1. The Encounter

The first time Marie had seen John Paul, she had thought very little of him. She was thankful of course when he stopped in the rain and offered to get a taxi for her but she disregarded him as he rode off on his pink bicycle wearing yellow shoes. “Kubolo” she had thought, “Why on earth did I give him my telephone number?” The thoughts of how they met swarmed her mind as she sat, frail, in the church with his memorial book in her hands. Their children and grand-children were surrounding her in her wheelchair. She dried her tears and replaced them with a smile as the feeling of gratefulness about the fulfilling life she had lead with this insignificant Kubolo engulfed her.

Later that evening, her phone rang. It was an unknown number. She hesitated a while before answering. “Hello” she said hesitantly, she made a mental plan of how she would hang up instantly if the voice on the other end was her former boyfriend who had been trying to contact her for a while. “Hello good evening” the other voice said. “I am not sure you remember me, we met this afternoon and I helped you get a taxi” John Paul reminded her. Flashbacks of the rainy afternoon came to her mind; the pink bicycle, bushy hair, the Kubolo. The Kubolo had actually had the courage to call her. Should she cut him off, what could they possibly talk about? “Oh hi!” She answered. “I just called to make sure you were alright. I hope I can keep calling you because I would like to get to know you better” He said. “I know where he is going with this, he must think he is slick”, she thought but heard herself answer “I am fine; it is nice of you to ask. Well of course we can talk from time to time”. “Alright then have a good evening oh and by the way my name is John Paul and you?” “Ok Good bye”. She quickly hang up and lay back in bed. Soon she was dreaming of a life with Kubolo living in a tiny flat taking their children to school on pink bicycles.

Marie was a very sweet and adorable young lady. She had an infectious personality, the type once you got close to you found it difficult detaching from. All the boys wanted to date her and all the girls wanted to be like her. However, she was very determined to only be with her ideal man and never settle for less. He was tall, dashingly handsome, he loved the Lord and was very active in the church. He had an older brother and a little sweet sister and his mother was the loveliest woman ever. He played a sport, preferably basket ball and was so intelligent he finished first in his class and got a scholarship to further his education. What a man. He would love her with all his might and be a great father to their two children one boy and one girl.

Antonio! This was the man of her life, her Romeo, her Don Juan, the man who would sweep her off her feet… only he did not know it yet.

“Marie wake up it is 6 am. Are you not going to school today? Wake up you have over slept”. It was 5:45am and Marie’s alarm clock was set to sound at 6am but her grandmother never thought about that and so every morning would wake poor Marie up before her scheduled time.

She turned her head on her pillow and grumbled “Mama, I am not late I have 15 minutes more ah”. To this her grandma would respond “My dear do not be lazy come on out of bed”.   There was one thing everyone knew about Marie. You did not dare to wake Marie up before the time she had planned to wake up or you would have to deal with her grumpy attitude for the entire morning. Whether you thought she was running late or you woke up earlier and were making noises that woke her up; she would be in such a bad mood, not address anyone, bark greetings and all. Her grandmother knew this but somehow most mornings even on weekends would indulge in this provocative act only to be amazed at Marie’s attitude.

Just as she sat up in bed and stretched out her phone rang. “Hello sweety. Are you awake?” he said with such enthusiasm. “Who is this?” Marie answered in an undertone voice and with her eyes still closed. “This is John Paul. I am really miss you. I don’t know but I believe you are the woman for me, I had a dream last night” he said cheerfully. Swiftly, she sat up in her bed, breathed in to control her temper but when she opened her mouth there was all but control in her words. “Listen to me carefully John Paul or whatever you call yourself. How dare you call me this early and tell me such nonsense. You miss me? You don’t even know me so please take your time and relax. And oh thank you for making me miss 2 minutes of sleep”. With that she cut the call without waiting for his response. Little did this innocent John Paul know about her temper. He thought it romantic to be the first voice she heard that morning that when he called at 5.58am he was not expecting the shower of insults.

She did not feel good the entire morning. Not only was her sleep cut short but she had an unwanted admirer.

After the call, she sat in bed staring in the vacuum. Her mind was lost between the Milky Way and an unknown galaxy, a distant car horn brought her back to reality. She turned round and saw her Bible and daily bread but she got out of bed without doing her quiet time. Even God was a victim of her temper. Breakfast was a bore, rice water. “Mummy again? We had rice water yesterday and the day before” she said. The exhausted house wife looked at her and said “Hey I thought that was your favourite. Tell me, who woke you up this morning? I heard you shouting. Please don’t take it out on me”. Her little brothers and father burst out laughing. If Marie was white she would have turned red of embarrassment. Just then Joelle her best friend walked in and joined the family at the table. They all ate and after the two friends cleaned up they retreated to Marie’s room to gossip.

They were in their final year of college and were working on their research projects. Joelle brought her computer so she could work while Marie used hers. Instead, the young ladies were on the internet checking their friend’s pictures and gossiping. “Look at Nancy and her boyfriend. He is so fine, gosh I envy her. I have been thinking about Seth lately and I think I should give him a second chance”. Joelle said. “What? Are you serious? Have you forgotten so quickly how he cheated? Once a cheater always a cheater Joelle. Trust me”. Marie said feeling quiet proud. “Oh there you go your highness. Since when did you become a love guru?” Joelle answered sarcastically. “Well I will have you know that apart from Pierre who broke my heart I have never allowed any guy to mess with me. Unlike you I know how to control men (my feelings)”. Marie said. “ehem, -she cleared her throat- not even Antonio?” Joelle said, stood up laughing and sat next to Marie on the bed and whispered “So who woke you up this morning? I heard your mum.” Marie’s mouth twisted as she bit the inside of her mouth. She was hoping the subject of John Paul would not come up. “No one” she said very quickly. “Really? Look at me and tell me it was no one” Joelle nagged. “Hey come on we have work to do. I think I got an author for the literature review. Look here…”Marie tried to distract her. “You are not going to change the topic. I know you miss Marie Fosuwaa Hansful. It is a guy isn’t it? Spill the beans now that you have been caught”. She said and gave Marie a tickle. This turned into a tickle fight then a pillow fight when Marie picked up her pillow to stop Joelle from tickling her. Her mum stormed in and yelled at them to keep it quiet and to focus on their work or else they would be sent to the library. “Joelle, there is something about this guy” Marie said when they had settled down. “He helped me get a taxi yesterday after I left your place and now he claims I am the woman of his life. I mean who does that?” “Wow he is in l-o-v-e with you. Love at first sight it must be. Haha” Joelle said mockingly. Then her face straightened and she said “Maybe you should give him a chance, he could be your prince charming.” Marie stood up and grabbed the dictionary on the shelf. “I think not. He does not look or sound like one. He even said I am really miss you. He cannot even speak simple English” She said. Her diamond incrusted iphone begun to ring at that moment. It was the Kubolo. It rang twice and she did not answer. He sent a text message which read:

Hello my dear, I am so sorry to wake you this morning. But why did you shout me. I love you. Give me the chance please.

She deleted it as fast as she had received it.

“Marie talk to me. Was that him?”

“The manner in which he is behaving is flattering, it is the dream of every girl to fall in love at first sight with a handsome man” Marie confessed. “Alright so the issue is that he is ugly” Joelle said. They both laughed till their rib cages hurt. They heard Marie’s mum’s footsteps coming up the stairs so they kept quiet and quickly got to their computers. After fifteen minutes Joelle stopped typing and shoved Marie sitting next to her. “Girl talk to me”. After short pondering she said “Joelle he said he dreamt about me and that I am the woman for him. I also had a dream”.

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