By Tashinga Wazara, Zimbabwe:
I've never been in this place before. It's new, unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and scary. I used to pride myself in the fact that I had spent my whole life, by now over a quarter of a century, never having been in this place and I had good reason too. I had seen too many of my friends go to this place and fall victim to its seductive advances which often left the men emasculated and the women incapacitated, unable to do anything outside of its power. 'Love' they called it and I made it a point to stay well clear of it. As far as I was concerned, love made you weak. It was putting your heart into the hands of a fallible human being who could put a knife through it at any moment and expecting them not to. It just didn't make sense. My convictions were strengthened by the fact that everyone I knew who had 'fallen in love' at some point had had a knife unexpectedly stuck through their heart and so for me that was enough, love wasn't worth it.
As I mentioned earlier, I spent the best part of a quarter of a century denying love the pleasure of breaking my heart and it was paying off: no rejection issues, no heartbreak, nothing. My life was perfect….until I met you. You were the girl that came into my life like a storm, completely turning my life upside down and destroying everything in sight. When I first met you I was instantly drawn. You were breathtaking, the way you carried yourself, the way the sides of your lips creased when you smiled and the way your eyes literally spoke to me in a language that only my heart could understand. You made me feel things in my heart that were so intense I could barely contain them. I had always been good around women but with you I felt completely clueless. So I tried to stay away but the more I tried to avoid you, the more you were constantly on my mind and it made me go crazy. Eventually it all got too much for me and I called you and asked you out for coffee and although I was still a bit hesitant, that was the beginning of some of the best days of my life. You were larger than life and we had a lot of fun together. Being with you was easy, it felt so natural. It was like being with myself, except that you were a lot prettier. As the time went by, my feelings for you grew rapidly. For the first time in my life, I was ready to put my heart into someone's hands and I didn't care if they stabbed it. My feelings for you were too strong, too real. If you ended up stabbing my heart then so be it. I didn't care. I was willing to take the risk.
I remember the day I decided to tell you how I felt about you. I'll never forget it for as long as I live. I had wanted it to be special so I took you out for a picnic. You always loved picnics. We would go for a picnic at least once a month and usually we'd go buy the food and stuff together but this time I did everything myself. I wanted it to be special so I put together a 3 course meal. The starter was your favourite: cheese and olives. For the main course I got my grandmother to make her special pot roast and dessert was chocolate mousse and ice-cream. It was perfect. I'll never forget how beautiful and serene you looked. It was one of those days that you wish could last forever. I remember holding your hand and looking you in the eye and saying, 'Sibongile, I really like you and I want us to take our friendship to the next level. I want you to be my girlfriend.' As I said that I could see your eyes welling up then and a few moments later you burst into tears and I couldn't understand if they were tears of joy or that you were upset. I was so confused. I didn't know what to do. After some time you looked at me through your tears and said, 'I want to be with you but I can't.' when I asked you why you just carried on crying and I kept asking you then you finally stuttered, 'I, I, I've got……cancer'. I felt a cold chill go down my spine and I got dizzy as I tried to process what you had just said. All I kept thinking was, 'What?! This can't be! No! Not Sibongile, anyone else, just not her. What am I supposed to do now?'I felt so much pain and I could see it was the same for you and when I was encouraging you and telling you that everything was going to be ok, it was more for me than for you.
It has been a week now since that picnic and I can't eat, I can't sleep, I can't do anything. I've gone through all the emotions: I've been sad, I've been angry, I've cried, I've prayed; but there's still this constant pain in my chest that won't go away. I'm a mess. I keep wishing it was all a bad dream or that you'll come up to me one day and say it was just a joke. I feel like I'm in a nightmare that just won't end. I know you want us to take a step back and just be friends but I don't want us to do that. I know I might never understand what you're going through but I want to be there for you even if it's just to listen. When it gets difficult I want to be there by your side holding your hand. The fact that you might not have long to live isn't a reason for us to be apart. It is reason for us to spend every waking moment we can with each other and go for more picnics, go watch movies and spend whatever precious time we have left in each other's arms. I love you and I want you to know that I'm with you till the end. Allow me to be your crutch. Let me be there for you, don't walk away from me, from us. You have cancer, that's your disease but I've got my own disease too which doesn't have a cure, and that's my love for you. Let's do this, together.
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