40 year-old secret: Woman shocks children by revealing her true name and past abusive marriage
To what extent can a woman go to shed off memories of an abusive marriage?
For close to 45 years, Agnes Wanza, 71, had lived with the weight of deep secrets that weighed her down, until she recently yielded to constant nagging by her children.
When she escaped her violent matrimonial home at Waita village in Mwingi Central, Kitui County, in 1974, Wanza had only one resolve; to start life afresh.
So determined was her resolve that she got a new name, Grace Kasyoka.
Her husband Charles Kirima, went to the grave in 2015 without discovering his wife was using an alias, and had indeed been married with three children.
The Njuri Ncheke elder lived with his wife in Gankere village of Imenti North, Meru County, and was not alarmed by the fact that she never even once travelled to her maternal home or sought to take him there.
The couple had six sons and it is only after they started marrying, that they accelerated their push to have her reveal her closely guarded secret.
“My father had died without knowing where my mother came from and I was afraid that with her advanced age, we might never know our roots. I challenged her jokingly if she had other children because I regarded myself the first born.
“She looked shocked and angry at the same time and I realised I had touched a raw nerve. She admitted that she indeed had another child by the name Mwikali but did not name the others. She also mentioned the name of the village she came from,” narrated Pastor Moses Kiriinya, 41.
Armed with the information, the pastor and his younger brother embarked on a trip to Waita village.
In Mwingi, despite producing a picture of their mother, the two strangers were treated with suspicion until an uncle noticed some resemblance between one of the sons and the woman.
“I even called my mother and she spoke with her brother Karanja Munuve. We were wary of the visit and feared how we would be received,” recounted Pr Kiriinya.
Following two years of communication, the two families, on Sunday held a get-together where about 80 kinsmen from Mwingi visited Gankere village, for a reunion with their relative.
Wanza’s first born, Mwikali Katee, was in nursery school when she left.
Mwikali recounted the problems she faced after her father remarried.
“The stepmother was very cruel to us. I was in nursery school and our last born was nine-months-old. We struggled to make ends meet because my father remarried and we could not get basic things,” recounted Mwikali who is now an assistant chief in Mwambui sub-location, Mwingi.
Her hope of ever meeting her mother waned after she failed to attend the burial of her grandparents (Wanza’s parents) and those of close relatives.
Seeking closure, the family kept pushing Wanza’s ex-husband to reveal her whereabouts but he had no clue.
At one point, the family reported him to the police suspecting he may have killed her and disposed of the body.
During the reunion, Wanza appeared relieved but remained pensive and would not reveal her reasons for leaving her children.