When a woman’s fed up...
At 34, Shan is trying to shake off some of her mid-20s mistakes; some of which don’t want to be shaken off.
Shan and Taabu were campus sweethearts. They spent lots of time together, studied together and since they were broke, they ate at kibandas a lot, together. The finished their studies and got jobs, they had a little money and their first child was a bit of an ‘oops’ experience.
“Hey, I’m pregnant.”
“Are you sure you are not just suffering the effects of those horrible beans we ate the other day?”
The in-laws celebrated with them. They gave money to the newborn and danced around it.
When their son went abroad to study for his Master’s degree, the in-laws continued visiting to check up on their daughter-in-law and granddaughter. They brought gifts. They brought gossip. And every now and then, they strolled to her bedroom and bathroom to check for a shirt, a pair of boxers or a pair of shoes that might belong to a man that isn’t their son.
During these visits, they forgot to share one very important detail with Shan. “Our son,” they forgot to mention to her, “You know, the one you call your husband? Yeah. He might have slipped an oops baby into a lady that is not you.”
Taabu also forgot to mention this to Shan during one of their long conversations. He forgot it so well that when he came home for a month-long holiday, him and his family took a mouth-watering dowry to Shan’s parents. Envelopes were passed. Prayers were said. Songs were sung. Food was eaten. And alcohol was drunk. But nobody told her she’d be someone’s stepmom in the near future.
Taabu got on a plane and went back to conquer the world through the might of the pen. Shan’s in-laws kept checking up on her and she welcomed them with a full heart. And a flask of tea and well-buttered bread.
She missed her periods.
She and Taabu must have celebrated the dowry thing a little too much. Oops.
But it was all good. At least now, they were technically man and wife so there was a bit of comfort in having a second child together, in what would soon be a matrimonial union officiated in a church.
She glowed. She went to work with a grin on her face. Her boss was happy for her as were her in-laws.
Nothing prepared her for a phone call from a woman claiming to be Taabu’s baby mama. “I just wanted to let you know,” said the shrill voice on the other end of the call, “That in your celebration, just know you are not the only woman in this relationship.”
Shan confirmed this with Taabu who called his newborn baby with the other woman, “a terrible, terrible mistake, which I strongly regret…” followed by a trillion apologies.
She ended the relationship as any self-respecting woman would, but the in-laws kept visiting. They kept bringing presents during their impromptu visits. “We’re at the gate,” they would call her and say. “Would you please let us in?”
They would say things like, “These things happen. Don’t kill your marriage because of it.” And they would take a trip to the bathroom and the bedroom. They would check under the bed and seats, in search of evidence of the presence of another man.
She stopped answering the phone when they called. She stopped opening the gate when they came to visit. And when Taabu came home with his other family, she didn’t let him visit either. But that didn’t stop him or the in-laws from pitching camp at her gate. “We are still your in-laws,” they argued. “We are still your family.”
Heavily pregnant with her second child, she drove Shan to the bank where she authorised a money transfer to her mother-in-law’s bank account to the tune similar to the amount paid for her bride price. She took the receipt to the mother-in-law and called a lawyer to draft the requisite custody and child maintenance document which were sent to Taabu’s lawyers.
Then she went home, mute to Taabu’s begging, took a shower, got in bed and fell asleep with her favourite book on her chest, aware that life is hard enough without having to spend it with a partner you cannot trust.