When my friend’s mother lost her man, she said something that bothered me at that time. I have not just lost a beloved husband, “she said in tears.” I did not understand what she meant then, but now I do, and I salute her for it.
Love and friendship are the most ill understand words or concepts, especially when applied between opposite sexes.
Joshua and his girlfriend Rose a boy and a girl that featured prominently in one English language books they had studied for O’level, demystified the word for most Lycee alumni.
To many Rwandans, the word is still inseparable from love and sex. Nobody seems to understand that a boy and a girl can be extremely good friends….just… (In Rwanda speak) without the sex motif.
Many so called lovers are not friends at all. Why else do you think (modern) marriages break up so often, or couples murder each other? Why do you think they seek company out of wedlock?
They are crying out for friendship.
Friends, on the other hand, make perfect lovers. The couples you see, who stay together for decades without any extrametrical scandals, are based on friendship. Whereas love tends to culminate in sex, friendship need not.
There is, off course, ‘love with VAT’, obtainable from any street corner. This counts for naught, as it is just sex for sale.
Neither love nor friendship is involved; only the size of your wallet. In my long life, I have made heaps of girlfriends, but only a couple of lovers, one of whom is dead.
While I no longer have the two lovers, my girlfriends remain, to this day. The most remarkable of my girlfriends is Clarisse who is a student in one of Rwanda’s universities. Clarisse and I met when I had finished campus in KIST.
She was so nice looking and I worked as a volunteer in an NGO for about a year. She used to be dragged along by peer pressure from other students, who were engaged in some wild orgy of drink, cigarettes and probably sex.
I was in a retreat, trying to write my second book….’Sons of Dread’. She was a teenager, while I was pushing mid-20s, but we had one thing in common, we were solitary; not in the drinking, grass-smoking, dancing and forni-actually-cating group. We did not belong. It must have been my frantic writing and tearing up of papers –and hair-that attracted her attention.
“Hullo!”A voice said, it was so nice to hear that word, having been fed up to here with ‘hi!’And ‘seen!’ “Oh, hullo!”I said, delighted at seeing a sane sober face.
“Join you?” She asked, and promptly sat down next to me without waiting for a reply. We hit it off straight away! It wasn’t love, so I dot even remember exactly what we said to each other.
This was direct contact between two lonely souls. We both needed a friend. She got excited about my novel. We discovered a few things we both liked it wasn’t long before we abandoned the frenzied group, and drove back to Kacyiru my home base.
We got home when it was pouring .at the gate, my car slid in to a ditch. We abandoned it and were thoroughly drenched, we made ham sandwiches and coffee, stripped and put the clothes in the washing machine did not any dresses, so she made me do with one of my t-shirts and jeans. Both were very tight fits, but her curves never bothered me.
We listened on my flashy quad-sys, played backgammon and, when we were spent slumped on the sofa and slept the night away.
We never thought of the comfort of my empty double bed, or the survival course tip of the shared bodily heat. Morning started with problems, in the night, some rascals vandalized my car.
The washing machine, too, blew a fuse and jammed mid-cycle. Clarisse had no clothes, and I had no transport .i phoned her leader, gave him directions, and he came for her, I could tell from his sneer that he had a dirty suspicious mind, but didn’t blame him, Clarisse boobs and apple butt in my t-shirt and tight jeans were quite a sight to behold, now that I could view them critically.
Three weeks later, rattling at the gate woke me.i peeped through the window and beheld the most bedraggled Mzugu women had ever seen. What had happened to her?
I hurried down and carried a limping, crying, bruised girl. She had obliviously gone through a horrible ordeal; at the hands of fellow Peace Corps members because she shunned their wild ways’ nursed her for two weeks before they came for her.
That breathing period drew us to close that we became each other’s only next of kin in our mother land. We did everything together, we flew small cessnas, hang-glided, and river rafted, drank red stripe beer, shared tents at beach camps, played skit-ties and worshiped in the local church.
We cut our fingers building and flying model aeroplanes, burnt food in the kitchen, hosed the car and each other, played reggae on kitchen pots and pans, worked on my novel…and went fishing in Bunyonyi in Uganda
We told each other our life stories, laughed a lot, called each other names-which later became our special endearments, fought often, made up, and started all over again.
We developed an idiom and vocabulary that were entirely ‘ours only’. By the time her tour of duty was over, our true friendship was phenomenal.
We next met in Uganda some years later, when she was a volunteer in some Ugandan NGO in, and I was in Kigali in an IT company .Almost every month, I would be in Uganda, or she would be in Kigali. One day we drunk some local brew called Tarama and passed in each other’s arms in a pub.
There we dreamed up a joint fantasy. Although now she left Rwanda we still hold on to our dream, which goes like this in old age, when everybody we knew has deserted us or died.
We shall retire to a tropical island. There we shall build two adjacent beach cottages.
In the evening, when we are resting our swollen, water-logged feet and are hard of hearing; we shall sit in our porches, watching the sunset, reminiscing over the past.
We will sip lemonade laced with rum, communicate with loud hailers and hearing aids, and invite each other over for a nightcap, But neither of us will have enough strength to walk the whole distance.
When it is time to bid each other goodnight, we’ll talk half canes on canes, embrace, and hug and, after so many years finally kiss.
Overwhelmed, we’ll swoon, fall down and, instead of what you expected, fall asleep. The tide will rise and fall all over us, but we’ll remain inextricably entwined. The end of the world will find us there on the beach.
The creator, at last finding the only two true friends that ever walked the earth, pathetic wet embrace on the sands of tropical beach, will smile and say, “let there be a new earth, starting with a new Adam and no….!what are your names again?”