I always sleep early more so when the following day happens to be a workday, am not good at obeying alarms or using common sense to wake up on time. I sleep till sleep is over thus my early to bed modus operandi.
Rarely will 8:30 pm find me outside the duvet. Am in that stage of life where the only electronics in my name are an electric kettle,Infinix smart 3 plus phone,Philips dry iron HD1172 box,instant shower, core i5 ride or die campus ASUS laptop that has more series and movies than the neighborhood movie shop plus Netflix combined which I only open on a Friday when am about to unwind from the tiresome work week that never ends.
Being a member of this cohort of sons of pharaoh who never have surplus money to go out on Fridays to unwind in those not so godly places where booze and boobs are in constant supply, movie nights thanks to my laptop offer appropriate substitute-alternative-consolation.
Only on Fridays, if I open it in the middle of the week I may be tempted to go for a night vigil thanks to The Punisher season 2 or The Enemy Within season 1 which I never had the luxury of completing during the weekend only to wake up at 10 am without a ‘reasonable’ excuse to give the always combative HR for coming in late or not showing up completely.
With no kids or wife to take to the hospital which other ‘reasonable’ excuse can a man give to skive work without receiving a warning or a show cause letter. Maybe if I claimed there was an unreported earthquake,tsunami, flash flood or hurricane Katrina within our neighborhood….
Faint peck-like sounds on my bedroom window, am dead asleep I assume it was Lawrence (the lizard that feeds on spiders,moths and everything with six or eight legs moving haphazardly without my permission within the house) so I continued to sleep unperturbed. The faint pecks become persistently persistent, I had to wake up peeping through the window forcing my eyes to open wrestling sleep to find out who has been sent by my enemies to prevent me from actualizing my dreams.
Nobody comes visiting especially at this hour. In this town where the number of people I know can’t fill a fourteen seater Toyota Probox. It was a gated compound with only four occupants; me,the landlord, one friendly family whose children pay me regular daytime weekend visits and another neighbor whom have never seen to date, eight months down the line since I moved in though I hear he comes in late and leaves early-he is the AM (After Midnight) to AM type.
Whom might it be? My eyes struggled to truncate the image through the darkness to no avail, so I reached for the switch as I sought to put the light on before heading towards the table room then the main door. It wasn’t a good night there happened to be a blackout occasioned by the heavy downpour, how did I even forget I slept earlier thanks to the 7:28 pm blackout…..
I scrambled for my phone which was placed on the bedside stool after which I snaked my way to the sitting room towards the front door. This time sleep was giving up so I used my Infinix smart 3 plus phone as a torch to screen the intruder before I open the door. It was my landlady’s husband!!!
Were my eyes bamboozling my nervous system, hesitant to open he called out my name assuring me its him. With some sense of assurance I opened up allowing him in explaining to him I don’t have candles thats why I had to ‘torch’ him up as I sought to identify him before any other business could transpire friendly or otherwise.
What really brings him to my doorstep at this hour? I had not reported any electrical malfunctions, broken window panes or plumbing problems? I had no rent arrears plus I don’t have any decibel threatening sound system that could have endangered the existing peaceful coexistence? I asked myself glimpsing at the phone to check out what’s the time. Its 47 minutes past 2 AM, who knocks someones door at such a time I asked myself feigning that you are welcome smile but deep inside I was supper mad at his nuisance.
A typical YES man, those humble men who have little or no words. I have never talked to him for more than five minutes though his mastery in the queens language more so his proficiency in pronunciation was top notch. This was every woman’s dream of a ideal man, those men whom humility is their first name. There is nothing like a humble man. If you come across a humble married man always know there is a red flag. He must have a deficiency, financially or otherwise….
“Have I disturbed you?” He asked.
Feigning a fake smile I said no definitely claiming I wasn’t even asleep as I had just finished watching Manchester United vs Az Alkamaar Europa league match which was a flat lie if he knew I am a Liverpool fan who doesn’t give a damn about Thursday night football.
“You are out this late (insert Kwani at the beginning of the sentence) whats up?”, I asked in an assuring tone as he was shivering from cold. He may have been out there for I while I thought.
“Imagine she has thrown me out.” He replied
“Thrown you out as in?” I asked
“Fred’s mum has kicked me out of the house….” He replied sitting on my only seat so I offered him a blanket so that he could sleep on the couch till daybreak as I go back to pursue my dreams in peace. He turns down my offer, the manly pride in him couldn’t allow him to sleep in the house of someone the age of his son.
Assuring me he won’t be long so I lean on the table as I sought to find out what made Mama Fred (Fred’s Mum) to throw him out in the unforgiving cold.
“Did you have a misunderstanding that culminated to you being thrown out?” I asked
“No she just said am a very useless man after I came home penniless with no money for pampers and milk for the children, accusing me of being promiscuous thats why I don’t have money like other men since I have taken the day’s wages to my other wives. ” He replied in a diminishing tone. I wish she knew the hard work I put in all day everyday, the ridicule and insults I endure and the luxury I deny myself to ensure I come home with the wages I get as a casual labourer. A job am not used since I used to have a white collar job.
“So you have other wives apart from Mama Fred (Fred’s Mum)?” I asked cunningly.
Smiling, “No I used to but I left her to marry Fred’s Mum.” He answered
“I never knew that part when was this?”
“Seven years ago,”
“So Fred is not your biological son?”
“Yes he isn’t mine.”
“How Many are yours?”
“The Last two.”
“What about the first three?”
“Those ones I don’t know their fathers. I just treat them as my children though their resentment towards me is out of this world they even tell me on my face that am just alive because their mother picked me up from the streets, fed me and clothed me.”
“In what circumstance did you two meet up before moving in together?”
I was a hotel manager and she was a secretary at a prominent law firm we used to fellowship at the same church thats where we met.
Did you have a wife when you met her?
Yes I did but like I told you I left her to marry Fred’s Mother
Where is she now?
I don’t know but I wish I knew…… He said bitterly struggling to control his tears as his were watery.
Did you have children from your previous marriage.
How many and how old are they now?
Removing his wallet, he hands me with five passport pictures. One was his during the heydays when the sun shone brighter on his side his light complexion which had darkened overtime with the once chubby cheeks being pale shadows of their former self life had gotten the better of him, the other was his wife who was a marvel compared to the woman who had thrown him out (am not in the business of comparing married women anyway) three were of his children two boys and one girl.
The eldest is around 23, the last time I heard from him was a year ago he had just gotten a scholarship to pursue his masters at some Canadian University with a difficult name I can’t remember. The girl is 17, she is in her final year at some national high school I won’t mention and the young one is 14, he is in form one in a national high school.
How lucky was he to have children who are not struggling academically.
“Do you support them financially?”
Struggling to contain his emotions, he looks down before answering no
Because I don’t have the means to do so.
What of the rent?
She takes all of it to invest in her children.(Referring to Fred’s mum)
But the property is yours, you should be the one determining who gets what and when? (So I thought since the man is the head of the house in a normal African set up)
Sheepishly smiling he asks are you married?
This question had an obvious answer..
No am not.
Then you will never know neither will you understand..
Like I told you you will never know neither will you understand.
Like I told you earlier when I met her she was working at a law firm I was a hotel manager my wife was a primary school teacher. After some time I lost my job grief and guilt crept in I was disappointed in myself for not being able to provide for my family as I used to even with assurances from my wife that all will be well as she will try her best to keep the family together with her meagre earnings.
I had to seek solace elsewhere so I turned to alcohol at first,when the alcohol couldn’t offer the shoulder to lean on she came in and wiped my tears. I turned my back on my family moving in with her, before I could have realized her charms were already at work I sold my two vehicles,withdrew my savings and disposed land I had mean’t to build my urban retirement home to build these residentials on her land.
The land is hers but the houses are mine he laughs (pausing briefly) one day we had a heated argument after which she gave me marching orders argued to leave the compound (her land) with my houses.
Returning the passports, “So she throws you out when she wants?”
The number of days I have slept on the veranda are more than the number of days I have in the house. Even in the house I have slept on the cold floor after I was told my belongings in that house can’t fit in a Ksh 20 carrier bag.Either way I have to fake smiles every time I accompany her to family gatherings, social events and in church introducing myself as her husband.
So would you go back to your wife if you had the chance?
Yes I would?
Where is she now?
I don’t know (pausing)she blocked me everywhere, always shifting schools whenever I get wind of her whereabouts, changing cell numbers every-time I get her new phone number plus my in-laws don’t want anything to do with me so I don’t have any alternative approach to reach out to her.
My alarm beeps its 5:55 AM, darkness was slowly paving way for light the conversation had kept me awake for close to three hours. The last time I was awake at such a time I was watching Narcos season two, it had just been released when I was doing my second year exams. I watched the whole season overnight and still managed to partake the exam at 9 AM the following day without reading or revision.
I offered to prepare breakfast since I too had to prepare myself for work but he turns down my breakfast invite requesting for my gate keys insisting he has to leave for work since his Indian employer at the godown employs on a first come first serve basis. He doesn’t want to come home empty handed to an ocean of demeaning insults again .
I offer my gate keys directing him to throw them back in after he is out so that I can use them on my way out.