The man she never knew


Ada married young. Her husband, seven years her senior treated her like a child. She loved him at any rate and set about building a family with Davis.  The fifth in a family of eight, Ada relived her middle child experiences and vowed to make her voice heard and eventually make something of herself. In contrast, her husband, Davis, a bright, young doctor relished the prospects of his career and worked long hours to secure his future. He was a third-born, who usurped the place of his elder twin siblings. There was never a moment to lose in his life.

Ada trained as a teacher and loved her training of future teachers.  She rose bright and early, spoiling her husband daiky, with a western diet of bacon, sausage and eggs.  Life in their newly independent nation offered choice, right down to diet and Ada made sure they could keep up with new trends.  She stitched her own clothes, while encouraging him to buy the best in the shops.  He dressed like a dandy on weekends,  looking more like a narcissistic model.  Not to be left behind, Ada took the trouble to hot-comb her hair every Friday afternoon and press her best dresses for the weekend.

Within their first giddy year of marriage, they became pregnant.  Davis was none too impressed but suppressed his angst, while he kissed and hugged his bubbly wife.  His concern  for his work hours and the time commitment a child would need. Ada, oblivious to his true feelings, planned, chatted animatedly and prepared for the baby.  Davis eventually cooled to the idea and hoped for a boy.  Ada secretly hoped for a girl.

Soon, his long hours and the strain of waiting up for Davis began to show.  He had never carried keys and believed it to be a wife’s duty to welcome him home all hours, then warm up his supper, serving him and waiting on him as he ate.  She smiled her way through it the first few times, eager to please but teetering on the brink of serious concern.  Her own father and his, had cared enough to keep and carry house keys in their time, in spite of the cultural practices of the day.  She fretted over this, unwilling to hold a frank discussion about their marriage, to keep the peace. Davis revelled in her over-submissive attitude and gradually shifted to a more conservative position in their marriage.  He loved the power to do so and worked harder to maintain his dominance at home.

As the months went by, Ada saw less of her friends, choosing to handle her worries alone. She withdrew from her vivacious, bright and cheerful co-trainers, eating her cares away.  Her slender figure, now much enlarged, shocked her husband, who chose to keep away from her in silent disgust.  She began to cry herself to sleep. Davis spoke to her, reassuring her daily, that all new mothers dealth with frequent worry and anxiety.  The more he spoke, the greater her fears became.

When her water broke, one Saturday afternoon, Ada found herself alone at home, with Davis unreachable at the hospital. She calmly called a taxi and asked her neighbour to accompany her. Davis failed her calls and Ada busied herself with getting to the hospital, assuming he had a medical emergency. Martha, her neighbour soothed and encouraged Ada to remain calm and soon arrived at the hospital, closest to home, a good thirty kilometres away.   She had the baby within the hour, with Martha at her side.

Davis had taken the day off, to watch a football match on the other side of town and had neglected to tell Ada.  He sensed something had happened but eased back into the gregarious company of his friends he rarely saw. After the match, they went out for roast meat and some beers. Davis unwound in the camaraderie and arrived home late into the night.  Martha, the neighbour, heard him knock at his own door, and rushed out to hand him his house keys. He took them without so much as a thank you, lumbered in and promptly passed out on the bed.

He woke up at 10 in the morning, just as Martha knocked on their door, informing him that his wife had their baby and she herself was on her way to visit. He raised one hand to his throbbing head, slurred his thanks, rubbed his eyes and rolled back into bed, falling asleep once more.

Davis woke up with a start, just after 2 in the afternoon, after a vivid dream about his wife and baby. He rolled out of bed, unsteady on his feet, as he hunted for the telephone. He called a friend, unsure of hjs sobriety, pleading anxiously for a lift to the hospital. He cried as he tried to make sense of how callous his actions were, fearing the hurt he would cause his wife.

Ada heard the nurses whispering and wondering where her doctor-husband could be, after placing calls to his place of work and their home half the night. She cooed over her very sleepy baby, kissing her at every turn, willing herself to ignore the gossip. The nurses in turn, treated her with pity, now certain this young mother and child had been abandoned.

Davis arrived at the maternity ward flustered,  half running and half walking in. His friend cackled all the way to the door of the ward, at his expense, when finally, Davis hissed at him, ordering to him stop and wait outside. The nurses at the station, appalled at the sight, exchanged glances and watched the scene unfold. Davis paused at the door, recollected himself, then strode in, head held up, flowers wilting in his hand.

Ada looked up from the baby and teared. Davis leaned forward to kiss her head,  his arms around her, shoulders slumped as he teared up as well.  They cried for a few minutes and the baby girl moved, seeking to feed. Ada raised her, to meet her father.  Davis’s eyes widened in wonder and amazement, as he picked up the precious bundle of love.  Ada began to cry.  Davis kissed their daughter, speaking gently to welcome her into the world. She cried because of the questions she silently raised these last few months.  She cried in anger at the stranger she married. She cried for their baby, their future uncertain. Davis broke down, telling Ada wahat had transpired. She, in turn listened, forgiving all, willing herself to re-build their connection.  Tensions cast aside, they chatted amicably for the next hour, resolute about their future, silently differing questioning and wondering what the next phase will bring.

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