City life has everyone portraying the image they’d want people to see. When Marie met Paul, all she knew was that he was single, with a focus to build himself as a businessman before starting a family. A narrative that sat well with her because, in her plans, she wanted to get married to a man who knew what he wanted from life and had a plan that included that of a family. Paul seemed to be this man.
Having gone to Nairobi to look for life, Marie knew that a part of what she wanted was love. She had gotten a well-paying job after months of hard work and making smart moves here and there. She was now settled mentally and wouldn’t mind giving love a try.
“You mean you have no girl somewhere who has your heart? You have a solid source of income and we can’t say you are getting any younger,”
Marie wanted to ask this question for a very long time, but finding the right words had been the issue. Paul was in his early forties.
“I needed to find myself and make sure I was ready for the task ahead. These things are not as easy as they may seem,” he confessed.
Truth to his word, he had started a few businesses and he had even gone for therapy. Everything in his life was an indication of zeal to become ready for a certain stage of life.
All these things made Marie ask him what love meant to him because he seemed to align it with material things. She believed that people could start from zero and rise to wherever they wanted but Paul seemed to stress so much on that aspect of having wealth before settling down.
“What does love mean to you?” Marie asked.
“For me, it’s about two people choosing each other and working on their love every day so that it grows stronger and stronger.” Paul had explained.
His response was exactly what she wanted to hear. At 25, there are some things that you would want to hear as a woman and specifically one looking for love. Paul had known that and mentioned it in his response.
After playing his cards well, he won her heart and they became an item. They dated and after months, Marie became expectant. This was not planned for, because although Marie was ready for love and looking for it, she was not ready to be a mother or a wife. The contraceptive she was using had failed, and since she was not pro-choice, she knew she had to keep the baby.
She shared her concerns with her man and as usual, Paul was assuring. He assured her that there was nothing to worry about. If anything, the pregnancy had been timely because he wanted to marry her.
“What is it that makes you worried yet our relationship was headed right to this place?” Paul asked after Marie insisted on her worries.
“But I was not ready yet.” She complained.
“I am here with you. Do not worry,” Paul assured her. He proposed to her at that moment.
The proposal seemed to have cooled her down. Paul had told her that once she was relaxed, they would start planning for their life together as a family.
This remained a promise that never got to be fulfilled because they went back to everyday life, and within no time, they had another child together. Marie tried to think about how they got there and she couldn’t quite tell. How had they ended up 4 years down the line, still engaged yet Paul had made a solid promise of taking things to the next level?
But as she thought clearly about everything, she realized that Paul had mastered the art of lying and making sure that Marie believed they would make their union official.
Paul’s goal post of making things official had shifted every time. He said he wanted to make sure that everything was set before he went to see her parents. This sounded reasonable to Marie, but the problem was that Paul was still cunning even with this new promise. He was never clear on what needed to be “set” before going to her home. Every other time this topic came by, Paul had looked for an excuse.
They had occasionally gone to Paul’s home though. Something that left her feeling secure because at least the family knew about their relationship. One thing though, going there used to be a one-day thing where they’d go in the morning and return by evening. He never allowed them to stay for even a day or two unless it were the December holidays.
“You know, I find it very inconvenient to go there and settle for a few days, and just leave. December isn’t far we will come and stay for a few days,” he’d try to reason with her.
“I don’t think it’s inconveniencing at all, you just don’t like it,” she’d give her a piece of her mind.
“It’s not like that,” the conversation would end just like that, hanging.
The excuses continued. She was getting tired of his proposal to wait for the perfect time. She’d waited patiently for something that would never come. Until of course, she asked him about it.
“What did you mean by getting set? I don’t think a lot is needed?” She’d asked one day in a random conversation.
“We need to start planning for the whole thing so that after that, we do the traditional wedding and then the church wedding. I want everything to happen within a short timeframe,” he said convincingly.
Hearing this made her very happy.
“But you’ve never told me that, that’s a very good plan.” Her heart was at ease.
“I wanted it to be a surprise but now that you’ve insisted, the cat is out of the bag,” he said, smiling.
This promise remained verbal and that’s how they got to two children without Paul going to her family’s home. This had been an issue in Marie’s mind until it became normal. She did not ask any more about it and figured out that the day he’d want to make himself known to her mother, father, and whole family, that’s when they would go otherwise she won’t ask anymore.
One thing never hit Marie’s mind perhaps this guy could be hiding something. This never crossed her mind even one day. So that amidst all the excuses, she naively believed everything he said.
Since everything has an expiry date, her naivety came to an end when she was one day browsing through his phone looking at pictures on his Google Photos. She was all smiley as she got wowed by the memories they had made when a message popped up on the notification bar and caught her attention.
“I have already paid Hayden’s school fees but some books are needed though. 5 thousand would be enough.”
She thought that maybe it was the wrong number. She opened the message to see who had sent it. The sender had been saved as “Mama Hayden”.
She got curious and looked at his previous conversations and found out that this was not a mistake. But rather, a continuation of a conversation that had been going on for the last one hour. It seemed the guy had been deleting conversations because she had never seen this conversation before. This time around, he must have forgotten.
The conversation had even mentioned a trip for Leila and kindergarten fees for Robin. On checking his M-Pesa to confirm this, she found that he indeed sent money for all the said needs that this conversation had mentioned.
This development shook her a lot. She could never have thought of him having another family.
A family friend had whispered to her ears that the reason behind his many excuses for the question of going to their home was that he had another family. But she had gone to his home and she hadn’t seen anything weird. So she brushed these allegations off.
“A wife with three children,” she thought to herself. “Why did I ignore the tip I had been given?” She continued blaming herself.
This conversation drove her to the edge. It made her realize that she had been heaping up her anger and disappointment because she wanted to cause drama. However, she reasoned that it wouldn’t help. She decided to investigate on her own, secretly hoping that it would not turn out to be true.
She wondered how that was possible yet he had not shown any suspicious behaviour before. There were no late-night calls or even any weird conversations she had observed. His phone had no transactions that could cause one to raise an eyebrow. Checking his phone had never given her anything to worry about.
She decided to call that number. She called using his phone.
“Hello. Who is this?” the woman asked in return.
She did not try to create rapport or beat around the bush. She went straight to what had made her call. “I won’t try to make this conversation long or complicated. I will just go straight to the point. Your message popped up on Paul’s phone while I was using it and on looking through your conversation, I realized that the rumours I’ve heard are true and that you actually exist.”
This left the other woman very shocked. This could be heard in her shaky and confused voice.
“Oh!” she’d exclaimed. “I don’t know what to say because a woman using my husband’s phone to call me means the thing I have never expected happening has happened.”
What followed was a very long conversation that led to Marie getting all the details about the other family and how it was easy for them to stay unknown to each other.
The first family lived in a nearby town and now everything made sense. He would go over there for days or even a week to check on a business he had started some time back. This happened like every month. This checking on business had been going to see the other family as it turned out.
This realization infuriated her even more. She did not know what to get mad over because there was the fact that he had lied about his being single and also there was the bitter truth that he had lied to her over and over about going to check on their “business” every month.
She wanted to blame herself for not being keen enough, something that she believed could have prevented all these. But how could she have known? It was a time when people pursue a career first and start a family much later so that a guy in their early forties might be single and truthfully so.
She wanted to ask him about this truth but knew that she had stirred that sea by calling the other woman. Soon they’d have visitors.
Truth to her expectation, the other wife knocked on the door some minutes past 6:00 am. It seems she wanted to be sure of the whole thing by arriving before people left in the morning. Also, she seemed to have factored in the time she’d need to prepare for going back home just in case hell broke loose. The probability of hell breaking loose was high either way.
She had come with fury, all directed at Paul who had made her believe that he was focusing on work and building wealth for the future of their family. He was the one that owed him faithfulness and honesty, and not Marie.
The drama ensued because emotions were so high. He had nothing to say since he had been caught red-handed. The same excuses he had been giving Marie on this other side, were the ones he also gave to his wife back at home. The wife and kids had wanted to come to visit him severally but he had come with excuses every other time.
Marie was angry and the other wife was angry beyond what words could explain. On the other hand, Paul played deaf and dumb. It was noisy and very ugly. After all the excuses made sense, and given that she was the one providing for the family, she realized that this realization had come at a good time. Paul had said he was spending a lot on building the businesses and also on the house he was building for them in his rural area so she had been paying a lot of the bills. She had been paying the rent for the last year. She asked them to get out of her house and take the drama elsewhere because she had so much that she needed to do.
Paul tried to beg her to sit so that they talk, by that made her angrier. She wanted them to leave.
As they walked out, still arguing and abusing each other verbally, Marie could not believe she had been the second wife. If she had known the truth, she could have avoided all that but Paul had played his cards very well and duped her into a come-we-stay marriage. Now she needed to figure out what she would do with her life and her children.
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