Broken Vows Episode 4

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THE STRANGER

Well it is!

AFIA (hollowly)

And the woman behaved differently? She behaved differently to how I’m behaving?

THE STRANGER

Well, yes. Compared to your case, all of them behaved differently!

There is a silence, and then the elderly stranger suddenly stands up, gives a slight bow to Afia and Naa, gives a little salute to Takyi, picks up his mop and turns to leave. Afia looks at her soon-be-ex-husband and then she raises a hand.

AFIA (earnestly)

Please, sir! Please, please don’t leave. I do want to hear this story… of this other couple.

The stranger stops and looks enquiringly at them.

THE STRANGER

Really?

TAKYI

Yes, yes, please. I also want to hear it.

The elderly man purses his lips, and then he nods, puts down the mop and sits down again.

THE STRANGER

Well, I’ll be quick. Like I told you, this story is a real one. Happened about fifteen years ago, in Takoradi, to Yaw Kuntu and his wife Kwansema Kuntu. They had been married for fifteen years without a child. Unlike you who has adoring in-laws, Afia, Kwansema’s mother-in-law was a terror, always blaming poor Kwansema for not having a child. Listen, come closer and listen to my tale…

FLASHBACK:

THE STRANGER’S NARRATION

Location: THE KUNTU RESIDENCE

Kwansema survived fifteen years of that fractious marriage because she was a Christian…a very good Christian. The first couple of years were a bit bearable because Yaw Kuntu was working in Takoradi, and Kwansema was an accounts officer in a firm in Accra. So, you see, Yaw had to travel to Accra on weekends, or Kwansema went to Takoradi. So, basically, everyone thought that their inability to stay together contributed to their childlessness.

By and by, however, Yaw’s bosses saw his dilemma and transferred him to head one of their branches in Accra, and so the lovers finally came together, after an initial two years of staying apart. Yaw Kuntu’s father was dead, and his mother, Madam Nyinaa, wanted her grandchildren. Well, it was not as if she didn’t have grandchildren. You see, Yaw Kuntu had a sister called Maa Abena, and she was married, and she had two children, a boy and a girl. But, you know mothers and their sons! Madam Nyinaa’s favourite was Yaw Kuntu, and it was his children she wanted to hold, so to speak. Haha, funny.

Anyway, like I said from the beginning, that woman was a terror! I can’t tell you all that she did to poor Kwansema, but she never let that poor girl rest. She came to Accra under one pretext or the other to visit them frequently. When Yaw Kuntu was around, that woman was an angel personified, but when she had Kwansema to herself, oyiwa, come and see show! Kwansema’s only strength was the God she depended on, and her church members who held her up in prayers, and her pastors who spent countless hours counselling her.

Anyway, it seems I’m straying too much, wasting time on chaff, so you must think, because you’re also in a hurry to go to your divorce hearing, Takyi and Afia. So let me cut to the chase. Now, in the fourteenth year of Yaw Kuntu and Kwansema’s marriage, Madam Nyinaa suffered a mild heart attack. Hahaha, when I heard the story, at this point I asked myself why she didn’t just die so that poor Kwansema would be free. Hahaha, wicked thoughts, I know, I know. I’m sorry, terribly sorry. Christians should never think ill of others, no matter how badly they treat them. I apologize.

Anyway…where was I mpo? Aha, I remember. Fourteenth year, Madam Nyinaa recovers from a mild stroke. Her daughter Maa Abena was in Nigeria for a short symposium, and so Yaw Kuntu decided to bring his mother to stay with him for a while, until Maa Abena’s return. Well, this woman came to the house, and she refused to go back, even when Maa Abena returned. Yaw Kuntu loved his mother, and so he couldn’t forcibly ask her to leave.

Kwansema had to bear with her mother-in-law’s sharp tongue for a year. Now we enter the fifteenth year, where all the drama occurred. Yaw Kuntu, as the Sector Manager of the Company he worked for, was attending the Annual General Meeting of the company at their headquarters in Takoradi. It was supposed to last for three days. The evening before his departure, his loving wife packed his travelling bag. They took their shower together, and probably made love, you know, since it was going to be sometime before they saw each other again. Forgive me, there I go again, harping on the unnecessary.

Anyway, they were in bed, when the bedroom door opened and in walked Madam Nyinaa, startling them.

YAW KUNTU (exasperated)

Goodness, Mother! You can’t just barge into our room like this! We could’ve been naked! Madam Nyinaa pulled out Kwansema’s dressing chair and sat down facing them.

MADAM NYINAA (unperturbed)

You’re my children, and there’s no shame in me seeing your nakedness. Anyway, I want to have a talk with you, both of you!

YAW KUNTU (fighting his anger)

At this time of the night, Mother?

MADAM NYINAA (primly)

Yes. Now! I don’t see why you’re so fired up, Yaw! Why, do you want to make love to your wife? What’s the use of that except for the pleasure of the flesh? You’ve been making love to her for fifteen years now and that belly of hers which the witches from her hometown are obviously using as a football pitch or chopping block just won’t swell up!

YAW KUNTU (angrily)

Please stop that this instant, Mother! Children are a gift from God! At the right time-

MADAM NYINAA (angrily)

The right time is long gone, my son! That woman is your wedded wife, I understand! You probably don’t want to divorce her, and you prefer to live with her forever! But remember, you’re the only son, bearing your father’s name! Your name is Kuntukununku, a warrior’s name! It has lasted many centuries, and a name that makes knees buckle with fear! You’re the last of an unending chain of Kuntukununkus! You can’t allow your line to fade! So, I’m coming with you to Takoradi tomorrow! You can go to church and stay married to that useless log of a woman whose womb is lined with Togo cement for all I care! But I will not allow you to end your father’s name line, do you hear me? I’m going to find you a woman in Takoradi who will bear you children!

YAW KUNTU (thunderously)

That’s preposterous, Mother!

MADAM NYINAA (angrily)

Prepos your head, Yaw Kuntu. Prepos your nose, Yaw Kuntu! I raised you a man, but you have fallen under her witchcraft like a foolish sheep which has seen dried cassava covering! But no more! You can live in your filthy marriage, but I’m going to find you a real woman to give you children!

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