PHOTO COURTESY http://www.independent.ie
Mr. Johnstone, a successful manager and an aspiring young politician, drove his family carefully along the highway. He was in a jovial mood. He was thinking about the fun he and his family would have later in the day. He was taking them for a trip. Johnstone had worked hard in all aspects of his life and it was now his turn to enjoy the fruits of his labour. He even smiled to himself, as he wondered what those people who had not been hard working like him would enjoy. He thought of his desk mate in high school, who had been so lazy that he failed miserably in his exams. The last thing he heard about him was that he was fond of hanging out in chang’aa dens.
His wife, Sarah was seated on the front seat of the car. There were three children at the back seat, a boy and two little girls. The two little girls were chatting noisily, while the boy was busy playing some games, on his latest video games gadget. They were blessed to have a wonderful father, who always referred to them as ‘the three angels’. They were a happy set. They never lacked anything, which was why they owned their father jealously and would have been ready to strangle any other child who dared to call him father. This was really a good idea of a happy family.
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The wife and husband were also chatting animatedly. Several times, Sarah patted Johnstone at the back as he drove or sometimes just slapped him on the thighs, and then they would laugh so loudly, that the children would be startled. They would have been mistaken to be a young couple, were it not for the three angels at the back seat. This was a sign of good blood between them.
Both Johnstone and Sarah were on leave and since they lived in the city, they had decided to have a family outing. The children were also at home for the long holidays and they saw the outing as a welcome relief, since under normal circumstances, they would have been in the house, keeping company to the cartoons on the television set. So onward they went, towards their destination. Johnstone just made one stop to refuel the car at one petrol station and to buy some snacks for the family, and then he sped off along the highway. He was really having a good time.
They finally arrived at their destination, the highly sought after ‘Ponda mali’ resort. This was the place, every well off family dreamed of visiting. They were highly excited. Johnstone had planned to spend a substantial amount of money to spoil his family. At the resort, they looked for a place to relax. They were feeling hungry and so they wanted to eat something first before embarking on a hiking mission around the resort. There were many things they were planning to do after the meal. They could swim, go for light jogging or go for hill climbing.
Johnstone was also planning to meet some few friends, to discuss some issues. The media had been interested in him of late. He was running for an elective post in the forth coming elections and as is the case with most politicians, the media people were spending sleepless nights trying to find fault in him, something which could put a dent to his reputation. Johnstone was aware of this and so he was consulting his more experienced friends to guide him through the process of becoming a politician.
Just as they settled down, a woman accompanied by four children arrived unannounced. She was of light complexion, but was so thin that she resembled a starving goat. Her ribs could easily be counted. She was in tattered clothes and so were the children. They were accompanied by press people. She picked a quarrel with Johnstone.
The quarrel was accompanied by words which should have been considered unsuitable for persons below a certain age. It was punctuated by sarcastic comments, which paralysed Johnstone to the bone marrow.
She could be heard saying, “Well! Well! So you thought you could enjoy yourself with your high class prostitute, while we suffered in the rural areas? You are a useless man, who behaves like a woman (Whatever that means). You should be wearing a skirt, you impotent man.” And on went the accusations.
As the press people clicked their cameras away, Johnstone just stood rooted to the spot. He was too shocked and embarrassed to speak. The lady was his first wife. He had neglected her and the children for years. His second wife was not even aware that Johnstone had been a married man, which is why she was too shocked to utter a single word. She could not believe the kind of accusations leveled against her, “She called me a high class prostitute?” she muttered but the words were not audible enough. Her world was slowly crumbling down, she felt her knees weakening, but she could not do anything.
Out of embarrassment, Johnstone ran towards his car, hoped in and raced out of the place, leaving his second wife stranded. She fainted. The three angels just stood there crying, not knowing what to do. The first wife left. She had accomplished her mission. She did not even bother to quarrel the second wife. Many years spent in bitterness had worn her out. She had lived in poverty, single handedly struggling to raise her children. She always wept, out of betrayal by her husband, whom she had married when he had nothing, but since he became wealthy, he had deserted them.
Once she regained consciousness, Sarah started reflecting upon her own life. So she had been a home breaker? How would she survive now? How would she endure the shame and guilt which was now engulfing her? What about the endless gossips by her friends? She even recalled how she had boasted to her friends that she would never accept to be a second wife to any man. She now understood why Johnstone had been reluctant to make their marriage official. He would have been charged of bigamy. That evening, the press had a juicy story to air, about an ambitious young politician, whose family lived like paupers.