Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sitting together on the couch in Zimbabwe

She was violent, primitive and superstitious. I wondered what she was thinking, and then I realized -- she was not thinking. She did not think.

Here we are sitting on the couch of the house we rented, wearing sweaters -- it can get cold in Africa.

My expression is skeptical and ridiculous.

Her pose is graceful. She leans away from me, yet turns her head toward me. Her hands are crossed, one toward me, one away from me.

I said to her, "We are too different, I am old, you are young, I am American, you are African, I am educated you are not. We are too different."

She said, "If two people love each other, anything is possible."
This was in 1997, in the month of June, which is the winter month in the highlands of Zimbabwe. There would be frosty nights and we started a fire in the fireplace. But the cold time doesn't last long -- maybe six weeks.

To look at this couple on the couch, in the winter in Africa in 1997, do you see any soul connection? Or only the attraction of exotic opposites? 

Did we ever love each other? 

I have not seen her in ten years, but we have spoken on the phone. She said I might tell her story, but she said not to mention one thing, something she wanted kept a secret, so I agreed to that because it adds mystery -- well, no, I agreed to that because she asked me, but otherwise she said I might write a story about her life, and she would be happy.

She herself could tell a good story, being a dishonest woman, She said whatever popped into her head, or whatever sounded right at that time -- that was the truth. But I could not call it the truth, not by everything I was taught. To me, she was a liar, and a talented one.

And her name. Not yet. She told her name on the evening we met, but was that really her name? You see her in this photo on the couch with eyes like a crocodile, moving so slowly, and me about to jump away like a small white bird. What name is that?

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