People in this country seem to be somewhat preoccupied with marriage and relationships.
Conversations sometimes go like this:
“Did you leave your boyfriend in America?”
“Where is he, then?”
“I don’t have a boyfriend.”
“What! Why not?”
Or like this:
“I bet your fiancé misses you.”
“Fiancé? I don’t have a fiancé!”
“You don’t? Why?”
What the hell?!
I don’t have a boyfriend because, well, I just don’t! It’s so weird being asked why I don’t have a boyfriend or fiancé. Um... no guy likes me enough to ask me to be his girlfriend? I’m not crazy about anyone? Everyone in America hates me? Does that work?
Actually, the real reason I don’t have a boyfriend is that I don’t really want one right now. I like being single. It would have been much harder to leave home and come here if I had left someone behind. Besides, I’ve never been in love.
I think the funniest conversation was with Sister Dorothy, after I told her that I have five brothers and sisters and that I’m the oldest.
“You’re the oldest? Why aren’t you married?” she asked.
“Because I’m too young,” I explained.
“When do you want to get married? In two or three years?”
“No, that’s much too soon! In five or six years, at least,” I said.
“You shouldn’t wait that long. You should get married before that,” she advised.
“Well, I want to wait until I fall in love...”
In another conversation, I was talking about all the places I want to visit when Sister Dorothy asked me out of the blue, “Kate, when are you going to get married?”
I was a bit taken aback. “Not now. I’m too young!”
“You know that you won’t be able to travel once you’re married,” she said.
“No, they have a choice,” Sister Juliana explained. “She can just marry someone who likes to travel.”
“But when she has kids, she won’t be able to travel,” Sister Dorothy said. “When are you going to have kids?”
“Kids? My word! Not for a while! Maybe when I’m in my thirties,” I said.
“That’s too old. It’s better to have kids when you’re young,” Sister Dorothy said.
“I’m not even married yet!”
“When are you getting married?” she repeated.
I thought it was a bit hypocritical of her to pressure me to get married. She never married. She’s a nun! I calmly explained to her, “First I need to meet the right guy. You can’t rush these things, you know.”
Although, this afternoon, someone did ask me to marry him.
I was sitting in the staff room talking to Mr. Barnabas when a man came in to talk to him about a sports tournament in which our school is invited to participate. After a few minutes, Mr. Barnabas stepped out of the room to get something, so I started talking to the man. His name was Sammy. We chatted for a little while about whatever, just small talk. Then Sammy began the usual conversation with me...
“Are you married?” he asked.
“I’m too young!”
“How old are you?” he asked.
“Guess,” I said.
“Um... I think you’re 27 or 28.”
“No. I’m only 22.”
“You’re younger than me! I’m 24.”
“Okay. I’ll be 24 in 2 years,” I said just to make conversation.
”Do you have a boyfriend?” he asked.
“I’m not in love,” I said, then, deciding to turn it around on him, I asked, “Are you married, Sammy?”
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
“Why not?” I said, smiling mischievously.
“Because nobody loves me,” he said a bit pathetically.
“Oh. I’m sorry,” I said awkwardly.
“Do you have any sisters?” he asked, and I told him about my three sisters in America.
“Oh, they’re too young. I can’t marry any of them.”
“Yeah, sorry,” I said, unsure of what to say.
“I can’t marry you,” he said.
“Um, okay,” I said, not particularly heartbroken.
“I can’t marry you,” he repeated.
“Um, cool?” I said, becoming confused.
“I can’t marry you?” he said, and then I realized he had been saying it as a question, not as a statement. I just gave him a blank stare. He shook his head. “You don’t understand. I’m asking if I can marry you.”
“Do you want to marry me?”
“You just met me!” I said. “You’ve only known me for, what, fifteen minutes?”
“It’s okay,” he said. “We could get to know each other. We could wait two years to get married.”
“I’m not even going to be here in two years. I don’t know where I’ll be. I could be in Japan.”
“If you were in Japan,” he said, “I’d be in Thailand.”
“But I might not be in Japan. I could be in Argentina,” I said.
“If you were in Argentina, I’d be in Brazil.”
“I could be in Spain.”
“If you were in Spain, I’d be in Germany,” he persisted. “Come on. It would work.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. He asked me for my address, but I told him, truthfully, that I didn’t know it. He asked me for my phone number, but I don’t have a phone. I found the situation hysterical. It reminded me of all the other times I’d been proposed to. I started telling him about my first proposal, which took place at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
“Ah, so you’re going to marry the French man,” he said, dejected.
“No,” I said.
I started to tell him about my second proposal, by an Italian boy who tried to use an onion ring to seal the deal, but again he interrupted, “Ah, so you’re going to marry the Italian guy.”
“No, definitely not.”
“Why not? Then why can’t you marry me?”
I was spared telling him about my third proposal when Monsieur Kofi walked in the room to get me. Class 5 had French class. After the class, I told Monsieur Kofi about my latest marriage proposal.
“The next time that happens,” he said seriously, “tell him that’s not the reason why you came here.” Obviously.
The funny thing is that before I came here, my friends all teased me that I’d end up marrying an African man named Simba.
“My parents would be happy about that,” I joked. “They’d get the bride price... goats and chicken and other livestock. Maybe I’d even be worth a cow or two!”
Well, I’ve just turned down my first proposal by an African man. However, I don’t think we’d have been a good match. I wouldn’t make a very good Ghanian wife. Apparently, what Ghanian men look for in a woman is someone who can cook.
I can’t cook. Sorry, Ghana.