It was Sunday afternoon, and Sara and I were having a quiet cup of tea on the veranda when we heard a voice behind us. ‘Have you got a cup for me”
‘Christine!’ exclaimed Sara, rising to give her a hug. ‘So you really did get out of there! Congrats! Good on you my dear! Long overdue!’
‘Had a row with Michael?’ I wondered, as I poured Christine a cup of tea.
‘No no,’ she said, as she made herself comfortable, ‘there was nothing like that, Michael never misbehaves. He washes properly and always irons his own shirts. He’s such a sweetie. He’s my darling.’
‘That’s not what I see on TV,’ I laughed. ‘He’s always scowling and growling, huffing and puffing, hiring and firing and hissing and dissing.’
‘By the end of the day he’s exhausted ,’ Christine explained, ‘so by the time he gets back to me he’s a pussy cat. The problem is not Michael, the problem is State House. When we were in Rhodes Park it was just us and the children, but State House, it’s like living in a railway station. People tramping in and out all the time. Sometimes they even trample on me and don’t seem to notice.’
‘They’re not very nice people?’
‘That’s another thing,’ said Christine, as she plastered her scone with strawberry jam, ‘he’s got such a peculiar bunch of friends. It was alright when he met them in the National Assembly Motel Bar, but now they’re in my house!’
‘And in the government,’ I said.
‘I can’t stand that awful GBV,’ said Christine, ‘he’s a real menace.’
‘You mean GBM,’ I suggested.
‘I know what I mean,’ she replied grimly. ‘I used to work at the hospital.’
‘But surely you must like poor old Dotty Scotty?’ I suggested.
‘He seems quite harmless,’ admitted Christine, ‘but he’s a terrible nuisance. Once I found him weeping in the toilet at three o’clock in the morning. Apparently he’d got lost and couldn’t find the way out.’
‘But surely you must enjoy all those big parties,’ I said. ‘Like Heroes Day when they bring out all the dead heroes and everybody gets drunk.’
‘Party cadres belching and farting and vomiting everywhere. After the last one we had to go to Japan for a couple of weeks while the place was being fumigated.’
‘My God,’ I said, ‘then I’m not surprised you ran away.’
‘Oh no,’ laughed Christine. ‘That’s not why I ran away! I’m a tough lady!’
‘I knew it!’ I cried in triumph. ‘The Watchdog was right! Your darling sweetie Michael was cheating on you! You had to leave him!’
‘What!’ laughed Christine. ‘Michael has never cheated on me! My dear Michael! Never! Michael is not a womaniser! He’s not even a polygamist! He’s a serial monogamist!’
Sara scowled at me. ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about. Can you please just be quiet and listen to what Christine is trying to tell you?’
‘I believed all these rumours,’ I persisted. ‘I really thought you’d run away from Michael!’
‘Of course not!’ she laughed. ‘I would never run away from Michael! I’ve run away from State House!’
‘I couldn’t stand being First Lady,’ said Christine, as her lips trembled and a tear ran down her face. Sara handed her a handkerchief.’
‘There there,’ I said, putting my arm around her. ‘We all know it’s a silly job. But it’s a national duty. Somebody’s got to do it.’
‘All that opening of workshops,’ she sobbed, ‘attending traditional ceremonies or gluttonous banquets for indigestible dignitaries. It’s all so mindless, irritating and boring.’
‘Dotty Scotty doesn’t seem to mind,’ I said soothingly.
‘He’s an old man with nothing else to do,’ she sobbed. ‘I’m a young professional with promising career prospects! I’ve got a mind of my own! But I’ve been spending half my time reading speeches that I haven’t written, saying things that I don’t agree with, to people who aren’t listening. I’ve been spending all my time smiling at people I don’t like.’
‘You have to support your man,’ I said.
‘Christine’s right, of course,’ Sara declared firmly. ‘As First Lady she had position without power. Her job was merely to glorify the power of the husband and the subordination of his wife. He was the master and she was his servant. She did not represent us women, but instead was made to represent men’s view of womanhood. She was purposely disempowered in order to make an example for the rest of us. An example of how to accept being downtrodden.’
‘Sounds very eloquent,’ I sneered, ‘but all Christine has actually done is to run away from her husband!’
‘Nonsense,’ snapped Christine. ‘My next project is to help my beloved Michael to also escape. He is trapped in there by a bunch of sharks and criminals, even though he’s well past retirement age. So next Tuesday I’m going back to State House under the pretext of receiving a donation of useless books, then I’m going to get him out through the tunnels.’
‘Have you thought this through?’ I sneered. ‘Do you realize that if you rescue our dear Michael from State House then the gang of sharks and criminals will take over, and the nation will plunge into rack and ruin?
‘Of course we’ve thought of that,’ snapped Christine. ‘Plans for the transition are well advanced. We plan to make Sara the next President and you, Kalaki, will be her First Gentleman!’
‘But,’ warned Sara, ‘don’t write about this in the newspaper!’
‘Doesn’t matter if he does,’ laughed Christine. ‘Nobody believes a word he says!’