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It is what it is

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By Mankhokwe Namusanya:

There is a quote about light. There are many about light. Or anything really. But here it is about light. It is not about ‘it drives away darkness’ thing. That is basic. And common knowledge.

It is about fear. Light and fear. That we all understand when a child fears darkness. We are baffled when it is an elder having such fears. Because, elders can easily find a source of light to chase away the darkness. Also, they are in a better place to know that darkness is not forever. Light always comes.

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In thinking about it, again, it is a saying about age. The folly of youth. The wisdom of age. Because, when you are young, you like to think of the world in a certain way.

When your parents say they have no money, at the very pay day, you think of the possibility of disowning them. And adopting the parents of that guy from school who is given transport money or gets picked by an uncle driver.

If it is a couple having issues, you think you will always handle it better when it will be you in their situation. If a man, you might think “I will just be letting my woman say her own, and I follow. See? Situation solved.”

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Or, a woman, like her, you might think “I will not be that nagging. My husband will be my best friend. Talk about everything. Yes, sometimes he might be a pain but I will understand him. He’ll be human, after all.”

She had such dreams that kept wearing off with age. A few relationships and there she was, a philosopher: life is not what we see in the movies, it is not what we plan. It is just what it is.

And, it was from the few broken relationships that he knew he was the one when they met.

Now, to clear a small rubble. There are people who see marriage as an achievement. And that is okay. They get school. Or money. Maybe a good house. Good friends. A pet or two. Yet still feel incomplete. Walk around with their heads in shame, thinking all married people are mocking them or are living some large life with bouts of love in the morning, hampers of kindness in the afternoon and get to sleep on the safety of intimacy.

She was not one of them.

“Marriage, for me, had to come when it had to come. As in, I would get married after meeting the right person,” 10 years before the broken relationships she would have used ‘perfect’ for ‘right’ but age and experiences always trims our expectations.

And, her husband fitted into the right person description. She is loud. He is calm. She is a perfectionist. He does with a little clumsiness. She believes in love. He said he does too. The differences between them were little, and almost quiet.

“Then there is the issue of the temper. And moodiness. He seemed to be straight. You got what you saw. You know, men? You just wake up with an angry face. Or something terrible like an unkind statement at the very start of the day. I am sensitive. I can’t handle that.”

He seemed to have none of those issues. If he woke up with disappointment on his face, he would explain it away when prompted. And, it was far in between.

“Three kids now, ten years later, this man was just carrying his crosses with grace and kindness.”

She is using the past tense because something in him snapped. It was gradual. The snapping process, or maybe unfurling.

When a husband changes, women mostly think of the worst: there is someone in his life. That it might be work, or a memory of childhood, or a death of an ex, hardly registers here. It is the thought of another that does, and settles. Often, the another is imagined with exaggeration. Okay, disclaimer: just a few women have ever said that and often in jest. It might be accurate, or not. But, she had the same thoughts.

“I even thought he wanted a divorce. That he was being deliberate in his actions to push us to the wire.”

However, it has been months yet there has been no mention of that d word. He comes home grumpy. Picks faults in anything, especially the way he is welcomed, yet he still stays.

The children? They noticed. They have also been at the receiving end of his outbursts and unexpected kindness. They must be equally puzzled.

They have not talked about this new person. She asked but being the new person he is, he just shrugged it off. Acted nice for the next two hours then tumbled off to being the person nobody in his house knows or understands.

“I am almost settling with him.”

Or, she was, until she took us seriously.

We were joking. Saying things to pass time. Talked of a friend who might be a millionaire any day. Reason? Betting. We had a woman in our midst, a workmate to one of our friends. She was taken up in the conversation. Asked this, and that, about betting. We were willing respondents.

“People invest their lives in it. At first, one is distant. And aware. Then, it gets them in. The losses start becoming personal. The wins are not just yours, they are you. You lose, the world becomes this hurtful monster. You win, you feel like hugging everyone,” an ex-addict friend said.

It sent her into a spiral of thoughts. Connecting dots.

“I think my husband is into it,” in one unguarded moment, her thoughts spilled over.

She picked at his changes: outbursts, excitement and everything.

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