I received your parcels last week. I’m sorry this is coming late. I have been down for a while now and I’m just getting on my feet.
I saw the beautiful photos you sent, most especially the Nairobi sunset. It looks more beautiful than when you described it. I’m thinking of coming over for Christmas, if you say yes of course. I saw the one you took in the rain too (why did you have to name it Tears?) and the one with Mama in it smiling happily. Send my greetings to her.
Of all the nine photos you sent, Wanjiku, the one I find most disturbing is the Waves. The Waves, Wanjiku, it scares me more than the one you titled Tears. The waves remind me of myself, of our life, our relationship, our love. They remind me of the past, they show me the present, and they make me think deeply about what will become of us.
Waves is like a mirror. Every time I look into it, I do not see the photo you took with your Nikon camera. I see myself, Wanjiku. I see us. I see us in the waves. I see us tumbling and moving up and down, left and right, here and there like a fragile tree tossed to and fro by a strong wind. I see us in the unsettling waves. I see our arguments, our insults, our apologies.
The Waves remind me of what we do. How we have a small argument and stage a three-day war which will end with you sending me information on a writing contest you think I should know about even though I know you know I know about the contest already. And so I don’t see any contest. Instead, I see a glue. And I see us gluing our love together like a piece of parchment that is about to tear apart due to much use and misuse.
I have pasted all the photos on the wall, except Waves. I don’t want to wake up at night to pee and see that dangerous thing staring back at me like an omniscient judge, showing me all my sins and stains. But still, I find myself going back to the parcel and checking it once in a while. Waves is a scary picture, Wanjiku. Why did you ever take it?
Last night, Waves transported me back to the night we slapped ourselves. It was like a movie. I was standing in front of Waves, beholding my shaky life, and yet I was not there. I was standing in front of your hostel, under our favourite tree, watching as I slapped you and as you returned the gesture and stormed into your room. And then I see myself crying as I crumble to the floor in despair. I had failed again. (Who says men don’t cry?)
I still remember how we came back together, how we took our almost destroyed parchment and stitched it together. It’s sad, how we’ve turned our life into a worn out cloth that needs to visit the tailor every week and groan under the pain of the needle as blood flows out.
It’s crazy, Wanjiku, that throughout our relationship, we have always been fighting even until you returned to Kenya.
It’s hard for me here. Everyday, I look into Waves and see our unsettled life. I see our love in the waves, unstable, unpredictable, rough, strange and sometimes, destructive.
We are miles apart now but our hearts are together, held together by a dying rope with countless knots. We believe you are still angry with me and that is why you have refused to return as you promised, or visit. We believe I am not disturbed and I still haven’t forgiven you and that is why I have not asked you to come or try to come myself. These are lies. We know they are lies. We created them on the altar of deception. And yet, we both believe them. We are like a couple in a boat about to sail across the ocean. There is a warning that the weather is not a good one and the waves will be violent today. We see it ourselves. But still we venture in. I am tired of deceiving myself, Wanjiku.
We believe we are not in love but we are. We have always been in love. And it is that love that is still holding our parchment together. The only thing we do differently now is that we live apart. You are in Kenya while I am in Nigeria. Every other thing is the same. We still chat and talk on phone. We still laugh at dry jokes. We still call ourselves animal names. We still talk about plants. We are still ourselves. We are still in this boat, just that the waves are against us.
Every time I look at Waves, I ask myself, ‘Isn’t there anything we can do?’ And I got an answer today. Let’s go, Wanjiku. Let’s start again. Let’s go back to the seashore and jump into a new boat and start our voyage afresh. Let’s throw this dying parchment into the waves and start our love story afresh. You ask, how do we go about that? I don’t know. I don’t know how. I just think it’s time to admit that both of us cannot live apart, unless we want to keep waking up to seeing ourselves in Waves. If not, let’s start again.
I want to come home for Christmas, Wanjiku, to Nairobi. Yes, it’s my home now. Please say yes.