By Mankhokwe Namusanya:
There is this chick he likes. He does not describe her because most men are not that good at describing ladies without cutting across as if they just finished describing a piece of meat on a butcher’s table.
He has no photo of her, does not know her Facebook name or Twitter handle or Instagram username. So, there is nothing that I can see. There is nothing I can describe.
It is not yet love he has for her. Because, love is huge – and complicated. And, oftentimes, senseless. This one, the feeling he has for this chick, is liking. As if it is a reaction on a Facebook post one does in a hurry, or just to maintain friendship without engaging the content.
“And, she does not even know it,” he laughs.
“Do you talk?”
“No, not that talking-talking. I send jokes her way, she laughs out of politeness. I greet her when I see her. But, it is nothing huge. It is not as if I can call her by name or anything. But if we bumped in a supermarket, we would stop to talk, and joke…”
And maybe exchange numbers – I think, but never say.
They meet during lunch time, mostly, at the same eatery where the struggling middle class of their city congregate. He smiles. She smiles back. Says some joke, she laughs at it. Sometimes, it has actually been one time, they have ever met in a bank and he greeted her, she responded. The liking deepened.
He has a ring on his finger. Because, he is married. That, somehow, seems to restrain her from fully opening.
“You think she saw it?”
He says he thinks so. Because, her warmth is reserved. And controlled.
I say: “that is just female warmth. It never really comes that strongly unless you are madly loved. And, that is so rare. Rare even than finding an honest politician.”
He laughs, bids me to focus on the story.
Because, he is a married man. They had a Church wedding: an officiation in the morning, a photo session, all that advice session then a big show-off reception in the afternoon. And, he has the ring on his finger to show for it. And, there is a video and HD photos – but nobody carries those ones around – so we will stick to the ring. He thinks that ruined his chances.
“I heard that women are actually attracted to the ring, they say you married men come with less drama.”
He says it is not true, then makes a distinction: women run from men with rings on their fingers, girls gravitate towards them. This one, the chick, appears to be an actual woman. Although she has no ring on her hands. He has already carefully checked that out.
He does not want to cheat. He wants to leave.
It was a marriage of convenience. Almost arranged. From Church. They come from those congregations where love is not that blind. A brother marries a sister. If you break the rule, then you are ostracised. You can bring your partner but do not think that people will take it that kindly.
In their congregation, at that time, it appeared everyone was making them fall for each other. Or, they were just planning to get them married. Two people needed to do something, their names would be mentioned. A sermon needing an example of an upright man, he would be mentioned. One needing an example of a blameless sister, she would be mentioned.
“We just had to end up with each other.”
They did. The Church won. I actually just think it is the elders who won, those guards of that wedlock gate. Those who, after a wedding, pat themselves on the back like they just found a vaccine for coronavirus.
The problem is not that they discovered they are not in love. That, he says, could not have been a problem.
“You have different likes?”
He says that is normal, that if you find a couple with similar likes then you have landed on a partner pretending to be what they are not. Actual marriages are built on the rocks on differences, not sands of similarities.
“She cannot conceive. I need a child.”
You would think they had a visit at a fertility clinic where a doctor struggled to tell, and just hissed, that the woman has a problem. They have not been.
“But, I once made a girl pregnant.”
That time, he denied responsibility although he had a strong feeling that the pregnancy could really have been his. And, he moved on from that episode as if nothing had happened. As if he had told the truth. His family? They had been ready to step up for the pregnancy, but he had even convinced them of the lie: he knew no woman.
Now, they pray over the lack of a child in the family but he has grown tired.
“It is her problem, she cannot conceive. I cannot keep pretending.”
It is where this chick at the eatery comes in. He has a fertile imagination, this one, because he has already imagined a future with her – and their children.
“And this wife?”
He thinks she will get over it.
“It is not as if we found our marriage on love, anyway.”
“And the Church?”
He says that is where the problem is. He cannot just up, and leave, that congregation. It has been his life. Also, they do not accept divorce – at least not on such flimsy excuses.
“They will think I do not have faith, that I am lost. Because, they teach us to pray. And hope. And have faith…”
“So, if she conceives the marriage will survive?”
He thinks, then shakes his head. Says this time it might just be too late, his eyes have already been trained elsewhere.