The Miserable Love Life

By Mapenzi Lajole
Mapenzi Lajole's stories

Spending six years with a man and breaking up is waste of time in a girl’s life. I dated my ex-boyfriend Ndayambaje, since 2017 December. Our love life was like the ones you see in movies. Whenever I came home from school I would go straight to his place. Ndayambaje had a small house that had a sitting room and a bedroom, close to his father’s house. This is where we would spend our evening time and I could go back to my father’s house where I lived at around 9pm. Whenever I would leave after dark he would not allow me to walk alone. He would escort me home. I got used to him to the extent that I felt like I can just be staying with him the whole night, without going home.

Ndayambaje is a Burundian National who fled Burundi with his family in 2015. At that time, there was political instability in Burundi and his father thought it was necessary for the family to flee. That’s how he found himself in Dzaleka Refugee Camp, in Malawi. I was sixteen years old when I met Ndayambaje. I arrived in Dzaleka in 2013 when I was fourteen. I am a Congolese by nationality. When I arrived in Dzaleka I didn’t know anyone from Burundi. It is really hard for Congolese and Burundians to connect. Families does not support it when one wants to engage in a relationship with the other. Most of the times they tell the other party that they don’t want to see them at their place again. Families from these nationalities don’t support romance between them unless children force it to happen.

We got to know each other in high school during exams. That time, I came to check the time table and he found me standing while checking it. The first time he saw me he approached me and greeted me. He asked me if we could become friends and I accepted. We therefore exchanged contacts as well. That was the beginning of our friendship.

Over the next two years we got used to each other until we reached the point of hanging around together. We had only been saying hi to each other, but after that the hi changed into hanging out. We used to walk to a nearby dam, in Mtanda, a village near Dzaleka. Mtanda is rural and very different from Dzaleka, which is very crowded. Many people love to visit the dam because it’s quieter and they can relax. The dam is like a romance spot. It has some glades where people can lay a small cloth and sit on it while they enjoy the view of birds flying across the top of the water. I can say that there is no other place that young people go together in Dzaleka, apart from them going to visit the dam. Ndayambaje and I would see other kids coming to visit the place. However, even if many people go there they can all sit at a distance because the place is big.

I liked it when we were having a walk because there was no lonely feeling whenever he was around me. He made wise-cracks and could make me laugh all the time: “I wish I can fly like an eagle so that I can carry you on my back to Dubai!” We all laughed after he said this. I told him that I wished it was possible because I want to visit that place, too.

One day after class, he told me that he had something serious to tell me but he didn’t know how to start. I told him that it was okay for him to share with me. It was at 4pm sharp when we knocked off. He waited for me at the gate of the school to tell me, and here is how our conversation went:
Ndayambaje: (with a smiling face) Hi Lajo! Are you good? I was just waiting at the gate so that I can talk to you.
Me: Awww! Is everything okay (my eyes widely open)?
Ndayambaje: Yeah. All is fine. I just have something to tell you, but I don’t know where to start. I don’t know if you’re comfortable us talking on the way home (looking down with a shy face).
Me: It’s okay! You can talk to me (smiling). You know you’re my friend and there’s nothing we can’t talk about to each other.
Ndayambaje: Okay then (still looking down). I would like us to be more than friends.
Me: (after a pause) Can you please clarify what you are saying?
Ndayambaje: Alright… I want you to be my girlfriend.
Me: (after a longer pause) Oooh my gosh! To be honest, I am not ready to be in a relationship. I think we should just continue to be friends.
Ndayambaje: Okay, if that’s what you say. It’s okay my dear. I hope that my saying this will not change our friendship. I hope we keep being friends and this will not affect us.
Me: (smiling) Yes, it’s okay. Have a blessed evening!

Three months from that time he again asked me to be his girlfriend. He again told me that he would be happy to have me as his woman. By this time, I had started really liking him more. I did not hesitate. I accepted his request. It was an amazing feeling being in a love relationship with a person that started with being a friend to me. I felt laughter in my throat. After I accepted him, he took me to Absinia, a fancy restaurant where we had a great time. There are only two fancy restaurants in Dzaleka: Absinia and the Adino and Abdul restaurant. These restaurants are in quiet places where you can easily chat with your friend, discussing matters of the heart, without being disturbed. I ordered my favorite meal, Chips and Chicken. It was so sweet and delicious—the beginning of our relationship was so sweet.

After three years, Ndayambaje decided to leave his father’s house and moved to the capitol city, Lilongwe. He opened a small shop that sold groceries, like sugar, bread, cooking oil, and soft drinks in Area 25B, on Kabwabwa street. It takes one hour for someone to travel from Dzaleka to the Lilongwe neighborhood of area 25B. To get there you ride small buses that go from Dzaleka to Lilongwe, changing buses at Kenengo. It became hard to meet; the capital city was too far from Dzaleka, where I stayed. Our relationship shifted to online dating, making video calls almost every day.

After a short time, I noticed that Ndayambaje was not active anymore, not like before. It reached a point where we would talk only once a week. I would call and get a notification that his phone was ringing but he would not pick up. I asked him what was wrong, but he said everything was okay. One day, I decided to go to visit without telling him that I was coming. I wish I hadn’t done that; it was a bad idea.

I had a friend, Tiyamike, who I knew in high school. Her family moved to Lilongwe to do business, and they were neighbors with Ndayambaje in area 25B, Kabwabwa. She used to tell me that Ndayambaje cheats on me with different ladies, but I wouldn’t believe her. I told her that I will only believe it after my eyes have testified. She gave me a plan of going to him unannounced, because she knew when his other girlfriends were showing up. Tiyamike told me to visit on Sunday at 12:00 pm and I did. I could not believe what my eyes would see: I witnessed my boyfriend cheating on me, and I confronted him. While crying, I asked him why he would be such a liar to me. “I am tired of our relationship,” he said, shocking me. “And, moreover, I am not the type of guy who does long distance relationships.” I was so disappointed hearing this from the man I loved. I went straight to the bus depot and went back home. I was crying the whole day in my room. Why would my man do such a thing to me?

Ndayambaje called me that evening, but I could not pick up the phone. The next morning he called again, and begged me for forgiveness. Because I loved him, I decided to forgive him. After one year, I started falling for a different friend who was near me, and I ended up cheating on Ndayambaje. What gave me courage to cheat on him was because he had cheated on me. However, I felt very bad after doing it because it didn’t change the fact that I loved him. I kept it secret, but Ndayambaje heard about it from the guy I was cheating with. The guy told him to warn Ndayambaje away, because he wanted to be my new boyfriend. This was a very big mistake, because I did not love him and I loved Ndayambaje.

Ndayambaje could not forgive me no matter how many times I asked for forgiveness. I chose to stay alone because he would not forgive me for the mistakes I made. I wish we could forgive each other and start afresh because I am still in love with him.

23 July, 2023