When Love Gets Put on a Test, Friendship Steps In.
Mzee Matundura had lived with his wife for about thirty years or thereabout as that is how far he could remember. He first met her when she was young after they had gone for one of the big fights in the neighboring village. He had lost in his village to the guy who would be battling to get the coveted title of “richuma rinene” (great warrior) of the region with the winner of the other village.
Although he had gone for the tournament, along the way, he couldn’t shelf the aura of the other village’s beauties. Young beautiful girls walked by going to the streams and others returning home with the firewood they had gone collecting for the day.
As though this day was made to crown him a winner in some other realm, the youthful Matundura bumped into Nyanduko who was leading his father’s flock back home after taking them to the stream for the afternoon religious act of watering them.
At first, he felt weak and confused. Did such a beauty exist in this village. In fact, he was even ready to support the other village’s contestant if that was all he needed to win her. But he had to do what every other man did, follow her secretly to know her father’s house.
To his delight, the girl was from a very well-known family. Mzee Abuga was a well-respected village leader in whom other youth like Matundura looked up to. Getting to marry his daughter would be an anointing in itself into becoming a great man like Abuga himself.
The desire in him to get Nyanduko overrode all other fears and slowly and bravely but with surety, Matundura won the love of the beautiful girl, Nyanduko and he paid the pride price after which he took his wife home. It is a decision he is very proud of to this day.
At the very first months, Matundura was obsessed with her. It was simply love. To take care of her and accord her the attention she needed, he sacrificed his love for and pursuit of wrestling. He let go that very dear part of him in order to embrace the richness of every other proud young man’s dream; that of having a wife.
Time moved, and they carved their path in the social part of the family within society. He began to understand how wonderful a wife he had married. If it is hardworking, she was. Talk of industrious and she couldn’t miss. Think of home making and she squarely measured up to bar just but to name a few.
As he would later discover, Nyanduko was first a friend and then the love of his life. He delighted in her company and grew to be very fond of her. For this fact, she often insisted that she doesn’t stay out till late. If anything, he loved to find her at home when he came back in the evenings.
When she went to her parents’ home, even as culture dictated, overstaying there was not a welcome idea. And on this, Matundura was a firm implementer. She had to remember always that she was a married woman with a family and a home of her own.
As you know far too well, women love celebrations. Nyanduko was no exception. So on this fateful day, Mzee matundura now, received a request from his wife to go attend her childhood friends’ party commonly known as “ekerero” (a celebration where people come to visit and celebrate the birth of a young child often for the first time) for that day and would be back by latest 8 p.m. that same day.
Mzee Matundura agreed and insisted that she keeps time as promised. He went about his daily duties but went back unusually earlier to help the animals into their shades. He then sat to read a newspaper he had bought to wait for his wife’s arrival. Unfortunately, by 8 p.m. she had not returned.
He became patient but sooner he lost it al when by 10 p.m. he realized she had not come back. Mzee Matundura got angry and at this point took all the animals out of their shades and houses. After finishing with them, he went back to the house and closed the door and slept.
A few minutes past midnight, mzee was woken up to a cry from the animals. They had noticed that Nyanduko was finally back and because they were attached to her, they cried of the injustice committed to them. Moments later, he heard a knock at the door. It was his wife. But due to anger, he decided not to open up for her in order to get into the house despite her explaining to him what had happened.
He instructed her to go back to her parents home with all the animals. Nyanduko could not hear none of that. They were married and even had children together even though they no longer lived with them. So, she devised a plan. She wouldn’t go down without a fight.
She walked to the well that was a few meters away with some of the animals following her and from there told Mzee Matundura that he would jump into the well now that he longer loved and cared for her after all those years they had been together. In disguise, he pushed a heavy rock into the well and with the big thud, Mzee Matundura was sure that she had jumped.
She moved to the corner near the door after she heard Mzee Matundura hurrying from the house pleading that he wasn’t serious. He called her all the sweet words she wasn’t used to and confessed at how he couldn’t survive without her. As Mzee dashed out towards the well and calling neighbors, Nyanduko entered the door and closed it.
After a few searches with the few neighbors who had come and into no avail, she then called him from the house that she was safe. Mzee Matundura sighed a great relief. At least, he had his best friend around. When I listened to this story, I asked Mzee Matundura what drove him to run out of the house that fateful day.
He looked at me and told me, “Where Love almost proved not to hold, friendship grown over time past that initial point the fire of love had dimmed, won. It was more of friendship as much as it was love.” What more could I say?