“Why now? Did you not see what type of a man he is years earlier?”
“Aren’t you thinking of your children? What will they think of you?”
Linet smiled as she listened to her friends talking her out of a decision she stubbornly was hell-bent on. Yet , behind that smile was a pounding heart, a frightened woman trying to be bold to pursue a life that was seen as despicable by her society.
Nevertheless, Linet knew that she had already made the first step to conquer her fear ; announcing that she was done with Nelson.
“My friends, I will tell you what I told him, if I ever get back to him, it will be over my dead body.”
The two friends looked around her one bedroom rented flat and looked at her pitifully.
“My friend Linet, I will also tell you this because I am your friend and friends tell the bitter truth.”
“Do tell, I am listening.” Linet said, now keen at her friend’s truth but the words that were said next stabbed her deep.
“Linet, you are a fool!” Her friend said, looking straight and stern at Linet but she was not done yet.
“You who did a church wedding with Nelson twenty five years ago! You have three beautiful children with him!”
Getting more agitated and animated, she continued, “Do you remember where you two lived when you just got married, the flat was even bigger than this! You later bought land and build a magnificent house. Now you want to leave all that and go back to that life you ran away from? You are a fool, Linet!” She said the last words with a pointing finger.
The other friend, not as bold, nodded cautiously, happy that someone was courageous enough to say the words she would probably not have said to Linet’s face.
Linet would have broken down to a river of tears but she urged her brave nerves to take over. She clapped sarcastically smirking at her friends and asked in equal vehemence,
“Did he send you? If he did, tell him, he had twenty five years to treat me as his wife but he did not! I am not changing my mind. I want a divorce. Now get out, you call yourself friends, friends my foot!”
The two women stared at Linet in disbelief. They were surprised at this new woman in Linet. In place of the ever polite, submissive and perservering woman was a confident and independent thinking woman. They took their purses and left, muttering inaudible utterances.
“Can you believe what happened there? Such arrogance yet she lives in a one bedroom flat!”
“You were right Jane, to tell her the truth as it is, she is a fool. She is ready to destroy everything she has ever built with Nelson to live in a flat alone, just because he is authoritative! My friend, the day she will realise that it rains everywhere,it will be too late. “
“Joy, if only she knew what women like us go through, she would count herself lucky.”
“At fifty? A divorce at fifty? Poor Nelson. I pity that man. Let’s go and break the news to him. I am afraid he will be shattered at her resoluteness.”
The two friends drove to Nelson’s home as Linet pondered about how her decision about her life had rubbed many people the wrong way. She had opted not to spill all the beans. She figured that people would still believe what they wanted to , even with facts on their faces.
She had now lost two friends she had thought were bosom friends. But that was not as bad as the chama scenario. She had been an active member in that chama for ten years and they had ostracized her in the most shocking and embarrassing way.
“Our fellow women, as we all know,” It was the chama chairlady with whom they shared a close friendship, “This group is for married women only. I have been informed that in our midst is a woman who recently left her husband. We can longer have her in this group.”
Linet almost collapsed when she realised that they were talking about her. The rest of the women clapped and cheered as the chairlady progressed to say that the new single woman would have all her shares back by midnight and she was not allowed to come back to the group until she went back to her husband’s house.
The group treasurer interrupted the chair with gusto and braggadocio.
“Eeeee! Chairlady! Midnight did you say? Your very able treasurer is ready to see her off with all her dues, RIGHT NOW!” She proudly and loudly declared and all the women shrieked in excitement.
The chairlady took the money from the treasurer and marched to Linet, put the bundle of money on her lap and pointed her finger to the door. Linet slowly woke from her chair taking her her money, and took that walk of shame leaving ululations and hi-fives behind her.
Then there was the immediate family. Even though her sons , (20 ) (23) had not disputed her decision to leave their dad, it was not enough comfort. The teenage daughter had come down on her like a ton of bricks.
“Mum! Divorce? You want to leave dad? No. You cannot leave him mum, you just can’t leave dad.”
“Sweetheart, it’s a decision that I have already made. It’s hard for me too and I can’t say that one day you will understand because I never want you to get to a place where I am today. You already know how your dad treats me. I can’t endure anymore.”
“Mum, you are so selfish. Why can’t you think of me? Don’t we mean anything to you?” She was crying now.
“Sweetheart, you can come visit me anytime you want…”
“No! I will never step foot on this piece of shit you call your new home! Never!” Her daughter screamt and ran out banging the door behind her.
Linet had anticipated some kind of resistance but the resentment that came with it was immense, coming from the most unexpected areas.
After twenty five years of being married to Nelson, she had decided to end the marriage. The thought of leaving often crossed her mind but she would pull back in fear of being shamed,banished and disrespected as she was now going through. She would stay, with the excuse that her children needed her. But everyday she stayed was a day closer to her grave.
She shook her head in disbelief over the patriarchal society that exists. Even those who should have been objective in her case were taking sides. The church for instance, after pouring her heart out to her pastor about Nelson’s abuse, the pastor had replied with a short statement. “You vowed, for better for worse.”
Linet was amazed at how people would easily take Nelson’s side. He had hurt her so many times. It was not about him demanding that she quit her job as a veterinary officer so that she would take care of their children.
That was only the beginning of a marriage where she was not allowed to have a brain, think or opine. Nelson not only chose her clothing, her friends but also her tastes and preferences. He even told her what she couldn’t watch on television or listen to on radio.
He often monitored her phone calls and at one time suggested she minimise her frequent calls to her ailing aged parents. She obeyed, he was the head of the family, wasn’t he? For the sake of marriage, she did everything he asked. Compromise was a recipe for a happy marriage, she would tell herself.
Linet perservered the tyrannical sway he had over her even when it seemed ridiculous. She endured every bit of his dominance until he insisted on making a decision about her that she would not agree to at any cost.
This was the eye opener. She realised that even after sacrificing so much for her marriage, Nelson would never listen to her.
“The doctor says fibroids are not cancerous so there is no need for surgery. You will not have the operation. Just learn how to live with the fibroids.” He declared.
Linet had been shocked at this declaration on her own health. How would he make such a decision yet he was not the one that had the heavy menstrual flows, frequent urination and the pains in her lower belly. She insisted that she would have the myomectomy.
“What for? Are you protecting your uterus? It’s not like we want any more children anyway. Have you forgotten that you are 50, already? Just take the medications and forget the surgery thing.”
Linet said No and her husband went ballistic yet she remained adamant. He had no good reason why she could not have the operation but just to have control over her. After several days of trying a silent war on her, he came up with a master plan to get her to agree to his opinion, he said he wanted a divorce. She said yes, she was ok with it.
The following day she packed her belongings and left. He thought she was bluffing but a week later he realized she was playing no games.
I was joking. To get you to see how serious I was. Come back.
But she said she herself wasn’t joking. She really wanted the divorce.
Now, Linet sat on her sofa reminiscing the recent events. She was all alone but the tranquility that surrounded her was therapeutic. She had lost a lot, but she had gained the ability to smell the air that gave her life. Her daughter was angry but she would come around one day.
She sighed happily and went to bed. She slept peacefully, like a baby until a text woke her the next day.
Morning dear, today is the D-day when you get the fibroid out! Come let’s get the thing out to hell!
It was her gynaecologist. She laughed at her doctor’s enthusiasm.
“I haven’t lost all friends it seems!” She said to herself and delightfully jumped down the stairs then off to hospital, excited to have her myomectomy.
“Linet,” she was still speaking to herself, “See your life, 50 ,divorced, alone and happy about a surgery.” She laughed hard, hard enough for passers-by to notice her and the weird behaviour. But she did not mind them. Nobody would ever control her like a robot anymore.