My Dear Ebo,

It’s 1968 and you are 14 years and in great pain. I can feel your anguish as your best friend, Amisty, tells you that he has proposed to and won the love of Cece, the girl you have been pining for for the past 3 years. You love Cece deeply and passionately but you have never gathered the courage to approach her. Your pain is worse because you know that she also liked you, and yet you were afraid of ruining the friendship with her. Your pain is also compounded because you know that for Amisty, Cece is only a conquest and he’ll soon discard her and move on.

You pretend you are looking for a ripe mango so Amisty doesn’t see the anguish and the rising anger that makes you want to punch him.

Now, as an old man looking back, I can tell you, Ebo, that your friend did not win Cece; you lost her. She too did not want to spoil her friendship with you. She too was not too sure that you loved her the way she loved you. She liked you; she respected you; she enjoyed your company; she liked the way your mind worked and the way you carried yourself; she liked that you were different from the other boys in the neighborhood and I can tell you that she waited for those three years for you to propose and when you didn’t, she felt that you thought she was not your kind and so when your friend proposed, she felt it was the next best thing to having you. You were the one she wanted but if you did not want her, then your best friend would enable her to continue staying close to you.

And now I know that you are kicking yourself and wishing desperately that you had had the courage to pop the question. But my dear Ebo, don’t be hard on yourself. The fact is that your lacking the courage to pop the question was also your redemption because if you had picked a relationship with her, there is no way you would have left South Suntreso for the great adventure of life, of ups and downs, that have brought you to this point where your fortieth wedding anniversary is just a few months away.

The truth is that with Cece, you were fishing in a small pond. What you do not know today in 1968 is that, like Jonah, you are about to be thrown into the big sea. For now, I want you to understand that a day will come when you will look back and wonder why you fell so hard for Cece because you would have come into contact with a whole host of great girls who would make the memory of Cece very faint. Today, however, as you listen to your friend boasting of his conquest of Cece, all you can hear is your pain; all you can feel is your heartbreak and all you want to do is to go and hide.

Well, you will pass the common entrance next year and make it to Accra and here you are going to meet the girl who will take the desire for Cece from your heart, Jenny. Oh beautiful, sweet and caring Jenny. You will sit in the same class room with Jenny from Secondary Form 1 and the two of you will take to each other from day one. She will be the first friend you make in Accra and she will be the first girl ever to invite you to her house. But alas, Jenny too will wait in vain for you to pop the question. Again, timidity and fear of rejection will rob you of the chance of knowing whether Jenny could be more to you than just a sweet girl who looked out for your interest every time.

And like Cece before her, one day, she will come to you and say, “James, I need to tell you something.”

She will begin by asking, James, what do you think of TT.” TT is not your friend but you know he is a decent boy.

You, being naïve and not knowing that that question is always an introduction to a bombshell, will answer, “TT? He is a nice boy. I think he is a good boy.”

Then the bombshell. Jenny says, “James, TT has asked me to be his girlfriend. Should I say yes to him? If you say I shouldn’t say yes to him, I won’t. I will only say yes if you say I should give him a chance.”

Poor Ebo, you will be lost and feel trapped but you will still be too naïve to know how to navigate your way through this tricky patch and so, not wanting to appear like a jerk, you will act as if it is okay with you and that you are happy for the two of them and give Jenny away without knowing that this was her way of forcing the issue with you. You will never know that when she went home that day, she cried all night. You felt that decency meant you had to hide your feelings for her once she told you that she was considering someone else. Oh how much you would need to learn and how much you would.

But the real knockout punch in love would come about five years later. You would have finished secondary school and you would be working with SSNIT. You would be involved in a group called Youth For Christ (YFC) and there, you would meet the great girl and this time you would be bold enough to pop the question and she would say, “Yes.” But you would never feel that you deserve her and three of the boys you would be providing leadership for, who want her for one of their friends, would conspire to take advantage of your insecurity and create a wedge between you and her and kill the relationship. But this will end well. No, you won’t get her back but you will be blessed with a treasure of a lady to whom you would be married for much longer than you lived as a bachelor.

She will be God’s own gift to you but you will struggle to accept that in the beginning. Her wisdom and patience, however, will gradually bring you to the point where you will thank God every day for blessing you with a wife like that. Her name will be Florence and she will protect you from your unstable heart.

Your hormones? Well, you will always struggle with those but in time, you will learn to tame them and use them for great good.

So, my dear Ebo, today, cry over Cece if you must but trust me, she cannot hold a candle to the one you will settle down with. Oh by the way, to meet her, you will have to move to Accra but don’t worry about that because God will make a way. He always does.

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