He was a disturbed man when I met him. His attention span was like a second or two and then he would drift away. Sometimes you’ll have to tap him and ask, “Andy, are you listening to me?” He would then say, “Oh yeah I’m listening to you. What did you just say?” It happened for a very long time so one day I asked him, “What’s the matter with you? It looks like you’re far away even when you’re closer. What’s eating you up?” I knew I wasn’t going to get an answer because men are like that. They hardly share their problems and when they decide to share, they don’t share them with a woman. He looked at my face and smiled. The smile didn’t go deep. It was a new smile but looked as old as the smile on Jonah’s lips when the whale finally dropped him at the shore. He said, “I’m fine. Just a little bit tired but I’m good.”
I didn’t ask any further questions. He was lying and it was obvious. He could lie with words but the look in his eyes gave him away. One night around 10pm I got a call from him. I nearly didn’t pick up his call because I was fast asleep but he called again after the first one was missed. When I picked up, he said, “I know this may sound weird but can I spend the night at your end?” I jolted out of my slumber. I asked, “Sleep at my end? Do you mean with your family? Is your house on fire or something?” He answered, “No, not with my family. I’m coming alone. My house isn’t burning. My wife and kids are fine.”
“So why would you like to spend the night here with me? Who’s after you?”
“It’s a long story. If you have some time to spare, I will tell you everything when I come there.”
Minutes later, he was in my room. He said, “You’re the one who has been asking if there’s something wrong with me. Yes there is.” He then took a heavy breath in and exhaled loudly. He looked worried. He looked like he was carrying the burden of the world on his shoulders but that moment when he was in my house, I knew the problem could be a marital issue. I asked him, “Where’s your wife? Does she know that you’re sleeping outside?” He answered, “Actually, there’s no wife. The woman I live with should have been my ex-wife long ago but it’s the family that wouldn’t allow us to divorce in peace. This time I’m done.”
According to him, their marriage started breaking down when their second child arrived. His wife was an alcoholic and anytime she got drunk, she got abusive. She could abuse him and abuse their children. She had gone for therapy and had gone for counselling but nothing worked. It started when her mother died. At that time they were not married. He thought it was just a blip, something she would stop along the way. She never did and because of that, they had been fighting in their marriage since day one. He told me, “Do you know one of her male friends slept with her because she was drunk?” I screamed, “What?” He answered, “Yeah, you heard me right.” I asked, “What did you do?”
That was the day they should have finalised their divorce but family intervened. They tried to take the issue up legally but his wife said she was too embarrassed to follow through with the case. The world would judge her and would bring her marriage into disrepute. So eventually, they dropped the case against the friend who did that to her. “She hadn’t stopped drinking. She’s still abusive and this around, I’m walking away no matter what anybody would say,” he said. When he came to me that night, his wife was heavily drunk and was about to pick a fight with him. He ran away to stop the fire that was about to happen.
When he was with me, I couldn’t sleep. It felt wrong from all angles. I used the night to think about all the negative things the world would say if they found a married man in my room. He was sleeping on the couch and was snoring feebly. The only thing he took off was his shoes. His shirt was still tucked into his trousers when he slept. Early dawn, I woke him up and serve him water to bathe. I gave him a new brush to freshen up. When he was leaving, he said, “Thank you for this favour. I will never forget it.”
It continued from there. Each time when he had to run from his wife, he came to sleep at my end. I advised him to get a separation. He said, “We are arranging for a place for the kids. Once that is sorted, I will leave the house for her.” When he finally left the house, he went to live with a friend but came to me often to eat or talk to me about how things were going. One day, he proposed to me. I laughed at him. I said, “You haven’t swallowed what you bit but want to take another bite?” He told me he was serious about it and I told him to finalize his divorce first.
He kept giving me updates on how far things were going. At some point, I accepted his proposal but told him nothing will happen until I see their divorce papers. It took over a year before everything was finalized and I’m not going to lie in this story to make it look like I’m a saint. I couldn’t keep the promise so before the divorce papers came, we had done a lot. Even at some point, I got pregnant for him. I didn’t want to complicate things so I silently got rid of it without telling him. Two clear years after the divorce was finalized, we got married. He didn’t want to have a second wedding so we did the traditional one and signed in court.
I knew the position of his ex-wife in his life before I even accepted to marry him and before we got married, he took me to his ex-wife to introduce me to her and also introduce me to his kids. On weekends, the kids would come to us and on vacations too they’ll spend it with us.
The relationship between me and his kids and ex-wife was so good that I always thanked God for it. One day his ex-wife called me. She asked, “Where’s your husband?” I answered, “He’s out of town.” She said, “I’m calling his phone and he’s not answering. Would you try to get him and tell him to answer my call?” I called him and he didn’t pick up. I sent him a message and got no response. An hour or so later, he called back. I told him what his ex-wife told me and he said he was going to call her. From there, anytime this woman called my husband and he didn’t pick up, she called me.
I didn’t have issues with that until she started calling late. Sometimes she would call at 11pm when we are sleeping to ask to talk to my husband. Apart from that, she started using the kids as an excuse to court the attention of my husband. I came from work one weekend to see her in our house with the kids. Immediately she saw me, she got up and hugged me. She said, “Today, I’m in your house. The kids always come to tell me how nice your place is so I decided to come and see it for myself.” It didn’t stop there, she started visiting with the kids. Whenever she was around, I realized something was different. My husband’s attention would be on her until she leaves.
I wasn’t going to sit there and pretend it didn’t hurt so I drew my husband’s attention to it; “Tell her to leave us alone. At first, it used to be only calls but now it has turned into something different. Doesn’t she have a life? Must she come here every weekend with the kids? Was that part of the divorce arrangement?” My husband told me he was going to work on it but he never did. If he did, then the woman wasn’t ready to listen to him. She called whenever she felt like calling, telling my husband about how the teacher of their kids beat him in school.
I met her one day and spoke to her woman-to-woman; “Dear, you have to learn to create barriers. I’m not angry but what you usually do disturbs the marriage. Can you not come to our house again? Can you stop calling at inappropriate times? You’re a woman just like me. If someone did what you’re doing to you, I believe you wouldn’t like it.” She understood me and promised to stay away. She wasn’t happy but I didn’t care. She told my husband about it and he also got angry; “How dare you go that far? She’s the mother of my kids and deserves some respect. Why do you have to talk to her like that?”.
We fought about it but I was happy I told her what I told her. From there, the strategy changed. She won’t come to our house but will develop a strategy to get my husband to go and see them. The kids stopped coming so he was the one going there. Another misunderstanding and another fight. I asked him, “Do you want your wife back? Just tell me, I will leave this marriage so you can go back to her. She has stopped drinking. She looks beautiful so maybe you want to go back.”
That day he nearly slap me. I saw him struggling not to slap me. I walked away from the scene so things don’t escalate.
Currently, I’m three months pregnant. My husband’s office decided to send him to South Africa for a two-week workshop. I was happy, thinking those weeks would give him the needed rest from his ex-wife. I was packing his things when he told me not to touch a particular bag because everything in it was already arranged perfectly. I didn’t touch that bag but it didn’t also look like a bag that had gone through a special arrangement so I opened it when he was away and guess what I saw…he had two tickets, one for himself and one for his ex-wife.
My heart was breaking. I picked up the phone and called his line, “Masa, what am I seeing? Why do you have tickets for your ex-wife?” He cut the call. I called again and again but he didn’t pick up. I took the tickets out of his bag and kept them where he wouldn’t see them. He came home in the evening looking like he owed me no explanation. I rushed to him. “Yes, I need answers. Why do you need to travel with her? What’s her role in the workshop? I need answers or else I’m going to keep the tickets.” He walked over me. I followed him demanding answers from him. He said, “It’s not what you think. I’ve been through a lot with that woman and as we speak, she’s the one who takes care of my sons. It’s a request she made. She hasn’t sat on a plane before so she begged me to do her that favour and I did it. It’s not what you’re thinking.”
What he said made me feel like a fool, like I committed the greatest mistake of my life by marrying him. I didn’t say anything again after that silly explanation. I also haven’t sat on a plane before. I’m the one he’s currently with and I’m the one currently carrying his baby but he chose her ex over me. I gave the tickets back to him and said, “Safe journey but deep within me, I pray the plane crashes and you two die together. Romeo and Juliet.”
They’ve been gone for a week. He calls me and we talk but I’m weighing my options. This is my rented apartment. When he comes, I will ask for separation and see how things go from there. My heart is breaking but for the safety of the child I’m carrying, I will stay strong until this storm is over.