“Love your curves and all your edges. All your perfect imperfections.”
You are dancing with her. Your wife, lover, in the most absurd setting. And this is not the first time, but it certainly will be the last. At least for this life of hers.
“You’re my end and my beginning. Even when I lose I’m winning”
The hospital room is colder than you remember. The tiled floor licks your sole as you gingerly place them on it at intervals. The smell of drugs is thicker. You’ve been here before. 1912? 1979? 1994? Time has stolen your memory. She is crying, her steppings are tremulous, her shaved head is rested on your shoulder. She sniffs. She sobs. She sobs.
“How many times do I have to tell you? Even when you’re crying you’re beautiful too.”
Touché, John legend. You think.
“It is not fair my prince.” She says, It is not fair.
“This moment is perfect.” You whisper; I’ll be waiting. Come back to take me and lead me far away.
She nods. Sobs. Sniffs. Then she convulses. She is shaking violently like turbulent waves. Blood is seeping out of her gritted teeth. She has bitten her tongue.
“Nurse! Nurse!!” Your screams border hysterics.
There is something about death and humanity that has intrigued you through time-an equally interesting phenomenon. We always fight. Even when we know it is inevitable. And death never resists our futile battles with it. It knows it will win, it needs only be patient. But what happens when we live to die and then live to die again? Do we win that way?
The nurses surge in like bees to the Queen Bee, all armed to the teeth with injections, defibrillator, a doctor, and about anything to resuscitate your hope. But you, and your lover know it’s all a facade. Your beloved will die.
You are weeping, because it doesn’t matter how many times you live this place, this moment, this transition still never gets better. Loss and time are accursed accomplices. One alleviates the other and the other accentuates one; a brutal cycle. This is not the first time she will die. You and her know it won’t be the last. The doctor holds two fingers to her neck, searching for a nonexistent pulse. You still look to him nonetheless, play the part of a hopeful partner. He shakes his head. Finality.
The birds that scoop your waters cry with their feathers like raining ethers.
The fishes that swim your body tweet their grief in hyper-sibilant hisses.
The death that touches your gaze breathes.Hear my plead.Bleed my
lover to me. Death, give me back my loss.For the gods lied
about their curse, its cause shouldn’t curse this cause.
It was here your love story began- in the lush settlement ensconced in a fertile jungle. Surrounded by the serenity and fetishism your nativity brought. Naive and harmless. You were teenagers inexperienced in the art of love. Taken only by its beauty, for when love is rationalized, its beauty dies, and it’s only adolescence that could love so recklessly. Your father was king, and she, a commoner. The perfect premise for a troubled love story. She was a virgin priestess, sewn to the hips of a river goddess. But love demands more than we have, it pushes, it forges, it perseveres: and so did your love. Your love was forbidden-and that in itself is sacred, it is the forbidden fruit every man wants to eat. You would lie together on a rainy day, in the shrine of this goddess, holding on to the affection you shared, and hope, hope that the goddess would see this love and leave you be. The day she gave you what she pledged to the goddess in the absence of the chief priest, you had both burned the embers of love. As you touched, the shrine burnt, before your eyes stood the river goddess herself, lightning in her eyes, angry, and betrayed. You and your lover had stood naked before her as she cursed. You begged. She cursed. You irked. And you challenged a goddess.
“Our love will never die!” You’d screamed, holding your lover protectively, daring the goddess with your stare.
“So be it”. The goddess replied, it will be your blessing, and your curse. Then she vanished in a whiff of celestial white and aqua.
The chief priest would subsequently burst in to catch you both naked.
This was the first time you’d both die. It’s been long, but you still remember the fear her eyes held-and yours mirrored-as you were both dragged through the village by circumcised horses. The taste of stones hurled at you by the villagers-even your father. The smell of burning flesh. The sight of sand. So much sand. She was buried alive while you watched; screaming, burning at the stake for your crime of unbridled love against the river goddess.
The curse of the goddess was for you both to get lost in love. Again and again you’d both meet through time, fall in love, only for one to die and leave the other distraught. Then the search will begin until the survivor finds the lost one again, to die or to lose-whichever the case may be. You always prefer to be the one to die, because living without her is torture, and your existence tethers at the periphery of the knowledge that she is out there for you to find. But you hate the thought of her feeling this way, being in this place, so you share the burden.
The earth won’t forgive us.
When it does, like a stubborn bone, it spits me back to her, another beginning.
The winds won’t carry us home.
Like the lightening of the thunder God, it tatters us both;whole.
Death, give my lover back to me.
Strain your ears and hear my plead.
It was you who died prior to this time. Plunged in the middle of a war between countrymen; you’d find that death, love, religion, immortality, and war all have uncanny similarities. You’d always felt something amiss until you were forced to fight the Biafrans.
You’d find her as a prostitute, raped to near death by your fellow soldiers. And they’d urge you to go a round on her too. Bolstered by their shouts, by cigarettes, alcohol, and the amorality of war, you’d climb her, and as you became one, the memories of your shared past lives flooded you. You’d shoot her there, for that body had been tainted. You’d wander, searching for decades, not aging-for once one found the other, aging ceases abruptly.
It’d be forty-three lonely years before you found her again in the arms of another man in the University of Ibadan. Everytime, she’d taken the same body, the same face, the same beauty. Your memories of love here would be shambolic. Her, teaching you how to twerk. You, teaching her to belch louder in the school library. Her, teaching you French. You, writing an unfinished cantos in her honor.
Love is not love, love that forgets. You’d find solace in your meshed past lives. And regardless of how short the stay, of how many times you were seperated-scattered like seeds on a farm through time, marked by the pain of replayed history like a slave, weaker, but whole-,you’d always return to each other. Burning stronger, fiercer than your love hitherto had. You find respite in that one fact.
The fires of your curse wanes, your spell dispels.
My lover has died, here are my tears.
Flown to the ethers again as stars to court the earth.
Drink from her skull, but be sure to return her before fall.
I wander again, a man without land.
Love is the seed these tears plant.
And you’ve made a bad thing immortal.
A teardrop falls with each step you take. You’re falling farther behind the stretcher driving her to the morgue.
“Take heart sir. The Lord giveth and he takes.” The decrepit doctor says. “You believe in God sir? One day, we will all rise not to die again.”
Religion is an elaborate illusion. It removes us from our being and connects us to something larger than us-a God. This connection pales death, balms the pain of love. What happens when you are bigger than religion? How does your pain dissipate?
You think of stars, predestination, and the invisible thread that binds your soul and that woman being wheeleled away. You’d both planned to get married-someting you’d never done in your past lives-before she got diagnosed with lung cancer. Slowly she withered away again from your grasp. And you’d held her today, crying on her corpse, oblivious of the next time you’d find her. Ten? Twenty? Thirty? Forty? Fifty years?
Time of death. 1814 hrs. The doctor finishes.
In the cold hospital room some feet behind you, John Legend reaches denouement.
“Coz all of me, loves all of you.”