The Red Sofa I

She knocked on our door at 7 a.m. and my heart just sank. I had been expecting it, but nothing could have prepared me for how it really felt. I started feeling a rush of emotions; all mixed up, fighting to be given expression.

She knocked again.

I looked over to my wife. Our eyes met. We did not speak a word but our hearts said the same things: we could not ignore her forever.

I stood up, took a deep sigh and walked to the door. All the while not knowing what to expect. I paused with the door knob in my hand, mustered all of the remains of my manliness and turned it.

The moment I opened that door, I opened up ourselves and our lives to the most gruesome and trying period that shook our very lives.

About a year and a half ago, we went through what I can only term as the most difficult periods of my life. At the time, I did not imagine that it would ever end. I felt and thought what everyone who has ever been where I was had thought before me; this must be a punishment from God! It is the only viable explanation. I have sinned. I need to repent! I must have been a bad bad boy and God is exerting His righteous judgement over me. It has to be. His track record shows that no injustice is witty enough to escape His reparations. And what better way to chastise a person than with pain.

I was angry, for a while. Then I became hurt and disappointed. This then quickly gave way to denial. I somehow began convince myself that all this was an illusion; a treachery of the eyes sent to distract me. This must be how the sojourners of the desert feel when the heat and thirst of the wilderness conjure up an oasis from thin air.

With each passing day, depression drew closer and closer to my tent. I could not fathom how a God who ‘claimed’ to love me, and was apparently very vocal about it, could allow me and my wife to go through this hell. I mean, we were newlyweds; these were supposed to be our glory days; our honeymoon years filled with breakfast in bed and prom-night like date nights. It was supposed to be very apparent that we’d just gotten married. You don’t take somebody’s daughter from her father’s house; with filled fridges and pantries that looked like that of Bilbo Baggins (for those who are lost, google will find you), and yet that is what I had done.

I was stretched as thin as I could possibly go. I mean it was hard. By the time all this happened, I was very adept with comfort; I liked what I could predict. I had what I called a peaceful existence (note my use of the word existence and not life). I had created a comfort zone around me and everything and everyone had to conform to it. I had an ‘okay’ job, been married for about 6 months and was doing just fine. It was not the most lavish of existences, but it was manageable and I knew in my heart, that events would follow that trajectory.

How wrong I was.

I remember that day as though it was yesterday, including the series of events that led up to that day.

It all started in January, when all job sources dried up. Previously id get at least two contracts a month and the proceeds from it were enough to sustain us-ish. From the said month, it is like they all held a meeting and unanimously decided to avoid me at all costs. Two months later, my wife’s job ended, just like that. No reason, no explanation, nothing. I remember us waking up the day after the termination and us looking at each other like “So what next?”

Over the next three months after that morning in March, we searched for answers concerning what next. We sent out over 100 job applications…each, but nothing was coming through. We did menial jobs, in the scarcity in which they could be found but it was never enough. We ran errands, washed people’s clothes, cleaned their houses, and literally tried it all, but nothing was enough.

At the same time, our bills were stacking up through the roof. Each time we got something to pay a part of it, more sprung up. A point came when we had to choose between keeping the lights on and putting food in our bellies; lights won each time. At least when we had lights and water, we could send our CVs, could shower and be presentable when we went to the many interviews we did. Our bellies would groan in the waiting room and to ward off the thoughts of hunger by singing along to their orchestra. It became so hard that we could not pay our rent or utility bills, buy food or even afford 10 shillings.

However, this was nothing compared to what happened on the morning of the 5th of June. We had known that it would happen ad somehow we encouraged ourselves, praying that God would make her forget for another 2 or so months. Maybe by then, things would have picked up. Nothing ever prepares you for the experience of being homeless. It is a shameful experience when you are a married man and cannot even put a roof over your wife’s head.

We got kicked out of our house into the unknown. No amount of pleas and promises were enough to change her mind. She was hell bent on throwing us out and nothing would sway her otherwise. She gave us her ultimatum without batting an eyelid.

By 6 p.m., our stuff was outside, her door was locked and we had nowhere to go. Every place and everyone I tried calling was not available. My wife and I tried joking about the situation but the well of laughter had long dried up. Both of us had been thrust into the wilderness, into uncertainty; not knowing where to go, not knowing what to do.

In a final desperate attempt to get a roof for the night, more so for my babe if it was the only one available, we found ourselves at our friend Prisca’s doorstep with all our luggage. The looks on our faces were enough to tell her the whole story. By the grace of God, we not only got a roof for our heads but also a hot meal for our starving bellies; not just for that night, but for the next 30 days.

 

*To Be Continued*

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