By Mankhokwe Namusanya:
If your husband had to draw you, in free hand, with a pencil, chances are that he would ask that the pencil comes with no eraser. He would maintain the eyes: tiny, taut and collapsing around the bridge of the nose. He would, most likely, make the nose slightly pointed. And, the chin, he would chisel the edges a little.
In brief, there would be little – if anything – he would change about your face. Except, he would take out the lips. Actually, the whole mouth.
Last Friday, even in that biting cold, he stayed out a little late. Came home not just tired, but wasted and pretty much useless for the whole night. And a better part of the morning.
He could have come home early, maybe around 6 pm, straight from work. But he had endured a hectic week. You know how the times are these days: job losses, deaths, chaotic politics and scary statistics. However, he was not ready for another fight – a war actually – at home so he stayed out for a few hours. And drinks.
Also, he could have come late. There were stories, and laughter, at that spot. But at 10 he hit the road. Quite to the surprise of a few.
“The night has just started; how can one leave this early?”
He lied. Said he had an appointment at the office the next day. He needed to sleep early and wake up early.
Behind him, one of his buddies revealed the real reason why he had to leave that early: his wife.
Then, unknown to him, they made a meal out of his life. And choice – misery, actually.
“That is why I got out of this nonsense,” said the divorced one, checking through his phone WhatsApp, lying to a woman in a distant city that he was already in bed because he was feeling better.
“As for me, I just make sure there is everything at home before going out. I provide and make sure all ‘home affairs’ are addressed. How can anyone have issues with me then?” that was the ‘been married for 10 years’.
“Today we fought. I deliberately picked that fight to have an excuse. She’s mad, meaning no phone calls. I can go back any time,” said the newly married one.
Then, they laughed. And toasted. And did all those things you imagine your husbands to be doing when they are out, on a June night when the continent is nervously watching a virus whose anger it is yet to ascertain.
Your husband, he came back with a loaf of bread in one hand and some excuse of groceries in a bag in the other hand. I actually understand why you just eyed him and stayed glued to the television when he was heating his meal.
What I do not understand was the reason for the sermon. And the announcements.
He was drunk, even if just a little. And, it never helps to talk with one of those. I think you could have waited for the morning and make the announcements. And deliver the sermon.
But you were impatient. You went after him.
It never achieved what you expected. He drowsed off while you were talking and eventually it angered you more. Then, he crashed into that sleep. You cried, in the toilet, while he slept and snored. You cussed, and cursed all that dancing as you waltzed through the hall the day you got married. He never understood you, your feelings, wants, and needs – as a woman.
In the morning, he was acting all kind and nice – and thoughtful. Like a husband, the one you imagined when you grew up. And he was an actual father.
Afternoon, or dusk really, he just excused himself to go to the shops. And, that was it.
That man, the husband and father, you had in the morning vanished, quicker than his hangovers ever did when he realised how much he had spent the previous night.
I would have put it to you. Say that he left because even when he was at his best during the day you were still keeping a grudge and responded to his questions with one word and curt ignoble responses. However, that would be too direct. Besides, grown people choose to act the way they do, most times – or we are made to believe so in an age of self-absolving.
He went to the same spot and met more, or less, of the same friends. And, they talked about the same mundane things: football, politics, conspiracy theories, fear of death, women – other women not their wives, and finished off with discussing women – their wives.
It was their narratives of their wives, the issues in their marriages, that made the divorced one ask:
“Are these women from the same family, or are they actually the same woman just changing faces and names? Because, the things you are all discussing seem to be the same, and they are not different from what I experienced when I was married.”
But, for your husband, the issues apparently felt different. You were bad, and even horrible, but certainly not to that extent that the others were detailing about their wives.
When he came back just a few hours later, happy and not drunk nor smelling of alcohol, it was not because instead of “being out drinking, he had been out chasing skirts” as you said. It was actually that he had hit the road earlier just to celebrate you.
That war you picked, the accusations and the fight, was the last thing he had expected. That he had to go back to “wherever he had been” was not enough evidence that he had really been with another woman. It was to tell his discovery to his friends: that they really might be the same woman, or from the same school.