Recently,  I was speaking to a friend and he was telling me that time heals, that no matter what we go through, whether it’s the death of a loved one, a partner’s infidelity, your best friend’s betrayal, or any other incidents that have hurt you or had a profound impact on you and your psyche. Before I tell you what I said to him several incidents flashed through my mind …

I remembered Amina, when she was sixteen, David, a close family friend befriended her, he was over ten years older than her he took her to his home and had sex with her. While Amina had been wondering what sex would have been like, normal curiosity for a teenager what with all the peer pressure and love stories she watches and reads, nothing prepared her for the bizarre twists and turns of what happened thereafter. Amina, was in a daze from the minute the whole episode started to happen, the person she trusted was doing the unimaginable to her. He was touching her in places she knew he shouldn’t be touching and as he was doing that, he was murmuring, ”So beautiful, don’t tell anyone this happened” “Let’s make sure you won’t get pregnant”, he wore a condom.

For the next 16 years, Amina and David were lovers on and off. It was a relationship that Amina worked hard to break, she had several relationships to help her break it, but she always went back to David. In the meantime, David took advantage of the fact he ensured that he had a secret and continued with his life, he dated other people and flaunted the relationships in front of Amina.  The whole experience was gut-wrenching and Amina was always anxious and expected the worst from David. Yet, she was unable to leave him, even when she became an adult. She clung to him and he continually betrayed her in every way, this troubled her and she kept wondering how she would get out of this unhealthy situation. She read self -help books,  wrote David letters letting him know how much he was hurting her, tried face to face conversations; she knew the one thing she couldn’t do is  speak to anyone, though many times she considered seeing a psychiatrist. Meanwhile David carried on happily, trusting Amina would never betray him.

One evening, while having dinner with David, as he was talking to her, Amina stood up and walked to car and never saw David again. She was thirty two years old. She started a new life…..

Another incident flashed through my mind … Auntie Grace always wore a sad face, really sad face, at sixty the look was now cemented on her face, even when she smiled or laughed she still looked  sad. On her sixtieth birthday, I passed by her home to wish her many happy returns.  She was with her husband, they seemed to be sitting in comfortable silence, after exchanging pleasantries and catching up on family news, she burst out with a sneer “Think I should leave your uncle”. Surprised, I said, “Why? You’ve been together more than half your life”. “I know, that’s what disgusts me … I’ve wasted many years”.

She proceeded to regal me, I say regal me, because the tale made me stare at her with my mouth agape. Apparently Uncle Sam over the years has slept with the house-help, various relatives and friends throughout their marriage. Auntie Grace just watched and suffered in silence and from what I was hearing, in bitterness. That’s why she’s always been sad, and now bitter and the feeling that she’s wasted her life with him. Uncle Sam, said that in her old age she’s lost her mind and doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Aunt Grace got up and picked a rungu, I took it from her and took her to my mother’s and told my mum, her sister needed to talk …

And another incident…….my cousin Henry was pacing up and down visibly angry, his wife is demanding a divorce with a huge settlement. Henry doesn’t feel she deserves it, though he can afford to pay. He wants his ex to pay for making his life miserable, so she should go with nothing! Thankfully the law is on her side.Henry keeps recalling what kind of life he lived for seven years and his wedding day flashes. He actually had wanted to say “I don’t” instead of “I do” on that day,  but he didn’t have the courage at that moment, but he thought of it. In fact on his wedding that is all he thought about. Thereafter, he spent seven years in hell being angry and toxic, not just with his family but with the world. “Really Henry, the person you are angry with is yourself!”, I said calmly, you made the choice to say “I do” …

Back to my conversation with my friend, I think, it’s a combination of time that heals and people deciding to put the past behind and choosing to be happy and not letting the past define them. Looking forward and making the most out of life. Once in a while the past will creep in, when it does, remember it’s the past. So of all the three short stories I’ve given you, Amina made the decision to move on and not let her past with David ruin her future and perception of men. She even started counseling young women, how not to get caught up with men like David and encouraged them to talk! Auntie Grace went back to Uncle Sam and continued looking sad and suffering in silence and bitterness. Henry has dug in his heals and continues his battles, angry with the world. It’s really all a choice … difficult … but a choice anyway!

“The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live” Flora Whitmore


3 Responses to “Choices”

  1. Pauline
    April 20, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    Well said. Well done!

  2. Ari
    April 20, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    love this, it is so true!

  3. bettie
    August 17, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    so very true. its all choice choice and choice. the only thing before making a choice ask yourself if you can deal with it/consequences.

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