She sat quietly in the middle of the congregation, her notebook in hand with a pen ready to write as the Reverend taught. Today she was feeling a little worried and so far, into the middle of the sermon she had not written anything leave alone the book of the day. She had left him sleeping and went to church as her norm. She was not going to miss the church no matter what was to happen. Her sleepless night did not make her tired during the day but it had her worried.
At home, her husband had come home drunk late into the night. He was becoming worse with the absence of children. He came at 3:00 AM. She had sat through the night unable to sleep the moment it got to past twelve in the night.
As he entered the house, Mary stood by the door wondering why he had to do this to her. She was greeted by the stench of alcohol as he pulled himself together to get right into the house. She felt disgusted as she cringed her nose in a bid to wade off the smell. He went straight into the toilet, took a piss and sat down on the toilet bowel. He was tired.
Mary closed the door and sat in the living room. She wanted to serve him food but until he asked for it she was not going to trouble herself and attract insults. A moment passed before she decided to check on him. He was asleep with his phone in hand. He snored and swallowed saliva before clearing his nose loudly and swallowed. His eyes remained shut.
She took the phone and placed it under her arm. She was to move him into the bedroom for a night’s rest. Mary took a position beside him and placed his arm around her neck. She tried lifting his heavy set body in vain. He was drunk and his muscles relaxed as his brain had given up on any movement. He was not ready to move. He opened one eye and drew a smile than came off as a smirk. Mary was growing impatient by the minute.
“Baba Angie, amka, amka twende bedroom.”
“Kwani tuko wapi?”
“Kwa choo, amka twende…nisakusaidia kutembea.”
“Sawa, simu yangu iko wapi?”
“Nimeiweka vizuri, karibu uiangushe. “
“Asanti, you do know I love you. You’re the only precious thing in this miserable life. I hope me, coming in late does not inconvenience you in any way. That will make me mad.”
“No, baba Angie, it is all well. Just stand up and let us go.”
He went for the door handle and made a pass as if standing only to come down tumbling. He hit the toilet bowel as it clanked to accept his weight. It made a shift. Mary knew they were to repair that. He sat upright now halt awake from his sleep.
“I am really sorry. Are you hurt?”
“No, just try standing and let us go.”
He stood up as Mary supported him. They walked out of the toilet safely as Joni placed his whole weight on her. She breathed heavily under pressure. She was used to carrying him around but with time she was growing tired.
“You’re my savior, darling. Are we to the bedroom yet? I am getting tired.”
Mary clicked and shook her head, “No, just a little longer and we will be in bed in no minute.”
“Thank you so much. You are always there for me.”
“Okay, keep it moving. You’re so heavy.”
“Yes? You cook great food. That’s why.”
They got into the bedroom and Mary set him on the bed side to get his shoes off. He sat quietly and lifted his feet. Hiccups started kicking in, each time it happened he would bounce like a ball and then settle in. Mary pushed him on the other side of the bed and covered him with the duvet. She closed her eyes and said a prayer silently.
As she prayed, her eyes became watered with tears, she wanted God to heed to her prayer. She wanted Him to touch and change her husband. She went on for a while and said Amen. Joni was fast asleep and so they slide into slumber.
At 4:30 AM, Mary was woken up by a groan from Joni, as she turned to face him, he retched and vomited on her face. The hot mixture of food and undigested material hit her before she could escape. Joni took a deep breath in and let out another vomit this time on Mary’s night dress.
“What is wrong with you?”
“Nothing, I think I am going to be sick,” He coughed.
“Really, can you act like a grown-up for once, just once? Be an adult. You just had to vomit after spending some time in the toilet. Now I have to change everything. Hebu, wake up let’s go to the toilet. We both need to clean up.”
“Kindly bring me a wet face towel and a glass of water. I am tired, I cannot stand up.”
“Oh, you’re coming with me. Besides I have to change the whole bedding or I may leave you to sleep in your own vomit. You seem comfortable in it.”
“Please, darling. Okay, let’s go to the washroom then.”
“I am not supporting you.”
He stood up and supported himself by the walls as he moved towards the washroom. Mary stood by the bed disgusted. “How could a grown man act so foolishly? Can’t he just wake up and go do his business in the toilet.” She took off the bedding and changed the duvet. She carried the beddings to the washroom.
They took a shower and she soaked the beddings before coming back to bed. It was now five in the morning. Mary could not sleep lest she risk missing the sermon. She changed into her church clothes and left before even preparing tea. She got to church earlier than expected to find only the Reverend. He was singing and praying as he moved about the compound. His wife had died several years ago and since then he had invested his time in church and dedicated his life into serving.
She greeted him and entered the church for the intercessory session. She was to pray for her family, her church, her country and the world as a whole but first her husband. The night before was the worst she endured and she knew so well that if she was to keep quiet it was to get much worse each time. She took to her knees and presented her problems the best way she knew how.
The Reverend, moved about in the pulpit, “As you’re saved be ready to get your dirty linen being aired in the open for everybody to see. Everyone will be against you but don’t hate them for they don’t know what they are doing. In fact, help them to the Father, help them to the Lord, and help them to a life in Christ the Messiah.”
Mary was drawn back as she heard the word dirty line. She remembered what awaited her at home and the day after his drinking. He was always grumpy and ready to quarrel. Knowing that she had not prepared anything for him freaked her out as this would give him more bullets in his gun.
The sermon ended, they prayed together and the Reverend left for the office where he rested for an hour before readying himself to receive lambs of his church for guidance and counselling. Mary came in last. She wanted ample time with him.
“Hello Mary, how are you? Are the children okay? How is your husband?”
“I may say fine but I am not okay. The children are in school, the husband is the one troubling me.”
She gave a recount of the first time, Joni came home drunk. It was during the long holidays when both Angie and Martin were at home. He came home silently and went to bed without talking to anyone. Angie and Martin were both in their first years in college as twins they went through school together.
“I am not resenting his behavior but ever since marrying this man after his wife’s death he has not been treating me as his wife. It is as if I have something that he finds undesirable.”
“I am sorry to hear that. Can we get together with your husband and talk through this?”
“I will ask and get back. And then last night he came home…”
Marry broke into a soft sob as she narrated her last night’s ordeal. It was a first of many that were yet to come. She had to be strong but she lacked the strength.
“It will be okay, just listen closely to your husband, he might be speaking and you’re not listening. Sometimes men find it hard to express themselves in words. Peace be with you.”
“Thank you Reverend.”
She stepped out with a new plan. Outside she met with Mama Kanisa. She was happy to see Mary.
“Hey Mary, how was your week?”
“Great, how are the kids doing?”
“They are back in school for the final term but every evening I find them healthy as ever. They give me strength to go through these hard days.”
“Nice, how is work?”
“All is well, did you manage to get the number to that tailor. I want to get a new Ankara suit?”
“I did, I was to send it over but since you are here let me just read it to you.”
She gave her the number and left hurriedly. A lot was waiting for her at home.
Joni woke up, warmed last night’s supper. Took two bites, stepped into the shower and left. He went to rejoin his friends at the Mua Sports Club. It was a relaxing Sunday.
Mary got into the house, took the dirty dishes into the sink and went into the bedroom to change. She took her phone and got a message from Joni that was sent an hour ago.
“I will drop by in the evening. I am with friends at Mua.”
She took off the church clothes and went into the shower to check on last night’s mess. She washed the beddings with the duvet and aired them outside. She swept the house, sprayed the air freshener and made the bed for tonight. She sat down in the living room, took her Bible for a review of today’s book and turned on the TV.
She made notes from the book of the day and then took a nap on the chair in the sitting room.
Joni came back at four in the evening. He greeted her as he woke her up. He went into the toilet and into the bedroom. He took a few minutes there and came back.
“Songa niake hapo,” He asked his wife as politely as he could. Mary moved to another seat. Joni took the remote and changed to the weekend’s football game. He turned the stereo system on and blasted the house with Rhumba music. Mary sat through the noise before she stood up for the bedroom.
“Hey, love, do you have anything you want to share,” Joni shouted before she disappeared.
“Yes, what happened last night?”
“I am sorry about that. What can I do to get past this?”
“Oh, you’re not getting a free pass this time.”
“Okay. So what is the price?”
“We have to have a meeting with our Reverend.”
“No, name something else. I can’t do that.”
“That’s the only thing I want right now.”
“Okay, when are we to meet him? I hope you told him to come by the house.”
“If we are to do this, then on Tuesday evening. Okay.”
On Tuesday, the Reverend arrived at exactly two in the afternoon. He was ready for a lengthy talk with the family. They had prayers and exchanged Bible study ideas and opinions as they waited for Joni. He did not come.
The reverend left at six in the evening. He apologized for inconveniencing them and said he would prepare better next time. He said he would pray about it. Mary remained in the house disappointed in her husband. She was deprived of touch, of love of happiness just because her husband did not care anymore.
Joni came home that day disgruntled. He apologized and complained of how hard the day was, his customers were giving him quite a headache. He had to sort them out before coming. Mary listened to him blubber with contempt. She wondered why he could not just be straightforward with her.
Days went by and schools were closed, Angie and Martin came for a short holiday before they resumed for their last year in college. They knew the drift between their father and their step-mother. They tried their best not to be caught in between or be the cause of any of their frequent quarrels. They maintained their safe distance.
As time went by, the children went back to school. Mary was now frequent in visiting the Reverend. She wanted his advice and encouragement to get through each day with Joni. And as such, she grew to like him. She would just pop by the church to help or just be close to the Reverend. His presence made her heart settle. In his presence, the worries flew away, the anxiety toned down and the anger subsided.
As her presence became more frequent, the Reverend avoided her at first as she had had an experience with such church members but the more she shown an interest in him the more it became difficult to avoid her.
The first time they were together was when Joni had agreed to the meeting again and did not show up. The Reverend spent better part of the evening with her. She was dressed freely and as they went on talking, Mary edged herself closer to him. She wanted a man’s touch, she craved for it.
It took a while before the Reverend gave in, and Mary was rewarded for the wait. She gave it her all and she was welcomed without pressure or fear of rejection.
The second time was still at their house, this time they went to the marital bedroom. As they were deeply enjoying each other, Joni came by, went through the kitchen, took his notebook by the living room and left to go at his parked car in the compound. The Reverend was shocked to the core as Mary laughed her heart off. The thrill of being caught pushed her off the edge of pleasure. They went to the shower and the Reverend left.
As the Reverend left the house, he saw Joni seated at the car. Joni saw him. He made for the door as the Reverend hurried off. Joni opened the door and chose to go after him. He was to talk to him.