“Who is she?” was the question Chizu came to ask me at about 2am.
Even the ancestors could feel the chill in the air.
I looked over at my son sleeping soundly next to me and then back at my wife.
“Can we talk in our room?” I asked and got up from our son’s bed.
“Who is she?” She asked me again the moment we were alone in our bedroom.
I sat down on the bed. I knew this was going to be a physically and emotionally draining conversation. Chizu remained standing, looking like the before image on a plastic surgery clinic ad.
“Does it matter who it is?” I said. There was no way I was going to put Susan on the chopping board again. I immediately regretted having given in to my emotions by confessing to my wife about my faltering heart.
Chizu was smelling poop in the room…at least that’s what her facial expression was telling me. “Don’t you think I deserve to know the name of the woman my husband has fallen in-love with?” She asked me.
“You don’t understand Chizu,” I tried to reason with her. “The name doesn’t matter. What matters is how I feel. I did not tell you about it so you could go out and start a witch hunt. That person doesn’t even know I feel this way about them. They have no idea!”
“When I insisted that you were cheating, you looked me in the eye and kept denying it.” She said, starting to cry again.
“That’s because I haven’t cheated on you Chizu,” I said.
“What you are doing right now is also cheating!” She yelled. “It’s not just about physical contact. You are in-love with another woman! That’s the worst kind of cheating there is.”
I didn’t know what to say. She was right. I might not have touched a single hair on Susan but I was feeling things in and outside my body that I wouldn’t want the Lord knowing about.
My feelings were beyond anything I had ever felt; not for Gloria, and not even for Chizu. I wanted nothing but to be that woman’s protector, guardian, lover, comforter…I wanted to be her everything.
For the first time in my life I wanted to be something meaningful to somebody. Before I only cared about what I received from a woman. It was never about what I could give. With Gloria it was the fact that she was head over heels in-love with me and would do anything for me if I asked. With her I always had a home to go to.
Chizu on the other hand brought a whole new kind of love into my life. Chizu gave both physically and emotionally. She gave her whole when she loved…enough to kill herself and those around her if anyone tried to take that love away from her.
All those kinds of love made me feel good about myself, a feeling beyond just flattered. Because these two women had loved me like that, it was easy for me to love them back.
But Susan was a whole different case. I had not received anything from her…at least not anything she had sent my way intentionally. Even though there was a huge part of me that longed for her to return my affections, I had not gone out of my way to make her consider me.
I was not planning on leaving my wife and I had no intentions of repeating history. Susan had entered my life at the most unexpected time and events that followed that meeting somehow culminated into me developing feelings I had not planned on having.
She had shaken me by surprise.
What had started as merely a misunderstanding somehow turned out to be true. In Chizu’s head, I was in-love with another woman…a woman I hardly even knew. In a strange twist of fate, that proxy kind of love imposed on me by my wife eventually became a reality.
I could no longer love Susan through my wife’s imaginations.
Thus, I took a love by proxy and turned it into reality.
However, I had learnt my lessons from the past and I knew what it meant to start a relationship on grounds of betrayal. Gloria had warned me that there was a price for every tear she had shed for me and I knew for a fact I was still paying that price.
Newton, I learnt was a very very vindictive man.
Susan was different…and because my feelings were different this time around, I refused to taint my love for her by going behind my wife’s back. I wanted to keep that kind of love pure and deep inside me.
Even though I was reluctant to give up on such intense and overwhelming emotions, I had no desires to pursue Susan in reality.
Whether that decision to not pursue Susan was made out of loyalty and respect for my wife…or whether it was from the realization that Susan might… or would never return my feelings, I cannot tell.
We had been arguing about the identity of the mystery woman I was in-love with for close to thirty minutes when Chizu finally asked;
“Is it her? Is it that Susan girl?”
“No!” I answered a little too quickly. “Why are we going back there again?”
“Because I can’t think of any woman that’s been in your life in the past month or so.” Chizu said. “I know you changed ever since that visit from that girl’s parents. I know that you resent me for not apologizing to that girl…and for what your mother did for us…..”
“Did for us?” I asked her, my voice rising a little. “I was not the one who jumped to unnecessary conclusions and made an innocent girl attempt suicide. YOU did that!” I yelled.
“I wouldn’t have done that if you cared about me enough and made me feel secure.” She countered.
My eyebrows raised, I glared at her. “So it’s my fault that you acted the way you did and humiliated our family and Malambo’s?” I asked.
By now Chizu had reached level two of her crying campaign. At this level, there’s an increase in the speed of tears flowing but no sound of crying yet.
“You’ve never made me feel like I was good enough!” She was slowly heading towards level three. “Just because you never said it out loud does not mean I never got the message.”
There we go again…her reading into things like some dame psychic. I was guilty of something if I opened my mouth, and I was still guilty if I kept quiet.
“I have seen how you look at the food I cook,” Chizu continued. “Every time I call you to the table you frown and sigh and you have this look on your face the whole time you are eating. You never compliment me on anything good I do but you are quick to notice my mistakes.
“I have never hidden from you the fact that cooking isn’t your best suit.” I could have easily said that she sucked at it but I was already treading on thin ice so I couldn’t risk it. I had to be diplomatic in my delivery.
“I know that you’ve made your feelings known about my cooking but still, you could have done something to help. Just because I am the wife does not mean you need to act like you are allergic to kitchen utensils or the stove.
“Even when I was heavily pregnant you never lifted a figure to help me out.” She complained. “I had to stand by the stove with my swollen feet and even when Daniel was born you would keep snoring…not once did you wake up in the middle of the night to help me.
“You were acting like I made that baby alone. Why was I being punished alone when I didn’t even cum that night!?” She had reached Level 3.
“What are you complaining about?” I asked. “Is it about your terrible cooking or my fathering skills?”
“I am complaining about everything!” She shouted, throwing her arms in the air. She was slowly approaching Level 4. At this stage, arms are waving, legs kicking, sound is on maximum and there is a dire need of a napkin.
“I am bitter, I am mad as well.” She wailed. “You go around acting like you are a victim in this marriage when you chose this kind of life for yourself. I never forced you to marry me. You are the one who got down on your knees and begged me to marry you.
“No one was holding a gun to your head. In just less than a year you changed, you became a different man. You forgot about the vows you made to me and started acting like I was the lucky one for marrying a guy like you.”
At this point, I really had no idea what she was nagging about but I listened quietly since she obviously had a lot on her mind…and since I had obviously done something to deserve her scorn.
“Every chance you got you compared me to Gloria your ex.” She accused.
I was gaping at her, stunned. “When did I do that?” I asked. I think now she was just looking for anything that would make me out to be a bad guy. Soon she was going to claim I inhaled more oxygen in the house and left nothing for her, or that the amount of carbon-dioxide I was releasing was responsible for her bad moods.
“You do that every time!” She yelled. “The cooking, the dressing, sex, personality, everything! You said some of those things thinking you were paying me compliments but no woman wants to be compared to another no matter the reason.”
“I never compared you to Gloria,” I defended myself. “You were the one constantly bringing her up, forcing me to counter your insecurities. And yes, maybe you are right, there were times when Gloria came to mind in the past years but how can she not? The two of you were best friends, I was her boyfriend when you and I started going out but I never deliberately made comparisons between you two. That was just your conscious jumping to conclusions.”
“You once told me that I should try dressing more like a married woman…that you knew single women that dressed better than me.” She said. “Wasn’t it this very type of dressing that made you go crazy every time you looked at me? But why after marrying me did you want to turn me into a Gloria?”
She was right, I had been thinking about Gloria when I made that statement but I had been careful not to mention any names.
“Gloria isn’t the only woman I know Chizu,” I said. “You only thought about her because you had her on your mind.”
“That’s the problem with you Bashi Danny, you never admit to anything even when you know you are wrong. You never apologize, you don’t give compliments and you are a selfish lover.”
“I am a selfish lover?” I asked. That was the only part of that statement that stood out in my head.
“Yes you are a selfish lover,” she said. “I am always going out of my way to please you but you never make any effort to return the favour. There is such a thing called foreplay, haven’t you ever heard of it?”
I think she was waiting for me to answer because the pause was way too long for the question to be rhetoric.
“Do you even know what I like in bed?” she asked me. “I know everything you like, but what about me? There’s more to foreplay than dipping your thick fingers in me. Are you an archaeologist? What are you hoping to find in there that you haven’t found up to now? Am a woman and that’s painful.”
If getting a rise out of me was what she was going for, then she was winning this fight. Ah, she was soaring on Level 4 now, every now and then slightly touching Level 5 – that was the maximum Level…when yellow smoke would pop from her ears.
“You get hard the moment you enter the bedroom even when I’m not there but it takes work for me to be aroused.” I could sense she was going for a home run at this point and it took everything in me to not get up and walk out of there.
“You expect me to be ready just because you are, that’s unfair. You might think that you are the answer to every woman’s prayer but there’s more to being a man than just a fat pay check and good looks.”
By now I was starting to feel insulted. I was the one riding on Level 5, but without the tears…just the smoke from the ears. Chizu had gone for my belt and went straight for my nuts.
However, as I mulled over her words, I started to understand that her words were more than just a jab at my manhood, she was genuinely frustrated by my actions as a lover, and as a husband.
I had never heard her complain before so I naturally assumed everything was okay. How was I supposed to know that she was unhappy in that department when she never opened up to me about it?
I thought I was a killer lover when she got pregnant the very first time I retired the condoms…but it turned out I just had nature on my side. I learnt at that ungodly hour a truth I was not yet ready to confront;
That the strength of my swimmers was not equivalent to my skills in pleasing women.
It was a bitter pill for me to swallow…and so I did not swallow it. I wanted to ask Chizu why she never mentioned anything before but my pride was too bruised for me to delve deep into that topic.
That morning Chizu unloaded all the feelings she had been harbouring against me for the past four years that left me shaking in my boots. Had she not mentioned all those things, I would have continued living my life acting like a victim of fate.
Thanks to my miscalculated confession, I got to hear what Chizu really felt about me, every single word. It is hard for a man to zone out of a conversation when something is squeezing his nuts tightly.
And Chizu has one hell of a tight grip.
I was a terrible lover, selfish, unromantic, pompous, unrepentant, uncaring, distant, not gentle enough… and some other not so subtle adjectives my wife of five years had used to describe me.
At the end of it all, she looked down at me and said;
“And you come to me crying and begging me to help you get over some woman you’ve fallen for? What makes you think you have the right to ask me, your wife something like that? Am I supposed to feel flattered that you came to me for help instead of going ahead and cheating on me? AM I?”
That morning Chizu packed some clothes for me in a suitcase and chased me out of the house. Unlike most people, Chizu was of the belief that the person at fault was the one to leave the house.
* * *
Two weeks later I was at my parents when I received the divorce papers. I was finally forced to come clean to my mother about what had happened between my wife and me.
I was soaking wet from another round of nagging.
“You fell in-love with another girl?” She asked me, disbelief written all over her face. And then she scoffed. “Unbelievable,” she said. “How can a man have such a small heart? Don’t you have any friends son?”
I sent her a puzzled look. “I have plenty,” I said. “But what’s that got to do with what’s happening?”
“Don’t you and your friends ever talk?” She asked me. “I told you last time that cheating isn’t for everyone. Most men I know cheat only with their balls. You on the other hand…you cheat with your heart. What are you, a woman?”
“Are you trying to tell me its okay to cheat as long as you don’t fall in-love?”
My mother laughed. “I never said that,” she said. “It is not okay for anyone to cheat on anybody, man or woman. There’s no excuse good enough. If you are unhappy in a relationship, leave, don’t cheat because then all those little things you thought were inadequate about your partner become invalid, even if they had been the ones in the wrong at first. You the cheating part become the worst scum of the earth…like you are right now.”
During moments like that, I wondered if I was her real son but then I remembered that talk twenty-four years ago. Only a mother can embarrass her son like that.
“I never actually cheated on Chizu,” I reminded her.
She laughed even louder this time around. “That’s what you think,” she said. “Most people think that cheating happens only when physical contact is involved, but that’s not the case.
“The moment you start thinking about another woman, entertaining those thoughts every chance you get…you’ve already started cheating.” She was saying. “But you my son…you fell in-love with someone else. That’s even worse…like that little difference that exists between Second and Third Degree Murder.
“Falling in-love with another woman means you are not just willing to give your body…which belongs only to your spouse…but your heart too…your soul. Then what’s left for your wife?” She asked me. “People think that a man’s infidelity cannot break a home but look what we have here?” She was pointing to the papers lying on the table.
“In as much as I don’t like your wife, I have to ask; do you really want to divorce? Can’t you work things out?”
I didn’t know what to tell my mother because I had not considered divorce even after Chizu kicked me out of the house. I thought she just needed some time to think and she would get over it.
It appeared she was very serious.
That evening I went home to have a talk with her. I needed to be sure if she was really serious with the divorce or if she was simply using it as a ploy to get back at me.
“How about yourself,” Chizu asked me. “Do you even want this marriage?”
Just like with my mother, I couldn’t answer her question right away, but after a few seconds I answered; “Yes.”
“It took you 56 seconds to answer that. That’s not good enough James.”
She was already calling me by my first name. Not baby, not honey, not Bashi Danny…but James.
She was very serious alright.
And had she been counting the time it took me to respond?
“I don’t want to be with a man who is in-love with another woman.” She said. “Before when I would accuse you of cheating, I knew there was a possibility there could be other women but, I never imagined you would be in-love with any of them.
“And that’s the thing with us, there’s no trust. I doubt if we will ever trust each other. I am tired of fighting, nagging…I was never a nagging woman but I turned into one when I became your wife.
“I too hate who I’ve become, I know you do too…and I cannot blame you. Maybe other people can survive something like this…but after this, that little trust I was clinging onto has completely vanished. Gloria was right, this is our karma.”
I was shocked. I never expected Chizu to give up on us so easily. I thought if anyone was going to fight for our marriage, it would be Chizu. She had done it in the past…and I thought she would this time around as well.
At the back of my head I kept hoping that we would turn things around. Our foundation might have been shaky but I was willing to try and start over again. I just never imagined I would be the cause of our break-up. In a split second I had turned from victim to perpetrator.
Chizu never changed her mind.
I signed the papers one week later. Chizu and I were done.
Just like that.
* * *
A month had gone by after Chizu and I decided to go our separate ways and I had not made my feelings known to Susan despite attending the same church. I didn’t have the courage to broach the subject to her.
Fortunately, I managed to get her aside one evening after Bible study. That day I simply meant to inform her that I was a divorced man…you know…just to set the ground work.
“I already know that you are divorced,” Susan told me nonchalantly.
I had not calculated for that. “How?” I asked.
“I had the misfortune of bumping into her at the mall a few weeks ago. She stopped me, asked me if I was the one….”
“The one?” I asked, looking very puzzled.
Susan chuckled. “That was my exact reaction.” She then took me through the meeting exactly as it had happened:
“I don’t understand your question,” Susan had said to Chizu.
Chizu snickered. “You look and act exactly like the type James would fall for. Are you happy that he’s divorcing me?”
“You and Mr Kaunda are getting divorced?” Susan asked.
“Don’t act like you didn’t know. I know that it’s you he’s fallen in-love with.”
“Listen ma’am,” Susan tried to get a word in but Chizu was not in a very listening mood that day.
“I am not going to fight with you,” She said. “I just have a word of warning, say from….from someone who’s been there, someone who knows. You might have won his heart now but you won’t always have it. Soon he will get tired of you just like he did me.
“James is that kind of man. He has the most weak disloyal heart you will ever encounter. This is just friendly advice. Take it or leave it, not my problem.”
“My wife…I mean, my ex-wife said that to you?” I asked Susan. I couldn’t believe it.
But Susan was laughing, obviously finding the whole thing amusing.
“Yes she did,” she said. “I didn’t want to argue with her so I just let her talk and when she was done, she left.”
“About what she said….did….” I was shaking from nervousness, unable to express myself confidently. It was the first time I was feeling like that in front of a woman.
“I won’t ask about the things she said to me, I don’t want to know Mr Kaunda.” Her expression had turned serious, leaving no room for me to have any misunderstanding.
I had just been friend-zoned.
“At least you should give me a chance to explain,” I said.
She was shaking her head. “No,” she said firmly. “There’s no need for that. I already told you, I don’t want to have anything to do with you or your family. I am sorry to hear about your divorce.”
Then she started walking away.
I had heard the conviction in her voice and saw it in her eyes. She wanted absolutely nothing to do with me.
Shuttered, I turned around and walked over to my car.
It’s now been two years since my divorce from Chizu. She’s now married to some guy, a pastor…can you believe it?? He is one of those holy-ghost-fire-bind-it kind of pastor with very shiny hair that’s blacker than black, pointy shoes, and fancy expensive designer suits that look cheap on him.
Bana Mapepo…my ex-wife.
Both the devil and I were shocked when we received the news.
I want to be happy for her but I really can’t. I can’t lie to myself, I don’t trust the guy. Any guy that wears white pointy shoes on a white suit and with a white hat is not to be trusted.
He is clearly up to no good.
Anyway, it’s not my place to judge. I guess I just hate the guy because my son gets to call him ‘daddy’ too. The thought itself makes me cringe.
Gloria has four children now with her Diplomat husband and I hear they are in the US now. I can picture her on her knees begging the Lord not to let Donald Trump win the elections. I can only wish her the best in life. She was a great lesson in my life.
Susan still refuses to accept my advances. Even though we’ve been going to the same church for the past two years, she avoids me like a plague and all my efforts to talk to her always end with;
“I have to go now. I have somewhere I need to be.”
She has managed to improve her body mass during this time and even though she is still skinny, she is a healthy kind of skinny. This time she might be able to withstand any strong winds that might come her way.
She is still single…as far as I know but it’s only a matter of time before one of those parasitic men that are always surrounding her manages to win her heart.
And I do not intend to let that happen.
I am not a man that gives up easily. I have come such a long way and I have picked up a few hard lessons that have turned me into the kind of man I am today. I have made some pretty dumb decisions in the past but I never let them beat me down.
I have learnt and I have grown. I just wish that the woman I love more than anything else on the face of the earth can see that about me and give me a chance.
Even though our relationship seems to be progressing at a snail’s pace, I’ve managed to turn her frown whenever she sees me into a gentle friendly smile now. It took two years to achieve that. I just hope that I won’t be sixty by the time I get her to hold my hand.
But I have hope.
I refuse to simply remain a proxy love for her.
I will do whatever it takes to be the kind of man that’s good enough for her.
So…wish me luck…!