Celebrating East African Writing!
Have you ever tried asking your folks how they met? Well, I have. It is a long, well-constructed love story full of patience and resilience. In my teenage years, whenever I visited any of my married relatives I popped the question,” How did you two meet?” I think I needed answers and proof to back up the whole cupid,fate,destiny and serendipity theories. I lived in this fantasy bubble believing that there is somebody out there for everyone. Finally, I grew up and realized maybe that’s not true.
Some people are meant for themselves others are meant to find someone alright but you can’t live expecting and desperately looking for that someone in everyone who takes the slightest interest in you. What if you learn to be that person for yourself first; self love, before you try finding that kind of love from somebody else? I think the world is off balance even the balance that existed for love is upset so hanging on to old ways will just leave you frustrated. Nobody can resist change but we can all work around it.
I never really stopped asking that question though and this time I asked everyone who was married or dating or even hooking up. Despite the curiosity it was a really genius question that ensured the conversation went on during dinners or whatever it is I was doing with the couple. The answers I got from young couples were different from my old folks. They were short and vague. It was like a magic session abra cadabra…bam! Love! I once asked Maya, a girl I met at a party, that question and it was the shortest answer I have ever received. We were sitting with other four girls just enjoying the vibe of that moment. She kept on looking at her boyfriend who was in a group of boys having the time of his life and laughing so loud. She seemed upset I think because the guy wasn’t giving her attention and seemed so free without her.
“You really love him, don’t you?” I asked trying to distract her from staring at her boyfriend.
“Yes, is it that obvious?”
“Well, you haven’t shifted your gaze nor blinked for five minutes while looking at him.”
She let out this nervous and embarrassed laugh then sipped her soda.
“How did you two meet?”
“We met in a cafeteria two months ago.” She said then sipped her drink and whipped out her phone.
It was my turn to stare at her without blinking. I expected her to tell me more like how did she feel when they first met? Did she feel the spark like fireworks all over her body? How was the first date? Did he buy her flowers? She said nothing and began texting and browsing as if I wasn’t even beside her.
“That’s it, you just met?” I asked trying to disguise the wonder in my voice.
“Yeah, he saw me and I saw him,” She said then continued scrolling her phone.
The story that beat them all for me was my uncle’s story. He is my best friend and we talk a lot till today. He says he confides in me over the things he doesn’t even tell his best boys. He says I am his therapist. I have never been comfortable with the name therapist though. If it stands for someone who helps people why does it end with the word rapist? Well that’s just my wild imagination.
Uncle Mateo has been married for thirty years and has six kids who are all grown up. He loves his wife but he once told me he met the love of his life thirty years ago, today although happy he still wonders how it could have been like if he ended up with her. They met in the 80’s at a crusade on a Sunday. He says when he laid eyes on her to be honest he has never seen something so charming and captivating. He knew he had to talk her so he feigned confidence and approached her. She was of average height and was wearing a yellow sundress and a cream hat on her head. She had a curl of hair that hanged lose on her forehead. He says she looked like a painting and when his eyes finally met hers his breath whooshed from his body and it was like looking at her through a camera lens. He zoomed all in and in that split second everything froze before the shutter closed.
Later that day they had lunch at a park and talked about the universe and their lives .With her he says he felt he could be anything. He felt confident and reckless and that he didn’t have to be anything else but himself. They talked for two hours which he says was a like a lifetime to him. Everything was in slow motion. The crusade had already started the afternoon session and she insisted on attending but he managed to convince her to take a walk in town with him for an hour before leaving. She agreed. As they walked they passed through Max cinema which was the only cinema that existed at the time. That day they were showing Moses and the Ten Commandments movie. He offered to pay using his fare money.
“I was young I could walk home.” He said after seeing my shocked face over his sacrifice.
She was excited and they kept talking in between the movie she even forgot about the crusade. After the movie he walked her to the bus station and asked her to meet him at the phone booth the next day in the afternoon as he had enjoyed spending time with her.
Uncle Mateo says he walked home from town which was twenty kilometers away. I think he was exaggerating but okay. In his walk he didn’t feel tired and kept on smiling. He felt like he had met his soul mate that his soul felt poured out to the world. He went to the booth to meet her the next day even picked up some flowers and that he showered twice. The people who came to make calls at the phone booth kept on asking if he needed to make a call. One of them even offered to give him coins to make a call if that is the reason why he stood there for so long. He says he wanted to shout to the world that he had found the woman of his dreams. Ah, he was in love.
Two hours later and she hadn’t shown up yet. His legs were cramping from all the standing. How comes and he walked twenty kilometers home? Now you understand my dilemma, right? He couldn’t call her because nobody owned a phone then and there is no way she was standing on another booth because that was the only booth in town. Five hours later the night was beginning to fall, he gave up and went home.
He attended every crusade in town every time it was held for the rest of that year hoping to meet her but she never showed up.
“I think she was on the other side of the booth waiting for you too. Did you check the other side of the booth?” I said trying to cheer him up after he finished the story.
“Now that you’ve mentioned it… I never thought about it that way.”
Saying that story seemed to have taken a toll on him. The wonder and the what ifs were haunting him. Even telling him when you love something let it go if it doesn’t come back it wasn’t yours to begin with was not comforting him.
“I think if it comes back nobody loved it. It’s wasn’t good enough.” He joked.
“And what if it comes back but you realize you don’t love it anymore?” He asked laughing.
“Well, you keep letting it go until it gets the message.” I said laughing.
Part of why I love having conversations with uncle Mateo is because he always gets what I say and laughs at my jokes.
“You are lucky today you can get information on anyone in a snap. It was tough back then.”
“If she was the love of your life, what about aunt Bella?” I asked concerned.
“I love her to death, of course. I have always believed in love at first sight but I will always believe that the people we currently love, we have loved them before. Many times before and we stumble in grace, illusion and hope to meet them again. When we finally do, one glance and we fall again fast. When I met your aunt Bella, I knew I had loved her before and I wanted to love her forever.”
© Charity Moraa