“He knows that I have fallen out of love with him. Our marriage has hit a dead end. He knew it when he touched me and I did not respond to him the way I normally do. It was just not the there. The feelings I had for him just vanished.” Agrippina told me. We are sitting at the far end of a posh restaurant which was located on the rooftop of a certain high end building overlooking the city. The sky was splashed with various shades of orange, grey, and slightly pink.
The cars below moved at a snail’s pace. There was soothing classical jazz music playing in the background. The ambiance of the area was lit with cool aqua blue and neon violet beam lights. Agrippina was having a mojito. I was sipping my whiskey neat. Just as the way I liked it.
Her marriage did not begin as the way they do in fairy tales whereby prince charming comes in a glass carriage and sweeps her off her feet. It did not come along the lines of a big fancy wedding as the ones most ladies would like. Hers began with the five magic words, “I have missed my periods.” It came as a shock to her. A bewildering moment for both her and her partner. To fill the tense air, he asked her if it was a late bloomer or if she was certain that it was indeed the pregnancy. She took offence at the last part. She was livid. Obviously she did not get pregnant by laying down on the sofa. It had to do with him.
She says that she sat in her living room and wondered to herself. Crap she was young. How could she be a mother at such a tender age when she had her whole future in front of her? She did not have something stable. She was in her final year in campus at that time. What do children even eat? Which language do they speak? Would she have to wear those hideous maternity dresses? Would she lose her figure and curves she was so used to flaunting? What would her mother say? Her brother would be utterly disappointed in her. She was the only girl in a family of five children. She was the last born.
She says that her hubby dashed out to the pharmacy and bought those pregnancy kits and she took the test. Their fears were confirmed. At this point two types of guys emerge. The first one will floor the pedal to the metal and hit it. He will make a run for it. He will know that he banked his “billions” in a pyramid scheme and disappear. No calls, no texts, just nothing. Maybe he will say he wants no part of it. He is not ready to be a father and perhaps he’d let the lady deal with it. Others would give you money and tell you to flush it off. “Si it’s just a mass of cells?” They will say. Coward of the universe. Such types would come later in life to claim the child when the child has made a major achievement in life. Or he would not come at all. He is always on the move.
The second type would know that shit hit the fan. He’ll do some few consultation and he would be left with the choice of doing what is right. He has a conscience. He will do the necessary by marrying the lady. Because that was how he was raised. Or to quickly cover the shame of having someone’s daughter pregnant out of wedlock. It would be done before the baby bump becomes evident. This man is a slightly better one than the first one.
“Which type of man was he?”
“The second one.”
Agrippina used to cohabit with her husband Felix in some one bedroom apartment before she got paged. Her hubby then went home and organized a few of his people and went to Agrippina’s homestead to file a report that their daughter was now living with them. Her father did not attend the event. He said he could not stand the sight of a young man who had used her daughter as a mattress. Only for him to come and make a report after damage has been done.
“Si unajua umevunja mbuzi mguu na hatuwezi kubali mbuzi imevunjika mguu. Sasa utatoa fine ya hio kwanza kabla tuendelee na hayo mengine.” She recalls those words pretty much clear. The negotiations went on and they came to an agreement. Agrippina and Felix later moved into a new house to begin their life as a married couple. They were both young. Felix was working in some telecommunications company and the money was flowing. Felix was her child hood sweetheart. Felix was the man who taught her the language of love. The one who showed her the sweetness beyond the valleys. A sweetness not even her brothers or father would offer it unto her. Of course that would be a taboo.
Felix on the other hand was worried that the deal they had brokered went wrong and cost him his job. He was worried that he could not afford to give his wife the flashy lifestyle they had. His savings were also dwindling fast in huge amounts. Agrippina moved close to home. At least back home, mother would take care of Travis while she was away looking for money. She found a job as a public relations officer at some firm. The pay was not that good but it was better than having none at all. Things were on a go slow for a while. Felix used to come back home drunk. Words would been thrown and each night inclusive of the Sabbath she would lay in bed with her back facing him.
The pregnancy months rolled in pretty fast and around October she gave birth to her son Travis. Two months after Travis was born, their boat began rocking in the murky waters of marriage. Cracks began showing up. Small-small cracks which eventually led to huge hideous ones. Felix lost his job at the telecommunications company. He was the sole breadwinner at that point. She deferred two semesters so that she could take care of Travis. With no job, no income, and a house to pay little tiffs and a cold war began. Agrippina had to look for a job to sustain their lifestyle. She called her cousin who offered her some sound advice.
She tried outsourcing jobs for him but he either just shrugged them off saying that they did not pay well as his previous job. At times he would work for a month, get rich for a moment then waste his money on silly little girls. I chuckle at the last sentiment. She was slightly agitated when she thought of it.
“What made you fall out of love?”
It began gradually. One day she caught Felix and a certain lady at the pub all lovey touchy. It was my money he was using to entertain another woman. I felt crushed. She later discovered the betting slips in his pockets. He was losing so much money that she had to bail him out every now and then. One day Felix came home late and she asked him where he was coming from. His breathe was foul like those pungent smelling toilets found in dingy pubs. He told her that he was the man of the house and that she should not question his whereabouts. No sane wife would sleep calmly knowing that her husband is out there wilding in the night. Words flew. Each seeking to hurt the other below the belt. Then it happened.
Felix beat her to a pulp. That night he did not eat. He slept and woke up early morning and went about his duties like nothing ever happened. She was scared of tripping and making him mad lest she was beaten again. In her head she felt that perhaps she deserved it for meddling into his business. Things were already south. Any little iota of love she felt for him just vanished.
Few of the stars begun showing up in the night sky. She was on her fourth mojito while I was doing doubles this time. The background music had changed to some rhumba. It reminded me of my early childhood when those were the jams.
Three months later after the beating. She called her cousin and asked him if he could organize some paperwork. Documentations that would enable Felix to get a job in some certain organization in the neighboring country. Her cousin never did anything for free. But he had a soft spot for her. They came to some sort of arrangement whereby he’d be paid as soon as the deal goes through. It was not the first time Agrippina was doing business with him. Her cousin came through. Felix left for the neighboring country two weeks later.
Felix was glad that he would finally stop being a burden to his wife and he would resume his manly duties. He was glad things were finally working out for him financially. Calls became less, and only occasionally texting through WhatsApp. Conversations mainly revolved around the well-being of their son Travis. Everything else was dead. The boy looks like his father. There was an uncanny resemblance between them. Once in a while he would video call to see his son.
Things were going on well for Agrippina, she got a promotion at her workplace. She met a man. The man was well endorsed financially. He was the director of a mining company located in Kwale. They hit it off slowly. She says it rather began with work related conversations. He challenged her by giving her tough businesses to see if she could handle. She handled them well. He was attracted to her intellectual nature. They went out for lunch dates and Saturday afternoon hangouts. He began feeling attracted to her. He told her that he was married and had three kids. He wanted something that would lead to marriage. Agrippina was not comfortable with the idea of becoming someone’s second wife. She did not want to be seen as a social climber.
She told him that she had a kid. That did not seem to deter him off. Instead the director wanted a friends with benefit type of system if marriage was not possible. That night her cousin called and asked how she was fairing on. They talked a lot and she told him about the developments in her life. They were close. Confidantes. He told her that the kid needs both parental love and she should act on the best interest of the child. She made him promise that he’d go visit them when he was around town. Travis really liked his uncle.
Things with the director went at a steady pace. Their friendship grew in leaps and bounds (I have wanted to use this phrase). She was content with the businesses she was getting. She was okay with their arrangements. Her gnawing conscience nagged her as she thought about giving herself to another man who was not her husband. One day the director took her to an exotic hotel in Eritrea. One thing led to another and they ended up in between the sheets. They have been keeping it low for a while now.
She says the director does everything a man is supposed to do. She does not ask for anything but she finds things done and gets little surprises of gifts at the office. One evening her cousin stopped by at her place of work. He was exhausted from a long journey and he would proceed the following day home. He crashed at her place. The first thing he noticed was the presence of another man. Not Felix. Just someone else.
“He comes here?” He asked her.
“Yes he does come occasionally.”
“He knows that you’re someone else’s wife?”
“He knows that I have a child.”
“Play your cards wisely lest they backfire on you someday. I would not want you to be another local statistic in the local newspaper.”
Agrippina said after that talk, her cousin had a long far flung look. She could tell he was sorry for her. But he was the type devoid of any emotions. He never meddled into anyone’s affair. She slept that night as she left both boys watching football on the big screen.
When she woke up she found her cousin ready to leave. He told her to take care. And if things took a nosedive she could always crash at his place till the waters receded to their normal level.
Felix came back home six months later. He was eager to see his child and eager to know his woman once more. He stayed for a week. The week was not quite what he expected. She recoiled at every attempt of his touch. He asked her what was wrong. Agrippina told him that the love ended when he hit her. Felix was angry. He told her that if he ever found out that she was laying someone else then he’d end both of their lives.
Agrippina is an emotional woman. Tears were slowly streaming down her face as a few huffs escaped her. I turned off the recorder and stared at her. I honestly do not know how to deal with tears or someone who is crying. I was in an awkward situation. She wipes off her tears with a handkerchief from her bag. She called her cousin and told him about the threat. She remembers him telling her that such should not be taken slightly and she should weigh her options.
She fell in love with the director. Not out of money, but because he made her feel like a woman after a very long time. She does not know how things will be in the future. It was time for me to go. The traffic below had eased.
“Hey, would you ever get married?” She asked me.
“Not if it comes from the fact that one is pregnant. It should be out of love, trust and loyalty.” I told her.
Not a single soul ever said that the best parents are those who live under one roof.