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I am a Single Woman Because….

Forget my personal feelings about the phrase marriage material. I have a lot of feelings about that but that’s not my issue today. Many times I have heard people speak of a marriage material woman, rarely have I heard them speak of a ‘marriage material man‘. I have also heard people say marry for love, but I have heard others tell single men in their mid 30’s or 40’s happily doing their own laundry and cooking to “get a wife.” It’s that easy for them: just decide to marry and boom, a wife is there. According to my culture, it appears men are born ready for marriage while women have to be ‘programmed, prepared, and trained’ for it. Continue reading

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Dating: For the Woman in her Late Twenties…and Above

I have been doing a lot of dating lately. A LOT. Am telling ya. I should be ashamed, but am not. LOL. Am 29 years old, a secondary single (I am really trying to avoid using the D-word in this post HAHA). I am swimming in it, backflips and butterfly strokes…you name it. It’s so much fun when you’re dating without the pressure of having to corner some poor bloke to marry you asap hanging over your head. Sheesh. It’s like taking a bite of whatever chocolate type you desire without worrying about putting on weight. Btw, I don’t mean bite literally. K-ching. 😉 Continue reading

I Deserve Better!

Not so long ago, I had someone that used to be so close to me tell me these words:

Yeah, go ahead and do whatever you like because you’re so good at leaving people.

I would have loved to stick it back to her in a place where the sun don’t shine but guess what, she was so right. As it so happens, in the past six months or so, I’ve had about three to four people tell me the exact thing about myself. Naturally, this led me to some soul searching moments that left me feeling like ‘you know what, I am okay with the person I have become…yeah maybe I could do with some adjustments here and there but really, I kinda love this version of me.’ Continue reading

A World where Men Change Diapers

I am angry.

Before you call me crazy, let me explain why am angry.

I woke up very early this morning to prepare for a talk I have to give to a group of young women over the weekend when I stopped to take a break and went on Facebook to do a quick browse. A few minutes of me scrolling down my news feed had me looking at adorable pictures posted by a ‘friend’ showing her husband taking care of their infant. I bet you are now wondering what could have possibly upset me from looking at such adorable pictures. They are pictures of a wonderful father taking care of his child and the wife is obviously very proud of that! But here’s the thing, it is not necessarily the pictures that got me angry. Rather, it was the caption!

And please, don’t get me wrong here, even if this case might come off as me being the unrepentant feminist that I am, my anger is in no way a reflection of my personal views but rather, a reflection of what a real family picture should look like.

Oooh proud moment, hubby changing baby’s diaper. #raremoments, #Ihavethebesthubbyintheworld!

That was the caption that got me started.

Hold on now. You have the best whatiii??

I am not trying to be petty here but for me those hashtags meant more than just mere praise or words spoken carelessly by a wife or mother. For me, those words were a representation of what parenting is like in this world that we live in. Hers was not the first post of that nature that I have seen, it is one of the many many many I have come across and ignored on my Newsfeed and unfortunately, hers was the one that managed to finally tip me over.

I am angry about a number of things that seem to put women at a disadvantage in the family picture and I think I am entitled to vent if I wanna see any change take place. I just can’t hold it in any longer.

I am not for the idea of wives/women/mothers lauding their men for doing what they are supposed to do and making it seem like them doing it deserves some sort of medal. Who told you that a man changing his own child’s diaper makes him the husband of the year? I know that many will argue that it’s because not a lot of men do that and yes, you are very right! I totally agree with you and that’s exactly why I am writing this!

Why are there so few men that take on the responsibility of attending to their children’s physical or mental or emotional needs? Why? Who told men that it’s only the mother’s role to feed, clean and change the diapers? Who told you that it’s enough for the father to simply provide the money to buy the child’s clothes, food and provide shelter without taking an active role in raising that child? And women, who told you that you have the best husband in the world simply because he’s doing something that he is supposed to be doing? If he is doing all these things, what you have is a good husband and father to your children, he shouldn’t be the best of those categories because you should expect that the rest of the men out there by default should be doing the same.

And believe me, if he only changes your baby’s diapers/nappies once in a blue moon and you live in the same house, he is far from being the best of anything.

I am not against the idea of praising our partners when they do something great (and in this case I am referring to parenting) however, what I am against is the idea of both men and women assuming that taking care of their children is the sole responsibility of the mother. The danger with this kind of praise is that we make the men feel as if they are going an extra mile or doing something extra-ordinary when in actual sense they are doing something that they should be doing every day and not just when they feel like it! When a man changes his child’s diaper, he is not helping out his wife, NO. He is doing what a father is supposed to be doing! He is not doing anyone a favour.

A man physically taking care of his own child does not make him an exceptional man (although the current reality of the rarity of such men makes him so), it simply makes him a great father attending to his responsibilities which are and should be expected of him every single day.

A man might provide financially for his family but that shouldn’t exclude him from taking care of his own children whether the wife is busy with a day job or if she’s a house wife. No matter how much money you make as a man, taking care of your children is a responsibility of both parents and that includes changing of diapers as well!

What did a woman ever do to you to make you think that it is her sole responsibility to attend to the ‘dirt and the hard stuff’ of parenting while you only pick up the child when he or she is clean and parade them to the rest of the world making yourself seem like such a macho man for having highly functioning sperms? Is that all you really are in that child’s life, a sperm donor? The woman did not make that child alone and like I always tell my friends, chances are that the woman never even ‘came’ during the conception of that child whereas it’s a fact that the man did! So tell me again, who do you think should really be taking care of the poop and attending to all that crying and noise? This nonsense of shoving the kids to their mothers when they’ve soiled their pants or diapers needs to stop because that child is much yours as she is the mother’s.

For many years women have appreciated ‘men that help them out’ with physically taking care of their children and for years men have lived believing that it is none of their business what happens to their children when they poop, cry or whine over something…their job is to simply help out every now and then when the dear wife or mother is busy, sick or working out of town. But who told men that they are only helpers in this aspect of parenting? Isn’t it enough that the woman had to endure nine months of ridiculous cravings and hormonal changes and carrying around another human inside her body everywhere she went and now you want to leave her alone to handle the ‘mess’ that comes after delivery?

I understand that it’s an accepted fact that women are better caregivers but taking care of your children’s needs is the responsibility of both parents. Both mother and father are supposed…and are expected to participate a hundred percent in the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and all round growth of their children. Whether the woman had stayed at home lazing around the whole day while the man worked his brains out at the office the whole day, when he gets home, he still has the responsibility to take care of his child because that’s his child and even if it kills him, he has to spend time and attend to his/her needs (whether it’s to change nappies or tell a bed time story).

I was raised in a home where the only ‘father-daughter’ moments I experienced involved a rod and sobbing. I have no memories of my father putting bandages on my wounds or soothing me from crying. My mother did all of these things. However, I do have memories of my father taking us kids all out for shopping and as far as I was concerned, that was all a father was supposed to do for his children. It was only later when I grew a little older that I realized I had had absolutely no relationship with my father and I cannot even begin to tell you how this affected how I related with men later on in life.

I want to fight for a world where men do not feel like they can get away from their responsibilities simply because of their gender. Not taking care of your children does not in any way make you more of a man than your sperm count ever will. I want to fight for a world where women do not make allowances for their men’s bad behaviour or short-comings but to make them accountable and fight to see change. As much as men expect you to be a good wife and mother to the children, expect and demand the same from them. If you keep quiet simply because you fear losing him to a much complacent and ‘domesticated’ woman, then I am sad to inform you that you married a fool. There is a huge difference between submissiveness and foolishness.

I strongly believe that the only way the above can be achieved is if things were put in perspective right from the onset, before the marriage and more so before the children come into the picture. Even way better is if parents inculcated this inot their children from childhood.

On that very first date, my fellow women, do not simply dress up and put on a persona that will ‘help you win the audition for the role of wife’ and end it there. I am not saying don’t look good when going on dates, am simply saying have the right reasons for looking good! If you are going there to audition to be his wife, be prepared to make him audition for the role of husband in your life as well! Why should you be the only one earning his love, he too should earn your love and trust!

I am so tired of seeing women constantly auditioning to fit into the lives of their potential suitors and neglecting who they really are. They put aside their principles, personalities, and ambitions simply because they want the ring and what we get in the end is a society filled with dull and complacent women married to half-baked and sometimes raw…very very raw men. The man has a thousand expectations from you and yet you have zero expectations from him as a husband or father because for you the fact that you are married is good enough.

How many times have you heard the world or the church preach about the ‘the wife material kind of woman’ and how many times have you heard them preach about the ‘husband material type of man?’ The world keeps teaching women to aspire to marriage and they tease men about losing their freedom once they tie the knot. At the end of the day we have married men still acting like single men and married women religiously holding on to their marriage bands expecting no change from their underperforming and promiscuous husbands.

Today I have a challenge for both men and women;

Men, please step up and earn the good women that you so desperately desire. You can’t have the best of both worlds; whores/side-chicks and good wives. I will be honest with you, one woman is a lot of work, on her own she can bring you to either greatness or great ruin. Now imagine having to physically or emotionally handle two or more of them at the same time? And here’s a quick thought; if you think that a side-chick is good for you, and you are aware that you and your wife are one, then it’s safe to conclude that a side-dude is good for her as well right? Because let’s face it, women too think it’s fun to sleep with all the men they find attractive! My point here is that Sin is not gender based; Adultery does not appear blue when a man commits it and red when a woman does. It’s all the same colour. And dear men, be to your children the kind of father you desire for yourself and be to your wives the kind of husband’s you would want if the genders where reversed.

To my fellow women, please, I beg of you, stop settling for the pathetic and men of low quality that keep appearing with rings in front of you. ‘Shipikishaling’ does not make you a Proverbs 31 woman, don’t lie to yourself. You have the power to prevent a shipikisha kind of marriage even before you go on that first date. Unless you have a thing for foolish men, please, you have the right to expect the best from your partner and you have the right to remind them when they seem to have forgotten (or teach them when they don’t know) that you also deserve breakfast in bed, a massage when you are tired, and a day to just watch tv or hang out with the girls without feeling guilty about it. And most importantly, remind him that you did not make those children alone, they are both your responsibility regardless of what job either of you has.

Together, let’s build better families.

Because She Loved Me – Part 5

because she loved me

 

When morning came, I was still awake. I had not slept a wink that night.

I showered, put on some fresh clothes and walked to the restaurant to have my breakfast while I waited for Thandiwe to report for work.

There were a lot of things I was curious about; what had she been up to for the past two years? How did she end up in Ndola? Was she seeing anyone? Who was that Alex guy to her? How was her son doing? And there was another question I dared not say out loud to myself but it was constantly there at the back of my mind;

What did she think of me?

I was not even sure why I cared so much about what she thought about me but the question just kept tagging at me.

I was too embarrassed to entertain that thought consciously but out of everything else, it occupied the most part of my brain. However, even as I kept thinking about another woman like that, I was fully aware of what my thoughts said about the kind of person I had become.

I was busy wondering about how Thandie felt about me when the very act of thinking about her made me a man I knew for a fact she would not be proud of. I could not understand why I was obsessing over her. It didn’t make sense and yet there I was thinking and thinking about a woman I was never going to have.

“Has Thandiwe reported for work already?” I asked the receptionist at the front office. It was a man this time. I hoped the female from last night had gone to take an advanced hospitality course.

“Thandiwe?” The twenty-something year old quizzed me.

“Yes, your boss, the general manager.” I provided.

The point had finally landed home. “Oh, you mean Ms Mwale?” He said.

She really was still Ms Mwale. Hallelujah!

“Good morning Mr Harry,” a voice greeted me from behind. I didn’t need to turn to know who it was.

I smiled and turned around.

“Is there anything you would like me to help you with?” Thandiwe was back in her professional mode and even if her smile reached her eyes, it was not the same smile that had greeted me at one point in Lusaka.

“Can we talk in private?” I asked her.

“Is it something related to your stay here sir?” She asked.

There was only one kind of answer that was correct for the kind of situation I was in. “Yes ma’am,” I lied.

Of course she didn’t buy it. She baptised me in a long cold stare before smiling again. “Let’s talk in my office then,” she motioned towards a door on the other side of the building.

“What do you want?” She had taken off her hospitality cloak the second we were behind closed doors in her articulately designed office.

She had indeed made something of herself. I couldn’t help feeling proud of her as I looked around. Was this the same woman that had asked for 500 bucks from me if I slept with her? She had really come a long way.

“So how did you end up here?” I was getting myself acquainted with her office while she stood closer to the door with her hands crossed over her chest and looking at me like a huge bug she desperately needed to get rid of.

“What happened to you?” Was the question she asked me. To this day I still remember the look on her face when she asked that question.

What happened to you?

She was disgusted with me and somehow that made me feel even more disgusted with myself.

Thandiwe then walked passed me and went to sit behind her desk. “If you have nothing to say to me then I suggest you leave so I can get to work.”

I found myself walking towards her desk and sitting down in front of her. I was embarrassed but somehow I still couldn’t get myself to leave.

“What are you doing?” She had stopped trying to busy herself on the computer and she was looking at me in wonder.

“I don’t know,” I said, shaking my head and trying to figure out whatever was going on in my head. “I really don’t know.” I repeated. “Right now I am supposed to be at a workshop but here I am…I also wish I knew why this is happening.”

“That ring on your finger tells me you are married but that woman I met in your room didn’t look like your wife. Would you like to talk about that first?” She asked sarcastically. “When did it become so easy for that gentle and wonderful man that showed me the light at the worst time in my time? How did you become this person?”

It was that look again.

Right there, right then, it occurred to me why I had so desperately wanted to meet her. It was her voice and that look in her eyes.

When Thandiwe spoke, I listened to every word she said. With just those few words she had spoken, I had found the answer to one of the biggest questions I had had;

Why her? Why Thandiwe?

Because she made me want to be a good person.

Because she reminded me of the man I used to be and she made me want to be that man again.

You see, despite all the efforts our mentors had put in to help us restore the honour our marriage had lost, what they never taught me was how to forgive and forget. I had convinced myself that I had forgiven Thabo but not once had I forgotten.

They had taught me how to forgive but they couldn’t teach me how to forget. It was something I had to teach myself to do.

I felt cheated in my life and in my marriage. I blamed God for how things had turned out and I felt that if God was not going to reward me for the good things I had done…for being the best husband I could be to my wife, I felt I had to reward myself.

I did not start cheating on Thabo because I wanted to revenge. I did all that because I wanted to be in control again. Ever since my wife’s confession, I felt as if I had lost control of everything…like there was an external force somewhere pulling strings and leading me into a direction I did not wish to go.

I wanted to get back the control I had had before everything crumbled to pieces… the control I had lost when my wife felt it was okay to be with another man since I was not there, the control I had lost when the son I thought was mine turned out to be another mans, the control I had lost over my heart when I could not get myself to hate or disown a child I knew not to be my own…that kind of control…the kind that made me a man, a husband, and a father.

I knew that I could never gain back that control but somehow, knowing that I could do whatever I wanted to out there without Thabo knowing about me gave me some form of satisfaction I cannot even begin to explain.

Most importantly, cheating made me feel justified…like it was the reward I had earned for myself for sticking to a marriage that should have been broken. I felt like I had a passport…that I could sin as much as I wanted and not get punished for it.

Not once did I feel guilty for my actions because I felt it was not my fault. However, that morning in Thandiwe’s office, I realised why before her I had felt shame and why before my wife I felt no guilt;

Because Thabo was the woman who had given me the passport to sin and Thandiwe was the woman who would remind me of the man I used to be.

All along I had convinced myself that my wife was not aware of the numerous affairs I was having but the truth was, she knew. I knew she knew but I kept telling myself she didn’t.

“Please take care of yourself…and your health,” had become Thabo’s favourite goodbye phrase every time she said goodbye to me whenever I left home. Those were simple caring words from a wife to her husband but for me they were laden with so much more and yet I chose not to look deeper into them….

And yet…every time I met another woman, I remembered to wear protection no matter how much I got carried away in a situation…at the back of my head I cared…because I had heard Thabo’s words.

“Please take care of yourself…and your health,” she would always say with tears welling up in her eyes. Those tears were not sad goodbye tears because her husband was to be gone for a few days. Those tears were tears of regret for the man she had created and they were tears of mourning for the man she once had.

I realized all these things just because Thande had looked at me in a certain way. She just had to stand there and give me that look that sent chills down my spine and I was awakened from my moral slumber.

As I sat there starring at her, I wondered what she would do if she knew she had so much effect on me…if she knew that even without uttering a single word, she had spoken to me in ways that no man had managed to reach out to me simply…

…because she was Thandie.

Like the fool I had become, I started crying right there in her office.

At first I think it was because of the embarrassment, the shame I felt when I saw her look at me so cuttingly. But then the memories of everything bad I had done came flashing before my eyes.

I saw the many different women I had given my soul to…most of them I would have not given the time of day had I still been the kind of man Thandie expected me to be.

I saw all those moments at home I had chosen to pretend not to notice…when my wife would silently cry in the bathroom every time we finished making love.

I saw Thabo coming back into bed to join me with red swollen eyes yet smiling at me, planting a kiss on my forehead before saying goodbye sweetly. I could see the pain hidden there and yet I chose to ignore it.

I saw Chikondi walk on tip-toes around me, scared he might do something that might upset me and maybe force me to send him away to that place he always feared I would send him to.

I saw my little girls, the twins…I heard them telling me they hated me out of nowhere…like they had some divine power to know of everything I had done against their mother…I heard them say loudly in their sweet little innocent voices, “you are a bad man daddy!”

All these things I had seen and heard happen in my home but I could not get myself to listen. I heard it all, saw it all but I never stopped to listen.

But that was until Thandie stood there and looked at me like that.

Just one look and it all came pouring out.

I finally remembered who that man was.

The man Thandie had smiled at and asked, “What woman in her right mind can break the heart of such a kind hearted man?”

How far back would I have to walk to reach to that point in my life when a woman would take one look at me and see something in me that she had not seen in other men?

“Why are you crying?” Thandiwe asked me.

I couldn’t talk; I just kept bawling my eyes out.

This must have been the fourth time I was showing my weakness in front of this woman.

While my head was buried in my hands, I heard her stand up and walk to the door and then I heard a click. I think she had gone to lock the door. Next I heard her walk towards me and she put her arm around my shoulder.

It was like a switch had gone off and I lost control.

It was not my proudest moment. In fact, there was no pride to speak of in the first place. I was shattered. I was ashamed and I was desperate.

“I am so sorry…I am sorry….” I kept repeating while I cried in her lap. The poor woman, I had my arms around her legs and I buried my face in her skirt, sobbing like the greatest fool she would ever come across.

Instead of kicking me off, I felt her soft hand gently stroke the top of my head and she did not say a single word. She just stood there and let me cry like a baby with my arms wrapped around her while I drowned in my tears.

“Are you feeling better now?” Thandie asked me minutes later after that embarrassing moment. She had handed me a bottle of water and she watched me empty the contents from behind her desk where she was now seated.

Despite everything, I saw no judgement whatsoever from her. But I did see pity in her eyes. She had finally given me her full attention and she was most willing to hear my story. I told her about everything I had done and what had become of my life and my family from the time we had parted ways and she listened without interruption.

“So what are planning on doing now?” She asked me once I was done telling.

“I am not even sure where to start,” I told her. “But I have to correct the wrongs I’ve done against my wife and against my children.”

She was smiling. It made me feel good because it gave me hope I could still be a man she could be proud of.

“I thought I had forgiven my wife for everything, I thought we had moved on…. I thought I had done her a favour when I chose reconciliation over divorce but I had the wrong mind set all along. I should have given our marriage a second chance and given my all to make it work but I deceived myself into thinking that I could use her transgressions as some sort of pass to violate our marriage vows.

Ultimately, I ended up becoming the sort of man deserving of the things she had done to me because I felt justified in my sins while she had taken responsibility for hers.

“So now it is your turn to seek her forgiveness,” Thandiwe stated.

I nodded. “Yes, if she will accept me.” I said. “I don’t know if she has already given up on me or if she has simply been feeling like I am making her pay for her mistakes. Now that I think about it, I don’t think she has forgiven herself either…otherwise, why would she let me do all this to her?”

“You are right,” Thandie said. “The good thing is, marriage isn’t just about two people, it’s about God too and because of him we get second chances…even third chances. I don’t think that you are a bad man Mr Harry…I just think that you are a man who had some unfortunate things happen to you and you responded in ways you thought were right. But now that you know, it makes everything a little easier to correct.”

“I have only now realized that I never told you my full name,” I laughed…and she laughed with me.

“I know your full name already, Mr Phiri,” she said. “You did use your full name to book into the lodge after all,” she added in response to my puzzled expression.

“Ah!” I exclaimed and laughed. “Then why did you keep calling me Mr Harry?”

“Because Mr Harry is the man I know. I didn’t recognize the Mr Phiri that was booked here. I won’t even ask where you found that rare T-bone steak woman.”

I chuckled. “Please don’t,” I said. “Speaking of which, how did you end up here?” I asked.

“After that episode with you at church, I went in search of another one and I ended up finding one where my son and I felt at home. I love involving myself in a lot of church activities so I ended up being a part of this one programme where I got to learn a lot of things. Through that programme I discovered that I love cooking…and that I was very good at it. One time we had an interdenominational kind of trip and we ended up here in Ndola. During that trip I met someone who was very impressed with my cooking skills and he offered me a job as a cook at his lodge which he had inherited from his mother. After working for close to a year and half, here I am….”

“I’m just gonna go out on a limb here and say that the owner of this lodge is that Alex guy?” I said and she smiled, confirming my suspicions. “Are you two dating?” I asked her.

Thandiwe was blushing. “No, of course not. We are just friends.”

“But he likes you isn’t it?”

She didn’t answer.

“I am right!” I said. “Why don’t you like him? He seemed like the kind of man any woman would kill to have.”

“I never said I don’t like him,” she admitted. “He’s only been in this country for four years and I have known him for two. After everything I’ve been through, I have learnt that if something appears too good to be true, then it probably is. I always used to wonder why my ex-husband picked me out of all women. I was not the type of woman a man like that would marry. I was uneducated and the only thing going for me was my face. Whenever he had friends visiting or whenever there was a function somewhere, he preferred me with my mouth shut while he rattled on with his ‘intelligent’ buddies.” She quoted the word with her fingers in the air.

“I was never good enough for him and he took pleasure in reminding me about how lucky I was to be married to a doctor. During the time we dated, he showed no sign of being such a conceited person but it all came pouring out once we were married. And now here’s this young and good looking guy who can have any woman in the world…why would he want to marry someone who’s been divorced and is a single mother? Does that make sense to you?”

I could understand why she was feeling like that but she really had no idea just how wonderful and attractive she was as a woman…and how not being aware of that fact made her even more attractive. Any man would be lucky to have her.

“Your ex-husband was a fool Thandie,” I told her. “It’s just unfortunate that you’ve been exposed to only bad men in your life…your husband, that doctor, and me, but I can assure you that there are a lot of good men out there. Imagine what would have happened if I thought all women were bad just because one woman gave in to a moment of weakness and broke my heart?

“But I met you and you were different…. I have never regretted meeting you. Don’t paint all men with the same cloth just because you’ve had a few bad experiences. Do you intend to live the rest of your life alone, scared that someone might break your heart again?”

She didn’t answer, but I could see she was thinking about what I had said to her.

“Do you think that if we told someone our story…that we were together in a lodge, you half naked…me on the bed yet nothing happened and they would believe us?” I asked her.

“They wouldn’t because it sounds too good to be true…yet it is true! I don’t know who this Alex guy is or where he comes from but I think it’s unfair for you to make him pay for another man’s mistakes when he’s shown you nothing but good intentions. Nothing in life is definite…even in marriage. I am the perfect example. I know for a fact that my wife and I love each other but look at what we’ve been through. Sometimes it’s just about the choices we make when we are faced with certain challenges but that don’t make us bad people.”

Thandiwe was smiling at me in that old usual way that I liked.

“You sound like a very wise man Mr Harry…can’t believe that you are the same man who was crying here just a while ago.”

I winced in embarrassment. “I knew that would come back to haunt me, dammit!” I said.

Thandiwe laughed. “I don’t think that’s something you should be embarrassed about. On second thought…maybe you should, now that I am looking at my skirt.”

I gasped, imagining the damage in my head.

She was still laughing. “Don’t worry about it. In this line of work, it’s only wiser to have plan B and C…and sometimes D.”

“No wonder you got promoted so fast. You’ve always been a smart ass…the kind of natural intelligence you can’t pick up from a book. I am very proud of you Thandie.”

“Thanks,” she said. “Although I think Alex’s feelings had a lot to do with it. And I am proud of you too for recognizing your mistakes instead of blaming them on someone else. It takes a lot of guts to do that.”

“So will you give that Alex guy a chance?”

“We’ll see…I need to think about it some more.”

Her smile was telling me she had already made up her mind.

I was not such a terrible man after all. My conversation with Thandiwe, though unconventional, gave me hope that not all was lost. Even though the mistakes I had made had driven me away from the man I used to be…through Thandie, I had been given a second chance to do things right.

She had been right that first night we met when she said that God does not sleep.

He indeed doesn’t.

Thandie had been brought into my life for a purpose.

* * *

A few days later, Thabo came to pick me up at the airport and when I set my eyes on her, it was as if it was for the first time. I ran to her like a mad man and scooped her up into my arms and kissed her with all my heart.

I guess we must have looked like newlyweds to the people watching us because there were all smiles around…and probably some glares too but I didn’t care much at that time. Thabo was surprised by my behaviour and she kept asking me if everything was okay the whole way she drove us home.

The moment we were in the privacy of our bedroom walls, I put my laptop bag down, got on my knees before her and did something I should have done a long time ago;

I begged for her forgiveness.

All along I had thought that our journey to reconciliation had started two years ago…but that mid-morning after my trip from Ndola, that was when both Thabo and I decided to really make things work.

Unlike before, we promised each other to forgive and forget. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but because this time we would be doing it together, we had faith that we would succeed.

Nine months later I was going through my emails at work when I saw one from Thandiwe. We had not spoken or seen each other since that morning at the lodge and I had had no idea she had my email address.
“Dear Mr Harry,” her letter read;

You must be surprised to receive an email from me. Your address was in your contact details when you checked in at the lodge and I apologize for using that information for personal purposes.

I hope you and your family are doing well now.

I have some great news that I really wanted to share with you because you played a big part in helping me come to this decision: Alex and I will be getting married next month.

I followed your advice and gave Alex a chance. He really is a great guy. We travelled together last month to see where he grew up. I discovered that his parents divorced when he was little and his mother sent him to London to live with her sister. He was an only child between his mother and father but he has four step siblings, two from his mother’s remarriage, and two from his father’s remarriage.

His two cousins from London are very nice and they treat Alex like a big brother. Melissa, that’s his oldest cousin, she is thirty-two years old and has three kids. She wants my son to go visiting since we had left him home this time around.

His father died five years ago and left him the lodge were we both work. The two of them were never close but before he died, he regretted not having been in his life and the lodge was some sort of way to make up for not having been there.

His mother lives in Lusaka with her new family, I met them a couple of months ago and they were kind of nice. They are not very close to Alex and his relationship with his mother is very strained so they just get along out of politeness. I don’t think they will be very much involved in our lives either. At first I was nervous that they might not like me since I am divorced and with a son but they didn’t seem to mind at all…either that or they just don’t care. Hahaha

Oh, by the way, my ex-husband heard that I was getting married and he came looking for me at my workplace. Fortunately, Alex put him in his place and he went away a very pissed off man. I must admit it felt so good watching him beg me for a second chance. It turns out, his wife was seeing another man and apparently he is the father of that same child that made him leave me for her. She left him last year to be with him. He was so mad because she left him for a nobody, his words, not mine.

Although I felt some form of vindication seeing him looking so pathetic, there was a part of me that felt sorry for him.

We set November 9th as the date for the wedding and both Alex and I would be happy to have you and your wife there…especially me, it would mean a lot to me. I know its short notice…but I still hope you can make it.

I hope to see you soon and do take care of yourself.

Your Friend,

Thandiwe.

I was very happy for Thandie. She finally found her own happiness and that good for nothing ex-husband of hers finally realised he had lost a good thing.

I would have been like that man too but I was fortunate enough to be rescued at the right now. I had seen the opportunity and I had gone running after it even if at that point I did not understand why I was so desperate.

Since then, although my life has not been perfect, it’s been filled with so much happiness.

I learnt a lot of things since that morning my wife had woken me up from my sleep and told me that she had something she needed to get off her chest.

I learnt that it is easy to notice the sins of others and judge them accordingly yet for our own sins, we tend to find justifications;

I lashed out because you upset me, I stole because I was desperate, I lied because I didn’t want to hurt you…or I cheated because you made me to.

At some point in each of our lives, we’ve made these and many other excuses for our actions.

However, the thing about life is, for every act we do, every decision we make, we do so whilst consciously being aware of the likely consequences to follow…and even when we consciously know that we are doing something bad, we prepare our defence and we manufacture whatever excuses we can to lessen our guilt.

Although my wife had defiled the sanctity of our home when she lay in bed with another man, I was the one that had betrayed her on a much grander scale because I had deceived her into believing that I had forgiven her. Instead, I used every opportunity I got to hurt her…thinking I was justified in my actions simply because she had done something wrong to me first.

Unlike her who had recognized her mistakes and taken responsibility for them, I had been a coward, hiding behind her while I slowly worked to permanently destroy our marriage.

It was I that made the decision to cheat, not my wife. She had given me the opportunity to walk away and I didn’t. The moment I had chosen to stay, everything that had happened before was to be erased so we could start afresh. Instead, I let myself get swept up in delusions that threatened to tear my family apart.

No one had held a gun to my head and forced me to do all those things I did. And for that, I paid the price…I stepped foot on an already cracked foundation and deliberately rubbed my foot in there and made it crumble to the ground.

In order to restore what had been and built what could be, Thabo and I had to start from the very beginning, together.

She had given me a second chance, not because she felt guilty for what she had done in the past….

But because she loved me.

I had sought her forgiveness…not because I thought I deserved it…

But because I loved her.

Echoes of the Heart – Part 9

Final image - Echoes of the Heart

 

It had indeed been eighteen years since Lance Hangaala had seen Aunt Tafadzwa. It was no secret that she wasn’t a fan of him. He had been nothing but a Taxi driver when he had met and fallen in-love with her sister Miriam.

Not one to keep her thoughts to herself, Tafadzwa had confronted him behind her sister’s back and told him to take a hike because she didn’t want Miriam to languish in poverty. A beautiful and intelligent girl like her deserved a rich man to spoil her for life, Tafadzwa had said. How could he ever forget those piercing words?

However, despite her treatment of him, Lance understood to some extent why Tafadzwa wanted her elder sister to get married to a rich man. He had seen first-hand how Miriam struggled to take care of her sibling and herself from the little money she was making working as a secretary.

And so when Miriam eventually disappeared from his life without a word, he did not resent her. Despite his broken heart, there was still a huge part of him that missed her and kept longing for her. Unlike her sister, Miriam had been a kind and loving woman who always put the interests of others ahead of her own. That was the reason why he had fallen for her. But when she left him in the most cruel manner possible, he had been left with a lot of questions whose answers could only come from her.

When he had begged her to never let him go but to be patient with him while he looked for a better job, she had put her arms around his neck and told him she didn’t care about anything else as long as he remained by her side. That was the kind of woman he knew her to be.

Even when a dear friend of his offered him a job in Botswana with a better pay, he had turned it down, afraid to leave the country just in case Miriam had a change of heart and came looking for him. But when two, three, four years went by and there was no trace of her, he had finally given up and left town.

The news of her demise came to him at the most unexpected time in his life. It was the day before his wedding when he sat down to catch up with some old close friends of his that had traveled the distance to attend the wedding. Curious about her death, Lance had searched high and low for Tafadzwa’s contact information but all efforts to communicate with her proved futile.

“You really look very different now Lance,” Aunt Tafadzwa quickly tried to change the subject. “Life in Botswana must be good for you.”

Lance chuckled. “I guess you could say that,” he said. “It was tough the first couple of years but after a while, new opportunities came by and I tried to make something of my humble life.”

“I really can’t believe you are the same man who had dry and cracked lips with those tone trousers you liked wearing…and those nasty looking sandals you wore with wire supporters.” She was laughing as if she was sharing in a good memory.

The only thing her guest could do was smile awkwardly. It was obviously a part of his past he was not very fond of. It had after all costed him the love of his life. Perhaps if he hadn’t been so poor, Miriam would still be alive. How much had he looked forward to having a little girl that looked exactly like her beautiful mother…big bright eyes with a matching personality? He had believed in that dream but it had come crumbling down even before he had the chance to lay down the first brick.

There was nothing much about the past to make him smile but obviously there was enough to make his former almost sister in-law cackle like that.

It was not that he was ashamed of his past; he was glad he had gone through all those hardships because they had made him the kind of man he had become. However, despite the life lessons that came with those experiences, they had left painful footprints that refused to go away no matter how much wind blow against them.

So how could he possibly look back to those days and laugh so heartily?

“I have wondered all these years about Miriam’s death,” Mr Hangaala said. “That is why I paid you this unexpected visit.”

“You came all the way to Zambia just for that?” Aunt Tafadzwa asked. She was going to do everything possible to avoid answering certain questions.

“No, my wife and I came for some other business but I took the opportunity to look you up and just check up on you.” He said.

“You are married now, that’s wonderful. But why didn’t you come with your wife?”

“I didn’t think it would be appropriate Fadzwa.” He muttered.

“Oh yeah,” she said in feigned embarrassment.

“So are you not going to tell me about how Miriam died?” He had already sensed that she was avoiding every question concerning Miriam.

Aunt Tafadzwa fumbled with the table cloth laying on the arm of the sofa she was sitting on, taking it off the sofa and then laying it back again…and then playing with its edges. “You know…she was my only sister…the only family I had so talking about her death is not very easy for me.”

“I understand,” Lance said, dropping his suspicions a notch. “I am very sorry for making you go through this…but I feel like knowing might help me get some kind of closure.”

“Why do you still think about a dead lover when you are obviously happily married now? Does your wife know about my sister?” Aunt Tafadzwa asked, diverting the topic once more.

“My wife knows,” he answered. “I told her everything before we even started dating. She knows why I am here and she understands.”

“Well, if you must know,” Aunt Tafadzwa said to him. “It was an accident. It was a hit and run so we don’t know much about it. They never caught the culprit.” She was looking at Lance’s face to study his reaction…and probably check if he was buying her tale. Unfortunately, this well-to-do version of him was a difficult man to read. Perhaps if he had been in his usual rags, she would have put him right where she wanted him to be; out of her house.

“Did you ever go back to the police to check if they had made any developments…in terms of catching the culprit?”

Aunt Tafadzwa was visibly surprised by how well Lance Hangaala could articulate himself. Compared to the stammering fool he had been all those years ago, the man looking at her questioningly had the demeanour of a very learned person.

Perhaps…had I made the wrong calculations in keeping the knowledge of his daughter away from him?

But how was I supposed to know that you had finally made something of your sorry self?

But who cares anyway? Aunt Tafadzwa plotted silently. Looking at that cheap Corrolla parked outside, he is not even slightly close to the level of the Mwewa’s. Those are the big fishes I should be worrying about…not this God forsaken rich man wanna be. Dressing a frog in a suit does not make it human. It still is what it is, a frog. She thought as she scanned him from his head to his shoes, her face looking like she had just smelt something rotten.

“This is Zambia we are talking about Lance,” this time she didn’t bother to hide her irritation. “Or perhaps has living in a foreign land made you forget about where you came from?” She asked accusingly.

She had finally succeeded in making him uncomfortable. “I can sense that this is clearly a very sore topic for you and I should apologize for that. I think it’s best for me to get going now.” And he did get up immediately without waiting for her response.

“I also need to wash some vegetables for sale at the market tomorrow. It’s already late as you can see….” Standing up in the process. “So I won’t be able to show you out. You should pass my regards to your family.”

Lance Hangaala got the signal and left the house without uttering another word. Once he was inside his vehicle, he sat down for what felt like minutes and watched Aunt Tafadzwa’s house like it held the answers to all of his questions.

He had this strange look in his eyes when he shook his head and finally drove off.

Aunt Tafadzwa had been looking at him through a crack of the curtain the whole time.

“Was that Sibu’s dad?” Tammy came into the living room in her night dress, a mischievous smile playing on her face.

“What are you still doing up this time?” Her mother snapped at her.

“Does Sibu know that her father is still alive?” Her daughter asked. She was obviously enjoying the moment, watching her mother looking all tensed up and shaken.

Still peeping through the curtain, “Of course she knows that he’s alive,” Aunt Tafadzwa said. “She just prefers telling people that he’s dead to avoid questions because she thinks he abandoned her mother when he discovered she was pregnant.”

“I guess it’s thanks to you she thinks like that isn’t it?” Tammy said to her mother who was now breathing a sigh of relief as the car outside disappeared from view. “You are one evil woman mother,” Tammy proudly said to her mother, delivering it like it was some kind of compliment.

Aunt Tafadzwa gave her a look as she dropped the curtain and went to throw herself on the sofa in relief. “I have never heard you refuse the money that Sibu brings here,” she retorted. “In fact, you whine and demand for more from her.”

“I guess we are both evil…except,” she was talking with her eyes dancing about excitedly. “It’s not my fault, it should be my genes.”

“Shut up and go to bed or keep talking and I tell Sibu to forget about giving you money for college. Your choice.”

That threat was enough to send Tammy straight back into the bedroom.

Her mother grinned in satisfaction and then slowly closed her eyes to sleep.
In the first week of January the following year, Martin Mwewa Junior and Sibusiswe Hangaala were wed.

* * *

The first year of marriage for Martin and Sibusiswe Hangaala was exactly what it was supposed to be, a honeymoon phase. After Martin’s successive surgery, Sibu had put down her guard for a while and allowed herself to busk in marriage bliss. It was as if she had been born again. She could laugh easily and she laughed a lot. Through Martin, she had come to experience the true meaning of love.

Martin had found himself completely enamoured by his new bride. The ease with which she had offered to donate her kidney and sked that it be kept their little secret made him fall even deeper in love with her. Where else could such a woman be found? The times she had relentlessly and happily cared for him after his surgery proved to him that he had been right to go against his mother and stick to his decision to settle down with her. Because of her, he had become a better man.

Unfortunately, like many other marriages, the honeymoon phase eventually came to pass. The new lifestyle that was greatly dependent on drugs as a means of safeguarding his new kidney proved to be too tasking for the wild hearted Martin. Now that he felt strong again and back to normal, he saw no importance in religiously taking pills and that eventually gave rise to a constantly nagging wife.

“I feel just fine Sibu!” had become the bone of contention in the home of the newlyweds.

“That is not the point Martin,” Sibu would argue. “Just because you feel fine does not mean you have to stop taking your meds. We had an agreement and you promised….”

“Yes, we are back to those promises again,” Martin would snap back. “Listen, I am tired. The whole week, if I am not studying, then I am at work. I think I deserve to have the weekend to rest and do whatever I want to unwind.”

“I understand that…I am just saying that you should at least reduce the amount of alcohol you consume and continue taking your medication.”

“I miss the fun-loving and I don’t-give-a-dame Sibu that I married. What happened to you?” Martin would give his wife the most disgusting look. “I can’t recognize this nagging woman you’ve become. I am going to sleep at Conrad’s tonight.” He would then grab his gear and leave the house.

Eventually, sleeping away from home became a habit.

Instead of striving to resolve Martin’s struggles and his change in behavior, Sibu withdrew from the world and from her husband, believing that his behavior was some sort of punishment she was receiving for having deceived herself into choosing happiness and neglecting to pay her debt to her mother.

“It’s you, isn’t it?” She would say to her mother’s tombstone whenever something bad happened.

“What the hell was I thinking…thinking he would change just because he had married me?” She would cry out to her mother. “He never sleeps home, he parties every night and sleeps with any girl he can get his hands on. When I complain he shoves money in my face like that would erase everything.

“Where you mad at me for being so happy while you were lying here in this cold earth mother? I know…I am shameless for constantly disturbing you like this but whether you like it or not, I am still your daughter you know.”

When she was not crying her heart out to her mother, the only other person she could talk to was Sibeso.

“Why don’t you try counselling?” Sibeso had once suggested to her. “You guys are still young to be growing apart like this. The problem is you married too young and Martin was obviously not yet ready for this kind of commitment. I think the fear of death must have deceived him into believing he could handle such a huge responsibility like marriage, but let’s face it….he is still immature. The both of you need to get professional help before it’s too late.

“I think he regrets the marriage Sibe,” Sibu confided in her friend. “Now that he’s alive and well, he must regret marrying in such haste.”

“I don’t think he regrets the marriage…pe se,” Sibeso would said. “I do however, think that he feels emasculated by his reliance on meds and so he is taking it out on women out there…like he’s trying to prove a point or something.”

“You sound like a shrink,” Sibu laughed softly.

“Does his family even know that he was sick?” Sibeso asked.

Sibu nodded. “They do. They were even present during the operation. They just don’t know that the kidney was mine.”

Sibeso gaped at her friend in shock. “Why don’t they know such an important fact?” She asked. “If that mother in-law of yours knew what you sacrificed for her son, she will definitely start treating you with respect. She is also a major reason why Martin is acting like this. She keeps forcing him in the company of these tuma girls from rich families as if he is still a bachelor. What demon resides inside that woman must be very short and an angry one.”

Sibu sighed heavily and said, “I just can’t wait for school to open so I can keep myself busy. If Martin wants to kill himself, let him go ahead and do so. I am done trying to be a hero when he won’t admit he needs saving.”

“You applied under which school?” Sibeso changed the subject. The mood always seemed to go down whenever took of Martin came up those days.

“Humanities and Social Sciences.”

“I thought you wanted to do Law?”

“Ah, I changed my mind. I think it’s time I started moving my life away from Martin. Let him leave his own life and I will leave mine. My aunt is a headache enough on her own. I don’t need all this drama in my life.”

“Speaking of Maxine,” Sibeso laughed, like she always did whenever they called the woman by her nickname. It would take some time to get used to it. Sometimes they would even talk about her in her presence and she would have no clue whatsoever that she was the subject of discussion. “Does she know about the problems between you and Martin?”

Sibu sneered. “Why would she care about that…and why would I even tell her? The only thing that woman cares about is money. Can you believe she wants me to buy her a plot in Meanwood?”

“What?” Sibeso exclaimed.

“Yes, and who is going to build on it once it’s been bought? Me!”

“That woman will never cease to amaze me,” Sibeso said with a disconcerting look on her face. “I bet the devil looks at her every morning and shudders. She is a real contender to his throne that one.”

And in one of those moments that had become rare, Sibu laughed.

* * *

 

 

Winter of July 2015

Martin anxiously waited for Sibusiswe to show up at the restaurant where they had scheduled for their meeting to take place. She had finally called him back after ignoring his calls for two days and asked that they meet at the new restaurant in town, a place Sibu had deliberately picked because it held no memories for the two of them…and also because it would be packed with people so the two of them wont have to get into mellow-dramatic conversations…as it always happened whenever they met.

Martin was anxiously tapping his leg on the floor  wondering if SIbu would show up or not when he looked up and saw her enter the restaurant.

She looked as radiant as ever as evidenced from the many heads of men that had turned to steal glimpses of her. Wanting to make his interests known to the public, he quickly got and waited for Sibu to reach his table. He proceeded to wrap her up in a hug, a move that caught her by surprise but not wanting to draw even more attention to herself, she quickly hugged him back and then sat down.

“What’s this I hear about you traveling to SA?” Martin launched his attack the moment they were both seated.

Sibu chuckled, thinking about how some things never changed. They had been divorced for four years already but he still treated her like she was still his wife.

“Did you just laugh?” Martin asked, his eyebrows going up in confusion.

“I am sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh,” she said. “I wish I had a good reason…but I am just going to be honest with you…I didn’t know how to broach the subject to you. I didn’t want you to think that I was taking advantage of our custody arrangement by taking your son away for such a long time.”

“Ooh,” Martin said, surprised by her quick admission. He had been more than ready to fight it out with her especially since he could smell Ted all over the issue. “And Ted,” he said, his voice had dropped to a much lower register as he relaxed his back against the chair to feign nonchalance, his fingers slowly tapping the table. “Are you two still in contact?”

Sibu could see right through his charade…trying to play it cool when he was obviously dying to know the answers deep down.She had feared he might put two and two together and it hadn’t taken that long after all.

“Yes,” she answered. “We kept in touch over the years.” She knew Martin wanted to hear more but she still kept her response as brief as possible. She didn’t need to ask him what he was thinking, it was written all over his face.

“So are you planning on seeing each other?” He asked.

“Martin,” Sibu put on a serious face. “You do know that we are divorced right? And that you cannot ask me certain personal questions?”

Martin was embarrassed by the questions but he couldn’t help himself. Not knowing what was going on in her life eat at him every night and day. What wouldn’t he give to have her look at him the way she had done during that first year of their marriage? Those memories haunted him every single day.

Like a fool he had allowed his pride to overshadow his love for her and by the time he had realized what he had done, she had walked out of his life and never looked back.

The thing that baffled Martin the most was how easily Sibu had given up on him. It was as if a switch had gone off inside of her. She had stopped talking and had withdrawn into a world he had no access to and even though she had continued attending to him as a wife, her flesh was there but her spirit was not.

She had left him long before she had said those three painful words to him;

Sign these papers.

However, out of everything that had transpired, the question that still haunted Martin was;

Why had it been so easy for her to give up on him?

Looking at her sitting in front of him, she looked happier than she had been when they were married so how could he really bring himself to ask her such a question?

That morning in Kitwe when she found him with another woman in bed had been the tipping point. He had for the first time recognized that things would never be the same between them.

“I understand you hate me now,” Martin had started to say when a waitress came to their table to take down their order. She was smiling loudly at them but they were both too absorbed in their own thoughts to take notice.

they gave her their orders without looking up at her and off she went, disappointment written all over her pretty face.

“I don’t hate you Martin,” Sibu corrected him the moment they were alone again. “You and I…it was a mistake from the beginning.”

“A mistake?” Martin couldn’t hide the disappointment he felt upon hearing those words. “Is that really how you feel Sibu?” He asked, his voice slightly rising and then lowering immediately when everyone turned to look at them.

He was waiting for her response with bated breath.

Sibu sighed and rolled her eyes. “Martin,” she said, sitting up straight and putting her hands together over the table. “We’ve had this conversation so many times before. Why do you keep insisting on going back to the past every time we meet? It’s about time we both moved on with our lives don’t you think?”

“Easy for you to say because there’s always been a man hanging around in your life.” He said and won himself what he had come to call the Sibu shot.

“I am leaving,” she grabbed her bag from the empty chair next to her and as she stood up she said, “This is why I was dreading meeting you. Somehow our conversations always end up the same way.”

Martin quickly stood up and grasped her hand. “Please, I’m sorry Sibu…please…sit down.” He motioned to the chair she had been sitting on.

There were a few people in the room looking at them, thus, not wanting to create a scene, Sibu sat back down. “Let’s talk about Jacob, he is the only reason we are meeting today.” She said.

Martin wasn’t happy about the direction the conversation had taken but he relented. “Cool, let’s do that. How long are you planning on staying over there?”

“So you are you okay with it?” Sibu’s eyes were sparkling with excitement. She had been so worried about him not allowing her to take Jacob with her.

“Do I really have a choice Sibu?” He asked.

Sibu was surprised by his remark.

“It’s not like I can go back in time and change the arrangement we made about Jacob’s custody.” He explained. “Even when I knew it was absolutely stupid, I still went ahead and gave you full custody.”

“So are you saying you have changed your mind now?” She asked, growing very concerned.

Martin was hesitant at first but then he replied, “I am not saying that I have changed my mind,” he was speaking a little slowly, placing emphasis on his words as he spoke. “I am just saying that just because I made that decision back then does not mean I am happy with it. Jacob is my son too so what father wouldn’t want to have custody of his only son?

“I miss that boy every single day and it hurts not being able to see him whenever I want. But I made that decision and I am sticking to it because it’s the only way I felt I could make things up to you and him. You know very well how obsessed my mother is with him. He was her first grandchild and the only Mwewa grandson. To this day she still fights with me over letting you keep him.”

“So why don’t you and Veronica try to have another child? Maybe it will be a son this time around…who knows?” She suggested nonchalantly. “You guys have been together for such a very long time…is it seven or eight years now?”

Martin felt like a dagger had just been plunged into his chest. He could not tell if she was being sarcastic or serious but he was willing to place his money on the latter. How could she so easily speak about another woman in his life without showing any ounce of jealous whatsoever? Why was he the only one feeling like his heart was reaping apart?

“I have told you several times that Veronica and I are not together.” Martin said forcefully. “I know we said we shouldn’t talk about anything else but you brought this one up yourself so I will explain; Veronica and I dated on and off way before you and I even met and I only started seeing her after we started having problems and it was only a couple of times. But that’s all, there was nothing serious going on between us.”

Martin could tell she really wasn’t interested in hearing whatever he had to say but she just sat there silently with a completely blank expression on her face.

“She and I never married.” he continued explaining nonetheless. “She thinks we are married just because we temporarily live together and she had my child, but we are far from being together or let alone married. Her parents just left her and the baby at my door and demanded I take responsibility.”

“I actually wanted to tell you that I changed my mind,” Sibu said when it appeared Martin was done with his monologue.

Sibu’s word’s brought an instant smile on his face but it was a short-lived one.

“Something came up just yesterday so I decided that instead of two years,” Sibu was saying. “I will just be gone for about a year or less.”

That was definitely not what he had been expecting to hear after saying all that to her. He was giving her the are-you-kidding-me-right-now look and she pretended not to notice.

“That means you get to see your son sooner than initially expected!” Sibu announced excitedly.

Unfortunately, she was the only one excited. “Is that the only thing you are going to say to me after everything I just told you?” Martin asked.

Sibu put her hand over her forehead and heaved a long sigh of frustration, deliberately making a whoooooosh sound as she let the air blow out of her mouth. She then proceeded to rub her hand against her eyes, thinking deeply before finally speaking.

“Martin,” her voice sounded heavy and tired. She dropped her hand and rested it against the table. “Is there a part of you that thinks that there’s a chance of us getting back together in future?” She asked him.

“Of course yes,” he answered enthusiastically. “I know I have no right to expect something like that but I have changed Sibu. I stopped drinking and partying like I used to a year after you left and I take my medication religiously. The only thing keeping me busy is work and I only go out once in a while to hang out with my friends. There hasn’t been any woman in my life since you left, I swear to you. I am not asking you to take me back right now…I am willing to wait, to give you time to think…to heal …but I beg you Sibu, don’t shut me out of your life completely, please.”

As Sibu listened and watched Martin speak, she couldn’t help thinking about the days when he had spoken the same sweet words to her and convinced her that the world wasn’t such a crazy place after all.

back then she had looked into his eyes and believed every word he had uttered.

She had put down her guard and allowed herself to be lost in his promises. For the first time in her life she had allowed the past to be were it belonged and she experienced happiness for the very first time in a very long time.

But who would have known that the very heart that had showered her with that kind of love would be the same one that would drown her and then drag her back to the very hell she had been grappling with all those years?

And now he wanted her to give him a second chance? How?

Picking up on her silence, Martin continued talking. “I know that I was the one who messed up big time. I was going through some things and instead of trusting that you would always be my side and that nothing would change, I got scared. I started acting out. I am not trying to make excuses here… I know very well what I did and how much it hurt you and I am going to pay for that for the rest of my life. But Sibu, you are also not blameless when it comes to how things turned out between us.”

“What do you mean by that?” Sibu asked.

So he had her attention after all, Martin thought.

“Sibu, did you even want to get married to me or someone forced you?” He asked her. “There was a time when we had a huuuge fight and you said something in those lines…and it wasn’t just that one time….”

“No one forced me to marry you Martin,” she answered. “I made the decision on my own and we got married right away. Perhaps I said those things out of anger.”

“Then why did you give up on me so easily?” He asked.

There was guilt written all over Sibu’s face.

“You know it too don’t you?” He had read her mind.

Sibu was flustered, but only for a moment. “You never gave me any reason why I should keep trying.” She said. “For a whole year I did nothing but nag and beg. I spent long nights crying alone in bed while you enjoyed yourself in hotel rooms but still I kept trying. One day I woke up and completely hated the person I had become. You too, you hated who I had become. I asked myself why I even bothered when the person I was trying to look out for didn’t even care about what happened to him…or what happened to us. Out of everything, I found giving up the easiest thing to do.”

“It wasn’t because things had turned out the way you had expected them to?” Martin asked.

“I guess so…to some extent. I admit, I had a lot of reservations getting into it and when things started happening like that, I thought…what did you expect Sibu? It was like a self-fufilling prophesy…like an accident waiting to happen.”

“I see,” a visibly hurt Martin responded.

Like an accident waiting to happen…he bitterly mulled over her words.

“You think I never gave you a reason to keep trying but Sibu…from the beginning, you never gave me a chance. Even after we got married you never trusted me enough to talk to me about whatever was going on in your family. Everytime you received a visit from your aunt, you would stay in a foul mood for a whole week and no matter how much I tried, you wouldn’t open up to me. To you I was always the playboy that would one day disappear from your life. So many times you made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for you…like you were just waiting for the walls to come crumbling down so you could pick yourself up and walk out. And you did exactly that.”

Finally, his words seemed to be getting to her.

Were those tears making her eyes shimmer in the day light?

Sibu quickly lowered her gaze when sensed Martin starring at her. She blinked back the tears and then looked back up again. “I am sorry,” she said, her voice a little husky from the unshed tears.

“I didn’t realize you felt like that. I guess I was just so wrapped up in blaming you for everything that was going wrong in our marriage I forgot to look at myself. I didn’t even think you would notice something like that.” Her lips were quivering as she spoke and her hands were shaking slightly.

“Hey, hey….” Martin laid his hand on top of hers to comfort her. “I didn’t mean to upset you,” he said and he moved to occupy the seat next to her where her handbag was resting. He removed the bag and put it on the table and then he sat down and put his arm around her shoulder.”

For a moment, it felt like it was just the two of them in the room and they stayed like that for about three minutes while Sibu struggled to regain her composure. Martin’s efforts to comfort her only seemed to be making her situation worse; the tears wouldn’t stop coming. He had removed his handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to her.

“Sorry for the intrusion.” It was the waitress carrying a try of their food in her hands. They had been so wrapped in their conversation that they did not realize it had taken that long for their food to arrive.

Sibu cleared her throat and slowly sat up. “I will keep this,” she was talking about the hanker in her hands. Martin shrugged his shoulders to tell her he didn’t mind while the waitress placed their food on their table. She was smiling seductively at Martin the whole time she was going about her business but he was too busy watching Sibu to notice.

“Can you be any more obvious?” Sibu snapped at the audacious waitress. She couldn’t believe she still had to deal with the same nonsense she had had to deal with every time she went out on a date with Martin.

The waitress immediately tightened her expression and threw Sibu a contentious look before walking away.

Martin was grinning in his seat.

“What are you smiling about? Did you just cum from all that flirting she was throwing at you?” Sibu directed her anger at him in her stead.

Martin laughed. “You are being unfair Sibu,” he said. “She was the one looking at me. I never even looked at her. You are the one who saw whatever it is you saw. But,” he started smiling again. “I don’t know why your reaction just made me so happy. You are actually jealous.” He stated happily.

Sibu blushed. “No am not!” she protested. “She just caught me at a bad moment and then she was acting like I’m not even here. She almost spilled souce on me.” She pointed to the drop of tomatoe souce on the table just close to the edge.”

“I don’t care what you say I still think you acted out of jealous. For a moment I was scared that you would never give me a chance but this moment is just the one!.” He was very excited.

Sibu was looking at him and slowly shaking her head. “There you go again acting like the world revolves around you.” And she picked up her folk and started eating her food. Martin was already chewing his food loudly and carelessly in celebration of his victory.
Sibusiswe was driving back to her place when she sensed a car following her. It was only 4pm but whoever was behind the wheel of that vehicle appeared intent on following her wherever she went… because even after driving around her neighborhood three times, the car was still behind her every time she looked into her rear view mirror.

This was not the first time she had felt like someone was following her. She had had suspicions before but quickly brushed them off thinking she was just being paranoid.

Who could be following her like that? It wasn’t as if she was a celebrity or political figure. Granted, her marriage to Martin had put her in the spotlight for a certain period of time but it wasn’t to the stalker kind of extent.

And so, she parked her vehicle at the entrace of a random house and waited to see what the driver of the dark blue Jaguar would do.

Sibu’s heart raced as the car slowly drove passed her and then disappeared when it turned at the nearest corner. She could not make out the driver’s face.

All the windows of the expensively polished vehicle had been tinted.