Hello. Hi. Hope you’re good. Gosh. More drama today. I hope you enjoy this chapter. For this chapter I want to thank Fred for the picture. Follow him here. He’s giving us imweeee. Who do you think this man might be from the series… Tell me in the comments section…
“Are you hungry?”
I look up at the sound of his voice. It’s like the man just realised I’m in his office for the first time, even though I’ve been here for hours. Men are absolute trash. Masulani looks at his wrist watch and then looks at me. We have been working on the same project all day and we are still on the clock and the time is only 7pm. Masulani is sitting behind his desk, tie off and his sleeves rolled all the way up to his elbows. He looks tired. I probably look the same. Thank God for my bald head or I would be looking like a mad woman. Masulani groans as he picks up a sheet of paper off his desk. He shakes his head and places the paper back on the table. Nothing more can be done about this project. I’ve sat across him for about four hours now pondering about the best way to advertise the client’s product. No longer wearing my heels because my feet hurt. I instead opted to place my bare feet on the only other empty chair in the office. We are almost done with our work and soon I’ll be going home to have a sensible bath and rest.
“Do you want me to order food?” He asks. “Pizza? Burger? Rice?”
I blink, lost for a second and then I shake my head. Does he have to ask? Why can’t he just order and surprise me. Why is he acting dumb when he knows the company rules anyway. Working late means the company must provide supper for said employees. Why is he asking when he clearly knows this. Men.
“No.” I respond. “I am okay. Besides we’re almost done so no need.”
“Are you sure?”
“Is too late don’t you think?” I retort.
He nods and looks back at the notes on his desk in front of him. Back to writing as if he had not stopped to ask me something.
“Where are we on the list of new products the client wants to showcase?” He asks.
“I was told the list will be sent tomorrow morning. Something about picking the right products excuse… Who cares.”
“How many billboards did they say they wanted again?” He asks
I place my bare feet on the cold tiled floor and stand up bending over his desk looking for a paper in what can only be described as a mountain of paperwork. I find what I’m looking for within a minute and stand upright.
“Three billboards in high density areas.” I respond. “Four in low.”
“Did he mention particular areas? Roads?”
I scan the paper quickly and realising there is nothing relating to the information Masulani is asking for.
“Nope.” I respond. “Guess it’s up to us to decide. Or we can request for a list of areas.”
“Okay. What’s your take?”
“Yes. Your view. What do you think?”
I sit back down in my seat and place my feet on the empty chair again. He wants my view on the project? That’s a first. Okay not a first but Masulani is not one to request for one’s opinion on things like this. The man knows what he wants and gets it done as per his requirements. Is he that tired? Does he know he’s asked me that question or he’s testing me? Shit.
“Uhm… Well… They deal in hardware and stuff right?”
He raises an eyebrow and nods.
“The idea is to get the public shopping and crying over their products right? From all areas of the city.” I continue.
“Then we have to consider location first. It’s the most important aspect. Followed by price.”
“Okay granted they are located along Kafue Road I’m thinking we should utilise major roads. The most common roads. Kafue Road, Great East and maybe Great North. Bigger is better in this case. Go all out. They will love it. If not appreciate it.”
“Well, we can pull the Bata Back to School billboard down and replace it with one of Paramounts.” I suggest.
His eyes meet mine and I can tell his mind is working out the details of what I just told him. The man’s lips bend into a smile. Good girl I think. I have him smiling already. I’m on the right track.
“Did you book for a meeting?” He asks
I nod. “Uh huh. Tomorrow. 10am. At their offices.”
“You’re joining me.” He states.
“You’re joining me for tomorrow’s meeting.”
He won’t even ask if I’m free or if I’m busy with my own meetings tomorrow. What a selfish prick. I should put my own projects on hold for his. Masulani Jere is a delicious evil selfish prick. What is wrong with men and demanding time from women that aren’t even theirs. My phone sounds a beep and I quickly pick it up from the desk in front of me. I find a message from Mr Forty.
Are you home yet?
I pout my lips as if he can see me and type a response.
Not yet. Still working.
Mr Jere is here with me.
Mr Jere. So formal. So respectful. If only I had respect for him. I roll my eyes and sigh in frustration. I need to smoke this out of my system. Maybe have a glass of something strong. And a massage. Strong hands. Chocolate hands. I look at Masulani, my eyes straying from his serious face to his hands. Strong hands. His? These are dangerous thoughts. I like them. I sigh.
Okay. Well I thought you’d be off by now.
Might be. In like an hour.
You do know you can finish that work later.
Well the boss said we need to finish this. Your humble servants (Me included) need to make sure you’re a happy man.
Well you can make the boss happy in other ways right now.
Don’t do that.
Mr Jere and I need to get this done as you requested in the morning.
And it shall be done.
You must be tired.
I’ll be fine.
I feel bad.
You need your rest.
What does that mean?
That you need to sleep. Besides I’m sure you need enough rest after the weekend you’ve had.
I bite my lip from letting a smile through. He is right. I am tired. He overworked me on the weekend. He overworked my body today too. The thought of what we got up to makes me shudder. Older is better sometimes. And maybe not seeing him tonight will be a great idea. Make him miss me even more.
True. I do need my rest. Tell you what. We can meet another night.
I was about to suggest the very same idea.
Will call you later.
I’ll be waiting.
I smile and look up and find Masulani staring at me. How long has he been watching me? Shit. Did I make any weird off facial expressions? Gosh. Can I go home already?
“Boyfriend?” Masulani asks
“A friend.” I respond.
He nods. Why the hell did I say that? Was that necessary? I don’t Mr Jere a thing about my love life. What is wrong with me? I know I didn’t lie but oh well. Whatever.
“Look, you can go home. I will finish up everything here.”
“But..” I start.
He cuts me off.
“I’ve kept you here too long. You can go.”
He obviously thinks I stood up a date by being here with him. He didn’t believe me when I told him it was a friend texting me. As if the truth would be a better option. What would I have to say “Uhh… no its our boss asking me if I’m interested in having him over tonight. You know sex, wine and chocolate. Throw in a little diamonds if he has any.” Uhhh no. Friend is just fine with me and friend it shall forever stay.
“You’re still here?” He asks
“Are you sure you won’t need my help?” I ask.
Gotta be certain. Don’t want him calling me when I’m in bed with questions I could answer while I’m with him now.
“I am certain I’ll be fine. If I have any issues I’ll call you.”
See. For crying out loud. I’m horrified at the thought of him calling me when I’m home just to tell me to come back to the office. I notice him smiling then. He’s playing with me. He would never call me. He’s good at what he does. That’s why he’s my supervisor. Prick.
“Okay. Goodnight Mr Jere.” I say.
“Night Yolanda. Drive safely.”
“I’ll call you when I get home just to let you know I’m fine.” I laugh.
He looks at me horrified. This man can’t take a joke? Wow. How sad. Humour is lost on the tall and handsome.
But…. One never knows. Just in case he calls, I’ll switch off my phone. I stand up, slip my feet into my heels, pick up my paperwork and leave his office. Maybe Mr Forty will be willing to come by now. Who knows? Should I call him? He’s probably home with his wife right now. I’ll wait for his call.
I need to smoke.
I need the following things: a strong prayer; someone to hold my hand; a handkerchief and maybe a good bed.
Maybe a little more wine. This night might end in tears even worse in bloodshed. I am not ready for this.
“I’m so sorry about my wife again.”
I look at Ian’s father and smile. I’m not sure why he is apologising for the fifth time for his wife’s despicable words.
“You’re really dark. You’re really black.”
Who says that to someone?
A horrible human that is. The horrible human being who resembles my Ian.
Ian’s mother said the words and she hasn’t even apologised once. Even after Ian’s insistence that she apologise, she has not shown an indication of letting one sorry through her ugly lips. God forgive me, I didn’t mean that. She’s my mother in law. She has beautiful lips. Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts.
Besides she’s not remorseful for calling me dark. She didn’t care about how I felt. Good for her for being honest at least. At least I know how she feels about me and my dark skin. All in all I am appalled. Truly, I’m still in shock over the whole thing. Everyone else should be too. Ian’s father keeps apologising. Ian keeps squeezing my hand under the table for whatever reason and his siblings, well, their amused apologetic faces tell it all.
Ian’s mother is… Is… Is… I can’t find the right word to describe her.
I’m dark? I’m black? I don’t know what she expected when she decided to fly to Africa. Did she think black people didn’t exist or did she hope all the history books were a lie? Whatever it was I’m fairly certain she did not expect her son’s fiance to be a woman as “dark” or black as me. What the hell did she expect? A Caucasian lady, with green eyes to match?
I am angry. I am furious. Who does that?
It was super awkward when she uttered the words. Her husband and Ian had shocked faces, while her other children looked on with indifference as if they knew she would say that. It’s like they saw the future and boom it happened. Typical mother. I kept my calm and kept a smile plastered on my face. If it had been someone else I would have smacked the living skin off their face. But she’s my future mother in law and I couldn’t go off “smacking” her pale face back to colour. I don’t even fight but I would have learnt how to tonight.
I am a beautiful black woman. Why am I trying to convince myself? The night was horrible. It only got worse after.
We sat down after ugly words were spoken and the awkwardness went on for a tad bit too long. Ian being the diplomatic and reasonable one took it upon himself to break the ice by “properly” introducing me to his family – Micheal, his brother, the dark haired, green eyed amused young man; born right after Ian, twenty-four, who recently started working and hoped to start his masters program soon; Stella, the youngest, 21, still in University studying English and on a quest to open a tattoo palour – plain weird if you ask me; his Mother, the beast, also known as Rachel Graham, who stuck to smiling at me instead of apologising; and his father Peter Graham who seemed like a very happy man no matter the situation presented to him.
Only his father and siblings seemed interested in who I was as Ian described his love for me, for a black woman. His mother kept her fake smile glued to her face the whole time. Suited me just fine.
We ordered soon after; and it seemed like everything would be okay while we were anticipating dinner until Ian’s siblings started asking a hundred and one questions about how Ian and I met, what I did for a living and my other hidden skills. I noticed his mother’s face lit up when I mentioned I was a chef; Ian praised my skills and promised they would find time to have a meal cooked by me. His mother seemed grateful at the idea then but it didn’t last long; her mood seemed to change as soon as I answered Michael’s question about my age. Ian’s mother froze in shock and she uttered something soon after…
“Aren’t you a little too old for my Ian?” She asked.
Everyone at the table went silent for the second time. If I was as white as her I’m sure she would have noticed the embarrassing glow of a blush. Ian laughed it off with the age is just a number joke but his mother wasn’t buying it. She clearly wasn’t happy with it because she said it more directly to my face.
“You’re older than my son by a good two years if I’m correct. And you’re fine with marrying a child?”
“I’m not a child mother.” Ian retorted.
“You’re my child. When you have your own children you will understand Ian.”
“Mother please.” Ian pleaded. “Don’t do this.”
“I’m sorry but I am allowed to ask. I carried you and gave birth to you so whether you do affects me too.”
“Mother, I’m a grown up. I can make decisions for myself. I’ll be twenty eight this year. Sonia will be thirty.”
“That’s too huge a gap. You’re young. You have much to do.”
“And much I have done.” Ian responded.
“Sonia?” She asked. “Don’t you agree? You’re older and wiser aren’t you? You surely can’t marry a baby.”
“I am not a baby. Not a child either. Besides it’s not that bad.” Ian responded. “Its the twenty first century mother.”
“Fine. Not a baby. A man younger than you.” She said to me. “Is that okay? Is that allowed?”
“Eish mother. Really is that necessary?” Micheal asked. “Let it go.”
“Why should I?” She asked loudly.
“Because it’s none of your business for one.” Michael responded. “Two Ian made his choice. Three Its their relationship. Four they are happy. Should I continue?”
“I’m your mother young man.” She retorted.
“Let it go.” He told her.
“You children are so ungrateful.”
“Jeez mother. It’s not about you. Why are you complaining? You’re causing a scene. Dad control her.” Michael responded as he looked at his dad. “I going to smoke. This is bullshit.”
Michael stood up and walked away from the table.
“Besides mother, don’t act old now. We are in the twenty-first century.
Marrying an older woman is the in thing.” Stella pitched in. “I’m actually thinking my husband isn’t even born yet.”
Stella turned to look at Ian and smiled.
“I’m proud of you. Maybe I can try and bat for other team too. Let’s be bold.” Stella laughed.
Her mother gave her a horrified look. Stella laughed harder. Her father immediately scolded her and demanded she apologise. She stuck her pierced tongue at him and smiled. Her father didn’t mind because he shook his head and tried to calm his wife. But she didn’t give up.
“Gosh Ian what else haven’t you told us?” She asked. “I’m so afraid you’re hiding more than what you’re telling us.”
“Gosh mother. What could I possibly be hiding from you?” Ian asked. “You clearly want to make things difficult tonight.”
“Well like the fact that you told us Sonia was coloured but she clearly is not.” She responded quickly. “I don’t think this is how coloured people look. Aren’t they lighter?”
“How exactly does that matter mother?” Ian asked. “Black, coloured, black. What is wrong with that?”
“Well, if you had mentioned the truth about some of these things being revealed then maybe we would have been better prepared.” She said. “Is this some try out a new thing and bother my parents kind of phase?”
My mind was saturated at that point. I zoned out after that. All I noticed were moving lips and red faces. There was nothing to say. I was still on the thinking about why he told them I was coloured and what truths would make them better prepared to accept the fact that their son was marrying a black woman. Was being black a crime? Did I break an unwritten law by choosing to love Ian? I was lost at that point.
Ian’s father chose to interfere then. But some damage had already been done. His mother clearly wasn’t happy I was who I was. She probably thought I wanted a way out of Zambia and to live abroad. I wondered if Ian had told them of his plans of where he would call home because looking at the mess at the table I realised they thought he would be going back home.
No one spoke about the age difference again even though the topic was still pending on the table waiting for someone foolish enough to pick up were we left off. I chose to stop my mouth from blubbering trash. And so did his mother. She ignored me and brought up news from home instead. Michael came back to the table and all was forgiven. They laughed and talked as if arguments had not almost had us breaking the table in half. Weird. I watched them interact. They seemed close. Very close. They had stories about home and all the things Ian missed but would find when he got back. I felt left out. I didn’t know how long I stayed like that until his father leaned in closer to me to apologise for the insults his wife hurled my way.
Out of guilt. I assumed
That or maybe he sensed I was left out of the chat.
“Ian seems very happy.” He says.
I look at Ian. He’s laughing about something his sister says. His green eyes light up when he smiles. I know that about him. I know so much about the man I love. Every little thing. He makes me happy. I look back to his father. Ian is happy. He’s happy with me.
“He told me a lot about you.” He says. “I was looking forward to meeting you. And now that I have I can tell he was right about you.”
His green eyes twinkle as he speaks and I see where Ian got not only his eyes from but his temperament. His father is alot like him. And I know we will get along just fine.
“I hope what he said was good and true.” I laugh.
“It was. I can tell a lot about a person from the way they react to particular situations.” He responds.
“Not many people would tolerate what my wife just did. But thank you.” He says.
Our eyes meet and he smiles.
“You need not worry about my wife. She will come around. All families have squabbles. Ours just happen to exist because we stayed cooped up ignorant about other cultures.” He continues. “Ian on the other hand was always a curious child. His need to learn and grow has always been what made him an exceptional young man. And to see him grow into who he is today is what any parent wants for their child. I can tell he’s happy with you. Whoever makes him happy, makes me happy too.”
His father is a sweet man. I have no words left. I am afraid that if I open my mouth, only a loud cry of anger and sadness will be heard. It will be embarrassing for everyone. And I don’t want to give his mother another reason to hate me.
So I keep smiling at him all the while trying to push my tears back.
I open the door and the scent of food hits me. I stand by the door smiling. So that’s what he meant by dinner. He opted to cook. I shake my head and walk through the door, gently closing the door.
Sangu comes into view from the kitchen. My man looks amazing in an apron. A man that can cook is an attractive man. I am one lucky woman I guess.
“Something smells nice.” I tell him as I let my handbag slide to the floor.
“I cooked.” He grins.
“I can tell. I thought you said you would get take away.” I say.
“And I thought you said you would be home late.”
“This is late.”
He looks at his wrist watch and then back at me, his eyebrow arched.
“Okay fine it’s not that late.” I say
Sangu laughs. He knows I couldn’t stay at the office any longer. And I was tired. I figured being home would be better than over thinking things which didn’t need that much thought. So I drove home. Slowly. Just to avoid coming home to him. Sangu walks up to me and wraps his arms around me.
“I am happy you’re home, not that late.” He says.
I breathe in his scent; a mixture of his favourite perfume and sweat. Gosh I missed him. I really missed him. I wrap my arms around him and relax in his arms. This is where I am supposed to be. He lets me go to my disappointment and he heads to the kitchen, something about the food not getting burnt. I follow him to the kitchen and see him standing by the stove. He opens the grill and closes it soon after.
“Is the food still edible?” I ask
“Ahh. You wanna play that game? You know I can cook.” He responds. “I’m good at this spoil your girlfriend thing.”
“How’s the hospital?” I ask.
“Dramatic. Chaotic. I swear I need time off. One of the doctors lost a patient today. TB.”
He walks to the refrigerator while I take a seat on one of the seats around the rectangular table. Sangu comes back from the refrigerator with a glass of red wine in his hands and places it in front of me.
“Huh? You went all out huh?’ I ask him
I grab the glass off the table and take a sip. The sweet wine goes down my throat eliciting a moan from me. It is delicious.
“You like it?” He asks
“I love it. What wine is this?” I ask him
The ladies need to taste this wine. I’m sure they will love it. Especially Mable. She will probably have cheating Chinyama buy bottles of it.
“Not telling you. It’s my secret.” Sangu says
“Nope. Not telling.”
I smile at him. He smiles back at me. He’s trying. He really is trying to be the loving man I’ve always known him to be. I know I’m still hurting and I am worried about what the future holds for us now. It’s as if him leaving opened my mind to the fact that our relationship is not forever. He can leave me at any time of his choosing. In as much as I am happy he’s back I can’t help but overthink about us.
“I’m thinking I should get you more wine. Sweeter maybe.”
“Thank you, it’s beautiful. I love it..” I whisper.
“You’re welcome. And it’s the least I can do after my mess.” He says remorseful.
I look at him, cocking my head to the side. He is no longer smiling. He looks remorseful and sad. That is why I love the man. When he’s sorry, he’s truly sorry. I feel bad for how I treated him earlier; avoiding his calls and not responding to his messages either. I was hurt but I can see I made the situation worse. If I say I have forgiven him and taken him back then I should act the part. I touch his cheek lean in and kiss his cheek. This is why I love him. And if love means having to be able to forgive then I should do just that.
“I love you Sampa. I do.” He says. “And I’m so sorry I hurt you.”
“I know.” I whisper
“You were angry this morning. It’s my fault. I’m so sorry.”
“Baby I love you. And I hope you can forgive me. One day.”
I will. I should. Right now. If I implied I would forgive him then I should act the part right? I should let it all go and try and make the most out of it. Sangu is a good man. He came back even when he didn’t need to. So I might as well let the issue go and move on with my relationship.
“I will make it up to you.”
He moves to stand up and pulls me to my feet as I hold onto his hand. He looks at me, I touch his cheek, lean in and kiss his cheek.
“I know it will take time for you to forgive me but I am still here.” He says. “If it means I have to cook every day until you are truly happy again then I will do just that.”
I laugh. I know he won’t. Cooking is not his thing.
“Thank you.” I tell him. “I am sorry I was mad this morning. I guess I had things to think about.”
“I know. I am sorry I made you feel worse about everything. It’s not like it’s your fault things happened.” He says. “I will never have cold feet again. Might need more socks.”
I smile at him. Sometimes I wish it was that easy. I wish I could believe he will never have cold feet again. My situation will cause this more often than not. But then again, it will only get worse with his mother butting into our situation.
“Your mother hates me.” I tell him.
“She does not hate you. She is just worried about grandchildren. She wants me to have kids.”
“And if I can’t? What will happen?”
“Then she will have to accept it at the end of the day.”
“You say that now. In a few years when you see all your friends with their kids and we still have nothing what happens?
“We shall be fine Sampa. I promise.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” I whisper.
Hearts will break if that promise is not kept.
My smile widens, Sangu relaxes. This is not the time to think about this. I need to see his mother soon. Or maybe I should call her and talk to her about boundaries. Some mothers need to mind their own business. Surely she must know she won’t marry her son whether he is her favourite or not. Sangu stands up and heads to the stove.
Gosh I hate not being in control of my own plans.
I grab my glass of wine and silently make my way out the kitchen.
I’m no longer hungry.
They never put this in the magazines or those books that brag about pregnancy being the best thing to ever happen to someone. They never say look out for the vomiting and dizzy spells sometimes. What a stressful day I’ve had but it’s almost over. Soon I will be in bed sleeping. I can barely wait.
I have finally figured out Indian food is my favourite right now. James came home with Indian food and I ate it without a second thought. The food was delicious. We talked about our day as we ate supper. James was proud. My stomach had settled, thankfully. It felt good to not feel like I was losing control of my body.
I feel like my old self again. At least I can still do yoga I think as I raise my arms joining my palms above my head, bend my knees and arch my back staying in said position for at least four minutes. The house is silent at this time of night. James is in the bedroom while I am in the corridor on my yoga mat. The corridor is my favourite spot in the whole house because of the pictures on the walls – family and friends at various occasions all smiling. The wall of memories I usually call it. I can sit here for hours glancing at the pictures.
Who would have thought that I would become this type of woman. Content with simply sitting in the corridor of my house as if I never used to be the outgoing type of woman. When I met James I used to go out like my life depended on it. Chilling was one thing I looked forward to, even the ‘controlling Misheck’ enjoyed that about me. I was the social butterfly when I was pretty enough right until I got married and then everything changed.
They never warn women about marriage either. It is not only about sex, date night and happy moments every day. It’s a lot more than that. It’s about balancing your life while keeping in mind there is another person depending on you to make the right adjustments to accommodate them. It’s not like because I married a man who loves me, it means we never argue. James and I are still in the process of getting to know each other, consequences of getting married too early.
I sigh and lower my arms standing upright. I lower myself to the mat, lie on my back, bend my left knee and draw my thigh towards my stomach. I feel a sharp pain in my thigh that makes me cringe. I place my leg back on the mat and take short breaths as the pain intensifies. I hate cramps. Tears well up in my eyes as my thigh muscle continues to tighten.
“James.” I call out
Silence greets me. Is he still awake?
No response from him. To think the house is small enough for him to hear me calling him. I groan when the muscle contracts. What the hell?
“James Chimuka Sipalo!!”
A door opens and James comes in view looking down at me.
“You called?” He asks.
“Where were you?”
“I was in the bathroom. Are you okay? Are you crying?”
I nod and point to my thigh which still hurts.
“Cramp.” I tell him.
He kneels to the floor and kneads my thigh slowly making his way from the pelvis to the knee. His hands are soft, soft as a baby’s touch. A baby’s bottom. I smile. I only have his face in view so I look at him, lips sucked in as he concentrates on the task at hand. I watch him massage my thigh in silence for at least five minutes before I feel my muscle start to relax.
“Thank you.” I say.
He looks at me but does not stop kneading into my muscles neither do I want him to stop. I wouldn’t mind a back massage either at this rate.
“Why are you smiling?” He asks. “What are you thinking about?”
I was smiling?
“My thigh is much better.” I respond. “I was thinking about a full body massage.”
“We can work on that.”
He stops the kneading and places his arm under my back and helps me sit up. He squats beside me looking at me.
“Massage or a bath?” He asks.
“Definitely a bath. Then bed.”
“Let’s get you clean Madam.”
I squeal in delight hands raised, he stands up and helps me to my feet. I hold onto his arm as we make our way to the bedroom.
“Mable we need to talk.” Chinyama says
I heard silent treatment can kill.
I’m not wishing it kills Chinyama. No. I wish my silent treatment will make him realise the truth. That I’m not playing around anymore. It’s time he learnt I am not the same woman I used to be then. Having to deal with seeing Cynthia again after so many years was unsettling, to say the least. I had to deal with a cheating husband, a mistress who didn’t want to leave him and the prospect of having STIs.
I had believed it was the thought of my having the twins that made him go to another. He couldn’t deal with the changes that followed. The pregnancy had changed me physically and emotionally. My second pregnancy was not as easy as my first. I remember myself looking forward to the day I would give birth and get my body back into shape.
The weight gain had brought about stretchmarks that made me feel unattractive. I was unattractive. Bigger sizes of clothes to swollen feet. Everything was a mess. My hormones made it all worse. I noticed Chinyama change while I was pregnant. He was there physically but not there emotionally. It was hard to get through to him most times in that time of my life and having to carry the twins to term was complicated enough. It was the worst and best time of my life.
I thought it would be better once the babies were born but nope. The day I gave birth he was not around. He was out somewhere doing whatever he was doing. Sampa had to take me to the clinic the day I went into labour. Chinyama came after I gave birth. In as much as he was excited to have two boys he still wasn’t in our marriage emotionally.
Working late had become the norm for him. It was his excuse. Every single day. Then months after the twins were born he became managing director and he became busier. More distant. Travelling and coming home late. He was barely home. I don’t think I even knew what he looked like in those months.
And the depression came with change. I became The wine lover as he turned to his work. Or so I thought.
Then one day as I was cleaning his clothes I found a receipt in his trouser pocket. A hotel room receipt. At first I thought it was somebody else’s but then I started to see the truth. Chinyama had been cheating on me for months or years – who knew – and I had been blind to it all.
I lost it of course. I was raving mad. I wanted to beat her – which I did eventually. I wanted to beat him as well. And I confronted him about it, the threat of divorce on the table. It was the worst months of my life. We didn’t talk much. I stayed away from him. I couldn’t tell my family what was going on even when they noticed my marriage had changed. I gained more weight. Sadness made me eat more. I started drinking more. I was lost. I blamed myself for not being attractive enough to keep my marriage. Even the money Chinyama gave me wasn’t enough to fill the gap in my heart.
I wanted something to happen, to someone.
One day, I found her details in his phone and I called her. That’s when I knew her name. Cynthia Mumba. She told me everything I needed to know about the affair. I also found out she worked for Chinyama. The nerve. That I had seen her each time I had gone to visit my husband at the office. His own secretary. I remembered how she had smiled at me everytime I saw her. And yet she was laughing at me in my face. She had, in a few words implied she was still sleeping with my husband and there was no way she would let him go. That was the day I truly lost my sanity, poured ice cold water on my husband as he slept and told him I would leave him. I took the kids and left the very next day.
That’s all it took for him to come back to his senses. He showed up at my parents home and apologised. He promised he would never cheat on me again. He promised me Cynthia was gone. For good. I went back. And I found out Cynthia wasn’t gone. She still stayed in the darkness as number one. Even after he fired her, he still found time for her. It was then that I resorted to slapping sense back into her.
Not my best moment. I left him after I beat his mistress up. Her threats of police and jail fell on deaf drunk ears. I was done. I wish I was done.
But I went back when he called, chickens in his hands and all traditions respected. I went back, not because I had nowhere to go but because I loved him. I loved the man with every thing I was. Chinyama was my life. He was my everything. Besides if I left him, what would I do, jobless? He would find another woman and marry her and have more kids and forget about me and the children he already had. I had no choice. I stayed. I accepted fate through sweet promises of change.
It took time to get our marriage back the way it used to be. Almost. But the damage had been done. Trust broken. I knew it would be impossible to fix us but for our children we tried. His late hours continued; my drinking went on; sex became a time table, appearances together scarce. Somehow we just accepted things were never going to be okay. We stayed together.
And now Cynthia is back. Again. She probably never left him. And I was the fool yet again. Men.
I wish I had drank another bottle of wine earlier. But i didn’t, probably due to the amazing lunch meeting I had. Isaac made the blow of seeing my husband’s mistress easier to bear. I will be fine. This hiccup will not define me forever. Talking to Isaac made the day a little brighter. That all was not lost. Of course Chinyama called and I did not pick up. I did what I had to do.
I picked up the kids from school. I knew Chinyama wouldn’t do it like I had told him to so I did it anyway. He never called to ask if I had gotten the kids. He knew I did. I went home with the kids pretending to be happy; and as the pretender happy wife and mother, I cooked dinner. Chinyama came home earlier than usual – minutes before nineteen. The man took a bath and sat down in the living room with the kids. We had dinner like a normal family should. The kids were happy.
All for the kids right?
I barely ate. Instead I watched him. When he smiled at the kids. I watched him. When he responded to them and when he ate his Nshima. I watched him. I lost my temper and regained it within minutes over and over again. But for my children I kept it all in. I smiled and laughed with them. I needed them to know everything was fine. And when they went to sleep I stopped pretending. I left Chinyama to his own devices while I went to sleep. I heard him when he came into the bedroom. I heard when he locked the door. I felt the bed deep when he sat on the bed and I felt his warmth when he slept beside me and he put his arm over my waist but I kept silent.
I did not say a word. My heart was racing and I just wanted to push him off our bed but I stayed still. I would not talk to him. No way was I listening to him.
“Baby.” He says. “We need to talk.”
Sometimes there are days I wish I never opened my legs and slept with the man. But then that would mean the loves of my life – my children – would never have been born. There are times I feel I forced him into a marriage he never wanted in the first place. Maybe I ruined his life and cheating was the only way he knew as revenge. Today is one of those days.
“Mable, please. I can explain what happened. Please turn around. I need to talk to you.”
So many maybes and too few solutions to my predicament. I do not want to talk about Cynthia and neither do I want to look at him. I feel as if the emotions I have bottling up might erupt and I might hurt him. We stay in silence, his arm over my waist for how long I have no idea. I feel his breath on my neck. Maybe he is still awake like I am or he’s asleep I am no longer certain.
In the silence as time ticks by it’s just the two of us breathing and only one of us is crying.
Breaking a broken heart is surely a new way to die.