The days when Tambu and I did not speak were the longest. The walk to the river seemed further. The waves, more violent. Not calm and glistening like the scales on the fish we aimed to catch. The water seemed dark and angry at something. It fought within its course to the ocean where it threw itself and I pondered on going along with it, but I thought about the children. How they’d suffer if I were absent. Tambu would remarry, he’s a man. And the children would rebel against his new wife because of their loyalty to me.
I pushed all my thoughts for later and swallowed hard. It was not easy praying for someone when you were angry with them. I looked to sky for Ngai’s signal. A fallen leaf or something. Maybe a black feather from a coack. Or even a whisper from the wind. Just something to assure me of Tambu ‘s safety. Even if our marriage was on the brink, I worried for him. Somehow that made me happy. At least I still cared. He had gone with the other men in our village to fight the Ngwena’ s to reclaim our land.
Many moons ago, their people occupied our spaces and displaced us, killing many men, women and children. For 200 years our people had no land to call their own, but after Ngesho’s rise to the throne, an army was built and sent to fight and Tambu stood in the front line. That was what our disagreement was about.
I begged him not to go but he said he had his manhood to prove. That was the last I saw of him. Before leaving he turned his head one more time as if asking for my blessing, but my anger stood before me and I said it was Ngai, the creator, who was in charge of blessings. I could see from his expression that the wound had been cut deep. He couldn’t mask it, yet he expelled a sigh which left me feeling conflicted. He didn’t have to go, I thought. There were more capable men in our village. I watched him through the cracks on the door, walking majestically with a shield in hand. My face was flooded with tears and my chest was heavy with pain. He was not going to come back. He was not the fastest runner or the strongest wrestler. He was to me, a simple man.
I drew in the soil with my finger. A spear and a man encircled in a ring of fire for protection. I asked Ngai to consider my prayer, but I lacked conviction because I knew the outcome. There was no point to all this. I rubbed it off. Tambu would not come back.
And ours would be children of brokenness.