Our supposed honeymoon phase was a roller coaster. Not the typical dream of a month in Zanzibar loving each other head over heels every day. Realizing that there would be no ceremony, I thought back to years earlier when I initially understood my sexuality. Coming from a Christian family, the lesson every Sunday to the girl child always spelled that we focus on school and preserve ourselves till marriage. Marriage was the golden price to signify achievement. In the same sense, I had vowed to myself that I would surrender my purity to the love of my life, my husband, on our honeymoon on an island somewhere, maybe Zanzibar. However, I was already pregnant before any of that.
Upon such a failure, I had considered myself as part of the five foolish virgins from the story in the Bible. After spending my first year in university residence, I had been exposed to a lot of stories and peer pressure concerning the ‘enjoyment’ that having sex brought. Each Friday, my roommate would spend the night out only to come back with a bulletin of what had transpired somewhere at a lodge in the game parks surrounding Harare. The stories were filled with so many intimate, interesting details that enticed my thoughts. The honeymoon dream for me became far-fetched. I wanted to get married instantly. For someone who spent her days locked up in her room or the library, I had no man in my life until the lucky day that Rob showed up. We had vowed to each other that we would take things slowly, however the situation got the best of us when we finished college.
One day after work when Rob had stayed over late, I decided that he had been in my life long enough and there was no harm in trying it out. I was scared of being hurt in the process but I wanted it. I had thought about it over and over again. We had just finished a bottle of wine when Rob, as usual, came close to me and started kissing me passionately. He stroked the skin of my face and neck before unzipping my blue tight-fitting dress. Shortly after, he unhooked the lace of my bra in a way that shocked me. It was so instant with one hand. I myself am not even that efficient. After he fully undressed me, I felt shy in front of him. The embarrassment was about to swallow me alive. Since adolescence, the only time I had been naked in front of someone was when I stood before the mirror. I quickly covered my privates with my hands. I told him to turn off the lights which he did without questioning. I guess he was so excited about what was going on. He made me lie on the bed in a gentle way after I stood there for a minute not knowing what to do. I was very rigid though I was trying to cooperate. Was it going to hurt? I had heard stories of women and girls saying that their first time was painful and they bled a lot. I wanted to stop him but he sensed it and assured me that it was going to be alright and wouldn’t hurt much.
The whole act followed after that. I cried a bit from the pain which didn’t last long. At this point, I thought he had a lot of experience, judging by his ease. I was too lost in the process to think of whether he was wearing protection or not. When the act ended, we lay very close to each other, my mind reflecting on all that had happened. Had I actually lost my virginity? I was scared but the naughtiness I had indulged in excited me. By the way, he was the love of my life.
At least the sin never lived to be noticed by anyone but the two of us. We ended up marrying each other through a traditional ceremony. Nevertheless, as a married couple, we started struggling with balancing our love life, preparations for the coming baby boy, and starting off our careers. I barely saw my husband. He would spend days away, coming home late during the night and leaving early in the morning. I was patient. He was creating a future for us, right? He would always tell me that everything he did was within the best interest of me and our unborn child. I had stopped my work at the clinic after he advised me to do so. He wanted a wife who would always be there for the children.
One day as I was collecting his clothes for laundry I noticed a lady’s hair on his pink shirt and a scent that I was not used to. Probably he bought a new perfume. But what about the hair? I couldn’t confront him knowing how he reacted when questioned. It would be another week of silent treatment. I also didn’t want to come out as if I did not trust him. His affection for me grew less by the day. He ceased to touch me or look me in the eye.
Still lost in the trance, I didn’t realize the tears falling onto the guava page of the Danielle Steel novel that was in front of me. The early months of my marriage had been the life of a rock in a furnace. I was ready to quit. Was I ready to face the shame? Was I ready to feel naked in society? A divorced woman living without a husband is a woman not wearing any clothes.
2 July, 2023