The Sunday Mail
HIS in-laws visited unannounced one Friday night to find their reed-thin daughter home alone soaking in tears of loneliness and abandonment.
Neither expensive cuts of meat that filled their fridge, nor swanky furniture that adorned the couple’s house in one of the leafy suburbs of Harare could console Nyarai who contemplated walking out on James because of his deeds.
The young mother of two, who in her prime made men drool, was now a pale shadow of her former self. Her weight loss was so disturbing, hence her parents’ visit to inquire into what was eating into their daughter’s body.
“Chiiko nhai mashumba wangu? (What is the problem?),” Nyarai’s mother asked with a voice filled with emotion. All this while, her father was shaking his head in disbelief.
He rued the day he received lobola from James and his people.
“If I knew this is what was in store for you, I would not have let you go. I never thought a man of his calibre and level of education would do this to you,” the old man said while fighting back tears.
The in-laws were given a room to sleep and retired to bed with no sign of James. He only staggered home around noon on Saturday while reeking of booze. As usual, his car boot was filled with niceties for his children.
Such are the goings-on in some homes gentle reader. There is a good number of men who have become strangers in their own homes.
“Pawakandiroora wakabvisa mazana emari,
Chokwadika uchindida, ko nhasi wapindwa neiko?
Wava kuuya mambakwedza,
Mamwe mazuva hauuyi zvachose, munenge muripiko baba vavana?
Kana wauya manyepo haasi enhamo, haumbonyara murume wangu,” sang the legendary late Marshall Munhumumwe in his song called “Mambakwedza”.
The track highlights the challenges caused by men who sleep away from home or rather stay away from home.
Pengaudzoke, the Marondera-based sungura outfit also has a word or two for this type of situation in their hit-song “Seiko kuwonda?”
“Murume wacho baba wandiinaye,
Zvanondiitira baba zvinondinetsa muhana,
Akange ave nemari haacharariba kumba,
Anosiya vana nenzara ndoita Seiko baba?” they sang.
Gentle reader, the problem of men who do not sleep at home is as old as the history of mankind. There are some people who, when they get a chance to make merry, they want to ensure they soak into all the happiness like there is no tomorrow.
These are the kind of people who, when they are not followed up on, will never return home.
“Kumba kwacho ngakuuye kuno (Let the home come here),” they will tell you whenever you remind them that it will be time to go home.
At times these people get visitors at their homes, but the visitors will be received by their wives and children while the fathers will be enjoying elsewhere.
As I put pen to paper, cases of men who do not spend time at home have resulted in some children almost forgetting their fathers.
This forces their wives to cheat or consult traditional healers and apostolic sects for remedies.
“I want my husband to spend time with us here at home. He behaves like electricity which is sometimes available. Married men must understand that it takes a father and mother to raise children, not a mother alone.
“My husband barely comes home. It is even worse on days when he will be having cash. I need magical portions that will control his itchy feet,” I heard a woman telling a prophet in Mbare recently.
She poured her heart out, suggesting her husband must not cry foul when she decides to take matters into her own hands.
Cases of men who do not sleep at home are a big challenge to their families and their in-laws.
This has often resulted in some women serving their husbands dishes laced with lizards (chipota nemadziro) in a bid to “tame” them.
Some women, a hot gossiper confided in this writer, reportedly prepare meals for their husbands using water used to wash dead bodies to ensure they do not become active elsewhere.
Men who do not sleep at home are a headache to pastors, the police, managers, siblings and mortuary attendants because all these people will be visited by their spouses who will be looking for them dead or alive.
A man who does not sleep at his home regularly is a threat to his family because he will be murdered, will bring diseases or will result in his family being thrown out of their lodgings for non-payment of rentals or being a bad influence to other men.
“Amai Miriam dai vatobuda zvavo mumba mangu mavanoroja nekuti murume wavo haarare pamba saka ndotyira kuti baba vekwangu kana vana vangazomuteedzera (I have to evict this woman because her husband does not come regularly and he is a bad influence to my husband and children),” a nosy landlord once said within earshot.
If a man does not regularly sleep at home, his house immediately becomes a signpost in the ghetto where women who sell vegetables by the roadside will tell whoever asks for directions that: “From the house of that man who barely sleeps at home count five houses and you will be at your intended destination.”
The current Covid-19 lockdown restrictions have come as a blessing in disguise for some families, at least their husbands are now staying at home.