“I’ll never forget the magic of our Saturday nights. Special moments carved in my mind by you the sculptor of my love. Let’s dance the night away. Who needs music, when your heart already sings to me.” ~ Fidelis O Mkparu (2016), author of ‘Love’s Affliction’
“There was no moon to influence the night. Just you, your beauty, and your wondrous smile. We sat for two hours. Kisses and nibbles. Laughing and fondling. Falling for each other endlessly. We woke to embrace, and arouse. Fanning the fire we started. Losing every sense of time, and embracing candor. Whispers and moaning.” ~Fidelis O Mkparu, (2016) author of ‘Love’s Affliction’
“We sailed at dawn. Moonless night. Dark clouds hovered in the horizon. Howling wind, and choppy water. Our boat rocked from side to side. Dancing for the water god. A jitterbug. We approached the deck with trepidation until warm sloppy kisses lit our fire. Our bodies twisted together as if malleable. Parts finding its natural receptacles. I’ll dance for no god tonight. Only your love can make my heart sway.” ~Fidelis O Mkparu (2016), author of ‘Love’s Affliction’
“Sitting in the outdoor cafe, the sun finally set. The clouds grew darker. We ignored the rumbling of the night sky, and the parallel bar gymnastics of the lightning. Flashes of light in all directions. My heart began its own flip flops. An emotional gymnast. Even the rain could not put out my fire, as I watched your eyes undress me.” ~ Fidelis O Mkparu (2016), author of ‘Love’s Affliction’
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.
“My dear friend, so sweet and distant,
Take farewell from all my heart,
As takes a wid in a somber instant,
As takes a friend before a prison
Will split those dear friends apart.” –Aleksandr Pushkin, ‘Farewell’
There were four of us. Close friends by the standards of the time and our youth. We were first cousins. It was the 1960’s Nigeria and the Biafra war brought us together. We were youthful, but not youths. We were mere children, from three different sets of parents, but our bonds were as strong as the strings that held our shared genes together. “War children,” they called us. The most ebullient one was Dorothy. Yes, my dearest cousin Dorothy. I remember the worst day in 1967 with violent torrential rain. Dark clouds, lightning, and thunder. Howling winds that bent and broke tall trees. As the wind grew more forceful, I heard a loud noise. It sounded as if my house split open. Fear gripped me. My hands trembled as I pulled the window curtains apart, and from a short distance I saw the big Iroko tree split in half. The mighty West African Iroko tree, Chlorophora excelsa, reduced to splinters. I wondered if my house would be next. My trembling hands closed the curtains as if it would prevent the wind from doing any damage to my house.
A loud knock on my front door. My body trembled in fear.
“Open the door. It’s me, Dorothy.”
“What’s going on out there?” My father asked from his study.
“Nothing Dad, just Dorothy.”
My trembling hand struggled with the door latch. Dorothy, soaking wet, hugged me as soon as there was enough opening to let her small body inside my house. Tears rolled down her eyes as she held me tight.
“I heard the loud noise. Thought it came from here. Have to make sure you’re OK,” Dorothy said.
“Let go of me you scared little girl,” I said. She ignored me and held on tighter. I smiled.
“I’m staying with you until the rain stops,” she said as she let go of me. She walked into my room. I followed her. Unfolded shirts and shorts littered my bed. Dorothy knelt down and pulled out a suitcase from under my bed. She selected a pair of shorts and a shirt. Yes, she knew her way around my room.
“Leave my Knicker alone Dorothy,” I shouted. She smiled and changed her wet clothes. She wore my boy’s Knicker and a white shirt. Undaunted. As she was about to leave my room, she turned around and snickered. I sighed. She walked over to my father’s den. I jumped on my bed before I heard my father laugh. I jumped down from my bed and ran to the kitchen to tell my side of the story to my mother before she heard it from my father.
When the Biafra war ended in 1970, Dorothy and I moved away from each other. In 1973 I left home to attend a boarding school. We barely saw each other. I never saw Dorothy again after I moved to the US about forty years ago.
Dorothy died recently. One week before her death, she went to my father’s house looking for me. A partially deserted enclave because of the death of my parents. She sat outside the gate and sobbed. “My cousin would have rescued me if he had known,” Dorothy told our neighbors. They were worried about her mental state but did not let me know. It was only after she died that they spoke out. I was told that her husband physically and mentally abused her for three decades.
Even the strongest among us can be physically and mentally broken. Know when to ask for help. Don’t protect spousal abusers. Expose them and seek help immediately.
Farewell Dorothy. Only distance separated us, and nothing more. You are etched in my memory, and my love for you is eternal. I am sorry I was not there for you when you needed me the most.
Written by Fidelis O Mkparu, author of ‘Love’s Affliction’ (March 27, 2016) as a tribute to his first cousin Dorothy (2)
My dearest Augustine:
I was at Papa’s house recently and it did not feel like the place I used to call home. My barefoot on the steps of the verandah did not give me the joy I used to have when we were kids. Unfortunately, it brought tears to my eyes. Desolation is a bitch, and I know her so well. God knows, I miss the fake fight we used to have by the cashew tree in front of the house. The poor tree is now gone. Even the progeny of the beautiful guava tree that ‘stooped’ by Mom’s garden is gone too. Alas, it is only me that is left to tend to Papa’s country house. Reality has been cruel to me, and hard to accept. It has been three years since your death, and I’m still acutely aware that there is no one left to call my brother.