The shoes don’t fit Part IV: I used to be her
The hospital corridors are quiet, and somehow I find this unusual. The last time I found myself waiting on a bench in a hospital corridor for the doctor to tell me how the operation went, was just before my grandmother passed. Her kidneys failed her, and they had tried everything they could to save her, but the damage was just too much.
I can hear the doctor’s feet tapping the floor in harmony as he approaches me. His face looks sullen and gloomy, and immediately I can predict what he is about to tell me. He comes to me and asks where the rest of the family members are, and right at that moment the husband’s sister and aunt approach from the other end of the corridor.
“We tirelessly tried to remove the two knives lodged in your husband’s chest and neck, that is why we took so long”
“He is not my husband”, I say as a matter of fact, in my heart.
“Unfortunately, there was too much internal bleeding. We tried everything we could to save him but we couldn’t. I am sorry for your loss mma”
The screams from the husband’s sister and aunt pierce the stillness of the night. The corridor suddenly becomes alive with nurses and patients who are woken up by the screams, their curious faces peeping through the doors of their wards. I sit down, slowly, and process the inevitable freedom I may have just gained. The husband has died. The words keep on ringing in my head. He is gone. I am free. I think I remember the meaning of happiness. I am so happy that the screams do not even bother me. I am happy that his ways of living led him to his death. The police say he was attacked at his nyatsi’s house; such disrespect. They do not know the men who attacked him but what they find odd is that the girlfriend was not harmed in any way. They will never know who did it. His death has opened not only my freedom, but his killers’. They have left with the secret.
Two days has passed and I cannot not stop counting hours. I have been sitting on this mattress; head bowed down and covered with a blanket because I should be mourning their son. Just like on the first day I came here, I have become the centre of attention. People come in and go out to offer their condolences. I just stare down, because I don’t know what else to do. I keep on thinking about how I became this person. They created the monster in me. I have become a person who rejoices over death, I laugh at people’s tears.
I am a brittle, gloomy and wispy being. They have taken me away from me in just nine months. They have forced me to give my physical being in exchange of land. To trade my freedom to imprisonment; of thoughts and deeds and being. I have had pain as my way of living; as soul food. I have had pain as my clothing garments; my identity. I have had pain as a defining factor for my life for the past nine months.
As for freedom, it is a dream come true. How I got it does not matter, what matters is that I can call it mine, and cling to it for as long as I can. I have dreamt of my freedom for the longest time. Three more days and I am done. The land and granddaughter payment contract has finally been terminated. I am tired inside, and as I plan my next move, I hope there will be no more shadows of myself lingering where my whole being should be, and that I will find my voice again. Stronger, bolder and full of my paused life’s hopes and dreams. The person I have in mind will be hard to resurrect, there is wreckage, a heap of tiny pieces of months of pain, scattered all over the place. I am not bothered much, because nine months have folded me in pain but this death, the greatest thing that has ever happened to give me my freedom, has erased my confinement and given me the opportunity to start all over again.
I do not know how long it is going to take, all I know is that in the next few months I will look back at this person who is sitting on this mattress, covered in a blanket and mourning the husband who she had never acknowledged and had, and tell those who care to listen that I used to be her