A few weeks ago I made my way to one of the popular trading centers in Mzimba. Actually, I usually visit this particular trading center due to my field work with Rural Innovations for Sustainable Development Initiatives (RiSDI), a newly registered company in Malawi. It was Wednesday, and having taken a long dusty ride on the company’s Yamaha DT 125, I could feel it that I was likely to develop flue, so I opted to sanitize my whole system with our national brand sanitizer, Malawi Gin.
I went to several pubs, bottle stores and bars, not really sure how different these names are and what differentiates one from the other, since am not a clubbing type of a guy, but I did not find any. As I was about to give up, one drunk man directed me to the last bottle store and the confidence in his voice assured me that I will find Malawi Gin. The only thing the drunk fella asked me in return was that I should come back when I get what I was looking for. I agreed.
I returned a few minutes later holding the sanitizer firmly because I didn’t want to lose at all cost and went straight to the counter and pulled myself a seat next to the drunk man. He was happy I was back and he offered to buy me anything I needed. I chose Coca-cola and sprite for obvious reasons, Malawi Gin would need them and I never touched them till I got to my resting place.
Long story short, the drunk man wanted to share some of the depressing and stressing issues of his life. Believe you me, he had a lot to share, but time wasn’t on my side. It was past 8 late hours.
“You know buddy, I never knew what a pub was till I got married. I was a church boy with big positions. An elder, a youth leader, a deacon, name it. I was respected by all folks around here. I had a name. A good name.
“She was lovely you know. Beautiful and well packaged as a woman. I couldn’t help it, but asked the pastors opinion about it. Approvals all over. Without my knowledge some fellow church elders approached her on my behalf. We started dating just like that. A year down the line, we were married. A sweet lady, she is that one.
“Like forever a storm, we got no kids despite all medical tests proving we were all fine. Witchcraft. All witchcraft. She desperately needed a kid, and I offered for adoption, but it turned out she wanted to be pregnant, not just a kid.
“Peace was gone. All blame was on me. Fights all night and I was all a victim. A victim of first sight love. I had all sorts of names from her. Well who could blame her, she had to prove she was woman enough. But why blaming me, as well? Thank God, I was raised with manners. Don’t I smell manners young man?” he asked.
The sense in his drunken voice began to sink into my cerebellum down the medulla into the spine. This time I was listening with my entire self. The whole of me got into the story and I was actually on the scene.
“I believe am a good man, dude. Never once have I raised my voice at her. My hands always coiled in spade fashion, she has never been slapped. And that was a sign of cowardice in me. A real man must beast his noisy wife, says the culture here. If you done, then your wife charmed you. Probably with a lizards tail. Crazy culture we have, but am happy to have a culture. We all have a culture. What’s your culture? The neighborhood gossip became unbearable. I had lost respect. Lost friends and lost my self-esteem. Counselling proved futile. I must get my wife pregnant and erode away the shame. Once or twice or thrice pregnant and all ended up in miscarriage. Life threatening.
“I couldn’t command my household anymore, so I gave up all the church positions. Isn’t it written that an elder should be a husband of one wife, who is able to command is household? You see, I know holy words. Am a good man. Still a good man.
I was about to ask him where his wife was. Just as if he read my mind, he went on to say, “now am here drinking and she, home sleeping, all alone. She doesn’t cheat. Faithful mouth soured woman she is. She’s still a good woman. A laughing stock. Barren they say she is. We both know she is not barren, but what proof do we have? So alcohol became my friend. She knows where I am, and she will come get me when she gets worried. A good woman she is. But I won’t let her come, I will go home earlier.
It took us more than 2 hours, with sips in between the narrations. Finally I got what I wanted the most. You see, the problem wasn’t that they couldn’t have a child. When they tried all to no avail for about a year, they were fine and convinced that it wasn’t Gods time. They lived happily in the next few years.Parents started questioning. Friends at church and the market place started gossiping. The “Mrs.” was mainly the talk of the day. Her inability to produce the fruits of the womb was the only crime she committed. The husband, in all his royal, loyal pomposity and splendor always stood by his wife’s side.
Till the external forces exerted on the wife’s brain and became internal, gathered momentum and turned her judgments upside down. True to its meaning, in all circumstances, we have far much to fear from within than from without.
The wife became her own threat in her marriage over a situation she well knew was beyond her control. The husband resorted to alcohol seeking peace and comfort. Many would like to believe that relationships are complicated, and all you will hear them say is, it’s complicated. I say NO!! You are complicated. Whatever situation you find yourself in, in your relationship, it’s you in that situation, and it’s you who ought to do something about it, and the most adorable thing is that it’s all within your manageable capacity. “If it appears complicated, you are complicated,” the last words the drunk man told me after admitting that he takes a share in the blame, and it’s his wish to get things back the way they were.
He advised me to be vigilant and fight for my family after he learned that I was married too.
I took my bottle of sanitizer and went to the lodge I had secured my resting place for that night. One thing kept on ringing in my mind, “it’s not complicated, you are complicated.”