When my wife died I did not cry, I allowed droplets of sweat to soak my pyjama top. I didn’t cry because I was confused and in denial. She had made my life a living hell and seemed to be immortal. There was a time that Roselyn and I were inseparable, she was the apple of my eye and I loved her. Roselyn had taught me to love, to be kind and to believe in myself. If you had met me twenty years earlier I would boldly say that my life was incomplete without my rib Roselyn but fast forward to the present, my life would be perfectly fine without her. I didn’t become a heartless man overnight, I was once a saint but life and regret turned me into a cold heartless man.
My marriage was once a case study for the spinsters and bachelors in my community. When my children left for school my home became an empty nest and that marked the death of the beautiful flower I had fallen in love with. The love of my life did not die a physical death but she became a stranger and I preferred being away from home. But there was a time I looked forward to going home and spending time with the love of my life. Roselyn became a stranger and her actions stabbed my heart.
Roselyn was once my cheerleader but suddenly she knew how to burst my bubble. Her mouth once spoke words of affirmations that warmed my heart but it had become the norm to crush my spirit. I became a laughing stock in my community and whenever I cried for help no one could believe me. My body was so used to Roselyn punches and slaps and my smile would not be complete if I did not a swollen lip. I begged the police officers to help me on countless occasions and they did not believe that I was a victim of domestic violence. They said I was a man and instead of running away, I had to stand my ground. How could I keep on asking for help from the law enforcement authorities who had once made fun of my situation?
I began to suffer in silence, I let Roselyn beat me up every night hoping that she get back to her senses and realise that she was hurting me. “Therapy and counselling will never work for me, only weak people go for counselling“, Roselyn said one night while gulping sorghum beer down her throat. Our ancestors believed in counselling and even though they didn’t visit or pay a shrink there was always that one relative who was able to help or advise someone who was going through a difficult time. The reason why I didn’t divorce Roselyn was that she begged me that she would stop drinking and take care of herself. I stayed with her because I believed that she needed me and all I wanted was for her to keep her word. When my kids were young I told myself that I didn’t want my children to grow up in a broken home but when my home became an empty nest, I felt bad for walking away from my rib.
Roselyn became the queen of the shebeen. She had jeopardized the patient’s health because she attended work while nursing a hangover and she eventually lost her license. The queen of the shebeen was always the first one to get to the shebeen and the last one to leave “ana masiya dzasukwa“. When I finally told my wife that I wanted to break up with her, she wept and begged me to stay. “Our Maker hates divorce”, she said but our Maker didn’t hate divorce only, He hates lies, violence, sin and so many other things. I hope that when people hear my story they are not quick to judge, I hope that they will sympathise with me. I wonder if they are willing to listen to my side of my story.
I couldn’t walk around the street without being asked to return the money that Roselyn had borrowed from a neighbour so that she could buy traditional home-brewed beer. If a young adult was to ask me if marriage was relevant, I would tell them that marriage has lost its meaning. Because sometimes our experiences force us to see life in a different picture. If only Roselyn had decided to get help and let go of her childhood traumas I would not have been watching my children plan their mother’s funeral. Never in my life, as a bachelor had I imagined myself crying myself to sleep and wincing in pain from the terrible punches that my wife had served me before going to bed. I always wanted to grow old with my wife and watch the sunset but here I was burying my wife.
On the day that Roselyn died, I had gone to bed early but it had become my ritual to go to bed early. I couldn’t stand her annoying singing and shouting whenever she got home. Sleep had become an alien and this is why I always took sleeping tablets. Each morning I would wake up before dawn, the sound of my wife’s snoring was the only confirmation that I needed to know that my wife wasn’t dead. Unfortunately, on the day my wife died, she wasn’t snoring and when I told her to move to the right side of the bed she didn’t say anything. When I tried to move her body, it was so cold as ice and at that moment I immediately rushed to switch on the light. I slipped on the pool of vomit but when I finally got to the switch I realised that my wife was dead. My wife of twenty years lying unconscious on our bed. She had choked on her own vomit.
How would I explain her death to the mourners I wondered? Although Roselyn had made my life a living hell, she deserved a decent burial, and I was going to do that for her. My rose, my ray of sunshine was gone and the only thing I had left were the memories. Although I was grieving a part of me whispered “you are free at last”.