MAPEN-ZII

NYAR GEM, MY TUESDAY CRUSH

A good story, carefully written and well told is like a cool breeze on a summer’s afternoon. I can never hope to possess my grandmother’s storytelling skills, but I can let loose a naughty lover’s pen to write away into the bliss of young love. This is the story of my Tuesday crush. A girl whose presence in my life breathed such vigor into the fantasies of my teenage mind that I dare say I fell in love.

It was in August of 2018. I know, I was still a high school student. A candidate to say the least. It was an evening like any other; quiet, serene and without any odd peculiarities. As such, I had taken it upon myself to take a walk and not let such a beautiful dusk fade all by itself into a lonely night. Coincidence had it that on that fateful date in August, my Tuesday crush had been sent to take chicken to her dear aunt. She had worn a beautiful brown dress with buttons all the way down to the helm, the bottom of which happened to be just about where her knees were. The dress itself was a darker shade of brown and it fell perfectly over her skin which was fair and supple against the photographic hue of the evening sun. She walked briskly with measured steps like a model, merely slow enough to let you savor a jiffy glimpse of her beautiful face.

She passed twice at the place where I was and I took it as a sign. I convinced myself that our paths were deliberately woven in such a manner for a reason. My teenage head could never miss such a sign. I took my shot and asked for her name in the hope of chasing a decent conversation. I gathered what I could from the words she said and at the mention of her urgency to return home, I tossed a query for her phone number.

If you’re clever, you’d know that at this juncture success is a gamble that can only be won by giving the girl your number instead, then hitting the road in the hope of a text later on. Well, I put a bet on chance and later that night, I reaped a bounty saying “hey homie.”

Fat story thin, I made a new friend that day. Fast forward to April 2020. She was still in my head. We had just about finished the classes in our friendship course and as such, it was time to graduate!

One Tuesday evening, on an April day in 2020, following numerous chats and calls, my crush visited me. She was every bit as immaculate as she was on our first encounter. Call me the beholder! In the frequent locking of our eyes and cracking of ribs, we chatted to a ripe dusk at which point we bid good bye, a silent call of a lover’s promise firmly pinned in our heart.

Indeed, she was from Gem. A pure-blooded Luo girl with fair skin, a loud laugh and extremely expressive eyes. She was born in June. At night. I know this to be so because of her second name, Atieno. Among the many personal favorites that we talked of in our conversations, she mentioned her love for a well roasted steak (nyama choma), but it goes without saying that fish never missed a place in a true Luo’s heart.

It was during such times that I thought I knew what love was.

It was the boy’s debut as a lover but the girl’s stanza in an ongoing song; still the experiences remained perfectly unique and new to the duo.

To the countless times we smiled every day, to the irreplaceable memories we made in joy, to the beautiful infinities we shared everyday… I say, CHEERS!

THE GHOSTS OF HER PAST

Is anything in life ever without a history? Even a toddler has a history of conception, and of a struggle of eager swimmers before that, and of both paternal and maternal gamete meiosis stories before that, and so on. The ghosts of Nyar Gem’s past; they haunt me. When I close my eyes, I see the silhouette of people from her past affairs; mocking me, competing with me. I feel the dark vortex of futility banging at my efforts, harassing them. I am older than her by eleven months, but even then, there seems to be an invincible, larger gap in age that constantly knocks over the blocks of respect between us.

She tells me stories from her past sometimes. Mostly because I ask her to. Each time, the stories are like a terrible crucifixion of my heart, yet ever so often, I listen. I try to understand, I really do. But she is a reflection of my insecurities and I cannot run away from them. Her past casts an eerie shadow over me that kindles the furnace beneath every single insecurity I have. Her past comes creeping through her phone and into my head. It hovers over my thoughts day and night leaving a feverish feeling and I wonder sometimes why I never feel the urgency to run.

She is the builder of my trust for her. Insensitivity on her side would subject me to a life of nightmares. It does. A nightmare of a ‘never board’ roller-coaster of emotions that has my heart reeling in ache all the time.

She tries. She opens up in small soothing ways that blow over my emotional cracks. Outside I try to smile but inside I curl up like an embryo in dark corners of fierce imaginations. I listen to her. I see her words breathing life into the ghosts of her past. I see them rising in between the the words of our conversations, finding their way through my ears to my mind. My own ghosts are never there these days. But her ghosts, her ghosts are all over me.

I told myself that I shall be murmuring ‘Jesus Christ’ under my breath henceforth amid our conversations, if only to get some peace of mind. She has an un-severed bond to her past that, very often, inevitably awakes ghosts of doubt in me. Nevertheless, I bear a terrible conviction of sorts, that maybe I love her still, in many ways than words can explain???

SADLY EVER AFTER

How is this story even sad? The tale of nyar Gem’s love story was of good character but also, I admit, of toxicity. Unfortunately, the beautiful moments we spent together were sadly the anvil on which this disaster struck, breaking our hearts into a shower of countless sombre pieces. There was even a promise, what was that? For life? Oh, nonsense, what nonsense!

The whole narrative of a Tuesday crush and a perfect evening for a teenage romance betrayed me. I poured inexperience into a recipe of first love and cooked myself an eye watering delicacy called a heartbreak. I would have wished to give a better ending, a happy ever after story, but I can only afford a sadly ever after ordeal.

You must have noticed the faults in the relationship that was. An unbalanced scale of insecurities had cast a burden of thoughts over my poor head. I couldn’t bring myself to peace with the ghosts of her past. Oh, how they haunted me. Yet every day, I gazed upon the beauty of nyar Gem, and boldly called it crazy love. I must have been deceived; or was it the beholder charms that bewilders every man that finds a soulmate, that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder?

In the same manner of beauty of times, as it was in the days of our meeting, it also happened to be on a beautiful night that we broke up. As I struggled to find the right words to say behind the silences of a long phone call, the distance could be felt more strongly that day than ever. We had grown further from each other in the previous months and this was just but the summit of it. She couldn’t even conjure enough sadness to fake a cry, for the relationship had died long before the day we called it so, and she had shed enough tears many times before then.

Someone should have told me to get my restless heart under control, for then, just maybe, I could have saved us both the ache of a broken heart. The same intensity with which I once loved I now wreathed in the agony of an aching heart. Even so, I felt lighter in my mind. I felt relieved of a burden of constant worry and stress. I felt free.

The problem with young love is a cancer called insecurities. It festers, ever so often, silently like a diabetic foot and before you know it, the relationship is a goner! In the freedom that came after the heartbreak, I realized how I had never felt my own company before. I had never appreciated the concept of individuality as I did in the days following the break-up. I had never truly understood the concept that people call personal space. It was at the wake of such terrible an occurrence that I learnt a lesson so dear to me right now, that love, like a flowing stream, comes from a place of great abundance, and only in the abundance of true love for oneself can there be true love for another.

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