pinterest board was up with everything matters wedding.
I made budgets and sent them together with every idea that I had to David. He sounded excited and even weighed in on his preferences. All that was left was for him to come back, and we’d set the actual date. On a Friday evening, there was a knock on the door. My first thought was, who could it be since the people around me would call before coming. Anyway, I opened the door. To my surprise, it was David.
“Babe! What are you doing here? I wasn’t expecting you back,” I told him as I embraced him.
“The mission has been cut short,” he said with a somewhat neutral tone.
I didn’t ask many questions since I was too glad to have him back after being apart for weeks. I was also not going to bring up the wedding on that day. That could wait till the following day. After a relaxed evening of lovers who had yearned for each other’s company, he broke the news to me. There would be no wedding, or at least not at this time because he was going to change jobs. In fact, he would have to relocate permanently to another country for one year. However, I wasn’t supposed to worry because after the year was over, he would come back, and we could get married.
For a couple of weeks, my feelings oscillated between anger, disappointment and shame. Breaking the news to my mother that there would be no wedding was the hardest part. Explaining to my friends why I was still with this man even after he decided on his own to relocate to another country without consulting me was even harder.
My relationships with my friends began to feel strained because I could feel the judgment every time I mentioned David. David, on the other hand, became highly possessive. He would randomly make video calls to ascertain that I was indeed where I had said I was. Although he would financially take care of some of my bills in the past, he now took over all of my bills and even started my mother some shopping money. He claimed it was to reassure me that he fully intended to make me his wife. All I needed to do was wait for the one year to end.
Time went by, and before we knew it, the one year was over. I waited for David to inform me of his return date. However, instead of a return date, he announced his employer had extended his contract for another eight months.
“Honey, that guy is playing you. There’s no way he’s planning on marrying you, “said Diana, my best friend.
“But he still sounds committed to me and he takes care of me. I defended him to my friends. Would he do that if he didn’t want to settle down with me?”
“I don’t know about that but something doesn’t feel right,” Diana remarked.
We had been together for five years, so what was another eight months? Besides taking care of all my bills, he even sent his work schedule to prove that he wasn’t doing anything sinister. However, he was becoming more possessive, and he would be wary of everyone I would hang around. Whenever I would post a photo on social media, he would ask a string of questions. He even claimed that my best friend Diana was introducing me to her male friends so that I could leave him.
For the eight months, if we were not arguing about what I was supposedly doing, he was apologizing and professing his deep desire to make me his wife once he came back. At some point, my best friend and I became distant to prevent quarrels with David. Eight months down the line, he was back home. Once again, he told me to inform my mother that he would come to ask for my hand in marriage.
I should have been excited because it was finally happening after close to six years of waiting. However, after the turnout of events the last time, I was worried that I would be disappointed again. But David was here this time, so what could possibly go wrong?
The date was set, the vendors were in place, and both families were getting ready for the traditional wedding ceremony, ruracio. Then on a Thursday, about two weeks before the ceremony, an unknown number called me.
“Hey, am I speaking to Esther?” the lady on the other side of the line asked.
“Yes, Esther speaking.”
“I’m Ann. I mother to David’s son and I am calling to speak to you woman to woman,” she started saying.
“David’s who?” I asked in confusion.
“David’s baby mama. I’m calling to plead with you since you have demanded that he stops sending child support…”
Suddenly, my legs could not carry my weight, and I had to sit down. I could hear what the woman was saying, but I couldn’t make sense of it. I asked her to give me a few minutes, and I would call her back. There was this ringing in my head that I couldn’t stop.
“Could this woman be telling the truth?” I wondered. I called her back, and she explained the whole story from the beginning. She also sent ‘receipts’, and I was inclined to believe her. I did not understand why David stopped sending money and lied that I now controlled his money, but I knew who had the answers.
David was going to come over in the evening to go for our last clothes’ fitting the following day.
“Babe, Ann called me asking about this month’s money,” I casually said.
“Ann? I don’t know any Ann, “David quickly denied.
“Ann, your eight-year-old son’s mother.”
The look on his face confirmed the few doubts I had in my mind. He wanted to deny everything, and for a minute, he started to sound like he was going to, then he decided to own up.
“Your son is eight years old David, he was born two years before we started dating. When did you plan on telling me about him?” I asked him.
“It never came up,” he said.
“It never came up? How… just inform your parents that the ruracio is cancelled.” I couldn’t even have this discussion with him.
“But babe, you’re going to cancel it just because I have a child? It’s not like I even cheated on you, “David said with a straight face.
I could not get past the fact that after six years together I had just found out he had a child and he trivialized it as ‘just a child’. For the second time, I had to inform my mother that there would be no wedding, but it was cancelled for good this time.
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