The Old Man’s Tears

It’s a Monday morning. John the old man as they call him is sitting on his balcony outside watching the trees and kids pass by in the small village street. He envied families with kids especially sons. He wanted one of his own. John wiped a silent tear as his new wife called him in for breakfast. He remembered as his late father always used to say to him, “Son whatever you will find out in the future, know that I did it to have you.” and yet to this day John did not understand his late father’s riddle.

“When will you stop looking like this? I also lost a child here!” Lola his fifth wife said. John took a spoonful of his food and stuffed it in his mouth. After four wives he has had this conversation many times, even in his sleep. “Speak to me, John!” Lola was now off her seat standing with her hands on her hips. “Woman sit down,” John says to his wife. She could be very loud at times. He married her in hopes it won’t be too late to have a son. His first wife died after twenty years of marriage. A year before she died she had given birth to a baby girl who died after three hours of being born.

His other wives also died mysteriously after giving birth to baby girls. What scarred John the most was all the girls died at the same time. It was always three hours after being born. “ My husband why are you crying again?” Lola asked. John stared at his fifth wife for a moment before realizing what she said. He raised his hand to his face and wiped the silent tears away. “We can try again, it’s normal for children to die. We can’t give up on hope,” Lola comforted her husband.

“ try again? TRY AGAIN LOLA? HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TRY? HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO LOSE MY CHILDREN? TELL ME,” Lola was shocked, it was the first time John ever rose his voice at her. This is the only man she had known. She knew she did not love him, her parents married her off so that her brothers could get themselves, wives. Her family is poor and John was their only hope. She tries her best to love him because he takes good care of her family. Yet at this particular moment, she knew it was useless. How does one argue with a man she does not love? All she wants now is to go back to her father’s house. This man in front of her sounds more monstrous than human.

“ I will step out for a moment,” Lola says to her husband. She slid on her slippers and empty her plate in the trash can. She walked towards the front door leaving her husband in the dining area. “I know you do not love me. So if you want to leave you can. They all seem to leave me in the end,” John’s words stopped Lola in her steps. Who left? She thought to herself.

Her conscience screamed at her to turn around and speak to her husband. But her feet led her outside. She realized her heart was leading her towards him. She had seen him many times. She could risk it all for this man. She remembered when she first saw him. It was the day she moved into her husband’s house.

John threw the glass plate on the hard floor breaking it to pieces with the crumbled eggs. He has kept it in for so long he felt his rage was getting the best of him. He wanted answers but who could he get the answers from? His father died long ago. His mother abandoned him in his teens. Later he heard the news she was no more. He learned to survive on his own, he worked hard for all he has. But all the riches, the houses, and servants meant nothing if he could not have a son of his own.

There was one man though. His uncle Joel who had offered John a place to stay in his younger age but John had refused. John thought maybe his uncle would know something.

He called one his servant to prepare a horse for him. The journey ahead of him is two days long. The old man wanted to go alone maybe if he could run away from reality everything would be alright he told himself countless times.

“Sir if madam is to ask where should I say you have gone to?” Malia his housemaid asked. “I have gone to visit my Uncle,” John says. He takes his time getting on the horse. “But sir the journey is too long,” Malia tries to reason. John shakes his head violently.

“I must go now, I have water and food(he says pointing to the little bump behind him) you must not let anyone come after me,” Malia worried for him. She has served him for more than thirty years. He was a good man, at times she wished her husband had a heart as her master did. He was an alcoholic. Some days he did not come home, other days he slept outside the door. John rode the horse in the intimidating quiet road. This was his first time traveling alone.

“I must go now,” Lola says to him. “But my love you have only been here for one hour,” he says. “My husband might question me,” Lola said getting off the bed she has been in countless times. She put the dress her husband had bought her back on and walked out the small house. She walked back towards her husband’s house looking behind her every now and then to make sure no one had seen her unfaithful sin.

The old man was exhausted as he arrived at his uncle’s small village house. Joel welcomed him in his home. He remembered the last time he came his Aunty was here as well but now she too was gone. “Welcome home,” Joel said. John slowly got off his horse and into his Uncle’s embrace. He wept in his uncle’s arms.

Joel led his nephew to a bench in front of his door. The two sat down staring into space.

“How are your wife and kids?” Joel asked. “I have no kids, I’m on my fifth wife all the others have died leaving me childless. I came to ask you maybe you could explain to me what happened,” John wept silently. Joel’s heart was filled with sorrow for his nephew.

He could not tell John the reason he could not bear children was because his father placed a curse on him. John was not his father’s son. When Mithilio John’s father found out that John was not his biological son he placed a curse on John. “you shall never bear a child in your lifetime, any woman you marry who bears children must die after their child for the child is not yours.” Joel was filled with tears for he could not tell his nephew the truth.

“You must not give up on hope John you will be blessed one day,” Joel comforted him.

“Madam?” Malia called. It was time for her breakfast she was never late. Malia knocked the wooden door again. When she heard no response she opened the door. There her madam was laying on the floor breathless. Malia panicked as she called for help. She kneeled down screaming as she touched the cold body. Malia’s heart sank as the realization hit her.

John had stayed with his uncle for three days now it was time to return. His heart was not satisfied he could not get the answers he wanted. He got on his horse heading back home. Maybe his fifth wife was right. He should have a little more faith.

What do you think the fate of John would be at the end? Can you predict the end of the story? Tell us below in the comments section.

By Miss Tilisa Mlondani:

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