Written by Dora Achieng Okeyo

©2013 Smashwords Edition

I hear those women calling on the radio. They say it and the whole country is ashamed of them. Well, I am not. I do not know them. I have to see this to the end. It is always the same voice-these women- they always have something to say. Secrets are best taken to the grave. I know about his. I know about mine. I hate that I have to act cool, it’s like I am an accomplice. I am an accomplice to his secrets. They will never know, not even if I can help myself. I am twenty four. I am woman. I am strong. I am me. For as long as I know those four facts I will never go wrong. I always thought I was “a woman.” I felt like I was something. It was a while before it hit me that I am not something, but someone. See, someone has “one” and that means composed or one piece, unlike “thing” which means undefined or unknown. I studied English. I believe that’s why I am going round in circles when I could be telling you the truth. For as long as there’s any will in me, I will win this. I will never get mad at him or shun him. I will watch him leave and come back. I will listen to him and still believe that he’s the one. I will hold his hand at functions and talk well of him. I will dress well and keep working. I will listen to word on the street but not be hushed by them. She will win. She will have him. She will see me and say “she’s foolish.” I will listen to her and smile. When it comes down to the truth, no one will ever ask. For when you love someone, it is never about them- but about what is. For us, it was just him and me. He was charming and handsome. I was modest and sweet. I never came across as pretty, not the way she is, or the five others before her. I was the one who could hand him change to pay for parking tickets. They were the ones he spent his salary on. I was the one who nursed him when he was ill. They were the ones that made him sick. I was the fall back plan. They were the plan. It was simple really, but whatever happened between us was beautiful. I decided to take a business class in marriage. See, it is where I do not invest in anything-I just manage. I know he can tell the difference, any man would. I have lost weight and I am two sizes down. I went to the salon and had my hair cut. I am spotting a chocolate brown short new do. My friends love it. His friends love my neck. They say that my eyes now pop out and I look younger than him. He holds me now. He holds the wind really. There was a time when he saw right through me. Now I see right through him and what keeps me here is his guilty soul. I have this feeling that he will take a nose dive and I will have to stand and push him off the cliff, you know just like Scar did unto Mufasa. His name is Micah. We met on a Tuesday. I was making my way around the supermarket and he was doing the same. I was buying some tampons and he pretended to be buying some wet tissues. I stood there for a while before he asked “spoilt for choice, uh?”

“Yes, there’s a lot to pick from.”

“I know, I have to buy my sister some- I don’t know which one she wants. She just wrote ‘always’ and everything here is marked ‘always.”

“Let me help you.”

“Thank you; I’m Micah by the way.”

“Maria.”

“A day for M’s I guess, and I really appreciate this, now thanks to you my sister will deem me a hero.”

“A hero is never afraid to ask for help.”

“And he’s glad when he gets help.” We had lunch immediately after because I had a good feeling about him. I didn’t feel any sirens go off around him. I felt calm and bright. He made me smile and blush at the same time; do you know how rare that is for any lady? We met for lunch more often and six months later he asked me to marry him. I did the right thing by saying “yes.” I will not tell you the details. I believe that you might just spot him on the streets and be tempted to kick him in the shins. I am saving him some dignity as he seems to take away our matrimonial one. We don’t have any children. He never had time for them. I believe it was always, “I hope we are safe, I wouldn’t want my kids to lack anything.” He would get a new car or suit the next day. It is true he didn’t want our kids to lack anything because he spent everything on himself. It is 7:00pm as I sit down to my thoughts. I have spent five years with this man and all I can think of are their names. There was Florence; the secretary who always wore red heels to work. She smiled a lot at him. She sneered at me. Their love blossomed for three weeks until she found a richer man. Next in line was Agnes. She was kind and the neighbor three houses down the street. I always loved how she talked well of charity. I came home one afternoon suffering the pangs of pneumonia when I saw them. I went back into the living room, picked my shoes and stayed at my friend’s house for the day. When I came home, Micah was all dressed and had made supper. He was glowing. Yes, men glow too- for them they have this sudden bout of confidence that could blow you away. Agnes lasted four months till her husband decided to leave with her three daughters and tell the whole world about her new catch. She came crying saying she didn’t mean to. I looked at her and said “I saw you in my bed on July 5th 2009, at 1:00pm. You were having my husband for lunch, bet you were full.” She looked at me. Micah dropped his cup of tea. I watched them. “I always knew you would cheat on Micah, and I believe you looked good on top of Agnes, bet you two forgot that she had a family and children. Serves you right.” I never yelled at him. I didn’t have anything to say to her. All the neighbors thought I was crazy. My Mother believed I was a murderer. Looking back, I believe she was the only person who knew who I was. She told my sisters that the only way to kill a man or any relationship was by being indifferent. I will admit that it worked to my advantage. Micah was the model husband for six months, and then he met Nelly. She was sweet and fresh. She made him laugh. She saw him for the god he was. She was in her second year in the university. She was studying Home Economics. I knew of her. I knew of his love for her, and they lasted a year. He realized she had three other gods too. That was the year he also contracted Syphilis. I am grateful to that infection because for two months I looked after him. I cooked for him and cleaned him. I smiled when he wanted me to. I often told him he would get well soon. He believed me and with good medication he got better. I moved into the guest room immediately after that. It was only yesterday when I learned that during his Nelly phase he was also managing Alice and some lady who calls herself Sweet. I did not know of these two, but now that I do know- I believe I have reached my breaking point. It is true, for you would not believe who Sweet is. If I told you, maybe you would. If I didn’t you would be left guessing, but Sweet is human. She is the lady who I turned to when all seemed to break loose. She is the lady I am going to meet this evening. She is the one who got me dressed up and looking like a star. She is also the one who will never kill me. I will never give her the satisfaction of seeing me writhe in pain. She made me believe in love again. It was a wonderful evening that week. I recall looking into Micah’s eyes and listening to him confess. He was sorry for all he did. He held my hands and swore he would never hurt me again. I looked at him and believed him. I was his wife after all. I played by the script and let him hold me again. I was in heaven that evening and the rest of week. He was sweet and sensual at the same time. He played by the book and I kept turning the pages hoping for a happy ending. I got mine. I will tell you all about it later on, but let me get back to Sweet. She’s the most elegant woman you could meet. She is also my best friend. This evening we are going to celebrate her engagement to Micah’s younger brother- Noah. It’s one big loyal family if you ask me. Noah is the hopeless romantic who had to propose to her at Amboseli under the night stars. He is also the one who cannot stop praising his wonderful fiancée. I once asked my Mother if my Father ever cheated on her. She looked at me and said, “A woman is like glue, she is the one who keeps the family together, and if she breaks, so does her family.” I asked her what she would do if he cheated on her, “keep myself together.” I have done that for five years. I have listened to the other women laugh at me. I have seen them sneer at me. I have also been called by some and insulted because I did not know how to keep my man. I have listened to all of them, not because I wanted to, but because a part of me knew what I needed from this relationship. It knew long before we were even married. I will confess that I lied about my age too. I am twenty eight. I also did not tell you that I have been an auditor at a bank for three years. I am never proud of my job, because I want something more flexible. I am done dressing up in the same dull colors just because someone calls it official. The good news is that, I have three more months at work and then I could resign. I need to focus on my business that is slowly picking up and demanding most of my time. Micah does not know I have a business. We do not have a joint account too. I thank heavens for that advice from my Mother. She told me, “No joint accounts my dear, this one seems to hop.” She knew it, she warned me, now I wish she’d simply hold me as I cry. I will tell you some things about Micah. He is kind, listening and most of all he knows how to treat a lady. I know you’d say he doesn’t treat me well. It is true, but he is the perfect gentleman. He opens doors, smiles, and pulls chairs. He also knows how to use his words and when to hold a hand, a waist or leg. He knows all this and even though I wish he’d used them differently, I still have to admit he’s courteous. I will go to Sweet’s engagement party and wish them well. Micah spent last evening with her at Ole Sereni. I know this because with time I learned that you could use word on the street to your advantage. He did not know that the lady at the Reception desk is my business partner. When she met me this morning for coffee and told me, I smiled. She could not keep her rage from showing, but I thanked her because I could see how much it was killing her to be the bearer of bad news. I had finally learned who the mystery woman was. I also respected her for having carried on for two years with Micah. She outlasted all of them. I will get back to you after the party, I have to go now and meet Micah, and he is ready to wish his mistress and younger brother a long healthy and happy life.

Pieces: I used to love Art. I used to love puzzle pieces. I never connected the dots or looked for clues, but sometimes I wish Micah would look at me. I mean really look into my eyes and see what I am letting him do. See the difference between me and those women on radio is that I own my pain. I won’t call in like them. I won’t let someone suggest what I should do to ease the pain. I won’t let someone shame me because they are saints. I won’t take anything that I don’t need. I am done loving Micah. I am done loving him because it has made me stronger. When one is strong one can dare walk alone. For five years, I have seen him grow his tail. He has come to love so many women, but when they leave I always have his back. I have been the one who smiled at them. I have been the one who they called to insult just to prove that he is adulterous. It is funny that for such a term it hails from the stage of reason. We all expect adults to be reasonable. Love is not reasonable. Lust is worst. There are days I look at our wedding pictures and smile at the thought of having worn his ring. I still hear his vow that he’d be faithful to me as Christ is to the Church. He is not Christ. At the moment I would give my life to trade him for Christ. I already did. Maybe that’s what is keeping me alive. The women called me to say he’s promiscuous. Funny how that term reminds me of ‘promise.’ So, we went to the engagement party. Noah smiled and took my arm as he led me to the balcony. “You look radiant Maria, how have you been?”

“Better Noah and you?”

“Nervous, but I am good- who wouldn’t be?”

“That’s good, I am really happy for you- I wish you all the happiness in the world.”

“Don’t patronize me Maria!” I looked at him and looked away afraid that for once the tears I held back would fill his house. Noah held my hand and sighed. “I know about them. Only a fool would pretend not to, but what I don’t understand is why you’d let this happen. I thought we were friends. Why wouldn’t you come to me Maria?”

“So, you wanted me to come and tell you that the woman of your dreams has been your brother’s mistress for two years? Noah, that’s not how things work! The pain, anger and rage that sweeps over you is something that no one- not even a piece of you would understand.”

“But you could have told me!”

“Then why are you still having this engagement party?”

“I need to get out of all this and the only way to do it, is by letting everyone know, once and for all the reason for my calling it off. Grace thought she’d get away with it! I hate her! I was a fool and Micah, does he know?”

“No, he’s never known.”

“How many have they been?”

“He’s still your brother.”

“How many Maria?”

“More than my fingers, but each has been rather beautiful.”

“Is that why you’ve never had any children? When was the last time?”

“That’s none of your business Noah. I am married to Micah. He loves every woman but disrespects me, yet I still cling to him- out of rage, not love but understanding and when I leave, that is if I ever leave him, he’ll fall to pieces and trust me, no woman will put him back together again. Now as for your parents and relatives, the ones who declared me barren- I could forgive them, because their son is a saint.”

“I am sorry I never listened Maria.”

“Sorry is such a sorry word. Better tell me to smile and here comes your bride- put on a smile and be nice! The first rule of war is to know your enemy. The second is to know when to attack, and how to do it. The third is no minimize the effect of the war on civilians.” Noah looked at me, and I rushed to the bathroom afraid that he’d already seen those tears. Truth is, Micah saw them too- but he did not do anything. He stood there like he knew but he didn’t know. Hours later, everyone gathered around the couple and their family. Grace was smiling and holding Noah’s hand. Noah’s Father was smiling, happy that his son would finally give him grandchildren. Noah raised his glass and this is what he said “thank you all for being here, I am lucky to have met Grace. She is kind, beautiful and loyal in her own way. This was supposed to be an engagement party but I am calling it off. And before you start asking why, the truth is, I believe in marriage and in the honesty of a couple in a relationship. So when I discovered that my brother-Micah, has been having an affair with my fiancée for nearly two years, I decided to hell with this! So, thank you Micah and Grace or should I call you “Sweet.” I believe you can stick around and eat or leave as you please, but there’s no way I am marrying Grace, thank you.” I looked at him. He had tears down his cheeks. I could see him breaking, but he picked himself up and smiled at me then said out loud “And here’s to Maria, for always loving her husband, despite the number of affairs he’s had, and I am sorry I insulted you for being barren when all the while it was my brother who kept you waiting. I am also sorry for telling everybody even though you always kept this to yourself leave now if you can because you deserve a man who will respect and look at you for the beautiful woman you are.” Micah’s hand dropped. I smiled at Noah and then followed him to the balcony. Everyone stood still and I could feel Micah run along behind me. I felt his hand on mine. “Maria, please…”

“Not this time Micah. It was a pleasure being your wife. I wish you and Sweet happiness.”

“Maria…” It was the second time he called my name. He’d never called me with such emotion, not in three years. So here I am in this new house. It’s been a month, and I know in the next three it will start showing. I got what I wanted finally- but for the love of me, if this baby is a boy, I shall raise him up to respect any relationship he has with any woman. I will raise a man who knows what it means to a woman when you say you love her. If it’s a girl, I will let her cherish her beauty and heart-and teach her that only a woman can be forged into steel so sharp that it could slain the whole world. I will teach her to love and accept heartbreaks and move on. I will tell her that her Father was once the man who made me smile and blush at the same time. I will tell her that she can seek him if she wants, but to never make me look for him. I will tell her that her best friend is her Uncle Noah. The man who set me free because he wanted revenge. The same man who cried in my arms because his elder brother had denied him his dream of love. The same man who years on would look at me and wish he’d been lucky enough to marry me. The same man who knew I was in pieces but let me break as much as I could because he also loved me. The same man I am looking at, who knows that this baby will be loved; not by me but by us. One the Mother, the other the Uncle. All of us in pieces.

End

About the Author

Pieces was inspired by a confession overheard on radio. It seemed like a good story-but the author still remains a hopeless romantic and is slowly learning to drink more tea- especially at 2:00pm. Visit her blog: http://www.dora-jodie.blogspot.com Send her a tweet @herhar.Like her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/DoraAchiengOkeyo