I Married an Alien
By Donna Kapira (Malawi)
*Donna Kapira is a final year student at College of Medicine, a constituent college of the University Malawi. She is studying for an honors degree in Medical Laboratory Sciences. She was born at St. Johns Hospital in the city of Mzuzu in Malawi on 16 October 1996.She has been an avid reader of any captivating story ever since she learnt how to read. She loves science but also believes there is a writing streak in her. When she is not studying, she loves to read and write or listen to good music. She also loves meeting and making new friends .
I Married an Alien
I pull Matthias closer to my breast, making it more accessible for his tiny mouth. My seven-month old boy clings to my breast like the only meal on planet earth. My cute little man! I am grateful to the Mhango’s. They have been so good to me. When I explained my story to Mrs Mhango six months ago, she didn’t judge me. She’d taken me in her arms and comforted me. I remember her tears of sympathy. I felt maternal love for the first time in a long time. She and her husband agreed to take me in. The arrangement was that I work for them as a housemaid and they pay for my education. I don’t feel like a house girl though, for they love me like their own daughter. They treat my sons just as they would their own grandchildren.. It’s a pity that they don’t have a child of their own. They are so loving!
Am now back to school. It’s been a week since I started and am excited. Maybe the future is bright, after all. It’s not as easy at school as it was before I got married three years ago. The secondary school syllabus has been changed over the long period of time I’d been away. Doing school as a mother of two is not easy either. Mrs Mhango has been very helpful. She sometimes takes Matthias to her room so I can study at night. I sigh heavily. Even after I got myself into trouble and created a mess of my once-perfect life, God still looks out for me.
No student wants to be my friend. If I hadn’t been pig-headed back then, I wouldn’t have found myself in this situation. I would have been in some prestigious public university by now. If only I had listened to my Grandma’s advice. ’You need to get to know him properly, you’ve only known him for seven months; being pregnant shouldn’t push you into the hands of a stranger. How about school? Are you done with school? Is that what you are telling me?’’ She’d asked sternly but with a hidden concern that she couldn’t hide from me.
I feel the stinging sensation in my eyes and I bite my lips to keep from crying. Mrs Mhango looks down at me. ’’I told you to let it go; it’s in the past. Forget it. What remains now is to raise these kids in the way of the Lord’’, she says, patting my knee gently. I nod my head. I can’t hold it in and the tears begin to flow down my cheeks. Her sympathy always tears me apart. She has been repeating that speech since the day I moved in with her family. “Let me just put him to sleep,” I mutter, silently grateful for my son’s falling asleep. It will give me a chance to cry in my bedroom away from her. She is a nice woman but sometimes sympathy is not what I need. A good cry sometimes helps. In the bedroom I gently place Matthias on the bed and he doesn’t rouse a bit. Such a peaceful baby. Sometimes I wonder if they are real or mysterious like their father.
I know the villagers talk about me and my kids. They wouldn’t talk about it in my face out of respect for my Grandpa who was the Traditional Authority for our village, Goliati. I know they do. No one ever holds Matthias when they come to visit Mrs Mhango. Apatsa always comes home crying because his friends tell him they don’t want to play with him. Their parents forbade them from playing with him. Now tears are flowing down my cheeks in an endless stream
If I am given a chance to re-write my life story I know exactly which chapters need deleting. Well except for my beautiful sons. I wouldn’t delete that part, rather I would just slot in a different character for their father. I love my sons despite how much afraid of them I can be at times. They are not scary but the thought of the man who planted them in me sends shudders down my spine. I hope they grow into normal human beings like me. They are a mixed breed. My marriage to Vongaye is a sin that I will live to regret for the rest of my life. I was a 19-year-old innocent girl with dreams to make my life and Grandma’s better.
After Grandpa’s passing I vowed to look after Grandma. She and Grandpa were the parents I knew having lost my mother during my birth. As for my father, well, no one knew of him. Grandma always told me that it didn’t matter because God loves me just as he would those who know both their parents. It was true. I never lacked love in my life. I was in secondary school in form four when I first talked to Vongaye. He had been new in our location having stayed in our village for a year. I had been seeing him and had heard a lot about him from people but never had a personal encounter with him until after a year.
He was a business man importing bags and shoes from South Africa to sell them in Malawi. He had a big shop full of bags and shoes. All fancy and expensive, the villagers would say. I never visited his shop probably because we couldn’t afford the expensive bags and shoes. He never really spoke to anyone nor did he have any friends. I should have seen it, come to think of it. He’d been at Goliati for almost a year but he was never seen with anyone. He was always in his shop. At the borehole, those who’d visited his shop would always talk about his cool attitude towards people.
A pressing need for school fees led me to visiting him at his house on a Sunday morning to ask for help. It was the fourth week of our first term at school. Grandma had a problem with one of her kidneys. She was unstable and she spent most of her time sleeping. The doctors had advised her against doing heavy work. With her sickness, her farm business had begun to die a slow chronic death. The vegetables never sold for much after that. My teacher had told us that we were to pay our fees balances by Monday of that week and otherwise we would be withdrawn for that year. I had to raise 10,000 kwacha within a space of two days. I didn’t want to be withdrawn. That would’ve put me a year behind my classmates.
Maybe I shouldn’t have gone to seek help. Look at me now. Now am not only a year behind but three. Most of my former classmates are pursuing tertiary education now. I always think that maybe if I had told Grandma then, she would have known what to do. Then I didn’t want to bother her with money issues. She was a sick woman. Well, I thought of all possibilities of sourcing that large amount of money within two days. None of the villagers came to mind. None of the people I knew could manage such. So I did the only thing I considered as the last chance. After I made sure Grandma was safely asleep, I sneaked out of our house to Vongaye’s house.
He lived a couple of houses away from ours. I was silently glad his neighbours were at church. It saved me their curious questions as to what I was doing at the strange man’s house. I knocked on the door and waited for him to answer the door with my heart hammering in my chest. No answer came. After a few agonizing minutes, I knocked again. As I waited for him to answer the door, I remember thinking how mistaken I had been in going to his house. I was about to walk away when he opened the door. I had been ready with my speech before he’d opened the door but when I saw him all the words left my mouth. I trembled as he ran his eyes boldly over the length of my body. “What do you want?” he asked, clearly irritated. I didn’t expect him to be that blunt with me.
I thought of the best way to say what I had gone there for. I studied his face hurriedly as I did so. He was as dark as the bottom of our pots. He was a hulk of a man with a hunched back. He was too tall to stand straight. And his lips, oh well. He had well sculpted small pink lips that were in disagreement with the rest of him. “Well? Am I dealing with a special needs girl? Don’t you speak?” he snapped. He was exasperated, I could tell. “Please hear me out before you deny me, my name is Felia, I am a student at the local school. I need,” I froze in mid-sentence. I felt the tears wet my cheeks.
An emotion the size of a large block of mud clogged my throat. I broke down and cried in front of him. His dark expression softened. Before I knew it he’d pulled me into his arms. I cried on his shoulder for what seemed like eternity. It had been so long since someone had been willing to let me cry over their shoulder. After Grandpa had passed, Grandma was so devastated that we’d grown apart emotionally. Every time I felt down, I would go to my room and cry. I didn’t want to bother her with my emotions when she had lost the only man she’d ever loved. I revelled in his soothing arms. He didn’t say anything but just rocked me to and fro.
After what seemed like eternity, he pulled away to look down at me and smiled. The emotion I saw in his eyes pulled me out of the face of this earth. I saw him lower his head. His lips met mine and he moved them softly over mine. I’d planned everything but the kissing part. The contact was a therapy for my troubled soul. No one had ever kissed me like that before him. No, actually no one had ever kissed me before. It was my first kiss. I felt so beautiful and wanted. Novels didn’t prepare me enough for such a moment.
I don’t remember how I got into his house or seeing him close the door. I was so dazed that the next thing I realized was the pooling of my skirt down at my feet. I felt at peace because of the way he was looking at me. Like I was the only girl he’d ever desired. And that Sunday morning I freely gave myself to my first lover. I got my school fees from him and he promised to pay for my education till I completed my secondary education. Selling my body for money, you think? I didn’t feel like that. I thought I was in love.
Since that day, for every day that followed in the next seven months, I enjoyed a secret romantic relationship with Vongaye. Romantic? No maybe I don’t know the meaning of that yet. I would say a relationship of explosive sex. There wasn’t a day that I left his house in tears for he never hurt me physically. The sex on the other hand was violent, like he would turn into some sort of sexual monster, leaving me physically spent after each episode. I didn’t have any experience so I didn’t have comparisons.
On many occasions he’d warned me not to let anyone know of it. I complied because I didn’t want the villagers gossiping about it in gatherings either. It was all good. After 7 months of our secret sexual relationship, I found out one day that I had fallen pregnant. When I told Vongaye he seemed ecstatic at the news and asked me to marry him. It was foolish of me but I said yes. I’d only known the guy for a few seconds but I was so obsessed or in love?
I didn’t see anything wrong in spending the rest of my life with the man I had given myself to freely. I didn’t even know his age. I assumed he was 3 times my age or even more. “At least tell me where your family is from,;surely you’re not of this country?” I’d tried one time during one of our secret rendezvous. He didn’t sound like one of us. He had a heavier accent, not like the usual Bantu languages I am used to. He’d silenced me with a kiss and it worked. By the time he was done, I had forgotten what question I’d asked him in the first place. He was good.
Maybe, if I’d pushed him for more information, he would have told me during the honeymoon of our relationship, come to think of it. A honeymoon before marriage. After I said yes, there was no church ceremony. He never went to church, saying he just didn’t have the time. Much to Grandma’s protests, I packed my bags and moved into his house at night. I didn’t want the neighbours to see me. Just like that I became a Mrs Vongaye. Was Vongaye his first name or last name? I am not sure. He never said anything.
Exactly a week after I’d eloped with Vongaye we received a visitor. It was Pulofesa, Grandma’s widowed neighbour. I figured he’d heard the gossip among the villagers about my rushed marriage. He had come to tell me that my Grandma had died. All the blood drained from my face at the news. The last time I had talked to her was the night I married Vongaye. We’d had an argument. My plan had been to let her anger subside, and then I was going to visit her and we were going to talk. Of all the things in the world, I didn’t expect to hear such news. Pulofesa took me to the hospital’s mortuary where people had gathered to pick the remains of my Grandma back to our village. Vongaye didn’t come with me. Funerals reminded him of his own parents’ death, he’d said
We were given a chance to view the body before we left the mortuary. When my turn came I looked down at her lifeless body. So still. There was something close to sadness on her expressionless face. She’d died a sad woman. “I am sorry, Agogo,” I’d cried looking down at the coffin. She looked so small and lonely in it. I was never told the specific illness that killed her. The villagers don’t like me because, according to them, I killed my own Grandma with stress. Instead of bringing her joy in her last days I sent her to the grave. I agree with them. After Grandma’s death I lost most of my friends except for my secondary school best friend, Angela. She was the only friend Vongaye let me keep. He warned me against keeping male friends. I never had many female friends anyway, so telling me to stop talking to male friends was as good as telling me not to have any friends at all
I remember very well the one time when Luka, my ex-boyfriend, visited me at our home. Luka never excited me as much as Vongaye did. That’s why I had quickly dumped him for Vongaye. Who doesn’t want something live and life-affirming? Luka had forgiven me for leaving him. Lately I have been thinking about him a lot. I kind of miss him. If not for Vongaye’s interruption, I would have been the girlfriend of a medical student now.
He’d been home for a break from College of Medicine where he had just begun his journey as a medical student. So he came over. I was so embarrassed because I’d been heavily pregnant with Apatsa then. We’d sat on the veranda of the house, chatting the time away. He told me about his experience as a freshman in college. How college is different from secondary school in that everyone is a genius. I apologized for leaving him for another man. He’d laughed then and told me not to worry, that it was all water under the bridge. Those words hurt me. My relationship with Vongaye had been so strained then that I often found myself thinking about Luka. I wondered if he had moved on with another girl.
As he was leaving, he offered me a hug and I hugged him back, just our arms touching because my big belly was a barrier between us. I knew that it was a wrong move and I could feel Vongaye’s eyes following the movement. I was right because, within a blink of an eye, the front door swung open and there he was. His chest rose and fell with each breath he took as he came closer to where we’d been standing.
Luka didn’t seem to recognize it and he extended his hand in greeting with a smile on his face. “How do you do, Mr Vongaye, I am pleased to meet you. I am a friend of Felia,” he said exposing his dental formula. I sighed.
“You come here, I let you have time with my wife but then that’s not enough and you want your hands on her body, too?” he’d asked glowering down at Luka. Poor Luka. Involuntarily he took a step back. “I am sorry; she is just a friend,” he’d defended himself.
“My wife doesn’t keep boys as friends.”
Before I knew it, his fist landed on his lips and Luka groaned low in his throat. “Don’t touch my wife ever again, and leave my compound now!
I was so embarrassed. How dare he embarrass me like that?
Luka was so horrified. He looked between Vongaye and I and silently walked away from our home. I couldn’t say sorry to him because I knew that would’ve just upped Vongaye’s anger. How dare the snake? It was so irrational. We’d had a female friend join us in the middle of the night a week before that incident with Luka. She was a business partner and needed a place for the night. That’s what I had been told. She’d slept in the other room. I‘d woken up in the middle of the night and found him missing on our bed.
The next morning, when I asked where he’d been he told me he had been working all night. I knew he was lying but I didn’t press him for an explanation. I had seen the looks they were giving each other during supper of that night. So how dare he beat my friend who was harmless? “You’ve really pushed me this time Vongaye,” I’d fumed, my hands on my hips.
As usual, he took me into our room and made love to me. Like always it worked. I had forgotten about the whole issue afterwards, as was the trend.
He was a very attentive lover. I felt like a princess. During both pregnancies, he would bathe and even feed me so that I wished I’d stayed pregnant forever. He never held our babies though. He never liked it when he heard a baby’s cry either. So, every time he was around, I made sure they were calm and peaceful not to raise his ire. It was a difficult feat to achieve though. You know what I mean. Babies communicate through wailing. Vongaye would silently leave the room if the baby couldn’t stop crying. Sometimes I would just push my engorged breast into its little mouth. That was the easiest way I knew how. My babies have never known what it is like to be held in their father’s arms.
His two-bedroomed house was not as nicely furnished as I initially thought it would be. We only had three table chairs and a coffee table in the living room. Each room had a king-sized bed. There was also that dusty desktop in our room. Apart from our clothes, that is all we had in the house. He kept every other thing he had in his shop. The kitchen was not as nicely stocked as that of a man with so much money. Apatsa only had one shoe, the one I’d bought for him soon after his birth. As his feet grew, the shoe died a slow death. He wore old tattered clothes.
Vongaye would grumble if I asked him for money to buy better clothes or shoes for our kids. He’d complained one day that I wasn’t taking proper care of their clothes. It made me wonder of what use his money was if his own wife and children couldn’t enjoy it. What did he use the money for? I am sure he made a lot of money from the sales of his merchandise.
Something about our bedroom scared me. Every night there was a hissing sound in our bedroom. It wouldn’t stop until my husband went into the small room adjoining our room. The small room was always locked. He’d told me that’s where he kept his money safe. What about the hissing sound? I was getting scared by the day. Sometimes I would just leave the room in fear and sleep in the living room. Vongaye would, of course, carry me back into our room.
A week after my firstborn’s birth, Apatsa, Vongaye took my hand and gently led me into the secret room. “Come. It’s time I showed you some things my love, he’d said, smiling down at me as we walked into the room. My baby had been sound asleep then. I willingly went along. He was right. There were many things that needed explaining in the house. As husband and wife we were not supposed to keep secrets from each other. I was glad he’d decided to broach the subject himself. I had been dying to know more about the room.
The room, unlike the other rooms had a big white sofa chair. It was a beautiful chair. Then why didn’t we have chairs like these in the commonly used rooms? I didn’t have much time to dwell on that when I saw the occupant of the chair. A big black snake was lying comfortably on the sofa. It had coiled its length, forming a black heap on the chair. I gasped. I couldn’t move. I didn’t have the strength to. I had seen snakes , but it was bigger than them all. Down the length of its stout scaly body were what looked like two pairs of baby’s feet hanging as an extended growth. It flicked its tongue in my direction, producing a hissing sound.
Vongaye’s large hand landed on my blouse and he ripped it apart, exposing my engorged breasts. He dragged me towards the snake, made me squat so that one of my breasts was level with its open mouth. The snake’s mouth landed on my breast with a hunger that beat Apatsa’s a hundred times. It began to suck hungrily, its teeth pulling on the flesh around my breast roughly. Then it moved to the other breast and sucked. It was a like a dream. One of those dreams where you can’t run because your legs feel heavy and can’t scream because your voice can’t get any further beyond your own ears. A shudder runs through me at the memory. I was completely paralyzed on the spot that by the time the snake was done feeding, I had fainted.
I woke up later that night in our bed to find Vongaye standing over me. He was looking down at me with a serious expression. ’You fed my Master today and he’s no longer hungry. That’s why he’s silent. Thank you so much,” he’d said gratefully. He moved to place his hand on my breast. Involuntarily, I moved further away from him, almost falling over the other side of the bed.
“Don’t run from me my love. I am the same person. Master helps me to be successful in my business. He’s the reason my business is this successful. You just have to agree to feed him every day like you did today. He won’t harm you, I promise,” he’d pleaded. He made no further move towards me.
”You’re sick,” I yelled at him. “You need help!” Tears ran down my cheeks. I got up from the bed, covering my exposed body with the bed sheet; I began to rush towards the door, wanting to get away from him. From the whole situation. I’d only reached the door, about to open it when something heavy thumped the back of my head and everything went blank.
The next thing I knew was the feeling of the snake’s mouth on my breast again. I cried as I watched it feed on my baby’s milk. I looked up and found Vongaye watching the exercise with a look of satisfaction on his face like he’d just gotten a fortune he’d been after for years. The snake let go of my breast, crumbling back into its chair. It must be full, I’d thought. Vongaye carried me back into our room and placed me gently on the bed.
“You just have to let it flow my love,” he’d urged, stripping his clothes to join me in bed. “Master would never harm you. He only feeds on milk like a baby. His grandmother placed a curse on him that he will have powers only if he’d agreed to exist as a human baby. He only needs milk. Every day at night, the rest of the day is yours and the baby’s. You can only feed Apatsa during the day. Master will have you every day at night,” he’d said, pulling me into his arms.
I went willingly. My body betrayed me. He moved his rough hand soothingly over my back. It was always sweet to feel his arms around me like that. Even when angry at him, I enjoyed being in his arms. I was weak beyond all understanding after the snake’s ravishing. I needed a minute to pull out an escape plan. Sex I couldn’t deny him for I still desired him. I still do even today, but I guess I can use my brain now instead of my raging hormones. It became a habit. Feeding my baby during the day and the snake at night like a dairy cow. I was pretty exhausted most times.
One evening he took me into the room as usual. The snake opened its mouth in anticipation, revealing its claws. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. My stomach tightened into thousands of flesh-cutting knots. I thought I had developed diarrhoea. I was never familiar with the exercise, even after feeding it a number of times. I pulled my breast from my bra.
I began to think of the escape plan I had come up with. Vongaye stood up from the chair he was seated on and tapped his head with his finger. He placed his hand on my breast to stop me from offering my breast to the snake. I watched as something similar to a miniature plasma screen appeared on his forehead. I blinked my eyes in disbelief. Like a movie, I saw the snake in relentless pursuit of my baby Apatsa, who was running as he cried defencelessly.
The snake caught up with him and began feeding on a blood vessel on his little arm. “No! stop! What’s the meaning of this, Vongaye?” I asked, slapping him hard on the chest. “If you run away from me that’s what will happen. Master goes violent if he’s not fed for long periods of time. What do you think happened to my family,” he’d asked.
His expression was bitter as if he’d just remembered something he didn’t like to be reminded of. “I couldn’t get enough babies’ milk to satisfy him and he ate all of my babies. He can’t eat adult meat because he’s too immature for that. Only babies’ milk and flesh. My wife ran away after she found out that I was the reason our babies were dying. She couldn’t stand it.”
A tear ran down his cheeks. I wiped it away. I felt sad for him and angry at him for destroying my life. “Master assured me that if I find a wife who would have babies and produce milk for him every day, he would never harm those I love again. Please just accept that. We will be happy together,” he’d pleaded with me. His expression was sincere.
“I can’t. I am not happy here. You won’t hold our babies. You hate it when they cry and that snake won’t get enough of my milk. I need to be happy,” I’d lamented as hot tears ran down my cheeks. Crying had become a hobby in those days.
“You don’t understand, my love,” he’d said, clearly infuriated. “Would you let Master eat your babies?
“You know that would hurt me, right?” I prompted.
“I care about you and the kids as much as am allowed to but Master means more to me than anyone. I would do anything to please him,” he’d said sincerely.
His sincerity as he said the words sent a chill down my spine. “What if you just killed him?” I asked.
“Don’t talk silly about something you don’t understand. I can’t kill him just like that because it’s complicated”. Gone was the sincere, soft Vongaye. Back in his place was the hard-faced Vongaye I first met. Those words scared the daylights out of me. I lived in fear of him but, like he said, he never harmed me.
After two years and 5 months, I bore him one more son whom I named Matthias. He seemed pleased that I did have another son but never held either of them. It was exasperating and confusing.
One Thursday morning we were all in our room except Apatsa. I had finished dressing Matthias and he was lying on the bed, moving his little legs in the air happily. I was still undressed and was combing my hair slowly. Vongaye was typing something on his old dusty desktop.
Matthias began crying uncontrollably. He’d been like that the whole of that morning. I’d suspected he had a stomach bug and I was taking him to the hospital. Gratefully, my friend Angela had taken Apatsa for the day, so I had one child to think of. A month-old toddler with a stomach bug was enough headache. I always trusted my sons with her.
When Matthias wouldn’t stop, Vongaye gave me a look to say, “Keep on testing my limits”. I gave him an apologetic look. Matthias kept on crying. “Felia would you please carry the baby out of here?” Vongaye pleaded helplessly. He’d looked like a man on his way to the slaughter-house.
Before I could answer him, I heard the sound of the door to the small room opening and the snake crawled out. Gone were the baby’s feet down its body. He tipped his head in Vongaye’s direction. He said something in a language similar to South African and then he released a laugh. The walls of the room shook at the sound.
I gasped. Motherly instincts caused me to pick my son up from the bed and I pressed him closer to my naked body. Vongaye’s eyes burned holes into my skin. I felt the hairs on my hand stand. There was a fire blazing in his eyes. The veins in his arms had protruded, revealing the detailed flow of blood in them.
I felt terrified, but I couldn’t move. I am not sure if it was fear or curiosity. Vongaye made a move towards me and the baby but the snake said something in the foreign language and that stopped him in his tracks.
He hissed like a snake. I released a gasp. My son stopped crying and began sucking his little fingers silently. Vongaye turned to the snake and spat something in the language. The snake yelled back with equal venom. I watched the exchange like I would a live horror movie. A talking snake? Vongaye then stuck his tongue out. It was so long. I hadn’t seen it like that in all of the times I’d been kissing him. How come I never noticed? I’d kissed him countless times. The snake jumped, wrapping its tail along the length of Vongaye’s outstretched tongue. That was the moment I’d fainted on the spot.”
“Felia honey, I need help with the tomato,” my aunt, Mrs Mhango, called from the kitchen, bringing me back to the normal world.
“I will be there,” I shouted back at her from my room. My Grandma would have scolded me for such. “When an older person calls for you and you’re in another room, just go and hear what they have to say. You don’t have to shout back an answer. “It’s disrespectful,” she always advised me. Well, Mrs Mhango doesn’t mind at all. I have done it a number of times. Some of us never listen I guess. I wince as the reality of that sank in.
I didn’t listen to Grandma’s warnings about Vongaye. The name Vongaye brings to life multiple alien emotions in me. Was he real? Who was he? Luka told me he had tried to look him up on the Internet at his college but he couldn’t find a matching result.
When I’d regained consciousness, Vongaye and the snake were gone. All his belongings were gone as well. It was just me in the empty house. I ran out of the house in fear and that’s how I found myself in the arms of Mrs. Mhango. The only clothing I had on was a piece of Chitenje. I don’t even remember how or when I’d wrapped it round my body. I hadn’t had any sort of clothing on for the whole time I watched the horrible move. I didn’t think of taking my clothes or anything from there either.
After I had resurfaced, the only thought had been to run out. I haven’t gone back there. The house is still there. The owner who rented it to us doesn’t want to use it again after word about Vongaye spread in the village.