One of the remarkable ironies of life is that we see other people’s problems more than we see ours. Life is short and problems don’t disappear. If we paddle our canoes hard enough, maybe we will still be rowing when the storm is over. Life is just too unpredictable
NO LOVE LOST
By Adeola Aderounmu
Lucy lives in Zambezi, until now anyway. This is where she has known all of her life. She was born here and this is where she blooms. She is a very beautiful woman. Some people spoke about her and said maybe she is a goddess. There was an artist in the town and he was convinced the gods took their time to mould her. He meant to say that Lucy was made with perfection.
Ever since she was a little girl there has always been an admiration for her beauty and her personality. People generally agree with Lucy. In her neighbourhood almost everybody she met respected her.
When she left home for the City College at Mongu, she already knew that respect and admiration were not going to be substitutes for love. We all need someone or some people to love us. So when Lucy left college the emptiness in her life began to manifest. Still she continued to pull through with the admiration and respect that folks have towards her. When she is alone she often asks herself: who will satisfy my soul? Respect is a wonderful quality but it is not love. Even admiration is not love.
Now a working class lady, Lucy almost gave up on love. It was not hard to find a job when she graduated from Zambezi University. She is a brilliant woman and with her kind of beauty, she can open any door. But when it comes to love and satisfaction for her soul, she seemed to be lost. No one knew this but her. She knew that she is not perfect like the artist had insinuated.
One day she was waiting at the bus station. Quite unpredictably the sky turned cloudy that morning and it started to rain heavily. As it rained, Lucy started to cry. The buses were not coming because of the heavy rain. But she was not crying because of the rain or the buses that were not coming. It turned out that the weather gave her a picture of her life. She thought that her life was cloudy inside. She was alone at the bus station, and then she cried even more.
This is not the first time Lucy cried. She has read a lot of novels and she had known about the travails of many characters in tragic literatures and even in some romantic books. She learnt to cry when she is sad because tears wash away sorrows, so she thought. Once she read a book where it was stated that the men who committed suicide are often those who refused to cry because they did not give in to their feelings and pains. When people cry, they feel refreshed and often that gives them the hope that they can carry on.
Lucy was so carried away in her thoughts she almost did not notice the car that had parked right in front of her at the station. Someone had stopped to her help get to work that morning. The man did not know that Lucy had been crying. He thought it had rained over her face. In addition it was too dark to make clear observations. The man recognised Lucy though and that was why he stopped to help her.
That weekend Lucy saw the man again as she took a walk down the street. Thank you Paul, you are kind, she said. It was nothing he replied. But on this occasion Paul noticed something unusual about Lucy. Are you alright he asked? Then Lucy looked at him and started to cry again.
Paul gave her a tissue and she wiped her tears. But Paul was shocked. Until that moment he was one of those who thought that Lucy could have anything she wished for in her life. Lucy did not speak about all of her emptiness but Paul knew from the short conversation they had that the vacuum in her life is enormous.
Paul was almost thinking out loud. So people can be beautiful, they can have good jobs, they may be admired, well respected and still be sad. Indeed many people often ignore the roles of physical beauty and clothes in covering the darkness and emptiness inside the human body.
In Zambezi there is a man who cannot finish his expressions without the use of proverbs. Paul thought about the day the man had a conversation with him. He remembered one of his sentences: lizards are always lying on their bellies, so we don’t know which among them have stomach problems.
He gave Lucy a hug and they parted ways.
Over several months that followed, Paul was visiting Lucy. There was no attraction between them because Paul had a woman in his life. But with his company, Lucy felt better. They talked about many things, some memories of growing up and now working in this commercial town where the fourth largest river in Africa took its origin.
Lucy also met new friends through Paul. These after-work and weekend companions helped Lucy to forget some of her problems. They filled some gaps in her life. Some of the people who admire her are no longer at a distance.
When she remembered how an unexpected rain facilitated her meeting with Paul, she cherished the moment. Then she decided to buy a car so that she does not have to be at the mercy of another man from the town on another rainy day. She already knew how to drive.
Lucy is happy. She felt she had leaped out of a shell. It was definitely a step in the right direction when people not only admire her but showed her some love through conversations and doing things together. Some people she spoke to talked about their travels and adventures.
Lucy became inspired and she decided that she will also take to travelling. She had always had the opportunities to travel but she never took them. She felt that it was a lot of hassles but now that she had listened to the stories about Paris, Berlin, London and Stockholm, she got motivated.
However she promised herself that she will not travel far. She learnt in geography about the different places and seasons in Africa. I will see my world in Africa before I see the rest of the world she told herself. In her mind she also made a decision to find love and never to let it go.
Lucy spent some of her weekends in Harare and sometimes she is off to Johannesburg. She also travelled to Accra because of the gold at the coast in Ghana. Once she was covering her hair in Cairo. Now she has a handful of pictures, maps and souvenirs from the West, East, North and South of Africa in her study at home.
One day, Paul left a note for Lucy. He wanted to see her again. Lucy did not understand. She just came back from Cape Town where she went on holidays. Zambezi had been warm and she wanted some experience of winter from the bottom of Africa. Lucy is a woman in search of balance and fulfilment. She came home to Zambezi and found the note in her letter box.
Paul’s relationship with his long-time girlfriend had fallen apart. They did not get along as they had dreamt. They had a few problems and they both agreed on one thing only: to end the relationship. It was a sad occurrence but they both felt it was better to do it now rather than trying to make it work at all cost. They have no children yet. He is now 32 and she is 28, so they still have their lives ahead of them.
Sometimes things are not always what they seem. We all make mistakes and our passions can mislead us. One of the remarkable ironies of life is that we see other people’s problems more than we see ours. If people stop pretending, maybe they wouldn’t have to run away from their problems. Life is short and problems don’t disappear. If we paddle our canoes hard enough, maybe we will still be rowing when the storm is over. Life is just too unpredictable.
Lucy met Paul at the coffee shop down the street. She was sorry to hear Paul’s sad story. Paul’s heart was obviously broken. But he cannot blame it on Lucy. Lucy did all she could not to be a distraction. They are close friends, true. Still there was neither attraction nor intimacy between them. Lucy was missing something in her life but her head was clear about what she wanted and desired.
In her mind, she knew that Paul is confused. He has just broken up with someone he had spent a substantial part of his life with. Lucy is quick to draw inspirations from books, stories and her own life. So she said, give it sometime maybe you will find someone new. Your heart will heal and you will go on with your life.
She continued: When I went to Johannesburg in February, I met Vincent. I like him a lot. He adores me. He respects me, but above all he loves me and I love him too. We spent the last two weeks together in Cape Town and he’s planning to find a job in Harare. Apparently 7 months after their first meeting Lucy and Vincent have concluded plans to move to Harare as expatriates.
Paul is not a novice. He too had always known that people must learn to pass through their own troubles, their travails. They must learn to conquer their fears. They may need some time and a little help but they must learn.
The best way to learn is through real experiences.
Goodbye Paul. I must go now. Take care of yourself and we’ll see sometime.
Paul was close to tears but Lucy showed no emotion whatsoever.
She gave him a tight hug and left.
(c) Adeola Aderounmu 2014