Kate smoothened her jumpers and looked away from Kwaku. The sun was awake already, spraying yellow rays across the compound. She tilted her watch to check the time, avoiding a sun ray shooting at her eye. Six o’clock was too early to leave for a visit but she was determined to surprise her Papa. He would be stretching and turning to the other side of the bed. Kate imagined him to her delight. She sat by her husband, occupying the front passenger seat with restraint. Her hands rested carefully on her lap. Kwaku started the car, without a word to her. Kate chuckled, mostly to herself and looked out the window. She’s rehearsed how this morning will go, whether she will jump into her own car and drive off before Kwaku’s eyes greet the new day or she’ll leave the car and get a taxi out their gate. She even contemplated downloading that Uber app to get one of their cars.
Yet, she ended up tapping Kwaku softly on the arm, as though his skin would crack open should she touch him any harder, waking him and asking him if she could join him to work. His answer was a nod. After, he vanished into the bathroom and the rest of the morning continued in silence. How long have they been living like monks now? She sighed and continued to gaze out. They passed a dusty stretch. She for the first time watched closely as the dust rose into the air – a response to their car’s tyres. They joined a stretch of cars on the ring road. She wondered if their marriage was like the stretch giving off dust as a reaction to the unresolved tyres travelling it. Her eyes stung. She put a nail around the inner corner of her eye and saved the tears, sniffing quietly. But for the back and front conversation with Kwaku when her dad called, they haven’t spoken beyond the necessary conversations – greetings and goodnight – this past week. She had let it start. He’s been coming home late again and she was beyond herself in her mind with the many acts of cheating she imagined. She had met him at the door on Monday, not even helping with his briefcase and documents and she had yelled her fears. She didn’t mean to blurt out the way she did. She didn’t expect him to react the way he did either. He walked past her, went under the shower and slept soundly. She had kept watch throughout. That irked her further and the cycle continued like a clown company travelling towns.
Early morning traffic.
Kwaku hissed to himself, ordering his neck not to turn an inch towards Kate. Kate thought to respond, to use this to lift the cloud covering their sunshine and she didn’t. Instead, she dreamt of their first night together as a couple. Kwaku bought her this silky blue nightwear and she gave him her favorite pyjama. She had gotten it from the only trip to London with her dad though it was too obviously for males. They showered together, ordered coffee and sat up all night chatting. She had told him every extra bit of her life she worked to keep private throughout courtship. As she found out after he cheated, he had only told her bits of his whole. On evenings like Monday’s, that fact comes to haunt. How he kept his weakness for women away from her is a world war in her world. The actual act of cheating, that is only a small civil war she has let slip. On days, she was too strong to let her marriage die, on other days, she was too weak and hurt and broken to move her fist. Yet she wanted to fight. She knew she had to fight. Her devotion this morning said to fight the good fight of faith. Her marriage was central to her faith, to being a believer. She’s been afraid of letting the world see a broken church and an unfaithful Christ through hers. She wasn’t willing to bear a false testimony.
Greet dad for me. And let’s keep our marriage between us.
Kwaku kept his eyes on her. Kate hadn’t realized they were here at the bus stop. She nodded, tired. What she wanted really was a bear hug and a whole day to sob on his chest and tell him how much she’s hurting, how bad she needed him to pray for her, to be a husband to her. She got down, grabbed the shopping bag and her purse. She stood and watched him go. She didn’t wave. She couldn’t. She crossed the lone road and walked the lone stretch to Sefa’s. And as she walked, she prayed with all the strength left within her. She prayed for herself, for the resolves she made many many times. She prayed for Kwaku. She prayed how she remembers a wife should for a husband.
She said softly, standing by the entrance to the flat her dad was renting a room at. She smiled, feeling strength rushing into her soul. She sensed a freedom come over her and a sudden desire to do better for Kwaku. The love of God is shed abroad in your hearts. The scripture came briefly to her and she knew why. She pressed the button on the gate. The security man grinned broadly at her. She smiled back.
“How is it Fii?”
She looked straight at him. She always did. His vulnerability was there, in those grey pupils. She’s thought that a billion times over.
“It is okay madam. Your father hasn’t turned his lights off yet.”
He said, dishing another hefty smile.
“I hoped he wouldn’t. I thought to surprise you and him.”
Her last words made his eyes lit up. He looked intently at Kate. She pulled out another shopping bag, smaller, and with a satisfied smile and a hint of tears in her eyes, she handed it to him.
“Thank you ma.”
His muffled words came out.
“Expect another next week.” Kate said, without prior thought and made for the entrance to the flat. She met Fii a day after Sefa settled in. She’s never been huge on instant promptings by the Holy Spirit and yet there she was asking him personal questions she won’t even ask any of her patients before she stopped practising. She found out he was the only son of a large family, a junior high graduate and the surrogate father for the whole home. However what made her take to him was he still had dreams. He was taking remedial to write WASSCE and hopefully get into the police force. His salary as a west coast guard would have been enough for him alone. As it stands it was not. She decided to help, now with food and later with money; when she’s good with Kwaku.
She hurried into her father’s room, few minutes from the entrance and entered his lock code. She walked as on eggshells into the room. She didn’t want to knock and wake him. Her surprise will be ruined. When she entered, he was sitting on the sofa, to the window, his eyes closed. He didn’t turn to the noise of her shoes. Her doctor alter took over and she was by his feet, brushing on his shoulders to wake him. Sefa sat still for a full minute. Kate fell into a frenzy. She scurried through her purse for her phone, realized she was holding it and put a call through to Kwaku. Then she rushed to the door to get help. Sefa stood up laughing. He had surprised her.
Kate sunk into the sofa, her worry lines slowly fading.
“I heard you and Fii from the bedroom. I outsmarted you.”
“Eavesdropping isn’t a good attitude Dad.”
“For little girls.”
Sefa laughed and joined Kate. He wrapped both hands around hers and looked long into her eyes.
“I’ll die someday Kate.”
Kate said, her heart swelling to the fear of losing the one constant in her life’s equation.
“I’ll soon Kate. We have to come to terms with it.”
“And should I be unable?”
“You can because you have a Father who will outlive me.”
Sefa’s words left his lips with shame. These convictions are so buried deep and yet he wasn’t willing to walk his talk or even his heart’s talk.
Kate brushed aside a tear and lifting both feet into the sofa, cuddled against her father. She didn’t want to cry. Should she, he would know her tears are about more than their conversation and she wanted to obey her husband; to keep their marriage between them. Those words stung with his pride. The same pride that kept him from disclosing his flaws and seeking any help. Kate and Sefa stayed cuddled up for about five minutes, listening to their heartbeats and doing no more than an occasional lift of the eye to look at each other’s face as if to be sure they were both alive. Sefa’s phone rang. Kate got it for him.
She said in her lowest tone as he pressed the phone against his ear, slid the glass door and strode to the balcony. Kate went for the shopping bag and pushed the four bowls of frozen stew and soup into the freezer section of the fridge. She shut the door and watched as her father paced his fingers along the ends of the wall. She wondered and then worried. Has he run another test without her knowing? Was the condition worse than she thought? Sefa came back into the room, his demeanour irenic. He smiled at Kate.
“I’m alright. Dr. Fafa wants to come over for a conversation with me. Do you mind me sending you away for about an hour?”
“I do but dad needs his space. I’ll call Dzidzor and go and lazy in her office.”
“I love you.” Sefa hugged his daughter, weak to let her walk away. He wondered how things will change from this moment.
“I love you, Papa.” Kate rested in her father’s embrace. She felt it warmer than usual and she didn’t mind. He was dying. She would enjoy as much of him as he’d let her. She stepped back from the hug, grabbed her purse and left. Before, she turned to Sefa, her eyes bright and a goofy grin on her face.
“My asankam with Koobi will be for lunch.”
“At your service.”
Sefa did a bow and laughed. He teared as he watched her go and he sat unsure about where life is taking him. Fafa said Fiona wants to meet him. They’d be over at his apartment soon and his fate will be decided. He hoped she wouldn’t come with a knife nor a bouquet. He didn’t know what to hope. He sat and waited.
©M’afua Awo Twumwaah 2017.