December 10, 2018

Horizon: A Stolen Boyhood 13

fatherhood

BY Mwangi Macharia

The news of Mr Mukandi’s wife’s death hit her hard. “What have I done?” she whispered to herself. “How can I chase away a mourning soul?” As she whispered this she opened the door and run calling Mr Mukandi’s name. I walked into the sitting room placed the first aid kit on the table.

I did not know what to do. I simply took a seat. I needed time to digest it all. A few minutes later the door was opened. Mama walked in holding Mr Mukandi’s hand. Mr Mukandi had tear marks on his face. His eyes were blood shot. He seemed weary and weak. Mama directed him to the sofa next to the door where they sat together.

Mama rubbed his hand gently, forgetting the burns on her own. “I am sorry” she said.

“I’m sorry too. I never meant for things to turn out like this”

“It is Ok. I am here for you.” Mama said in a reassuring voice.

“You have been honest with me. Now it is my turn.”

“When we first met…” Mr Mukandi began as he turned to Mama. “… with my wife I saw a great lady.” Mr Mukandi could not control his tears. He let them flow freely and never even struggled to wipe them off. “I knew we would share our life together the very day I set eyes on her. We were in our university cafeteria.” Mr Mukandi began to narrate.

Love had taken toll on him in his second year. He felt young yet prepared. His face looked like an archive of emotions as he narrated the way they met to mama. He could afford smiles as he remembered the beautiful dates and long walks that he would take with his late wife. “We were the epitome of love in campus” he said. Yet few knew of a deep burrowing secret. One that is known would hung their relationship on a noose. Mr Mukandi’s ex-wife had a child. To make matters worse, Papa, she was older than him.

As I heard this Papa I could not help but wonder what could have happened if it were you. This was a cultural abomination. “We tried to hide it but we could not” Mr Mukandi said as pain painted itself on his face once more. His tears were uncontrollable. Mama removed a clean handkerchief from her apron and wiped Mr Mukandi’s tears and handed him the handkerchief.

“My parents got to hear that Raquel had a child out of wedlock. Their anger was even worsened by the fact that she was older.” It was surprising when he then smiled. “They refused to allow us to get married. But they could not separate us. Our love was deeper than what our parents could say.” His face was glowing yet dulled by the grief of losing his wife. “We ran away and came to this place.” Mr Mukandi sighed. “Since then my wife has been sick. I have been looking for a friend to open up to but I did not find one till I found you.” These words touched Mama. She could not help but embrace Mr Mukandi.

“You should fix your hand” Mr Mukandi whispered to Mama. He then proceeded to pick the first aid kit. He began to nurse Mama’s hand tenderly. “What happened to Raquel’s child?” Mama asked.

“It is complicated.” Mr Mukandi replied as he wrapped a bandage on Mama’s wound.

“Complicated?”

“Oh yes. She is in this town, goes to the same school I teach, but she does not know her mother.”

“How?”

“It’s a long story.”

“I am listening” Mama replied.

“Raquel was in pain. Her pain was out of a mistake she did.”

“Mmh” Mama followed the story keenly.

“She conceived the baby after messing around with her friend’s boyfriend.” Mama was astonished. “She told me those days she was known as Raquel Mkanyaga Wenza… ”

At the mention of this Mama stood up slowly and exclaimed “What?”

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