When I met her, I felt like the luckiest man on earth. I was living in a dingy 2-roomed house somewhere in Kahawa. When she came into my life, my fortunes changed because of the energy she came with. The scales of ignorance that were in my eyes fell off and like a baby fresh from the womb I was literally born again.
From a cockroach infested aboard to a leafy suburb, from a noisy flat to a 3 bed roomed stand alone house, I felt invincible. From paying a rent of Sh5,000 to Sh30,000 was a huge leap of faith that we agreed to take.
Were it not for her constant assurances and support she gave me, were it not for the cheering spirit that she brought in my life, I wouldn’t have thought of ever making such an audacious step in life.
The love we had was characterised by fanfare, holiday destinations and eating out. We spent most of our time discussing the future we wanted to build together. Every time we talked about our plans, there was this bubbling of hope that was stirred in our hearts and couldn’t be quenched by anything; not even the numerous challenges we faced.
The few items we had in our house got auctioned after the people who owed us money bailed out. Our wedding too was a lesson learnt in living within your means.
The friends who promised to hold our hands bailed out last minute and we had to make adjustments. Yet knowing that I was going to spend the rest of my life with the most awesome person on the planet gave me the zeal of ten oxen to crash through the walls that stood between us and our promised land.
Soon after we got married and settled in our home, a sense of peace swept over my soul. This was it. I had found the lost rib that was meant to compliment me. I was a happy man, drunk in love every day. I wanted to advertise to the whole world how lucky I was. I could bend over backwards to meet her needs. I would wash her, drown her in my love through surprises and loyalty, cherish, provide, defend, and assure her.
We would go to Mombasa and hold hands as we swung on a hammock the whole day. I found a safe ear to listen to the tonnes of words that I had stored in my heart. She spoke a lot and I listed too. I’m generally a quiet guy but with her, an avalanche of words would escape my mouth.
I told her about my rugged past, the poverty I grew up in and how it ravaged my esteem. I opened up about my past sexual struggles. I was a wild man. My insatiable appetite for sex was a borderline maniac. Yet when she walked into my life, it’s like a light was switched on. I suddenly grew balls to become a better man, if not for me, then for her. The love she gave patched me up like a first aid bandage. In her presence, I never felt judged, condemned or even despised.
I had seen a lot in my short life. My father took off when I was a baby so I never got a chance to meet him. I hear that he ran away to find comfort in the arms of another woman. Only that he was doing this to the sixth woman, my mother being the fifth. He was a serial polygamous fella so I was told. Sometimes I wondered if maybe I have inherited his genes.
My mother, like the Hulk, changed and found a new strength that we had never seen. She filled his gap by working herself off in the sugar cane and rice plantations to fend for us.
Often, we would join her in the rice fields to work for a meagre income. All that mattered was that we had food on our table. Life was all about my mum, and my seven siblings.
Though we were poor, my wife grew up in a family where they lacked nothing. Like an island, she was surrounded by the sea of abundance and I was surrounded by the sea of scarcity. We were coming from two different tribes. Our economic levels were different like two time zones. Yet the love we had for each other kind of equalled all that. We weren’t bothered by the differences that threatened to tear us apart. We had vowed, against the torrents of opposition we faced to work it out till we grew old together.
My family past always haunted me. At the back of my mind, I never wanted to turn out like my father. I was always driven by what he never did for me, how he never provided affection and material things. I secretly wished that he taught me how to be a man. I longed for his approval and hoped that one day he would say these words, “son, I’m proud of you.”
I had vowed that my legacy was going to be different. Seven years into the marriage, we had a good run. No bumps, just small misunderstandings but we were good. We were both young because I got married when I was 25 years old. She, on the other hand, was 22 years old.
But I made a mistake, a costly one for that matter. I never dealt with the junk that was in my trunk. I carried all the filth I had accumulated for 25 years and walked with them right on my shoulders and dumped them on our marital bed. I started to struggle. The routine of marriage wore me down. I was a wild man who was used to living on the edges. Nobody told me anything. In the process, I grew proud. I was always right and no one could correct me. Not even my wife.
The cheating started off in a silly manner. I would chat random girls on Facebook and other social media sites. One thing led to another until I found myself stuck in the mud of my past behaviours.
She too never dealt with her garbage. Though she grew up in a loving family, affection was rarely there. Her outbursts became regular. Instead of increasing the quality of her argument, she would often shout. The result was that the veins and arteries on her neck were more visible than the quality of her argument.
I have to admit that I was not at peace. The storm that was always billowing in my heart often came out. I never admitted when I was wrong. I never owned up to my mistakes. I acted like I was an angel yet secretly; I was drowning in the sea of inadequacy. I was harbouring a deep sense of betrayal.
We never had friends who could encourage us because we had mastered the art of pretence. Our social media messages on the public display of affection were always appreciated. Couples came to us for help. We loved the fact that we appeared perfect in the eyes of the world. Yet inwardly, we were always drowning in our own tears.
Her tongue was sharper than a razor sword. She would say something, sometimes even before my friends and my esteem would evaporate faster than methylated spirit. She loved the good things of life. My earnings were very modest yet she hoped that some day I would make enough to treat her as her peers were being treated by their rich husbands. I failed in that.
A few years later after our problems became numerous, the home became inhabitable. She would stay out late and the people I didn’t know would drop her home in the morning. We would argue about that yet nothing changed. But how was I expecting her to change yet as much as I preached water, my mouth smelt of beer?
Initially, I thought I was able to handle it. I’m not blaming her. I own up for the part of my mistake.
If only I had built my marriage on a solid foundation. If only I would have confronted my past. If only mature couple friends who would walk with us could have surrounded me, maybe I would not be where I am. Because going through a divorce could be the worst experience known to man.
I would pay a million bucks to go back to the days when laughter, hope, peace filled my heart. Right now I’m sinking in the miry clay of confusion. All I need is a shoulder.
*This is a fictional story but based on true events.