A Difficult Choice: Estranged Wife or Loyal Mistress?

During visits to Kumasi in the mid-1990s, Kwame Mainu’s feelings for his estranged wife, Comfort, had revived, and he had begun to hope that a reconciliation might be possible. It was Comfort who had made the break, citing Kwame’s lack of ambition for his family and his complicity in helping the British authorities apprehend Ghanaians involved in drugs trafficking. Auntie Rose had recently hinted, ‘I think she might take you back if you ask her.’ At the same time that these emotions surged, however, Kwame knew that he must also give due weight to the needs and aspirations of his present partner, Afriyie.Kwame and Afriyie had drifted together partly by chance and partly by feminine guile. Their relationship was more one of convenience than of passion, although passion had played its part. When presented with the challenge of marrying at the same time as Tom and Akos Mary, Kwame had pulled out after months of indecision. Yet he knew that he owed Afriyie a great debt of gratitude. He also knew that Afriyie wanted to stay longer in Coventry with her comfortable home, her business and her friend, Akos Mary.

Afriyie might lack Comfort’s quick wits and sharp intuitive mind but her steadier temperament made her a more dependable sexual partner. She had kept house for Akosua and himself for almost eight years, remaining totally loyal and asking for little in return. She had worked hard at her sewing business, contributing to the family income, and she had willingly accompanied him back to Britain. In short, she had done nothing to deserve his rejection.Afriyie was looking forward to having her first baby in the UK and this was becoming an increasing concern. In spite of much effort no pregnancy had resulted. Afriyie would soon be thirty-four and she was beginning to hint that her best years for starting a family were passing away. It was more than a year since Kwame had agreed to Afriyie’s request and now since his latest visit to Kumasi his emotional commitment had changed. Did he want to further strengthen his ties to Afriyie? Wouldn’t a child with Afriyie close the door to any prospect of reconciliation with Comfort?

Kwame reflected ruefully that some people might say that his emotional turmoil was a form of mid-life crisis. If so, it did not quite fit the usual pattern. Apart from coming a few years too early, his fantasy involved returning to the wife of his youth rather than seeking his lost youth with a new wife. Nevertheless, it was still an attempt to turn back the clock. Was his desire to go back to Comfort a mirage that would fade as it was approached, leaving the rest of his life a barren desert? Was it just a selfish indulgence that in time he might come to regret? Of one thing he was sure: such a major life changing decision needed time to mature. He could afford to wait upon events to provide the answer or change the question.

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