Scented Candles

By Troy Onyango.


As the drops of rain slowly fall on the ground, I cast a glance over the small crowd gathered around me. Men and women dressed in black with umbrellas over their heads and white handkerchiefs held to their faces. Friends, family and colleagues of my husband – I had insisted on a private funeral. The whole place is a monochrome of sadness but for the Priest’s stole of purple and gold and the brown coffin that rests on the straps waiting to be lowered. No flowers, I wrote on the card. The musky smell of the ground welcoming the rain rises from the ground and suffocates me, choking me to tears. My sister Tiff holds me by the waist and tells me everything will be okay. My brother Desmond holds the umbrella over my head to shield me from the rain that is getting heavier by the minute. I move my hand to my face and adjust my shades. With them covering my eyes and the rain, no one can know I am not mourning the death of my husband.

Marko and I got married on a Saturday in the August heat of 2012. The 17th of August to be precise. I remember that day so well. Why is there a woman who forgets the day they marry the man of their dreams. The day of our wedding coincided exactly with the day we met. Making it four months after the meeting at Desmond’s house at a party Desmond organized just so I could leave my house and get out.

In Desmond’s words, I was taking the break up with Anthony too hard on myself. What he never understood was I loved Anthony. To me, Anthony had been the proverbial “love of my life”. I had met him in the first year of campus and we had stayed a solid nine years together. So when he left me for another girl it was hard on me. Desmond wouldn’t understand and so he threw a party which was actually to be a hunt for me.

You know how you get into a party and every person there look’s good but you? That’s how I felt when I stepped out of the elevator into Desmond’s house. The door was ajar so I just went in and straight to the kitchen. At first I didn’t see him. I rummaged in the refrigerator to find something to eat. Apart from frosted uncooked beef and rice from the previous night’s dinner there was nothing. I grabbed an apple from the fruit stand and as I dug my teeth into it, that’s when I saw him standing there. I wiped my mouth with the sleeve of my cardigan, smudging lipstick all over it, before smiling and whispering hello.
“Hungry uh?” He asked, the sound of his voice filling the kitchen. I sensed an accent to it
“Haha well I am famished actually.” I responded shyly, taking another bite from the apple.
“Well, you could order pizza. Actually let me do that for you.” He offered and with that he had me.
I did not go around the business of refusing and wanting to be persuaded and he took his phone and placed an order for one large chicken peri peri pizza. As we waited for the delivery, we talked about things ranging from the weather to TV shows. The kitchen was the only quite place and the party sounded wild from the other side. All this while I had not spotted Desmond and he did not know I had arrived. The pizza was delivered and we ate from the kitchen floor and that’s when Desmond walked in to find us there. He made a few jokes about me finding a husband already and we laughed. He then told me that Marko was his longtime friend who had just returned to Kenya from the United Kingdom and was staying with him till he got his own place. The night went on wild and after an hour people started saying their goodbyes. Marko and I exchanged numbers and I left my brother’s house.

Four months later after incessant texts and numerous dates we got married in the presence of all our friends and family, presided over by this same priest that now presides over his burial. Even Anthony was present. It was a jubilant ceremony and the celebrations were grand. A honeymoon to the Seychelles basking in the sun and running on the sandy beaches for a month crowned the whole affair and when we were back more happy tidings flooded us.

To the world we seemed like the happiest couple in the world. But something was amiss.
When a man doesn’t pressurize you to have sex, you as a woman start to think you have found the most considerate, unselfish and loving man the world could give. And so after the coffee dates and the dinners you go home and lie on your bed telling yourself you have the sweetest man in the world. You also in your caution of life after a breakup decide that this is the best thing for you and so you wait eagerly for the night after the wedding. Marko told me that he was too tired that night and so when we set off for our honeymoon the next day I knew that here is where he would make me his. Jetlag didn’t allow us to do anything on the night of the arrival and for the four weeks that we were there nothing happened.

We resumed our duties when all the dust had settled and smiled at people who congratulated us on our marriage. We attended holiday outs, parties and events together except for the boys’ night outs where he went with Desmond and other friends. We laughed hard at jokes our friends made and we did everything together but have sex. I thought he was embarrassed of a dysfunction and so I left it to when he would be ready. I did not nag, I was never born a nagging wife. My mother taught me that nagging women made bad wives and their husbands left them. I took that with me always. Had my mother not sustained a marriage for thirty years? Was she not happy? And so I didn’t nag. Not even when the night outs became weekend outs and then trips to Mombasa. My brother assured me nothing bad happened there and I trusted my brother.
I did not tell anyone the sexual frustration in my marriage. Not even that day I finally decided to pay someone to cut the brakes of my husband’s car. The man did his job well and a few hours later I received a phone call that Marko was found in a pile of wrung metal. The police said his brakes had failed at the junction and an oncoming lorry had hit his car. He died on the spot. And that is why I am not mourning my husband today.

I have mourned him for two years. To me I lost my husband eight months into our marriage when I hired a private investigator to follow him to Mombasa and see what he did there. I just wanted to know if he had sex there and if that was the reason he didn’t want me. Maybe there was another woman there that made him not to want me. The private investigator delivered an envelope to my door a few days later and when I finally opened them I realized that I would never be wife enough to Marko. Not when the photos before me were of him in Mombasa running around the beach kissing and hugging Desmond.

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12 thoughts on “Scented Candles

  1. The story and time flow in a classic orchestra Mood, something like a cello played to a home schooling prince. As for the style and art, you employ a solid african touch with specs of a not so western Mood adopted to a ancient japanese Myth.

    Troy, awesome execution of life in real ink sense.

    Liked by 1 person

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