Joint Second Runner Up:
Why so much hate and hurt in the world? by Gerald Manomano
Why so much hate and hurt in the world when loving and caring people exist?
Now I admit it, yes. It’s too late though. Too late for me. But not for our son. Show him. Let him read and understand these words. For these are his father’s words left unspoken. Unspoken words to his mother.
That day I wanted to say I’m sorry but I didn’t. Why would I say sorry to a woman I bought? You buy something, it becomes your property, right? So I was told and grew up with that doctrine hammered into my tender head, the doctrine sank its’ roots into the person who I became. I was told that women are not humans but objects that can be sold, traded, bought and that they are a source of wealth. Women are there to increase a man’s lineage. Women do not have feelings, if they have, they don’t matter for their women’s feelings. It really doesn’t matter that I leave you unsatisfied. It really doesn’t matter and why should I make it matter? Saying I’m sorry to you was a sign of weakness, it would’ve taken away the man in me. I was setting manly standards for our son, the standards that were set since time immemorial. Selfish man standards. You were right.
That day I really wanted to apologize; for forgetting that it was your birthday. Our 12th anniversary came and went without me even noticing. You noticed, I saw the card but my mind did not register. I was tired from a long night out with friends. Time and again I wanted to apologize for all the missed and uneaten dinners. It didn’t matter to me that you had taken your effort to prepare the meal. Please forgive me for all your calls that I did not answer and smses that I did not return. For me it was work, friends, family and you. It was supposed to be YOU, family, work and friends. I hid behind scowl, you just smiled. I apologize.
That day, I wanted to say thank you. But why should I thank you for doing what I bought you for? Did your parents thank me for turning you into a woman? A homely woman, a true traditional African woman. Should I say thank you; for being the mother of my children, for being my wife, for preparing a meal for me, were you not eating too? A pompous self centered being I was. I took you for granted. I admit that.
That day I wanted to express the deepest feeling I had for you, a feeling that was so foreign to me, a feeling that scared me. How can a man have such feelings? A deep ache inside of me. I was so used to hate, anger and intimidation that it was so difficult to have a space in my heart for anything else. The feeling that I never expressed, the feeling I never understood. Love. So many times I saw hunger in your eyes, not for food, but for something fulfilling, something that would’ve made you feel content. You yearned for something that had made you leave your family, something I had promised you. I saw you wanting more than my disdain and contempt.
All I had to say more often was – I love you.
I should’ve appreciated you more. I can’t believe that I cursed the fact that you are a woman. Time and again I made a fool out of you, making you believe even the stupidest thing. You never showed me that you had caught me in a lie, so submissive like Abraham’s sacrificial lamb, not a single bleat escaped its mouth even when the gleaming knife came down on its exposed neck. I salute you!
I failed not only you but our children too. They only knew that they have a father when they heard me dictating and scolding you. I missed their school activities, you attended each one of them. I never lost sleep when they were not feeling well. Children are always sick, it’s to be expected, I said in my selfish booming voice. How was I to know that I was contributing to the sickness of our children by not giving them my attention? Passively I abused our children. I really do not deserve you neither do you deserve my scorn and contempt. I am wallowing in regret.
You were right, friends do lead us astray. Friends are there when all is going well, they are there to enjoy the ride only. You kept your vows, the vows you made that big day those many years ago. The vows that I said too. The difference was that you meant every word while I just went through the motions.
I really am so ashamed of myself. Tell me, how do you manage it, smiling still while changing my nappies? You could have pursued a lucrative career, intelligent as you are, I’m sorry that I made you believe otherwise. I was afraid to lose you, so insecure and jealous I was. Your love for me is so painful.
Today I ask myself the question, was it that difficult just to say I’m sorry?
I’m sorry for rewarding your love for me with pain, for making decisions and taking action without consulting you first, for all those sleepless nights you spent fearing the worst for me. However I want to let you know you will always be the head of this family.