The judge seemed pretty pissed as the two advocates were at each other’s throats, trying to comprehend why Susan wanted a divorce so badly. Marcel had agreed to take up both parental and financial obligations required of him but she was adamant about the divorce.
“Counsel does your client mind explaining to the court why she really needs a divorce when the plaintiff has come to terms with the prescribed legal requirements?” asked Judge Leshan.
“Your honour, my client’s sole reason, is to protect the interests of her children”. The short lawyer in a dark blue suit responded.
Marriage. It’s what society aspires for all womankind. Regardless of everything we do in life, our greatest value is the success of our marriages. Divorce reflects negatively on your person as a woman. Because what good is a woman that can’t keep a man? Why isn’t she patient? She surely must be moving around with different men or probably doesn’t know how to cook or she’s dirty. Even worse, if the woman filed for a divorce, then the narrative takes a whole new life. But nobody really wants to hold the man accountable, because, in society’s eyes, men can never be too wrong for a woman. She must have said or done something.
Susan is most of us in marriages. Heck! I have woken up every morning wishing I could take my husband out with the trash and it couldn’t be worse since we started working from home. Bill was everything and more when we first got married. He took out the trash, cleaned up after himself, was reliable on nappy duties and frequented the kitchen. I don’t remember when it happened, but all I know now is he’s the snoring, annoying giant that lays next to me every night. I go to bed early so his snoring doesn’t have me awake till 2 am. Just as I wake up earlier so I don’t smell his farts.
Covering this story reminds me why I pursued investigative journalism in the first place. The ongoing recess in the nation has negatively impacted me and most of my friends. We’ve been spending a lot of time on the internet, hunting for jobs, hungry for stories. That’s when we started our blog; Social dilemma, covering stories off the internet that we could relate to.
Susan and Marcel have been married for fourteen years with three children. Asha, their firstborn daughter looks everything like her mother, except her hair texture, which is so smooth, always laid back with gel and cute curls. At fourteen she displays such a calm, confidence, mature demeanour and we are all awed.
We picked interest in this story from the popular gossip blog that quite frankly is misogynistic.
Their headlines read ‘Woman files for divorce, despite being married to a wealthy man’. I raged even though people say that these things happen, and raving about them is too much of a reaction. But honestly, why do people expect women to stay in marriages just because their husbands have deep pockets? It’s why everyone wanted to know Susan’s reasons for being so hellbent on ending her marriage.
“Ms Susan, is there anything you’d like to bring to the attention of the court?” the judge asked.
“Nothing your honour”, she said rather too calmly. Even her standing posture was evident enough that she was done. She just wanted to leave. She can be compared to a grade five pupil, eagerly waiting for the bus to go home and bingeing on a favourite cartoon show or something. Like she needed rest; I bet most mothers could relate to her.
“The court cannot nullify your marriage without valid reasons. I believe your lawyer has explained to you the grounds on which a divorce can be granted”.
“Yes, they have,” Susan answered. She paused for a second, as if to put her thoughts in order, then continued.
“Your honour, it would be best, if my children and I leave this marriage. I’ve tried to talk to Marcel about this, but he’s been adamant. I’d rather we resolve our issues out of court. It’s better that way”.
“Ms Susan, it appears that hasn’t been quite effective and that’s why you are in court. Do you fear for your life? Are you under threat?” the judge asked.
“My children. Marcel is not the father of my children”. The court was shocked and there were loud whispers all over the courtroom. It’s not every day that women come forth and share such intimate information, in the presence of strangers. Her mind must be made up, she just wants out, no matter the cost. However, Marcel didn’t appear shocked, in fact, he just wanted to take control of the situation.
“Susan. I’d suggest you don’t stoop so low just so you can push your agenda. You can surely do better than spewing lies”, Marcel’s voice could be heard clearly over the murmurs.
“I’d know if they were right. I birthed them, Marcel!”
“We are in public. Stop the drama, will you?”
“I should stop the drama? Don’t you want to know whose children they are? Huh?”
“Susan shut up!”
“Order in my court!” the judge interjected. The authority in her voice. It’s no surprise that she didn’t seem too shocked because such truths come to light in her courts every other day. She directed her questions to the lawyers.
“Counsels, are any of you aware of the allegations being made by Ms Susan?”
They look at each other before they both reply, “No your honour.”
“Susan, do you mind explaining to us what you just said.”
“Marcel decided to have a DNA test on my children, without letting me know. What bothers me is how he has been very silent after learning about my children’s paternity. I don’t think we are safe around him anymore.” Susan paused and looked through the room.
“Proceed please”, the judge offered.
“I bumped into DNA tests on all of my three children and it was alarming to learn that. What bothered me was how he remained calm and got more invested in the lives of the children after he learnt about this. While I could barely sleep and have strange dreams of him stabbing me in my sleep, he sleeps quite fondly”. A rather too troubled Susan shared. Her face is plastered with fear like she’d re-live the anguish of her dreams in this very moment.
Marcel was looking at her, fury building up from the corners of his face, slowly cramming up into his eyes, easing out into tears. His face tells it all, he wishes things didn’t get out of hand. That they have to share the secrets of their marriage with the public. He seemed to be battling with himself, whether to share with the world his woes or maintain his social stature, he gave in to his feelings.
“I don’t think any man would find it easy to talk about a cheating spouse and a lying friend. Given my social status, I hoped to handle this matter amicably with my friend who is the father of my children and Susan here. I haven’t wrapped my head around the fact that I’ve raised another man’s children for years. I’m thinking back to the lies, the deceit, the times you got so cosy with each other, and I thought you were just being great friends to each other. The betrayal!” He screamed.
Everyone was taken aback. It seems as though there are too many secrets to lay bare. Many that we didn’t see coming. Most of which have the potential to break every marriage.
There was pin-drop silence in court. We all have questions. Questions not for the couple standing in the docks but for ourselves. How many times do we lie to our partners, because a little white lie hurt nobody? How do lies weave a marriage together while behind them, they tear down the very foundation that marriages are built on? I reflect on the number of times I lied to my husband about the number of days I’d be out on the field, just because I want to stay away from him. Every marriage has its own challenges, however, big or small, the impact echoes when push has come to shove, and divorce papers need to be signed.
“Why have you never confronted me about this? Marcel, have you have been planning something against me and my children?” Susan asked.
“I have developed a resentment towards you, Susan. For bringing the love of immeasurable bounds to my life, that I will have to pay with grief if it charts its own paths. I could never. They are mine too Susan. I have raised them. They bear my name, I love them, and they have always been in my care. I was broken when I learnt about their paternity, but my mind is not made up yet, concerning our Marriage and your disloyalty.”
“What prompted you to have the DNA?” Susan asked.
“I’d rather not put that in the public domain, or is that what you want?” He replied, agitated.
“Do you maybe want to do this in private? Because there is pretty new information we didn’t know about,” the judge interjected.
“Sure, but does my lovely, cheating wife still want a divorce? Because if she does, I could table all the reasons why I should be granted custody over our children”. Marcel was not leaving anything to chance.
“We could do this in private Marcel. After all, we all made the lies our marriage is standing on”, Susan joined in.
“That’s fair enough. But legal counsel is recommended every step of the way. The court adjourned!” The judge rose to leave.
This definitely not how I saw this story pan out, but I left with lots of questions in mind. Like why do married couples lie? I’d also like to know if Susan sired all three children with the same man. If she thought, her husband would never learn about her extramarital affairs or if she actually knew that her husband didn’t father her children up until she saw the DNA results. I bet you have questions too, but dear reader, I guess we’ll never know.
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