She has stolen from her friends, her parents, and other people but what she finds more embarrassing is stealing from her husband, the man she loves.
Aolyn has lived a comfortable life but stealing is like breathing for her and she does not know what pushes her to do it. It is not that she cannot afford the things she steals or that she does not have them. She has everything she needs but she still steals. She has sought spiritual and psychological help since she got to know about this weakness but to no avail.
She is a friend and she fears her marriage is about to hit the rocks. She called me and said she needed someone to talk to. I have decided to call her Aolyn in this piece for the purposes of protecting her identity. And for the same purposes, I will not disclose much about her, when necessary, I will change some details of the information.
People say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but for her, it is the confession of almost everyone she has met in life. Her tall frame, slender body, and flawless dark skin draws her attention everywhere and you cannot help but smile along when she does with her left dimple crinkled.
But like they say, every rose has its thorn, just like every night has its dawn and hers is the compulsion to repeatedly steal.
Aolyn and her husband have been married for six years and they have two children. She tells me she took her mother's advice not to tell her husband she is a kleptomaniac. Although her father was against the idea, she has kept it away from her husband. They have wrongfully accused several house helps of stealing her husband's money and sacked them.
Anytime she realises what she has done, she calls her mother and she would advise her to return the item or money and find an excuse of finding it somewhere or say she mistakenly found it in her possession.
Aolyn said the other day, she found her first child's 'susu box' with a lot of money. She went into her daughter's room the following day and took all the money out of it. Her daughter came crying to her the following day. Their house help was blamed for the theft and sacked.
"She was innocent, I accused her too and watched her pack her things out of the house because I couldn't tell my husband about what I had done. And how on earth was I going to explain to my daughter that I stole her money? It was hard but I had to sacrifice the house help," Aolyn told me.
Aolyn is the first of two children. Her father is a renowned businessman and her mother, a CEO of an Oil marketing company. According to her, her parents were financially unstable at the beginning of their marriage but she was too young to have felt it.
"For as far as my memory can go, we have not lacked anything. We lived in one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Ghana. I had my first car before I turned 18 and was entrusted with one of my father's businesses at age twenty. But my long hands would not allow me to go on like any other person," in a wobbly voice, she said.
She stole from her parents and her younger sister on several occasions until they realised it wasn't normal. It was so bad that her parents feared to take her out sometimes. Her sister could spend holidays with her aunties and grandparents but she couldn't, due to the disorder.
The first time Aolyn embarrassed her mother was at her office. She said she was in primary six and a school driver dropped her off at her mother's office after school because there was nobody at home. She distracted her mother's colleague in the office and picked up two five thousand notes (old cedis, now 50 pesewas) from her table. They all thought she was playing with the money but she swiped it in her school bag when she thought nobody was looking.
One other colleague of her mum's noticed and drew her mother's attention. She gave the money back to the owner and scolded her. You can imagine the embarrassment her mother went through. Aolyn's teachers started reporting her to her parents for similar actions at school.
She embarrassed herself several times at senior high school but every time, teachers and friends who were close to her gave excuses and cooked up stories to cover up. Her four years' stay at the university campus was incomplete without stealing incidents.
Aolyn's told me her parents have contracted several psychologists to help her but…
"trust me none of them moved an inch of the urge in me. One of them advised me to limit the number of times I go out to reduce the temptation but after doing it for a month, I ended up stealing a friend's wedding ring. Yes, her wedding ring. I had to lie that it mistakenly got into my handbag when I went to give it to her," I handed her a tissue for the hundredth time after she said this.
She said there is no spiritualist in this country that she hasn't visited. They proposed all sorts of remedies and gave her all kinds of concoctions but none of it solved the problem.
She has read books that were recommended to her, visited several websites for remedies but it also did not help.
"It hurts me so much to know that my husband, such a loving and caring man who makes sure I do not lack anything is a victim. I have stolen from him on countless occasions undetected.
"He fought his friend who saw me stealing money from a friend's purse. Shame and guilt filled my heart on that day but I couldn't open up to him on the problem," Aolyn recounted.
"Poor man, he thought he was saving an innocent wife," my thought when she narrated this part.
She said she and her husband have sacked about six house helps already and have decided not to pick any again.
Aolyn continued "But recently, something happened. My husband brought home a bag full of dollars and said it was meant for some business. He kept it in a safe in our bedroom.
He got an emergency call that evening to travel to another region at dawn the next day. He left the money in the safe and said the people it was meant for would arrive in the country in a few days."
She went on "I opened the safe and saw the money in there after he had left. It occurred to me that my husband might have noticed my disorder and could probably be testing me with it. So I closed it and did not go close to it until my husband returned about two days after.
In the middle of the night, he returned, I sneaked out of bed and went to open the safe again. I furtively reached my hand into the locker and grabbed a bundle of the money."
She tells me the money has since been with her but her husband has been a bit cold towards her since he returned. And he is yet to ask her about a missing money.
She suspects he knows about it but is waiting for her to confess.
"Asiedua, my husband tells me everything is fine with him but I know him, there is something bothering him," she said with certainty.
It has been over a week and the money is still with her and she tells me she hasn't had the courage to tell anyone about it, not even her mother.
Aolyn thinks her husband set her up with the money and returning it without telling him about it will give him proof that she stole it and that can ruin her marriage.
She has also explored the option of using this as an opportunity to tell her husband about the problem and admit to him that she was guilty of what his friend accused her of, responsible for the several theft incidents in the house, but she fears he might leave her.
"And if this ends my marriage, I can't deal with the shame, how would I explain this? My children will grow up to understand and they will not forgive me. I just don't know what to do," she said and continued to cry.
Aolyn's story is just an example of a million out there. Many are going through worse but the fear of being ridiculed prevents them from sharing their stories. Maybe she wouldn't be going through this if she had told her husband about it at the beginning but the harm has already been caused. What should she do?
This is what somebody put in Asiedua's chest but some incidents have been changed and added to protect her identity.
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