I received this email from *Zorro. He chose that name to hide his identity, so let us indulge him and go with it, shall we? Zorro’s email read like a soap opera. I have edited it for brevity and, of course, to protect the identities of the characters involved.
Karimi, he started, help me understand, what is going on here?
We have this couple, our neighbours, who have over time turned family friends. We shall call them the Williams. My wife and I got to really know them because of their regular fights. Mrs Williams knocked on our door crying one day. We ushered her in. My wife took her to a separate room, where she - Mrs Williams- poured out her heart. Her husband was a bully. He mistreated her.
Zorro expounded on the ills that rained on the woman. Their fights continued, and as much as Zorro and his wife tried to intervene, Mrs Williams, at some point, left her husband and took their two children. She was gone for more than two years, before reuniting after church intervention. Mr Williams is a church elder, which Zorro cannot reconcile with his behaviour towards the wife.
Mr Williams looked down on his wife a lot. He would say that she was not of his class, not well educated, hence why they kept fighting. Mrs Williams even enrolled in the university through evening classes, and she graduated and got a very good job.
Talked to the husband
Zorro’s narration took an exciting twist.
Sometime last year, Mrs Williams approached me and asked me to talk to her husband. We are not close with him; he is not in my circle of close friends. I advised her to focus on herself and accept the husband and find a way to live in peace with him. Mrs. Williams found a shoulder to cry on. Soon enough, she was opening her heart to me, sharing her marriage’s big and the small issues. One of the ways that her husband mistreats her is that he will not let her ride in his car even when it is heavily raining, yet their workplaces are on the same routes.
It has become normal for me to give her a ride to work regularly. She waits for me at the bus stop. My wife and her husband are not aware of this. But my biggest dilemma right now is that Mrs Williams has developed romantic feelings for me.
And because of our constant interactions, I also doubt myself. What keeps me away from touching her is only because we are neighbours.
Zorro is torn between giving in to her or keeping away.
I know she needs a shoulder to lean on and that she needs to feel loved…I usually give my all, without reservations. I am very tempted, but I also know that she has had affairs, and I cannot imagine bringing a disease to my wife.
Another reason that has kept Zorro from taking up the offers that Mrs William has thrown his way is his children.
I want to bring up my children in a certain family setup, a stable one, not a broken one, but this situation is getting worse every day.
In a world where HIV is still a major threat and Kenya ranks among the top twenty countries globally with HIV infections, I started my response by advising Zorro to run.
Run like Joseph did from Mrs Potiphar, I told him. I hoped my response had not got to him, too late. I said: You have not heard the other side of the story, her husband's version. The best you can do right now is to refer Mrs Williams, or the couple, to a counsellor. Just run and stop providing a shoulder to a married woman who has now developed ‘feelings for you.’ It will lead to premium tears.
You see, we can act damsels in distress at the drop of a hat to get a man’s attention. We know how asking for your help massages your ego. We can be as manipulative as any man when we want something from a man. In the same way that a man will lure a woman with sweet nothings, we can lure a man with our dramatised helplessness. Zorro, I hope you are still running.
Karimi is a wife who believes in marriage. [email protected]