All year I have been trying to decipher the nature of love. To answer the question, even if only to myself: what is love? Real love, true love? With the year at the end, I find, like in some movie denouement, that I do have an answer to my question of the year.
I don’t know want love is, and at no better time than in the month when temporarily, there are few taxis on the street, and office phones go on ringing for-ever after five because everyone has already shut their office doors behind them, hurrying to the people who really matter in the end. To love.
Love, when you are no longer 12, is not just about the person who shares your bed, although when you are 12, it is more a thought that there is a person than one actually being in your bed. Love is that person and more.
Love is family and more. Love is the parents you never could look straight in the eye because you always knew before this night you were never going to listen to them even as you promised otherwise.
Love is the look in your mother’s eye, as she brusquely demands you take one more helping of the mushroom soup even if you insist that you have had enough, the heaped ladle already hovering over your plate, imploring you not to say no.
Love is the grey-haired father with the receding hairline who, though puzzled by your career choice, still saves up newspaper clippings advertising vacancies of your chosen career even if you asked him four years ago not to bother any more.
In your mind’s eye able to see him in the dark reading by candlelight all the many nights when you have not come to visit; reading to be able to save those clips for you, and you will never know how much you value those clippings until the morning when you come to visit and you are told you will never get anymore from his trembling fingers because he passed on the night before with a smile on his lips, like he used to tell you his own father died.
Love is the quick-tempered brother who many times has declared for all to here that you will never amount to any good and he has washed his hands off you.
No one knowing that as another bleak morning spreads over Kigali and only the unhappy are awake and you’re squatting without a shirt in a police station, he is the one person who will be there, pleading on your behalf that you’re still a child and you will learn and are going to change.
His hands trembling on the wheel as he drives you home, terrified scenarios of how much worse all this could have ended playing like a dark theater movie in his mind.
Love is the sister who answers your phone to speak to all the weeping girls who call all hours because you gave them her number after you were through with them. Never telling them that you are out with another girl already, explaining you to them, until years from now they will always believe you were the one good man who ever loved them.
Sometimes, she believing her own lies about you because she can never tell anyone that she was the one who used to say up all night and open the gate for you t let you in the house so that you would not have another bitter fight with your parents that threatened to wreck an already wretchedly unhappy family whose hopes now hinged on you being the only success this family would ever know.
Love is the girl who opens the door to you; after four months away, without a question, lets you back into find your morning work shirt and trousers pressed with coffee without sugar on the table the next morning.
But above all, love is with 30 years of hell raising and your broken heart hidden somewhere where no lights gets, deciding after all this o love another human being enough to bring a fresh life in to this world.
Love is the look on your face and its face, on the night of birth, before the world comes in.