THE PATH - Episode 3

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“I…I…I…I really hate to say this,” Margret said somberly. All of a sudden, she was under the spell of some power that left her stutteri...

“I…I…I…I really hate to say this,” Margret said somberly. All of a sudden, she was under the spell of some power that left her stuttering.  She had tears in her eyes as she held the phone to her ear. She looked through the window and watched as a young couple walked by arm-in-arm. This was what she had hoped for herself and James. A blanket of tears clouded her eyes as she sought to gather her emotions and spill the beans. “What is it sweetheart?” James asked sensing the worry in her voice. “Are you crying? Honey, please tell me what it is,” he pleaded with her. “Did I say something wrong earlier,” James frantically tried to unravel the source of Margret’s sadness. “Don’t you think…don’t you think…” She stuttered again. She had hoped she would never have to speak those words, but she had reached a point where she felt it was time to say them. Her strength had reached its break point and her patience bank account had plummeted into the reds.

“Don’t I think what Maggy? What is going on? Please talk to me. I hate to know that you are sad. Something is really troubling you. Please tell me what it is my love,” James pressed her for more information. “James, don’t you think it is time to call off our relationship?” She said. She receded to the bed behind her and dropped into it. It had taken her last residual strength to utter those words. She relied on the bed to grab her and hold her in the absence of any comforting arms. She held unto the pillow with tenacity and let the flood of tears drop like a raging storm. A sharp pain poked at the core of her heart with piercing vigor. “Why would you say such thing Maggy? Please sweetheart…Please don’t do this to me. Please, I beg of you. I can’t live without you. I know it has been six years, but you have no idea what I have been through in the last six years. I am close to being done my love. Please don’t walk away from me now…I beg of you, please don’t do this Maggy.”

James sank into the chair behind him. His legs were weak. His heart was pounding with ferocity, as fear of losing her raged through him. “I have heard you say you were almost done with your study several times, yet it never ends. When will this ever end, James? I…I…think I have to move on now. I need to get married before it becomes too late for me. Among all my friends in Nairobi, I am the only one that is not married. It is not as if I am feeling too much pressure because my friends are all married…of course I am, but the bottom line is that I do want to get married…have children, walk through the parks with my children and husband. I want to devote my life to the man I eventually marry…I will be shattered if I end up not fulfilling that hunger in my heart because I am waiting for you.” “I have less than a year to finish my PhD Maggy. My supervisor has made it difficult for me to graduate any sooner. I had to defer my master’s degree earlier by a year so I could work to save up for my tuition. Life here is not really as we had thought at the time I left home. It is tough, but as soon as I am done, I am coming home in a year’s time to marry you Maggy. I promise you that. Please don’t quit now…don’t quit on me, please. We have come a long way!”

“I can’t wait another year, James. I am sorry…I have a feeling another year will roll into two and then three. My poor heart can no longer take that. Please forgive me. I love you James. I love the sound of your name…I love your breath; your laugh; your heart…the one I knew before you left home, but I can no longer wait.” “I am still the same James, Maggy. If you love me that much, why would you settle for less? Would you rather be with someone whom you don’t love? It is not worth it Maggy…you are settling for less. We love each other like water and salt. We go together…our hearts are bound together by an inseparable bond. Please don’t rip that bond to shreds. It will hurt so much that I am not sure I will ever recover from it.” “Then come home now, James!!!” She yelled. Her voice was literally pleading for his presence. Nothing else would offer the reassurance that she so desperately sort. “But I can’t even afford it right now, Maggy. To pay my rent is like a camel meandering through the eye of a needle. All that will change as soon as I graduate and get a job. Please wait for me sweetheart.”

By the time Margret finally hung up, she pressed the pillow hard against herself and sobbed uncontrollably. She took the entire week off and spent some time with her sister. The entire week was miserable. She had never loved anyone as much as she loved James. James on the other hand was a ghost of himself all week. He gaped aimlessly at his data at university, barely able to make sense of anything. He strolled pointlessly to University and back, barely able to accomplish anything all week. “I am torn to pieces Mary,” Margret said to her younger sister. “I still love James beyond words, but I have to walk away and that kills me. What if I don’t end up loving Elim as much?” “You have time to date him for a while my sister. Just take it one day at a time. You are either waiting for James, of course if he does not return for you; you have to live with the dire consequences – absolute heartache for the rest of your life. On the other hand, you can give Elim a try and see how it goes. Don’t rush anything. Time has an uncanny ability to fix just about anything,” Mary explained wisely. “I wish it was so easy Mary. Each day is such a challenge. Why is love so complicated? Why do I have to be the one going through all these? Why can’t he just leave everything and come home? Why did I even fall in love with him in the first place?” “Such questions can only hurt you more my sister. I know it is not easy, but you have to try to push past those thoughts. It will do you a lot of good eventually,” Mary answered her.

She walked along a road that snaked through a maze of lush green trees at City Park, Nairobi. Not sure she had made the right turn earlier; she dug up her phone from her purse and placed a call to Elim. “I am near the gazebo, Elim,” she said. “Am I on the right track?” “Yes you are Maggy. Just walk past it and take a right turn. You are almost there,” he explained thoughtfully. He managed to keep the sound of the eruption that was shooting out of his heart quiet. Finally, I get to have a proper date with Margret, the girl I love…the girl I have loved for a long time now, he thought as he tucked his phone in his pocket. She turned right after a few minutes and sauntered down the road. Slowly, a vista began to open to her. The Pond garden was adorned with colorful flowers whose images reflected beautifully off the pond in the backdrop. It was not long before she sighted a lavishly decorated table. A bouquet of flower sat at the middle of the table, with two empty chairs staring smilingly at each other from opposite ends of the table. Birds hopped happily from one tree branch to another, singing merrily as they savored the cool evening breeze as the heat of the sun waned.

From behind a thicket of flowers, Elim jumped out with a smile on his face. Almost immediately, two well-dressed ladies emerged behind him. They smiled as though they had worn a mega lottery. They stepped towards her walking past Elim, who was still beaming with smiles. “Welcome to Pond Garden Margret! We are at your service this evening,” both ladies said simultaneously. “Thank you! Thank you very much. You did not have to go this far Elim,” Margret said with a smile. One of the ladies picked up the bouquet of flowers and handed it to her. She took a good look at it, admiring the resplendent mesh of colors from pink to red, orange to yellow, and blue to purple. She placed it close to her nose and inhaled the soothing aroma. “They smell great!” She said. “I am glad you like it,” Elim said. He hushed up past the waiters and pulled a chair backwards so that Margret could sit down. They waiters hushed away and returned almost instantly with a jug of pineapple juice, Margret’s favorite. “Is that pineapple juice?” Margret asked. “Yes,” said one of the waiters. “You remembered?” Elim nodded. She had mentioned to him some years ago that she could not resist pineapple juice.

Soon, they were eating peacefully as birds serenaded them. Elim could not take his eyes off her. Her rich, dark hair appeared to speak to him. Each time her face formed a smile, he could feel sensations crawling up and down his nervous system. Her voice made him shake with excitement. Everything was perfect….except, Margret could not help but wonder if she was as deeply in love with him as she was with James. “The food is delicious,” she said as she munched on her roast chicken and rice. “Yes, it is Maggy,” answered Elim, who was happily devouring a massive plate of Ugali. Then, Margret’s phone rang. At first she ignored it. She knew it was James. She still had a custom ringtone for him. She had thought about deactivating it but a part of her could not allow her to do so. The ringing continued. “You can take your call,” Elim said. “It is okay, I can call whoever it is back later,” she replied. There was rustiness to her voice as she said that and her smile rumpled a little bit. Should I take the call? She thought to herself. Why is he calling? Is he coming home? Thoughts of all kinds besieged Margret’s mind.    STORY CONTINUES...

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Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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THE PATH - Episode 3 An African Literary Blog
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