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He asked me when I had come back, of course I did not understand. Apparently, my husband was telling his friends that I was working out of town. It was his way of explaining why he never took me out, and why he stayed out every night. I was livid
John sat amongst his friends in a pub; his phone beeped, signalling a message had been received.
He looks at the message, shakes his head then passes the phone to his friends to read the message. Like John, his friends shake their heads, none saying a word about the message.
The message was from a married woman who was begging him for a clandestine relationship – he was divorced, the divorce a result of his wife’s cheating. He could never do that to another man.
“I need company, I need intimacy, I need you right now, I am so lonely,” the message read. The institution of marriage does not get much good PR. The media, gossip, pubs – everywhere you turn, people are marriage-bashing. Who can blame them?
African men and women are cheating on each other left, right and centre. But make no mistake in assuming that the punishment for cheating is similar for both.
When an african man cheats, the only person who seems to get shocked in his wife, everybody else thinks ‘it was bound to happen’, or ‘men will always be men.’ Woe unto you if you are a woman caught with her hand in the cookie jar.
Tongues will wag non-stop, and you may end up ostracised by majority of the society. The rules are simple; african men will always be african men, women should never even think of cheating.
African people might act surprised when a woman ‘behaves badly’, but trust me, they are not that shocked, at least not for her cheating, they are shocked that she let herself get caught.
African women are just a little more calculating, a little more careful; they do not just jump into an affair without planning a lie, just in case they get caught. It is possible that women have always cheated as much as the men, but most are too devious to get caught.
I sit opposite two housewives in a restaurant. Looks wise, they are as different as night and day, but they have a lot in common.
For starters, they are best of friends, they are married to very rich men, their husbands are not interested in them, they are lonely, but refuse to be alone and the icing on the cake, they have both cheated on their husbands and have no regrets.
Meet *Njoki and *Akinyi; beautiful and still in their prime, more money (from their husbands) than they can spend, and secretly having one over their husbands.
Affair with the best man
*Njoki had an affair with the best man because, as she says, if she hadn’t done that, she would have lost her mind.
“I married my husband even though everybody warned me against it. He treated me badly from the word go. This was something new as I always dated men who worshipped me. He fascinated me.
“Despite the fact that he hit me once before we got married, I still went ahead and married him. He was just so different, and I suppose I looked at him as a challenge. He was the first man I met who was not totally captivated by me and who did not worship the ground I walked on.”
Things got worse immediately after the wedding. “I think he immediately regretted marrying me, otherwise how do you explain the fact that, two months into our marriage we still had not consummated it? From day two, he would come home after I had gone to bed and we barely spoke two words to each other – we were total strangers.”
“Because everybody had warned me against him, when things turned ugly, I could not bring myself to talk to anyone about it. I was too ashamed to admit that my marriage had failed even before it started, so I bit the bullet and soldiered on.
“I figured I got what I wanted and I might as well carry my cross. He was very cruel, he told me mean things about why he did not want me, eventually, because he was the only person I was in contact with, I started believing that there was something wrong with me, that it was my fault he found me unattractive.
“For a year, I was the loneliest person in the world. I lost all my friends, I was pushing my family away and they were getting pretty fed up with me. He had convinced me to stop working. We were intimate four times in our first year of marriage and this would be after I begged him, and only when he was drunk.”
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Njoki found comfort in TV, internet, books and finally, alcohol. “I would buy many drinks from the supermarket and hide them in the spare room. I’d start drinking and smoking as soon as he left – he never noticed my drunken state when he came home at night because he was too drunk himself.”
She was resigned herself to her fate. She thought she would die lonely – no family, no friends and technically, no husband. On one trip to the supermarket, she bumped into their best man who seemed surprised to see her.
“He asked me when I had come back, of course I did not understand. Apparently, my husband was telling his friends that I was working out of town. It was his way of explaining why he never took me out, and why he stayed out every night. I was livid.”
She began seeing the best man, innocently at first. “I knew he felt sorry for me but I didn’t care why he took me for coffee and picnics on weekdays when my husband was at work. I was grateful for any human contact; my husband had turned me into an unwilling recluse.
“We did that every week for four months,
and I of course never told my husband. One afternoon, we drove to Naivasha, had a few drinks, one thing led to another and our affair began.
“At home, I was the same miserable wife but I couldn’t wait for my husband to go to work. The best man was self-employed and could afford to take time off work; we would fly to Mombasa in the morning and come back in the evening.
“I had such a good time. Unfortunately, the best man wanted to get married, and he didn’t want to start his marriage with cheating. I sadly let him go, but we are still friends. My husband is still not interested in me, but at least now I have a child who keeps me busy.
“I cannot thank the best man enough – he got me out of depression, made me feel worthy once more and he probably is the father of my daughter. If I had to do it again, I would.
“Men should know, when they start treating their women like rubbish, she will get one over him. He was too arrogant, probably thinking he got me where he wanted me – if only he knew. I still wonder why he married me as he obviously hates me so much, but he is never in the house long enough to answer questions and I am no longer in the mood to ask.”
For now, *Njoki is happy bringing up her daughter; she is not alone, but she is still lonely, still craves affection, so she has what is popularly known as a ‘friend with benefits’. Once or twice a week, she goes to his house, and she is out in an hour.
Akinyi’s case is, if anything, more fascinating than Njoki’s. She and Njoki are old friends, Njoki got married before her. When her husband started staying out too late and too often, she called Njoki to ask for advice.
Their bond was made stronger when they realised that their husbands were more or less behaving similarly. Her husband travels alot, and although she has never confronted him about it, she knows he travels with his mistress.
“He is either out of the country, or holed up in a late night meeting – at least that is what he would have me believe. I had him followed by a private investigator and I know he spends a lot of time at his mistress’ house.
“I have no loyalty to somebody who cheats on me, so I collected a dossier on him. When we eventually have to have a divorce, which is inevitable, I will give him a copy of the dossier and the divorce will be on my terms.
“I have two children who hardly see their father, but they are used to his absence. When he is in the house, the tension is almost tangible. As for me, I am in my 30’s, not ready to hang up the coat of fun. We have a houseboy, he is my lover.
“When I started collecting the dossier on my husband, I had to be careful about my own movements; I could not let him catch me with men out there. I only go out with my girlfriends; everything else is available in the house.
“I personally interviewed the houseboys and settled on the one who appealed to me physically. It took me two weeks to trust him enough to tell him about his extra-curricular requirements, for extra pay, of course. He is a happy houseboy, and I am a happy wife.”
Akinyi does not feel guilty. “What does he expect me to do? He knows I am not frigid, he also knows we no longer get intimate, I am young and healthy.
“Of course, I am going to replace him. Knowing him, he has probably had private investigators follow me, but unless he installs cameras in our house, or unless he walks in on us at it, he will not catch me.”