When I started dating Alex, nothing showed that we were going to end up married. At some point I even pitied him. The odds were stacked against him no matter where you looked at it from. His friends told him, “It’s a bad idea to think of that girl as the woman you’ll marry. She has money, use it to your advantage and get married to someone else. You’ll never be happy when you marry her. Her parents will always manipulate you because they are rich. You can’t be your own man.” One of his friends even told him, “If she’s a good choice, you wouldn’t have been the one to marry her. Do you think you’re the only person who has noticed her? Men go and come because they realize too soon that they couldn’t withstand the pressure.”
These people were talking about me but none of them knew me. They might have met me through Alex but that was it. None of them knew who my parents were or what they even do for a living but they drew the conclusion that I was a bad choice for Alex. Then came my friends and other relatives. They ask me, “Are you sure that boy loves you the way you think he does? Is it not because of your money? You ought to assess him carefully before you make a decision. Men can be some way sometimes.” My aunt was the one leading that band of naysayers. I don’t know what she saw in Alex but to her, he was nothing but a gold digger.
My mom was sceptical at first but she came to accept Alex. My dad never cared who I brought home. He wanted to see me happy. My brother and my two sisters didn’t even care about my love life. It was always the outsiders who will give you a tough time because they think they know you. We discussed these opinions and we laughed, me and Alex. When the time was right, after two years of dating, the two of us got married. Guess what, all those people who were trying to stop us from getting married came to the wedding with a happy faces, took pictures, ate and danced their hearts out as if our wedding was the best thing that happened to them that day.
We moved in together and started planning our family. Alex wanted three kids and I was all for it. He wanted them as soon as possible and I was also all for it. “He said, “Let’s get that out of the way so we can live the rest of our lives planning on something else.” We tried and tried and tried but we couldn’t conceive. The first year of our marriage passed us by so quickly we didn’t know where the days went. Maybe we were too fixated on getting pregnant. The second year was slow because we tried harder. It was the time we started visiting facilities to check if everything was alright. There were too many drugs to take and too many injections so we saw the year go by slowly. The third year was the same until I got pregnant in our fourth year of marriage.
I won’t waste my time talking about the voices of the naysayers during our difficult times. Their voices went up and became deafening at some point but we were determined not to listen to them. I gave birth to a boy and he named him after his father. Just before My CS wounds would heal properly, I started getting the feelings I had when I was pregnant. I brushed it aside as something that was only passing through. It wasn’t passing through. It came to stay and it was another pregnancy. A girl came out in the end. I didn’t want to name her after anybody. I wanted her to have a fresh beginning, her own name and her own start.
The year interval between these two kids was almost two years but they grew steadily as though they were twins. The girl grew faster to catch up with the boy. They formed a formidable partnership and started tormenting our lives. At every minute you have to shout at them to stop doing something. If you don’t shout, they would come to you with their own problems; “Mommy, have you seen that my sister is hitting my head? The girl was learning to talk but she had a way of telling her own story. It was mostly gibberish but she said them anyway and we tried to patch meaning out of the things she said. They were adorable pair who gladden our hearts until that eventful day.
Alex had travelled. He had been away for two days but he called every now and then to talk about how he was missing the noise of the kids. The lady staying with us to help with the kids had also gone to the market. It got cloudy with the possibility of rain so I went out with the kids to remove the laundry from the laundry line. When we got to the hall, they stopped there and I continued to the bedroom to fold the laundry. My mind was on them. I could hear their voices. Once in a while, they would fight over something and I would scream from the inside, “Hey, put the remote down and watch TV. They would listen to me but just within a few seconds, they would fight over something else again.
Suddenly, they both screamed at once. It was so loud and shrill I even screamed back, “ That’s all you do, scream to disturb my ears. Go ahead and kill yourselves over there. I’m tired of talking.” Several seconds later, they were still quiet. It didn’t feel right. There are always talks or crying after a shout like that so I started calling their names, “Keith! Keith!” When that didn’t yield any result I started walking to the hall while screaming the girl’s name, “Golden! Golden!” I got to the hall and saw the two of them lying flat on the floor. Keith was lying on his side, while the girl’s face was facing downward. The extension board that was carefully hidden behind the sofa was at the centre of the hall, while their tablets were lying next to them. My kids had been electrocuted.
At that moment nothing else mattered. I wanted to die with them. I fell to the floor checking their breath while screaming, “Somebody help!” It’s a thick wall we lived in. Nobody could hear me. The next face I saw was the house help returning from the market with a handful of shopping. She saw me on the floor with the kids and threw everything away and joined. “What happened to them? They’ve collapsed? What happened to them?”
We ended up in the hospital with just a flicker of hope in my chest that the kids will get up and talk again. The doctor confirmed my fear. “They are gone!”
I called my dad and told him what had happened. He blamed me; “How can you leave two kids alone when you know they are capable of anything? How could you?” I answered, “I know. It’s all my fault that I’ve lost them. How am I going to get through this?” Dad I know it’s my fault.” “Is your husband aware?” he asked. I answered, “How do I call him and tell him this? How can I? I don’t know where to start and where to end. I can’t” I was crying all the while. He said, “Wait for me, I’m coming.”
Minutes later, he came with my mom. We signed all the papers involved and the kids were sent to the morgue. When we got home, my dad called my husband. He told him everything that has happened. I could hear him screaming on the other side of the phone. I could hear him say the words, “No I don’t believe this. How can this happen? Where was she? How could she leave these kids all by themselves? Where is she, let me talk to her.” I was chocked with tears. My kids were gone and I was totally broken. To make matters worse, everyone was blaming me. I felt heavy with guilt so when my dad gave me the phone, I declined to talk to him. My dad told him, “She’s so much in pain and I don’t think she can say a word. Please come home and be with her.”
The next day when he came, he came brimming with anger. I was at fault. I had to be crucified for killing my own kids. That day he didn’t sleep in the house. He stormed off angrily and later told me he was with his parents. I was waiting for his parents to also call and blame and they did. “A mother of two should have known that kids are very inquisitive. How could you leave them alone?” I didn’t seek to explain or defend myself. I took all the blame because who else would?
A couple of days later, we buried them. The clouds that pushed me out to remove the laundry were long gone. It didn’t even rain but the clouds that covered me when my kids died never went away. It threatened to rain in my life but the rain never came. Always cloudy but I was living with it.
Alex changed totally. He would go to work and not come back home early. Somedays he won’t come at all. I will call him and he won’t pick up. When next I see him and ask why he would ask me, “What’s there to come home to? Sadness? I’ve had enough of it that’s why I’m staying away.” When I couldn’t stand the loneliness and emotional torture, I also packed a few things and left to live with my parents. We gave the whole house to the house-help. One day she called me to come for the keys; “I’m lonely here and not doing anything. I’m going home. I will come back whenever you needed me.”
It was left with an empty house, a big comfortable house but no one was willing to live there. We lived apart for close to six months. I was trying my best to bring us back together but my husband was only interested in spinning conspiracy theories. “Why did you call your father first after the incident but not me? Why didn’t you talk to me when I called? Why didn’t you carry the kids to the hospital quickly when the event happened but waited for the house-help to return before you did?” I did not have answers and that solidified his claim that something was fishy. One day, he talked about divorce and the following day, he started making moves to bring our marriage to an end.
I didn’t have the strength to fight it. I said, “Ok, if that would restore your heart and help you forget, then go ahead with it.” While we were going through the divorce, I heard rumours of what he had been telling people. That I allowed my dad to sacrifice the kids for more money. It was a conspiracy between me and my parents to see the end of the kids so more money would come to the family. I couldn’t wait to leave the marriage. I was eager to put everything behind me. Our marriage is over now. I’ve lost everything. I’m back to square one, where everything started.
What’s left now is my fear of silence and the photos I took of them when they were around. I hear their voices around me, the screams, their cries. Their incessant complaints; “Mom, have seen that Golden has used the gun to shoot me dead? I’m dead now, can you see?” I no longer hear these complaints again so I go through their photos and think of them. One day, I was taking a photo of Keith when he stretched his hand to take the phone away from me, that’s exactly the point I pressed the shutter. So in the photo, his arm is stretched as if he’s giving me his hands. It’s my favourite photo. When I think of it, he gave me his hand, his all but I couldn’t hold it firm enough so I lost them. I blame myself but I know wherever they are, they will forgive me. I’m only a human, frail and full of mistakes.