By Mankhokwe Namusanya:
Maybe you will feel numb. Or, it will feel like flesh being seared from the skeletons of the heart. But, there will be a feeling.
It will weaken in days, maybe months. If it gets complicated, and it is rare, it might be years.
However it will choose to weaken, it will not fully go. Not just that upping and leaving such that someday you wake up with it nowhere near.
Okay, there will be a day you will feel different. The thing in your throat will have eased. You might smile, or just feel yourself a tad different than the other days. And, most likely, you will wonder why you are feeling different.
Often, guilt comes from there. Your guilt, apparently, will come from there.
Because, you will have conditioned yourself to not feel happy. It will have been some sort of a shelter – that denial of happiness. A shelter from reality. A shelter from guilt.
There are people who have ever been consumed by guilt. They strolled away from the safety of guilt and by the time they realised what they had done, they had not felt liberated or empowered. They dugin and buried themselves. Guilt consumed them.
You will, most likely, fear that consumption. Also, because, your partner would have had been a good person.
Not good because everyone is good when interred, but good because they were a good person. And human. With a sense of humour that leaned towards the absurd in some cases. With a generosity that attracted a multitude to their funeral.
And, they –your friends – will tell you to “move on.”
Not in that “hey, you have mourned her for too long. Mop. Clean up. Let’s hit the road and get a new person” vibe.
They will be understanding, and considerate. Speak as if they are diviners who communicate with the world beyond. They will even say it in whisper, as if in fear of offending ancestors.
“She would want you to be happy,” they will say. Or:
“She’s watching over you, not judging. She wants you to move on.”
You will feel that sense of closure. Like that of a heartbreak gotten over in the stillness of uncountable nights. You will even act moving on and ask them about that their workmate.
“That one who walked into your office wearing a red dress that day…”
“Oh that one? I didn’t think you had actually noticed her.”
“Well, I had. I have been healing for sometime now,” you will have sat on the gnawing pressure of the guilt – and shame.
They will tell you about that one: “she’s single but with ex-boyfriend drama. You don’t want that. It’s too draining. But, I think you should meet someone…”
It is not as if your friends will not have known loss. They might even have lost their entire foundations in life and be orphans who sing along to dirges in their cars. However, they will not be understanding this.
And, that is a thing with losses: none are equal, none are shareable, we hardly ever lose the same person, we never lose the same experiences.
They will try to set you up with that new person but you will not show up. You will pretend to want to show up yet in actual sense you will lie in bed, stroll through gallery, mourn over memories and sleep to your own soft sobs.
When they try to raise that subject of you meeting with this hot single fresh graduate, you will feign enthusiasm before bailing out of a Friday night out.
Later, you will pull out a lie. Say you were not feeling fine that night; also, alcohol is not such a favourite for you these days. Or, at the extreme, you will say your mother had a health scare that you were called to drive her to the hospital – just as you were planning to step out.
You might survive that. And a lot of other arranged dates.
Sometimes, you might talk to someone and find the connection. You might think that will be it, finally.
Then, as you settle into bed some night you might think you heard her call. And, that will get you superstitious. Because, you will think she actually called your name and just fell short of delivering a message.
You will think she is unhappy. Or jealous.
That connection you started feeling with this new lady might just be frustrated, or actually sabotaged. You will start to see her in new light. Her faults, typical in every human, magnified until they overwhelm her kindness.
You will walk away from that without any guilt.
The human needs, because you will still be human, will be metin the dark corners of our streets. Only for you to be nursing a terrible guilt afterwards.
The time you will have met me – or rather I will have met you – you will have given up on life. And love.
When you speak, your breath will be stained by the stench of alcohol. Your eyes will have been weighed by nights of tears. Your soul burdened by having to pass time in a place you accepted is certainly not your home.
You will still be a smart professional. A life of the party. That proverbial sage with a solution to each and every problem in your friend’s relationships yet cannot hold one down for himself.
“I just feel guilty to go out there, share these same emotions with another person. It’s just as if I am cheating, again, on her.”
I will not give you that feel good sermon and tell you to move on and explore because “she would want you to be happy”.
I will watch you atone. Because, sometimes, it is atonement that one needs just so to right every wrong in their life.
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