I’m watching a movie on my laptop as I sip tea. Tea brewed in a lot of milk is all I take nowadays. I don’t like tea but I have no choice for without tea and enough fluids, the newborn won’t have anything to feed on. So I’ve learnt how to take tea all the time because if I don’t my mother will call and ask, “Are you taking tea? What did I say?” Today is a good day, the baby breastfed easily, burped almost immediately and took a nap. I also don’t have any of the many friends who visit to check on us often. I’m pretty much impressed by myself, and by the peace in the house. Then he comes in. I know it by the stench of cigarette smoke that repulses me to the core. This would never have bothered me on a normal day of our relationship but since I became a mother a lot of things annoy me. And most of what annoys me is what I feel directly affects my baby. The baby wakes up, I don’t understand. He tries to go for him but I am paranoid about where his hands have been. The year is 2013.
Me: Don’t touch my baby.
Him: He’s mine too so I’m taking him.
Me: I need you to wash your hands. You know we do that for the baby. And change those clothes too.
He washes his hands and in defiance, picks the baby.
I facey palm. I’m so angry. I don’t know what to do but I go for the baby, cautiously. This man has not only threatened to hit me once or twice or more times but he’s always saying that he will leave with the baby. He gets angry. He actually holds his fists in anger. Too much for a peaceful day.
Him: Okay. You think I’m not worthy of carrying my own child.
Me: It’s not like that. I need you to stop smoking. The child may catch a cold or asthma.
Him: Excuse me? Did I ever ask you to quit smoking when you were doing it so religiously? Is smoking a problem to you now?
Me: It’s not about me. We’re parents now, he should be safe in our hands.
He storms out. The child is crying. He never likes it when the atmosphere is tense, he doesn’t like it when we shout at each other. He’s only two months old. I’m angry. I can’t hide it but as usual, a friend pops in and I have to get back in character. To being the charming host again. I hate being in character but my mum tells me not to waste my energy on anger because it will affect my milk production. Being in character isn’t bad after all.
Months pass, the baby grows older but me and him never grow older. We argue all the time and I hate everything he does. I hate how he holds a spoon while eating, how he sips his tea, how he holds the baby and soothes him to sleep. I hate it. I even hate how he writes my name starting with a small letter in texts. He’s so disrespectful. I resent him, it’s a bitter resentment. He hates everything I do so the feeling is mutual. We drift apart so much and sometimes I throw his stuff out in the rain. I’ve done it severally. He calls me a dramatic fool and comes back even later in the morning the next day. I start locking him out, he moves to her house. That’s where he shelters when the heat becomes too much. I don’t know her. I’ve never bothered to know her but I kind of like that she keeps that man away from me. I enjoy my days without him around. Because he’s such an expert at taking care of the baby that he argues about which side the baby sleeps on. That lying him on his right side makes the child’s eyes weird. I want this man out. Out of our lives and out, he goes.
We get into 2014.
He decides to show off his other woman. Me and him are no longer together but we seriously try to be civil for the sake of the baby. His other woman is of the same build as me, same body size, same complexion, same facial features and whoah! She reminds me of me. She’s beautiful. That’s a weird thing to say alright. But nothing strikes me as different. Nothing really strikes me in her, maybe the fact that he’s proud of her or the fact that they get along. I don’t know. I know he wishes that she was the mother of her child. He’s not mentioned it but I listen to the unsaid things. Each time I allow him to take his baby out for a bonding session, he takes the child to her. The three of them bond together. I cannot take it anymore. It dawns on me that the man has no regard for me or how that would make me feel. I pack my belongings and go home. Where I’m always accepted despite my many shortcomings. I cut off all communication.
Then he sends me this message where he’s regretting why he never hit me when he had the chances. He’s regretting why he didn’t do it because he’d have taken the child with him. I laugh. My first reaction when I’m seething with anger is laughter. Then it all kicks in and I speak 1000 words per minute and even write more. My hands start shaking. We’ve had our time apart but during that time he has never thought about his actions. We never speak, he has never asked about the child for a year yet he’s wishing he had beat me then. I can’t reply to that message. I get into my feelings and cry. Crying is the only reaction I can manage, at the moment.
2015. I get into my perfect relationship. I’ve learnt that anger and reacting to anger are never good for a relationship. I accept my person with all his flaws and we have my most perfect relationship ever. We don’t argue, unless it’s normal political talk. At least with my almost perfect person, we hang out with his friends. I like them. They are reasonable. He’s all he never was. Only that he’s separated from the wife. At least that’s what he said and my memory serves me right. It’s funny how sometimes we never really know who we are with because they edited their story. They’re acting from their script which we never know existed.
One time we’re hanging out then one of his friends comes with the wife. I think it’s beautiful that person X has brought the wife to the club. She dances the night away, they’re happy. My person asks him why he tags her along, he replies that she deserves just as much fun as he can have even now that they’ve got their first kid. I’m in tears. He asks my person, “Why should I dance with other women when I have a queen whom I can dance with?” I run to the washrooms because someone may think I’m mourning someone. I’ve listened to just a few statements and I’m emotional. She follows me and asks me if I’m okay. The only thing I say is that she has a beautiful relationship and I’d want one like that in future. She’s full of grace and beauty and charisma. She assures me that one day I will.
We get back home after everyone else has left. I’m in one of those moods where I feel like penning something before my thoughts evaporate. I take my person’s laptop as he sleeps and do the necessary but before I shut it down. I notice a folder with her name, the supposed separated wife. I note down her name for future background checking when we’re apart. I have no reason to suspect my person, I neither have one to stalk his “separated wife” either so our relationship thrives. We’re celebrating a year together. Huh!
Around mid-2016 as I’m going through my notebook I find her name. I search it on Facebook and I don’t have to search through the 5 people with the same name. Her profile has his picture as her profile picture. What?! I’ve been the other woman for a year now and I missed all the chances to know it. I stalk a little more. My head is spinning and I make myself a cup of coffee, coffee helps me maintain a cool head. I read the comments on that photo. One reads, “When’s the wedding? We’ve waited a long time dear.”
“It doesn’t matter, we’re living well, we’re at peace. That’s all that matters.”
I don’t understand why someone would feel the need to ask another about a wedding but to each their own. I love her reply though. I check the dates and the comment was made in mid-2015. Wow! I check her photos, she’s gorgeous, the same complexion as I am. I don’t understand why he would cheat on such a woman who wants everything to work. I feel a little pained that I’m probably the cause of their rift. I didn’t know, I didn’t bother to find out if he was truly separated or that’s just something he followed from his script. I cut off all communication once again and choose to stay the way I am.
I wanted to let her know that the man in her profile picture was not worth that honour but what do I know about wives marking territories. It wasn’t my place to tell her of his philandering ways. I’d most likely widened the rift between them and I wouldn’t meddle anymore. I wouldn’t have her ask herself why she was not enough, no she doesn’t have to ask herself why he had to go for someone who had the same features as herself if she was all he needed and wanted. So that night I wrote him a letter, long enough to bring him to his senses. Of how instead of devoting his time, energy and money with the one woman he should commit to he was out there chasing dust while the diamond slipped farther. Of course, he said that it couldn’t work but I told him that he never tried. The twist in his script changed and it gave me perspective. I sincerely hope they’re good right now if their relationship wasn’t damaged.
Some days, people who get to know me for the first time ask me about my baby’s father. I really don’t owe anyone answers but some genuinely ask if I would get back with him for the sake of the child. Most of the time, I say, I’ve never given it a thought. Other times I say no, we can’t. I’ve spent some good moments of my years thinking about it. And now I know it’s a no. The damage done is irreparable, we had irreconcilable differences and all I get from him nowadays is “I’m sorry I let you down” or “I’m sorry” or “I’m sorry I let the baby down.”
He does not know how sick the word sorry from him makes me feel. It is a sorry sick word. Because when he’d have said that sorry, he didn’t. He was out there, spiting me. Showing me that he could still get someone with my features, even better ones instead of going down to apologise for what he did or didn’t do. Our time apart never helped because he still felt the need to remind me of what he should have done then. Sigh. See I try going down sometimes, I speak with him when the need arises and all he does is raise my hopes then hang me out to dry with “I’m sorry I let you down.” Of course, with a very disrespectful mention of my name started with a small letter. I guess I haven’t gotten over this issue of a proper noun starting with a small letter.
I’ve had my fair share of shortcomings in what was our relationship. I learnt from them, the what to do and what not to do. That’s why I almost had the perfect relationship I had with my person, what our relationship was gained me a new perspective. And if at any point my baby’s father ever decides that he wants to be a part of raising a child, of course without arguing about every single thing, I wouldn’t stand in the way. Even though that would be akin to chasing dust in a whirlwind. Maybe just maybe, he’d have to be content with “I’m sorry Brother.” Of course with a capital letter to begin the word Brother. Time really tells and when a lot of it passes, it heals and it makes people strangers. Sometimes starting or rather flipping a new page is what time in its kindness and lessons would never allow.
Story By: Guest Writer (She insisted on anonymity)