In many societies, the die is cast just after a baby’s first cry when the doctor asks the mother to confirm the gender. In that instant gender influences many subsequent decisions; the name, colour of clothes, toys, games to play, house chores and of course mentality.
From early on men are taught that money is perhaps the most important aspect of a man while women should focus on their domestic skills.
Brian was a sharp student in class. He was also a quick learner outside the class. Lessons on manhood came from every corner and the recurring theme was that with money a man could get almost anything they wanted and away with many things. So Brian’s goal was to be wealthy.
He became a pilot. By the age of twenty-three, he was making what most people start making in their mid-thirties and that’s if they are lucky enough. Brian was aware of his privilege so although he had as much fun as people in that industry, he started investing early.
He owned quite a number of properties by the time he was twenty-seven. It was also time to settle down. The key qualities that he was looking for in a woman included beauty, intelligence and submissiveness. The search began.
He met Fiona at a restaurant. They were both going to government offices in the same area. Fiona was having lunch as she read a book.
“Hi, can I join you?” Brian asked.
Having had time to look up and notice that hers was the only table with an empty seat, she agreed. She then went back to reading her book. She let out a small chuckle that prompted Brian to comment.
“That good?” Brian asked.
“Definitely enjoying it. It’s very thought-provoking as expected of a Chimamanda book,” Fiona responded. She was reading We Should All Be Feminists.
“So what intrigued you?”
“Nothing so funny per se but Chimamanda mentions how it’s decided that girls should wear pink and boys blue, which I’ve always found ridiculous,” said Fiona.
“Aren’t they just colours? Would you rather boys wear pink?” Brian asked.
“If they are just colours then why the big fuss about who should wear what?”
“I think feminists make a big deal out of everything,” he responded.
“That’s because the right to choose is taken away in many areas. It starts from seemingly mundane things to the more serious ones,” Fiona said passionately.
“Interesting way to put it. Tell you what, how about I read the book and we can have lunch just to discuss it?” Brian proposed.
“Oh, sounds like a book club,” Fiona said with a smile.
“Probably add the word date to it?” Brian said coyly.
That was how their romance started. Fiona had just graduated and was looking for employment opportunities. She came from a conservative background but had some exposure. Eleven months later they were walking down the aisle in a lavish wedding.
They had their honeymoon in five different European countries. Brian spoiled her and she enjoyed his company. Marriage was everything she had dreamt it would be until it wasn’t.
The changes started when she got pregnant. Given Brian’s job, he spent a lot of time away but he would come home late even when he was off the clock. Fiona’s pregnancy was difficult. As this was her first pregnancy she needed all the emotional support she could get but Brian had other priorities.
She tried speaking to him but her pleas fell on deaf ears.
“Fiona, is there anything you lack in this house? I work hard so I have to unwind,” Brian said arrogantly.
On a Sunday afternoon during her second month of pregnancy, Fiona started spotting. The blood was followed by sharp pains in her abdomen. Brian had gone to watch a game with his boys. She tried to call him but he didn’t pick up the call so she texted him that she needed him.
There was still no response from Brian five minutes later so she called for a cab and asked for help from a neighbour. The neighbour accompanied her to the hospital. She was having a miscarriage.
Brian came home hours later to an empty house. He saw blood spots and called her. She told him she was in the hospital. Brian found the neighbour with Fiona.
“Why didn’t you tell me what was going on?” Brian asked.
“You didn’t pick up and I don’t have the energy to fight,” Fiona responded. That was when she saw a lipstick smudge on the collar of his polo t-shirt but she said nothing. It was obvious, that he was busy with other women as she lost their child.
The doctor suggested she could rest at home but she feigned discomfort. She couldn’t imagine going home with Brian after the loss. The doctor sensed she was lying but waited for everyone to leave.
“Is everything okay at home?” The doctor asked.
“Just the usual marital problems,” Fiona said.
“Is he abusing you?”
“No, nothing physical,” Fiona said.
They continued to talk as the doctor explained what she could do next after the miscarriage.
Brian felt bad that he had ignored Fiona’s call so to make up for it he went and bought her the latest iPhone. In the morning he showed up with many flowers and balloons.
It was the first time that Brian had seemed apologetic so it delighted her. She was also hurting from the loss so she didn’t want any confrontations.
A few days later Fiona went back to work. Brian also got back to his ways. Besides being absent he had also become rude. He hated it when Fiona inquired about his whereabouts.
Once he had to travel to see his relatives Fiona prepared to-go breakfast. She put tea in a travel mug and packed a few snacks. Later Brian came back to complain that she was very inconsiderate and had given him very hot tea.
On the other hand, Fiona’s firm was downsizing and her job was declared redundant. She was now jobless. Brian was her first call.
“They fired me,” she said in tears.
“I don’t know why you’re worried, you’ve never needed that salary anyway,” he said.
She wanted to explain that she loved the job and being able to make her own money but it didn’t matter to Brian.
Staying at home with no job made her feel lonely. The grief of losing a child hit her. Suddenly, she started wishing she had a child. She tried telling Brian how she felt but he was either too tired from work to talk, too drunk or too busy trying to make more money. He suggested that she should go to a spa, that’s what she needed to lift her mood.
Getting a job was difficult for Fiona because of the pandemic. Things got worse in their marriage when flights were grounded. Brian spent more time at home. At first, she thought it would finally give them time to reconnect but Brian had other ideas.
He graduated from lipstick marks on his clothes to bringing women home. Fiona complained and as usual Brian asked if she lacked anything. He even threw in the fact that she was jobless so she should be grateful that she had a provider.
After weeks of enduring the humiliation, Fiona packed her clothes and left. She left her set of keys with the neighbour and asked her to give it to him. He came back at around four o’clock. He thought Fiona had gone grocery shopping. The neighbour knocked and gave him the key.
He was confused.
“Why are you giving me Fiona’s keys? He asked.
“She told me to give them to you.”
“When?” Brian asked.
“A few hours ago as she was leaving,” the neighbour responded and left.
He went to the bedroom and found her closet was empty. He tried calling her but she had blocked his number. “Ungrateful woman! Why would she leave when I’ve given her everything? She’s even jobless, she’ll be back in no time,” he muttered to himself.
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