Love at nightfall

92

By Talib Gibran

The nightfall was like no other with storm clouds rolling in, heralded by dazzling claps of thunder. It was wet, it was wild, it was pitch dark, it was moonless; the spectacle of clouds split and pierced by white and blinding bolts. I’m made to believe that once rain starts dropping from the sky, a heart races towards what it loves…or what it is used to. A heart addicted to smoking wants to smoke. An alcoholic heart wants to drink. A drug addict wants to sniff. And, by the same trend, a heart in love wants to…well, be with that which it craves. Maybe it was because of the rain or the thunder, maybe it was my heart refusing to feel any other presence, but all I could think about was Anna. My heart rate suddenly became abnormal and I had to just call Anna. After all, it is raining.

Anna: “Talib, don’t tell me you’re scared of what’s happening outside”
Me: “Hah…and what is happening outside?”
Anna: “It’s raining Talibs and Annas outside. Are you living in a different weather?”
Me: “Funny. How can I be scared of rain?”
Anna: “I don’t know. Maybe you have ombrophobia or something. It happens. A lot of kids have it…and then they grow with it into adulthood”
Me: “Hold on, what is even that?”
Anna: “So it’s true, you’re as dumb as you look. It’s the fear of rain”
Me: “Oh. Well for your information, when I was a kid at the village, I bathed in the rain more than I did in the bathroom. How about that for whatever phobia you’re talking about?”
Anna: “Haha. Look at you. Anyway I thought you called cos you’re scared and you need an elderly presence of my humble self”
Me: “Elderly presence indeed. Quite condescending you know. I had a totally different reason in mind”
Anna: “Come on, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. We all have our phobias”
Me: “We do? What’s yours?”
Anna: “Well I have a few actually…pyrophobia, fear of fire; arachnophobia, fear of spiders, a long list of phobias I can assure you”
Me: “Haha, your first phobia should be universal anyway. I wouldn’t count it, fire is just fire”
Anna: “Yes, you’re right. I have many but I’ll leave that for another time”
Me: “Great, I’m glad your first list of phobias doesn’t include talibphobia”
Anna: “Haha…well that would be interesting cos I wouldn’t be taking your calls”
Me: “Really? I would make you fight your fears, you know, face the demon even if the demon is yourself”
Anna: “Haha. No thanks, am good. Give me few minutes, I’ll text you later. I don’t want mum to hear me speaking on the phone while it is raining”
Me: “Alright”
The ensuing minutes were almost static. The room was still quiet with occasional flashes of lightning penetrating through the door and beaming the room. I felt at ease….and I knew in the midst of frightening skies and downpour, Anna’s voice was all I needed. And then her text appeared on my screen.
Ann: “What are you doing?”
Me: “Shivering under my blanket and blocking my ears from hearing the thunder outside”
Anna: “Haha. Now you’re coming. I knew you were scared”
Me: “I’m just telling you what you wanted to hear”
Anna: “That’s very kind of you”
Me: “Yes it is. Lol. I’m actually watching a movie”
Anna: “I don’t have to tell you that it is a dangerous thing to be doing, considering the seemingly unabated lightning outside”
Me: “I’m watching my movie, let the cosmos roar”
Anna: “Stubborn. What movie are you watching?”
Me: “Midnight Sun, one of my all-time favourites”
Anna: “What kind of title is that? Do we have a sun at midnight?”
Me: “I know, it is arguably the most ironic, the most metaphorical, the most antithetic…yet the realest I’ve seen in literature. I am watching it for maybe the 100th time”
Anna: “Whoa that is extreme! It must be a really good movie”
Me: “It is really good. I know true love doesn’t exist anymore….and we console and deceive ourselves by speaking, acting and writing about it. This movie is true love truly acted”
Anna: “I refuse to think along that line. I believe true love didn’t appear and disappear just like that. We all ought to seek it, have it and feel it”
Me: “People have done exactly that: sought true love, got it and felt it; at least for a few months or few years, give or take. Look, how true is true love if it doesn’t last?”
Anna: “It doesn’t have to last Talib. As long as you believe what you feel is true love, so be it”
Me: “That’s even a more radical view than mine Anna”
Anna: “Whatever, but don’t twist my words. Lol. Look, what I believe is that people should be allowed to define what they feel. If they believe it is true love, we don’t have any right to tell them otherwise”
Me: “So basically you’re saying that the clichés true love lasts forever, true love knows no distance, love is blind, are all false? Cuz I can tell you there is a love story that couldn’t stand the test of time; there is a love story that got wrecked by distance; and there is a love we eventually found isn’t actually blind. So how do we go beyond just feeling love and characterize it?”
Anna: “SMH. You’re insufferable. Tell me this, will you marry someone you don’t love?”
Anna and I used to chat into the wee hours of the night when the only thing audible were the rhythmical sound of our somewhat suppressed breaths. We were never short of what to talk about, topics just naturally came up. She’s just someone you can never have enough of, no matter how long or how frequent you chat. And like before, the night is no longer young but, due to the proximity of my house to the feeder road, I could still hear continual roil of distant horns of taxi drivers.
Me: “Yes, 100x over”
Anna: “Really? Why would you do that and risk your happiness?
Me: “First, I believe love is hugely overrated. Besides, we only pretend it is the most important prerequisite of marriage when we know it is not. We hardly even look for it in marital relationships. We care more about other things in relationships, sometimes material things, than love but whenever we asked, the answer is always love. How very deceiving!”
Anna: “So you’re happy to just roll with anyone?”
Me: “Yes, we can roll into a lion’s den as long as we respect and appreciate each other. We can then build our lives afterwards, and see what happens”
Anna: “I’m sure you don’t mean that. This generation is obsessed with love, match and chemistry, and rightly so. That’s why there is a universal fight against forced and early marriages. The simple reason is we all deserve the right to pick a spouse of our choosing and at our convenient time”
Me: “Do I look like I belong to this generation? I am reincarnated, or precisely, born way after my time. That’s why I feel suffocated here. I need to travel back…. Do you have a time machine?”
Anna: “Hah… you wish”
Me: “This world is not a wish-granting factory. If it were, I would have gone back to 12th century France and enjoy when Paris was actually the city of love”
Anna: “You’re such a freak Talib. Lol. But there’s high chance you won’t find happiness if you marry the wrong person”
Me: “Doesn’t it occur to you that the right person could also be the person you don’t love or the wrong person be the one you’re in love with?”
Anna: “I guess that is true but I believe love should be the most important pillar in marriage. I stand by that”
Me: “Good. Stand by it, I will pass by it”
Anna: “Smh. You will never change”
Me: “C’mon, we just have dissenting views about marriage; that is all. Respect and appreciation are more valuable in a relationship, especially marriage, than love. Those are my views”
Anna: “I get it. It makes sense. Still, I prefer something else and that is love”
Me: “Love bird, carry on with the search. And when you find love—if you ever find it—you would realise that you’ve wasted a lifetime looking for something that was never there. And then, hopefully, you would realise that I am right; love isn’t love anymore”
Anna: “I refuse to be as pessimistic, Talib. Lol”
Me: “Very well then, may you find what you’re looking for”
Anna: “Now you’re talking. That wasn’t so hard, was it?”
Me: “No it wasn’t. As much as I enjoy your company, cocks will soon crow. Lol”
Anna: “Please don’t go. Stay with me; let’s chat into a new day….”
In a sea of people, in a world littered with women, I kept rolling my eyes past every other woman, woman after woman, year after year, until I set my weary eyes on Anna. Since then, I haven’t even blinked. But how can I say those magic words again? How do you tell someone you love them after telling them you don’t? And I can’t get rid of what I feel about her without getting rid of my heart altogether.