WHEN LOVE COMES KNOCKING, it is often so sweet, so gentle, so yummy, like chocolate or candy, so super-duper-turvy but somewhere along the way something happens. Just somewhere out of the blues, the smell, the color, the taste of love suddenly changes, like a wind that has lost direction or affection, like unexpected rains that come without a warning; sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.
It all started with an innocent smile. Whoever thought that a small tiny sideways smile could turn into something so huge? Whoever thought that years later her love would follow him to the grave?
He had died loving, not loving her as she had hoped or expected but he had died, loving another woman. To make matters worse, he had died in the arms of another woman as she waited for him to come home for dinner.
That day, he had called from work telling her he would be home early. “Do not sleep before I get home, he commanded, “I have something important to discuss with you!”
They had not been on good terms of late. They had had frequent quarrels over his love mannerisms, his bad phone manners of always switching off his phone when she most needed him. Calls kept coming in when they were in bed and he would run to receive them in the bathroom. On one on occasion, at midnight, she had tiptoed after him to eavesdrop on his conversation. The sounds were not clear and she was forced to lie on the cold floor and place her ear next to the lower part of door. That was when she heard him say, “darling, don’t worry about her. My wife is harsh but that will not stop me from meeting you tomorrow. If she asks me about you, I will beat her up, send her back to her parents and demand my dowry back. I can even use the same dowry to marry you!” He said chuckling.
That was the day he had beaten her so badly she had thought she would die. By bad luck, he had suddenly walked out of the bathroom and found her sneaking up on him. Without even getting time to get up from the floor, he had stepped on her face several times as if he was killing a snake. “You, stupid spy, why are you following me everywhere? Do you want to control me?” He shouted at her as he kicked and rained on her with slaps. He had then packed her things and thrown her out of the house.
“It would have been so unfair to disrupt their lives.”
She did not go to hospital. They would make her sign some P3 forms and charge him in court with sexual violence. She did not want him jailed. She still loved him so much. She did not want to involve her two young children, so happy with the world, with school. It would have been so unfair to disrupt their lives. They adored their father and always spoke of him as if he were some superman.
She was still nursing her injuries at her sister’s house in the neighborhood a week later when he came for her, so remorseful and gentle. Her sister had advised her not to go back to him or pay him any attention and she had sworn that she was through with him. He held her in his arms and apologized profusely as he looked gently into her eyes.
“I am so sorry,” he said as he kissed her and wiped a tear from his face. “I deeply love you. I don’t know what happens to me sometimes, what makes me so stupid. Forgive me for everything. You are the most important thing in my life. I cannot live without you.”
She had melted in his arms, accepted the apology like a good loving wife and sneaked back to their home without informing her sister.
“When was the last time he had eaten at home?”
But soon history repeated itself as it very often does and her husband started spending the night out again. So when he had called and said he was coming home early for dinner, she had felt a little excited. When was the last time he had eaten at home? She could not remember. She prepared his favorite dish of chicken stew in boiled potatoes and a huge ugali. She would serve him all the parts he loved; head neck, legs, intestines and his most favorite “Adhiambo S”. She then rushed and changed into an attractive yellow dress and put on some soft Lingala music by the legendary Franco. She was psyched for an evening of great romance.
Well, it was never to be. She sat up with the food until midnight, when the dreadful call came. It was a policeman from Central Police Station asking her to go and identify the body at Chiromo Mortuary. “Madam, are you the wife of Johnson Makutano? He was killed by a Commercial Sex Worker from Koinange Street after he refused to pay her his dues. He died in her arms at a Lodging down River Road. I am sorry!”