Once upon a time, when I was young and imprudent; when I walked the path of artlessness and lived in a castle in Spain, I was a beautiful little princess living on the prairie and chasing wild dogs. I’d love picking berries and running in the woods. I’d catch butterflies and let them go; and take home a basket full of lilies. At home, we’d have a kettle with boiling coffee always hanging above the fire place and any visitor would be offered some. We’d stay indoors if we got the flu and nurse it, safely sandwiched amidst blankets. All girls and women would hold the hair back in a simple chignon or tie it in two braided pony tails. We all had long, soft and straight hair.
During the cold weather, we would wear hoods that were made of sheep skin and long-armed dresses with petticoats and laces. My grand mother was always sewing warm cadigans and blankets while carefully perched on the rocking chair by the window, just next to the fire place. When bored, I would curl up on a rug on the floor beside her and listen to her beautiful voice fill the airwaves with tune.
Years later, I’d grow into a beautiful young woman, aware of her influence towards men. I’d be shy if a young man would look into my eyes; and I would I look down and draft a numeric number 17 with my big toe. I would finally gather all my guts and face him and eventually turn him down. He would again try to woo me, and still fail miserably and would give up as I would be too beautiful, to precious a diamond to get lost among silvers; to good a young woman to have just any man out there. I’d be innocent, yet aware of myself; intelligent yet inexperienced.
I’d be a virgin waiting on my prince charming.
I’d attend parties and dance with my friends, yet no man would have the courage to talk to me. I would have rejected them all. I would never let just any man into my heart. Not until I met someone that would make my heart skip a beat; someone whose mere presence would make me tremble and feel weak in my knees; someone who would make my brain stop thinking and just want to be with him; one who would be my man, my hero, my knight in shining armour; my prince and sole proprietor of my heart.
And one day, I would meet him, in a crowd, his eyes staring straight at me; seeing only me. His body would be masculine, broad shoulders; precipice face, firm big arms and a chest that would make me want to scream for breath. He would capture my attention and make me a fool for him. I would fall flat, not literary, in love with him. I would know it is he, my heart had waited for and I would smile at him.
This man who knocks me off guard would approach me and take my hands in his. His eyes would hold mine and we’d share a bond. A bond that leaves one to marvel at the mysteries of life; the bond that would only grow tighter hence forth, that bond that entangles two souls into sparks and fireworks that eventually turn into a ball of fire.
Fire that burns furiously; burning away all sorrow, lonesomeness, trepidation, frustration and desperation; burning all things and people who get in it’s way as it rolls down the mound if life. My prince would ask for my hand in marriage: I would not hesitate. I’d immediately say yes!
We would get married and start our own life…without the fear of being broken, not by him,or our fake friends,or relatives; not by some other ill-motivated man or woman. Not even STDs/AIDS would shake us. The only thing that would detach us, fail us, mock us, that we cannot brawl against would be death; and in death we would part, not at 40 not even at 60.
This is a dream most young girls always have. A dream I too had since I was just about 5 years old. I read books that described the beauty of every little girl in a perfect replication of Rappunzel, Snow White and Little Red Riding hood. I believed every girl was a special little princess and if you were impecable in your deeds, then a good prince would come your way, to save you from the ugly jaws of singlehood and loneliness.
Not until my eyes opened did I realise I was in a country they called ‘Third world’, somewhere in Africa now in the 21st century; a place where all our hair is black, curly and hard like steel; a place where many a women have their hearts torn away from their chests. They watch them get tarnished by hungry lustful men, and get thrown off at the next stop…another woman.
I have watched many men treat women like pieces of tissues, (not hankies) in a flu infected area. They would blow off ghastly mucus in them, sneer at the disgusting sight, hurtle them in a crumble and toss them away.
I have kissed enough frogs and instead of letting them go, I hung on to their slippery tails, and watched them slither into other women’s arms. I sort for love in all the wrong places..is there a right place anyway? I was broken, torn down, mocked and jeered at, but never gave in.
I held on to my fantasy.
I still believed my prince was out there, somewhere, probably lost in one of the millions of streets in the world. I still hang in there. I never yearned for another woman’s man or boyfriend, I never sat on hot chapos or hide ‘Kamùti’ in my bedroom. I was patient.
And in the end, I met him, with my eyes open.