She grew up good. Her mother had a little shop at the centre of Jetu market, where she sold the cassava she had laboured to dig up in her vast farms. Her father was as much of a farmer as he was a teacher at her school. He taught mathematics energetically on week days, and then they all would head to the farm on Saturdays; together as a family. Somehow, the just managed to have just enough to feed, clothe their only daughter and themselves.
Those days were as long gone as a dream in the morning. She remembered the open, brown roads that filled her village in those days.
There were also big trees of oranges and coconuts which were the people’s favourite. The Sun there, high up in the skies of the dry season, was like a god ruling over the free spirited people, alongside the rain. Together, they could command the green pastures to bloom or they could cause the only river in the village to retreat far from it usual banks like a huge coward. Evenings were a unique time for everyone to know each other a little better, or just move your lips to the rhythm of gossips. Yes, she had grown up beside of the biggest road and there had never been any place she could have ever called home besides this place.
She had been a village sweet heart. People loved her because she was polite, and her parents had taken such good care of her. Unlike a lot of other families in the village, her parents could afford that because they worked hard and she was the only one. They knew she was all they had to live for, so that strengthened their love. They just never grew out of the teenage love that had brought them together. People envied their simplicity, as they walked together, with their only daughter; on their way to the farm. Those days were so peaceful, and she had enjoyed them so much. When you had that much love around you, you never really understood bitterness- not when you could always go back. Now Hadra was too far away.
The door creaked, and James walked in slowly like a zombie. He wasn’t even holding his work suitcase, and his shirt was unbuttoned all the way to his waist. He just grabbed his jacket loosely in his left hand. He watched Hadra, his wife of one year, closely with a loose, cocky smile hung across his face. She neither noticed the door creak, nor the thud of his footsteps. She just stared at the television with its volume so low, that the newscaster behind the screen looked like she was miming the evening news. Her eyes were heavy and these were the same clothes he had left her in.
James preferred his wife this way. She was such a spoilt brat on every normal day. Her dark brown eyes were filled to the brim with so much jealousy, that she was always restless. She was a small thing, barely reaching the five foot mark, but she knew dam well how to make plenty of trouble. She was so dark, and frankly, James had never seen any beauty in that face no matter how hard he tried. Her lips were too full for her face and she had that irritating scar on her back. Disease or not, he did not like staring at it. He guessed she was the type who just expected love and sympathy wherever she went. She never made any attempt to demand it forceful, even on the day of their so called honey moon. It didn’t take long for him to start getting irritated by her. The truth was that it took him such a great effort to keep coming back here, some days though, after work. If he decided to leave her, Henry, his best friend, would never shut up- and she would be so heartbroken. She was a loud mouth, and she was awkward; but he knew that she still had a heart, at least for him.
He suddenly began to feel sorry. He couldn’t believe he had allowed all those thoughts swarm his head. She was just a tiny woman, who perhaps had grown tired of fighting. He knew he had hurt her terribly and the real fault in this marriage was him, not her nagging.
“Honey, I am home!” He announced after swallowing hard, and then he regretted it. Maybe she had decided to watch a muted television, because she just wanted to be left alone. He sighed, after waiting a while for her to reply him and then turned around to leave. Screw her, he too was tired of his stupid bank job and he didn’t have the kind of down casted eyes that she had.
“I made dinner for you” She said softly. He swore that she had said that so softly that his own thoughts could have easily drowned it- that voice that was always so high pitched and annoying until very recently.
“You didn’t have to.” James said without turning around to look at her. She had her chance, now he just wanted to go to bed.
She suddenly started to sob. It was a muffled sound, probably half her face was tucked in her handkerchief. Still he did not look back; instead he began to head for their bed room.
“James” she said in that soft tone again “I want to go back home.”
“Home?” James said turning around sharply. There was a huge surprise smile on his lips “What home?”
“I have decided that i won’t come between you and your girlfriend” She said, but her voice was so distant now “I miss Papa and Mama.”
James had never heard her refer to her folks as ‘Papa and Mama’ before, but he could care less. Today was like Christmas.
“She is more beautiful than I am” Hadra continued in that distant tone. She wasn’t crying anymore, instead; she sounded as though she was daydreaming while her lips did the talking.
“Good!” James exclaimed, he could not help it; “Let’s go to the court and get a divorce. This whole marriage thing is wearing us out.”
“Who said anything about a divorce?” she exploded facing him “I am just going home to see my parents.”
“I am going to bed” James said turning around. Suddenly the old Hadra had resurfaced.
“Oh I helped you build this house, so I am not going anywhere. I don’t mind an ugly court battle.”
“Of course” James said sarcastically “You have gone about telling our neighbours that I am such a bad person, that they look at me like I am thief. I have got to hand it to you; you do know how to persuade people.”
“You are a coward James.” She said “You would have gotten that divorce if your friend Henry wasn’t also your boss.”
James smiled. He didn’t need to hit her to really hurt her, all he needed where the perfect words at the right time. Now was one of those times. He hoped that if he continued with this, one day she would just go- pack her bags and say “James I am tired of you always saying those hurtful things.”
“Thank God for Henry huh?” He said still smiling “Thank God you were able to get to him to pity you, just like you did to everyone of our neighbours- but you would never be half as important as Simin is to me.” Simin was the girlfriend that really cut their marriage into two big halves.
“Yep, at least not with that ugly scar of yours.”
“I don’t care James” she said blankly. That usually worked and James was very surprised. This woman was definitely going through a phase.
“If I divorce you, and they hear it, they would never stop laughing at me” She said quietly.
“Who is ‘they’?” James asked frowning.
“You know village women and their wide mouths. I will be a laughing stock” She said and then James realised that she had been talking to herself. “I just want to go back in time James, there is nothing sweeter and nothing I would rather have right now. Jatto just keeps calling me like a long lost friend.”
“Clap for yourself, you have gone mad” He said and then hissed. As he turned round to leave, He realised that this was the first time she had called the name of her village.
“I can’t wait to go” She continued to say “You can have Simin, just don’t tell Mama that we are getting a divorce; she would be too heartbroken.”
“Tell you the truth Hadra, this half bread is better than none.” He mocked as he opened the door to their bed room.
“That means a lot to me James, thank you” She said softly and for the first time in six months, she felt happy.