To not know love.
Let me tell you how it is to grow up, and one day seated in some room in an event, realise, that you do not know love.
It is growing up, never lacking anything from your parents, but never receiving affection too. You have your school fees paid, good clothes bought, once in a while taken to a good place and the cycle repeats itself.
But in between is a really bad marriage. You’ve never seen a good one, but your 10yr old self doubts all humans are this vicious with each other. If it were so, Charity the girl who seats behind you in class, wouldn’t talk that fondly of her parents.
It is to actively keep off boys in high school and avoid them like plague afterwards. After all, if your mother had been as wise as you , she wouldn’t have gotten pregnant at 20 and gone on to blame her entire bad marriage on your birth.
But that resolution doesn’t last you through college. Not when you are trying to be normal. To act normal. Everyone is having sex. You’ve never even dated to begin with.
So you choose a guy, but make him think he’s the one who chose you. And experiment with this boyfriend girlfriend thingie. It doesn’t taste so bad, you realize. But you can live without it too, you conclude.
The other blokes you date, you could have done without them. You should have stuck to your earlier resolution. But ooh well, nothing has been lost. Life moves on.
Till one day, a man dressed like the kind of character you would love in a book, takes the stage and tells of his story. Of his mishaps with love. With humour, sarcasm and some really bad puns, you get to see what a world of love looks like to him.
And around you are lovers. Happy souls. And many other single souls. But they know they are single. They seem to have a sense of what they want. You can see the head of that lady you follow. The one who has been sharing what she wants from her next lover, or how she wants theirs to be.
And it occurs to you, that the only thing you know sincerely about you and this kind of love, is the 5 love languages . And your first one is gifts.
Beyond that, Nada. Nothing. You come out blank. When people describe themselves as romantics, are you one of them? When they say what they want in partners, does it occur to you that people actually have ideas of what kind of humans they like? Sounds strange?
You at least know a little about self love. What with your ever petty self throwing tantrums at any given time when you don’t pay her the attention she wants? What with the excitement of traveling or gifting yourself things that light you up?
But love? This kind of love? You draw a blank. You’ve never experienced it. You’ve never experienced the opposite of it either to know what to not look for. You are just there. Seated at the back, listening to him buy his first condoms, laughing your heart out, but at the same time asking yourself, what’s your experience with love.
And to realise, that this is how to not know love feels like.
Its like someone telling you a story of another planet, you find it interesting, till they turn to you and ask, what about you? Tell us about your planet.
What planet? You ask? I thought I was a circular stony thing doing rounds around the sun, you answer. And at that moment scales fall from your eyes. You are actually human. With a love story. Even the lack of one is one in itself.
It is to look analytically at something that shouldn’t be looked at in the first place, it should be felt. It is to read posts of those women you adore , talk of the love they’ve experienced, the one they are experiencing and what next, and stare at those posts because they don’t click. Its like being taught Buddhism as a die hard fan of Prophet Owuor. And you didn’t even know you didn’t understand this kind of things.
It is to look at some neckpiece you love. Try and figure out what to wear it with, and realise that the final look is too awesome for class or work. It can only be worn on an outing somewhere. But when was the last time you were on a date? Do people still call them dates? Where are people taken again? Are the rusty ideas of dates you have in your head, still applicable in 2019?
It is to realise that valentines is coming up in a few days. And for the first time in your life, it occurs to you, that this isn’t child’s play. Like its for real. Adults do this kind of thing. Ask each other out and buy roses and chocolate or whatever else. And actually go out for dinner or something.
It is to sit down, and realise that you are turning 24 soon. You’ve grown beyond the age where you can be excused from adulting for a bit. At least at 21 there were some quarters that didn’t regard you as much of an adult. Now you are just a decade away from not being a youth according to your country. Can you imagine?
It is to look at your smaller cousin. With her boyfriend. How cute they look together. And realize that you are supposed to be feeling much more than just ordinary curiosity at what they talk about.
It is for someone to ask you about a husband, and though you’ve always ignored those baseless remarks, to realise that actually, whatever maturity you were waiting for before indulging in heart matters, already arrived. You may not get married, but surely, you aren’t a nun either.
It is to read a Charles Bukowski’s poem on his grandmother’s explosive farts, and for the most unexplainable reason, it occurs to you at that moment, that you do not know what love is.