When she entered the sitting room, she saw him talking and laughing with the children
By Nhamo Muchagumisa
Mrs Nyakuenda slowly realised that her life had been easier without protection. The tide had even tilted further towards her, while the court order seemed to have empowered her husband.
His emotional independence was the first discernible indicator of how the godemned document was working in his favour.
He seemed to have forgotten his husband and wife favours, or was he too upset to ask? Mrs Nyakuenda on the other hand lacked the confidence to remind him that he still had the right to ask. She too had the right to ask, but she was afraid of being rebuffed.
Their marriage had been solemnised on the basis of the two becoming equals in holy matrimony, but the protection order had created inequality between them.
The advantage she had gained over her husband was working to her disadvantage.
Nyakuenda’s silence was the greatest onslaught on Mrs Nyakuenda’s emotions. His angry tirade was more tolerable than his silence. They watched television in silence, ate their meals in silence, slept in silence.
Whenever she returned from work, it was to face his silence. Every good thing she did in his favour got his silent reply.
He occasionally talked in his sleep, calling his late mother or swearing at an unidentified enemy. It was her duty to tell him about his nocturnal implorations towards his mother and his unprovoked outbursts, directed at an unnamed person, but she did not know how she could do it.
The children began to dread their father.
They would quickly retire to bed once the man of the house arrived from work. Mrs Nyakuenda felt for her children, but what could she do to break the walls of silence he had surrounded himself with?
Twelve-year-old Tanaka plucked the courage to ask his mother the triple-platinum question as the family sat in the sitting room awaiting his dreaded arrival. “Why is daddy not talking anymore?”
“Because of the court stamped document I obtained to stop him interfering with my autonomy, ” she did not say.
It was not an easy question and she allowed a bid of sweat to cascade down her forehead as her mind laboured to find the answer. When she finally said something, she had realised that she had to say something before the man in question arrived.
“I think he doesn’t have much to say these days.”
Tanaka and her three siblings looked wide-eyed at their mother, wondering if she meant what she was saying.
The day after this conversation, Nyakuenda did not come back home. The children had more questions to ask their mother. But if home had turned into hell, the workplace had become something worse.
The way her workmates related with her began to deteriorate. Her female workmates began to shun her company, but it was her immediate boss who had turned into a nuisance. He began to ask her for forbidden favours.
“You know I have always been your protector, and without me, you would have lost your job. If your no prevails, your loss will be worse than losing a husband,” the man threatened her.
How private is private life in this information age? Mrs Nyakuenda asked herself. Had it not been for that cursed news story about her obtaining a protection order against her husband, none of her colleagues or even her boss would have known about her matrimonial tribulations.
Now the lecherous Mr Budai wanted to be her comforter, yet in actual terms, he wanted to prey upon her vulnerability.
Back home her children became more worried about their mother’s sullen moods than their father’s absence.
Mrs Nyakuenda wondered if fairness was anything life considered when it shared its problems among its slaves. Why should she lose both her husband and her job at the same time? Why would people think that any woman who seeks protection against an abusive husband should be of loose morals? Why would her boss bring her career to an end, just because she had exercised her right to say no?
Finally, Mrs Nyakuenda got the temerity to spit fire at her boss when he had invited her to his office to pursue his depraved agenda.
“Stop ever imagining that I value this job more than my body, more than my marriage, more than my femininity, otherwise you are dreaming from a bottle. From here I am going to report you to the department of women’s affairs for sexual harassment. I care no more about this job.”
The man of authority stood from his chair but his bottom hit the top of his chair with great force, and his body slumped as if something heavy had hit him on the head. His groans filled the office.
“Are you all right Mr Budai?” Mrs Nyakuenda was alarmed. Her boss replied with more groans.
The smell of his sweat took away the perfumed freshness of the office.
Mrs Nyakuenda alerted her workmates. Mr Budai was hurried to the hospital and the message was relayed back to his subordinates that he had been hit by a severe stroke.
At the end of the workday, Mrs Nyakuenda travelled home, wondering why her life had turned into a nightmare.
It was the third month since her husband had left home to rent accommodation in another section of the city. She had lost all hope of reuniting with him, but she did not really miss him, or maybe she supposed so.
Her children needed a father in their life.
Upon arrival, Mrs Nyakuenda thought she had been dreaming and she had come to the refreshing end of her nightmare.
Her husband’s car was parked in front of the house. When she entered the sitting room, she saw him talking and laughing with the children.
He was the right person to tell the story of her workplace nightmares, but she wondered how he would receive it.
Sometimes one has to refrain from doing the right thing if sharing a problem is likely to have grievous ramifications.
Nhamo Muchagumisa is an English Language and Literature teacher, and he writes from Odzi. He writes in his own capacity and can be contacted on +263777460162. Email him at: email@example.com
Facebook: Zimbabwe Digital News
Zimbabwe Digital News