By Tashinga Wazara, Zimbabwe:
Mary was a headstrong woman. She was driven, always knew what she wanted and never took no for an answer. She also had quite a temper. When she got angry, it was never a pretty sight. Her close friends used to call her Cyclone Mary because in her moment of anger she could be brutal, and she took no prisoners. Nobody knew this better than her husband, Mbekezele who had experienced many episodes from 'Cyclone Mary' but he always had a way of calming her down. Every time they had a fight, he would simply let her rave and when she was done he would go to her and hug her and say, 'Mary my love, I'm so sorry. I'm sorry baby' and she would reluctantly surrender to his embrace and they would then talk things out. Mary didn't like that about Mbekezele. No matter what she did, he never shouted back at her. He'd always say the same thing, 'It's ok my love, it's ok'. He was just too understanding and it drove Mary crazy! But then again that's what made them perfect for each other. He was her antithesis, the yin to her yang and together with their contrasting characters, their marriage had a perfect balance. He was her pillar and when her acting career failed to take off, he was right by her side and made the disappointment easier for her to bear. She had eventually taken a teaching job at Selous High School where she was the teacher of drama. She didn't like it much but at least it kept her occupied.
The balance in Mary and Mbekezele's marriage was broken when it was discovered, after five years of trying, that Mbekezele was impotent and wasn't able to have children. Children were such a big part of Mary's life and she had dreamt of having children ever since she was young. In their house, Mary had already painted their spare bedroom blue and she had started putting up all these decorations in the belief that it was only a matter of time until she got pregnant. She even had a book where she had written baby names depending on whether it would be a boy or a girl. They had tried and tried to have a baby and initially they didn't go for fertility tests because they didn't think there was a need until one of their doctors told them it was their only option and they did it.
The day that they found out that Mbekezele was impotent was a really difficult day. Mbeke just switched off and was in a world of his own. Mary cried the whole night but this time Mbeke, who was always her pillar, didn't try to console her. He just lay in bed facing the other way, staring into the darkness. The more she cried, the more he felt like a failure. Every sob from Mary was like a needle being stuck in his heart and he found it unbearable. 'Instead of crying, she should be by my side.' he thought as she lay on the other side of the bed crying and thinking, 'Why does he not console me? Can he not see how much I am hurting?' and from that night, the perfect balance that existed between them was disrupted. There was no more yin and yang.
The next day when they got up, Mary and Mbeke did not say a single word to each other until they were at the breakfast table and Mary asked Mbeke, 'So are you not going to say anything?' and Mbeke looked at her and said, 'I have nothing to say' and got up and started walking towards the door to leave. Mary then snapped and started shouting at him, 'What kind of man are you? We've just found out that we can't have kids and you have nothing to say? You're a useless, good for nothing man!' This time, Mbekezele didn't look her in the eye and say, 'It's ok my love, it's ok'. He just shook his head then turned round and left.
In the next few weeks there were more fights and they began to drift apart and Mbeke started coming home late and leaving very early. Mbeke's late nights used to hurt Mary because she would wonder where he would be all night long but her anger and bitterness towards him would never allow her to ask or for her to show that it was affecting her. After a few months things had gotten really bad. They had become two strangers in the same house and although sometimes they would talk, the passion was no longer there. There was a big elephant in the room that they both walked past everyday and refused to acknowledge.
About 7 months passed and Mary and Mbeke's marriage seemed all but over. She had lost weight and was always depressed. Even her demeanor changed and she just wasn't the same person anymore. One of her colleagues from Selous High School came to her and invited her to come to church with her on the Sunday. Her colleague had always been inviting her and each time she declined but this time she decided to go. Sunday came and her colleague came and picked her up and they went to her church. It was a small church, roughly with about 50 members and when she got there she just felt that the atmosphere there was different. She felt warmth that she had never felt before and everyone there was so welcoming and all greeted her with a smile. The Pastor started preaching and his message was on forgiveness. He said, 'Some of you are sitting here with bitterness and pain because of your unforgiveness. If someone has wronged you, forgive them! Until you forgive them, that pain and bitterness that you feel will never go away. You will never be free!'
The more he spoke, Mary felt as if he was speaking directly to her and after the service the pastor asked for people who wanted to be prayed for to come to the front and Mary went up. When the Pastor started praying for her, she started weeping. She couldn't control herself. One of the leaders of the church took her aside and they spoke. Mary told her of her troubles at home and what had been going on the past few months and the elder told her that she must forgive her husband and give their marriage a chance. She told her that as much as she is bitter and upset, he is still her husband and she mustn't give up on him; they just needed to communicate and let each other know how they feel. Afterwards Mary went home and started thinking about the conversation she had had with the elder at the church. She knew that she had to forgive Mbeke but she didn't know how to do it. She thought about it for a few days and then decided that she was going to do it. She had to do it if she was going to save her marriage.
When Mbeki came home that night she waited up for him and as soon as he got into the bedroom she turned on the light and told him that she needed to talk to him. 'I've been waiting up for you. There's something I need to talk to you about and we need to have this conversation now.' Mbeki looked kind of startled as he wasn't expecting this. He then sat down on the bed, slightly uncomfortable, and he said to Mary, 'Ok wait, if we are going to talk then let me talk first because I also have something that I need to get off my chest.' Mary then sat up next to him and said, 'Ok Mbeke you can go first.' She suddenly felt a lot calmer. This was it, the beginning of the restoration of their marriage. He then took a deep breath and said, 'Uhm over the past six months I have been seeing another woman. I haven't slept with her or anything but I have feelings for her and I don't want to stop seeing her. I want a divorce.'
Mary was stunned. Of all the things that she had imagined her husband was capable of doing to her, cheating was not one of them. Not Mbekezele. As she sat motionless, all she could hear in her head was, 'I want a divorce' over and over again. With those words Mbeke took away her will to give their marriage another chance. There was no way back now. Screw forgiveness. Suddenly tears started flowing down her cheeks. This was it. Her marriage was over.
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