Matilda Okwimbikiti

Matilda Okwimbikiti
Matilda Okwimbikiti

Your wife is a serial sadist. Common chaps could have their version but this is the sad truth. The jovial woman who moves with long dresses and who laughs even at flies is a first-rate witch. A devil. 

When she meets people she smiles and shows them her white teeth. She hugs strangers and gives a lot to charity. She talks about God so much and says good words to everyone. Except you.

Going to school you had everything spelled out. Befriend books, get great grades, enroll for a good course, get a good job, rent a good house, buy a good wife, get good children, and live good life happily ever after. Everything was so defined you could roll out your life on a slate and project achievements ten years ahead. It was drummed into you every day at school, on the way home, at home, and when you went to sleep they brought it to your dreams. They never mentioned that in your earthly travails you would meet Matilda Okwimbikiti.

Now you look back into those days and see the wasted piece of nature that you are, crafted from a lie and forced to live by it. The few days you have seen the sun tell you that there is nothing mathematical about life. Everything is a gamble pegged on luck. The luck that hates you. And God, who owns luck, does not seem to like you either. Still you offer the best regardless of the beast in the dark and pray that luck shakes your better hand one day.

So you will study hard, enroll for a course at the university, and fall for a woman whom you will soon discover to be a schemer. In the meantime, you call her your angel and pray all evil away from her. Why else? You know that in three years you will own a good house in a leafy suburb where you will raise an exemplary family.

At marriage, with a degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication, and with a decent eight-to-five contract at a translation firm in town, you will drink a long glass of water and say you have made it. Good you, you even want to be a motivational speaker. Wait till she starts mad cravings and says she wants a hyena’s liver for lunch. That is if she can still afford to look at you for seven consecutive heartbeats without throwing up. When you are home she’ll brood like a hen on eggs and everything you touch you touch wrongly; yet when you stay out a minute more you come back to find her noisy like her eggs have just refused to hatch and, oh her God, why have you bought the navy blue tights when you know royal blue is her colour? Why did you have to buy it if you didn’t want to, eeh? Ooh, are you still thinking about Laura? Yes, don’t even deny it. It’s okay. No, I said it’s okay.

There’s something about women getting pregnant that books haven’t yet discovered and your time for discovery will be nigh. It is a lesson that never sees the walls of a Linguistics class. After a good wife, doesn’t the manual spell that the next stage is good children? Continue playing here.

Now you’ll end up living with the person you don’t like and who doesn’t like you either but people who forced you to say the till-death-do-us-part crap will now be there to help you to pretend that you are enjoying the ride. And every day you will hope she asks for divorce but there she will be, going strong, setting the kids against you and teaching them her crap worldview.

You will look back to check if you did anything wrong. You will even consult your late grandfather’s friend to see if any curse runs in your lineage. Nothing. Your grandfather, it turns out, was a man as clean as the night. So what now? Perhaps you need a new role model.

In ten years Matilda has forced you to meet what she likes. You now live in a middle-class estate where you can only afford a one-bedroom house that still eats over half the monthly peanuts you draw from the capitalist. Nobody tells you but you know this is not the best neighbourhood for you. Yet what does that fat woman in your house listen to? In the evenings when sons of anarchy guzzle their sleek machines back home and beep the gatemen to open gates, you guzzle your legs counting the many days left to end-month when you will afford a few more bus rides between home and work. When men drive back to family, you take your sad self to a small hell rented and maintained by your own pocket. Lucky men come back to the open arms of their families; you drag yourself to outstretched thorns hidden in the pinions of the devil. You walk into the trap of frowns and bad blood. Sadness. There are evenings you lock yourself in the bathroom and cry. Yes, you turn the shower on and let it wash away and hide the tears because to the world you must remain a man. These are the evenings you feel unlucky. Evenings you question the role you play in your own existence and if the person they say lives above those clouds really lives there. And is he tired with his job or is he also in his bathroom? Is he happy that you are suffering in the captivity of Matilda?

She said you move to a better house in a high-end estate and you moved. She was an angel. She said she wants a huge TV screen with a crystal HD power and you took a loan into the mall. She was an angel. She said she wanted a fridge with two doors, a Turkish carpet with tickling fur, a design of Nigerian furniture she saw on TV; and you brought them all home afternoon after afternoon with a birthday cake. She was an angel. She said the kids should attend a high-end private school and you took a ninety-seventh loan. She was an angel. When she said she wanted a family car you said crap that. I earn a translator’s salary. Then she began cooking bad food and when you didn’t complain she got so angry she stopped cooking for you and reserved the cooking hour for sarcasm and insults researched at the salon where almost quarter of your salary goes.

Now one Saturday you wake up when everyone else is asleep. Your wife’s usual waking hour is 7am when she rolls the overweight mass in her nightdress to the kitchen to prepare bad tea for herself alone, and sometimes for the kids on days she feels happy. After breakfast she always goes to the balcony to admire what other wives have and how their husbands treat them using the Hollywood blueprint for homemaking. In the pretense of basking in the sun she studies their cloth lines, peers into their sitting rooms, marks their outfits, eavesdrops their conversations, then sits down to add fat to her long list of demands. That demon Matilda Okwimbikiti.

So this Saturday of God you wake up at 3am and go to the kitchen to prepare yourself some food. Yesterday evening the devil had guests so there was no way you could move around to cook. And since you no longer have appetite for badly cooked food your only chance of eating is now. You yawn your way to the kitchen and feel lucky when you find some sugar just enough to make a hot cup of tea. There is bread too and some traditional greens in the fridge with two doors. God will understand because a besieged man shall not live on ugali alone. You leave some bread enough for the kids and the devil when her time to wake and roll comes.

Now you go to that very same balcony she basks every morning and tie the rope on the upper rail. The cold outside pierces into your skin after the hot tea. You look around at the sleeping city and take in the breathtaking beauty of the night. What a beautiful thing to be asleep! The city looks innocent from the cruelty of day. Apart from a few cars on the road and an Adventist worship in the distance, everything else is asleep and beautiful. When Matilda was new in your life you always woke up to look at her face and congratulate yourself again and again for owning her. Today if you look well you will see a 6-6-6 tattoo punched in her forehead.

You tiptoe back to the sitting room to have a look at children you call yours but who don’t resemble you in shape nor deed. You will be tempted to switch on the lights to have that long look at their faces. Tonight you have an obsession with sleeping faces but this goes beyond sleeping faces. Again you decide to go against the light idea, it might wake them. You remain standing on that Turkish carpet with fur, feeling nothing but an impending freedom.

You are now thinking seriously about your life. The struggle you have pumped in. Your childhood escapades. Your commitment that was understood as crimes against humanity. And the afterlife? Who knows if Matilda’s crimes are virtues there? Yeah. She should become that widow with a hot mouth while you go to fields where kindness and a good heart are rewarded in the same measure.

Last month the boy fell sick. Something to do with anaemia. You went to donate blood when the doctor said the paleness needed to be arrested. The same doctor stopped you from donating your blood. You thought perhaps he had attended Punjab University so you took the kid to a better hospital. Different forest; the monkey here still insisted you could not donate blood. So you silently filled in the gaps and reluctantly went to a VCT centre. You were negative as minus and you sighed. You went to another centre for confirmation and it was not just negative, you were also very healthy. You came back to your son’s doctor and insisted you must donate blood. Who stops a father from doing it unless you want to make easy money by selling blood from a witch? That day the doctor on call and his army of nurses stood to hear all the printables and unprintables of the world. Little bastards.

Then when you finished your rant the doctor took you aside and asked you to bring someone with the same blood group as your son. His mother or father. You said you were the father. He said biological. Real father. You said you were that too. He sighed and told you to come the following day. For counselling.

Now you stand there listening to their snores. A choir of two children snoring in the dark. They took after their mother in everything including this. And that woman snores! When you hear her sleep you might think she is the one who paid dowry on you. And as if that is not enough she passes the dominant genes to the small ones and relegates you to the corner of recessive fathers. None is even interested in Linguistics.

A primary school drop out you know has two wives and twelve children who resemble him. The first one he married out of the country. You realise that the good grades that took you to a good university to get a good job and good wife was the beginning of all this. And just like….

Disgusted, you storm out back to the balcony and insert the relevant part into the waiting noose. As you do this you take in the city in one final sweeping look, realising that each light out there represents a fraction of your problems. Now you breathe slowly, knock away the stool, and die a long, sad death.


Author: Papa Were

Just a man with a metallic horse and an umbrella.

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