My dear Samira,
I recused from writing on Saturdays because of the funny coincidences Saturday mornings started presenting to me. You figured out Saturdays as days for my fomenting, and you have targeted them with precision. Saturdays have become my bullet enigma of sociocultural disruptions, especially on Saturday mornings. So, now, this is like putting a gun to my head saying “your wallet or your life,” and, in fear, I gave my wallet. This wouldn’t make your act of armed robbery lawful or right. Obedience induced by fear or threat of harm does not lend authority or legality to an otherwise unlawful command. Pay attention. It is the same way when you are asked to choose between a career and marriage. This is an emotional inducement executed by society’s esteemed bullies.
My dear Samira, you may probably know that I don’t just write in a vacuum or out of a blue. If you recalled in the first letter I wrote to you, I placed myself in your shoes for at least a day to understand your daily rants. You will recall that I placed on record your laborious and demanding task of surfing between pages of fat books or juggling multiple pages of google Chrome on your computer for one piece of information for your research dissertation. I have further placed myself in your shoes for an hour to understand how things pan out daily in an ageing girl’s life.
Based on this that I write to you countless times in commemoration of our moments together in the field and off the field. I still wonder how you’ve never placed yourself in my shoe for at least one minute after reading my rusty notes. I have broken many years of standing principles in these letters. I can not understand the rollercoaster you have suddenly produced in a split second. Deep silence. I might not be quick to take counsel from others on matters of this nature but I am certainly going to take the counsel of our mutual friend who advised that “Never lose yourself trying to hold onto someone who doesn’t care about losing you.”
I don’t know how true that could be, but I have heard in the lyrics of a local musician in my hometown who sings and eulalate during festivals
You know I am not a fan of music. I am still not a fan. However, I just chance upon them when the need be. This has always been the case. They say music soothes the soul of a bitter person. You know I am not a bitter person. I have never been in my entire hasty life. I have always wanted the best for everyone, including you, Samira. The reason why I am assuring you that I have not changed my views about you is that I have not changed my views. That’s why I am leaving you in the hands of the legendary Michael Bolton’s mystic song “Lean on Me”
“Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain
we all have sorrow
But if we are wise,
we know that there’s
“Lean on me
When you’re not strong
I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long ’til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on
Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
“That you won’t let show
You just call on me,….when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on…..”
As Michael said, you can still lean on me. Because you taught me how to build gardens. And now, I know when to build gardens in the forest. I guessed you have already built yours, and I know where to build mine, too. You don’t build a garden on an immature forest unless you are as foolish as the mighty boa. Naively, a young me once built his in a young forest, thinking that they would grow together. Lalai! The forest grows faster, outgrow the garden, and leaves no traces of the garden. These are laws of operating inside nature. Those that the Good Lord bestowed wisdom early in life recognised and acted accordingly are better. But those bestowed wisdom late get the lessons to share. And I am in this category, the latter.
My dear Samira, in Ghanaian movies, we could have predicted the end from the beginning. This makes them movies and not reality. But this is not a movie or a theatre. Even if it qualifies as a theatre, I think the best title would’ve been Augusto Boal’s “Theatre of the Oppressed,” where the Oppressed Oppresses the Oppresser when given the chance. At the end of the theatre, all traces are erased. It was completely erased! No memory to carry along. Not even a drama. No traces. Only laughter! Of course, there are traces of us, and only I can remember. For you, the big eraser has fallen on everything, erasing all memories. Luck only gifted me the ones in these letters before the powerful wind of change blows them into the city of oblivion where nothingness is actually nothing. But my good friend would have said, “an empire of love.”
Well! I have long argued the assertion of true love. I believe it never existed, does not exist, and will never exist. However, the twisted irony is that we can know true love only if we’ve felt true loss. This is the case now. Even Zygmunt Bauman, who at best can be qualified as Minister of Love and at worst a writter of love stories, agrees with me on this. How would I have known this if you were still lurking around, pampering me with morning “hellos” and evening “goodbyes” with emojis filled with uncountable cupids or the sulking walks around the North Legon streets or even seated sideways in the KFCs? I only began to feel your absence when you were no longer there. I have sparingly gone close to the road leading to KFC, especially the Haatso branch, even though my favourite ice cream is now on the menu.
Sometimes, I began asking the walls around me; “Why can’t I live my life again?”, “Why couldn’t I have a meaningful chat outside work?”, “Why has KFC suddenly become a nemesis?” One of the walls suddenly pokes my ear, revealing my worst fear. I have often thought I carried my sense of affection with me everywhere I go, giving to who I want and taking back when I so desire. But this is different. I realised you occupied an authorised space without permission even in your absence. This, I started asking questions, “Could this be love?” And if so, “What is true love?” I even asked the mirror at one time, “What is love?” The same answer kept repeating itself. Everything became obvious. This is how it feels and smells like. Then, I shouted, wow!
Now, I know what it means to love someone. I understand how it feels. I am sorry for all the people that I ignored. All the affection I stepped on. The many egos I bruised. Can you help me apologise to the many young girls from my primary school days to the young ladies at my university days and even the mature ladies at the present? The message is sumple. Tell them I did that because of you. I know it has always been you even before I met. The clouds promised to tell our story yesteryears when I didn’t know of your existence. The building that brought us together was not even conceived. Now, here we are full of promise. And if you ever decide to leave…… I don’t know if this child within my heart can ever rise to this occasion again. That, I doubt. It has been insane. It took a long time to manifest. Yet it has finally come out of its shell. It has risen to my surprise. This is life.
Now life. What about life? The interesting thing about life is that while we can’t undo what is done, we can see it, understand it, learn from it, and change. I am uncertain of so many things in this life and in this world. I am uncertain of the getting up spirit; I am certain of losing a friend and friendship. Yet I am not certain of the consequences of ever losing you. The one thing I most dreaded–losing a good friend or friendship. The memories in our photo album, snippets of tomorrow’s paintings, and the dreams carved on the indelible planks of where it all began. An ugly end to a beautiful start. The memories will forever hang in the air we breathed, mixed in the water we drank and the food we ate.
I can still remember tomorrow. Our tomorrow. The tomorrow of joys, laughter, walking hand in hand along the streets of Paris, Amsterdam, London and above all, to your most cherished Madrid. I still remember the difficulty you have in choosing between Madrid, which hosts Real Madrid FC, the club you supported so dearly, and Barcelona, the home of FC Barcelona, my Spanish version of Manchester City FC, the home rival of Manchester United FC, the club you flirt with in English Premier League. The haggling, arguing, and consensus building on our scholarly works, cutting across politics, sociology, philosophy, economics, and technology. I can still remember a tomorrow pregnant with our colourful story beyond these busy streets of Accra.
Maybe I am fantasising now. Such a bad habit embroidered in the famous fantasy league where players are “fantasycally” raised, transferred, and played for clubs they may never dream of playing in real life. But what’s wrong with fantasising? Al Nassr in the Saudi Arabian League has signed Cristiano Ronaldo to play for them. What’s the big deal? The big deal is, you have reduced our once thriving dreams, hopes, and aspirations carefully planned on the summer benches, secret corners of Bani halls through the beautiful balcony of Volta Hall, to the lonely roads of North Legon into a dreaded fantasy. Before, we realised they are heading to the cemetery. If they ever get to the cemetery, we might have bypassed the famous relationship of Simeone de Bevoire and Jean Paul Satre.
My dear Samira, you know I am not good in the language of healing. But this is the language love speaks about itself. I am not even a step closer. Thus, if you are kind enough to ever ask the Gracious Good Lord HIMSELF, you would’ve known the truth. I can only pretend, for conversation’s sake. I have this power. I know how to do it well. Nonetheless, to face you with the reality concealed and directed at your naked and defenceless brain in the volumes of writings and speeches is not my thing. As this pricks your flesh, so may remembrance prick your conscience should you at any time be tempted to betray the trust we are now about to place in your pineal gland.
I could remember the voice, the words, the funnily churned-out words of a friend of mine, vehemently opposing my involvement in you becoming a blinkard in a land far away from ours. He was of the view that I was dishing you to another unconsciously. The hungry vultures hovering around the thick forest of Nottingham in search of their prey. I pray you aren’t their prey. Yet could he be right? Could he ever be right? Shouldn’t I have done so? Well! I did everything in good faith, for progress, for the future, and not to lock you down for selfish interest. I knew it was best for you. It has been something you ever wanted. A shared dream. It is still the best decision ever I have taken. I still pride in it.
I know at the end of the day, we will all rally around Claude Grunitzky’s feelings of real native sons like myself and daughters of Africa like you who will write African stories and bring a fresh lens to how young Africans are reinventing themselves, liberating ourselves from ourselves. The unfortunate thing is the lingering memory. The unconscious torment of losing the last true friend and by far the best friend that was and will ever be. I make good friends but I rarely make best friends. Likewise, I hardly ever realised love could knock one down on a sloping road when there seemed to be no obstacle. In your absence, I started experimenting with psychedelics, which led me to something hotter than the possibility of spirituality without religion.
My dear Samira, it’s still not outside our wheelhouse. You know I still talk about you with pride. Always on your “haves” but never the “have-nots.” Now, things are receding, as I begin to realize the “have-nots” too, to be content with your silence. When life is a perfect carnival of contentment, like mine is, there’s nothing to add. Am I just ten out of ten? A perfect score? And you know what that means. To some, “growing” means having a lot wealth to show. To others, it means seeing grey hair all over. No matter the case, don’t forget that it significantly also means accepting that you’ve reached a stage where your words must become fewer and your acts of listening and observing be more.
I know you may not know or hear or see; now you know, heard and seen. I can sleep now on a Saturday night, feeling fulfilled and relieved.
Al Latif Kambo-Naa