Behind the Black Tint Chapter 4: Termites

By Ruvimbo Makuvaro

How much longer could this misery last? My mind was always in turmoil. What wrong had I done to the stars to start getting termites in my newly painted wooden house? At least I had known it was wooden and would one day see the termites. I had not known much of Rob’s past, hence one lobe of my brain suspected that he could have demons that might manifest in the future. However, I was ready to continue painting the wood so that not even a termite would come between us. I had decided to destroy a whole anthill with my bare hands if it came to that and trust him with everything. As a Christian, I respected our holy matrimony and divorce was not on the table.

Though I had such conviction to make it work, I felt like I was jogging in a bowl of glue. I would kneel down to pray for my marriage but would find myself in tears and my mind browsing through the misery I was experiencing. I was slowly losing my self confidence. What would people say when they saw me? There’s the wife who gets cheated on by her husband? Each time I went to get groceries I felt sets of eyes looking at me, judging me. Like the day of my first sexual encounter, I felt naked and grappled with my 32-weeks pregnant belly back to the car as fast as I could.This was not how I had envisioned it. I had envisioned sitting on the couch and waiting for my husband to shower me with tenderness, love and care. Flowers every Monday, chocolates and groceries ordered for me whilst I awaited a push present of my much-desired Mercedes Benz. It turned out to be the other side of the coin. I was increasingly lonely, grateful for the little company our house help gave me. I had to grow my own flowers.

This Friday, I had used the little light left in me to make the day special. I got over myself and went out to buy groceries to create a special meal for my husband. In case I was the reason he was drifting away, I had to try and do right by him. I prepared his favourite meal, a fish fillet with fried rice, and bought a bottle of Nederburg dry wine to go with it. I bathed myself with the aromatic oils I had always saved for an unknown special occasion and got into the sexiest pair of maternity nightwear that I owned. In the mirror, I looked like a well marinated chicken.

The clock ticked as I waited for Rob to arrive. The much awaited sound of an arriving car was nowhere to be heard. I called his number several times but each time it went to voicemail. I also called his office line thinking that maybe he had stayed late working but it kept on ringing without an answer. The lump in my throat began to grow. I opened the wine bottle and started drowning myself in the red liquid to chase away my thoughts and find some solace. Maybe it would calm my nerves and keep me from overthinking. But thoughts of him in another woman’ s house appeared more clearly with every glass. Him smiling and assuring her how ready he was to leave me. I felt disgusted. Thank God I am dark in complexion otherwise my anger manifesting through a blushing face would have been evident to the house help when she came to say goodnight. Nyasha had stayed up way past her bedtime to keep me company. She always kept to herself and didnt have an ear for gossip, or when she did, I was the one telling her stories. Probably because she feared saying the wrong things to her employer no matter how many times I tried to loosen her up when talking to her. She had been a jolly soul when she started working for us until I sat her down to tell her that she was there for work and not for my husband. I had come across a story on facebook of a maid who had fallen in love with the husband of her employer. I decided to warn her as a prophylaxis. Better safe than sorry right? Now, as she sat across from me late at night watching me drink in lingerie without my husband, I imagined what she thought of me: “there she goes, trying too hard.”

1 am! No sign of this man. I began to question if he had even the tiniest regard for me. I began to cry. A river of tears fell on my chest and wet the nightwear I had so carefully chosen. I was so distressed to the point that I felt like I was going to explode. I looked at the food I had made without the appetite to even try it. Trying to sleep failed as the moment I tried to close my eyes, the thoughts I was trying to run away from flooded my mind with different possibilities of what my husband could be doing. In the midst of all this thinking, I thought about my unborn child. The only thing I will have left to lean on. Wouldn’t this drinking behaviour affect the flower growing in me? I placed the almost empty bottle to the side of the chair.

It was not until 4 am that the man opened the door. Evidently he had been drinking too, not showing any remorse for coming home at such a time.

“Where have you been?” I asked him.

He hesitated before answering and I knew he was thinking of the next best lie to tell me. I felt my heart begin to race. The hairs on my skin stood erect like soldiers called to attention. The adrenaline was going up as the lump in my throat grew larger and I began to feel short of breath. My conscience tried to reprimand me but I quickly went for the bucket of cold dirty water that had been left by the maid near the door when she was done mopping and poured it over him. Her negligence had come in handy. I went for his shirt and tore it open. I grabbed a belt from the sitting room closet and started beating him up with all the energy I had. I had no idea where the strength to perform such actions came from. My parents had raised me with a teaching that violence was not an answer to anything. But I had reached my breaking point.

The man just stood there trying to block the strokes. I knew he would never hit me back. He was not that person. At that point I felt a sharp pain on the lower portion of my belly. It was so sharp that I felt like my belly was ripping. “My baby!” I cried as I fell on my knees to the floor, grappling with the stabbing pain. Was this violence my pregnancy hormones in action? Were they stealing all rationality out of me? As confused as I was, I supported myself with both hands on the floor screaming in pain. My poor husband, with a frightened and now sober look on his face, started frantically touching my body clearly not knowing what to do.

“Take me to the hospital!” I told him. Dripping water, he helped me up and sat me in the back of his car and we drove off. The termites had found a way to destroy the foundation holding our house upright. The termites began eating my internal organs! Losing my child would mean losing the only structure still binding us together.

17 October, 2023