Monday, August 18, 2008

For Rebecca

Clustered around papers, I remained on the carpet in the walk-in closet reminiscing all afternoon. The huge round hat box which housed my memorabilia sat stoically in between my tucked and folded legs bearing the depression made on its circumference. Apart from the dent, the box looked relatively new even though it’s a possession of a decade. It keeps secrets of the past, laughter of the present and memories for the future. Each content painted entrance scenery of past events ravishing to the eye and I simply allowed the memory of yesteryears transport me with joy.

Aaron’s letters was to bring me to the end of the journey. I chose them because his words were encouraging and strengthen to the soul. Aaron, who had been a very tall and brilliant white boy in college left sweet notes on my dorm bed once a week. In a subtle way, he professed his fondness of me but more than often his words was geared towards how he wished I could see myself in his eyes. He spoke like Confucius but with fundamentals principles from the Bible. I was never to settle for second best and should I come across difficulties along this path called earth, I was to listen to that still voice within me. His letters takes me to a warm and good place but my story is not about Aaron.

Amongst folded letters, I searched for the familiar yellow papers with the fading musk odor which use to be Aaron’s cologne but instead I found Jacob’s letters. Jacob and I grew up on an Island in New York and we attended the same church. As youths we engaged in every fun activity we were allowed and as time wore on my mother’s words came true. “Girls and Boys can never be friends. One will always want more” Jacob did.

In despite of his one sided “love”, our friendship continued. We cried, laughed and shared good memories. Jacob went far away to college while I went to college in the next state. His thirty or sometimes twenty nine page letters came every month. One for each day of the month and this went on for two years. We both came back home after college to find our Island too small for me. Jacob and I hung out but things were different. For me, he was boring and he in turn did not appreciate my newly acquired prefix and suffix in grammar.

‘Abeg, I am tired jare’

‘What was that? What is ‘a bag? And who is Jerry?’’ he would ask

‘Sorry, I meant I am tired’

‘Then just say you are tired’

A year after college, I moved out of the island but we kept in touch. He was sad and a little withdrawn but like every young lady just out of her teens, I was not going to be responsible for someone’s happiness. He asked me out again but I told him to forget about me. Besides I had already heard the speech from my grandmother “Mo omo eniti iwo ‘n se, Ma ba won fe enikeni ti kin se omo ile wa. A kin se be ni ebi wa”[1]

Jacob is Puerto Rican, and it is better not to start what i can’t finish. Well maybe if I had known my grandmother would die the year next and it wouldn’t matter to my parents who I marry as long as he is a man, I might have been more sensitive but God always knows best. You will have to forgive me again; but this story is also not about Jacob. It is about Rebecca.

You see, memories are like connectors, it leads us to down the chains to other events that are to unfold. Jacob’s letters opened the door to Rebecca’s. Like Jacob, Rebecca also grew up on the island and she is my best friend. She called me one day to see if I could come to the island because she had something to tell me. We picked the place and set the time we were to meet. I walked into the restaurant and saw her by the window with her eyes closed and fist clenched. She was praying. I hope this is good I thought. Her welcome hug lingered which made me a bit uncomfortable. “What is the matter” I asked

Rebecca is in love with Jacob. She had been nursing these feelings for four years. “I want to know if it is okay for me to tell him. I want your support but if by any chance you still like him, I will face reality and let it go”

“Tell him” I said “and if you must know, we never kissed him.” I smiled to assure her

Two years later, Rebecca asked me to be her maid of honor. Friends from our Island think it was a grave mistake I accepted. Rebecca was also advised to stay away from me. “You should be careful; you know her history with Jacob” Even my mom said “Do you think its wise? that would have been your life”

A year after the wedding, Jacob and Rebecca asked me to be godmother to their unborn child. I believed God cosigned on it because he was born on my birthday.

Rereading Jacob’s letters on the carpet in the walk-in closet that hot afternoon made me realize why Rebecca cried the night I shared those letters with her seven years ago. I misunderstood her tears for silliness because she always was the mushy type. I wished I had known then that it was because she loved him.

For Rebecca, The days of Jacob will seize to be mine
For you Rebecca, I tore his letters. Although he wrote them for me, he is living it with you.
For my dear Rebecca, Thank you for holding to our friendship.

[1] Know the child of whom you are, and don’t marry anyone that is not from our country. We don’t do that in this family.