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A year and counting

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By Mankhokwe Namusanya:

Because, apologies serve two functions. First, to placate guilt. Second, to show remorse. Your husband, of course, apologises and it does not fall into any of the two categories.

It is just words – or actions – carrying no meaning to him, no effect on his behaviour.

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And, you might have noticed it too. Now you have gotten used to it. You memorised the script: he does a terrible thing, you express displeasure, he offers an apology – or a word of apology. Moves on, trampling on your feelings on the way.

However, her husband is not like that.

“Apologise? That is beneath him. He has too much respect for himself that he thinks an apology would make him lose some of his value…”

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“What if he is just an honest man, that he does not want to sell you dreams, that he is not sorry even if he hurt you, that he doe not see the relevance of an apology?”

She thinks it still is wrong, says that sometimes women just need an apology – even if you have not done anything wrong. I laugh uneasily, and mock: paint a picture of a man who apologises just for waking up, then another apology for stepping out of bed, another apology for that early morning yawn, then apologise for everything…or maybe just leave a ton of apologies for everything that he will do that day.

“But that is what I do…”

“Apologise for everything? It must be a prison.”

She says it is not like that, at least not exactly. Yet the weight of the relationship remains on her. Because, apparently, the other part lives in another world. A sort of heaven in which he is the god with no ability to do any wrong or anything alike wrong.

This was not a conventional relationship. The way everything started.

There was an ex she wanted to despise. You know those guys who, after spending a day with you and getting all the benefits of a boyfriend, go home just to text you that they are sorry, it is not you, but them, you are a good person and all that other nonsense that sounds unpalatable to be said to an old lover these days?

It ended like that, with the ex.

They had not spent the day together. They had just been texting. Those random routine texts. How was your day, did you win, did that and that happen, what about that?

It was in the course of that text that he asked for – as they called it – a commercial break.

It was not new, this commercial break thing. When the conversation was flowing and another wanted to interject with a meme or some other nutritious joke for a loving conversation, they would ask for a commercial break.

Except, that day, the commercial break became the main item. Its impact was such disorienting that there was no way one could proceed with the conversation.

He said he was out of the relationship. Initially, he had said he wanted out. But then, in a quick and careful consideration, he clarified that he was out of it already. He was just informing her so that – to use the actual words: “she could stop bothering with all the niceties”.

It was from that hard heavy fall that she landed into her current: the unapologetic husband.

Now, a word to all new boyfriends – or husbands – who have taken over from some other person: the first days are easy, you do not even need to do anything. Just in your existence, you ooze love. In your smile, you radiate peace.

of your text message, especially those ones with atrocious grammar, reads like the gospel. At this stage, the honeymoon phase, the old lover is still stinking. Their mistakes are fresh. Their errors ‘unforgiven’.

However, time wears on, reality sinks. Life begins to happen. You become the lover, not the new lover. The problems that your partner has, and was projecting them on that other person, start to find a new home on you. If you are not careful, you might even start to sympathise with their former lover.

They are now at that. She thinks that his old lover was not a problem. The problem was, and has always been, him.

I think it is the same way he feels, but I know better than to say it loud.

“The problem is: we rushed things. This day we were dating and the next day we were walking down the aisle.”

It was not that she did not love him. For all practical purposes, she is still not sure if she has ever loved one. She thinks it is just a word, an excuse for fearing loneliness.

“You think studying him, as they say of long-term relationships, would have prevented you from anything you are witnessing?”

She does not think so. However, she is quick to add, it would have spared her the shame of its failure.

“Because, man, there is nothing that being in that we-told-you-so situation. People talked, they warned, they cried, yet I went ahead with it. Now, to go back to the same people, just after a year, and say they were right. That I cannot do it, it will reflect badly.”

“Reflect badly on who?”

“On me, as a person. Because, I also hate failing. I am not one made for failing. I cannot deliberately seek it out.”

In the meantime? Well, she holds on. Despite that the weight of the relationship is sinking her. Despite that holding on entails getting her hands pierced by the shards of glass that her relationship has become.

“If you have to live to old age, say eighty?”

“I don’t know man. I will hold on. Maybe along the way he will have learnt how to love.”

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