The Coward of the Century

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I knew that was the last time I was seeing her. I had seen the tears in her face. She was devastated. Her dreams, ambitions and aspirations had come to a drastic end. She had all of them in one basket. I had promised her heaven. I had taken her there. Given her the world. Then had brought her the pain. I filled her life with enough excruciating pain. It hurt me to see tears in her eyes but it was beyond me. Fate. Fate had decided that I would never make Eve happy. I had filled her basket with bitter fruits only. I had to let her go.

I met her for the first time one evening at the chapel. I had gone to pray and meditate after a long day with examinations and theatre presentations. She was kneeling on the pew on my left with her head bowed down, arms resting on her chest. After the prayer, I noticed that she had finished her prayer and was seated on the church chair facing in front of her as if she was looking at the image of Jesus that was hanging in the middle of the front of the church. I went and sat next to her. She had dark glasses on but it did not bother me. I asked her if she could lend me her Bible since I had left mine in the hostel. She told me she did not have one without even looking at me. I excused myself and left. Before I reached the door, she called on me to wait for her.

‘’I can lend you my Audio Bible if you don’t mind,’’ she said sweetly.

I looked at her. She was smiling as she handed me a small gadget that looked like a transistor radio. I looked at it but I could not tell what it was or what to do with it.

‘’That’s my Bible.’’ It was like a whisper. I was watching her. I looked her other hand. She was holding a white cane. That is when I realized that she was blind. It was an awkward moment for me because I did not know what to say to her.

‘’My name is Eve,’’

‘’Forgive my manners. I am Mike. Mike Khatundi,’’ I said to her awkwardly then invited myself to guide her back to Nyayo 2 Hostels. We became friends. She was a year behind me and she was doing Business Administration. I was doing Engineering. We would meet almost daily after the lectures to pray in the chapel and later we would have a walk to the arboretum. She understood me. I understood her. She could not see me but she saw my heart. I wrote a poem in her heart. She listened with her soul. I gave in. I was in Love. We were in love.

Our friendship grew progressively and by the time we were graduating from the university I knew I had gotten two degrees at the same time; my academic and love of my life and future mother of my children I knew beyond doubt Eve was my missing rib. I was eager to tell the world I loved her.

This is the woman I want to marry

I did not know that was going to be the beginning of my end. I called my mum and informed her to expect us. We reached the village at around noon. There was a huge gathering and we could hear the music from a distance as they waited for the daughter in law. My father being a chief and I being the only engineering student during our days, there was much expectation and the crowd was really anxious. I remembered how my mum used to tease me as I was growing up that I will marry a doctor who will be treating her or a pilot who will always take her along on the air. We were accompanied by our best friends four ladies and two gentlemen and therefore on greeting the crowd it was not easy to identify who was my girlfriend at that point. My father and uncle exchanged glances of pride as they anticipated their possible daughter in law

The village dancers opened the occasion with breath taking dance as the son of the soil had brought pride in the village. We had our wonderful moments and the long awaited moment of official introductions began.

My relatives introduced themselves and all claimed to be close to me, praised me for my virtues and most importantly none forgot to mention how they were close to me, how they loved me and had sacrificed in one way or another, so my success was their success . I stood up saluted them all appreciated the love and support. my maternal aunts had lesos and were waiting I declare their daughter in law among the four ladies so that they embrace her ,cover her and give her some gift as a sign of acceptance as a family member. They were getting impatient as I mentioned each of the first two ladies and how I connected with them.

Lenah was seated between eve and me and they jumped to crown her before I could utter a word. I shouted, ‘’No auntie it’s not Lenah, I’m marrying my best friend Eve,’’ I held Eve’s hand so that she could stand up,

The silence that followed could be cut with a knife.

‘’Son, you will not marry this girl,’’ finally my dad shouted with finality. Go get a proper woman or pick among your friends here.

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‘’But why dad?’’ she is the love of my life. He raised his walking stick about to strike me and I made a few steps back. He asked remorsefully, ‘’Did we not raise you up with values and standards of our family? You forgot your class? Can’t you see she is blind? I want a daughter in law that will help your mother fetch water, firewood and help till the land. My good bible says a wife is a helper. Now this one, you will always be helping her son. This one oh no abomination. She will give birth to children who are blind and will always be a burden to you,’’ he said all these nasty words, took his walking stick and stormed out. Majority of his friends walked out in protest too. Very few remained torn in between or not sure whose side they should be.

I am a Coward

I witnessed the damage of unfounded stereotypes. I had promised to always fight for Eve. I knew her beyond her disability. The best cook only rivaled by our Mama. The most organized person who always arranged my room. She had a sense of humor and all what a man would want in a woman, especially her zeal for God. She had transformed my life to positivity. Sadly none of my kinsmen was seeing her the true angel she was. all they saw was the tiny aspect of her disability.

Eve walked away from us. Obviously, she was crying. I was left with my uncle and Mama. I was in a dilemma. Whom do I hurt? My family or eve? I did not know what to do. I remembered everything my parents had done to ensure that I was happy. I could not find myself hurting them. I remembered everything I shared with Eve and could not fathom a separation. I went to where she was seated waiting for me to take her back to the city.

It is two years since I started working in this company. I appeared one day for an interview and guess what? The managing Director was Eve Gatwiri Abimbola. I got the job despite my uneasiness during the interview. I report to her every day. On top of her desk there is an Audio Bible and a braille poetry I had written for her many years ago. Every day I watch as her husband (they had met in The United Kingdom where she had gone for a scholarship in management) picks her up every evening from work and how happy he is. He opens the door for her, guides her into the car and drives away. I remain transfixed on the same spot before going to my car to go home and face the leopard I married.