Forgiving and being strong again

When a man cries, the issue that makes him ‘weak’ is considered serious. He is expected to be strong even when everything around him is falling apart. A man is ‘supposed’ to be the shoulder to lean on, the open arm to embrace and the one to wipe the tears.

So when Caxton came home to his family his eyes bloodshot from obvious crying, everyone in the house was stunned. The workers stopped their chores and peeped to confirm if indeed the mighty Caxton had tears in his eyes. Amanda took him by the hand and led him to the bedroom, trembling because she did not know what would make her man so low.

However, Caxton did not tell her.

“You can’t or won’t tell?” She asked irritated.

“Please Amanda don’t push me. Just let me rest.” Her husband said, taking his shoes off and getting between the sheets. Amanda wanted to throw the sheets and blankets away from him, for him to yield to her demands. She was anxious to know why he was feeling despondent. She instead let him be. She sat on the bed, wondering what all these was all about. She already had her own problems to deal with.

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As she tried to figure out what could be the issue, her downcast eyes met a piece of paper that she was sure Caxton had dropped. She tip-toed slowly and and picked it up careful not to arouse any suspicion from the sleeping man. The paper was an A4 size properly folded. She folded it in her palm and proceeded to leave.

She rushed to the bathroom and hastily unfolded it to read its contents and immediately felt her legs go feeble, her mouth run dry and her body lost its vigor forcing her to sit on the toilet chair with a thump. She could not believe that he knew her disturbing secret. Was this what made him cry so? She contemplated suicide for a moment,again. The urge was stronger now that Caxton knew what had been depressing her for over a month.

As her tears easily flowed from her eyes, she regretted the decision she had made six months before. Why couldn’t one just have a glimpse of the future to help you make a major decision? She wondered. She looked around at the expensive ceramic tiles that stuck on the walls of their bathroom that her husband had toiled so hard to have them put. The house he had built was magnificent!

She remembered how proud he had been when he first showed it off to her and their three children. She too had been honoured to have him as a husband. He had given her a position of high esteem in the society. The children had been overly pleased. They ran from room to room, possessing this or the other bedroom,almost conflicting until their amused parents came in to calm them down.

“Hey, the rooms are all the same!You just have to pick one” Amanda said.

“Well, I want the one with the bigger tub, I am after all the eldest!” Diana,their first born said.

“No. You deserve one near mum and dad’s bedroom so that when you decide to sneak out,they will catch you!” The second born shouted, igniting a spark in Diana who reached out to him in ire as Willis cheered the looming match.

“You skinny boy, I will crush your bon…” She said ,seething.

“Hey! We will decide who stays where.” It was their father who spoke with finality. “Now, can we go see the swimming pool?”

“Swimy what?” Humphrey, the second born exclaimed following their father, elated disbelief showing all over his face.

Amanda was woken from her flashback by a knock on the bathroom door.

“Are you constipating?” Caxton roared.

Amanda stood quickly to open the door. He passed her as if he did not notice her standing by the door. He urinated all over the toilet seat as she stood watching him, trembling, this time uncaring about the seat, something she always fretted about.

“Caxton, I know that you know.” She whispered. The silence that ensued had an odor, a dangerous odor. The noise that tore though it was the zipping up of his trousers. He turned slowly as if in slow motion. He went up to her, facing her so close that she could feel his hot breath on her nostrils.

“So, now that I know, so what? Do you realize what you have done to me? To our children?To my thirty years of hard work? To my legacy?” She was shaking with fear, he was shaking with anger.

“I wanted to surprise you. To do something on my own too.” She stammered.

“Do something at 45? Huh? At 45 years you realize that you have to do something on your own?” He was pacing up and down now, throwing his hands in the air.

“Since I got that letter, I felt as if my life just ended. Here I was thinking that your recent stress was due to an illness! Little did I know that you were down in the dumps because of your stupid mistake! A mistake that has cost us all!” He went on to rant.

She knew this day would come. Amanda rued that day she had met Mr Savi. He had come, sharply dressed in a grey suit. He spoke fluently in an erudite way as he sold his idea to her. He had claimed that a friend had suggested her to him. Mr. Savi had spoken in a way that if she did not buy his idea, it was more her loss than his. She got tempted and sunk in his deceptive lies.

He even gave her a couple of phone numbers for various former customers for her to confirm if indeed he had worked with them and what the outcome had been. She took her time and called all the twenty numbers, all of whom praised Mr. Savi enormously for changing their lives. They claimed to be swimming in vast welath since they did business with Mr. Savi. She was convinced. She called him back to her house, and shook his hand. They had a deal.

Amanda knew where her husband kept all the important documents. She discreetly used the house legal deeds to convince a bank to loan her a sizeable chunk of money to invest in Mr Savi’s enterprise and believed that in three months,the money would triple like it had with the persons she had spoken to on phone. She waited patiently for Mr Savi’s call of good news.

Mr Savi did not call. When Amanda ran out of patience, she called him. His number was out of service. She tried frantically, umpteen times but got the same reply. She tried the numbers she had called before, his former customers. None was going through. She had that feeling that any victim of fraud feels later. Like how could she be so stupid? Why did she not exercise enough due diligence?

That night, despite her other family members having a lot to share, she did not have supper. She tossed and turned the whole night, wondering how Caxton would react when he found out that his retirement home was no more and a huge loan was hanging on her head, heavy on her.

Now, the letter that she had seen on the bedroom floor was the new house owner’s, ordering them to vacate the house in a week’s time.The bank had sold it when Amanda had failed to pay the loan. No wonder her husband had come in crying. He was now seated on the bathroom tub, folding his hands under his chin in deep thought. She gazed at him sympathetically.

“What will we tell the children?” He said and started to sob. She moved to him but he pushed her away angrily.

“I will tell them the truth.” She said and paused, “Today evening.” He did not respond. He walked passed her and left. She went to their bed. She had lied to him. She would not live to see the children look at her in disgust. She took out the drugs she had so well hidden for such a time. She took a jug of water, filled a glass and crashed the white tablets into the water.

“Don’t!” The voice behind her took her by surprise that the glass fell on the floor. It was Diana,her first born daughter. She hugged her mother and inquired why she wanted to kill herself. Amanda spilled everything to her daughter.

“Mum, please!your death is not the solution to this problem.” It was as if roles had changed, Diana was the parent and Amanda was the child. Amanda was helpless and hanging on every word that her twenty year old daughter said.

“Mum! Let’s go and report to the police,now!” And mother, accompanied by daughter reported the matter to the authorities. They were astonished to hear that he was on their top list of wanted criminals in fraud. He had deceived many. That favoured Amanda’s case.

Nonetheless, shifting was inevitable. It was no longer their house. They shifted to a much smaller rental house much to the chagrin of the family members especially Caxton. He became abusive and moody. He lost his appetite for Amanda’s food. Even when the good news of Mr Savi’s arrest came Caxton was not as excited.

When Mr Savi promised to return his looting to the owners in exchange of a lighter sentence, five members of the Caxton house breathed a sigh of relief. For Caxton himself, life would never be the same again. He had been wounded. The grudge he held for his wife was like a knife that instead of harming others stabbed him, so deep that he never saw the light of the day when they shifted to another spectacular house .

Nevertheless, they were forced to sell it when there was no school fees to pay for their education now that the sole bread winner had passed on. They moved back to the small house that they could afford.

“It’s the price I have to pay for my gullibility. I will live with that hanging around my neck for the rest of my life. If only I knew. ” Amanda said in a somber tone as they reminisced their days when their father was alive and happy.

“Mum, we have something to tell you.” Diana said to a surprised mother. “I will go first. Remember when I stole a friend’s phone years ago and you accompanied me to return it? I was so embarrassed but you calmly asked me to apologise and never to do it again. You did not even tell these guys here. I will always love you for that.” She smiled at her mother who looked on emotionally. “Hum,it’s your turn.” Diana said, turning to her brother.

“Mum, when you realised that Tatiana was pregnant for me and her parents insulted you for bringing me up wrongly, you did not insult them back,instead you begged them to let you help in bringing up the baby and they vehemently refused. I vowed to work hard and show Tatiana’s family that you are a great mother. Please mum, live long to see me soar high.” Humphrey said, his voice emotional. He stopped to swallow but he could not speak any more. A lump of emotions had stuck in his throat. Diana gestured to Willis to take his turn.

“Mum. I probably have stressed you the most. The disrespect, the fights with other boys and especially the suspensions from school, yet you accompanied me back to school alone because dad was too angry or ashamed or busy. I cannot judge you, me of all people for any thing you do. In my eyes,you are a perfect mother. ” Willis bent his head to hide a tear that was pushing so hard to come out. “We love you unconditionally. Yes you disappointed dad but he should have forgiven you. You forgave us too for the many wrong things we did”. Willis whimpered and this opened a drum of tears that spilled from every one of them. The Caxton family cried but wiped their tears after enough crying.

“All a mother needs to survive in a wilderness of problems is a small drop of her children’s hope in her. I feel like I can live again. Make me proud my children.” Amanda said as they retired to bed, to sleep and wake to another day.

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