Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius—Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

 

Like the measles, love is most dangerous when it comes late in life—Lord Byron

 

Waking up this morning, I looked at Mikhail wondering whether he was the man I married or the man who married me. Mikhail has either changed or I have. The portly, snoring and sprawled man on the bed was not anywhere near the suave, debonair and outgoing young man who swept me of my dewy-eyed young seventeen year old girl’s legs thirty-five years ago. Maybe, I had not been observant or I watched the change disinterested. Looking at his potbelly, his dishevelled appearance even in sleep, I shuddered. He has allowed himself to go to wrack. The jowls and the extra layers of fat on his jaws, coupled with the love handles created a picture of a Michelin man. I looked at him again and questioned myself how he got to this stage and how I did not recognize his journey towards going to seed. He is however, my children’s father and my husband whom I thought carried his fatherly responsibilities to the best of his abilities. Don’t talk about his husbandly duties, which came in fits: an ill maintained old car climbing a very steep hill. Not that it matters to me now- don’t mind me, it does- but it had become a situation that cannot be helped. Just like Millie Jackson sang, I am just making the best of a bad situation. Looking at him, it seemed the scales have fallen off my eyes, and like the Johnny Nash song, I could now see clearly and I did not like what I was seeing. I remember now, the reason for this almost life-long blindness- I have been busy with my children.

When, I thought, did that man who brought starry flakes to my eyes ceased to do so? Where did he disappear? Where did my supposed darling and soul mate go leaving this shell of a man on my pillow? Why was I not able to catch him as he slipped through my hands- a cracked egg slipping through my fingers?

I remembered, I have been too busy: my children, my work and my home. Yes, busy taking care of my children, pouring my love into them and maybe not thinking of my husband. But, really I did think of him and I have served him all my years. I have served him: cooking his food, ministering to him, washing his clothes and making sure he looks good and generally keeping our home which, in most cases is called his, clean and spotless. I was the caterer for the innumerable business dinners meant to push him up in his career and also the pleasant hostess when we go to meet those tangential to his promotion. Don’t forget I was there ready for him on the bed whenever he wants me minus those times I was tired after all the work of cleaning and making our home look spick and span while facing my office work drudgery. A work I had to combine with homework nowadays because as a contemporary woman living in contemporary times, one job is not enough to maintain the family. Today’s family is a two job one and unlike my mother and her mothers before her, I cannot afford devoting all time to my home duties without touching the hallowed grounds of the office where I need to earn my own salary to complement what my husband brings to the table.

Looking at him again, I decided to start my marriage redemption work there and then. It depends on me because whenever a marriage breaks into smithereens, I had been taught and told, the fault is usually that of the woman, same as in an unfruitful marriage. This, this disinterested man sprawled on my bed could be thought to be my product but is that true I wondered? Looking at him however, I decided on starting to correct the situation there and then. Curing a diseased marriage however needs understanding the basic causes in order not to end up dealing with the symptoms rather than main causes. At the breakfast table this Saturday morning, I initiated steps meant to analyse my marriage and give it a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before it packed up.

Mika how was your night?

Fine. (My husband had become adept in monosyllabic responses.).

What are your plans for today?

Nothing.

Are you going out or what do you intend to …

Nothing woman.                                                                                                   

Nothing as in nothing?

Yes. What do you mean? What purpose are my activities to you woman?

You are my husband I think I should know.

Well, I am staying at home to rest and nothing more.

I tried another tack.

After the house cleaning, I will be going to the gym; will you come along with me?

To do what, look at you jump up and down?

Maybe take some exercises?

You mean I am too fat?

No, I don’t mean that. I mean we could take the same activities together.

Thank you, I’ll pass.

I watched him waddled to his favourite seat in front of the TV and switched it on. Packing up the dishes and afterwards preparing myself for the trip to the gym, I remembered our first time. It was at my cousin’s place. I usually stay in my Aunt’s place during most weekends. I started this habit in my secondary school’s senior year when my cousin came from the home country, Macedonia to Perth, Australia. As age mates and a stranger in a strange land, it was my responsibility to take her round and be her friend. We blended very well and she became my favourite. It was at one of such weekend that Mikhail saw me. To him it was a love at first sight, but to me I was an inexperienced young girl, who does not understand what love is and unaware of whether what I was experiencing was love or lust. He was bowled over and he couldn’t but be. Even now that I am aging gracefully, men still give me compliments and I look far too young for my age. I am a blonde, cultured and pleasant to be with. Born in Macedonia, my parents migrated to Australia when I was eight. Unlike most women from the Mediterranean, I was not brownish nor with dark or chocolate skin colour or hair. I have porcelain skin, blond hairs, icy blue eyes and tall. Most people would not believe I was from the Mediterranean area but that I was from a Scandinavian country. Despite my beauty and friendly nature, I was a fussy ball in what I eat, whom I converse with, what I wear and what I do. My parents were strict and I was brought up in an old fashioned way. I was a virgin when Mikhail saw me.

Mika, have you met Angelina before?

No.

Angelina, this is Mika, my friend’s first son. We came together from the home country.

I don’t know him and have never met him when we visit your friend.

Ah, he is in a boarding school in Mandurah, however, he is a good boy from a good home. Mika, take care of my little niece, won’t you?

Mika was just staring.

Mika, Mika.

Yes, Aunty, what?

Where have you gone? I said take care of my niece.

That’s what started it. A naïve innocent girl attracted by the freedom I thought I would get by leaving the coop I thought my parents had put me in. To me as at then, my home environment had become too constricting. To an extent, I have not been involved in all the shenanigans most young girls go through: the back of the car smooching, the fondling and fingering in dark alleys and the stolen kisses and embraces in awkward places and occasions. I lived according to my parents’ strict and narrow precepts and in spite of having two sisters who were a source of worries for them and bad models for me; I was the middle and different one who followed the narrow path. Maybe if I had followed my bad sisters path, the situation I now found myself wouldn’t have been. Thinking of it so called “bad boys and girls” usually get good women or men because their experiences as bad girls or boys prepare them for the act of deciphering me or women. Most times, they are able to sift from all those they have come across and get the good ones. Good girls or boys however lack the experience to do this. However, the word is maybe; I could have turned out worse.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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