Every year during Christmas, I travel to visit my mother at Saltpond. The house my mom lived in was an open house where people in the vicinity comes to fetch water every morning and evening. My mom had the keys to the tap so when they come around early morning, it was my mom’s door they come to knock and ask for the keys.

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Our mornings begin with a stranger’s knock and ends when everyone in the community has had their tanks full of water. One morning, while standing outside and brushing my teeth, a lady—almost six feet tall, fair in complexion with a gap in her teeth came asking for the keys to fetch water. I looked at her for some seconds, wiped the foam from my mouth, and asked, “You’re coming to buy water?” As if I didn’t hear her the first time. She said, “Yes.”

Usually, I would call my mom and tell her there’s someone there asking to fetch water but this one—with this fair lady with a gap in her teeth, I walked inside, picked the keys, came back, and opened the tap for her. I stood there and watched as the water from the tap flowed into her bucket until the bucket was full. I then helped her to carry it. I asked, “Would you come back again?” She said, “Yeah, I would.”

I stood there and waited until she came back and went and came back again and went. I asked her name and she said Dufie. “Dufie, my name is Ekow. I came from Accra for the holidays and would return soon. Could you be my friend?” “She said, “You’ve been a lot of help to me today. Why not? We are already friends.”

Before I left town, I got her number. The day I got her number, we spoke all day and continued in the night until we were both yawning. “She likes me. I know she does.” I said to myself.

Back when I was in Accra, I proposed to her and she said yes. “That easy? No give me some time to think about it? Or girls with a gap in their teeth don’t play hard to get?” It was the happiest day of my life. There seemed to be a new light thrown on my life. I spoke with a happy face and worked with smiles on my face. “I have a beautiful girlfriend who has diastema.”

A month or so later, I called my cousin in Saltpond and told him, “I’m dating Dufie now so please keep a watchful eye on her for me.” He asked, “Dufie?” I said, “Yes, Dufie.” Long pause. “Please, forget about her. If you want to just ‘eat’ some and go that’s alright but to date her?” I asked him, “Why are you saying that? Does she sleep around with men?” He answered, “Not in that manner but as for Dufie, everyone knows she’s not marriage material. She’s too riotous and unrestrained. She doesn’t mind fighting you in public or attacking you in public when you err against her.”

Riotous? Unrestrained? Doesn’t mind fighting in public? But how does that concern me?

We dated for three years and I didn’t see any sign of that. Well, they said it was a distant relationship so it was hard for me to see or because she loved me, she loves me, she’s hiding her true colors until we get married. My mom didn’t know I was dating her until one day, I took her to the house to introduce her fas the woman I was going to marry. When my mom saw her, she said, “Dufie? Is this not the same girl who comes to fetch water from here?” I said yes. I realized she had something to say but couldn’t say it in Dufie’s presence.

When she was gone, she called me aside and said, “If you really know this girl’s character, you wouldn’t think of marrying her. She fetches water here each morning and she had fought with everyone who comes here to fetch water. She’s always hyper and ready to fight whoever steps on her toe. I can’t let you go that far with her.” Mom wasn’t ready to listen to me. “I told her, “I’ve known her for three years and she hasn’t said a word against me or fought me on anything. She’s been a good girl.” Mom responded, “Ooooh then she’s pretending. She’ll show you pepper after you marry her. Don’t look at her beauty and marry her, you’ll make a mistake.”

I realized I couldn’t win. That night I went to Dufie and ask about all the things my mom said. She answered, “I don’t go around fighting people, I stand up to those who try to take advantage of me. I respect those who respect me. Those who try to walk over me are the people who have problems with me. Tell me, have I been disrespectful to you?”

I went to my uncle and told him about my intention to marry and my mom’s position of not allowing me to marry my choice. My uncle is one level headed man but he was an alcoholic so people hardly place any premium on the things he says. My uncle asked, “You know her too much to believe she’ll be a good wife?” I answered, “Yeah I believe she would be. I love her.” He said, “You’re the one going to marry and live with her. If you truly love her and believe she would make you a good wife, then don’t let anyone come between you two.”

My uncle took the matter up and later won my mother’s consent. I don’t know how he did it but it didn’t take too long before my mom told me, “If you still insist, I give you my blessings but when things go south, don’t run to me.” I won over my mom but I couldn’t win over those in the community who believed Dufie was a bad choice. “My son, you’re trying to step on a grenade.” One man said.

We got married in June. On our wedding day, it rained from morning till evening. Our wedding delayed for several hours and we still couldn’t get the church to be half full. One man said to me, “God is talking to you. If only you’ll listen to his voice, you won’t go ahead with this wedding.” That was the only point I got scared about my decision. Our reception was rained off. I remember the food was served under a shed for those who didn’t mind the rain.

After the wedding, my uncle said, “My son, you’ve made a good choice. She’s beautiful. If you get a beautiful woman, even if she doesn’t have a good character, marry her. Everyone sees beauty and they’ll praise you for it.” Obviously he had a lot to drink.

I came to Accra with my wife to begin a new life together. When I was leaving Saltpond, the family gathered around to say goodbye to us but all I heard in my mind was, “You’ll call us soon to tell us we were right.”

The first three months of our marriage was nothing but awesome. She asked questions about everything and I was glad to teach her. She wasn’t ashamed about things she didn’t know and was always ready to learn. I didn’t teach her anything twice—just once and the next day she’ll be doing it like a pro.

She got a job that wasn’t paying well. She took it because she was tired of staying in the house for six months. When she got her first salary, she asked me, “What are we going to do with my money?” I told her, “It’s not a lot so you keep it for yourself. Buy what you need and I’ll take care of the rest.” No, she didn’t do that. Instead, she started paying the electricity and other bills that her money could afford.

Not long afterward, she got a new job that paid better. Every Friday before we close from work, she’ll call me and say, “There’s this place I hear they have good meals, why don’t we visit them tonight?” When work closes, I’ll pick a taxi and meet her there. We’ll eat, drink and go home very late. Guess what…she will pay for everything; She’ll say, “I’m supposed to cook for you and I brought you here. Let me pay for my sins.”

One morning, she woke me up from bed and said, “Get up, we are going to buy a car.” I asked, “Are you serious? With whose money?” She said, “Stop thinking and act. Just get ready and let’s go.” I got up, dressed up, and followed her. We visited four different car dealers and negotiated on four different cars. When we agree on the price, she’ll tell the seller, “We’ll be back later to buy it.” When we left the fourth car seller’s place, she said, “At least, now we know the cars we want and know how much they cost. Let’s go home and work towards it.”

Six months later, a few days before Christmas she said, “Let’s get a car for Christmas. I’ve saved this much towards it. How much do you have?” When we checked, she already had 60% of the amount. I added 40% and two days later, on Christmas Sunday, we drove our new car to church.

She automatically became the head of the family. A position she didn’t vie or fight for. She earned it. Heads bring ideas and all the good ideas came from her. She will bring up a plan today and tomorrow, she’ll execute it to perfection. All I have to do is to play a willing partner. We’ve been married for six years and for all these years, she hasn’t had a wrong plan. When I married her, I brought her to the house I was living in—a single bedroom house with a small kitchen where we shared washroom with other tenants. I had plans to relocate but didn’t know when. She told me one day, “We need a new place. I wouldn’t like to raise my kids here. A year later, we moved into a two-bedroom apartment.

She only has to say it with her mouth and it gets done. If she has to fight someone, or even me, she’ll do it just to get what she wants for us.

My friends tease me when I tell them, “I’ll have to ask for my wife’s opinion” They tell me, “Why do you always bring your wife into conversations?” They think my wife dictates to me or it’s my wife who runs my life. They don’t understand she’s the reason behind my being. Last time, I started listing all the things I wouldn’t have had, had it not been my wife. That was when I realized that whatever I own now, comes from having Dufie as my wife. Everything I had and who I was before marriage had been replaced with a better one. As if she intentionally planned to have them replaced.

Why won’t I ask for her opinions before doing anything? In my house, she leads and I follow. I don’t have any reason to argue and scream that “I’m the man of the house.” I only have to trust what she says and so far so good

We have two kids; a boy and a girl. The girl is only four but I already see her mother in her. Last, when I was preparing them for school, I told her, “If you become like your mother, they’ll call you names—riotous, unrestrained and probably a witch but you’ll rule your space if you stick to who you are.”

—Ekow, Ghana

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