She sat across me and not once did she apologise. Instead she spoke her heart with a certain level of clarity that he had never seen in his shared life with her. Instead of being apologetic for being caught cheating she appeared freed. She seemed like a person transformed and for a moment he felt like he had been punched in the stomach when she said, “Am glad you are feeling how it hurts, revenge is sour!” After which she laughed so loud…
He awoke again in a fright for the umpteenth time on this bus trip. The guy sitting on his side asked if he was okay. He nodded and explained that his stomach was sore and that was probably giving him bad dreams. Looking at his watch he judged that they were some distance away from Pretoria. He remembered how crossing the South African side had been void of drama. And now that he was in another country he felt a bit free of his crimes. How was he to know that his dreams would instead become his new slave-master? He resigned to the fact that for a good period from now evil dreams would be his new pillow.
He had not given his wife the opportunity to share her side of the story. What was there to hear anyhow? He had also not asked his neighbour anything…instead he had left the neighbour with a lot to remember him by…if he made it out alive that is. On this trip however, his mind via dreams had begun coming up with all sorts of different scenarios to what the background was for his wife to have an affair.
Possibly one day in the future he would get to know the truth. Though for now he figured the truth would mean little. He again looked at his phone and noticed the 27 unread messages from his wife – mostly voice notes that looked pretty long. He also noticed messages from his mum and friends. He would listen to them some other time. Definitely not now. At that moment he felt his inner self cry. He wondered what he had done to deserve this amount of pain. So much for being a good man-he thought.
His mind battled to imagine how life would be right now had he decided to forgive her. He laughed and imagined how silly that would be. No sane African man would forget a cheating wife? Oddly he then remembered how he had lived life hating tradition and stereotyping. And yet here he was falling back on a stereotype to defend his actions and leaving.
His chest stiffened as he wondered if this issue was just karma’s way of paying him back for hurting others in the past. He deserved this and the punishment was just. So yes he could have forgiven her. But then again, was he ever going to trust her again? Was he ever going to look at her and not wonder if she was not thinking of the neighbour? How was he ever going to know that their past would be buried? He struggled with his thoughts. One thing for sure was that the final discovery had shattered his heart and that he would never love her the same.
When the bus finally got to Pretoria and was dropping off passengers, he asked the driver if he could run and buy some beer at a bottle store across the terminus. Granted permission he ran and bought a small bottle of whisky and a coke can. Back on the bus he took some dry sips of the whisky until he was half way across the bottle and then mixed the rest with coke. Taking out his phone he called his cousin, “Yah I am in PTA now…Yes…. Yes…No…. Look I will tell you the rest when I see you.” Putting the phone back he drank a good portion of the whisky and coke and began preparing a story for his cousin.
Indeed, as they drove later from Park Station to Cresta where his cousin stayed he realised that the time spent rehearsing from Pretoria to Jhb had not been wasted. His cousin had wanted to know everything. Bit by bit, he went from laughing to sad amazement and back to laughter. “You did what to the guy? Jesus! Did you even check if he was breathing?”
Despite all the enquiries and suggestions on what he could have done differently he was confident that this was the one person who would never abandon him at this moment. “I know what you need guy. We will get home, you can bath and change your scruffy clothes and then spend the day with me.” His cousin then explained that he had taken the day off from work so that they could spend time catching up. He was just happy to be somewhere where he wasn’t worried about police sirens. He laughed when he was told that his mum had sent his cousin a message that she knew that he would go his cousin. She had asked him to take care of him and make sure that he calls her soon as he could.
As he showered in his cousin’s house he remembered how he had taken his wife to a hotel two weeks before all this had happened. He realised with deep sadness that all this time, she had been pretending. She had never loved him at all, he had been believing a lie all that time. He wondered where he lacked, was it money, attention, sex? Still he hadn’t listened to the voice notes. But somehow he knew she would blame him for why she had ended up having an affair. As always he accepted that he was just an average individual who neither deserved love or happiness.
He recalled seeing his wife on the veranda screaming for him to stop, “You will kill him, please stop, please!!!” He wondered now, was she more worried about his death or whether she was worried about him causing someone’s death? Clearly he would never know. How pathetic was he as a man to not have noticed whenever this had started, maybe he would have stopped it before it had gotten worse. Maybe not.
Images of her in his arms, them making love, her doing things to him that he had enjoyed as she did to him. Damn, what a fool he was, he slammed his hand into the wall. “Dude don’t destroy my crib, I still want my deposit” his cousin shouted from outside. He tried to reply but his words were muffled by tears and wails from his throat. He had to find strength to move on.
After changing he went to the kitchen and found a case of castle lager beer on the kitchen table. “I know things ain’t easy for you now but let’s drink. It will help you sleep later,” his cousin said, “But I need you to start finding strength.” He needed no second invite and quickly reached for a one of the cans and opened it. Feeling hungry he also reached out for a drumstick from a kfc bucket on the same table and made way to the couch. He was immediately stopped from that plan by the cousin who insisted that they should be heading out. His girlfriend was waiting for him at her flat in Honeydew.
Getting there, three castle cans later and many a discussion on Zimbabwe’s terrible state of affairs they got to the flat and he was taken aback by the beauty of a lady that called herself his cousin’s bae. She mentioned that she was waiting for a friend who was close by. Says she felt 4 would be better suited as company for laughs and chatting. Having learnt more about his cousins girlfriend he congratulated the two and hopes them a great future.
His mind is taken back to people saying the same about his wife and him in the past. He remembered how people used to congratulate them on being such a happy couple. How they used to say they envied how they were good together. Looks can be deceiving so it had turned out. His thoughts were broken by a knock at the door and since he was the closest to the door, he went over to open.
‘Shook’ would not even begin to describe half of what he felt as he looked at the lady who had knocked. He felt his knees weaken as his lips shivered. All this seemed unreal and he felt his lips move to whisper the name, “Sheron?” and clearly she was going through the same ailment as she just stared at him. Finally finding it in her she said his name and they hugged. She walked in and greeted the rest of the guys and looked back to the guy she had once been in love with all those years back. She remembered the blissful time they had dated and how her world was ripped apart when her parents had forcibly sent her to university at Rhodes University. The distance had ruined their relationship (way before all these social apps had come) and it had fizzled out. And she had never forgotten about him. Yet….here he was. Right in front of him looking as captivating as ever.
After greeting everyone and settling down she then told her friend that in a hurry to arrive in time she had forgotten to buy the wine. She then asked her friend to go with her boyfriend to go and buy the wine box. Her friend quickly agreed, she could already feel that a potential ebb of the ocean wave was about to hit the shores. So they left in deep wonder of where these two knew each other from and what they could possibly need time alone for.
The two remaining individuals looked at each other and sat in silence as each pondered how they had come to this very point. They considered their past and how they had never said goodbye to each other. They contemplated how life would be had they been still together. Finally they looked at each other and tried to speak. Both mumbled and laughed. They felt like time had taken them back to that moment in the past back in high school when they had first met. “You go first,” he finally said.
“I…I really don’t know what to say. I have a lot of questions and so little time. But let’s start here,” she took a deep breath and continued…
“What happened to us?”
Part 1 of this story can be found here
Tony is a budding writer and blogger. He can be found on tanachiblog.wordpress.com Twitter – Tony_uyo