Mashane’s Faith

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The room was so quiet Mashane could almost hear himself think. His home study where he worked during the night was a masculine room with Venetian blinds that stood out like a sore thumb in the ancient English study theme. He hated the blinds perhaps because it was his wife’s idea to mount them. She said the room lacked soul without them. Mashane knew better than to argue with his wife especially on subjects he had little opinion to speak of. Mashane wheezed out a puff of purple smoke adding to the already stuffy room. He jabbed the cigar back between his thin lips while leisurely studying his laptop computer where he occasionally typed corrections using a document editor that was running.

Mashane was a chain smoker, he began at the tender age of thirteen and he only got better at it with time. Mashane always thought he would die an old man, probably of old age or something cliché to that effect. He had imagined spending his sunset years playing chess with his grandsons in a condominium by the ocean somewhere in Malindi. That now seemed so outlandish and unimportant that it amused him even in the grimness of his current situation. He hated his sense of humour, for years he had used it to charm his way into the hearts of the fascinating array of women that he caroused with during his 30 year life.

However, charming women was not what he valued his humour for, men loved his company and this placed him at a vantage point when it came to conjuring up business relationships. At his age he had amassed wealth that would have made anybody twice his age green with envy. He broke bread with prime business personalities in the country and they valued his friendship which was the basis upon which most of his partnerships were based. Simply put, Mashane was a savvy socialite. Mashane opened a top drawer on his heavy mahogany desk and produced a small silver coloured casing whose contents were secured inside by a dial-up combination lock. He punched in the code before emptying the case contents carelessly onto his desk. Three standard size water damaged photo albums fell out, a necklace that had seen better days and a colt .45 pistol. He began scrolling the photos from the first album.

Mashane’s childhood was a well-kept secret, not even his wife knew that he was heir to a soldier and a bartender, both who were long dead. He always maintained that he was born to an underage mother who gave him up for adoption and was raised in monastery. Being the psychology expert he was, Mashane understood profoundly that the best lies were half-truths thus he carefully crafted fake history from actual events of his life. Indeed the lie was good, it was so credible that he had almost begun believing it himself; he smiled wryly at the thought.

He looked at a photo of his mother, it was the only one he had and it was torn through the middle and later fixed expertly using masking tape so that parts on the middle were hidden by the now yellowing white tape. Tears welled up in his eyes and he let them flow freely; something he would never have done normally. He felt safe showing some emotion from the comfort of his office. He could not remember much about his mother at his age but he wished he couldn’t remember how she died.

Mashane never told a soul that he was rescued from a potential murderer and a habitual drunkard. His father had come on a Sunday evening and upon arguing with his wife he descended upon them both with a machete in his drunken stupor. Mashane’s mother lay on her son to protect him from imminent death. Mashane could never erase his mother’s accusing death stare from his mind three decades down the line. The door opened abruptly and Mashane barely managed to drop the album on the floor when a female figure silhouetted through the door.

Faith Mashane walked into the office, she rarely knocked and it irritated him deeply. However, she was the only person with that privilege. He didn’t mind the inconvenience really, he could live with it. She seemed to float into the room silently almost like a ghost in her scarlet satin night robe. Mashane gave her the most sombre glare he could muster but it took no effect as she landed a wet kiss on his left cheek. All his defenses fell and he managed a weak smile as she left as silently as she had come in. Mashane thought she was a spitting image of Lauren Hill, who was his adolescent fantasy. It was one of the primary reasons he had married her, something she would never find out and he wasn’t sure she would be offended either if she found out anyway.

It was a shame that would be the last she would be seeing of him alive. He thought. Just then Mashane was struck by a violent cough which shook his frame; he sputtered blood all over his now empty desk. He cursed under his breath and wiped the blood carelessly with a cotton handkerchief from his pocket.

*                     *                      *

Three months earlier Mashane had tested positive for lung cancer. He had managed to keep it secret from everybody. He was certain that death was imminent and it scared him more than he would have cared to admit. He was happy his wife Faith was too self-absorbed to notice his loss in body mass and disinterest in love making. He used morphine bought through an illegal pharmacy in the city to ease the pain.

As his Lawyer, I helped him draft a will, with most of his assets going to funding charities he believed in. He put in place a trust fund for their adolescent daughter’s education. He gave the house to Faith but not a penny more. This would serve as a punishment in disguise. It would take her full month’s salary to simply pay for gardening services. She would finally part with it eventually. The daughter Mashane was raising was not his biologically, something he had found out when she was barely of school going age. He loved her all the same for the simple fact that he was all a father she knew.

Mashane then made me an offer I could not say no to. In his quest to die in what he considered a dignified manner he asked me to be his hired assassin. I would kill him in cold blood and he would ensure that I would never get caught and in return he would pull strings, collect favours and grovel if he had to, for my son’s ten-year manslaughter charge to be dropped. I had agreed.

*                     *                      *

At exactly 0200hrs Mashane eased into his seat and lit a cigar in a futile attempt to calm his nerves. He was anxious, an emotion that had not been commonplace in his adult life. He watched as the door knob turned slowly and a figure clad in a black body suit emerged in the dimly lit room. Gun in hand. Mashane suddenly rose to his feet in horror upon seeing the face of the assassin. The woman pulled the trigger and the last thing Mashane saw were two muzzle flashes and Faith’s charming grin.

That was how Mashane died.

The Naked Truth

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My name is Simone Khetu, I hail from a small town in Eastern Africa called Afeni. I am currently a resident of China, eastern China to be precise. I live in the city of Chongqing; never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would ever be this far from home. At GMT+5, dawn comes a good eight hours before papa wakes up to milk ‘Wangu’ his prized Frisian cow. The distance is unfathomable if calculated by miles even to my mother a primary school teacher. My siblings Wehtti and Rufusa who are both technology savvy and are sated by the weekly emails we exchange and the photos on social media. I will be frank and admit that there is no day that passes that I do not miss them.

My time here was preceded by four grueling years studying in a local secondary school near my hometown. Every ounce of me wanted to study civil engineering in my later years. It was somewhat of an obsession that was triggered by a female doctor who came to our school during a prize giving ceremony. Mrs. Seko was her name; she was not only a doctor but also a successful farmer. She was everything I wished I could be and to this day I can recite her speech from that day, word for word. She offered to sponsor the two best girls for higher education in that school. I developed tunnel vision toward s that goal and I achieved it. In retrospect, the aforementioned is by far my greatest personal triumph thus far.

When I came to this country I was inevitably hit by culture shock, but it soon wore off given the fact that I wanted to absorb as much of the culture as possible. I stayed up late, walked the neon bathed streets of the city. I grew a pot belly from indulging in the delicacies the place had to offer and I made a myriad of friends from all walks of life. Put simply, my life here has been a far cry from anything the small town of Afeni would have ever offered. I however, did not have in mind one of the best lessons learned during my six year stay on self-acceptance and body image.

I was never one given to problems with impulse controls and especially not food, but the food here was so great I gradually gained weight. On my second year here I joined a local gym towards the end of November as winter crept in. I had grown accustomed to standing out given my ebony complexion as opposed to getting lost in the bland masses as I did in high school. Countless times did I have people politely ask to touch my skin or even take photos? I cherished this status as it won me a platform to make good friends and fast.

I am very modest and was raised in a house where nakedness was shunned like you would witchcraft. My mother could not fathom how a skirt’s hemline would expose the knee let alone be above it. In that regard I managed to avoid showering at the gym. I walked home to my apartment that was nearby and showered there. This was not the most financially viable option; power bills in the city would dictate a free shower being most sensible. I would have taken my showers at the gym had the idea been less intimidating.

Women would hang their towels at the entrance and strut, soap in hand, to one of the twenty shower heads in the white tiled hall. They would plunge into animated chats while showering with friends of all ages immune to the embarrassment regarding their own pubic hair, cleavage, stretch marks or pot bellies of others. I was mortified upon noticing this and got gravely self-conscious despite the fact that I never got down to stripping in front of the other women. Each time I would splash my face with cool water, take my bag out of the locker and go.

Two weeks into my routine, the electricity at my apartment complex was knocked out following a fire in the next building. I didn’t mind using candles as much as I dreaded the cold freezing showers in the dead of winter. I cursed at the lack of private shower stalls at the gym for two days and refrained from full showers. For two days I took sponge baths but on the third day it was soon clear to me that the power would take longer to be repaired. I had to take a shower at the gym. After my work out I stripped down; I figured that if I was going to do it, I would start in front of my locker. I took my towel and scurried to the showers trying not to stare at anyone.

That was probably the longest shower I have ever taken in my adult life. I took a shower at an isolated corner and stood under the hot jet grateful for the chance to rinse off two days’ worth of grime. It was not until I finished my shower that I realized that nobody was watching. Everybody went about their business cleaning their bodies. I was impressed by how women of all ages, shapes and sizes, women with telling scars and even children in their bellies pacing the locker room in confidence. It made me proud of being a woman just like them. I had never felt that way before.

Up until that day I had been mutually naked with my sisters and my boyfriend who we had long since broke up. The only other female bodies I had seen naked were those of retouched celebrities in movies scenes and heavily made up cover models. I even got to see the bodies of senior and middle aged women. I thought they were beautiful, the wrinkly pudgy types and I do not mean that in a condescending manner. Seeing their aged bodies gave me relief about what awaits the few of us that make it beyond yore. The sixty and seventy year old women I saw were particularly not bad looking, I thought they could certainly have attracted some positive attention.

One woman who particularly stood out was Georgina; our gym instructor and aerobics coach. She was originally from Nepali and spoke little mandarin like me. We avidly became friends owing to the fact that we both spoke fluent English. She was a cancer survivor who had lost both her breasts to the disease. She never got implants as in most cases like as hers; she said she liked it that way as it stood to remind her of the battle she had fought. She freely entertained jokes about her flat chest especially as she walked bare-chested almost all the time in the locker room. She insisted we call her George and laughed heartily when I asked her what her husband’s opinion was.

“That man would follow me to hell if I needed him to! He stood by me all through
chemotherapy; it reminds him of how much of a gift I am of him. Those are his words not
mine…” she said amid giggles and a wink.

Georgina or George as she always insisted on being called went on to mother two sons and last I heard from her she was coaching acrobatic minors in Australia. She had so much life in her not even cancer could take it away. I could never thank her enough for the wonders she did for my confidence. She made me appreciate the present and approach the future with constructive pessimism.

In sum, I learnt to feel comfortable in my own skin and love my naked body. As time went by I developed certain camaraderie with other women in the locker room. I realized we have all got those parts and we are expected to meet society’s expectations yet we are going to be alright. I loved how character shone through the mundane confines of a place like the locker room. Georgina tattooed it in my soul that we were capable of doing more than just getting by. We were living the good life!

 

Drawing First Blood

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The day dawned on a tired Naomi who was rubbing her eyes moments after hitting the snooze button on her alarm clock. She stretched in her silk nightdress which revealed her perfectly anchored bosom and ample contours, yawning simultaneously. Her minute frame made the bed appear unusually big although the seven by seven foot bed was not particularly small. Her sleepy eyes rested on the empty pillow beside her.  She picked up the pillow unconsciously, pushed it against her nose and inhaled deeply of John’s musky cologne. She felt a warm bolt of longing cascade through her. Her body ached with longing and she loathed the state it put her in. It made her tense which meant she was less tolerant a mother, less patient a driver and more edgy a boss at the work place, not to mention the insomnia which left her drained of her amiable off-beat sense of humour that greatly aided in making her striking facial features more gentle.

“Ha, although it wasn’t anything two red bulls wouldn’t solve” She mused at the thought.

Just then her alarm went off again, startling her, this time drawing her from her thoughts. Now fully wakened, she slapped the off button. She picked up a bottle of Jonnie Walker which sat on her bedside table that was a tot shy from empty and drained the sour contents into her mouth. She winced as the fluid molested her gullet after which she looked at the bottle disapprovingly before giving a long sigh. She had hoped the whisky would knock her out the previous night but all it did was send her to a restless sleep that was punctuated with nightmarish dreams that eventually robbed her of the much need rest she had sought from the alcohol. She hopped out of her bed and found the bath-tub filled two-thirds with steaming warm water bubbling with her bath oils. Judy the house help was a pearl at her job; given her ability to learn quickly coupled with a high school education which made her a witty planner- a quality that Naomi herself had admired throughout Judy’s stay till her discovery two weeks earlier that her husband had been wiring a large amount of money from their joint account to an account in Judy’s name every month. All that was going to change though based on a sprint on that information she had fell upon.  It dampened her moods to have to take this bath alone, John always made bath time an activity to look forward, despite his recent disinterest in lovemaking.

A hasty breakfast later, Naomi started the engine of her Toyota Prius. Her son Joshua sat in the seat opposite hers looking prim and perfect in his freshly starched uniform, oblivious of his environment, absorbed in his game boy. The skinny boy looked awfully independent. Naomi found herself toying with the idea of sending the eight-year old to boarding school although Joshua was her source of inspiration and it pained her that he was growing too independent. He hardly noticed it when she kissed him good morning these days. She dismissed the thought quickly and swung the vehicle into gear. The July cold stung her face as she lowered her window and stuck out her head as she reversed and eased onto the road that snaked through the picturesque collection of houses that made up Wanga Estate. The epitome of suburbia as Naomi once knew it held no appeal; everything was in shades of grey. She was too absorbed in her thoughts to notice the signature teardrop headlamps of a Porsche pull into her driveway from her rear-view mirror. John was home.

Two cans of red bull later, Naomi sat in her office on the fifteenth floor of Plaza building. On her desk was a pair of new passports. She and her son’s new identities were ready. A draft of her resignation letter rested on her desk, she would print it herself she decided, she was taking no chances. She called her bank to confirm that her money had been transferred to the new account. It was done. Next she called the airline and booked tickets. She worked with efficiency with the caffeine in her system being of invaluable help to counter the fatigue that plagued her body. She called Joshua’s school to confirm his transfer from the school, she was thankful the head teacher was not keen on questioning the move. The hours flew by and Naomi didn’t realize it till the clock struck 3 p.m. She left the office in mid-haste, duffle bag in hand containing her presently most valued possessions. She had planned to make a discreet exodus and clearing her desk would have been a downright giveaway. Once out of the building, she threw her Prius into gear and eased into the swelling evening traffic, she intended to pick her son up from school and lie that they were going to meet John at the airport, that way; she figured he would be more cooperative. It was an ends justifying the means case. She was glad John’s flight was not due till two in the morning. That meant plenty of time to make her departure without raising the suspicions of her rather nosy neighbours. Naomi could not recall the last time she was this happy about a delay in John’s arrival time. In fact it had never happened.

   *                                        *                                         *

Meanwhile back at home John couldn’t fathom what he was hearing. He sat on his favourite chair in his sitting room; he was presently unaware of the muffled sobs from Judy, who sat directly opposite him.

 “I am so sorry,” she said for the umpteenth time amidst violent sobs that shook her bosom precariously.

 John broke from his trance-like state, walked to the seat opposite his; he held the girl’s face in his hands and spoke in a voice so calm even he thought it sounded foreign.

 “Go ready her suitcases like she asked you to. I’ll handle the rest.” She obediently made exit leaving him to his troubled thoughts.

John was exhausted; he sank back into his seat. He knew that Naomi was unhappy but he had clearly underestimated the degree of her misery. He felt guilty for being unavailable but greater was the feeling that he had been robbed of his time. Time- that he invested in making her feel secure, accommodating Joshua as his very own and most of all agreeing with her decision not to have any more children, a decision that his mother openly condemned.

His mind reeled back to the time he first met Naomi. He had been working as a researcher for an environmental organization on disease hazard assessment, in a remote refugee camp in the arid Northern Kenya. It greatly stressed him because he had assumed he was getting an administration position when he signed up for the job. Naomi was present as she worked for one of the National dailies. She had come across as too laid back a reporter until he found out she held an editorial position. He didn’t realize it then but he had been intimidated by her perfect blend of beauty and brains, which was why he had kept their relationship professional for eight out of the ten weeks they worked together. It intrigued him- the graceful way she handled the adverse climate, the all-male team of journalists that worked under her and the flirtation and sexual innuendo that came her way. Naomi was an enigma and John knew he had to have her. She ran like a freshly oiled machine and john being a grease monkey, clearly understood the dynamics of oiling.

He would have heard a car ease into the driveway had he been less immersed in his thoughts.

*                                             *                                                 *

Naomi who was presently engrossed in typing a text message on her phone did not notice the presence of her husband’s car through the partially open garage door. Joshua banged the door of his mother’s car shut and zoomed past her into the house through the front door.

“Dad!” the boy wailed in ecstasy.

Naomi, now at the doorstep, stopped dead on her tracks just in time to see John’s figure silhouette from the kitchen, a suitcase in one hand and her son on the other. For a moment she felt light-headed and she feared her knees couldn’t support her.

“Hi dear, welcome home,” John said cordially. He wore a smirk on his face as he offered his hand for her to shake. John was a great fan of ambience so she went along and hugged him to maintain the forced civility act.

“I can explain everything,” Naomi volunteered in a voice a decibel higher than a whisper.

 “No, I think I am the one who has got explaining to do.” He led the way to the dining room where Judy dutifully relieved him of Joshua who was perched on him sucking on a sweet. The child did not protest.

“I know that you’ve planned on leaving the country.  It is not something that I agree to but I have to accept thus I assure you that I do not intend to try changing your course. I know that you’ve been unhappy for the last five months partly because I have somewhat neglected my conjugal duties. It is because I recently underwent vasectomy owing to the fact that we weren’t intending on having any children. I also realised the contraception pills were causing you too much trouble.” John swallowed hard allowing Naomi to absorb the news.

“But why didn’t you just tell me?” Naomi asked him placing a sweaty palm on his forearm. He made a gesture as if asking her not to interrupt and gently placed her arm on the table.

“The day I bought my Porsche, I took it for a test-drive on a dirt road in the outskirts of town. I was doing about a hundred and sixty when what had appeared to be a bush half a kilometer off turned out to be an elderly lady carrying firewood. She attempted crossing the road and I hit her despite my efforts to brake. I feared she’d died on impact but she lost her ability to walk instead owing to a spinal injury. I kept in touch with the lady who turned out to be really pleasant a character. I learnt about her orphaned niece with whom she had lived with for a year. I offered the girl a job as a house help and sent her auntie to a nursing home. The large amount of money I’ve been transferring to an account in an account in Judy’s name is to cover for the nursing home. I wonder whether it occurred to you that I wouldn’t have used that account if I was transferring funds for a sinister motive.” This time he allowed a tear to drop freely down his left cheek. He did not bother wiping it.

“I fear that I may have wasted valuable time with you, but greater is my fear for Joshua who I’m emotionally invested in- he has an alcoholic mother who is bent on making not only her life miserable but also for those that love her. Clearly Naomi, allowing you into my life was by far the worst decision I have made. Keeping secrets from you has proven worse though, because I unwittingly walked into a battle field. However, you drew first blood in a war of vague cause. The thing you should have known about love is, unlike war there are no winners or losers, just broken down wrecks like you.”

                     *                                   *                                     *

As Naomi boarded British airways flight, bound for Malawi, she knew for certain that she had not only lost her Nationality but the opportunity of a life time with a man who genuinely had her interests at heart, she prayed for redemption from whatever curse that befell awful human beings such as herself.

How I Learnt to Fly

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My name is Marion Seko. I am a woman. Unlike many, I regard my femininity highly. My high regard for my gender is not relative to the fact that I have a successful career. Being the only female doctor in a fifty-kilometer radius allows me to operate a monopoly at my private medical practice situated in the small town of Afeni. I am a gynecologist. I graduated top of my class to secure the scholarship that saw me to these academic heights. I love my job, I find helping fellow women deeply rewarding. The small size of this town allows me access to invaluable information. The kind other women only gossip about over evening tea. Like who is HIV positive, who is constantly fetching infections and why. Whose husband is cheating and what not?

I am very beautiful by physical standards, which has helped in a myriad of situations that would have otherwise been dense for any other woman. The professor who pulled strings to have me awarded a scholarship from my department can attest to this. It does not flatter me though to see men ogle so I do not spend too much time in front of a mirror. I like the way I look without make-up. Did I mention? I am very fertile too. Last year I bore twin boys and a daughter, my husband adores, during our first year of marriage. I think femininity is the epitome of existence for a woman. Welcome to my life.

It is Sunday morning. Like many a sinner, seeking absolution for my sins, I made it here in time. I braved last night’s fatigue from vigorous lovemaking and prepared my entire family for eight o’clock mass. Now I am sitting on the front pew; compulsively writing away in my personal journal. The man in the pulpit is my dear husband. Seko is a tall man, with a body that is athletically divine, very handsome but fiercely shy. However, years of coaching have successfully masked this. Every evening to date we stay up late practicing a set of theatrics that enable him exude feigned confidence. The Confidence that has earned him a position of worth in society. Sometimes even, I cannot tell his faking it. His looks go a long way into charming believers especially the women folk who turn up in hoards during evening prayers on weekdays. My husband is well respected by the men folk in this community, partly because he can have their wives and as the adage goes, keep your friends close…

To the untrained eye, I am a doting wife, a dutiful servant to my husband, and in a way, I am. Nonetheless, unlike many a woman I have met, I positioned myself here. I manage the family finances and a big chunk of that amount I bring forth. However, I let my husband take the lead role. All bills are paid in his name and the diary farm we own too is in his name. It is a pity though; that however passionate Seko might be about dairy cattle the science of making money from it, remains an enigma to him. That is where I come through for him. I handle the entire accounting, marketing and procurement tasks for the business, leaving just enough for him to do.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon talks about having reverence for God as being the key to getting to heaven. Solomon sites being too holy or being too evil as being recipes for an early dirt nap. I am constantly in pursuit for this balance. I plan my husband’s sermons a whole month prior the service and I help him develop wisecracks therein to colour the sermons and they keep the congregation from sleeping. Pastor Seko definitely has ingenious anecdotes that I love. Thus, I feel justified documenting my life away in my journal during the sermon. God’s grace should suffice for this minor transgression since after all; I have done my quota in ministering.

When I met Seko, he was a street preacher. This was not his full time job; he eked out a living by giving janitor services to a shady clinic that faced constant closure by the authorities. He was the kind of man who did not exist in my life. The kind I was so high above their league that they would have been playing an entirely different sport if they even dreamed of dating me. In fact to this day, I cannot think of a single thing we had in common had I not fainted in his arms. On that day I would dismount from my high horse.

A few days earlier, Professor Ghuni, who was the head of my department, had advised me to visit a clinic downtown.

“They will take care of the problem, besides procreation wasn’t our motive,” he had said with a smile I found devoid of charm.

Ghuni was the head of the scholarship board in med school. Fiercely brilliant, with impeccable people skills, the man held the keys to the coveted annual prize; a fully sponsored scholarship to a master’s programme. In the year I graduated, we emerged two eligible scholars but the other guy Thomas stood little chance against me. As fate would have it, Ghuni was a man like any other- weak in the flesh. Two nights of passion was all it cost me or at least I thought. A month later I missed a period and it suddenly occurred to me that sleeping with Ghuni while drunk was not such a smart idea.

I could not keep the pregnancy partly because there was no way the professor was going to marry me and partly because a baby at twenty-four did not fit into my ‘grand scheme of things.’

The operation was hardly an hour long; and all I recall was feeling mighty weak when the doctor was done. This particular practitioner who was only known to me as Patrick, famed to have a 98% success rate. Statistics proved him a guru in aborting foetus but statistics are not guarantees especially in reference to medical procedures.

I suffered incessant bleeding for two days straight. I overdosed on pain relievers but it did little to calm the storm in my womb. On the eve of the third day when the dehydration and pain became unbearable, I set off on the journey to the hospital. I mustered my last ounce of strength to make it there in my frail state. It was then, with the gate to Melanie Memorial Hospital in plain sight that my legs failed me. When the ground started spinning I walked towards the person I considered the safest option; the street preacher by the gate. I recall saying a word of grace and being paralyzed with fear before the darkness engulfed me.

I must have been in a sorry state because when I came to three days later, there was the almost continuous measurement of vital signs, adjustment of the feeding liquid and the drugs. Seko was there by my side, smiling. I couldn’t remember noting his being so handsome. He read me the bible for an hour daily after getting off work; a routine he maintained till I was discharged a fortnight later. He would skip lunch and buy me two apples every day for the fortnight I spent hospitalized. This I learnt from the nurses. Ghuni sent flowers and a fruit basket and settled my bill. The professor never set foot in the hospital.

Upon being discharged, after what seemed to be an eternity, profound change had mushroomed deep in my being. I had a keener appreciation for life. I was not the narcissist that had collapsed in Seko’s arms that fateful day. I became calmer, less obsessed with vanity and more fearful than I would care to admit. I joined the church where I found solace from my grave sin. I felt mortally indebted to Seko for being there for me when nobody else was. I reminisce on one conversation we had while I was still in the ward. I asked him why he was so devoted to seeing me through. He told me;

“I did what Jesus would do,” in a matter-of- fact kind of tone.

 That was when I knew I would marry him. Every so often, I wake up before Seko. I lie beside him and study him before he wakes and I can’t help but feel blessed.

*                                              *                                              *

The sermon is done. A deafening applaud from the crowd ensues and Seko manages a subtle wink at the woman in the front pew; myself. My very being aches to help him, to better him for his own sake, at least to reach the soft liquid heart of the man where only I know best kindness and decency surely dwells.

My heart glows with pride. Ten years later, he is all I feel worthy to show for; and oh yes, I know him well. I love being his woman because if it were not for him I would have continued my life of quiet desperation. Now I thrive in a subtle fashion; and as Steve Hills sung, this is that land where the eagle flies with the dove.