(Image from Pinterest: Chipo and Tonderai as a married couple.)
P.S: Brace yourself as this is one of those “quite long” short stories.
I held her hand as she laid on the bed, snoring softly. I took in every inch of her face, the chocolate skin that masked her body, the once long and bouncy curls that were now patches on her oval shaped head. I traced her nose which I kissed each morning before she woke up, the full lips which produced malicious words when her brilliant brain could not solve a problem or when I could not understand what she meant, even after explaining it to me numerous times. The lips I loved to kiss, the lips that uttered I love you first before I was ready to say it.
I won’t lie, I was taken back by her boldness. Not because I did not know that I loved her, but because I was so used to the typical Zimbabwean girls who showed their feeling by being passive aggressive or ignoring you. Chipo was different. She knew what she wanted and she was never afraid to speak her mind. She made me uncomfortable, her boldness I could not fathom, her resilience and mysterious mental agility kept me wanting to unveil her for my own understanding. She was a breath of fresh air, but she suffocated me sometimes. I can never say I have fully known or understood her. She cannot be defined by one word. She is both an introvert and extrovert, shy and outspoken, kind and selfish, sweet and has the temper of two-year-old. She kept me on my toes, and I loved that, I still love it.
As I sit here seeing her weather away, I can not help but think God is playing a cruel joke on me, I can not stop thinking about the time I wasted looking for something I already had. I can not stop thinking about the first day I met her. It was a blind date, Mazvita had set us up. I had known Mazvita to like me for a very long time, but I never engaged. I do not know if she set me up with Chipo because she was genuinely wanted me to find someone or she was being passive aggressive, subtly telling me that she wanted me by making this move. Typical Zimbabwean girls, they can never say what they really mean. Haphazardly, Chido and I got along quite well. I took her out for ice cream, it was May but summer was still very much around although the breeze was cooler. She wore a dusty pink top that shaped her torso, had a red maxi skirt and yellow pumps. Her hair, God, her glorious hair, was big and free. I could not stop looking at her. She, well, at first she seemed a little shy but as I got to know her, it was not because she was shy, she was studying me.
” Tonde, you just don’t start yapping about around new people. You study them, sense their energies, then you engage.” She told me when we started dating. On our first date, I did all the talking. She asked questions here and there. My occupation, how I knew Mazvita and other basic things. We sat on a bench at Africa Unit Square, a bit clichè, yes, but I did not know where to take her. She would lick on her ice cream and observed the people in the park. Just across us, there was a couple who were having their picture taken. They were posing awkwardly, the lady was trying to sit on her lovers’ legs, but they were too short to support her bountiful bottom. We both involuntary laughed and looked at each other.
” So, how is this going for you so far?”, she asked me. To be honest, I was not having the best time but I was comfortable. I was not really feeling anything, to be honest, she was attractive yes, smart and creative but I did not have a flutter in my chest or sweaty palms. I was planning to drop her off at her house, delete her number and try my luck elsewhere.
” Well, it’s fun. Nothing beats sitting next to a beautiful lady and eating ice cream in a park.”, I said trying to charm her. She did not look amused.
” Hhhmm, so you think there is going to be a second date?”, she asked me so calmly, looking into my eyes. I was uncomfortable and to top it off, I was about to lie, which I am very bad at. I remember chuckling and looking away. What is going on here? I thought to myself. I had never been with a girl who was so direct, I was used to girls who would shy about and just do what they thought I wanted. They seemed to want to please me more than to also be pleased but this one was different and I was not equipped.
” Ehm, yeah, yeah. Of course.” I stammered, which made her laugh. I was confused but I laughed with her. The way she threw her head back as she laughed caught my attention. She laughed with the freedom of a child.
” You do not have to lie. I can tell you are not particularly enjoying this.”. I just smiled, I was a loss for words. I licked on my ice cream which was dripping on my hand, hoping for this awkward moment to pass.
” I am looking for consistency, respect, honesty and fun. What about you?”, this woman asked me as if we had known each other for the longest time. Like we had gotten to the stage of calling each other by childhood nicknames, but it was just our first date.
” Ok, uhm, I value openness, sense of humour and stability”. I said.
” Haa! Did you just say the same things I said using different words?”, she laughed, this time shaking her head. Touchè, she had caught me.
” Well, haha..”, I was a loss for words. She seemed to have called my bluff. She was studying me.
” Ok, I will give you another chance. Tonderai, what are you looking for? You know, using your own words this time. Not copying or twisting other peoples words.”, she said as she flashed her carefully arranged dentition. She had, she has a pretty smile.
(Image from Pinterest: Chipo and Tonderai on their first date.)
” Alright, alright. I see what you did there. You are mocking me, aren’t you.”, I am not proud to admit it, but I was blushing. She made me blush but thank God for my dark skin, one could never tell but the dumb grin on my face betrayed me. We walked in silence to my car which I had parked a few metres from Herald. As we approached my car, I went over to open the door for her so I could drive her home. However the Council had other plans for me, they had clamped my car over a speeding ticket I had forgotten to pay for. She looked at me and shrugged. ” Kombi, I guess?”, she said as she closed the door. I smiled at her sheepishly, embarrassed by the Council exposing me like this and also the fact that we had to walk in silence again, annoyed me. She did not seem annoyed or embarrassed by the situation. From my history with Zimbabwean girls, a car was what made you graduate from a “maybe” to a “definitely”. She appeared not to be moved by the fact that we had to walk from 2nd street to Copacabana where she boarded her kombi.
” Do not worry, I understand how hard adulting is. Trust me.”, she said as we walked past Angwa street, it was rush hour. Harare was its peak with cars hooting, drivers shouting and hwindis cussing in defence of their driver’s manoeuvring. I walked close to her, to protect her from the pickpocketers and waifs, who now prowled the streets hoping for a score, but mostly so I could smell the scent of lavender wafted around her. I do not know why I boarded the kombi with her, but in a few minutes, we were headed to Westgate where she lived. Our silence was filled by the raspy voice of Oliver Mtukudzi as he lamented Pindurai Mambo through the speakers of the kombi. Being the gentleman I am, I paid for the both of us. She was a bit hesitant but she let me pay. She sat by the window and I was wedged between her and a lady was talking on the phone tumultuously, it was as if she was in a tag of war with Mtukudzi, competing over who would be the loudest. We alighted at Westgate shopping mall and began to walk towards her house. She told me about her childhood, growing up an only child and how she was close to her family. She told me about how she was frantic about moving into her own place, but she had gotten used to it now, how she became to discover she loved art and how she was planning on making paintings that would be shown in some of the most popular galleries and museums.
” Even at the Louvre!”, she exclaimed as she stood in front of her door, her keys clutched in her hands. I was amazed by how she talked about painting and art, how her eyes widened and brightened, the excitement in her voice when she told me about her favourite artists and their patterns. I love how she lost herself in her imagination as she explained how much art had been her escape. We were bonding, we were now past the awkward stage.
” This is me.”, she said pointing at her door as if we had not been standing in front of it for the last 20 minutes. She looked at me and smile. She moved closer to me and leaned forward. After our bonding session and her teasing me earlier, I saw my way in and kissed her. ” What do you think you are doing?”, she exclaimed as she moved away from me. ” Well, you leaned in and I thought yo..”, I tried to explain myself. I had misread her leaning into her wanting to kiss me but she was leaning in for a hug.
” Well you thought wrong. I only kiss my husband wanzwa? I clearly do not understand how you thoug..”
” Hold on. Husband? Are you married and you had me take you out on a date in broad daylight?”
” No! I mean to say I am, well, I was saving my first kiss for my husband, now I.. mxm actually, please leave.”, she snapped at me as she struggled to unlock the door.
” Wait, aren’t you like 26 and you are telling me you have never kissed anyone?”, I asked her, making sure I was not misunderstanding her.
” Please leave.”
” Wait.”, I insisted, holding the door which she was about to shut in my face. ” Help me understand. You said you were saving your first kiss for your husband. Where is he?”, I could not fathom what she was saying. Was she in an open marriage? Was her husband Jesus? I had so many questions.
She looked at me for what seemed to be the longest time then heavily sighed. ” Ok, the thing is, I made a vow to God that I would wait until marriage to have an intimate physical connection with anyone.”, she said it so confidently and so matter of factly. I do not know why, but I laughed. I had never heard anything like that before. She was one of those girls who would use these tactics to play hard to get, I thought. She sneered and before I could explain myself, she slammed the door in my face. I knocked but I was reassured this was how the night was going to end by the key I heard turning behind the door. I stood outside her door trying to explain myself for a good 10 minutes, but the only response I got was her turning off the light on the porch where I was standing. With that, I knew she was not coming out.
I won’t lie, I was annoyed. The whole trip from Westgate to town, leaving my car on 2nd street and walking all the way to 4th street to get a kombi home to Masasa Park. I remember calling Mazvita to tell her how sensitive and uptight her friend was. ” I know you were trying to help and all, but please do not set me up with any of your friends,” I told her as I stood in the middle of my living room, shouting at the top of my voice. ” Wow, she really did a number on you, huh?”, Mazvita said at the other end of the line. ” She is just, I don’t even know what to say.”. I was not very sure why I was so annoyed by it, was it because she had not played to the beat of my drum or because she was hard to read. I too was a bit confused by how irritated I was by the whole ordeal. I thought of texting her and speaking my mind, but I got a hold of myself. She had clearly made it clear she wanted nothing to do with me, so I also wanted nothing to do with her. ” Ah, so if you don’t want me to set you up with my friends, pasara inini.”, Mazvita cooed on the other end of the line. I barely paid attention to her, my mind was still trying to perceive what had happened earlier. ” Haha, Mazvita so. You know you are like a sister to me, you will always be my girl, but these your friends. Please, no.”
For two months, I went on with my life. I did not try to contact Chipo ask about her whereabouts, but I could not stop thinking about her. I could not stop thinking about her, the images of her smile, free afro, gentile but confident air haunted my mind. I tried to go on dates with other girls, I tried to engage with them but I found them lacking something. They all talked about how they wanted to please their man and do whatever he wanted. What do you like? What are you looking for? I wanted to ask. I stopped going on dates and decided to be the bigger person and text Chipo. Technically, she had told me to leave her house but not her. So I still had a chance there. I had to know why she was still on my mind, even after I had blocked her on all the social media platforms to restrict myself from stalking her.
It was a Saturday morning when I decided to text her. I had nothing planned for the day, so I had all the time to plan out my strategy and see how this would work in my favour. I did a few push-ups and lunges before I texted her, I do not know why, but I felt like I needed to be ready for anything.
She blue ticked me and never replied. I spent the day playing Fifa and checking my phone. I decided to be more intentional because I knew texting would not get me anywhere. For all I know, she would have already blocked my number. I decided to go to an Art Exhibition at the Rainbow Towers where Mazvita told me she was showing her art pieces. I saw her standing by one of her pieces, it was a painting of a man, big and strong, his muscled looked as if they were about to pop out of the canvas. He was shielding a woman from what seemed to be a falling building. The woman seemed to be putting a crown on the man’s head. It told a story. She had her hair tied in a huge bun, which I got to learn to do later in the course of our marriage. She had on a white shirt and black cigarette pants that traced every curve and black open-toe sandals. She looked beautiful.
I waited until she had finished her exhibition and when people had displaced. She was packing her things and was not aware of my presence. I stood behind her for a solid 3 minutes, thinking of what to say.
” Need any help?”, I blurted out moving in clear view. She looked up at me and sighed.
” Oh, it’s you. You have come back to laugh at me again?”, she said, shoving the remaining pieces in her carry case. She seemed to have a funny expression on her face, her lips were tight and her eyes opened wide. I could not tell if she was being sarcastic or serious. I did not want to take my chances.
” No, please. Hear me out. I am so sorry for laughing. That was stupid of me. Truly. Let me make it up to you.”, I genuinely meant it. I could not get her out of my mind, I had to know why I was so drawn to her, why a 30-year-old man laid awake in the middle of the night, thinking of what to say to a woman he had only met once.
” And if I say no?”, she said looking at me. She made me nervous, her confidence, it was her confidence and awareness of self that interested me.
” Well, I will keep showing up.”
” You know that is called stalking, right?”, she said, her head tilted slightly. Her responses always left me speechless.
” Ok, will you give me another chance, please. We can go anywhere you want, but let me make it up to you.”
” Hhhhmm, anywhere you say?”, she asked, her arms crossed around her chest, with her index finger tapping her chin.
” Yes, anywhere.”
” Ok, next weekend Sunday you can come to my church.”
” Ok, cool. You go to New Life right?”.
” That is correct.”
” Ok. That will be alright. First service, second or the third one?”
” All of them, I guess.”, she said shrugging. I did not want to protest to the idea of attending to all three services which first started at 7 am, the second at 11 am and the last started at 3 pm. I just nodded my head.
She took her bags and walked closer to me, I straightened up and looked at her. ” Just so you know, I am stretching my hand so we can shake hands. I am not leaning in forward for a kiss, ok?”, she said it with a smile on her face. I laughed as I also stretched my hand to shake her soft hand. I walked her to her car and helped her put her things in her car.
(Image from Pinterest: Chipo at her exhibition.)
I did not contact her the days prior to our meeting. I arrived around 6:50 and found seats not too close to the pulpit. I texted telling her I had arrived and had saved her a seat. She replied and asked me to look behind the pulpit. I turned my gaze towards the pulpit and I saw her sitting amongst people who wear the same coloured clothes as her. She was in the choir. She smiled and waved at me as she was fixing her microphone, I did the same as I took my Bible off the seat I had reserved for her and placed it on my lap. Well played, I thought to myself. This girl was putting me on a test to see if I was serious or not. She was going to be singing at all three services, which meant I would see her after 5 pm. Challenge accepted, I said to myself. What harm would come from hearing the gospel for the whole day? I sat through the first service quietly, listening to the Pastor who was talking about the joy of the Lord. The second service I pay more attention and even took the time to turn to my neighbour and reassure them, their blessing was around the corner. By the third service, I was standing with the church mothers who hollered “Hallelujah” and ” Hameni” when the pastor prophesied that we were no longer slaves of fear but children of God or that victory was already ours. I had even forgotten about Chipo.
We had an early dinner and talked about the service. I told her about how the church mothers reminded me of my mother who had died of cancer a few years back. How she always stood in the church throughout the service, shouting hallelujahs and amens back to the Pastor throughout the service.
” I am sorry about your mom.”, she said as I walked her to her car after dinner.
” It’s alright. Such is life hey.”, I said. ” Thank you for inviting me to your church. I really enjoyed the service.”
” No problem. You should come again.”, she said as she opened her car door getting in.
” Yeah, sure. Definitely.”, I replied, closing the door for her.
” I guess this is goodnight.”, she said as she started her car.
” Yeah, I guess it is. Goodnight.”, I said, thinking she was going to say something else, but she closed her window and drove off.
I stood in the parking lot dumbfounded. This girl had brought me to the church, which I enjoyed, but she had barely said anything in regards to us. I knew there was not much but just leaving me hanging like that was just cruel. As I was walking to my car, I heard a car slowing down beside me.
” Hey.” It was Chipo. She had driven back after driving off a couple of minutes ago.
” Hey.”, I responded, not sure what to say.
” Are you free next Saturday? I have an exhibition at the Meikles Hotel, and I would love it if you come.”, she said looking out her window. I was still walking but a bit slower now. I tried to come up with quick quip to make her laugh, but I could not think of any.
” I would love that.”, I responded.
” I would love that too.”, she said then slowly drove by me to my car. We bid each other goodbye, both in our cars. And from that day, it was smooth sailing.
I will not lie, we had our ups and downs. I remember the other day when she annoyed me. I am a person who hardly holds grudges, but I knew I would not be as lucky again and have her suck up to me. So I took the chance and faked being angry with her. I won’t lie, it was hard waiting that long to reply to her. I wanted to talk to her and text her all day, but I had to stand my ground. It was my time to shine.
I know it was petty, but I saw my chance and grabbed it. We would later laugh about it when I told her.
We courted for 8 months before I proposed. If I am being frank, I took that long because I did not want it to seem as if I was rushing her, but I had been ready from the time we went on our third day. We would go out every Saturday night after her choir practise. We met each other’s friends and families. We spent most of our time with our friends, but Friday night was our day. After our 9-5’s, we would meet and chose a restaurant to go to or watch a movie. At times, we made plans on Saturdays and would drive to any direction and just explored the country. We made sure not to spend too much time alone. The day I asked her to be my girlfriend, she had told me we better not do anything sexual because she was more afraid of disobeying God than losing me. She made sure I knew her deal breakers and I told her mine. She told me if I cheated there would be no talking or reconciliation. Me betraying her like that, simply meant she did not mean as much to me. I knew she meant it and I believed her.
The day I proposed, we were at her house where she was putting the final touches to her art piece. I had overheard her tell her friends she did not want an extravagant but spontaneous proposal. ” I wouldn’t mind being proposed to on a Tuesday at 14:39 or something. I just want it to be me and my future husband, take in the moment of the new chapter and savour it.” So that is what I did. She always listened to 90’s R ‘n’ B when she worked, so that day I made a playlist which included all her favourites, Kci and Jojo, Boys II Men, Joe Thomas, Donell Jones and all the men and women who made us believe in love. She sang along, sitting on her stool, darting different colours on her canvas. I was waiting for Joe Thomas’ No one else come close to play so I could propose. She had been used to wearing headphones when she worked, but I had hidden them, so she listened to the music on the speaker.
(Image from Pinterest: Chipo doing her art.)
I knelt behind her with the ring in my hand. I was so nervous I did not say anything to her or called her to turn around. I kept repeating the song, she sang along as always, until it repeated again for the 6th time.
” Hezvo, what kind of shuffle is this?”, she shouted, thinking I was busy on my Play Station. I remained glued kneeling on the floor. ” Baaaabe.”, she called but I kept quiet, still kneeling, hoping she would turn around soon because my knee was giving way. ” Baabe!”, she shouted again. ” Where is this fine man of mine?”, she said under her breath as she turned, facing me. She froze when she saw me on one knee. She had that look on her face, eyes open wide, stone-faced and holding her breath.
” Chipo, you have been someone I never thought I wanted but someone I definitely needed. You challenge and push me in so many different ways and I-I want that to be the rhythm for the rest of my life. Please, will you make me the happiest man on a Tuesday at 14:39 and marry me?”, I was nervous, I looked down at the ring and extend my hand to ask for hers. ” About time!”, she said as she jumped on me. I dropped the ring as she jumped into my arms. We both fell on the floor as my knee gave way. We stayed on the floor and laughed. ” I am going to need you to say it before you trick me out of it.”, I remarked as I gazed into her eyes. ” Hhhmmm, say what?”, she responded smiling. ” Oh, you are no getting away with this one.” , I laughed, reaching my hands towards her and started tickling her. ” YES!”, she bellowed as I tickled her. ” Thank you! Was that so hard to say?”, I asked as I sat up to look for the ring. ” I love you Tonderai.”, she said as she grinned moving towards me and knelt in front of me. ” And I love you Chipo.” She leaned over and kissed my forehead, I took her hands and kissed them. ” Now, help me look for your ring before I demote you to girlfriend again.” We laughed as we scurried the floor for my mother’s ring which would now be hers.
Most people talk about the three-year itch but never the one year glitch after marriage. We were just off. We were like roommates who shared a bed and the last name. We were not fighting but we never talked. We could not explain what it was, but it seemed there was a dark cloud over us. I no longer woke her up with kisses and made her late for woke with the long showers we took. She no longer waited for me to get home from work, opening the door wearing only lingerie. We became strangers and barely spoke. We were in a mundane place. We both yearned for each other but no one knew how to initiate the conversation or make the first move. She began to paint more and spent most of the day in her in-house studio. I started working late more and that is how it started. Her name was Tsungai and she was my secretary. She reminded me of the Chipo I fell for, the Chipo who never missed a chance to make a joke and leave me speechless. For 3 months, I emotionally cheated on Chipo with Tsungai. I had become bothered about Chipo, she appeared to be more forgetful, disoriented and always complained of being tired. She would spend the whole day in bed and would not be aware of the time or date when she woke up.
(Image from Pinterest: Chipo.)
One day when I came from work, I decided to tell her about Tsungai. I had meant to tell her sooner, but there was never the right moment. She looked at me for a long time, I saw the disappointment in her eyes and I began to cry. ” Why?”, was the only word that came out of her mouth.
” Chipo, I love you ver..”, I belted, walking towards her. She had grown thinner than I remembered.
” No. That is not what I asked you. Ndati why?”, she snapped, walking away from me.
” Baby, we were not talking or anything. I was lonely and I-I am so sorry.”, I begged. I was disgusted by myself. How had I got here? How had I become the person who would hurt the person I vowed to protect.
” So you were lonely and decided to get attention elsewhere? Do you think I wasn’t lonely too? You think I didn’t miss you and yearned for you?”, she said stand further from me.
” Chipo, I ended it and we can work this out. We can work on us.”, I pleaded, I felt my eyes stinging. I was going to lose my wife.
” Tonderai, you remember 2 years ago when you asked me to be your girlfriend? What did I tell you?”, she asked me sternly.
” Chipo please, we are marrie-..”
” So, do you think us being married will make this invalid?”
I do not know why I brought our marital status up, but it made sense at that moment. She began to cry. I wanted to hold her but I knew I was the last person she wanted to be close to. She began to sob so hard I felt my heart ache. I felt helpless and the only thing I could think of was to get her a glass of water. I hate myself for this part because when I came back, she was lying on the floor unconscious. I ran over to her and shook her. She did not wake up. Knowing the terrible medical service here, I did not bother calling the ambulance but I carried her to my car and drove her to the hospital. I shouted for help as I got through the hospital doors, with her lying limp in my arms. The nurses took her from my arms and laid her on a stretcher which they wheeled on a room I was not allowed to enter. I stayed in the waiting area pacing up and down, I was confused and afraid. Was I going to lose her twice? I had caused all this and killed the woman I love.
” Mr Tonderai Moyo?”, a man wearing a white coat called as he approached the waiting area.
” Yes!”, I jounced as he turned towards me.
” Yeah, uhm, your wife is conscious now and we have made her comfortable. However, I am afraid her tumour has advanced and is inoperable. We would suggest you prepar..”
” Wait. What tumour?” Had he mixed up his patience or were there 2 Chipo Moyo’s? It made no sense because Chipo had never informed me or, no, she would never hide something this big from me.
” Yes, sir. I am afraid she does not have long. On our last appointment, we had suggested treatment but her tumour seems to be growing quicker than we expected.”, he explained it so calmly, I wanted to shake him so he would see how this made no sense to me.
” Appointment? Wait, whe- when was this?”
” The appointment? Uhm, about 2 months ago. She had declined treatment anyway. She said something about everything falling apart and being betrayed. We believe she was talking her brain betraying her but we cou..”.
” She knew!” She had known about Tsungai but never once did she mention or say anything. But why?
” If you would like to see her, I can take you to her room now.”, he said gesturing his hand to lead me to her room. Everything felt louder and brighter. How was I going to face her now? I had cheated on my wife when she needed me the most. How could I not tell she was sick? Her sleeping too much, being a bit disoriented and fatigued, was not because she was in a “rut”, my wife was suffering from a tumour and her beautiful mind that I had fallen for and loved so very much, was wasting away.
When I got to her room, I saw her holding a clump of her hair. She was cutting it off and putting it in a bag that was on her lap. I softly knocked on the door, she looked up, looked at me and continued cutting her hair. I walked into the room whose smell brought bad memories I had fought to stash at the back of my mind. Each tube that was connected to her and the white covers that shielded her now bony frame, took me back to 10 years ago when I lost my mother to cancer. My initial instinct was to run away and leave the building, not because of her, but the building I had avoided for as long as I can remember. I gathered all the courage I could scurry for in my being and walked in. I did not know if I should sit or stand, which she probably did not take notice of because she was looking at her self in a hand mirror. I stood beside her but she ignored me. So I knelt beside her bed and reached for her hand. She pushed me away.
” W-why didn’t you tell me?”, I asked her, my eyes itching with tears again. She looked different, her big bright eyes were now hollowed, her once bountiful flesh I loved to touch each morning, had been replaced by a bony frame I could not recognise. And her hair, the hair I loved to run my hands through when I kissed her, was no more. Only patches and bald spots. I wept.
” Would you have stopped cheating?”, she asked me so calmly. I could not read if she was angry or not. She tied the bag with the hair and handed it to the nurse.
” I am sorry, I- I am so sor-. Tell me how I can fix this, please.”, I begged her, kneeling beside her. I was not doing this to manipulate or try and have her to forgive me. I meant it with every ounce of my being.
” I am dying, Tonderai. What is there to fix?”, her demeanour was so calm whilst I was in shambles. I did not want her to bear my mistak-, choice but I am sure it played a part in her tumour growing so fast.
” I am sorry. I didn’t know you were so sic-”
” Please don’t.”
” Are you going to leave me? I understand if you do because I do not deserve y-.”
” I am dying Tonderai. Whether I stay or leave, I am dying.” Each time she said dying, my heart dropped. It was dawning on me that I was losing my wife. I was going to lose the person who had been by my side and who had taught me so much. I was going to lose her twice, first as a wife and eternally. She laid on the bed and switch off the light in the room. I was still kneeling beside her. She turned and faced the wall.
” Can I stay with you here?”
She did not reply, but I stayed. I brought the chair next to the bed and sat there. Staring at her and watching her chest go up and down slowly. When she started snoring softly like she always did when deep in sleep, I reached for her hand and touched it. I looked at the veins that ran across it and I noticed she no longer wore her wedding ring. How had I missed that?
I took in every inch of her face, the chocolate skin that masked her body, the once long and bouncy curls that were now patches on her oval shaped head. I traced her nose which I used to kiss each morning before she woke up, the full lips which produced malicious words when her brilliant brain could not solve a problem or when I could not understand what she meant, even after explaining it to me numerous times. The lips I loved to kiss, the lips that uttered I love you first before I was ready to say it.
They say you never miss a good thing till its gone, but what do you do when it is within reach but you can not have it back? I looked at her breathing softly, connected to different tubes and barely looking like herself. I had so many things I wanted to say, so many wrongs I wanted to make right. I believed her when she said if I cheated there would be no talking or reconciliation, which is why I was not surprised when the nurse woke me up a few hours later and told me my wife was dead.