When My Heart Could Love
I used to be capable of love, of trust, of sundry mushy feelings. My heart once beat to the rhythm of someone’s name. It’s not been so long. Then I could break into poetry; say a thing so profound and quotable. It’s not been so long. I could turn a simple meal to a feast, a stroll together into an unforgettable date. Love heightened my senses. I could really hear the nursery rhyme melodies of the ice-cream man; could smell from a distance the corn and pear roasted by the the roadside women. So intense was nature that everything had a meaning: the twittering of birds, the swaying of trees, love-calls of toads by night. Then I died to myself, to my whims, to my caprices. All that mattered in the world was the object of my affection. I wanted every conversation stretched just to watch the smooth glidings of his Adam apples.
A love where I had a voice that was not only heard but listened to; not the kind of love where your voice is muffled beneath the bubbles of slavish loyalty. Not the kind that your name always sounds like a surprise on the lips of the caller and your moans so rehearsed. I speak of the kind where for the first time, I found someone as intriguing as my favorite soap that I never wanted to see season finale; he was to me a fascinating event I relived in his absence. He lived across the street, handsome but broke and you know such compassion elicited between have-er and have-not. We were age mates and we were planning a future together. When my older lover dropped a check, I’d cash it and give it to this younger man. We were saving for a brighter day, we were saving for my bride price, to wipe the shame off my parents' face. In a short while, the world would be a better place. Love made me a dreamer, for once I believed. Is it still in vogue, to dream and believe in beautiful hopes? Haha.
Then my older lover discovered; a pair of briefs in the closet that wasn’t his. I denied it. I admitted it. I wrung my hands and pleaded. After all I’ve done for you, he said, this is the way you repay me?
He did not hit me. He was too cultured to do that. But he sent thugs after him, my true love, the young man who was eating all the money he sent me and making a public spectacle of a big man like him. They hit him, so hard he lost a tooth. I went to his house to console him but he pulled a machete from under his bed and gave me a chase. I ran forgetting my shoes. And he cursed me for the tooth he lost and promised vengeance.
One night, on my way from a friend’s place, with only a lone star in the sky, he and his gang lay siege on the road and they took their turns. It was there, when I was lying on my back on the wet bush, looking at that lone star, when my voice had become weak from pleading and the oscillatory motions of their thrusting made the star swing like a pendulum, that was when my heart forgot the techniques of love.
(Excerpt from Chronicles of A Keot Woman)