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Love on the Internet

When I met Tony White through an internet love-site, I thought I had finally found true love.
True love, they said did not exist in Africa. People approached families with a good name, fertile soil and cultural etiquette – knowing how to knit sweaters for baby and husband, knowing how to spread crochet on the seats, welcoming visitors without a grumble, making boiled maize and beans and cooking a huge ugali. When a woman was ripe for marriage, female relatives, especially aunties would take it upon themselves to get her a husband.
There was nothing like a man whispering sweet nothings in one’s ears and buying chocolate and flowers. Candle-lit dinners between a man and woman was frowned upon. Candles were used to light up the house at night and Catholics used them to drive away evil spirits as they recited their Hail Marys.
At 55, I had not found a husband and had become the laughing stock of the village. “Look at her,” the villagers would whisper contemptuously as I passed, “Her rejected breasts are falling up and down continuously crying to be suckled. The selfish woman has refused to get married and  has no child to suckle!”

It was not my fault that at 55 I had no husband. Nobody had ever proposed to me, although I was well educated and well mannered. I had gotten so desperate that I started asking men to marry me. This did not augur well for me and the village became hostile. Women did not invite me to accompany them anywhere and the isolation hurt me deeply. I had never felt so alone, so unloved, so unmarriageable!

When I got a job in the city and learnt the internet, I stumbled into a love-site. And being the adventurous type, I applied for love.

Love came to me a few hours later in the name of Tony White. He said he was a lawyer, 40 and lived with his parents in Antwerpen. He was financially stable, divorced and ready to mingle. He also said he had looked at my picture and he loved me. His dream, he said had always been to marry a tall, dark-skinned, skinny African woman with a warm gap in between her teeth and thick lips that could be kissed for long. Tony White wanted as many children as possible. I cheated him that I was 24 and could  give him all the children he wanted – six boys and six girls. We had already given our children names although they were not born.

The love flights began immediately with exchange of e-mail, pictures and phone calls that came every night. We declared our love, so fresh and sweet and I could not sleep just thinking of Tony White. I consulted  a few of my lady friends about Tony White and they were so happy for me. “You have picked luck, do not let it go. Grab it with both hands!” My friends told me, rather envious of my luck.

All along I did not know that Tony White was a stroke patient in Hospital who could hardly move and it was the hospital nurse sending him the e-mails as part of his therapy.

Tony White was to come and visit me in Kenya over Christmas. I went to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Christmas Eve to wait for him.  I bought him a bunch of red flowers costing KSh1500 and a black Tee-shirt written “Hakuna Matata”. I attended a Dutch Language class at the Anglican Church of Kenya on Bishop’s Road in Community to impress him. I braided my hair at Kenyatta Market in Golf Course for three days to look beautiful for my love. I fixed my artificial teeth to look perfect for him. He never showed up. His phone remained off. The kind lady at the reception informed me that there was no such name in the passengers’ list.

Now I nurse a broken heart after a six-month internet relationship that started nowhere and ended nowhere. Was I a fool to fall in love with Tony White’s picture and voice? Am I fool? Many married men want me but I want a husband of my own. Some married men have promised to buy me an aeroplane but that will be somebody’s wife’s aeroplane. Two married men want me as their second wives but when I told them I am still in love with Tony White, they just laughed at me!

I keep asking myself. What is wrong with me, that I cannot get a man to marry me? Now that love has failed, where do I buy a husband?

I keep looking at the phone, hoping, waiting that Tony White will call me. Today is January 16, 2012 and the sun is about to set. I hope and pray that Tony White will call me. I miss him, this internet husband of mine.

The e-mail finally came a few minutes ago, so short and terse. “Tony White, 73, died this morning. He loved you! Sr Jill.”

Copyright Omwa Ombara, 2012.

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