My Husband and I

My husband and I are not talking right now. That may not be a very good thing considering the tension in the homestead. See, we live in his parents’ homestead with his parents and two unmarried sisters who have children. His father is the local Redeemed Church Pastor. Everyone knows that my husband’s father is not really his father; but he raised him, so he is his father.

There are those who insist on bringing up the matter even though it should have been laid to rest a long time ago. The story is that my mother-in-law was pregnant when she got married to the man who later became the Pastor. It would seem that the father of the child in her womb was not really the man who married her. How many stories like that have you heard? I think the only important thing is what the Pastor feels about his son, my husband.

The Pastor has other sons, two of them. One of them works in Industrial Area and lives in Mukuru wa Njenga. The other is a cashier in a supermarket, and lives in Kibera. I think they are doing very well. My husband is a farmer, but when there is a drought, like now, he looks for work as a manual worker at one of those construction sites near our home, here in Kiserian.

As far as I have seen, the Pastor has always treated my husband as his own. When my husband first introduced me to his parents, the Pastor was very kind to me. His wife, my mother-in-law, was acidic from the very start. She hated me at first sight. There have been very many quarrels in this homestead. The Pastor tried to sort that out by cutting out a piece of land a few meters away from his own house and advising my husband to fence it out, and make our entrance facing the road, so we did not have to go into themain home when conducting our business.

That worked for a while but the troubles soon returned.

When I was pregnant with my second child – the first one was born while we lived in the main homestead – I had a little trouble. My blood pressure rose, and the doctor warned that if I worked, I would lose the baby. When the pastor heard what the doctor said, he ruled that his two daughters should be the ones to help me with my housework.

We- sheee! Thatwas the mother of all troubles. Soon there were stories that I was just pretending, so I didn’t have to do any work. And then an old friend from primary school came to see me, and there were more stories about how he was the father of the child I was carrying. By the time I had my baby by Caesarean, I was so fed up I wanted to go back to my mother. But my mother is poor; my babies and I would have been a burden to her. So I vumiliad and went back. Ngai! Those were the days I wished I had gone to that secondary school instead of getting pregnant and getting married.

You would think that now that a healthy baby was born inspite of the trouble, people would be thankful and get back to other worries. My Younger sister, who had just completed primary school, was asked to help by my mother. The rainy season had just begun, so I was worried about much more than my housework. But my sister is such a hard worker. Imagine she dug the small shamba we were given almost by herself. By the time my husband finished his kibarua and came to help her plant, she had cleared and dug so well that it was easy for them to plant in just two days. Can you guess what stories came out of that? That my family was taking over the Pastor’s land. That is just about when the matter of my husband not being the Pastor’s son came up again. There was such a big row, which made even the Pastor’s other sons come from Nairobi and demand their inheritance before the Pastor was ready to die. I have never seen anything like it.

At the end of it, with the Pastor foaming from his mouth, everyone was forced to sit down and listen. The Pastor said something that I will never forget. ‘I worked hard to get this land. But not everyone in this country who works hard gets anything. God gave it to me. And I will give it to my children, all my children.’ When he said that last part, he looked at myhusband. There was a murmur of dissent, but the Pastor had spoken.

I thank God for making the Pastor a reasonable man. Then I pray that someday my husband and I might be able to get some land of our own. He works so hard, you see. This homestead, mine and his mother’s would never lack for food if it was up to my husband’s hard work.

The quarrels have never ended. In fact, my husband is not talking to me because there was a story brought to me by Mama Cera down the road: that my husband was seen with another woman at a bar in Rongai. I was stupid because I believed it before talking to my husband. So I did not ask him about it: I confronted him. It was only later that I remembered that Mama Cera once sided with one of my sisters-in-law when there were rumours going round about me.

I guess I will have to find a way to get my husband talkingto me again. But I know as long as there is not enough — enough land, enough food, enough money — there will always be trouble brewing.

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