My father, a Luhya fundamentalist carrying angry scars on his forehead – after imbibing a few shots of illicit brew – used to say that a man needed three things in life: a good doctor, a clever lawyer and a forgiving priest. The last two, I have never had the need for. If you ask me, I think a man needs only two things in life: a good doctor and a happy woman.
A good doctor because in this life of monstrous diseases, you need someone to once in a while fix that annoying back pain, cough or blood pressure. In some instances, you need a sober man wearing a white coat to authoritatively tell you to go slow on that hamburger, calories, pot belly or roasted pork ribs.
A happy wife, because, well, you heard what happened to the good old Solomon Mwangi, the principal of Kiru Boys Secondary School in Kiambu County. For reasons known to his unhappy, psychotic, self-centered wife, his naked body was found in a coffee plantation. History is parched with lessons for us to learn. In any case, as an African proverb so audaciously puts it: before you go out with a widow you first must ask what killed her husband.
Well, this is the story of a loving, caring, albeit frustrated husband. Its a story of despair, discontentment and a long shot from hope. It is a story that attempts to put into perspective the mind of a married man, nonetheless, unfaithful husband.
“There are a few things in life I have no apologies for, and such is cheating on my wife,” he sounded cold, bitter and resentful. Though, for some reason, he said it with a sultry smile smacked on his dry face as if having an affair was his lifetime achievement.
I didn’t want to go all Dr. Phil on him, and justifiably so. I mean, for what is worth, it would have been so Christian of me to attempt and squeeze reason and logic from the hubris of his extramarital mind. However, life has taught me over the years not to be quick to judge. Moreso if you have the advantage of borrowing wisdom from the Kalenjin proverb that says: the antelope doesn’t blame the one who killed it, but the one who stirred its rest.
Seemingly, not wanting to stir the man’s rest, I sat there like a suicide bomber whose bomb had refused to go off, and did what I do best – I simply listened. Mouth closed. Ears wide open. He was wearing a khaki trouser that looked overly priced and poorly complemented by a striped blue shirt. But since I grew up in the village and the closest I came to a sense of fashion was my Scripture-spitting, devil nonsense mother’s highly irresistible obsession with nylon dresses – I was careful not to judge.
“Most times I feel like I rushed into marriage. Other times I feel like I married the wrong person. Sometimes it feels like she is no longer the person I fell in love with, you know what I mean?” he said calmly while staring at me like I was the source of the air he was breathing. Honestly, I didn’t know what he meant, and I wasn’t about to attempt to decipher his thoughts. So, I slapped him with that blank look Baba Jimmy used to reserve for Agwambo those days when they used to shamelessly haggle over nusu mkate.
“I can’t spend the rest of my life feeling unhappy. I mean, why should I be trapped in a miserable marriage,” he continued, now sounding resigned to his cheating ways. Not wanting to sound too intelligent for a cheating husband, I was careful not to quote to him Proverbs 6:24 that says a prostitute will bring you poverty, but sleeping with another man’s wife will cost you your life.
“To be honest, I didn’t mean to have an affair. It just happened.” At this point, I wanted to know more. So, I ordered for my second glass of passion juice, with no ice cubes, I was quick to remind the waiter. I still don’t get how you order for juice, and the waiter has the audacity to bring half a glass of ice cubes starring at you. In fact, the ice cubes are so ill-mannered they actually dare you to drink them.
“I see her everyday at the office. She’s always very good and kind to me. She treats me with respect. She makes me feel like a man,” he paused, an awkward smile thumped on his adulterous face. Obviously, he was indulging in his new found romance, or so it appeared.
“There’s something about her that has completely arrested my heart. I think it’s her calmness, maturity or listening ear.” Or perhaps it’s her voluptuousness, and nothing more. I wanted to add jokingly, but then the man’s demeanor couldn’t allow for a joke. So, I probed him further with an audacious statement: Cheating is cheating, I don’t think it can ever be justified.
“Dude, that’s the ideal world. In the real world though, you know the world I live in, life has a different ingredient made of reality,” he blurted out like someone with a monopoly of knowledge and wisdom.
It’s so hard, heck, even impossible to try and reason with someone who thinks he knows it all. He was one of those special chaps that ask you a question, then they answer their own question while they are still asking it. If you ask me, I honestly think hell has a special roasting room for such.
“Try sharing a house with a constantly nagging wife, who sees no good in you expect to complain endlessly, then we can have this conversation of justification and philosophical labyrinth.” Did he just raise his voice at me?
Okay, I must admit, I had nothing on him. The closest I have come to a nagging woman was watching a series of Madea movies. But still, I wanted to quote him Proverbs 6:32 that says the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself. Unfortunately, I missed enough Sunday sermons to embarrass myself in that version. So, I settled with the: So, why are you cheating on your wife?
“I am having an affair, not by choice, but compulsion. I probably would never have been involved with her, were it not for my wife’s loud mouth and disrespectful nature, which resulted in me being pushed into the caring hands of another woman.” I was listening, and he enjoyed it. So, he kept going. Talk of men with humongous egos that would not fit into a 998 GB hard drive.
“Look at it this way. If you are used to being served bad food, then one day, by chance you taste a great sumptuous meal. Tell me, would you still want to eat the bad food?” he had suddenly asked while slapping me with that suicidal look wives reserve for mothers-in-law. Can’t argue with that. He made a good point. However, I wanted to tell him, what if the good food is expensive, and all you can afford is the bad food. But my good sense advised me otherwise. So, I went back to what I do best – I listened some more.
“Like I said, there are a few things in life I have no apologies for, and such is cheating on my wife.” He was now beginning to sound justifiably arrogant. I didn’t want to engage him in an ideological argument of morality since he spoke like one sitting on the highest pedestal of righteousness and an impeccable throne of ethics.
Don’t you care if your wife finds out, I abruptly asked. He didn’t expect the question. So, for a moment he took a long sip of his sparkling water before blurting out his indifference to his wife. Naturally, I am always suspicious of those chaps who go to a hotel and order for sparkling water and an ashtray. So, I hit him with another of my classic: If you are not happy in your marriage, why don’t you simply walk out instead of cheating.
“It is not as easy as it looks. Who wants to spend ten years stuck in a prolonged judicial divorce process,” he blurted out rather uncomfortably as if to intimidate me. “In any case, why should I be told by the mere court to share half of my hard earned possession with someone who never gave a hoot about me?.” The anger in his voice tasted like fermented porridge and cut like a razor blade.
“I have no time and energy for legal battles, so, I will stick around and do me, as long as it takes.” He said irrevocably. Then the topic turned to the object of his sinful desires. He spoke about her with renewed interest. You could see and feel passion, if not lust, in his eyes and demeanor. The man was completely smitten. heads over heels, they say.
“I don’t know what to do with my annoying wife, but one thing is for sure, I am not going to leave Judy at any cost.”
Ooh! we finally have her name. The side dish. The clande. Judy. Since the name, and particularly how he pronounced it wasn’t inspiring so much confidence to me, I was curious to see her photo. “Of course, I have a gazillion of them on my iPhone,” he blurted, somewhat arrogantly, all the while I was wondering who uses the word gazillion nowadays.
True to his word, he had gazillion photos of her. He had photos of her hidden in the furthest folder of his phone, possibly in all shape and form of her glory. He had photos of her simply smiling awkwardly at the camera, swimming, eating Mexican taste, jogging, sleeping, selfie’ing. Name it all. In my objective judgment, she wasn’t all that, if that’s what you are expecting. She was simply an average African woman blessed with a bubbly smile and an absorbing personality. Not privy to how she behaves in the dark, I conveniently presumed, much of his bewilderment of her has lots to do with her behavior in the dark.
Men cheat for many reasons, and so do women. It is not in my place to judge or justify any of the reasons. In my friend’s case, he found his honey in the flower that is Judy. He is, after all, a loving, caring, albeit frustrated husband.
For the next one hour, he spoke about Judy and more of Judy. I was curious to know what the future holds for them. His answer was swift and surprising: “I don’t plan to marry her. I know someday I will get tired of the sex and her unquenchable appetite of squeezing every coin from me.” He said with finality, before ordering for more sparkling water. I was flabbergasted and bewildered, though not entirely surprised.
“Men are not intelligent when it comes to cheating, but they are wise enough to choose a woman who will put up with it,” says Michael Baisden.