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“My life wastes away each day, the pain is so much – I can feel my heart breaking. Your father has caused me so much suffering, stress is eating me up,” Molly narrated the excruciating phase of her life to her daughter before she abruptly ended the call.
Wiping tears that had hugely formed from her red shot eyes – a clear proof of the long sleepless nights she had expended, she readied herself to welcome a visitor, who, for some reason had ushered themselves into the living room.
Heaving a sigh from a place of pure sadness, she extended her half numb hand (as I learnt later) to greet me, a thought she traded almost instantly for a long emotional embrace. This particular hug felt different from the usual, the tighter she held me, the more evident her bony structure felt.
The once ‘fleshy’ elegant woman, my God mother, had now not only lost hope and happiness to the prevalent mental torture from her husband, but her entire being too.
Just like many other helpless women, Molly, for 38 years now, has done nothing but dedicate her effort, time and resources to keeping her marriage intact. With three children; a 20 year old girl and 23 year old twin boys, the family has been a model to many. Educated from good schools, Molly is proud of her children.
She has had a satisfying career as an enrolled midwife, worked for government and Non Governmental Organisations, an opportunity that secured her family’s financial status. Her husband has, is still operating his duties in civil engineering and together, they have had a life worth living.
The calm, however, veered off their course when in 2018, only a few years back, her relationship with the love of her life, a man she married soon after graduating from medical school, started hitting rocks.
Like in many other similar situations, her beloved husband embarked on a journey of making endless excuses for his many shortcomings that seemed to have erupted out of nowhere but took root almost immediately.
“He is no longer the man I knew. He is cold. I am well aware of the demands of his job but taking a full month away has never been his practice,” Molly narrated her thoughts, as she felt at the beginning of the ordeal, that was yet to unfold before her face.
As she approached her late forty’s, Molly started experiencing health complications like paralysis, numbness in some parts of her body and other ailments that have left her a bit incompetent for her job, midwifery. The earnings from her private clinic have sorely catered for her treatments and well being considering the insensitive, uncaring human that her husband has become.
The thought of being left on her own by a person she said ‘Till death do us part’ to, in this her ill health, crushes her spirit to pieces every single day.
“I called him one Friday night when the pain from my illness was too overwhelming to bear but all he said was; I am definitely not a healer so I cannot help you,” Molly said, with fresh tears cascading her pale ashy cheek bones, bending her head low as a lonely squeak of the many cries escaped her mouth.
The on and off conversation between my Godmother and I, saw me weep myself. This is one of the few encounters I had with her, before the final blow that almost cost her the most precious thing she held on to, her life.
A few months later, I learnt of the news of her breakdown from my cousin through a short phone call I received that saw me take the earliest bus from Kampala to Ntungamo-Rwashamaire, my home place.
“Patie (as many prefer to shorten my name) mummy is in the hospital, she got unconscious last evening, and I think she had a fight with dad,” Ritah sounded both scared and angry.
Upon my arrival, on a cold evening in June 2019, I got to know the reason for the alleged ‘unconsciousness’. My Godmother, in her shaky health status, her estranged husband had opened up to her about his infidelity and the fruit of his love affair outside their seemingly wholesome marriage, a year old baby girl.
“It all adds up, now that he says so. I now understand why he lost interest in any matter concerning our family, it’s clear now that all he ever wanted was for me to back off and clear the way for his new found love and that bastard daughter of his,” Molly shouted as she pushed off the blue beddings that hang loose on the squeaky hospital bed.
Her lips trembled uncontrollably, tears wetted her white dotted sweater and the nose let loose too. Pity is all that every face exuded, he hit her right where it hurt most.
No word of comfort seemed to reach my poor Godmother and at this point, she was so distraught that she didn’t care who saw or heard, after all, “what is dignity when the heart can’t stop aching?” she said, sneezing into her already stuffed handkerchief.
The people closest to her started to give counts of her misery, how she had lost weight in a couple of weeks, the uncertainty of her silence and more so, the grief that everyone could see in her eyes, no matter how best she tried to act ‘normal’.
As if rising from a deep ditch of terror, Molly, with all the strength left in her, sat straight in the bed and before we gave her the attention, she was flying off with an open catheter and a hanging IV drip that followed her lead till a nurse rescued the situation.
A day after she was discharged, I visited her home as I planned to get back to work. The air around the house was still tense and somber, my Godmother was still in thrall to the pain and sadness. She, however, had come to a conclusion that, “I have to live a life that I deserve, I must get away from all this.”
I didn’t know exactly what she meant by “getting away” but I knew and I could see it in her eyes, that she was ready to take control of the situation. She spoke a bit more freely, as if the disheartening news had somehow freed her soul from a bondage that had enslaved her in misery for a year and so.
The dissolution of her marriage is, like she phrased, “my one way ticket to facing reality and starting all over again.”
Even with a personal conclusion she came to, Molly says there are things that the heart cannot just erase.
“Starting over, at this age is hard. But if that is what will save me from this scorching hell, then so be it. Looking back at this whole chuck of my years invested in making my marriage work, I wonder how I got so blinded that I didn’t see it coming,” she explained in our local language(Runyankore) that made the listening even sadder for me.
A Uganda Bureau of Statistics 2018 report shows that out of the 1.2 million divorce/separation cases studied, 68.2% of the cases are female compared to the 31.2 % males. It also indicates that out of the 1.3 million widowed cases studied, 87.4% are females whereas males take 12.6%.
In both cases, women are at a center stage of either raising families alone or for those who try to ‘hang in there’ eventually decide on annulling their marriages due to reasons like the above; infidelity of their partners.
This is in no way meant to tarnish marriage and its concepts, some marriages are thriving and people are happy but a huge percentage of the same is weighing at a knife edge, staring at their breaking point in the face.
With these staggering figures, the whole idea of marriage and the beliefs associated with it, is only but mere confusion for many people among whom are the youths like myself, who are expected to carry on the baton to next generations.