I was nursing a wounded heart when Eric came along. I didn’t give him attention but he was insistent. He called me every day and sent me a message each day and night until one day I asked him, “So tell me, what do you really want from me?”

He said, “I don’t want anything from you. Just call me back some times. Respond to my messages. Ask me how I am just like I ask you every day. That’s how friendship begins. Don’t assume every guy who approaches you have bad intentions, no. Some of us come with a clean heart.”

“A clean heart, huh?”

That’s how things started. He told me about his job; “I work with this insurance company and they’ve transferred me from Accra to this place.” He told me about his life, where he had come from and where he intended to go with his life. We kept talking and every evening after work, he would pass by my house and say hello. He was so jovial and easy-going so everyone in my house liked him and always looked forward to his coming.

He didn’t come around on weekends. He had a sick mom in Accra and had to travel back to Accra every weekend to look after her. On the days that he didn’t come around, my mom would ask, “Your husband didn’t come around today?” I would answer her, “Mom, he’s just a friend, not my husband.” But I understood her. It was her way of telling me she wouldn’t have a problem if I decide to date him.

Eric was always there for me. Some times, he would come to our shop in the evening, help me pack so he could go home with me. It was always me and him on our way back home. So one day he proposed. I saw it coming. I was ready for it. I said yes to him. A week or so later, I told my mom about us. She said, “You guys look great together. He would make you a good husband if you take your time with him.”

He went to Accra one weekend and didn’t return as he used to. He told me, “My mom’s sickness is getting out of hands. She needs me to be around so I’ve asked permission from the office.” Three days later he called, “I’ve spent everything I have on my mother and there are still more drugs to buy. I need your help.”

I sent him some money. He wanted it as a loan but I said, “What are lovers for if they can’t give money to support who they love.” Some days later, Eric returned with a heart of gratitude. He promised to pay back my money but I insisted he had no reason to pay.

Not too long after, he had a call from someone he said was his aunt. His mother’s sickness had gotten worse again. It was late in the evening when the call came and that same evening, he left for Accra. The next day he called me, “We took mom to the hospital and this time she had to be operated on but we are in the middle of the month and I have nothing on me. I need a loan. This time I insist on a loan. If you won’t give it as a loan then I won’t take it.”

I didn’t have the amount he was asking for so I involved my mother. She gladly went to the bank and withdrew the money for me. A week or so later, he returned with a message of gratitude from his mother. He said, “My mom wants to meet her in-laws already. She’s very upbeat and especially happy that you came through for her.” I told him, “She should get well first, that’s the most important thing. One of these days, I would go with you to see her.”

For so many days, he didn’t complain about his mom’s sickness. We were happy and things were normal. He started paying the amount he took as a loan from me in installments. The first installment he paid was very small, not even up to 1% of the loan he took. At least it was a step in the right direction. We were hoping when things get normal, he would make better payment.

A month or so later, he came again with needs. He was sweating and very anxious. I was worried about him. This time the money he was asking for was not for his mother’s health. It was for another person he owed money. He said, “When my mom’s issues started, there was no one I could turn to so I borrowed money from a friend’s father. I’ve defaulted because I’d wanted to pay yours first but he had taken the issue to the police and the police are after me.”

We couldn’t go to my mom again. I went into my savings and took everything for him. The next day, he went to Accra to make payment and it became the last time I saw him.

His phone was off for so many days.

I got disturbed. I didn’t know who to talk to. It was there I realized I didn’t know any of his family members or friends. I started getting scared. When my mom wasn’t seeing him around, she started asking about him and I kept telling her, “He’s been away because of his mother’s sickness.” But my mother wasn’t a fool. She saw through me and saw my troubles.

One morning she said to me, “You don’t hear from him again, isn’t it? It’s written all over your face that something isn’t right with you.” That was when I told her the truth. She said, “We’ve been stupid — the two of us. How could we trust this easily?”

We started looking for him. I went to the insurance company he said he was working with. They said, “We’ve never had an employee of this sort here. I thought I didn’t get the name of the insurance company right so I went to all the other insurance companies in town and they all said they didn’t know him. My fears heightened. I discussed it with some few friends and they suggested we report to the police. I’d wanted to but something didn’t feel right. I thought it was too early to report to the police.

A week or two later, one of my friends called and said, “I’ve found him. His name is not even Eric.” I asked, “Where did you find him?” She said, “Apparently, he had a wedding recently and someone posted their photos on Facebook. The name of the wife was also tagged so it’s easy now.”

I broke down and cried my heart out. “This guy told me he wasn’t on social media because he didn’t see the need. What did he do to me to make me believe him this much?” I was so broken I didn’t have the strength to do anything. My friend sent me the link and I went through the photos. “Wow, this guy is a real scum.”

My friend started talking to his wife through her DM. She managed to get her number. She managed to know where she works and even where she lives. That was when we reported to the police. A few days later, he was arrested.

The case wasn’t about my relationship with him. I never mentioned that. It was too embarrassing to even talk about it so I focused on the money he took from me. I wanted my money and I wanted him to pay as soon as possible. I was ready to go to every length to have him pay every pesewa he owed me. The day we met at the police station, he couldn’t look at my face. His wife was crying. She didn’t know what was happening. She was as lost as I used to be. I pitied her. She thought she was married to a man. She didn’t even know who the man she called a husband was.

My mom told her, “Ask your husband what his real name is. Maybe what you know isn’t his real name.” The lady didn’t understand. She was just lost. We left him at the police custody until the next morning, some family members came to bail him out. I saw his mother at the police station on several occasions and she was even stronger than my mother. Someone he said was dying.

It was clear he wasn’t in the position to pay all he owed me so arrangements were put in place for him to pay in four installments and as I write this, he’s still paying.