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Death, birthday wish messages tell a story

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The smalls advertisement columns of newspapers are the most hilarious sections of any newspaper.

Saturday Dialogue with Ropafadzo Mapimhidze

I particularly enjoy reading the death, birthday and in memoriam sections where men, women and children either convey their condolences or birthday wishes to their loved ones. This is the space where you read messages that tell a lot about people’s everyday life.

Women will jostle on that column like wrestlers as they outsmart each other describing how sweet, warm and kind their “husband” was. What actually makes me laugh is the fact that they always pen saying, “from your beloved wife” so and so.

I once saw a list of nearly seven women who had placed condolence messages of their “spouse”.

The legal wife unfortunately was not among the six women that posted these messages.

One after the other they expressed how deeply hurt they were at losing the father of their children and best friend and how life would never be the same without him. These messages are so hilarious and also confuse readers who the real spouse is.

I remember one woman who said in her post that: “What shall I do with your mother (mother-in-law). . . she is lost without you. She can’t stop crying.”
Such messages cause a lot of hurt and distress as family instability sets sometimes even before the man is buried.

But why fight for attention on this space? And what will you be trying to display in a newspaper column? Is that real love? I wonder. What these women do not realise is that they are no different from concubines of so-called “small houses” who will never get recognition of the wife title.

But do men do the same when their girlfriends die? I wonder again. I have never seen such adverts from men. The ones I have read are probably those placed by children on behalf of their father and the entire family. I have also realised that some birthday wish messages that are published in newspapers are meant to spite the legal wife who perhaps could be suffering in distress over loss of comfort and love. A few years ago, I read a message of a distant relative who had married another woman while the marriage to the first wife was still in existence.

It was the most difficult time of my life because I had wanted to call the wife to find out what was happening because the picture of her husband and the “new” wife lay displayed on the smalls advertisement column. Many years later, I was to learn that this man had deserted his wife for this woman, and later left her again for yet another two or three women.

His first wife had three children, while the second was ditched leaving two daughters.

He now lives with the fifth “wife” who delivered twins, but has since started communicating with his first wife on a regular basis. The real fact is that these relationships do not last because they thrive on availability of cash.

The first wife is now a very successful entrepreneur, living with her two sons and daughter who are getting married soon.

Ironically, the second “wife” actually lives in a house that belongs to both first wife and her husband. The title deeds have their names added on the document.

There are messages I once read that came from at least four families whose eldest child was the same. The deceased man was called Tanaka and hence all the first-born children, whether they were boys or girls, were named Tanaka.

This man had a first wife who he had married at a lavish garden party in one of the leafy suburbs of Harare. He was rich and had so many cars he splashed around with his women. When he died in a car crash, there was drama at the funeral. Each and every woman wanted his body to lie in state at their homes.The first wife, who lived on a farm on the outskirts of Harare, witnessed the commotion at the funeral parlour and decided to take off the black dress and joined other mourners as an ordinary person.

Although the funeral was finally held at the first woman’s home, the legal wife felt so humiliated that she decided to lock herself in her matrimonial bedroom. She did not attend the burial where these other women wailed and wailed as relatives consoled them.

Although advertisements are no longer that fashionable due to costs, funerals are generally punctuated by such drama as scores of children emerge on that day for the funeral of their father.

The funny thing, however, is that the wife is the last one to know about existence of such children and their mothers.

I attended a funeral recently of a man who lived with a concubine for nearly two decades, and when he died, his body was taken to his first wife’s home . . . his matrimonial home. The concubine did not step a foot at the funeral and burial for fear of being beaten by angry family members.

Wife number one had suffered so much because of this affair and guess what? She placed an advert in one of the newspapers expressing her grief and what shocked everybody was the sentence “you know who you truly loved”.

If the man really loved her, why did he not divorce his first wife? His clothes have since been brought to wife number one for distribution among his sons and relatives. This is a lesson to all women that sire children with married men and even go to the extent of sealing such relationships with payment of lobola.

The painful fact remains that these men always go back to their first wives even when they are dead.
This is the true, painful and factual reality.

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