I was nineteen going to twenty when Feye found me. He was twenty-three and in the final year of the university. He said he loved me and I said “No, I’m too young to fall in love.” School was on vacation and he had come to Kisumu to spend the holidays with his uncle. For the rest of his vacation in Kisumu, he spent it trying to get me to say yes to his proposal. Somewhere deep on the inside, I liked him. He looked refined than all the boys who had proposed to me. He was in the university, which meant he had a great future ahead of him. Also, he had come from the city. I wanted to say yes to him but I remembered my parent’s advice and said no instead.

Mom had told me to concentrate on my books if I wanted to make it in life. Dad was straight forward; “Boys will get you pregnant and mess up your future. They’ll continue their education, become somebody in the future and marry a woman who fits their current status. Be that woman who fits their status in the future and not a girl who got pregnant and got discarded.”

Feye left town when school resumed. I didn’t hear from him so I stopped thinking about him. The next vacation, he came to town again. He told me, “I’ll keep coming to Kisumu on every vacation because of you. When you say yes to me, I’ll find a job, work hard to get money so I can come and marry you.” Something about the way he said this sounded very sincere so a day before he left town, I said yes to him.

And that was the beginning of an affair that lasted for six years before we finally got married. I remember the day after our wedding, I was having a conversation with a friend and she said, “You’re indeed very lucky. You said yes to a man and that same man took you to the altar. Some of us had kissed all the frogs around town but yet to meet our prince in a shiny armor but just once and you had found yours.” I didn’t think about it that way until she said it. I told her, “I didn’t set off to find only one man to be with. It just happened and I count myself lucky.”

Marriage life was awesome. It was a learning curve for both of us which we were determined to make it work. Right from the beginning, I submitted to his direction. I told him, “You’re the man. Lead and I’ll follow.” He was supposed to lead but he never made a decision without my input. Even when I’d told him to go on with it, he would still ask, “But do you think it’s a good idea?” Then I’ll tell him, “We don’t have all the answers. Let’s try, if it doesn’t work, we can always amend our mistakes.”

After each day’s work, when we both had returned from work, We’ll sit on the couch and watch TV. I’ll place my feet on his lap and he’ll begin to give me a foot massage. It’s not something I asked for, immediately my foot lands on his lap, he reaches up for it and begins to rub it gently and all the while asking me how my day went. I became addicted to this and always looked forward to it. One day I placed my foot on his lap and he ignored. I kept shaking my foot to draw his attention but he kept ignoring me. Then he said, “If you want it, then you have to pay for it.” I asked, “In kind or in cash?” He said, “Hmmm in kind.”

Before I could say jack, he threw himself on me and started kissing and touching me. “But you haven’t finished doing the work?” I asked. He said, “Here, we take full payment before work begins.” The next thing I knew, I was sitting in the coach sweating profusely and looking for where my pant fell during the action. It was just the two of us in our own world, living life without rules and creating memories along the way.

Our first child came just after a year of marriage. He was a boy. We wanted three children so we started working for them six months after the first baby. We tried and tried but nothing happened. “Maybe we were meant to have only one child,” My husband said. “Just maybe,” I responded. Our first child started school at the age of three and I would say he was my husband’s child. He bathed him in the morning and got him ready for school. He cooked his morning meals and packed it for him. All I had to do was to wake up, get ready and prepare for work.

When our child was five years old, I got pregnant again. You could imagine the happiness that swept through the family. All was well until the second trimester. I woke up one morning and started feeling pains in my abdomen, Just when the abdominal pain was easing, a severe migraine set in. Somedays I could not walk. It felt like the baby was dropping so I had to lie in bed all day. I couldn’t do anything for myself. Hospital drug wasn’t helping. We resorted to herbal drugs and that also didn’t do anything. At some point, I took the pain as part and parcel of the whole childbirth thing. The first was easy but the second decided to stress me out.

At dawn when I’m moaning out of pain, Feye would wake up, warm my herbal drug and start pushing it down my throat. We could stay awake all night and he would be there by my side, rubbing my feet and telling me everything would be alright. The last trimester got worse. He took leave from work just so he could stay in the house with me and take care of me. He cooked meals for the family, washed my clothes and that of the kid. He cleaned the house every weekend and the time that he would have to rest, I would put my feet on his lap for him to give me foot rob.

Sometimes I looked at him moving up and down the house and say to myself, “What could I have done without you.”

I delivered the second child peacefully and more easily than I did the first. Finally, the troubles of pregnancy were over and I could come back home to a happy husband and a child who had missed his mom cooking for him.

One afternoon, Feye called me from work that he was going to come home very late because he had to travel to complete an assignment. “It’s just an hour and a half drive. I should be home before 10pm,” he said. I wished him a safe journey and asked him to buy milk on his way coming. At 8:45pm, he called; “Dear, I’m on my way coming. I should be home by 10pm.” I told him, “Safe journey back home, and don’t forget the milk.”

By 10pm the kids were sleeping so I might have dozed off a little. I woke up around 11pm and Feye was still not in the house. I called his phone twice and there was no response. At 11:26, I saw his phone calling. I hurriedly picked up; “Feye, where are you? It’s past 11pm and you’re still not home.”

“I’m sorry, this is not Feye. If you’re the wife, then you need to come to Nazareth Hospital. Your husband is in critical condition. Critical condition? What happened to him? I spoke to him just some hours ago. Please tell me, what happened to him?” The voice—a male answered, “He was involved in a road accident and he was rushed here.”

I called Feye’s senior brother and told him what had happened. Some minutes later, he was at our house. I joined his car and drove to the hospital. It took us two hours to get to the hospital from the time I received the news. The doctor said, “I’m sorry we lost him. We did our best but he was too far gone.”

I can’t explain the pain I went through that night. If I try to put it in words, I’ll end up reliving the whole episode again. It hurt less now and I would like it to remain like that. I was thirty five when Feye died. Thirty five with two adorable kids who look exactly like their dad. Why am I sharing this story when I’m supposed to share a happy marriage kind of story?

I was happily married once. I was a happy girlfriend for six good years and a happy wife for another six years. Both to the same man. I don’t know how it feels like to be in a loveless relationship. I guess I’m a lucky woman. Am I going to be married again if I had the chance? No, I wouldn’t like to. In fact, I don’t know how it would feel like to be in a relationship with a man who isn’t Feye. So I would hold on to the memory of what we had and raise these kids with the kind of love their father gave me so someday, they’ll know and understand how to love a woman truly.

—Njeri, Kenya
#SilentBeads

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