It was one of those days that renewed your faith in the existence of a being greater than man, a deity supreme over beast, bird and sea. Having been in the midst of many dominant people over the past 50 years, I could not be faulted for being so skeptic, an atheist if you may say. I had kept counsel to the powerful: Captains of industry who conjured great cities from thin air and also laid waste to anything and anyone that stood in their way, women whose minds were as beautiful as their bodies, upon whose very word empires rose and fell. I was not one to doubt the limitless ability of man, yet here I sat, taking in a sight that unlike my frail body, had failed to grow old.
The sun in the distance bed farewell to yet another day whose existence would be but a memory forever tomorrow. Her golden rays now crimson, bleeding the last of her life into a day that had been everything to someone and nothing to another. I watched as her last breath was taken away by the lake in the distance, the lush green canopy of trees below me struggling to catch if only but a morsel of the beauty that was quickly fading away. The warm breeze that had blown over the hilltop was quickly turning cold, angry in protest to the departure of his lover the sun. My face, beaten by age, time and tales, taking the brunt of his fury, jealous because in my eyes he saw the image of his lover and the love I shared for her.
But unknown to him, I had a love of my own, whose hand I held that evening as we looked out yonder, fulfilling a tradition that we had started many years before, neither of us knowing what fate had in store for us.
It was this same hand I held the first time I brought her up on to this hill. The same day I told her my dream to build a place to which I could run when the weight of the world wore me out. A place from which I could talk to God and he would talk back, through the trees, the wind, the lake and the sunsets. She laughed at my dream because it was a lot bigger than I was at the time, but this was the same reason she fell in love with me: I had big dreams. At the time, I never shared with her my other dream: that I would spend my life with her and together, this would be ours. It wasn’t that I was afraid that she would laugh at me like she did at my hilltop escape, my vision of grandeur: I was afraid that this particular dream would scare her away. So I waited until that very hand, I held at the altar, my best friend, now my partner for life.
This hand once soft and supple, the same hand that stroked my face and jokingly slapped me whenever I teased her, had grown pale and rough, wrinkled by time. It must have been the toil and trouble. It must have been all the times she raised her hand and rested it firmly on the backside of any one of our now grown 3 children as she raised them to be the people they were today. It must have been all the times she put pen to paper as she built our business, the pen she would exchange for a mingling stick in the evenings as she built our home.
She dropped her head onto my chest, a chest that was a lot softer than it had been when we fell in love. At the time I needed it to shield my heart as it was raw. Too fragile to be left exposed lest it wandered off to my sleeve and there it found harm, crushing it beyond repair. The same chest she laid her head when we shared our first dance on our wedding day that warm January evening, much to the admiration of our friends and kinsmen. It was a day many of them had waited for in angst, not sure if it ever would come.
As the wind continued to blow, still enraged at his lover’s insistence to go her way, I could feel the warmth of her cheek through my shirt. Perhaps it was because over the years, my heart had grown cold, oblivious to tenderness, steely and calculated. Perhaps it was the disappointment that had met me one too many times along life’s journey. It must have been the betrayal I had been made to endure by people I held close for far too long. Close enough to drive a knife through this chest. Maybe it was a remnant of the warden I was taught by society to be if I was to raise 2 boys: the love of a father to his sons was through his provision. A firm hand was the order of the day. But with her it was different, her warmth burnt through these walls of ice. Burnt through the callousness that life had created.
The wind, now slowly resigning to his fate of loneliness, had decided to share my love. If his was no more, he would never settle for none at all. I looked at my lover’s grey hair, watching as the wind ran his fingers through her thick tuft. He must have been flirting with her the same way he flirted with the clouds high above us, for hers was as white and glorious as clouds in the noonday sky. I always joked that she had enough hair for the both of us as I had lost the little that I had left over 20 years ago. But then again, she always seemed to have had enough of everything for the both of us over the years. Enough tears during times of loss, when I had to stay strong for her but was broken on the inside. Enough joy for the both of us when the African man in me would not allow me to ululate the day my older son told us we were about to be grandparents for the first time. Enough love for me and for the world around her.
She lifted her head and whispered into my ear the same three words she had whispered into my ear every day for the last 38 years we had shared together. As she did, I caught what was to be the sun’s last ray of the day as it settled in the apple of her eye. It was as if to say that only to her, could the dregs of the sun’s beauty be bequeathed. I looked into those pearly orbs and I got lost in them all over again, the same way I had lost myself in the beauty that was her soul, those many years ago when we first met.
It was dark now and the sun had drowned itself into the depths of the lake. She was gone forever but only for the night.
If only the wind had known what I knew, that love so true never really dies. Perhaps then it would have been kinder to me and mine.