BY LAWRENCE KADZITCHE
As we walked hand in hand towards the market, my mind was on the honeymoon we had just finished the previous day. We had visited interesting places in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Well, people are right that money can’t buy love but certainly it can buy happiness, I reflected dreamingly. I didn’t love Simbwa or care a tinker’s damn about him as a person but I cared a lot about the money he had.
He wasn’t handsome at all. And being twice my age didn’t help matters either. But his age and looks put aside, the man had money and knew how to entertain a woman. I just had to say what I wanted and it would be there much faster than I had asked for it.
In such circumstances, I had no cause to regret the break between my former husband and me. You see, David was a handsome young man who worked as a bank clerk. We met at a party and fell in love madly with each other.
We got married six months after our first meeting. It was a happy marriage until financial problems started throwing spanners in the works. When I had agreed to marry him, I hadn’t known how much a bank clerk earned but I had hoped it would be enough for him to buy me expensive clothes and take me out to posh hotels and the lake.
Then I realized that one couldn’t do that on a clerk’s salary. David’s salary was only enough to buy basic things and food. I was disillusioned but I loved him so much and decided to wait until he got promoted.
But promotions don’t come easily, be it in banks or any organization, I quickly found out. I’d have to wait for at least ten years before my husband got a position in the bank that would enable him provide for all my wishes.
I wasn’t prepared to wait for that long. After all, who knows what the future holds? I could be dead by the time he got a senior position. I had to concern myself with the present and let the future take care of itself.
So, when I met Simbwa, it was like a heaven–sent gift. Everything about the man exuded money; from his expensive Mercedes Benz to his immaculate black suit. I knew I had stumbled on a PIN number of an auto-teller card to a fat bank account.
A passionate love affair blossomed between us. Simbwa was a local business tycoon who owned a chain of retail shops and a travel agency. Money was no issue.
I decided to ditch David for Simbwa. One day I deliberately made him forget a file when he was going to work. I knew he would come back for it. I also knew that Simbwa would be visiting me the same morning.
And so when David returned for his file, he found me in Simbwa’s arms.
“Don’t be surprised, dear. I’m leaving you for a man with money, that’s all,” I told him patting Simbwa on the shoulder. “You should be able to find some drab stupid woman who’ll be contented with your miserable salary.”
That is how my marriage with David ended. I eloped with Simbwa and went on the fantastic honeymoon from which we had just returned.
My thoughts faded as we approached the market. I saw an old friend of mine coming our way.
“Hello, Liz,” I greeted her airily.
Liz stared at me as if she was looking at a ghost. “My God!” she exclaimed and dashed off, her face a mask of horror.
Astonished, I watched her disappear.
When we reached the market, my astonishment turned into confusion. Everyone stared at me the same way Liz had done. Very close friends run away from me while those that simply knew me, gave me a wide berth the way children do at the approach of a strange dog.
I couldn’t understand what was happening. How could everyone have changed so drastically over the one month I had been away?
Worried, I went to an old hawker who was a very good friend of mine.
“Jesus! Is that you, Anita?” the hawker asked, his eyes wide with fear and surprise.
“You can see I’m the one, Mjomba,” I replied uneasily.
Mjomba stared at me in disbelief. “It can’t be! You…you are dead!”
The words hit me like a stone on the back of my head. “Dead?” I inquired incredulously. ‘How?”
“Yes, in a road accident in Zimbabwe. It was in the classified advertisements of all the local major newspapers.”
Half an hour later, I arrived at David’s house shaking with rage. I found him sitting in a wicket chair on the verandah. “How could you do this to me, idiot?” I barked, waving a newspaper at him.
David smiled at me. “I loved you very much, Anita. You found another man and you had to leave me for him. That was all right; I couldn’t force you to stay with me against your will. But what pained me most was the way you left me. As if leaving me was not enough, you had to humiliate me as well. So I thought the advert was a befitting farewell to a woman I loved so much but who had treated me like dirt.”
The classified advert he had placed in the newspaper flashed in my mind like an inscription on a tombstone.
My dear Anita, read the message, your sudden departure in that fatal car accident in Zimbabwe is very painful to me. I don’t understand why you had to leave me. Life is unbearable without you. RIP. David.
I abruptly turned and walked away. I felt a strange shiver, like the one they say you have when someone walks on your grave.