I was tired the next morning but grateful that I would no longer have to wake up next to my husband. My phone rang. Considering how early it was I assumed he was trying to contact me, but as I reached for the phone I saw that it was Amber.
“Amber, what’s wrong?”
“Have you spoken to Sister Viola?”
“No.” I felt uneasy. Sister Viola was like a second mother to me. I had learned many things from her over the years. The fact that Amber was calling so early meant that something had happened to her. I sat upright.
“She called me asking if you were safe. Do you know what your husband did? Around 2am last night he made his way to her home waking her and her husband. He asked them to call the police because he deserved to be arrested. When asked why, he kept repeating that he was sorry and he didn’t mean to hurt his wife. They asked him what he had done to you, and again all he would say was that he was sorry and needed to be arrested. Girl, your husband is evil. She told me she didn’t sleep at all last night and was just waiting for day to break so she could call me. Byooti? She thought he had killed you.”
I was stunned. Just when I thought he couldn’t surprise me anymore. He was a real master of psychological torture. How ugly, wicked and malicious could this man be? My decision to unite in marriage with this man had caused others pain. Sometimes, in fact too often in life we are blinded by our own ambition and will. When our loved ones try to get us to reconsider our plans, we say “It’s my life. I’m not hurting anyone. I just want to be happy.” This is selfish. I never realised how many sleepless nights my life cost my parents because they worried. I will never know how many people bruised their knees in prayer on my behalf. It is true that God, a man and woman make a marriage, and those who know and love you will pray for your continued success. For those of us who saw the red flags and chose to disregard and ignore them, it is cruel and unaceptable to put our loved ones in a position to be praying on our behalf from a place of despair all because we didn’t marry well.
Neriah and I headed into town that morning. I had a few essential stops to make. I had to say goodbye to Bestie. When we arrived at her office we had to sit and wait because she was in a meeting with a client. The weight of my decision some eight months ago was beginning to be burdensome. We chatted a little, but the conversation where she had tried to warn me was replaying at the back of my mind. As we said goodbye I wondered if we would see again.
I worked with an amazing group of lively women. I was the youngest among them but never felt undervalued because of my age. They showed me that I was an equal among them. Dorothy called to find out where I was. “Stay right where you are, we’re picking you up.” She said. I shrugged my shoulders at Neriah. I had no idea what was going on. Ever heard the term ‘small up!’ Well we sure ‘smalled up’ that afternoon! Mary wasn’t specifically in out department but definitely one of us, and my supervisor Katherine was in the vehicle too. I shook my head and laughed.
Mary and I jumped out to collect the lunches whilst Dorothy circled. Available parking didn’t smile down on us that day. Then we drove to a quiet spot and found a picnic table to eat at. We had eaten lunch together a number of times but never in this location. I guess it didn’t make any sense saying that this should be our new thing. We laughed, reminisced and of course enjoyed the good food. In her true maternal way, Dorothy called the group to order. Dorothy, Mary and Katherine reminded me to be strong and no matter what the future held God would always be there. I remember tearing up as they gently spoke to me. They never once scolded me, I only felt their love and sorrow on my behalf. It was a moment of sisterhood. This song reminds me of that moment. I dedicate it to you three.
I had asked my cousin to take us to the airport. I sat in the front so that I could explain the reason behind my departure. He drove without interrupting, listening intently.
“Byooti? Why didn’t you say anything before? And now things are so bad you have to leave?”
It’s a valid question that everyone asks. Here is my answer. If you are married then you understand that as a spouse you must guard the sanctity of your marriage. Even if you confide in someone trustworthy, at the back of your mind you keep thinking that things will turn around for the better. Now how is the confidante going to be able to really give your spouse a second chance with everything they know? They can’t unknow it, you can’t help them see your spouse with fresh eyes, or help them to give your partner a clean slate. You pray and have faith that they will change. The fact is God can do anything, but he can only change those who want to change and surrender to his will. At the back of my mind, my then husband was going to change, so why inform anyone about his transgressions?
When we arrived at the airport my cousin took mine and Neriah’s cases to the check in desk. He couldn’t stay and neither could my family, but he gave us time to say goodbye. I tried to be strong. The pain and anguish of separation was too evident in their eyes. I had caused my pain and theirs. We waved goodbye as they drove away in my cousin’s mini-bus.
What a hot mess. Neriah and I checked in and headed to the departure lounge. There were many loud and unwanted thoughts crashing around inside my head. Solitaire helped drown them. We found our seats on the plane. The air hostess closed the door and began her safety instruction as we taxied towards the runway. My heart rate increased. We soared upward through the air, my deluge of tears fell. Neriah held my hand, “It’s going to be ok Byooti.” To leave my family, friends, church, job and country? What a costly mistake. ‘There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth . . . a right time to cry and another to laugh . . . a right time to search and another to count your losses,’ Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 4 & 6. The Message Bible.