By Talib Gibran When you’re in love, that’s when you’re yourself. If you’re not in love – going about your business, focusing on work, school – then you’re not yourself. Love is what actually defines us and without it, we become mere beings blindly walking around. When I met Anna, I automatically changed, remarkably. My skin would glow, even in the dark like a pregnant woman. I’d smile, even for no reason. I had some truly, epic, star-crossed feelings swirling around inside me. The feeling was pure, white-hot passion which no one can truly describe. Anna: “Talib, I’m done cooking. I’m gonna dish when I pray Zuhr” She had promised to text me when she returned from the market. I was standing on the balcony when her text came in, having a panoramic view of Bakau, at least the eastern part of it. Me: “The food smells good. I can get the aroma from here. Should I skip lunch and you dish me?” Anna: “Haha…not even close. But, yeah, I can dish you. I’m no Salt Bae but I do wear my magic apron on Tuesdays” Me: “If you know about Salt Bae, then you must be a good cook or at least you know good food. I’m impressed” Anna: “Don’t be impressed until you taste it first” Me: “Don’t you worry, if it tastes bad I’ll reconsider my position” Anna: “Funny…I’ve been trying my best to master the kitchen. I figured it could save me a lot of trouble in my marriage” Me: “Oh…so you’ve been rehearsing. Wow. What other things have you been practising for marriage apart from honing your culinary skills?” Anna: “No way, I am not spilling that to you. I prefer my husband to find out” Me: “Ouch…Lol. Okay fine. I’ll put a listening device on your husband. When he finds out, I find out” Anna: “Smh… You dare not” Me: “We shall see” Anna: “Lol.. Can I ask you something?” Me: “Go ahead” Anna: “Okay, like I said earlier, I want to prepare for marriage. I just don’t want to jump into it without having any clue about how to keep my husband” Me: “Well you still haven’t asked yet but hey, a husband is not a wild animal that needs to be kept. Wait a minute, some husbands are definitely wild. So just make sure you know which category he is before you tie the knot” Anna: “Lol.. Come on, I’m not even done yet. What I fear the most is that with all these preparations, what if I thought I have a husband who loves me but who actually doesn’t? Me: “Truth be told, you’re asking the wrong person. First, I don’t want to get married. Second, I don’t believe true love exists anymore. The only thing that has survived since creation is Satan, love couldn’t have survived this long. So I believe it may have died in the 2nd or 3rd century but we are still holding on to the idea that it exists and we should search for it. So if you believe too much in love before marriage, then you gonna be disappointed” Anna: “Sick. Smh… You’re right, I asked the wrong person” Me: “There is no true love before marriage Anna. Get used to it. Whatever you call love comes after it gets tested by marriage. If it stays, then it is love… if it doesn’t, then it is what it is…” Anna: “So you’re saying all those who believed they were in love before they got married were actually not in love?” Me: “Not all of them. Those who remain committed in their marriages during unbearable difficulties, I believe have always been in love. But those who run during hard times like rats abandoning a sinking ship, I believe have never been in love. It’s that simple. I mean all the fictional love stories we read in books or watch on television teach us to fight and stay with those we love through thick and thin. So why would you learn all that there is to learn about love….and still quit when it is tough?” Anna: “You have a cultic view about almost everything. You’re not helping” Me: “You asked for my views. Lol” Anna: “Smh. It’s just that people get married for the right reasons but what makes it feel so wrong and end so badly is still a mystery to me” Me: “No worries, you will find out when you get there. Don’t cross a bridge you haven’t reached yet” Anna: “Lol.. Of course I will get there. You’re something else. Smh. One day someone will walk into your life and make you wish you had married earlier” Me: “I’ll take your word for it. And if it happens, I’ll write you a letter” Anna: “You wouldn’t even remember me. Lol” Me: “On a serious note, you will be fine. It’s true we hardly see inspiring marriages nowadays, except those of our parents who have stood the test of time, but there are others in our generation that we can learn from too” Anna: “Hmmm someone is finally positive about marriage. That’s a good step” Me: “A step I’m taking because of you…and I’ll take a million more steps for you” I sent that message but almost instantly regretted because of what it could mean. What if she took it the wrong way? And worse, it’s now taking her longer than usual to reply. I started fidgeting. I felt crushed. How could I be too forward? But, the reply came. Anna: “That’s pure… I can feel it. Thanks” I think it was the first time I comfortably breathed in minutes. It’s like tying a rope around your neck, step on the chair and hang yourself. But just before you took that last precious breath, someone cut the rope. You wanted to kill yourself…but shortly after, you were inwardly thanking someone who stopped you from doing that. I felt okay and I wanted her to know it. Me: “That’s a relief. For a moment I thought I blew it” Anna: “A relief?” Me: “I thought that came out wrong” Anna: “Smh… Let’s talk about tomorrow. After lunch I’ll go to the wedding and I think by the time I reach home, it would be already late to chat, so now is the best we got” Me: “Okay, what exactly should we talk about? I know you’re coming, you know you’re coming. Just tell me the time, and I will be here” Anna: “You make everything appear so simple. You haven’t even told me where you live. I don’t even know your last name” Me: “That’s because you didn’t ask” Anna: “Which one? The surname or where you stay?” Me: “Both” Anna: “Smh…I didn’t ask about your surname because I hardly do that. I prefer people’s first names because with that, there would be no urge to identify myself with them. If you know what I mean” Me: “No I don’t know. You overestimate my intelligence” Anna: “Dummy. Lol. Okay here is the thing, if you tell me your surname is Bojang, I’d be asking myself if you’re a Jola or a Mandinka. If you’re Njie, I’d still want to know if it’s Njie Fula, Njie Wolof, Njie Mandinka or Njie Serahule. I don’t like going through that restless feeling of trying to know if someone I care about belongs to the same ethnic extraction. The sound of our surnames and our efforts to identify with them trigger tribal demons in us and we get disappointed if it turns out they are not what we wanted them to be” Me: “Wow. But this is a country of tribes, intermarried and interrelated, so there is no problem in trying to add numbers. Lol” Anna: “That is where the problem is, Talib. There is no single tribe in this country. We have ethnic groups. No single ethnic group has all the features of a tribe. In fact, we should stop calling ourselves tribes because the word ‘tribe’ is derogatory. It’s not meant for this age” Me: “That’s enlightening. I’m not a fan of either of them anyway. But I like the way you think” Anna: “Stop… Okay let’s drop tribes or ethnic groups for a moment and talk about our meeting tomorrow” Me: “Yes, The Meeting” Anna: “I realised that I was freaking out over the thought of visiting you because I actually want to see you again” Me: “That’s sweet…. Let’s pray and then talk about it yeah” Anna: “Sure. Don’t take long” It’s a common belief, especially in this age of feminism, that intelligent women scare men away. That men don’t like women of substance; confident, independent and smart women; that men only feel comfortable jumping into matrimonial or any kind of sexual relationship with women who they can control, enslave, sort of simply because those women aren’t intellectually endowed. Well, if every man is like me, then we can collectively throw that view into the trashcan, where it belongs. I hardly care about any specific things in a partner, like some of us would have a long list of qualities we look for in people before we start any kind of relationship with them; qualities that we don’t have ourselves but we pretend we do. But I must admit I’m somewhat drawn to intelligence; not just having flawless grades at school, but the ability to keep someone company, engrossed in conversations about everything in life without having to just rely on coital amusements whenever you’re bored. That person is beyond a girlfriend/boyfriend or husband/wife, no, that person is a real partner because wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend have now become words that, when mentioned, always have sexual connotations. In the first conversations I had with Anna, I appeared radical and revolutionary, but that’s not intelligence. It’s intelligence to only those who are easily carried away by someone’s seemingly standalone view about things. For Anna, though she appeared normal…and simple in our conversations, she has a rare intelligence and perception about life, a quality not common in our generation. And I knew I had to tell her how I felt; the feelings about her that have made me the opposite of what I used to be. But the timing or the right words to express how I felt, well, became a problem. I’m lost. I had slogged through aisles of hackneyed romantic quotes but none could provide adequate inspiration for a truly daring declaration of love to Anna. So when is it gonna be? Should I tell her when she visits tomorrow or before she comes? Let me pray first….and decide on that.]]>
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Salif Sadio, the leader of the separatist fighters in the Casamance has said he never sired any child from a marriage or outside wedlock....
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