(Continued from A Complete Family IV)
“So why are you not married?” Rose asks.
Jediel does not respond immediately. They are walking along a dirt path just outside Embu town. They met at the lunch hour meeting that Rose now attends regularly. On the day they met, Rose’s three-month pregnancy was giving her a particularly hard time, but she had pushed herself to attend the fellowship. But as the worship was going on, she had suddenly felt nauseous and light-headed. She had felt like she was going to vomit and faint at the same time. So she had grabbed the stranger who was standing next to her for support.
The stranger had grabbed her by the elbows and guided her out of the sanctuary, then took her to his car, an old Nissan Sunny, bought her a bottle of water from a hawker and helped her settle at the backseat of the car.
“What you need is lots of fresh air,” he had said when she told him that she was not really sick, just pregnant. “And I know just the place that will help you.”
So he had driven her to this very place, his car rattling and jerking with age. He had parked at the side of the road then helped her out. Then, while holding her hand, he had taken her for a walk along the tree-lined dirt road, before driving her back to her office. With the benefit of hindsight, it was stupid of her to trust a stranger like that, but Jediel has turned out to be such a good friend. Walking along this path has become a routine for both of them. They walk every evening before she drives home.
His name is Jediel Njiru. He is a businessman and a farmer. He owns a cereals shop in Embu town and as well a couple of farms. He is not married. Over the last few months they have become very close friends. She has been to his home and farm in Runyenjes several times. He is the one who takes her for her appointments at the prenatal clinic. He has even proposed marriage.
“I am a married woman, Jediel,” she had replied.
“Yea, married to a man who is now living with another woman who he has impregnated. A father who doesn’t even know “his wife” is pregnant because he is busy with his other pregnant wife. Sounds like a very caring husband and father to me,”
“Cut the sarcasm, Jediel. George fought for me when his mother was kicking me out. He would actually have thrown her out, I am the one who stopped him,” Rose had protested.
“If he were serious about you, he would have rented an apartment for you, and that would have become his new home.”
“What would have become of our old home?”
“What is more important to him? You or a piece of land and a house? You could easily have acquired another home together. He is married and happy, Rose. But are you? Why are you putting your life on hold for someone who has already moved on?”
Rose has not yet officially agreed to marry Jediel, but from the day they had that conversation she had started feeling like his girlfriend. For his birthday last month, she bought him a brand new Toyota Fielder to replace his ancient Nissan. Whenever she visits the farm in Runyenjes, she finds herself talking about “our farm”. She has even decided to help him to acquire another farm, but she cannot do that right away because she is still paying the loan she took to help George open two new restaurants. She bought the fielder using her savings, and she cannot dare touch the remaining savings because that would leave her financially vulnerable in case she loses her job suddenly.
They have been kissing, but that is as far as it goes. She practiced chastity-till-marriage with George, and while she is no longer a virgin, she has no intention of having sex with a man who is not officially her husband. There is only one thing that has been bothering her. Why is a 35-year-old man not married?
The sun is setting as they walk down the valley towards the stream, with the sun’s golden glow bouncing off their faces. They usually turn back at the stream.
“I dated a girl for close to twelve years,” Jediel says finally.
“Twelve? What were you waiting for?”
“We started dating in our first year of campus. We dated for the six school years because she was studying medicine. I completed before her because my course, Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, is a four-year course. I got a job at an NGO and started getting ready for our wedding, you know, saving and whatnot, so that once she completed her studies and her internship we would get married immediately. But then she got a scholarship to do her masters in the US. She really wanted to go and I didn’t want to stand between her and her dreams. So I agreed to wait a little longer. So she went. She finished her masters and got a job there and told me she would come for me so that we could get married and move there. But that did not happen. A few years later she married an Italian-American doctor in Boston and that was the end of it. She didn’t even break up with me. I just saw pictures of her wedding on Facebook and shortly after she blocked me both on Facebook and WhatsApp.”
“I am so sorry Jediel. That was cruel. You must have loved her very much to have waited that long,”
“Yes, I did. I struggled for a few years to get over her but it is all in the past now. She is happy, and I deserve to be happy with a woman I love too. The same thing I am telling you about you and your ex-husband.”
Rose sighs, then pulls him closer to herself and kisses him on the lips.
“You are right. We deserve to be happy. I will marry you. But first I need to divorce George. Any idea how I can start?”
“I have a lawyer friend in town. He is a workaholic so I think we will still catch him in the office,” Jediel replies, rubbing her belly…the belly carrying George’s seven-month pregnancy.
George is in the office early in the morning when he is served with the divorce petition. He is stunned. Rose has decided to pull the plug? So soon? He picks up his phone immediately and calls her.
“Hi George,” Rose says calmly.
George. How long ago was it when she used to call him ‘babe’ and ‘sweetheart’?
“Hi Rose,” he replies then pauses. Should he go directly and ask her about the divorce? Will that sound cold and aloof? But then again, won’t small talk sound awkward? “How are you?” he says finally.
“I am fine George. How are you?”
“I haven’t been fine since you left Rose, and this morning I have received papers that have made my situation even worse,”
It is Rose’s turn to pause.
“I think it is for the best George,”
“Is there…I mean have you met someone else?”
This is becoming awkward, Rose thinks. It is surprising how her best friend and life partner for over five years has turned into a stranger in just a few months.
“Yes, I have. We are planning to get married but you see that cannot happen because I am still legally married to you.”
Get married? George wants to scream that it is a mistake, that the guy is a rebound. That they can still work things out, but he doesn’t want to sound dramatic.
“I see. I was hoping there was still a chance for us,”
Rose feels a flash of irritation but manages to keep her tone calm.
“You are technically married and your mother even sent me the pregnancy tests of your wife,”
Rose feels weird saying “your wife” to George in reference to another woman.
“I do not consider that woman my wife,”
“But she is living in your house and is carrying your child. If you didn’t abandon her to come to me before you knew she was pregnant, I don’t think you are going to do so now when you know she is carrying your baby. So it is just best we part ways legally.”
George feels a spark of guilt. Of course she is right. He could have abandoned Jacinta and Karambu in his house and rented an apartment with Rose, but he didn’t. He was so hell-bent on evicting them that it did not occur to him that he could do so while living with Rose in a rented house. And now it is too late.
“Okay, Rose. Just do me one favor. Meet me once, just the two of us, so that we agree on how to split the property. I don’t think we should involve lawyers in that,”
“George, I know your business is financially vulnerable because of the recent expansion. If I take cash you will have cash flow problems. The business might even collapse. It is not my intention to ruin you. You have worked hard to get where you are. I really don’t want anything from you, other than you allowing the divorce to go through,”
“You sacrificed a lot to help me grow the business during the time we were together. I will always feel like a fraud if I don’t give you your rightful share,”
“I did it because I loved you, George. And even though things didn’t work out, I don’t regret loving you or even marrying you. I still think you are the best thing that ever happened to me. So keep the property, and consider it a little gift from me to you for the five years of happiness that you gave me as your wife,”
Tears sting George’s eyes. Her words are just reminding him of the jewel he has lost in his life.
“Okay, Rose. But I will be servicing your loan until it is fully paid. I know your account number and the monthly installments that are due,”
“I will also transfer the Ndagani property to you. It is my little gift to you for the five years of happiness you gave me as your husband.”
In spite of herself, Rose smiles.
“That property sits on inherited land George. Your mother will curse me with everything she has, and even invite her ancestors into the cursing parade,”
“That is precisely why I am giving it to you, Rose. She played a key role in destroying our marriage, and I know you owning the property next to her home, property that once belonged first to her husband then to her son, will annoy her until the day she dies,”
“You are cruel. But for that same reason, I will accept that gift,”
“One final thing Rose. Are you happy…with him?”
Rose takes a deep breath.
“Then I wish you all the best. I will not fight this divorce. I will not even hire a lawyer. Within a few months, you should be free to marry again,”
“Goodbye Rose,” George says. He wants to add ‘I love you’ but reminds himself that Rose, his Rose, belongs to someone else now. “Take care,” he says instead.
“Goodbye George, and thanks for everything.”
As soon as he terminates the call, George smashes his phone on the wall. Streams of hot tears shoot down his cheeks. He tried to be calm and civil with Rose on the phone, but his heart has been torn into tiny bits. Is this how his marriage was supposed to end?
[To be continued]
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