An entry in the Award for Essays and Journalism
The time on the device read 2:45am as I shoved it feebly aside and tossed restlessly around for the hundredth time.
I forced my reluctant eyelids to shut, shielding my eyeballs from the walls that seem to stare back at me in deadly silence but overhearing my thoughts.
Today is the day of the court hearing. The fate of seven years of marriage lies in the hands of a stranger with a black robe and wooden hammer seated behind a tall desk.
Is it worth it? Did it have to go this far? Well, enough had been enough.
On top of all the challenges of life, of being his wife, of mothering his children, of being a good in-law to his family and of supporting him to manage a home, I was forced into the extra pressure of fighting for my rightful place. But why?
Some say that, unlike in the past, modern technology was to blame. Yes, it is a new era, the advances of modern science racing around the globe like wildfire in the wind.
But, really, should we blame a lifeless, insensate, mute, manufactured device for our marital affairs, sexually transmitted disease, neglect and suffering? The answer is no. Our power of choice and the actions we take determine how we live.
Some say all the technological advancement is a blessing; a few say it’s a curse; but really, if you look at it carefully, it all depends on how one chooses to define and use it.
It’s knowledge and the use we make of it that is power. Power to do good or evil, to destroy or create, to hide or make known, to move forward with the rest of the world….
We have benefited hugely and positively from the wave of change that bears us forward but we must also admit that the abuse of smart technologies is also fuelling to the destruction of many homes in our nation and contributing to the many issues faced by society.
Secret lives are created and lived on the internet through smart phones and computers. A married man or woman with a faithful partner and beautiful children is given the ability to pose as a single person using this technology, fuelling extra marital relationships and the problems that come with it.
The innocent always suffer the worst.
Social media assists molesting predators to lure minors from the safety of their homes, ending in cyber bullying, pornography, STDs, unwanted pregnancies or even rape.
With devices glued to their hands and faces, some have forgotten how to live life with their loved ones, slipping away from reality into a world of fantasy and isolation.
Without discipline or self-control some have allowed a gadget to outsmart their intellect and steal their time and their lives.
Decades ago the technologies did not exist to evoke such behaviour. Taking a partner, especially a woman, into a man’s home was based entirely on reasons that served the community well – like keeping peace between tribes or maintaining the wealth and prestige of ones clan.
Women did not fight over a man as they do today. Women were valued and prized back then as they contributed hugely in a community and were paid huge amounts of bride price to keep.
But today, with the use of technology, married men easily have affairs with women they don’t intend to keep, encouraging prostitution in the process, fuelling STDs, domestic violence, child abuse and everywhere adding to broken homes.
As for me, my battle has come this far, seven years of what seemed like wasted time and effort, all the things I could have done without a man standing in between, all the options I could have explored and the opportunities I brushed aside to prioritise a life that has now come to an edge.
I could drown and die of regret and depression every night, but the two beautiful children I gained in this journey have given me a reason to wake up every morning and push on.
Life has been a battlefield. All the fights that left me defeated and miserable, all the heated exchanges between me and the other women on social media, nothing ever seemed to end. And the blame game and justifications for all his doings.
A new surge of anger erupts from somewhere deep within as I recall the smart phone that never left the palm of his hand and stole all his time, attention and finally his love for me.
The late nights he spent on the other side of the room, his face reflecting the hateful blue glow of the device, him smiling, giggling, flirting with women from a social media site.
And as time went by, the empty bed, the cold untouched dinner from last night ending up as trash, the lies and tales to cover his absence, and the loneliness I get swallowed up in, even in his presence.
I search within, expecting to feel maybe only a slight flicker of that emotion that was responsible for the bonding of two people in the first place. To my dismay, it was all still there, as warm and beautifully pure as it was. It was still there.
I still love him painfully and dearly as I did the first time I loved him. Tears well up my eyes as I gulp down a lump forming in my throat. Those tender first dates, the sweet promises, the thrilling journey into parenthood, the contented laughter, the joyful tears, the fun of those happier times.
All was well until we allowed something else into our life and gave it the reins of control.
And yes, I shattered one smart phone after another when they started to pose as a threat to our relationship, but he would buy another, and another after beating me up over the previous one. Pushing me further and further away from him.
He would fall asleep either with his fingers tightly wrapped around the device or with it tucked under his pillow. He was addicted to it. Whatever he was protecting and spending time with had replaced what we had.
If only we had realised soon enough and were strong enough to fight this, maybe we could have picked up the good pieces, thrown away the bad and tried again.
Or if life was written in pencil, I would gladly use the eraser to delete all that was bad, leaving the good. Then rewrite our story even better.
Or if maybe we existed in the time of our grandparents, this marriage would see us through to our grey and golden age.
And maybe if we both thought the same, we wouldn’t have any problems.
However, one thing I am sure of is that, even if it is too late for me, it isn’t too late for my children to learn and understand the true meaning of life and the values that hold something as sacred as marriage together.
It isn’t too late for them and their generation to be guided by our mistakes.
Time and experience teaches valuable lessons in life and as long as I still breathe I will make sure I impart what should have been to my children.
Nothing of this world must dominate and ruin their lives in any way.
The power of choice each one has must always be used for the good of oneself and those around us.