About a year ago, seated at the front pew in my church, the priest presiding over the mass shared a word with the congregation. His message during the mass was all about ‘Love.’ He said how in a little school, a teacher asked his pupils who were aged between six and eight years old, to tell him what love is.
Tommy, six years old said: "Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday." Noelle, age seven said: “Love is when my father comes home every evening with a smelly shirt and smelly feet, and my mum fetches him water, runs him a bath and then serves him a hot meal.”
When Tommy was done, Mary, another six year old, raised her hand and answered: “Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other." We had a good laugh in church that day. Later, I would find out with amusement that the priest had borrowed these anecdote from Google.
In my life, I have seen love and witnessed how it manifests itself. I can not give a better example than that of my ‘Ol Man’ (my father) and his better half (my mother) who have been married for close to forty years.
A few years ago mum fell sick and she was admitted to hospital. For over a month, as her condition deteriorated, culminating in loss of speech and loss of movement to her limbs, my father sat religiously by her side. Such was her condition, I had already prepared myself for the worst. Although my dad had a worried look on his face, never once did he complain or leave her side.
Thankfully, through God’s grace and with her loving husband by her side though her illness and recovery phase (physiotherapy), she pulled through. Today she leads a normal, happy and very productive life. She is a jewel and each day I am thankful for having her in our lives.
Besides that one incident, I continue to see expression of love between my parents each day of their life. Whenever my mother is away for example, even for a day, she calls him, and him her, and they talk like they are still courting. In addition, the few times when I am on a visit home, after they catch up with what's been happening in my life (which takes about half an hour) , they get talking again and are lost in their own world, with mother the avid storyteller doing the talking, while dad listens and nods like any good listener should. What I see between them each day of their lives is love in its rawest form.
We may be forgiven to think that true love is found in a make- believe world of a few innocent children or is the preserve of a generation past. But at times, even amongst my friends, I still see love in all its glory and simplicity. Recently, I met my friend Joe who told me that he has been dating this girl and a few months ago, he made ‘that’ step and proposed to her. She accepted and they were married in September, 2010.
My first thought when he told me about his engagement was: “Oh my, you two must feel very strongly about each other.” During our talk however, he opened up a little more and he was frank with me. He told me something that I found rather intriguing coming from someone who has purposed to spend the rest of life with another. “My decision to marry my fiancee was not (entirely) based on feelings, but rather how- despite everything- we still tolerate each other a few years on. They had been dating for eight years.
Without fear of contradiction, I know that relationships for most brothers I know are borne out of convenience, place and time rather than true and genuine affection. We court for a while and sooner or later are able to convince a damsel that they are ours to keep and their dreams are ours to fulfil. But soon, like a comet blazing across the evening sky, we are gone, leaving behind a broken heart and unfulfilled dreams.
These brothers are not bad people- they are just part of a generation where everything is just never too serious: sex is casual, relationships are cosmetic and affection is feigned. On the other hand, most of our sisters give their all. They love hard, dream about a future that more often than not, is never fulfilled. They invest with their heart, body and soul but all the while, cheery-good-fellow is having a nice little time and will move on at his convenience if all goes as planned. If it doesn’t, he’ll bolt! After all, he believes he pays for what he gets.
So, when a friend once wondered why all she sees are 'losers in leather jackets' rather than knights in shining armour, I smiled to myself. I guess there is a simple explanation; prince charming never came driving a Chrysler, wearing Gucci or Prada yet that is what some sisters have always sought. It isn't cool to break a sister’s heart but it’s worse if you feign affection. To thyself be true.