It hasn’t even been a month yet and I’m far from ever knowing if I’ll ever heal or get past this and yet I feel the need to share this because I know that it will be worth it if I can save at least one person, just one person from the consequences that come with what you don’t know.
A few weeks ago, my infant baby girl developed a cold followed by a cough. Having gone through the experience of taking care of a baby before, I didn’t panic like I would have if I were a first time mum and so I tried various remedies to make her feel better. Two days later when she couldn’t seem to stop coughing, my husband Paul and I decided to take her to her doctor. The visit went well and we left the hospital having bought the prescribed meds.
She improved afterwards but then a week later, she again fell sick, fever added to it this time. I didn’t want to take any chances and so I had my husband drop me off at the hospital while he proceeded to work at one of the hotels that we own. The doctor examined my girl and several tests later, she suggested that she do a HIV test on her. For a moment I thought that was ridiculous I mean why would she even suggest such a thing in the first place? Why would she when she was the one whom just like with my other kids had been my doctor all through my pregnancy and had carried out all necessary tests, HIV included and had found the result to be negative. All through my pregnancy and even months after delivery my baby and I had not tested positive so you get why this suggestion kind of through me off.
She apologized after seeing my reaction but told me that she had a good reason for suggesting so and therefore I told her to go ahead as I inwardly told myself that this would be the last time that I would be seeing her. Moments later when my daughter’s results came back, they were positive. Now ladies, there’s no amount of shock or pain that will ever compare to that which I felt on that day when I was told of those results. I demanded they take another test and they did, they took a third, fourth, fifth and a tenth and still I couldn’t accept what the doctor was telling me. It was impossible that my barely one year old baby was positive. How could that be when I myself was negative? I didn’t have a nanny, I had always preferred to take care of my babies on my own so from where exactly could my angel had contracted the disease?
My thoughts were interrupted by the doctor, I could barely hear or focus on what she was saying as the thoughts in my mind were almost driving me to the edge of insanity. She was saying something about me taking a HIV test too given that I was still nursing/ breast-feeding.What really was happening? Was this some kind of a dream, it had to be, it just had to be because none of what was happening made sense.
Several minutes later and my test too came back positive. On the second results after I demanded for another one, everything went dark, I must have passed out. When I came to and realized that I was still in the doctor’s office, all that had transpired previously came rushing through my head and I just remember screaming. I was screaming so hard and throwing anything and everything I could lay my hands on. I had to be restrained on the bed and talked to for hours before I could calm down.
I remember leaving the hospital hours later with my baby thinking of how early that morning, my life and everything else had been so perfect. Its unbelievable how in a matter of minutes your whole life can take a totally different turn. By the time I got home, my feeling of shock and disbelief had already been replaced with that of anger, all I felt was pure rage and I felt it all towards my husband Paul. I just couldn’t see how else I could have gotten HIV. I was faithful, always had been, as a matter of fact, Paul was the only sexual partner that I had had my entire life and that’s because its to him that I lost my virginity. My daughter had gotten it from me given that I was still breastfeeding/nursing her and I couldn’t think of any other place from which I could have contracted it. I also knew that he must have infected me recently because all through my pregnancy I had been negative.
Afraid of the stigma and feeling confused as anyone in my situation would have been, I didn’t know of whom I could talk to until the idea of sending the admin here a message came to me. I have been a follower of this page for quite sometime and its the one place I must spend a few hours of my day at. I needed someone I could talk to, someone who didn’t know me, someone who wouldn’t judge me, someone who could help me think straight and so I sent the admin a private message. All through that, I hadn’t talked to Paul of what had happened at the doctor’s. I had initially thought of going straight to work and attacking him but the fear of people learning of my status from our fight scared me and so I had decided to stay home and wait for him to come and then I would show him how dangerous a woman scorned can be.
By the time the admin responded to my message, my previous thoughts had already been replaced with suicidal thoughts. Suicide seemed like such an easy way out, I could take my baby’s life and mine and escape all the pain of the coming years. I didn’t want to go through seeing my angel live on drugs at such a young age, that alone I thoughtwould kill me. So when the admin responded I told her to forget I sent her a message earlier because I had found a permanent solution to my misery. The way she responded took me a back, how could a stranger care so much about another stranger she didn’t even know. She demanded we exchange numbers and I did, she was actually writing me messages in capital letters, I could tell she was frantic or something.
We got talking, we talked for a long time, she called and when her credit ran out, I called and when mine did again she called. She listened patiently as I talked of my pain, half the time I just cried and she listened without hanging up, she didn’t rush me, she listened even when I couldn’t utter any words. At the end of our conversation I came to understand that suicide wasn’t an option for me. My baby and my other babies needed me and so I was going to stay and fight for my life and for them but first, I was going to fight this monster I once trusted with my life.
As hard as it was going to be, I was going to lay low until I got proof of him cheating. I also wanted to get proof of him knowing of his positive status or proof of him having infected me intentionally and then I was going to sue him on those grounds and make sure he stayed in prison for a long time. I also needed proof that he was the one who had stepped out of our marriage because he could have just turned around and accused me of cheating and infecting him instead
I was never the kind of woman to check her husband’s phone, I never had to because he never gave me a reason to but that evening when he got home, I got access to his phone and hacked his watsp messages. He realized I was a bit down and my four year old told him that mummy had been crying but I told him that I was just feeling a little stressed out over our baby’s sickness and that I would be okay. He made supper that night like he did on most of the nights, yes, he’s that kind of a man, supportive, always there, and then put the kids to bed. That night as he held me in bed, the burning rage in me was over the roof.
On the first day, no suspicious messages from his watsp came in, day two came and nothing still. I started getting worried that perhaps I could have been wrong and maybe had gotten infected while at a salon or something. As almost impossible as that sound, the fact that I wasn’t getting any proof of him cheating had me thinking of all manner of possibilities through which I may have been infected. They were also periods when I just wanted to scream at him and confront him over the accusations I still didn’t have proof for. I kept chatting with the admin, she helped me maintain my sanity.
On the fourth day, I decided to try get access to his phone so I could check other things like his Facebook account, emails or any other medium through which he could have been communicating with other women if at all he was cheating on me. It wasn’t easy but hours after he had slept, I managed to hack his phone. I went straight to watsp messages, there was nothing, I checked his messenger, emails, general messages but found nothing. His Mpesa transactions too bore no suspicion. I was almost giving up when the admin whom I was chatting with all through told me to send her a screenshot of his home screen, seconds later after doing so she told me to open his ‘memo’ app and that’s where I got the shock of my life.
I found explicit photos of Paul and his ex girlfriend Sonia. Photos of them in compromising positions, photos of them in bed, naked, kissing, name it. I almost crashed the phone on his head at that very instant but I again reminded myself of the importance to stay calm so could get proof of him having infected me intentionally because all I had at that time were photos and no direct proof.
I put his phone back from where I had taken it and rushed to the bathroom where I cried fighting hard to stifle my sounds. Of all the women, he chose to cheat on me with his ex? After everything that we had been through? At what point exactly did I do him so wrong to deserve this level of betrayal? How long had this been going on and how could I have been so stupid to not have known? Why had my intuition failed me so bad?
Unable to control myself any longer I went outside into the compound where I cried so hard earning myself an instant headache. I couldn’t believe that after all the years that I had stayed by Paul, held things down when he couldn’t, he paid me back by cheating on me with the very woman who bailed on him when he hit rock bottom. I went back to the very first days when we started out, our days of humble beginnings. I met him several years back when he first stopped by the kibanda where I sold fish as my side hustle. He told me that my place had been recommended to them by a friend of his who happened to be one of my regular customers.
I started selling fish because the salary I earned as a receptionist in an import and export company in town wasn’t enough. Life in Nairobi wasn’t easy back then and after paying rent for the single room in which I lived and paying my transport to and from work, I was always left with nothing. On most days I couldn’t afford more than one meal and on the remainder days even having that one meal always proved to be impossible. With no relative to depend on having been raised by an aunt who despised me, I started thinking of ways through which I could make extra income to sustain me and so that’s how I came up with the fish business.
I would get home at around 5pm and set up my things by the roadside and get to work. I sold tilapia. I used to clean and fry them and sell them to passersby. I remember on my first day I was only able to afford buying 5 fish which I sold on that very day and made a profit of KSH 250. It wasn’t much but it was a start, a great one for me. The next day I used that profit to buy more fish which I again sold out almost within an hour and from there business just picked up. I would get to the small kibanda where I sold fish from only to find customers waiting for me. I was always sold out before I even started frying the fish.
Within the second month of having started the business, the demand for my fried fish was so high I used to get so many orders from customers from as early as 6 am to all through the day at work. At the end of my second month, I resigned from my job and decided to fully pursue the fish business. I started frying them as early as 11 am and my customer base increased, it was like my forever prayers were finally being answered. I got a fundi to make for me a wooden bench at my business location and soon I started selling chips as well. I would have customers buying and eating fish and chips and this soon led me to buying a cooler plus a blender and to start making fresh juices, mainly passion juice and avocado. Business picked up so well such that I soon started employing people to work for me. My customer base increased and soon I added ugali and vegetables too to the menu.
And so it was through my business that I met Paul who soon became a regular customer. He would come and eat before proceeding home, he told me he didn’t live far away from where I did my business. Just like with my other regular customers, after a period of time, he started eating on credit. I used to allow customers who didn’t have money to eat and pay later on at the end of the month. I knew what it was like to sleep on a hungry stomach and so I always helped out whenever possible.
After some period of time, Paul started falling short on his payments . He missed his payment deadlines but still kept taking food on credit with a promise of payment on a given date which he would again fall short on. His explanation was that he was on some rough times and that he would pay when things got better. This went on for about three months and then one early morning I got a call from him asking me if we could meet and talk to which I agreed thinking it was going to be about him paying me.
During our meeting, he told me that he was going through a very tough time. He gave me his full story of how things hadn’t been easy for him. After completion of high school, he never got to college given that he was a total orphan, his uncle whom had supported him all through with his school fees had been involved in an accident and had ended up being confined in a wheelchair consequently cutting off all hopes of him ever going to college. He had then moved to Nairobi where a friend had helped him secure a sales job in a car showroom. He had worked there for quite sometime before losing his job after the company when bankrupt. From then on he told me that it had been impossible for him to get a job. His girlfriend whom he had been living with at that time kicked him out on his third month of being jobless and went on to date one of his former colleague. He had afterwards moved in with a friend who had told him the night before he called me that he had to move out as he (that friend had decided to go live with his girlfriend and given the fact that it was a single room, he needed Paul to move for the sake of their privacy)
So he told me that his reason for calling me that morning was to ask if I could employ him as one of my waiters so he could work and pay off the debt that he owed me after which he had decided that he was gonna go back to the village since he could no longer fend for himself. He wanted to pay off my debt before leaving for the village. I was touched by his story, I felt so sorry for him for I could relate to most of what he had gone through. I agreed to employ him and told him that he could use the money he would earn for something else since was gonna give him a pardon on the credit owed.
On his third day of working for me, Paul showed up at work with no shoes and torn clothes. Turned out that he had been sleeping at a bus station after being kicked out by his friend and on the previous night, he had been attacked and his things stolen. It took me by shock to learn that he had been sleeping outside because I had assumed that he had moved in with another friend or something. At the end of that day, I invited him over at my place which was by then a one bedroom house, I had upgraded from the single room to a one bedroom. That night he slept on the couch in my living room and thanked me countless time for having provided him with aa place. This turned out to us being house mates with him chipping in on the rent using his payment from working for me.
Paul worked for me for close to 9 months before getting a call from his former employer for a job opportunity in a different car dealership company only that this time, the pay was more than triple what he had been earning previously.
I still remember when he got his first salary from them, he took me out and spoilt me silly with gifts, he paid rent in full, did shopping and gave me a good sum of money. I turned it down but he wouldn’t hear none of it.
Even though he could afford his own place with his new salary, he asked me if we could continue staying together but in a two bedroom house with him paying three quatre of the rent and I agreed only that every month, he sneaked behind my back and always paid the rent in full. He did shopping monthly and always cooked and cleaned. He helped me with my business on a daily basis but always refused any kind of payment from me. I had always known and could tell from the time that we had first met that he was into me and he confirmed that one evening after going through the trouble of making us a romantic dinner. He professed that he had since had a thing for me but had been to shy to express himself. He also said that he had delayed in making his intentions known because he didn’t want me thinking that he was trying to use my feelings to help him out when he had the bad times. After that evening, we officially started dating and also stopped sleeping in the different room. Six months later, he proposed and I said yes!
A year later we had a beautiful wedding filled with so much love and it was then that Paul and I got intimate for the first time. I had been honest with him about being a virgin and wanting to keep myself till after marriage and he had always loved and respected that.
My hotel business grew and I went on to open six others in different locations within the city employing over 50 employees. I opened my other branches within accessible places to the low and middle class in the society because its them that made me achieve all that I had achieved. Paul too grew through ranks at his place of work but then again the company hit a low season and he ended up losing his job. It was then that we decided that he would join me full time in helping me manage the hotel business.
We worked so hard and as a result of the progress that we were making, I bought a house in Westlands from a retail estate company, I made the payments in instalments as the price was quite high and thereafter we moved in to our own home.
One day in our third year of marriage, my house girl at that time told me that there was a woman at our gate who was demanding to see me or Paul. Paul had already left for work and I was getting ready to go have lunch with a friend in town. I got to the gate only to find Sonia, Paul’s ex and a little girl who resembled her to the core. Yes I knew and recognized her because Paul had shown me her photos on social media and her messages sometime back when I had asked to see who his ex was.
I greeted her and her response was, “Ambia Paul nimemletea mtoto wake alee.” It was the manner in which she was dressed and responded that made me bite my tongue. She was dressed and talked like someone who had obviously come for a fight and I was definitely not going to give her that satisfaction because one, violence has never been my thing and second, I was at that time two months pregnant with our first child. She pushed the little girl towards me, sneered and walked off to a boda boda guy who was on stand by waiting for her.
I took the girl in and called Paul who came back home almost immediately. I demanded to know why he had kept the fact that he had a child with his ex from me and I could tell that he was just as shocked as I was to find out about the little girl. He told me that wasn’t his baby and called Sonia in my presence to prove that. She told Paul that she found out after they had broken up that she was pregnant. When asked why she had kept the child a secret for all those years, she hailed insults and then hung up.
Paul was adamant that the girl whose name was Tiffany wasn’t his child and a DNA test which they did proved that he indeed wasn’t the father. He called Sonia with the news and from then on she became unreachable. Paul knew of her parents place and so he decided to have Tiffany taken to her grandparents on one of the weekends.
The weekend he took Tiffany to her grandys, he called me from there informing that they had told him that they weren’t in a position to provide for the girl and insisted that he take her back to Sonia whom they hadn’t seen in years. He told me during the call that he had decided to forcefully leave the girl behind but I told him to just come back with her. I had grown fond of the little girl over the short period that she had lived with her. I felt sorry for her, there was always just about this cloud of sadness around her that shown in her eyes. She had marks all over her body and when I had asked her about them she had responed by telling me, “Sonia chapa mimi.” Or “Sonia uma mimi hapa.” When I asked her why she called her mum by her name she told me that her mum told her to call her Sonia and that each time she forgot and called her ‘mummy’ she had beaten her.
Paul was never for the idea but I took Tiffany in and raised her like my own. I took her to school and did everything for her that I did for my own. To me she was just a child, an innocent soul and I felt lucky to have the opportunity to give her a life that I had desired during the time that I had grown up at my aunt’s. It wasn’t long before she started calling me ‘mummy’ and I loved it. Her real mother on the other hand never showed up or called until 8 years later when she started demanding that she have her back but Tiffany at that time refused to go back with her and that’s how she disappeared again from our lives until that night when I found photos of her and Paul on his phone.
How and when they had gotten back together was something I still couldn’t figure out. I went back into the house but slept in my third born’s room together with my little one. I was woken up early morning by a stream of texts and on checking I realized they were messages coming from Paul’s watsp, remember I had hacked his watsp messages.
One look at the profile photo and I recognized it was Sonia. Her first text read, ” So you’ve decided to go quiet on me because I have refused to break up with Ben?” You want me to leave him when you cant leave that idiot you call a wife.” At that point I just couldn’t hold back my anger any longer. I couldn’t believe that some whore whose child I was taking care of was calling me an idiot. I stormed into our bedroom and threw the phone right on his sleeping head waking him up instantly in a web of confusion. Next thing I knew I was screaming and hitting him, confronting him with the evidence I had and when I dropped the bombshell of my baby and I being positive, his reaction made me know that he wasn’t even aware of him being positive.
He kept crying and begging blaming the devil and his weakness for the mess but I wasn’t taking any of it. He said that he had never cheated on me all through the years and that he had just recently began the affair with Sonia. At 8 am we left to have his test done since the idiot couldn’t believe what I was telling him. His results too came back positive and in that instant, he literally peed on himself. I left the hospital back to the house having warned him to not show up anywhere near my business or home. He was on his knees in the parking lot when I drove off in the car I had bought him on the last father’s day.
He started calling and blowing up my phone with messages, by noon, he told me that he had dragged Sonia to the hospital for a test and she too was positive, he claimed that she was blaming it on her boyfriend but I didn’t care for any of his explanation. When he showed up hours later at home begging and pleading for forgiveness, he found half his clothes burnt and the other half in line waiting to be thrown into the fire. He had never seen me that mad.
It’s been a couple of weeks now and it has been so tough most nights I lock myself up in my room and cry because I honestly don’t know what the future holds. I tell myself each time that it would be bearable if only my daughter too wasn’t infected. Paul and his people have tried talking to me into giving him a second chance but that’s never going to happen. How could he repay all the good I did with such evil?
My eldest kind of understands what’s going on but the younger ones keep asking of their dad at times refusing even to eat without him because he used to feed them. I am also torn on what to do with Tiffany, Sonia’s daughter. She hates her mum and has always refused to go visit her, how do I go on keeping her and taking care of her keeping in mind my current predicament. How do I keep doing that without the risk of me transferring my anger towards Paul and her mum on her? God, I’m so confused.
Yesterday I started seeking professional help on how to deal with the issues that surround me going forward. It’s not going to be easy but I need to be strong for my babies. I’m going to take one day at a time even though am so scared of what some of those days will bring.
Looking back I wish I had been that nosey type of a wife, maybe, just maybe I could have discovered of their affair a little earlier before everything fell apart. A lot of people say what you don’t know wont hurt you but the truth is what you don’t know can kill you.