By Namusanya Mankhokwe:
In the many of the first days that he kept meeting her, it was her face that had something on him – the edges. They were not clearly defined, save for around the chin where they had that oval and rugged pointedness.
“They were something I could relate with – my late mother,” he says.
I get a bit cheeky. I ask if that wisdom is true: that men seek out women that look like their mothers.
He says it is not true. He has been involved with women of different shapes and sizes.
“But you never ended up marrying, until you met one reminding you of your mother,” I challenge.
He keeps quiet for a time, obviously in thought, then shakes the head in agreement. He says I might be right. Because, he thought that like his mother, she might be one to handle the truth. Her face had the features.
“Before starting the serious things she also told me that her deal breaker were lies. The truth, she said, should be said at all cost,” he says – all cost.
And, that calmed him. It had been a tradition, in growing up with his mother, of telling the truth. Regardless of how hurtful the truth was, they agreed it had to be told. He thought that being with her would not need much adjustment.
So, that time he decided to stop by the hospital and visit his old lover who was – in his words – ‘on her death bed’, he texted her. Informed her he would be stopping by the hospital to cheer up an ‘old lover’. He also explained the context.
There was no response from the other end. But, that did not bother him. She was a woman with her own life, busy with her own work, she could sometimes take ages to respond. It was, however, the passing of hours that worried him. When he tried calling, the call was rejected with a template message:
I am busy right now, can’t talk, please leave a message.
When he would leave a message, there was no reply.
It happened for three days.
On the fourth day, late in the night, like some Jesus before the grieving family of Lazarus, she broke the silence with a one-word text:
He did not think much of that episode. He actually blamed himself for being thoughtless (not for telling the truth but for stopping to visit the old lover who, after a few weeks, succumbed). He ended up apologising. They moved on.
The next time, they were engaged.
She was out of town. He went out. A last minute decision. They had talked, on video, minutes before. He had told her he wanted to get some sleep.
In bed, he was restless. He wanted a few drinks to help him sleep. To tell or not to tell? That was the question. He left home without telling until a small incident on the road scared him. He almost ended up in a drain having failed to balance what all drivers fail to balance: texting and driving.
Then, he pulled aside and texted her:
Babe, I am failing to sleep. I am going out for some bottles. Talk to you soon.
That was it. No response followed that text. The conversation died there.
This time, it was only 24 hours. But, 24 hours is understood as ‘only’ when the next day is for judgement in an election case whose outcome rests hardly on evidence or justice but more on the reputation of the court. If 24 hours is coming after a night of heavy drinking in which one is hoping alcohol can change their situation, it ends up being an actual day.
Still, he swept that away. After all, he had already indicated to her that he would be sleeping, why change mind?
In marriage, there was not a significant change. Each time he told her some unsettling truth, she would communicate her displeasure in a very displeasing fashion.
It was a friend who told him to be a man, kiss and never tell.
“That thing that the truth is all women need, shove it. It is a lie packaged and sold by women themselves. Even them do not follow it,” the friend said.
He listened to him.
That time, at an office party, having talked with the new employee and noting that she had a thing for him, he kept quiet.
He says it was a struggle to not tell.
“Because, man, I grew up in this culture of being honest. I wanted her to know…”
“Why?” I ask.
“It is safer that way. Like if you are meeting someone you know might be trouble, when your spouse knows, you are in a way restrained from doing bad. Also, you eliminate rumours, that keeps everyone happy,” he is convinced.
I am not. I say the telling might be a way of just telling her that despite all that storm she puts him through, others fancy him.
“No, man, that’s not the way I was raised. I was raised to tell the truth.”
Nevertheless, he bottled that developing interest. Started small chat with her and one day when she came to ask for a soft loan from him, he gave without telling the wife.
And, both he and I do not really know if that lewd texting started as a result of the soft loan which he had not really intended to ask from her or because he had kept this friendship as a secret.
At least, I knew that I was not going to write that story of a married man suffering with a headache after having a child with another woman other than his wife. And, then, not knowing how to tell his wife.
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