A fire is a fire


By Mankhokwe Namusanya:

He left a little love. It burnt – or, more aptly, flickered – like a small fire licking on the last fats of a candle. In a small storm. In some neglected dark corner of the North Pole.

It was a rollercoaster.


“Today, I would feel it. The next day, it was off,” he says of the love in the days before he left.

I think it was just darkness – that little light.

Sometimes when you are in darkness, you start to imagine light. You might actually get convinced that there is light in a distant corner. You start groping in the dark and, just when you think you are at the light – ready to harness it – the reality will strike: the light was just an imagination.


He does not say my imagery is wrong. But I also do not think he has got it.

He is one who believes in predestination, who is convinced that nothing happens without the plan of divinity, so he throws up arms in the air and says ‘what happened had to happen’.

“Even if I were here, it would still have happened.”

I disagree because I want the story but also I don’t believe in that.

“When I told her I was leaving, she did not show any emotion. Even the day I left, there was no emotion.”

He had been awarded a scholarship. To another country. The continent is not important. He was going to school.

“I had left College and my career had tanked. I was underemployed. I thought another qualification would boost my chances. So, I started the applications. She was aware of it. She would even send me some opportunities…”

A perfect supportive partner.

Someday, he got an email. One of those scholarships he had shot at was considering him. Was he available for interviews?

“I replied to that email in a hurry. It was just an interview, of course, but still it was something.”

And when he told her about the news, she was happy for him. She actually texted that ‘I am so happy for us’.

You would think they were married.

“It was not conducive for us to marry. I had an excuse for a job. She was just out of college. We were too realistic to have married under the conditions.”

His excuse for a job failed to provide him with the transport to Lilongwe for the visa processing when he was finally offered the scholarship. She provided the money. She was jobless. Not penniless.

Of course, she neither come from a rich family nor did a any business.

Or, she did a business.

“But, no, she was not a prostitute.”

“Basing on what definition of a prostitute?”

He says it was just that one man – at least whom he knows.

“He was her blesser?”

“I would say so,” he is at pains, because for young men, the reality of blessers is only better imagined, mocked and laughed at. It is worse when encountered.

How did you know about him?”

He tells the story but asks that I should not tell it because if, by some misfortune, she reads this, then she will know he tells the story. He would rather pretend that he does not tell the story. Or, rather, he wants to create an impression that he moved on from her. He wants to be the grown up. Because when you keep saying your previous partner was a heartless monster – even if they were – society says you are immature. Except, of course, if it were on Twitter.

But he found out while he was still away. And nothing ever feels bad than that.

“You are powerless. And vulnerable. You cry but, in truth, you are not crying.”

What is worse? She blocked him immediately after he confronted her.

  • “She did not want to hear from me. After being let down, the least you want is to be allowed to express yourself. In whatever way,” – I should add: it shouldn’t be violent or illegal – “but she did not let me do that. I confronted her. A blue tick. Then gone. All channels of communication blocked.”

“Have you met with her ever since you came back?

He says they have not. It appears she changed numbers because when he called, hours after arrival, her number was declared non-existent the network.

“But this is a social world, Facebook or WhatsApp?”

He says the Facebook account they used to be friends on, and through which they used to share their photos with the world, is defunct. Her WhatsApp does not get to receive messages – even when he tried it from a new number.

“She might be dead…”

“No, I know she is not dead. People have told me that she is not dead. And I think I saw her the other day in town.”

“Why didn’t you talk to her, or actually, do you want to talk with her?”

“I was in a bus. But I want to have a conversation with her; like talk about what happened.”

I say it has been some time, he ought to move on, he should have forgotten. That the fire had started dying out long before he left. Why not just accept fate?

“Still, it was a fire. And I want to understand how she could extinguish it just like that.”

Or, maybe, to rekindle it. You know? Warmth.

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