The world has a way of making you discover the things you have never thought of looking for. I knew this when I stretched my hand, absent minded to pick two receipts the waiter had placed on our table. I would not have noticed anything strange if my husband had not stretched his hand in an attempt to snatch them from me.
There were two receipts, one for our table and the other for another table, which we all turned to look at. My first born daughter, who is in secondary, school asked my husband, in surprise, “Is that not the lady you came with on visiting day? The one you work with?”
The ground rotated beneath me… My mind stopped. My knees were weak and my hands were trembling. With much effort, I stood up and walked slowly to the other table. Before I handed over the receipt, I thought my husband had shrunk. There in front of me was a mini version of my husband, only this one was clean shaven.
More strength drained from my body. I leaned forward slowly, supported my weight on a chair at the table, and sat down next to the woman and boy. I looked into the woman’s eyes, then at my husband who was standing right behind me, and asked, “Is this your son?”
I got no answer.
He placed his hand under my upper arm and helped me stand. He walked me to the car. Once I was comfortably seated he went back to the hotel, I think to pay the bill.
Tears welled up in my eyes.. I placed my head on my hands and sobbed.. Thoughts ran through my mind. My husband and I almost never had any problems. If there was any, we solved them quietly. Every time our eyes met, we smiled. We cuddled in bed, we kissed in the evening, we kissed in the morning. I waited up for him at night, I served him hot food. I thought this would replace his desire to sire a baby boy.
He was a good husband and father. We had everything. We went out every Sunday. He saw our children every school visiting day with bags and bags of sweet food and drinks. My daughters adored him. He is their hero.
The doors of the car opened. My husband and daughters entered. I wiped the tears away and stared into the rear view mirror. Our first born daughter, my dad’s favorite, was staring into her phone, harder than usual trying to avoid looking up at us. The second girl placed her earphones in her ears and stared out of the window. The third stared at me, the fourth, my favorite, looked at me, worried, and asked, “Mama, why are your eyes red?” I turned stretched my arms, picked her up and placed her on my lap. I kissed her lightly on the forehead and stared straight ahead.
My mind rushed to three years ago, when we visited this woman in hospital.. as my husband’s workmate. My husband brought a friend, so I did not ask many questions. I remember how excited my husband was when holding this baby, I thought it was because we did not have any sons, and was excited to hold a boy.
Every hotel we visited, I noticed the lady visited too. One day, I mentioned it to my husband and he said casually. “Our firm recommends these hotels.” Tears welled up in my eyes again. I tried very hard not to let them run down my cheeks. I looked down, trying to avoid the rear view mirror. I involuntarily closed my eyes, the tears ran down my cheeks on to my little sweethearts forehead. I wiped them, and whispered into her ear that my eyes were sick. There was a stubborn knot in my throat as I tried very hard not to sob.
My heart felt heavy, I cannot begin to explain how many invisible knives were cutting through my stomach, when I tried to figure out how many people knew about my husband’s affair. His office, his friends, the waiters, the hospital, my friends, maybe my neighbors, and now our children. My heart sank deeper. I am always smart, hair well made, I speak politely, I smile at everyone and I feel okay.
That day, I felt like nothing mattered anymore. All the time I thought I was okay, my husband and everybody else knew my world was falling apart.
Then I remembered the frequent business trips. The beautiful gifts, well selected, and the money that I received from my husband after every trip. My daughters were showered with more love everyday. I suspected nothing.
My mind came back to present just as we arrived home. My husband opened the door, stepped aside and let us in. The older girls went to their rooms.. One of the younger ones switched on the TV, and joined the youngest beside me, on the sofa. My husband went to the kitchen and came back holding a cup of warm drinking chocolate and handed it to me. I sipped.
“If my husband was cruel”, I thought, “if he assaulted and insulted me…. would I hurt less?”, I sighed. The baby in my womb moved gently and stretched. I placed my hand on my tummy, and caressed it slowly. A limb gently touched the place where my hand rested.
“I loved the girl in there”, nothing else mattered.
I could not explain what I felt for my husband then. But I knew, I did not want him to touch me at all. I switched my attention completely to the TV.