Laughter of Love
The Beat in My Heart,
Six years ago, on a day like this, I was lying limp in my bed, willing my mind to go blank, and my flesh heart to stop beating, even just for a second. There was an entire whirlwind in my head, picking and dropping anything it came across. I wanted, so bad, to just die. Or to slip into a comma. Or have my memory erased.
I remember tipping my head towards the floor, at 11 p.m., and vomiting all there was in my stomach. Because it was churning too much, and reminding me that once again, I had failed at something I held so close to my heart and soul.
Next to me lay my phone, an Itel, vibrating with an incoming call. I remember it because it was a phone I had bought with my hard-earned money. I loved it, so much I slept next to it and talked to it when the voices in my head couldn’t be silenced. I loved it because it reminded me of niceness; of that time I was in first year and someone’s son thought they wanted me sooo much, so they gave me their Samsung, the initial models, those that whistled whenever a message came in. And even when, a month later, they found someone else to want more than me, I felt so heartbroken giving back the phone.
As my phone continued to vibrate, so did my anger grow with each second. Why did someone think they had the right to call me not once, not twice, in the middle of the night? Were they dying? And even if they were dying, why would they call me? If I do not pick the call, would they die?
On the fourth call, I turned the phone upwards to see your name sprawled across the screen. It hit me, HARD, because even back then, your number in my phone was saved as ‘baby’, even though there was nothing ‘baby’ about us. It was a cute little name that had marked our initial conversations, back when we met. It was a name you called me, and I called you, subconsciously, once in three months when we talked.
We were ‘baby’ to each other, back then when I was still melting under your gaze. Back when a single text from you was enough to lift my moods. Back when you used to say, ‘Wewe ulitusumbua sana, na sai ati you are humble.’ Back when I was big on waiting for you to tell me you wanted me. I waited, two years, because it is a girl thing to wait.
We wait for someone to express interest. To ask us out. To choose a restaurant. To choose the food, before lazily saying, ‘niletee kama yake.’ We wait for the wind to subside before stepping out, because our short dresses have a strong affinity to wind. We wait for them to send cab fare, before texting, ‘hata mama yangu amesema nioshe viombo woiye.”
And when the wait started weighing heavily on my heart, I gave up, so that the name ‘baby’ only reminded me of things I was too afraid to ask for; grounds I was too timid to conquer.
And so that night, I was just coming to terms with the shittiest heartbreak I have ever had, and the last thing I wanted was ‘baby’ calling me.
I relished in the brief sweetness that emanated from ignoring you and your calls, but when it subsided, I picked that call with only one thing in mind; to tell you to keep to yourself. To lose my number. To quit calling me, when for two years now I have been waiting for you to come. To tell you that I am not the same; I have lost the vital parts of my existence, and you have no business calling me in the middle of the night. I was not yours.
But what did you do? You laughed into the phone, for close to a minute, before finally saying, ‘Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaby! Look who finally picked my call in the middle of the night!”
To date, I do not remember what we talked about that night. I only remember the genuine laughter; the kind I hadn’t had in eons. I remember my pain and anger slowly melting from my throat, sliding into my chest, before finally settling in my stomach; cold and silent. I remember blinking my tears away, because I couldn’t believe you had called because you felt I needed to hear to your voice. I remember you, at the end of the call, saying, ‘And laugh, please. I think it looks good on you.”
Sometimes when I look back at our journey, I think the real beauty of it started that night; during that conversation. That that night, my heart and soul accepted you, wholly, even when we were still unsure of your intentions. That we decided we would not wait any longer; we would go for that which makes our life a little bit bearable.
That in those seventeen minutes of conversation, we decided that laughter would be our way of life. That we would only do that which brings us laughter. That we would only go where there is laughter. That if does not have laughter, then we do not want it.
Sometimes, when someone asks how I knew it was you I wanted, or you were the one, I laugh and tell them it is complicated, because even the both of us do not know when or how this started. We only know of the journey; beautiful and fulfilling.
This is the seventh year I am laughing with you, and even if we could turn back the hands of time, I would still choose you, over and over, and when there is nothing left, I would still choose you. Because it is your voice at the end of a long day that calms my racing heart. Because it is your face I want to see, daily, so I know there still exists niceness in the world. Because it is your touch my skin longs for, when the rush that is adulting threatens to drive me insane. Because it you I want to write about, daily, as it comes so naturally to me.
This is the 7th year I get to write so beautifully about you, the world will die of jealousy. The year people continue to ask, ‘Haiya, na huboeki na yeye?’ The year I laugh in their faces, because I know I have a love that is so beautiful, I feel shortchanged every time I dare to describe it.
This is the 7th year we hold each other close, breathing each other’s warmth. Listening to the beats of our hearts. Voicing our dreams. Laughing our lungs out. Working towards our visions, and filling each other with the warmth of our love.
This year, may we know nothing but laughter. May we worship at the entrance of our bodies. May we hold and allow to be held by each other. May we find clarity in the eyes of each other. May we live beyond our skins, and learn more and more about love. And even if things do not go according to our plans, may we, always, come back to each other, and cover ourselves in love.
The Beat in Your Heart