Tactless Ex-es

My ex will not win any prizes for tact this lifetime. I have suffered enough for his tact throughout our marriage but mostly during the awful times around our divorce. It could have been worse, of course, had I at any point contested the divorce, asked for more child support or a better settlement.

One of his most awful deeds at that time was forwarding the acrimonious emails of his mom and his older sister to my inbox. The emails had been intended for his eyes only, hateful words against me from people who hardy know me, that might have massaged his pride and given him the support he “needed” in a predicament he most certainly asked for. I was extremely hurt by his action at the time-which I assume was his intention in the first place. Nevertheless, this action went unpunished on my side because at the time I still cared, and most importantly I still needed him to look after Robert while I tried to get back to work. To tell the truth I do not believe I could ever punish my ex for anything because I am fully aware of my son’s love to him and I do not want to be the one to demonize his beloved papa for him; soon enough he will get to know him by himself and make a judgment. I will not extend the same curtsey though to the mother and older sister of my ex, I still want nothing to do with them and that relationship will never be salvaged. My rationale is that my son has only one father but more than one aunt and he has a loving grandmother already. Maybe it is also my way to punish my ex indirectly since I cannot get him directly.

Today featured the latest installments of tact from my ex. He dropped off our son with me while I was attending a baby shower with the girls. I noticed a yellow envelope in the front pocket of Robert’s baby bag. I took it out to see writing that looked familiar. On one side of the envelope it said: “From: Duzi* (brown-noser)” the other side said: “To: XXX (boss)”


I could not believe my eyes, it was a birthday card I had given him in 2004 or more likely in 2005 (the year I first attempted to split up with him).  What is the purpose of giving it back? I have no idea and I do not care. The card however gave me an insight into the woman I was five or six years ago, feeling the pain, the pressure, the joylessness of my life and still trying and struggling to put a brave face on it, and still loving in my own helpless way. It definitely did not make me miss that marriage.

At the time I was helping my ex run a service station in the Eastern Cape and he was my boss. It was perhaps the toughest few years in my life both personally and professionally. Not even getting thrown out of my home with a six-month old baby comes close, because in the Eastern Cape I was oh, so alone. I had no friends, and no support whatsoever. It is no wonder that in the end I sought the help of people who were almost strangers to me, to make my break and escape.

In the Eastern Cape I visited a therapist for the first time in my life. During that maiden session I poured out my disappointment and grief about a marriage that has never really given me any joy. I spoke of a husband who almost always undermined me. I will never forget the therapist asking me whether there was anything good in that marriage, and me finally admitting that there wasn’t. I haven’t been to a therapist again after that. That session was a watershed experience and set in motion my escape out of that marriage. Soon after that I drove from the Eastern Cape to Cape Town. My ex, having realized that there was no stopping me changed his tact at that crucial juncture and started prying on my emotions my still present love – or dependency, on him.

It was to be the beginning of a couple of years where I remained torn between leaving and staying, and I ended up deciding to stay once our son was conceived. It is ironic that after all that the final decision of divorce was forced upon me, but it was the correct thing to do. I have never looked back. I do not look back unless the memory is forced upon me like it was with this card.

I will just post it here for the record. It meant something in its time, but it is now just a piece of history. All I can say is, why the heck does he return the card and not return the books I gave him as presents all these years, now that would have been something I can use.

*Duzi is the nickname my ex gave me. I never looked it up and now I think he meant doozy.  It is given many meanings in the urban dictionary among them: bizarre, daunting, but also extraordinary. Knowing my ex I doubt he ever meant it in a nice way. It was rather an expression of how odd he found me.

Book: The Other Hand (Little Bee)

The Other HandThe Other Hand by Chris Cleave

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There is a noble premise to this book, to raise awareness about refugees to Britain, and to combat the sentiment of apathy that most people feel towards their plight. The character of the Little Bee is sweet and fascinating. The way she superimposes her experience in Britain on remembrances of her Nigerian home is quite endearing.

However, and I cannot quite put my finger on it, the book left me unsatisfied. Like many stories that are written by white people about Africa or about African people there is a certain flatness to them. The Africans are always the helpless people who surrender to their fate, no matter how many radical plans they make to escape it.  Africans are either brutes or victims. Either sub-human monsters or near-saints, but perhaps this is just me. Little Bee comes quite close to a real-life humane and wise African girl, but the others in this book are not quite so engaging. Of course you will have to read the novel to judge by yourself, it is quite short and easy to finish in one or two sittings.

The book is about Little Bee the Nigerian girl who finds herself a central character in the life of Sarah, a British editor of a funky women magazine, and mother to 4-year-old Charlie. The events of the novel takes place over a few weeks but move backwards to the memory of both women’s lives and the fateful events that brought them together. It is narrated in the alternating voices of Sara and Little Bee.

One thing that bothered me as a mother of a small child is the portrayal of the little boy, Charlie, a.k.a Batman. His speech manner is quite irritating and I think it is quite exaggerated because 4-year-olds in my experience are quite capable of uttering grammatical sentences. Sarah has her heart in the right place, but she is also neurotic to say the least, this is perhaps done on purpose to illustrate that sometimes the immigrant is far wiser than the full-blooded British citizen with his or her “values” whatever they are.

Perhaps I would have given the book one extra half star but since the option is not available I am erring on the minus side, simply because the book did not deliver on it hyped up promise.

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