They say bad relationships have red flags early on, but this one had the flag of China as the backdrop, but neither the guy nor the girl would admit it. Which person in love does anyway? When I introduced Mercy to my friends, I could tell they didn’t exactly take to her. It was a friend’s farewell party, and everybody was focused on our friend who had landed a job outside the country.
“So what did you think of my new girl, Mercy?” I asked one of my boys.
“She seems okay, I didn’t interact much with her tonight,” he responded, trying to be vague.
It didn’t matter much that they didn’t seem interested in Mercy since it was the first meeting, and the night was action-packed. However, after eleven months of dating her, my friends still didn’t seem to quite like her. Mercy didn’t seem fond of them either. I loved the girl. She was intelligent, ambitious and I was going to make her my wife at some point. The indifference between my close friends and Mercy made it particularly difficult to spend time together.
It was easier when we were invited as a couple to our friends’ events, but there was always some tension about coming to our place.
“Si you guys come to my place next weekend. We can do some mbuzi choma and drinks,” I offered one weekend.
“Um will your mama be around?” Asked one of my boys.
“She’s going to see her folks this weekend.”
“We can come over then.”
The question hung in the air, would her presence have elicited a different answer? But you only ask such questions when you’re ready to deal with the answers. By now, we are almost a year and a half into the relationship. We had had a brief honeymoon phase of six months, and then the issues started.
My job involved travelling, and I was doing well on that front, so as I rose the ranks, I was away for more extended periods. Mercy complained that we didn’t spend enough time together. After weeks of fighting over the issue, we decided that she start her Master’s program. It would be good for her career, and it would take up much of her time so she wouldn’t miss me so much. I was doing very well financially, so I funded the degree.
After weeks of peace, something else came up; it was always something with her. The periods we were together once I came back always felt like makeup sessions. Perhaps it was the fear of losing a partner and not having the time to meet someone new that made me stay, but I stayed.
Two years down the line, I decided to propose to her despite our issues. After all, aren’t ups and downs part of relationships?
“Kevo, I’m thinking of proposing to Mercy, got any ideas?” I asked.
“Oh, that’s interesting. Are you sure that’s the right step?” Kevin asked.
We were having casual drinks and the moment finally came.
“Yo, Alfie, do you really think Mercy is the right woman for you?” Mike, my other friend, asked.
“Yeah, I’m not getting any younger and with this job, I’ll don’t have the time to go back to the dating pool,” I responded.
“You want to live with all that drama for the rest of your life?” Kevin followed up.
“Common guys, is this an interrogation?” I asked defensively.
We changed the conversation, and two weeks later, I proposed. The journey between the proposal and the wedding was the most stressful time in my life, or so I thought at the time. Little did I know that the worst was still to come.
The process of planning the traditional ceremonies and the white wedding showed me sides of her that I hadn’t seen before. We would decide on one thing, and then she would talk with her family and decide on something entirely different. We couldn’t even agree on the size of the wedding. I wanted a somewhat intimate wedding while she wanted an extravagant one with many guests. Well, the bride won so we did what she wanted.
I will admit that I had thought of calling it quits at some point, but we’d come so far that it was only logical to follow through with the plans. My boys even joked that they could help me make a run for it on the wedding day, but I couldn’t leave Mercy at the altar.
After the wedding, we had a good five months. Mercy was done with her degree, and I was doing well at work. As a way to celebrate her achievement, I bought her a car. Then we started trying for a baby. One year later, we still hadn’t conceived. I could feel the pressure from the family. Most of my friends had at least one child or were expecting, and I wanted what they had.
On one of my work trips, I went for a fertility check because, as a man, I wouldn’t risk finding out that I was the one with a problem in front of my wife. Everything checked out. So logically, Mercy must have had an issue because we had agreed that she would go off birth control once we decided it was time for a child. The next step was figuring out how to suggest that she should see a doctor.
I was going to take my annual leave, and we would spend some quality time and have a medical check-up. I hadn’t told Mercy that I was coming home so that I could surprise her. Do you know what they say about making plans and life-giving you something else? My life was about to take a drastic turn.
Ding dong, the doorbell rang.
“Baby, I’m home. Surprise!” I told her once she opened the door. She looked startled.
I thought the surprise caught her off guard at first, but she acted weird, disconnected even. So I got in, and I went to freshen up.
“Mercy, I can’t find my towel. Have you rearranged the closet?” I asked.
“Oh, I cleaned it because I thought it had gathered dust while you were away,” she said.
I didn’t think much of it, and I picked another one. I decided to go pick up some things from the supermarket. As I was driving out, I couldn’t see my wife’s car in the parking lot. I was going to ask about it when I got back. My thoughts were interrupted by the watchman as he opened the gate.
“Madam, umeona utembee kidogo leo?” He asked.
I rolled down the window, and he quickly corrected himself.
“Oh boss, kumbe ni wewe? Umerudi?”
“Ndio nimerudi. Mmekuwa salama?” I asked him.
“Tuko sawa. Pole nilidhani ni madam juu ni yeye anatumia hii gari sasa tangu muuze ile ingine,” he said.
I was in shock, and I couldn’t hide it. So I parked the car outside and asked him what he was talking about. I couldn’t believe he was giving stories about my own life. After listening, I went back to the house and acted calmly.
“Mercy, I didn’t see your car in the parking space. Where is it?” I asked.
“Oh, it’s just at the mechanic’s,” she said.
“Why didn’t you tell me it had an issue? How long has it been there?”
“Alfred, you were not around, I didn’t see the need to tell you. It’s just been there for a couple of days anyway,” she said, looking agitated.
That was a lie since the watchman had told me the car hadn’t been around for about a month. It wasn’t yet time to bring it up. I needed to find out what was really going on. I faked a reason to use her phone to call someone, and I got to see her chats in the process. It was all there; she had a lover. He had even gotten her pregnant, and she got rid of the child because she didn’t want me to think that it was my child.
The betrayal was like layers of an onion; it got worse with every other message I read. Mercy had given her car to her lover because she could use mine while I away. He was only supposed to bring it while I was around so that I wouldn’t become suspicious. The latest conversation between them was her explaining how I had asked for my towel, so she had to come up with an excuse because she had to clean it after her lover used it the last time he was in our house.
I was too angry to confront her, so I took the car keys and left. As soon as I got into the car I realized that I couldn’t think straight and for some reason, it felt like I couldn’t see even though my eyes were open. I desperately needed to get out of there, so I called one of my friends and then took a cab to where he was. Part of me felt so embarrassed because my friends tried to warn me about my marriage, but I needed to talk to someone. My heart was in pieces; my pride was wounded, and yet deep down, I knew the relationship wasn’t right, but I did not expect this kind of betrayal.