I met a boy.
If Ma thought that this is what love should taste like she had never really tasted it. Because long after the first taste has stopped lingering on the tongue and only the memory of the last sip is swinging pendulum-like in your mind, only then, do you realise that it was not what Ma said it would be.
I do not wish to dishonour her memory. She was a great woman- our mother. She knew many things about life because life had revealed itself in the most unkind way from the moment she was born. Naked and loud she had laid her new born head on the bosom of a woman who would reject her. Remember Sol, that the umbilical cord between the two women did not hold them together very long. When Ma’s mouth opened in search for her mother’s breast — Her mother had packed her bags and her breasts and left her at the hospital. I remind you of this so you remember that Ma had never known love and the love she taught us has not worked for me.
With her big breasts sagging under her nightgown and her heavy stomach sitting on her lap — with several rolls and folds of fat collapsing into each other — she recounted tales about the first time her eyes knew a boy and her heart knew him too. Like they had known each other for a while. And when they where both sixteen their bodies had danced and they had promised each other wells of love —wells that their too small bodies hadn’t the capacity to dig for. On that one night, Ma, sitting at her favourite spot on the veranda — said that love was sweet and it was happy. She said that you can’t have honey without the bees. You will have to deal with the bees. Like love is also going to sting.
I’m remembering her words when I’m writing this letter. I do not recall how her love at 16 was sweet. I recall only that it left her heavily pregnant with you and I. It vanished abroad and never wrote her letters when it found out she was pregnant.
I woke up this morning and my heart was in my throat. Sitting there like it was on its way out of my body — but my throat had become too small and intercepted it’s escape. I washed the turkey necks and put them on the stove to boil. They remind me of you, I know you love them. I sat on Ma’s favourite spot and I contemplated the thought of maybe vomiting this heart out.
I knew from the moment that I woke up that I wanted freedom. I was no longer free here. My heart is burdensome. It wants things that sting like bees. The honey has dried up but the heart doesn’t seem to understand. It doesn’t seem to see that all that’s left is stings and the bees have fallen to their death at my feet.
Sol, I have loved a boy. But all I have known in this love is stinging. He is just like Papa, good at hiding. He found the nectar between my thighs and he has not returned to me since. I hear he has many other lovers who he has also loved in his poetry.
The turkey necks burnt and when I woke up from my trance — I smelt the burning smell and heard the alarm and my body jolted up to run and rescue turkey necks I knew where burnt to ash. Dishcloth waving frantically back and forth to stop the alarm and tears streaming down my face, the heart came out. It moved from my throat and it turned into loud sobs.
I have had my chance at love. I have felt how it feels to be known by someone. To be seen. But I have also come to a burning point. This is where love has died for me. Ma said it was sweet and it would sting sometimes. All it does is sting now. I will die from these stings.
For the burnt turkey necks and smoke. For the dead bees. For the laughter that was once easy. For the time my eyes and my heart knew. For this moment of honesty — I no longer believe the love Ma and her too large breasts spoke about. Love just isn’t enough.
Do not awaken love before it is time Sol. Do not stir up the love of a young woman when you are not ready to love her when the rain has forgotten us and our stomachs are hungry with longing. It is not enough to only love, you must also be willing to stay. Remain even when the crops are withering. You must want to stay and hope for rain again.