I knew what I had done as soon as the door closed. This was it. I had made my choice and was prepared to live with the consequences.
The late evening was beautiful in its borderless flow of masculinity. The vast seemingly empty sky with a few feathers of cloud here and there stretched out for infinity, seemed to show off its infinite beauty. The sky’s hue darkened as the sun set in a magnificent flourish of ribbon like fire. It’s brilliant yet graceful rays outlined the feather like clouds in a blazing glow that signified the end of the day.
I brushed off a strand of hair that lazily rested on my forehead, took the longest sigh in the world and started walking away. I knew that it was just a matter of time before Ronald came home. By that time I would be far away. The baby wriggled in my arms. For a moment I felt sorry for what I was about to put him through. But one day he would understand. It was also about time that I looked out for my happiness too.
I had been married young. My father in his infinite wisdom has thought it wise to give his only daughter in marriage without caring a bit about my happiness. I had sacrificed my own future for the marriage. God knows that I had tried, but after five years of abuses and being turned into a punching bag, my patience had finally grown out.
I walked on in silence, tip – towing even as if Ronald would hear my footsteps as I marched on. Soon I would arrive at the bus station. Michael was waiting eagerly for us to arrive. For six months now, he had been my shoulder to cry on. He loved me and I loved him as much. Our affair had been kept a secret even from plying friends who were always wondering where I was going every afternoon.
I had finally taken his advice to leave Ronald and begin a new chapter in my life with him by my side. The only problem was that I was not sure if what I was doing was the right thing. I decided to take a leap of faith. What was I to lose? If he turned out to be like Ronald, it would give me a chance to finally be on my own for the first time in my life. My baby was all the motivation I needed.
I arrived at the bus station just when darkness had begun cropping in. I was lucky that I had not met anybody who would run back to my soon to be ex husband and inform him of my escapades.
I could not risk that. Michael sat in the waiting room of the crowded bus station. He stood up as soon as he caught a glimpse of us with a smile registering on his face.
“At least you are finally here. I was beginning to get worried,” he said as he gave me the longest hug he had ever given me. I could feel the relief in him.
Anything could have happened. I looked around. All I wanted to do was get into the bus and speed off into the vast world that awaited us. I knew by that time, Ronald had already arrived. Michael had our tickets ready.
“Our bus will soon be here,” he said.
“Its not! Oh my. What if Ronald…..” I stammered.
He must have noticed the tension on my face and he hugged me tightly.
‘Don’t worry, soon we will be out of here and starting out our new life.” I looked at him. I wanted to believe him, but I was still worried. Ronald could burst into the station any moment now, and our dreams would be crushed like they never existed.
I was not only risking my life, but that of Michael too. I knew my husband better that anybody else. I knew what he was capable of, and one of them was squeezing the life slowly out of Michael. He was a good man and I could not bear to see him suffer at my own expense.
Thirty minutes later, the bus had not yet arrived. A woman on the intercom announced that there was just a little problem with the traffic and that soon we would be on our way. I looked around. Everybody seemed to be lost in their own tiny worlds. A couple sat on the opposite seat with the young woman, leaning on her partner’s shoulder. A young child, probably three years old walked past me, licking hungrily at the ice cream in his hand. He stopped and looked at the baby for a few seconds then walked away. I could tell that Michael was also worried. We had come too far to mess up at this stage. Earlier on he had wanted to pick me up at the house himself but I had declined. I didn’t want to give my gossips of neighbours a topic for their evening discussion as they took their supper.
Judith the wife of the most powerful man in the estate eloping with another man just like that. I was not going to be labeled all manners of atrocities. The choice was mine alone, and I alone would suffer the consequences.
I intertwined my fingers into his and smiled to assure him that Ronald would never have control over me ever again. I pecked him a little on the cheek.
Out of nowhere, right there on the pavement, was Ronald. His back was turned towards us and it was clear that he was looking for me. He beckoned to the young man standing next to him and took his time to describe me in gestures. I gave Michael a poke and pointed at Ronald.
He saw him and for a while pondered what to do. He took the baby from me and took my hand and pushed his way through the crowd. The bus edged into the station as if sent to rescue us in our most desperate moment. A young man, in his twenties stood at the entrance and started checking the boarding passes as the passengers got in one after another. The young man with Ronald, pointed in our direction at where we had sat and looked around in confusion when he didn’t see us in sight.
It felt like we had been waiting for our names to be called for centuries. I squezeed Michael’s hand. By now, Ronald was just a few paces away from us. When the young man finally called out our names, I dashed forward with such speed that I almost tripped over some of the people waiting in line. The bus was almost full. From my seat I could see him looking around. He went to the booking office and asked the officials around, Luckily none of them had paid enough attention to identify us even when he brought out my photograph.
I thanked the heavens. The bus was now almost full and as the last two people came on board, I felt like a person reborn. As if sensing that his father was around, the baby woke up. He looked around trying to get accustomed to his new environment and then let out a sharp cry. I gave him a bottle and the cries died down. Just then, Ronald turned around. Our eyes met.
He came forward as if to pounce on the bus and prevent it from leaving, but we were already zooming off from the bus station. I gave out a sigh of relief and leaned on Michael’s shoulders.
At last I had gained my wings to fly. After so many years of abuse, I was finally going to know what other people meant by happiness. If Michael was as good as he had been all this time, a new chapter in my life was beginning and I couldn’t wait to start reading from the new book. Finally, it was my time to love.
Written by Lillyanne Gathoni