Celebrating East African Writing!
Brian was in a new world, his own world. The landscape was carpeted by a rough tapestry of broken dreams with meandering rivers of withered hopes. The atmosphere of his new world was engulfed by a thick putrid cloud of despondence and the horizon was lined with a constellation of dead visions. It was a forlorn world. His eyes were now drinking in the sight of his expansive sitting room. From his comfy seat, he could see the multiple corners of the expensively furnished room. The quaint carvings and the original paintings lined the walls with the multi-coloured chandeliers giving the house an ethereal air.
His ghostly eyes rested on his wife Diana who was ironing his favourite red “Manchester United” Shirt. She was composed as usual and this sent a chill of discomfiture through Brian’s immobile body. Her lips were rounded into a whistling position and he sadly wondered which song she could be humming to. His visage hit her eyes now and a flood of guilt swarmed his body almost racking it with spasms. Through their seventeen years together, he had never shown his love overtly or even pretended to do it. He had mistreated her through a string of liaisons but she had never complained. In the past, this had thrilled Brian as he was an outgoing man, always in the company of high fliers. He knew clearly that Diana was suspicious but never bothered to reassure her. She was a blessing, a relic from the past, a woman born to serve. She had served him well but now…
His thoughts started trailing off as his enervated brains slowly took a beating. Within no time he was in another world, a world awash with soothing memories.
Diana had never known happiness. As she ironed Brian’s shirt, the disgust in her mind was almost strangling her. The shirt was a symbol of her torture, the shirt he always wore for his “Foot ball outings”. He never even sat with the kids so as to go and watch his favourite club play. What did she care about football clubs? Her whole life had been like a journey through a wanton desert, full of mirages but strewn with suffering.
During her childhood, her mother had divorced and she had become the unlucky object of projection for her pent –up wrath. She never made any friends in her school life days and when college came calling, a sense of freedom had inundated her imprisoned mind. To spite her mother, she would show off her men like trophies but with time, this game bored her and she slowly settled down.
It was Brian who came to change what had started to became an interesting life. He used to visit with groups of other guys over weekends in college and within no time, Diana had fallen for his charm and wallet. He was a gentleman in eyes, a chivalric kind of man who was both a lover and a friend, her life took a detour and her education was packed snugly at the bottom of her wardrobe. Brian was then working as a marketing executive for one of the largest computer Hardware Distributors in the country. In spite of her mother’s fiery exhortations, Diana had gone ahead with the relationship. When at last she decided to put a hold on her education, her mother had been livid but this didn’t throw the young girl’s obstinate heart,
“Am I not twenty-two mother? How old were you…”
“This is not about me, that was my time and you saw what happened, please…”
“Don’t nag me mother, I know Brian and I love him; you can’t change that”
“Please, it is your education; he has his degrees what if …,
“Look at you mother! So suspicious of everybody, that’s why you even divorced with dad …”
“Me; Diana, do you know what you are doing? I won’t curse you but …”
Diana’s mother did not get the chance to complete the sentence, as the beautiful girl had already banged the door and ran off. The lover’s courtship was so smooth and full of bliss that she always wished she had known Brian forever. The wedding was arranged with minimum involvement from her mother. At least, she wasn’t interested in witnessing her daughter waste her life as she told Diana’s aunts. To the young bride the day was the stuff of young girl’s fantasies. From her flowing gown to the decorations in the party room, everything seemed to have a fantastical edge. From her flowing gown to the decorations in the party exam, everything seemed to have a fantastical edge. She couldn’t resist the feeling of joy emanating from within her heart like a geyser through a thin fissure every time she looked at the handsome man. Her face had beamed throughout the ceremony and the following honey moon in South Africa had been exquisite. The world was hers.
When Brian was promoted to head the regional office, his regular travels set in and with them, a schism started growing gradually between the couple. The birth of the two boys did nothing to bridge the gap that was growing with Brian’s increasing absence. At the onset, she was sure that Brian could not cheat on her but with time, suspicion started growing on the edge of her mind, After their second child, Brian was almost never at home and it was obvious even to the blind owls that he was seeing other women. Diana was not ready to raise a storm; her mother’s words were still fresh like a raw would in her mind,
“Diana, do you know what you are doing…?”
She was stuck between Charybdis and Scylla; her education meter read nil and her financial balance book was non-existent. She couldn’t dare going back to her mother and her only resort was endurance. From her tumultuous childhood, she had learnt how sufferance worked. She was ready to take all the hardships, at least for the boys Tim and Festus. It was her duty as a mother. At times however, a whirlpool of anger would eat into her and she felt like doing some harm to Brian. How could he do it? After all the love she had shown. Wasn’t she the paragon of humility amongst the neighbourhood wives? Didn’t she take cooking lessons just for him? At times like this, the words of her mother would swagger majestically into her restive mind,
“Diana, do you know what you are doing?”
She was a resilient woman by nature and after all, she knew her prayers would one day change her husband. However, envy and jealousy gnawed her heart every time he stood at the kitchen door and nonchalantly said,
“Darling, I will be leaving for five days to Kigali, you will be okay, won’t you?”
His deep baritone voice always melted her knee caps but what was she to say? She always wished to be that other woman who would savour all his attention and love. Would it be Anne the Journalist or Christine the French teacher, she wondered. Thoughts of a better day sat in every corner of her exhausted heart. At least, she had the boys, she always consoled herself. But now…
The two boys entered the room and the silence died out with their endless chatter. Tim was now shaking his father who had just started snoring. He slowly came out of his short sojourn into the land of better days and faced the chubby boy. He wanted to hold him in his arms but the realization that none of his limbs could move cut through him like a sharp razor. He had never shown a lot of love to the boys but they still adored him. Festus was jumping on the conches and he realized how adorable his family was. He had never taken time to show them love and now he was at their mercy.
His visage took him to the lawn which could be seen through the large French doors. His gleaming B.M.W was parked as if anxiously waiting for him. He knew that he would never drive again just as he would never get to hold his boys in his arms. A lone tear trickled slowly from his left eyes tracing a meandering path down his cheeks. The memories of his early church going days stole stealthily into his added mind and the whole idea of purgatory now was making sense, he was paying for all his insolence, his promiscuity and all his other intransigencies.
Diana was now holding the crisply ironed shirt out as if luring his mind into the long gone days. A shiver swept through his spine when he looked at her lips, was it a smile? Was she torturing him deliberately? The despair in his heart was confounding and he wished to just say one word, a word he would never get the chance to utter, a word he had never said in his life, “sorry”.
If only he could get a second chance, he would smother Diana with love, he would forget all the other women who were now gone. If only to do good were easy as to know it…the quote from Shakespeare glided into his mind at that moment. His deeply sunk eyes now rested on his wife and he tried to fill them with all the compassion and contrition he could muster the best he could do.
Diana really loved her husband but his bold infidelity had threatened to wash away her love. Now, he was a vegetable, helpless and in her care. She remembered the day when he collapsed on his way from office leading to the brain surgery. A feeling of triumph had at first settled in her mind but as a Christian, she had prayed off this evil feeling.
However, without any provocation, she always found herself smiling over the change of fortunes. She had always wished to have Brian at home to shower him with love and her prayers had now been answered though in a cruel fashion. He was now a baby to be cuddled. He couldn’t talk or move any of his limbs. The surgery had been botched and the doctors had called her aside with a lot of sadness,
“Diana, we are sorry, he might never recover”
“What do you mean doctor?”
“His thinking will be okay but he will never use his limbs or talk.” the doctor had added.
“You mean it? He will remain in the house?” her voice had almost betrayed her joy.
“Yes, forever, we are sorry.” the doctor was flummoxed by the tone of the woman, Did she he hear a tingle of joy or was he hallucinating? She had devoted herself to him showing him how much he had missed. She knew it was slow torture but it was the best she could do. A tune was coming into her mind now and she and she started humming to it “I will always love you …..”
Festus was asking his father why they couldn’t go swimming together, as Tim pinched the dead hand. In his mind the word “sorry” was screaming with no outlet, the pain of silence was plaguing him now.
© Chrispus Githae Kimaru 2009
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