It had been a long day.
Burnt breakfast toast, a long working day, and reaching home to find out your husband had been with another woman all along.
I had thought of this scenario multiple times in my head. How would I react if my spouse had been caught cheating? Would I scream, cry, faint? In an underwhelming turn of events, I did none of the above.
I only locked eyes with a man I thought I knew for 15 years and wracked my brain for some thought, any thought so that I could have a reaction that can be considered appropriate for the situation. Except, I couldn’t think of anything.
So, I didn’t react.
“You are the worst thing to have ever happened to me.”
10 words you don’t expect to hear from anyone, least of all a parent.
I had had a long day. My next-door neighbour called me last night to tell me that she needed a room for the night because she had just found out that her husband was with another woman.
I felt sorry for her, so I let her have my room. My father slept soundly in his room, the only other room in the house, so I took the couch.
It was early next that my father came out to see me in the living room before creating a ruckus.
“How am I supposed to watch television if there is someone asleep on the couch? I will not take it!”
I tried to reason with him, but I knew there was no point. Quietly, I got ready for the day ahead.
After serving my dad some breakfast, I ate alone in the kitchen, gobbling down bits of burnt bread and oversweetened jam, when I realized we had a house guest in the other room. It completely slipped my mind.
I knocked on her door, my door, and waited for a response.
The next thing I knew, we were both sitting on my bed, giving each other unsolicited advice.
“How can you still decide to be with him? He cheated on you! That’s the final straw,” I gave my opinion bluntly.
I didn’t understand her.
“I deserve stability in my life. I deserve to love someone and be loved. He gives me all of that,” she further explained.
How do you stop loving someone? The unspoken question lingered in the air.
I still didn’t understand her.
I got home early from work, only to be greeted by another harsh exchange.
“You said you would be home at 6:00, but you are here at 5:00, do you not have any sense of discipline?” My father screamed at me.
I argued back, then some, then I gave up. I locked myself in my room and wondered when things got so complicated.
I didn’t realize how long I had been sitting alone till I heard a knock at the door. Trina walked in, sat herself down on the bed next to me and asked, “Your father told me about your fight, do you want to talk about it?”
I shook my head no.
“Why do you put up with it?”
I looked up at her in surprise.
What did she mean?
“I mean, all I hear from next door is him screaming and you not saying anything… Why didn’t you ever move out? I mean old people can get really annoying.”
It struck a nerve with me. “I can’t just leave him! I love him!”
“I love my dad too, but I can’t be in the same room with him for more than an hour, and honestly, he feels the same way.”
I didn’t wish to continue having this conversation so I shut my eyes and before I knew it, we both fell asleep on the same bed.
Another fight broke out in the morning.
Dad didn’t like the breakfast I cooked, and I didn’t care for his attitude.
When I left for work, Trina’s words rang in my head: why do I put up with this?
The thought never occurred to me, and I willed it not to. He was my father.
The rest of the work day went as it usually does, in a blur, a bad mood, and all in the blink of an eye. Except, I had an unexpected visitor at lunch.
We had a long meal, a great conversation, and a wholesome and warm feeling by the end of the hour.
There was no ‘sorry’ said, but that was his way of apologising. His way of conveying love.
When I reached home an hour later than I had committed to, I knew I was in for another long night. But before I could unlock the door to my house and be greeted by the sight of one angry father and one worried Trina, I bumped into her husband.
Frustration was coursing through my veins and I wanted to lash out at him and accuse him of all the things he had done my friend wrong. But I chose to be civil about it, “you have some nerve to be standing here next to me.”
“I really don’t want to hear it, you don’t know anything about my side of the story, and you sure don’t know anything about Trina, so stay out of it.” Looks like he wasn’t in the mood either.
“Yeah, and I don’t want to know either.”
And for the first time, I willingly went home to the chaos and mayhem.
“Relationships are not as clear-cut as they seem. To love is easy, the easiest thing in the world, but holding on to that love, that’s what the challenge is.”
“I know you don’t understand my relationship with my father. But he is my father. And I cannot imagine a world without him.” I told Trina.
She nodded. Then she walked out.
I knew Maya wasn’t happy, but I couldn’t point out what went wrong and when. She was very close with her father, two peas in a pod, but one day, everything changed.
He became bitter, she became quiet.
I walked out of our temporary shared bedroom to get myself a glass of water and found some pills on the kitchen counter. I picked it up and read the description. It was too technical a medicine to be laying casually in someone’s house, but I didn’t have time to question it, and I trudged on to work.
But the thought plagued me at work too. So, I took to Google and read up on it. All the search results indicated only one thing: cancer.
For the rest of the day, I didn’t think about it because I didn’t know what to think.
I got home, unlocked the door, and shrugging off the guilt of being intrusive, I went straight to Trina’s father’s room to confirm the truth for myself.
Later, I went home for the first time in a really long time and lay on my bed. I wept till the pillow was soaked then I wept with my eyes closed.
Then, I got up, went to my husband and hugged him tightly.
I was cheated, betrayed, and insulted, but I knew no one could love me like him.
You can’t feel cheated, betrayed, and insulted by someone you don’t love.
And in the process, I can’t rob my children of childhood.
Without him, I wouldn’t be able to survive, be happy or even stay afloat, and neither could my kids.
Sometimes relationships are tested to overcome societal standards.
I knew I couldn’t ever leave this man.
Just like Trina couldn’t ever leave her father.
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