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City of Banjul
Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Love on the beach

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By Talib Gibran

Getting back together has always looked smooth for people.

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That’s not exactly true for me. I’ve always believed whatever ended your relationship with someone in the first place didn’t just disappear for good.

It can always come back and it can always end it again, even if it finds you already married.

But we think, naïvely of course, that once we get back together, we have basically sorted out all the problems and it is now a smooth ride into the future. If you get separated because you couldn’t – or you refused – to solve your problems, you never solve those problems while you’re separated.

So if you get back together, it means you have only overlooked the problems.

My case is always different. In fact, it is likelier for me to find a new love than to rekindle an old one.
Saturday came faster than a school examination.

I was supposed to be calm. No fretting. No fidgeting. All I had to do was stroll to the beach, early or late, doesn’t matter; because I was certain Anna would come.

So I prayed, picked up a comb and rushed it through my goatee. I’m terrible at preparing for anything, except eating though which doesn’t require any significant preparations anyway.

My best appearance – either my face or my outfit – is usually how I look at the gate.

I have two different perfume bottles – one roll, one spray – and I make the effort to roll or wear it only when I didn’t take bath.

I’ve been using them for the past year or so without finishing, as if they magically refill themselves each day.

But today, unlike any other day, I used both after taking bath, I must add.

I rolled the roll under my newly-shaved armpits and sprayed the spray on my newly-begged workshop T-shirt.

I only have two jeans; one uncomfortably hugs a little above my ankles while the other, which I actually love, swallows me like a blanket. Each of the choices would be a dent on my confidence anyway but, having spent days thinking about what to wear, I eventually picked the blanket-type; at least I was sure no part of me would be out in the open.

Since I was a kid, I’ve always had certain obsession with shoes.

I like to have dozens spread around. I never want to think what shoes to wear.

I wear what is the most accessible on some occasions while cherry-pick for special occasions.

Today is one such occasion.

I pulled a chair, stood on it to have a better view of all the pairs on top of my cupboard. Bingo, slippers, what else? I picked them, stepped off the chair and hit them against each other, with dust balls flying in the room like a tornado.

It is so easy for me to dress. Maybe because I have a lonely wardrobe, you can’t really spend hours deciding between two chino jeans. So I stood in front of the mirror and examined my profile: Combed beards and goatee? Checked. Brushed teeth? Checked.

T-shirt? Checked. Jeans? Checked. Roll and perfume? Checked.

Slippers? Checked. There was no need to touch the hair because the barber did such a good job that I looked balder than a bald cap.

Now it is time and, oh boy, just when I took the first step out of my house, the sweating started. This is not happening again.

Dates are not really my forte; I am usually more effective on the phone.

I am everything on the phone; Romeo and Juliet combined. But when we meet; eyes fixed on each other like a bride and a groom taking wedding vows on the altar, you would think someone is impersonating me.

It would take so much patience to stay on with me…..at least until my creativity kicks in again. The bottom-line is I’m scared of the opposite sex, everything about her.

The fact that I’m different from someone—in both physique and thinking—who I’d be sharing my life with is terrifying. And thinking too much about it is even more terrifying.

It is 6pm. The clock got tired of ticking. And I’m still standing at the gate, thinking about an excusable story to bail.

I felt like I had two hearts, all beating at the same time in my chest. Oh, I got a brilliant idea: I’ll switch off my phone and by the time it’s back on, it would have been over and I would have thought of a tragic incident that stopped me from going. That was all it took for Anna to call.

Me: “Hello?”
Anna: “I expected you to go straight to why you’re still not here but not ‘hello’”
Me: “I’m coming, I will be there soon”
Anna: “Good, hurry before the sun sets”
There is no escape. So I jogged to the beach.

There were hundreds of people but Anna never hides in any crowd, she always stands out. And it was as if someone was leading me straight to her.

Anna: “Wow, how did you just find me so easily?”
Me: “I just looked for the most beautiful girl in the crowd. She turned out quite easy to find”
Anna: “Wow. That’s sweet, I’m already blushing”
Me: “Blushing in your stomach? Cuz I’m not seeing anything on your face”
Anna: “You had to ruin that, why am I not surprised?”
Me: “Haha. I must say, you look simply…. simple”
Anna: “Come on, Talib. I’m sure you can do better than that”
Me: “You look breathtaking. It’s like am seeing you for the first time”
Anna: “Good, that is better. You don’t look bad yourself”
Me: “That’s no compliment. People only say that when they don’t actually have anything good to tell you about your appearance”
Anna: “There you’re again. But you don’t need anyone to say you’re cute, Talib. Everything about you is strange except your cuteness”
Me: “Now that is what I consider a compliment. Thank you”
Anna: “Haha. I knew you were going to gloat about that”
Me: “And you still gave me what I wanted, aren’t you so sweet?”
Anna: “Whatever. Tell me, what took you so long to get here”
Me: “Honestly, I wanted to chicken out. I got cold feet when it was time to come. I badly wanted to come but I couldn’t take the first step”
Anna: “Why did you change your mind then?”
Me: “I didn’t, you changed it for me. Your call crushed every doubt I had about this”
Anna: “So if I didn’t call, you would have left me here. Good, I would have finally succeeded in murdering someone”
Me: “Haha, I would have totally deserved it. And seeing you here made me realise how much I would have missed if I didn’t come”
Anna: “You and words, you can even sweet-talk a judge to commute your death sentence”
Me: “That’s only if you’re alive. I’d do anything to stay alive too”
Anna: “God knows I didn’t expect you to be this sweet. But as always with you, the bitter ones always come in the end”
Me: “Haha, you see? It’s like you enjoy triggering that side of me even when am genuinely being sweet”
Anna: “Yeah, you’re probably right but honestly, I miss this. It feels like the first time, even though that one was brief”
Me: “Yes, but we have an opportunity to rewrite that. We can erase that short memory with a longer and more beautiful one tonight”
Anna: “Hmm, what have you been reading? Pride and Prejudice?”
Me: “Haha, nope. I don’t even know what that is but who needs to read any romantic book when you’re looking at romance in human form?”
Anna: “Haha, that actually sounds awkwardly nice”
Me: “Oh yes. So what are we doing?”
Anna: “Well, apart from our plans to watch the sunset together, I would rather we let things happen naturally without planning. It seems more fun that way”
Me: “I agree, so let’s watch the sunset and get that out of the way, shall we?”
Anna: “Yes sir. How close do you want us to be?”
Me: “We’re doing it together, so let’s get close enough”

The beach was already getting quieter, the waves were louder; the breeze was colder and the sun slowly surrendering into darkness.

Anna and I sat, with our sides attached like fingers of banana on a hand.

She makes sense to me, even though I cannot explain for anyone to see the sense in her.

But Klaus Mikaelson is right: it is not a crime to love what you cannot explain.

I don’t know what was going through her mind but if we share the same thoughts, at this very moment, then this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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