Yesterday, in the late afternoon, I received a call from Bongekile, my former colleague at The Amazwi Villager, a community newspaper in Acornhoek. She’s now working for a wire service called African Eye News. She called to ask me if I could do her the favour of going to the Tsakani area on her behalf and taking some pictures of a guy named Christopher. Christopher had called her earlier that day wanting her to write a story about him and his troubles. I hesitated a little because it was late, and I didn’t want to be out after dark, but she managed to twist my arm. Bongekile is based two-hours away, so she couldn’t do it herself.
Although Bongekile didn’t go into the details of the story, Christopher soon filled me in. I was in total shock and speechless at his story about his wife. I had never heard anything like it until now.
Christopher and his wife were sleeping. It was around midnight when they were awakened by the sound of her cell phone. After she was done with the call she told her husband she had to go to her relative’s funeral night vigil, and that she would meet her sister on the way. “I got suspicious because to me it didn’t sound like she was talking to her sister but a man,” Christopher explained.
With suspicions in mind, Christopher watched his beloved wife step out of their bed. She took her handbag, and wrapped herself with a blanket and left. Christopher became even more surprised when his wife didn’t take the car he just bought her, though she explained that where she was going was too far. Something in him snapped, and he immediately decided it was best to follow her. “I gave her five minutes lead and soon I followed suit. I hid behind the bushes in case she got suspicious and turned back,” he said.
Eventually, the wife stopped where a car was parked on the street. She got in, embraced a guy who was in the car with a passionate kiss. “I was so angry that I ran straight to the car and knocked on the window of the car,” explained Christopher furiously in a loud tone. “When they saw that it was me, the guy tried to lock the door, but I pulled and pulled until the handle broke. I managed to open the door. So is this the night vigil you were referring to? I asked her sarcastically.”
Christopher took another look at the guy. He had seen him before. Christopher’s wife is friends with his wife. Also, he caught his wife with him at least three times already in the past. On occasions he found them in his house naked in bed. He asked her for a divorce, but she refused. She said she’d rather die than leave everything behind: the house, the cars and their tavern and chicken businesses. “She had nothing when I found her, and now she wants everything,” he exclaimed. “She says she would rather see me leave, instead. I lost all control of her, and I don’t know what to do!”
Several people came out to observe the confrontation between Christopher, his wife, and her lover. Christopher explained that many of them knew his wife was sleeping around. Apparently they had seen her on several occasions with her lover, but they were afraid to tell him. His wife managed to escape from the car and ran away, but forgot to grab her blanket and handbag. “You know, she always carries condoms in that handbag of hers. What is a married woman doing with condoms in her bag? The condoms are even all over her car!” Christopher said.
The fight between Christopher and his wife’s lover continued. Christopher tried to grab the guy by his clothes, but he immediately started the car and tried to escape, too. Christopher held on tight to the steering wheel. When he saw it didn’t work the guy pulled a gun on Christopher. That’s how he was able to get away. He ran away in the dark, leaving his car behind.
(Christopher and his wife's lover's car)
Christopher drove his car back to his house. To his surprise he found his wife in their bedroom, pretending to be asleep. “I confronted her about her and her lover, but she pretended not to know anything about that and that it wasn’t her! I grabbed her out of the bed and started to beat her up,” he confessed.
Eventually, his wife managed through the window and went to sleep at her friend’s house. The next day she came back, and began sleeping in one of their three children’s room. According to Christopher, his wife is going around telling people that he abuses her. She also tells them that Christopher hijacked the car he drove back home and that she wasn’t anywhere near it or the owner of it.
Christopher has since tried to alert her family about her infidelities, but they don’t want to meet with him. He thought going public with the story would somehow scar them. His wife’s lover hasn’t come for his car yet; it’s still parked in Christopher’s garage. He is currently going through a divorce process.
After Christopher finished telling me his troubles, I really felt sorry for him. Rural woman aren’t really known to do this sort of thing. I could see the anger in his face. I was sure glad I wasn’t in his wife’s shoes.
It was getting dark so I hurried and took photographs of him. I took a taxi back home. As I uploaded Christopher’s photographs and emailed them to Bongekike, I couldn’t help but think about Christopher’s situation. He was really hurting and I couldn’t blame him.
In most cases in my community of Tintswalo, it’s the men who usually do the cheating. Almost every guy that I know around here has a woman on the side (roll on). Even my uncle who is a pastor also has many women on the side and I’ve seen him on too many occasions with them. His wife has caught him a number of times with his pants down, but she is still with him because he is the father of her children, and she has nowhere to go.
A cheating spouse can be too much to handle, but the men that I see in my community never realize this when they are the ones doing the cheating. In my opinion, men see having more than one partner as a natural thing. They think being men gives them the license to cheat. And when they are caught, they expect the woman to just forget about it and continue being a loving wife. But when it’s the woman who is doing it, it’s like the biggest sin ever committed on the planet. I am not saying it’s right for women to cheat, but I think men should also realize that it hurts women as much as it would hurt them if the woman is the one having an affair. It’s a pity it had to happen to Christopher first.