A graduation, an anniversary: Some journey both have been
What’s Love Got To Do With It Maggie Mzumara
On the road, zooming steadily by, covering ground, the horizons stretching farther and farther on — all revealing a large expanse of the world. In sight are different types, shape and sizes of vegetation, buildings, people and other vehicles — some going past and others the opposite direction — yes, life is in motion. And so too is my mind. Myriad thoughts cloud my mind, first in random order, till systematically my psyche sorts out the maze of thoughts, memories, aspirations, yearnings and dreams into distinct reviews, plans and projections.
Travelling always does it for me.
It gives me the chance to think and reflect. Something about a road trip and the alternating between chatting, dozing off, waking up and getting lost somewhere in between consciousness and sub-consciousness that gets me in touch with my inner self. The real me. As we drive further and further from home — my usual habitat and everyday routine — that physical distance for me often translates into some emotional and spiritual sojourn that perches me somewhere higher and removed where I can have a somewhat objective bird’s eye view of my life past, present and future. With such a cross-sectional layout of what I have been, where I am and who I would like to be going forward, I am able to think straight, to sift through it all to find common threads of being and becoming that connect the younger me, the present me now and the me yet to be. And when I reach such a state of consciousness, I think my clearest, my deepest and my furthest. Yeah, road trips do that to me.
And this is exactly where I am right now — perched on that bird’s eye view — as I travel by road to Potchefstroom, South Africa with my nicer half.
Oh yes, I have said it. I surrender. I admit. Of the two of us — he is the nicer half. My husband that is.
It has taken me long to get here. Believe me, to get to this admission has not been easy on my proud, stubborn and grudging heart, but yeah, right here and now on this road trip: it’s clear. Crystal clear. Of the two of us he is the nicer one. He is neither the beast nor the demon I like to make him out to be. No, far from it. We have had our rough moments, our bitter and thorny times — but show me a couple that hasn’t! I talk a lot about relationships — mostly other people’s relationships, but something about this trip forces me to look at my own relationship. Perhaps it is the reason why we are making this trip, coupled with where we are in our life, that thrusts my own relationship straight into my face and makes me admit some truths I previously did not fancy facing head on.
We are going to Potchefstroom because the nicer half is graduating with a PhD in Economics from the North West University on May 23, 2013. And this happens to be the eve of our 18th anniversary. We said our “I dos” in Boston, Massachusetts, USA on May 27, 1995. Our marriage, so to speak, has reached the legal age of majority. As I introspect further and deeper I notice that to an extent the road to the PhD and the very journey of our marriage mirror each other. Both were filled with trials, tribulations, temptations, some bliss laced with pain, heartache, sacrifices and plenty of hard work.
The road to the PhD has been long and drawn out. Even though I have rallied the children and the rest of the extended family in support of my husband, I must admit I haven’t always felt bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about it. You see, my husband is a workaholic and so will pour himself — heart, soul, energy, hours, minutes and seconds into what he sets his mind to do, to the exclusion of all else. So yeah, there were times I felt kuregerewa (left alone to bear all else) these are times I felt abandoned, alone, single and yes, very resentful. And at such moments, which were many, I hated, hated the union.
But today, I look on and think: thank God he persevered. I see now that most things have their silver linings. My husband’s single-mindedness’ silver lining has come through for him and indeed for all of us in his life. He did not give in and today he is where he is. Had he given in, his life long dream of getting a PhD would not have been realised. This was a dream I found him with when I met him long before our marriage and today, through no initiation of my own, I am sharing in the pride. It’s not often I will say this but: boy, am I glad he did not listen to me and curve in to my resentment. It is only in hindsight that I truly appreciate. His hard work and his persistence have paid off.
The same thing can be said of our marriage. This marriage would not be there, and still there, if it wasn’t for him. This marriage stands today because of his persistence, his commitment and his love that has endured. If it had been entirely up to me, we would not be together today. For various reasons throughout the years I have doubted, I have resented the union and its foundations. I have just about given up. I have felt empty. I have wanted out. There were times when I turned my back and practically threw in the towel, but he held steadfast, held it all together, picked up the pieces for both of us. You see with my proud, stubborn and rebellious heart, in the earlier part of our marriage, I believed that he did not deserve me. I am not proud of this, but for the longest of time I held on to that belief, but as I look at what has gone on in our lives, the mistakes we have made, both of us, the choices we have made, our combined shortcomings and strengths that have pulled us through — I have come to a realisation that breaks my heart to admit, but admit it I must, if I am to, for once, liberate myself from my vainly stubborn heart: perhaps I am the one who does not deserve him!
I can be so selfish sometimes. I can be so driven by passion, so overwhelmed with emotion to the peril of whatever else. I can be so engulfed in the moment and so blinded by self-righteousness and wear badges and badges of poor-me-how-wronged-I- have-been.
I do not deserve a man who has stood steadfastly by me, even when I had doubts, resentments, trials, tribulations and temptations. When I gave up, he was there. When I did not care, he cared enough for both of us. Because there are some fundamental things about the foundation of our marriage I hated and I resented our early years, I held it against him for the longest of times. I would cry in desperation, pray in exasperation and drown in miserable contemplation. For long I did not see my own contribution to what was making me unhappy. I thought I was a victim to his villain, but I see now that he also, on occasion, has been the victim to my villain.
He is the nicer one — the one who can go beyond the self and truly extend themselves to the other; he can go beyond the immediate, the impulses, the whirlwind and he certainly can withstand much better disappointments, hurts and whatever else that come with the territory of being married to a headstrong woman such as myself. (I am thankful he allows me to write what I want and sees no reason to censor me.)
I do not know what the future holds, but I do know that this far, I owe it to him. He ensured it was possible. The nicer half. My nicer half.
We may not always understand why God brings certain people together, but He, the Almighty, has a reason. And it may well take a life time to digest, understand, appreciate and accept. I am way on the road to full acceptance. I still need God’s grace in this regard. It is all but a journey…
But for now, let me get back to the celebrations at hand — the graduation. Congratulations and well done to Mac Mzumara — my nicer half. Happy 18th Anniversary to you. This one is for us, my dear! The past 18 years have not been easy, but they have taught us both a lot about each other. Am just glad we are still standing.
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