Because you loved; and you lost
Yet you will love again
But this time
You will love yourself first
This was the type of love that upended trees whose roots had seen centuries come and go. That blew away mountains like specks of dust.
This was the love that taught you to love: yourself first before any other.
This was the love that taught you how to heal, long before it broke you.
Today I finished reading Junot Diaz’s This is how you lose her, not particularly mind blowing but interesting all the same. I love the book. The ease with which the story flows mindless of the emotions being provoked; I love easy books. It was an easy, interesting short read.
Disclaimer: There are spoilers involved, do read at your own enlightened risk.
The story is about Yunior, a young Dominican man and a serial cheater going through different experiences in life. Chronicling his family’s move to America, his relationship with his father, his brother’s death(spoiler), his relationship with women and all the ways he lost most of his significant others.
This isn’t really a review. I’d just like to let you know that I finished reading this book, and because I enjoyed Diaz’s work I went on to get The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao by (guess who?) Junot Diaz. I’ll let you know how that goes too.
I discovered This is how you lose her by religiously following Magunga’s story series based on his life but inspired by the book. He titled it This is how else you lose her. I recommend both reads to you. Due to my love for Magunga’s love tale, I went on and read and loved Diaz’s tale. I love streaks like these. Hopefully Oscar Wao doesn’t let me down.
Moral of the story: Don’t cheat on your S.O’s, it never ends well.
We are slowly driving on the road on a dark rainy night. The best I can tell of our location is Lekki phase 1 because one toll gate has been passed through. Memorizing roads and directions isn’t my thing, unless of course I utilise said roads and directions on a daily basis. There are four of us in the car: The driver, My friend’s mom, my friend and I. The car is quiet after moments of random talk about the rain and whatnot. I haven’t eaten all day, and my stomach has gotten to the stage of being numb – it’s too tired to keep complaining- but my body is weak because really I haven’t eaten all day and it’s 9:27pm.
The night lights on the road give an interesting look to it all. The sudden burst of orange in almost pitch black, save for the break lights on hundred of cars ahead of us and behind us. It’s a slow drag on the road with the continuous pelt of raindrops on the car.
Then there is a noise, an almost scream and the sound of glass breaking. We all turn to a blur of a hand pulling something back in a car, and a figure sprinting away from the car. The best way I can describe the car is it’s a really nice car without plate numbers. A lady sits at the driver seat of the car with a broken passenger seat window, leaning on the passenger seat looking too stunned to do anything else. The driver tells us it was a thief that just attacked her, he says this quite proudly. Happy at the fact that he’s the one that understands how these things happen, and he gets a chance to let us know about this.
Apparently, two guys walked towards her car on both sides with the pretense of cleaning her windows for bara, until they had gained a good view of the contents of her car. Thief 1 on the driver’s side then shatters the driver’s window distracting the lady from thief 2 shattering her passenger window to grab her handbag and phone from her passenger seat. She reacts just in time to retrieve her phone but couldn’t save her bag, as they both run off.
Not everyone is aware of what just happened, but those close enough to see are stunned at the swiftness of the heist and how it happened in our korokoro bare eyes.
The lady sits leaning on the passenger for about five seconds before it registers that the cars ahead of her have moved, and she had cars behind her waiting for her to do the same. She drives forward, and keeps dragging the rest of the way with us.
It sparks a conversation of pity for the young lady, anger at the thieves and disappointment at the other drivers for not running one of the thieves over. In all our ramblings we can’t accurately express what she feels at that moment but my guess is she’s still in shock because, what she just experienced was too big for her to process at that moment while moving in slow traffic on this Lekki road underneath the pouring rain.
Some other drivers chat her up, try to sympathize. At the end of the day, no matter what anyone says at that point she’s still just a young lady driving alone in a really nice car with two broken windows and the clueless rain pouring into her new upholstery, handbag-less and still very much in shock.
We drive on, because we can’t not.
This is how death comes
In the middle of the day
He won’t sneak in
Nor bid his time
He’ll sit on your couch with you
Finish your jokes for you
Might even offer to be the brunt of it
He’ll steal your heart
And you’ll let him
He’ll sleep on your bed
And you’ll allow him
He’ll whisper into your ears
And you’ll listen
Not because you want him
Not because you love him
Not because you need him
He’s that alluring
He’ll kiss you and take your breath
Counting down the seconds
One by one
Till the life isn’t in you anymore
He’ll hug you while you die
He might even cry for you
Kiss you on the forehead
And when you fall to the ground
White faced and breathless
He’ll turn away from you
Smiling away with his dagger
On his way to make a new acquaintance
Death won’t steal you
He’ll entice you
Until you can’t resist him further
You wake up with the sound of your sister’s voice sounding slightly annoyed. She tells you that you’re going to have to pay a family visit today, and this pisses you off too. She says it’s your father’s idea and there’s no day better than this to go. You go through the motions dreading the car ride and subsequent sickness that comes from the prolonged journey, driving through Lagos is never a fun idea much less to Ikorodu. You arrive unannounced with the fruit basket hastily put together by your elder sister, with your father leading the way. Your eldest sister is too busy trying to keep up with him while you help the other sister who’s evidently struggling with the weight of the watermelons that were an afterthought in the not-so-big basket.
There’s a lull and then an uproar. Smiling faces and loud laughs from people you’ve successfully avoided for two years coming out to greet you, to lighten your load, to welcome you. The old woman barely upright in her stance greets you wide smiled and almost toothless. She hugs you like her life depends on it, then looking up to see your face, maybe trying to memorize it so the next two years of silence wouldn’t be so hard. She’s aged, obviously but she’s still active. You struggle to communicate with her in your less than half baked Yoruba, with little assistance from your father. She looks at your father, her son and thanks him for bringing you. She laments on the amount of time it has been, how she asked for you constantly. And the disappointment from not hearing back from you. She looks up, arms stretched and thanks God in every manner she can think of. She thanks him from letting her see her grandchildren one last time before she dies. She’s close to tears now, you can hear it in her voice, her gratitude naked and unashamed muttered in her Ijesha dialect. You imagine her mortal sadness if you hadn’t arrived. You don’t need to understand Yoruba to know her pain. It’s funny how the “grand” things you ask for pale in comparison to her anguish to see you maybe for the last time.
She laughs occasionally. She reminds of how she carried you when you were little, but your sisters were too old to allow her carry them so they went around with the house help. She encourages you to eat, just a little for the sake of odun. You hesitantly agree. Your Yoruba fizzles out with nothing left to say, and then you communicate in English to your sisters. She doesn’t understand but she’s content to have you there, to have seen you, touched you, embraced you.
During the ride back home your father will tell you she’s 96 years old and still very agile, how she’s doing well for her age. He’ll tell you what a shame it was that you never met his father, that he too was strong for his age. Although you knew when he was dying and you were so close to it you almost experienced it. You will hear him miss his father and then you’ll kick yourself a little for being angry earlier. He won’t tell you he misses them, he’s too rough edged and grown up for that but you’ll know in all the subtle ways he expresses it. This will be your Christmas; emotionally tiring.