One year, two months, two weeks, and four days. That is exactly how long it has been since I was freed from the bondage of the marriage I had with Kofi Brempong. It took over a year after his death to find a part of myself again; to see if I could bring back the fleeting glimpse of the cheerful and cheeky 18-year-old I once was before I was forced to marry him. It had taken many months of therapy, but after that, I was ready to live again. I had existed for too long in the clutches of a verbally abusive and domineering man, and it was time to live.
I relocated to the USA two months ago. My friend Serwaa, who is a citizen by marriage, helped me to process my visa and arranged everything else for me. The waterfront apartment she had rented for me in Jersey City is luxurious and beautiful, and it is in the best community I’ve ever seen in my sheltered life. There are acres of parks and green lawns, miles of waterfront walkways, and a sandy beach.
I was touched that Serwaa had remembered that I treasure the beach. I had confessed to her once that during my loveless marriage walking along the beach, when I was allowed, was the only time I felt a glimpse of freedom.
I’ve spent most of the two months exploring the shops around and walking on the beach, but now, I’m ready for more. I don’t know what I will do for a job, but I have more than enough money to live a good life, and there is time to consider my options and come up with something I will enjoy. My therapist told me to find things I enjoy doing, and that is exactly what I intend to do. I need to get out of my comfort zone, so I’m going to find some adventures. I plan to explore things that 18-year-old me would have enjoyed and revelled in. For the past ten years, everything has been routine. I didn’t have much of a choice in what I did, but now things have changed. I have the freedom of choice. And with choice comes a sea of options to explore. Oh yeah, I am ready to stop existing and start living.
I feel a ball of excitement unfurling in my belly at my decision to take a plunge and find some joy. Eager now, I contemplated calling Serwaa to ask for ideas, but looking at the time, decided not to disturb her. She would be on her night shift as a nurse at the private clinic where she works. Besides, I want to try doing things on my own. Finding things is what the Internet is for. I can do some research.
Turning out the lights in my living room, I grab a half-finished tub of chocolate and mint ice cream from the freezer in the adjoining kitchen to keep me company and pad to my bedroom.
My bedroom is furnished in the same minimalist white, champagne, and black as the living room. The large window, currently covered by heavy black curtains, when open, gives a perfect view of the waterfront. The queen-sized bed that takes up most of the room has a comfortable headboard I love to rest my head against.
Plopping on the bed, I tuck my legs in and prop my Macbook on my lap. It boots quickly while I spoon a few teaspoons of ice cream into my eager mouth, thinking about a course of action.
After navigating to Google search, I hesitate over the search box, unsure of the query to type. I want an adventure, but I am not certain which kind of adventure I am ready for. I want something new, exciting, and freeing. I want something that would make me feel alive.
Unsure of how to get what I need, I type ‘adventures.’ I almost hit send but pause with the cursor hovering over the button. That seems too vague. I need to be more specific. With that in mind, I add “for women” to make it ‘adventures for women.’
About to hit enter again, I pause for the second time, thinking. I’m in the USA all alone with no family or friends except for Serwaa. It would be nice to meet other African women like myself and find out what they do for fun. Making my decision, I edit my query to ‘Adventures for African women’ and finally hit ‘send’.
When the results load, I stare at my screen open-mouthed. The first four results are all from the same website: ‘Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women.’ – Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women began as a popular blog for African women to speak openly about their sex lives…” There is even a podcast.
Intrigued, I click on the homepage and my eyes widen as I read title after title. “How Experiencing Orgasm from a Partner Changed the Sex Game for Me“, “I unlearned Sexual Purity and took Control of My Pleasure“. Each title is about a woman enjoying sex.
This isn’t what I had planned to do, but I find myself deeply intrigued by the concept. African women openly discussing sex and their sex lives? The women at church that my husband had approved to be my friends would probably call this End Time corruption.
To be honest, sex isn’t something I think about. My vagina is just a tool for releasing liquid waste from my body. Kofi Brempong had snuffed out every bit of desire from my body in the ten years we were married. Memories flit through my mind of my husband telling me when we were newly married that sex was for men and women who enjoyed it were whores.
The Married Women Association at church that Brempong had forced me to join also talked about sex as something disgusting and degrading that women have to endure as part of their wifely responsibilities.
I had been grateful that my husband hadn’t felt the urge for sex often. I grimace, remembering his heavy breathing on me those times he had felt the urge. Not even once did I enjoy his thankfully short penetration sessions or the way he pulled at my breasts when he was too excited. Memories of sex with my husband drown my excitement, and my interest begins to wane. But, what if–? My gaze runs across the screen again, and I scroll through the articles and stories on the homepage. All the topics suggest that sex is enjoyable. The women must find it exhilarating if they were calling their experiences adventures. With the experience I have, I can’t imagine why, but I’m curious enough to find out why they enjoy sex.
For a few seconds, I just stare at my screen. I could almost hear my late husband’s voice echoing in my ears in disapproval, just like it did each time he caught me watching a movie with any kind of intimacy. “You are a pious woman, Asantewaa. Only whores watch other people have sex. Only whores see sex as something to be enjoyed.”
My heart begins to thud against my chest, and I almost close the window, but then I see my therapist’s face in my mind and remember the words she kept telling me. “Forget everything your late husband taught you, Asantewaa. You need to unlearn and start afresh. Do things you enjoy, and explore new things. Let your instincts guide you. You’re your own woman now. You don’t only have to do things he approved of. He’s gone. He can’t punish you for flouting his rules.”
“Dead. Gone. Never coming back. Brempong is never coming back. I can do what I want. He won’t lock me in the house for days if I read about women enjoying sex,” I whisper the assurance to myself and take a few calming breaths as Dr. Fosuah had taught me.
When I can no longer hear the ghost of my late husband’s voice echoing in my head with disdain, I return my gaze to the screen. No, this wasn’t the kind of adventure I had in mind, but maybe this is exactly what I need.
My husband must be turning in his grave at the thought of his “pious and moulded” wife indulging in something like this.
With all my previous reservations gone, I giggle to myself as I scroll through the stories like a kid in a candy store, unsure of where to start. Browsing through pages, I search for something beginner-friendly. Then I saw it: “I Unlearned Sexual Purity and Took Control of My Pleasure.” The post’s image is of a woman sitting on a counter with her hand in her panties. This is a good place to start. It is time for me to unlearn sexual purity. Clicking on the story, I spoon more ice cream into my mouth and start reading.