Youíve told me a number of times that I sometimes think weirdly. On some of those occasions, I have had reasons to disagree with you. But, today, as I sit down to write this letter I can almost see your exact reaction. Whatever it may be, just do me this favour: read this letter to the end and keep it safely.
Our constitution guarantees us our right to life. But I prefer to be governed by my Bible. Iím aware religious arguments are sometimes considered unintellectual by some so-called learned people.But Iím not ashamed of my faith. And I have always told you this, havenít I?
As I was saying, Iím governed by my Bible so I donít consider my life as a right. To me, life is a privilege because I have no reason to challenge the giver of my life over how long I must live. This stark reality dawned on me when I travelled recently and encountered a grisly accident. Itís unimaginable how someone would kiss their spouse and children goodbye and promise to return later in the day only for them to receive a call a few minutes later to come and identify the bloody body of their disfigured and limbless beloved.
Itís terrible, Serwaa. The question I often ask myself is whether they were prepared enough for what they met. Iím not only talking about preparation with regard to their wills and other property they toiled all their lives to accumulate. Iím referring to how prepared they are to meet their maker. Accidents are not the only means through which we are uprooted in our prime like Gomoa cassava. Death comes in so many ways and spares no one: the young and old, rich and poor, ugly and beautiful, the sinful and the righteous, the married and single. Death is no respecter of class or creed.
Each morning, before I leave home, I pray for Godís protection for both of us. I pray that God should grant us long life in order to enjoy our marriage and have children together (by the way, I also pray that God should keep you safe from debauched men with uncontrollable libidinal urges). But in all this, I also sometimes think about what we both dread to think about: what if the unlikely incident happens? And it can happen in the most unlikely situations. I hope you remember the ten people who were crushed to death by an aeroplane while they were in their commuter mini-bus near the El Wak Stadium in Accra. Weíre all not safe and it can happen to anybody anywhere and at anytime.
This was the main reason I requested that we stop sex until after marriage. When we started the relationship I used to ignore sermons that hit so hard at us, as if they were customised for you and me. I often told myself that God would not be so wicked to still hold our premarital affairs against us when we married and asked for forgiveness. But apart from the guilt that often paralysed me after those encounters, I also realised that not all would-be couples often got the opportunity to marry.
A young banker who lived in a house next to mine last year got drowned when he went to swim with friends at the Dansoman Beach. We were later told that he and his fiancťe were almost ready to tie the knot. And theirs is not an isolated case. It happens all the time.
My fear of death and my decision to suspend sex till after marriage in our relationship, however, intensified immediately after I read Sydney Sheldonís novel, Windmills of the Gods. In that thriller, Mary Ashley, an intelligent university lecturer, is approached by the President to become ambassador of the United States of America in Romania. But she rejects the offer because her husband does not want to give up his well-going doctor's office. Shortly afterward, Dr Edward Ashley gets killed in a car accident. After this, Mary Ashley reconsiders the offer and finally accepts. That is the United States for you.
But something dramatically erotic happened shortly before Dr Ashley was crushed by a military van. The two had gone out and when they returned they made love as though they knew it would be their last affair. It is one of the few pages any Ďreal maní must not read in public unless he is wearing underpants to suppress ďKwaku ManuĒ from revolting. In fact, before Dr Ashley leaves the room in the heart of the night to attend to an emergency, Mary, who still yearns for more, requests that he wake her up on his return. A few minutes later, she realises that she would forever miss him. The question I asked myself after reading was: what if I were Dr Ashley, when you and I are not married?
Thank God our relationship has become stronger ever since we decided to become secondary virgins. But that does not still give us the right to live until we lose our teeth out of old age. And I think I must share with you what I would have told you if I was asked to say my last words to you. In the first place, I will thank you for your love. Ever since we met you have given me the best moments in my life and, of course, some worst times as well. Iím not adding the worst times because what you have done to me are very bad. Some of them are actually things I would not notice if they came from other people. But youíre so close to my heart that the least thing you do hurts so much. But my best moments far outweigh those few occasions of heartache and I can only thank you for your love.
If I die before our marriage, go ahead and date and marry whoever will be as lucky as I. Youíre still young and beautiful, and I donít foresee the decision to be Ďwidowedí forever because of my death. But in so doing, exercise great caution. I will be hurt in the other world if youíre maltreated.
If I die before our marriage, donít date an alcoholic or any guy who has no respect for you. Look for someone who loves you for who you are, values your potentials and will help bring out the best in you.
If I die before our marriage, take charge of your life and donít forget that your human strength will fail you. Be kind to all and donít harbour ill-will against anybody. Enjoy life but always remember that the universal rule to every situation should be moderation.
Unfortunately, I have no property to will in your name. But the values we share, the elaborate plans and our enormous preparation to launch into our careers should make you a woman Mother Ghana should be proud of. Serwaa, my intention of writing you this letter is not to scare you. Five years ago, I marked Hymn 468 of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana Hymn Book and wrote on top of it boldly, ďMy Burial Hymn.Ē
I believe there is no better way to live a focused and more purposeful life than to live each day knowing that it can be your last. That realisation will take away all forms of pride, greed and hatred from your life because youíre nothing better than a piece of clay. So if it happens to me and the useless clay is to be dumped, see to it that the choir sing the Twi version of Presby Hymn 468 with borborbor highlife:
Kristo mogya ne trenee Ne me ntama, mahyehyede Na da aí Nyame befre me no Mede Menyaníanimmako
Serwaa, wipe your tears for Iím not dead yet. I will live to declare the glory of God. I will live to see that day when our love shall be made perfect after taking the irrevocable oath. I am only reminding you that as a Christian, your Judgement Day is starts from the day you drop dead, for it is appointed unto man [and of course woman] to die once, and after that there is judgement. I remain yours truly, Manasseh.
The Writer, Manasseh Azure Awuni is a senior broadcast Journalist with Joy 99.7 FM, Accra, Ghana. This column is imaginary. Writerís email: firstname.lastname@example.org