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Release me

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By Mankhokwe Namusanya:

The name is Agnes. I did not know her until a few hours ago – as at the time of writing. But, I gathered, she used to be a big thing. Or, maybe, she still is. She is not my cup of tea.

I thought the title for this entry would be what it is: release me.

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Then, I remembered there is a song I used to like by Lucky Dube with the same title. I searched for it on YouTube and guess who appeared first? Agnes. Second? Agnes. Third? Agnes, lyrics only this time. Dube, my obvious inspiration for the title, was binned on a distant unworthy double-digit number.

Agnes? It was my first-time hearing of her, and her song which I did not like much – perhaps, out of disappointment. But, it has 10 million views on YouTube. Like, if any one of the views paid a MK1000 each, that infamous MEC MK10 billion deficit would be squared.

So, I will also call the woman in this story Agnes.

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And, this story is not told by Agnes. Because, I do not think that Agnes thinks there is a story here – like we mostly think when at the centre of history: we never know it is history being made.

There is a man, the one who tells this story, carrying a heavy heart. And a confused mind. Like most men are, anyway, except for him he seems to know or have an idea of what to do to get back that inner peace people even pay to have.

“I know I can just move on, block her and start a new life. I just feel as if I will be abrogating my responsibility,” he says. I want to ask who gave him that responsibility, but he reads my mind and keeps ranting:

“You know, when you love someone there is always that sense of responsibility that you get to feel. You feel duty-bound towards them.”

“But, how do you love another man’s woman?” I make him shift, with unease. But one thing confused people have in their moments of confusion is the power of the tongue.

“She is yet to be another man’s woman, you know?” he says, because there is no ring on that finger yet. I am disappointed. I expected a better response. But, better responses are not really a product of an uneasy mind.

There is a race he is running. At the end of it, unlike that religious race, is not victory nor a crown. It is a woman: Agnes.

He was the first on the scene – if women hearts can be called a scene. He enjoyed the friendship, was unsure if he really wanted love. Because, sometimes you come to learn that love and sex is not all there is to life. It is care, mindfulness, concern, humanity and genuine feeling.

As he waited to find the right space with his emotions, someone came in her life – as they always do.

“I realised that I actually wanted more than a friendship with her when this other person appeared in her life.”

But, again, it was late. She had made up her mind, and it was to this new guy that she was going to head to. His efforts to paint him, through subtle hints, as an emotional wreck with a dangerous record in this dating field proved futile. She went, with glee.

He remembers the day she told him that finally they were dating: her and that other guy. The light in her eyes. The smile on her face. The content in her voice.

Then, at about six months she came pouring her heart. She did not regret her decision, she said, but he was making her feel uncomfortable – that way people regret their decisions without explicitly stating the regret because they do not want to be met with mockery.

She told him a few things that made him sense that the trouble was bigger than she told. Could she meet because he also just missed her? She agreed.

At that meeting, they both acknowledged the feelings still running deeper between them. She said she had never felt like that in a long time, least of all with him – the new guy.

You know that joke you might have laughed at about your partner: that they have that other person whom they call you names with and then mock you? He became that to her. She would text at midnight: guess what the dog did today?

Then, they would chew on him. And laugh. And miss each other. Until morning. The realisation that she was still with the Chihuahua would hit him. And he would go off scampering for a love he would call his own.

“She always had something with the people I told her I wanted to try things with. And each time I told her I had interest in someone, she would start getting close and bombarding me with the stories of her ‘dog’ and tell me she was going to leave…”

They never discussed that she would leave and hit it off with him. Like the tribalism in our politics, it was a fact existing without any record nor agreement. He hoped for it, she showed she hoped for it too.

Yet, when the threat was eliminated, she crawled back to the ‘dog’.

“You didn’t know you were being used?”

He says he knows because “it still is going. However, I also question if I am really being used or she is just being a woman, pondering over a decision.”

“What if she will eventually decide to stay with him?”

That thought, he has not given it much thought. The reports he gets of their life show him one thing: they will run together but not for long. Somewhere, somehow, they will snap and he will come in to claim what is dutifully his.

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