Hi Ortis’, I hope you have been well. I don’t think you can remember me, I’m one of the guys you came through for during the Covid period. You sent me Ksh without knowing who I was and that humbled me a lot as a man. Thank you so much. Much has happened since then and I felt I should share my story with you if you don’t mind. Feel free to edit by all means, I’m not much of a storyteller.
I’m a married man and a father of two. I met my wife 8 years ago in University. From campus we went on ahead to get married and life was okay I guess. Same old joys and challenges any couple would go through. My wife and I never went through a tough phase in marriage that we couldn’t find a solution to, we always had a way to work around our issues. This was so until COVID-19 came banging our doors.
You see, as a human being, no one ever prepares you for some things, especially something like a global pandemic. Some things are as sudden as death, I mean, hata kifo mtu huona ikikuja. But now a global pandemic like Covid, no one ever saw it coming. And when it came it hit everyone so bad, and I was one of those people.
The work I did relied heavily on imports from China. This messed up the flow of business completely and everyone had to be released without any form of compensation. At the same time , no companies were hiring, infact everyone was busy cutting salaries and releasing employees. The only thing that gave me relief was the fact that my wife was never fired. She still received three quarter of her salary.
Month one things were okay, we did adjust our lives a bit to fit within our means. My wife was also very supportive. During this period, I applied for jobs everywhere, I hoped I would get something at least I provide for my people. My kids had noticed some luxuries weren’t there anymore, we did explain to them and luckily they understood somehow. I think Covid was so bad even a toddler would understand when things were thick.
Month 2, still nothing. At this point I had started getting frustrated. I contemplated getting into a taxi business but people were not leaving their houses. I had a meeting with my wife and we came up with all sorts of ideas of businesses we could do and we settled with outside catering. I have always loved cooking, I’m particularly very good with hot kitchen kind of meals and we saw that it was a good place to start.
One thing I learnt is it’s one thing to be excited about and idea but it’s another to make business out of it. Some of my neighbors who knew my story would buy the food, this went on only for a week until they couldn’t buy anymore. I had exhausted all my close friends, now i had to target a completely new market. I came up with all sorts of ideas and tried out everything. Social media, posters, a random person on fb who is an influencer to help but wapi! Just getting one person to buy your food was close to impossible. It gets a point unapika Chakula lakini unakula stock na familia yako. Then you are back to square one.
This went on for another five months until I depleted my saving. By this time I was so frustrated and feeling defeated. I could also feel some form of tension between my wife and I. One things as a man, especially if you are the kind of man who takes pride in providing fully for his family, when you can’t do this anymore, paranoia sets in. You feel like people stop respecting you, you don’t know whether it’s actually happening or una imagine vitu zako. But I swear I could tell things were changing between my wife and I. All of a sudden we didn’t have much to talk about, nothing to say, nothing to do. Sex even became a taboo in my own marriage. Ushawahi angaliana na mtu wako mnaona ni kama nyinyi ni mandugu na Mko Kwa ndoa ?Weeeh ! Sema cinema.
With time I started feeling so small in my house, all of a sudden I didn’t have a voice. I mean, I couldn’t provide a single thing apart from my presence. My daughter noticed something was wrong, I always thought she was too young to understand until one day she came to me and said ‘Daddy I know you are sad and mum has been shouting at you, don’t worry, you will get another job’. My daughter believing in me when I had lost all hope and faith broke me, I genuinely didn’t know what to do anymore. I just went to my room and slept.
That night when my wife came home from work. I had already made dinner, helped the kids with assignment, the only remaining thing was to bond with my wife,I had missed the old us. We ate our meals in silence, she would throw a random ‘How was your day kids’ ? But she would never ask about my day as much as I asked how her’s was.
When it was time for bed and we were in our room I asked her ‘How was your day at work babe? Had a fruitful day ? She never answered, though she looked at me for second. She then continued doing whatever she was doing. I felt bad about it, she knew much i hated silent treatment, especially now that we were going through this phase. As I got on the bed to sleep, she finally spoke ‘ You know, I’m starting to feel the weight of carrying this family on my shoulder, you can’t ask me about my day when all you do the whole day is stay in the house doing nothing, you are starting to become and eyesore. I hate coming home and seeing you doing nothing, kindly, go get a job even if it means Utakua mama fua wa estate. Atleast they make money, you don’t. You have two weeks to get a job, only two weeks. Or what ? I asked asked her…. She never answered ,she switched off the lights and slept .
After that conversation I couldn’t sleep. All those years in marriage I provided fully. She never had to touch her money for anything. I was even the same person sending money to her parents voluntarily because they were good people to me. It never crossed my mind that of the vows we made, ‘For richer for poorer ‘ was the part to break my marriage. I knew that all vows would be tested in our marriage, just not that. That night I cried silently in my bed, I was already a weak man to her, I couldn’t show that side again.
In those two weeks I looked for a job like a man with counted days to be alive. I even applied to be a butchery man and a conductor. And I wondered, when life hits you hard, how far can you go to provide for your family as a man? Was I stooping way too low? My wife had a good job, she made at least a net of 120k, enough to take care of us. I made double that then all of a sudden, I couldn’t make even 20 bob a month. In those two weeks I literally finished the sole of all my shoes.
On the last day of the two weeks, as I went home I wondered why my wife would threaten me yet I had never done such a thing to her. It really disturbed me why she would change like that to the same person who loved her so much. As I walked home that evening, I kept having short outbursts of frustration, I felt like I was going mad. People would stare at me on the road, but I think most understood me, from the stares I could tell people understood. Everyone was going through something, they just didn’t know how to show it.
When I got home that evening, I noticed my house was silent. Everything was intact except for the fact that nyumba ilikua imenyamaza sana.It was 7pm, the kids were always in the house by 5pm latest, followed by their mother at 6.30 . I went to the rooms just to ensure all was well but that’s when it started to hit me something was off. All the bedding and kids clothing were missing. Everything! I ran to my room, everything was there except for my wife’s clothes. I sat on my bed, I was too tired to cry any more. The only thing on my mind was suicide, I had failed as a man. Failure is dehumanizing, I couldn’t continue going on with it. I had to put an end to it.. Them leaving meant after that day meant I had no way to fend for myself at all, I relied on my wife completely.
As I turned on the bed to have a rest, I saw a note, it read ‘ Dear….. I’m sorry if I have been hard on you but staying with you under these circumstances was leading to resentment. Let me have some little love for you at least, I don’t have to hate you for your inability to provide for your family. I deserve better, so do you kids’. Don’t look for us, you won’t find us. Stay safe, I have left some food for you in the fridge.’
After I read that letter I just closed my eyes, and wept. I guess I blacked out while crying.
I’m not the kind of person to tell the whole world my problems but I had to reach out to someone. Most of my male friends were going through a rough time too and the only other person I could talk to was Maria. She was a friend from campus and we had a great bond. She was also a friend to the family. I told her everything that had happened, she was so remorseful and she took it upon herself to make my life bearable. She shopped for me food to last me at least two months, new shoes and all. She then gave me 50k Ksh and told me to make good use of that money. I sent 25k to my wife who fled and hoped she got it. Maria would call me everyday to check up on me and sometimes she would visit. My wife had completely locked me out, she never wanted me to even talk to my kids. I never wanted to go to courts, I didn’t have the money. So I told myself that my children knew I loved them, and in one way or the other, they would come back looking for me.
Maria gave me new fire to prove to her that I could actually recollect myself and get back on my feet. She told me quite often that she believed in me, she reminded how great I was at what I did and why I couldn’t let me skills go to waste. This built my confidence and this time round I had a mind shift, it was already 10 months since I was last employed but my confidence was at its highest. I had a point to prove. Kidogo kidogo I got interviews to attend and in no time I had a new job. The company was a multinational and the compensation was beyond my wildest dreams, I literally couldn’t believe what was happening. I wished I could share this great news with my wife and kids but they were no where to be seen. The only other person I could share this with was Maria.
That night we celebrated and I thanked her too much for being there for me when no one else was. With my first months salary, I booked for her a vacation to Watamu when very few people travelled. On the 2nd month, I bought her this fridge I knew she always wanted to buy because it was a twin door and all. In the last month I sent her 100k, just like that. She deserved everything nice for supporting me.
Being that I was now finally stable, I started looking for my wife again. I called her family, called her friends but no one was willing to share details of her whereabouts and I wondered what would warrant such treatment. I remembered what I told myself, one day my children will come back for me even if there mother won’t.
One day as I sat in my house, lonely and all, Maria sent me a message that read, ‘ If you haven’t noticed, it’s just been you and I for a while now. I have given this much thought and I decided to shoot my shot, kwani will I die ? Me thinks you and I should kick things off and continue with life, don’t let your wife who disappeared on you stop you from meeting your soulmate. In fact remove that ring I give you a new one, I already bought it’. End
That message made my night, I laughed and thought that was an idea I would definitely welcome.
Maria is due in 2 months with our first born son, my only son. I have never regreted making that decision and this is someone who stood by me during my worst season.
Within the past 18 months since my new job I have been able to make better financial decisions and I’m happy that I learnt this the hard way. Maria and I are also about to finish building our home together. I feel bad that I’m not doing these things with my ex wife but maybe, just maybe, she could have been just my wife but not the right person for me. My life literally flourished after she left and now I have a better perspective about life.
I later learnt that she moved in with her boss, quite a loaded guy. Only that the boss brought in another woman after her. I heard she is also expectant , just that she moved out again and now stays alone. One thing I do know for sure, she will come back. And when she does, I will be so happy to introduce her to my wife Maria. And I will be so happy to see my daughters.
This life has balance, you just have to find it.