Love is a journey to oneness


A group of young students surrounded me. The author of ‘Love’s Affliction.’ The man with all the answers about love, as they probably believed. Amazed at their exuberance, I reflected and smiled. Maybe from a change in my demeanor, some of them came closer to me as if I was about to share a revelation. A wisdom of age and experience. When I smiled more, they said, “tell us about love. Your inspiration for your book.” I sighed. They waited, anxiously.
How I explained love to the students was as succinct as possible for me. A mini treatise. Avoiding verbosity, my inclination, I proceeded to tell them my opinion about love. It is not how many times we say, “I love you,” or how many cards we send to each other that matter. Several events came to my mind as I looked at them. The eager students surrounding me. I remembered love in so many ways; sharing one winter coat at a bus-stop on a cold December evening. Holding each other tight to create oneness that made a coat adequate for two people. As they smiled and laughed, I remembered another story that I could not share with them; sharing a kiss and saliva when one of us is sick with a flu, and staying awake to ‘guard’ the recovery. I could not share that story with them for health reasons, but I told them that I know love when I see it. It is not what I hear about love that matters, but what one does for love.
Summarizing for them, I stated that true love is what we feel, and not what we hear about the immensity of it. As I was walking away, I told them not to shed ‘Tears before Exaltation’, but rather, to discover the secret of perpetual happiness. Everyone laughed.

Fidelis O Mkparu, author of ‘Love’s Affliction’ and soon to be published ‘Tears before Exaltation’

Books

Sentimental Goodbye


I remember when we were kids; secret pacts with our pinkies intertwined. “We’ll be friends forever. No, brother and sister.” We sealed our pact with a trip to the candy store. I bought for you, and you held my hand. Two innocent kids having fun. You clung to me. Exaggerated swinging hands, and skip walk, until we reached your house. A story building across from my primary school, where your mother was my teacher. From afar, I could see your parents watching us, leaning on the ornamental rail on their balcony. My third trip escorting you home that evening. A frown on your father’s face was not menacing enough for me to overlook your mother’s exuberance. It was overtly evident with her smile. Candid expressions, as they watched our summer evening ritual.

“They’re back!” your mom said. Sheer enthusiasm. In the backdrop, I heard her whisper to your father, “I wish he was our son.” I smiled. It felt good to be wanted by your parents. An option for me, in case my parents waved their rights. I knew it could never happen, but it felt good. Conceit.

When I decided to go home, you sobbed. Tears, and a look of disappointment in your eyes. “I want to live with you,” you said. You were eight. An innocent proposal. I smiled. “I’ll ask my mom,” you added.

“I’ll be back in the morning,” I said. You hugged me, and held on. Toffee breath wisped through my face. Your penchant to blow your breath on my face whenever we hugged. My spoiled little sister.

Now, years have passed, and you may have forgotten our final pact in July of 1977. At six pm, the church bell rang. We stood at the entrance to the sacristy. Only one of us could go in. It was my last time at the altar. The letter from the Dominican seminary fell from my hand. You picked it up, and read it against my will. My pastoral wish granted, but medical school had flirted with me when I was vulnerable. I saw myself in a different white robe. Not for Sunday mass, but for a daily healing. I acquiesced.

When I entered the sacristy, you chose the side door to the front pew. I watched you as the single pew by the altar welcomed my knees. My head bowed in total submission to God. I asked for forgiveness with my eyes closed. It was the end of my Dominican priesthood fantasy, and my last day with you. You were there, my little sister, to support my final decision.

When we emerged from the church, you left me standing by the door. No hugs, or intertwined fingers. From a distance, you said, “don’t let any girl break your heart, and please, come home in one piece, someday.” I watched you disappear as the setting sun blinded me.

 

Fidelis O Mkparu, July 17, 2016.

Biographical