11th January 2016
One eye open.
White walls. Hanging chandeliers on the futherst wall. I need to get up but gosh the bed I’m on is so warm… Speaking to me… Caressing me… . Speaking of caressing, I feel something on my back. I reluctantly prye open my eyes, I smile and slowly turn over on the bed pulling the warm white covers in my direction. I take in his not so dark skin, the bald head, the almond shaped brown eyes, long nose and lips that have kissed me more times than I can count in the past two days. He’s an attractive man. Straight up. And the beard on his face? The greying mass of hair covering his jaw… well it makes him all the more attractive. I should be ashamed.. but I’m not! Why should I be? He might have a greying beard but he doesn’t look a day over thirty-five. His lips break into a smile and they tell me everything I need to know. That I am where I should be. In bed with him. Or his arms. Or about to be in his arms. It’s moments like these that make me sigh with pleasure and waking up next to him happens to be a bonus.
“Good morning Mister.” I say.
He hates it when I use his name. Makes him feel his true age.
“Good morning Yoli.” He says.
His voice is as smooth as a triple distilled whiskey. Deep and everything nice.
“Hmmmm.” I groan.
“Sleep well?” He asks.
“Uh huh. I slept quite well.”
I bite my lip, smiling shyly at him. I really should be ashamed…. I think…. as memories of the past two nights flood my mind. Wine and whiskey with a touch of tangled sheets. Maybe some chocolate here and there, dinner in the room, hiding ourselves from the world. I call it catching up. And I have the stars to thank for all this. If I had not decided to leave I would not have had this chance again.
I messed up.
We had been apart for too long. Almost a year but he still waited for me. Amazing. The perfect man. After Mutale made an appearance at my flat I needed someone to take me back. Back to the basics. And meeting him at the party was pure coincidence. I’m still surprised he followed me home. I knew the moment he laid his eyes on me he would want more. The flirting was the sign.
It was always the sign.
Without it then we would pretend there was nothing that happened between us. He couldn’t. He wouldn’t want to let me walk. Not in the dress I had on. He missed me too much to let a chance like this pass him by. And he showed me how much he missed me in the bedroom. He was passionate, so possessive as if I was going to leave him. He didn’t notice I was a mess. Having to kiss Mutale in my flat unerved me; I was willing to let him in one more time. Just for old times sake. To share him with her, whoever she is. Thank God for sort of exes that show up and carry you away to better beds and nights.
“You need to bath.” He says.
“But I’m enjoying this bed Mister. Don’t make leave it. Please…”
“We have to go.” He smiles. “Soon.”
And that is when I notice he looks like he has been awake for a while. I push the duvets aside exposing my nakedness to him. His eyes travel to my breasts while I notice he has on a black shirt and dark blue office pants. The man has his office shoes on too. Shined without a speck of dust on them. Always the early bird.
“You’re beautiful.” He says.
“I know.” I respond.
“I know that too!”
“You need to bath.” He repeats. “Now.”
“Well if you don’t we might both call in sick today.”
“What’s wrong with that? It’s for a good cause.”
“What is the time anyway?” I ask.
“About ten past six.”
I stretch beside him, deliberately. I know he likes it when I try and get his attention. Or at least he used to like it. It’s like getting to know him all over again even though last night he told me that the only thing that changed was his weight. Lean muscle all over. Not going to think about what his muscles could do.
I push him onto his back and get on top of him, face to face, chest to chest. The man is tall so my feet are on his legs mid way. I fold my arms on his chest and look down at him. It’s only when I am near to his face that I can tell he is in his late forties. The wrinkles at the corners of his eyes, the deepened laugh lines in his cheeks, the gray is… well…. really gray… but still hot either way! I should be feeling guilty. This should not be right…. But I can’t help it! I lean in closer, with my eyes open… I kiss him.
“Yoli.” He says against my lips.
“You…. need…. to…. bath….”
“We…. need…. to…. go.”
One hand goes to the back of my neck pulling me in closer while his other hand holds my waist. We kiss slow, savouring it, we take our time. Somehow, this gets me in the mood, each and every time!
A loud sound pierces the silent room and we pause. It’s his phone ringing. I give him one quick kiss and get off him while he takes his phone from his pocket.
“Hello….. Ahhh Ba chikulile… I am fine. How are you?… A good morning indeed…. Yes… Yes…. I should be by the office in an hour.”
There goes my convince and bed him plan.
I definitely need a bath. I push the duvets aside off of me. He smiles and gets off the bed. I stick my tongue at him. He smiles and blows me a silent kiss. I get off the king size bed with the fluffiest pillows ever and head to the bathroom, naked. I feel his eyes on me and I smile. Show him what he’s missing. I hear him laughing as I walk into the bathroom. I wish I was still in bed and not bathing because I have to go for work.
Saggy, thats the first thought that comes to mind when I see my image in the mirror above the sink. I hate it. And to think there are women who want to look like me. I might look slim on the outside but underneath my clothes it’s a different story. My once perky breasts are now saggy; not an ugly picture coupled with my slim waist and flat stomach; I am kinda curvy I think. I would like it more if I was curvier. What I lack in shape I got on my face. The smooth skin. The dazzling smile. The crazy brush cuts. You can’t have it all. I look at my face and smile. I lift my left hand and trace the black symbols on the right side of my chest right below my breast. Even my tattoo looks amazing on me. I should be grateful. I sigh and shake my head and turn away from the mirror.
Time to face reality.
A new week, new decisions I think as I step under the shower.
Thank God for maids, because seriously I do not think I have the energy for waking the kids up, bathing them, dressing them and cooking their breakfast at the same time. Bad enough I have to drop them off at school but that is something I enjoy doing. Having them to myself before they head to class. I sit on the edge of the bed watching Chinyama wearing a white shirt. He tucks the ends of the shirt into his black pants. He looks preoccupied. Whatever lingers on his mind. Work or the woman who left her powder on his shirt.
What the hell is wrong with men? Why does the wife always have to suffer with the washing when the man is the one who made a mistake. I wonder who the woman is. Did he go with her to Zanzibar? Did he buy her the same neck chain as me or did he get her rubies instead. Paranoia becomes me now. I shake my head and close my eyes. Chinyama has not shown me anything else to show that he is cheating on me. Saturday night after his bath we talked. He told me about his trip, the sites he “found time to visit.” I listened to everything he had to say and nothing at the same time. All I could think about was the smudge on his shirt. I would have burnt the shirt right on his body but I didn’t.
Maybe I should.
But I know I won’t.
I’m a useless wife. I would know. I didn’t do anything about the smudge. Instead Chinyama talked and I listened until we went to sleep or I went to sleep because he had to work. As usual. I don’t know what time he came to bed but in the end he did or he had to. He was sleeping beside me when I woke up. Our Sunday was a boring affair, he stayed home till the afternoon when he decided the office needed him more and he left, and that is how all dinner plans he had made were cancelled – not shocked there. He came back home late. I stayed up for him. But he did not come to bed with me. No. He stayed up. By the time he came in I was asleep I guess but I woke up early enough to watch him sleep. And I watched him sleep thinking of all the times I watched him sleep countless times before.
Almost eleven years of marriage. What a life I’ve had. I look at him and I can see what’s different with him today. I remember the first time I met him. I was eighteen and naive. He was the first born of my father’s best friend. I had the worst crush on him then. Whenever my parents went over to visit his family I would follow them intent on seeing him. He was fresh out of University and working as a bank teller while I was getting into my first year of university. It was a match made in hell. Maybe my crush was apparent and he felt pity for me or maybe he wanted to “try me out” and we started chatting. We talked most days for a while. He visited some days.
Then one day he went silent on me. I didn’t hear from him for weeks. Then one night, as idly with my girls, I ran into him. Our eyes met and something happened…. I was deeply in love with the man. Words turned into sweet talk and that turned into kisses and kisses turned into something unplanned. More than unplanned. A baby. That was unplanned. Our parents decided marriage was the way to go. A win win so they told us. Raise a child the right way and make the families avoid the shame of an unwanted pregnancy.
Chinyama and I got married. It was simple. It was beautiful. We were sort of happy. Our life began. We were kind of happy. It was hard in the beginning. I wasn’t ready for marriage. Neither was Chinyama. And worst of all we weren’t ready for a baby. But somehow we made it work. We got along. I had Samba and things got easier. It was like she bonded us. She was the glue we needed to keep us alive and alive we stayed. Along the way Chinyama started to feel the same way I did. It was perfect. I finished university. He progressed in the bank. We were alright. And by the time I got pregnant with the twins we were perfect. Sort of perfect. It was after the twins were born that things went downhill. He started working late. It got even worse after he got appointed as Managing Director. That was when he cheated on me.
I shake my head and see him sitting at the edge of the bed trying the shoe laces to his office shoes. Smart. Yes. I stand up from bed picking up the red tie lying on the bed next to him. He stands in front of me. We’ve done this plenty of times. I wonder if this other woman does the same for him. Knot his tie every morning. I place the tie around his neck and knot it. The same way I’ve done it for years. I can do it with my eyes closed. But I take this time to look at him. Our eyes meet and he smiles. He’s still in a good mood.
“I’ll be home a little late tonight.”
I blink and look at him.
“What?” I ask.
“I will be home late tonight.” He says slowly.
Not shocking to be honest. I don’t know why he’s telling this bit of unnecessary information. He’s always late.
“What is late to you?” I ask
“Twenty three.” He responds
That’s actually early in this house.
“No work to keep you busy? Shocking.” I mock him
“I’ll carry it home if it gets overwhelming. But I’ll be home at twenty three. Let the maid stay up. Don’t wanna wake you up.” He laughs
I smile at him. I place the perfectly knotted tie under his shirt collar and I smooth his collar down.
“There we go…. One smart looking husband to go….”
“Thank you Mable.”
I get his jacket off the bed and he gets it from me. He kisses my cheek. He smells amazing. Did he get himself a new perfume? Things are changing. He is definitely cheating on me.
“Are you alright?” He asks.
“See you later.” He says
“Have an amazing day.” I respond.
And he walks out our bedroom. Ready to face the world.
I need a drink.
Shit! I gotta take the kids to school first.
Big rings? Small rings? What am I cooking again?
I am a nervous wreck.
I’m so nervous, I can barely do anything right. My work will be in a mess today. The clients will not be happy about this. Head chef will kill me. It should be easy. I shouldn’t be this nervous. Meeting my in laws shouldn’t make me so nervous. It’s not like they will eat me. They are family after all. Future family. I don’t know what I’ll wear. I don’t know what I’ll say when I meet them. Gosh I have no idea what I will do.
Ian’s parents landed yesterday around ten in the morning. Something about an early flight. Ian seemed excited. I was happy for him. He hadn’t seen his family for over a year. He couldn’t contain his joy. I got jealous listening to him, waiting at the airport for them to come through the lounge. After being without parents for so long, I didn’t know what to say so I kept quiet.
When they came through the doors eventually, Ian was beyond the moon. It was in his voice when he said he saw them. It as in the way he said bye. He called me when he got home to tell me they were really here, standing in his house. Tired but excited, he told me. That was when the nervousness took a hold of me. Ian told me they wanted to see me as soon as possible and he set up dinner for Monday. Monday! Family get together. Meet the family. Introductions. Wife meet family. Monday.
Today is Monday. Oh my!! what do I do? I can’t even cut my onions right.
Big rings or small rings?
Maybe if Ian wasn’t white. Maybe then it would be easy to assume that everything will be okay. Or maybe I’m overthinking the colour thing. Maybe his parents will absoutely love me through and through, even though I’m black. I will be the daughter they never had literally. Maybe it will so amazing that they will want me to move to Europe with Ian just to keep me close. Besides, being a chef means I can work anywhere as long as a stove with a functional oven is around. And I know for a fact that the best foods are everywhere in the world. Plus, as a bonus, I get to be in a school in The UK. Or I could travel to France and learn how they make their “croissants”! They’re so tasty… Hmmm. Yes! It could all go in that direction. As a matter of fact, I know it will go in that particular direction. I am a sweetheart. What’s there to hate about me? Nothing!
“They will love me. They just have to.” I say aloud.
I smile to myself. Finally calm.
“I am beautiful. Kind. Funny. Creative. I am a happy person. I am blessed with favour. I am grateful for everything you have done for me Lord. I know you can never fail me.” I whisper.
I am grateful I am alone in the kitchen right now. I can talk to myself and not be judged. Besides it is too early for the other chefs to be in right now. But it will busy soon. Creating food that makes the mouth water. One day I will have my own restuarant I hope. But for now, African Golden Continental Hotel will do. But I will not let the dream die. If Ian had not proposed I would have suggested we take a trip to Livingstone to find out if the hotels needed a new bold chef. I know Ian wouldn’t mind moving to a different town for work; even a different country would work for us. But he proposed! So I am stuck here for a while. Maybe until the wedding. That’s if I can get married this year.
“Mrs Sonia Graham.” I whisper.
I cannot wait to marry him.
But first I have to impress his family.
Is the sickness necessary I wonder. My stomach rumbles and weakens me to my knees. I head to the bathroom and empty my stomach contents into the toilet. Morning sickness is shit. Been at this since six am and my stomach is not ready to settle yet. Gosh. I just feel horrible. How long will this go on for because I don’t think I want to puke my heart out everyday. It’s more than horrible. Should having a baby be this hard?
“Baby. How are you feeling?”
I hear James’s voice from outside the bathroom door.
“I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.” I answer back before I throw up into the toilet again.
Surely by now I should have finished everything in my stomach. This is tiring. I hear the bathroom door open and I quickly reach for the flush handle. I see his hand on my hand and he flushes the toilet. I look up at him and I can see he’s worried. How sweet. He grabs my arm and helps me to my feet. I sway on my feet but he holds me by the waist and leads me to the sink. The woman who looks back at me in the mirror looks like a horrible mess. Hair tied up in a bun on top of my head, no makeup in James’s t-shirt.
“Maybe we should go to the hospital. ” He says
I meet his gaze in the mirror. Nothing cures morning sickness. It only goes away when it’s time. I rinse my mouth with cool tap water while his hand stays on my waist. Today is the worst. Yesterday was a better day. The morning sickness was not that bad. But today it certainly hit me. Plus to think I have to go to the boutique today. I don’t think I’m up for it what with this getting worse per hour.
“I can take you the hospital.” James says
He’s over worried. He is stressing me out. I shake my head and spit the water I’ve been holding in my mouth.
“I am great James. Don’t worry. This is normal.” I say slowly.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. I’ll be fine. Morning sickness is normal. I’ll be pitch perfect soon enough.”
“You need rest. And food.” He says
I turn and face him. I notice the worry lines on his forehead.
“Don’t fret.” I tell him
“Yes. You forget I know enough about pregnancy. I have a friend who has three kids and she went through this too. So I’ll be fine.”
He seems reassured by my statement. I’m taking up his time. He is already dressed for work in blue jeans, a white shirt and suede boots. We walk back to the bedroom and I sit on the bed while he walks to the head of the bed and pushes the beddings back. At this rate he will never leave. He will end up staying home with me. And then I’ll feel guilty.
“You need to go for work.” I tell him
“Let’s get you into bed first.” He responds.
I lay back on the bed and he covers me with the bedding he pushed aside. He looks down at me frowning.
“Will you go to the boutique?” He asks worried.
“Maybe? If I feel better. I’ll let you know.”
“Call me. If you need anything. Okay?”
“Okay. I will. Now please go to work.”
He leans in and kisses my nose. Gosh I must reek of vomit and he doesn’t mind.
“I’ll call you. Okay. The maid will be here soon enough. Rest.”
“Bye James. ”
He takes the cue and smiles at me. It lights up his face. In that moment he looks like a teenager. He walks away from the bed picking up his bags from the chest of drawers at the end of the bed. He looks at me one more time before he leaves the bedroom. I hear his footsteps in the hallway. Then I hear a door close. He’s gone and I’m alone. I turn on the bed and face the empty side of the bed, his side of the bed and I smile and in no time my eyes close.
Am I pretending to be happy or am I genuinely happy.
Sangu is back. He’s happy. I’m happy…. right? I can’t decide if that’s enough for me or not. I can’t stop thinking about why he left in the first place. So he’s back but it still doesn’t change the fact that I might not be able to have children. And if his mother got to him, even for a week what happens if she gets him for longer than that. Sangu has reassured me that won’t happen again. Yesterday he did not want to let me out his sight just in case I disappeared. He sort of made up for it the day he came back home.
We cuddled in bed and talked about “random stuff” just to fill up the emptiness. He had his arms around me all night. He didn’t stop telling me that he loved me. He made me breakfast in bed: pancakes and eggs. We stayed in like old times watching boring television. He made me miss church. In as much as I was happy he was back in my arms I just couldn’t help but feel he was still undecided about us. Having a family was always important to him; still is. And in as much as I would want to have kids, I gave up hope on the thought. The doctors I met made sure of it. If having a child was possible I would have gotten pregnant again by now.
Not even a scare. I accepted my fate. And I don’t want Sangu to just accept that reality just like that. It took me years to finally deal with my misfortune. But Sangu doesn’t have to live like that with me. I want him to be happy in the end. That’s all that matters. Sangu noticed I wasn’t myself, probably why he tried being romantic all day yesterday. But in the end it didn’t matter because I was still hurt.
I’m still hurt. And the fact that his mother is involved in this mess makes it worse. Did she have to involve Sangu’s ex as well. Nothing is ever kept a secret in his family. Now what will the woman think of me? I’m sure Sangu’s mother told him he was better off with his ex who has the perfect womb. The perfect smile. The perfect amount of money. The perfect background. The perfect everything. For the first time in my life I feel flawed. Badly flawed for that matter. It’s the worst feeling ever.
I see his hands on my shoulders in the mirror. He stands behind me and wraps his arms around me. I feel his chest touching my back. He stands tall behind me without my heels. Sangu is a very tall man. He looks at me in the mirror and I look away, pulling the black flared dress I have on down, Sangu tightens his arms making it hard for me to do anything else.
“Hey.” He says
“Are you okay?”
I knod my head. He knows I’m not. But I lie anyway. He won’t ask again. He will let me be. I won’t look at him.
“You look beautiful.” He says
“I was thinking dinner tonight.” He says. “I can knock off early from the hospital. Just you and me.”
“I’ll be busy. Knocking off late.” I lie.
Why the hell am I lying? What’s wrong with having dinner with my boyfriend? Is it really that bad I wonder.
“Okay. We can have take away. Whatever time will you come home.” He inquires.
I feel a kiss on my shoulder and he lets go of me. I watch him sit on the bed and put on his black smart shoes. He stands up again and I take the chance to look at him in his gray suit, white shirt and gray tie. That is the man I’m going to marry one day. I just have to make this work somehow.
I have to see his mother.