I cannot begin to count the number of times I started writing this story in my head, a good few times in the shower and a countless number of times as the months went by. The image is still etched in my memory like a beautiful painting that I walk by every day.
Only in reality there isn’t a painting, and the memory is one I have imagined purely by observing what seemed to me like young un-scarred lovers on a ferry. Virgin like in their appearance, yet so sensually intoxicated with each other.
It was not a world class ferry in Dar-es-Salaam, and far from the fancy I have accustomed myself to, at most it cost about R10 on conversion for a ticket to get on, alongside some livestock, cars, tuk tuks and what seemed like way too many people. I recall my colleague’s amusement at my expression when I first got on, thinking she’s not going to last 5 seconds here, and to his surprise, it was the contrary really. I quickly fell in line as the masses merged onto the ferry and I settled across the young couple.
The heat was smoldering and I could feel the sweat drip seductively from my neck down to my back. The warmth against my skin was almost addictive and overpowering like a man smothering me in an entanglement of seduction. The smell around us was close to unpleasant, and yet to the couple across me, all this seemed irrelevant. Soon the ferry departed and a cool breeze blew across us, suddenly the blistering heat and various body odours was forgotten as I watched the slow movement of the young couple.
They were no older than 25 or so. Their attire simple and their garments slightly over-sized seemed to flow into each other, as if they were dressed as one. They were both lean in weight and dark in complexion, his hair short with tight curls, while her hair flowed down her back with a scarf loosely over her head. I stared in awe and envy really, their love gestures seemed so pure, not plagued by material belongings, no expensive jewelry, fancy cars, or even new shoes, their clothes looked like it had been worn 100 times over, and their flimsy sandals seen many miles.
As we progressed across to a small island, she lay her head on his shoulder, her eyes tired and happy at the same time. Her head gently comforted by his right arm across her shoulders and his left hand gently caressing her hands in his, more of a clasp over her slender fingers. It was evident that his gentle hold allowed her to feel protected and safe, while I continued to stare (not that either of them noticed, their focus and energy was between each other only). She slowly drifted into a light sleep, her eyes giving into the tiredness while she found safely in the arms of her lover.
My heart rushed at this point, tears almost whelmed up, my gut filled with pain, and a longing for such a love, a love seemingly free from the burden of the concrete jungle and corporate ladders. I stood there, just watching as she drifted asleep on his shoulder, I turned away and looked towards the approaching shores. I remember the moment as if it was yesterday. I wondered about their lives, if they fought, if she ever worried that he might stray, if he curses at her when she scolds him for coming home late, and in that moment, I realised none of that really mattered, it was clear that their love was not tainted by modern living insecurities.
The lingering thought and questions constantly move through me.
We measure people by their material assets and not the size of their heart and unconditional love for us. How many of us can lay our heads on our partner’s shoulders and not think twice about closing our eyes? Laying ourselves with all our vulnerabilities, and knowing fearlessly that we are protected even in our weakest moments? Speaking to many friends, not many can, trust has been tarnished by lies and deceit, previous historical scars for many have become so deep that love is more about a return on investment, or what’s in it for me opposed to a selfless love, no expectations love … In writing this I hope that we each take the time to evaluate where we are with love, the ones close to us and how we claim to love them. Stripped naked of all their worldly processions, would we still feel the same about them? I wonder #lifeisforliving #onelife#liveit!