Friday 12 August 2016

Burning Woman part 9

January 1994

“I heard Sophia’s husband is getting worse,” Mary says, as we walk to the well.
“I have heard the same thing,” I confirmed. “We should go and visit before it is too late.”
“It is such a strange illness. I have never seen the like. I could barely recognize him when I last visited him.”
“It is this new sickness from the city. There is a powerful traditional healer in the midlands capable of treating it. The hospitals can’t cure it.”
“The midlands?” Mary muses. “I don’t think he can make it that far. He can barely walk to the toilet.”
“Maybe they can get the healer to come here.”
“Maybe...” Mary says. “I almost forgot Morris send some money for you with my husband. You can come and collect any time.”
Mary’s husband worked in the mines and often brought back money and letters from her husband. Ever since the city visit he had not set foot in the village. I hadn’t spoken to anyone but Mary had guessed what had happened. I chose to neither confirm or disapprove her suspicions.
“Take my advice. Leave the man sooner or later he will see some sense. As long as the money keeps coming do not worry.”
But I wanted my husband for myself. If I could be faithful why couldn’t he be the same. Many women accepted what happened in the city. But I couldn’t abide such double standards. 
In his letters Morris never mentioned the new woman in his life. I read his stilted letters hoping for any sign that this behaviour would come to an end. But I received nothing but more heart break. The money I suspected was nothing more than a guilt offering.
The local hospital was growing strained under the new sickness so they had offered a course in home-based care which I could extend into nursing. I was starting in a few weeks. Hopefully that would take my mind of things.

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