He said he’d come, so I wait. Every night in moonshine, I wait. The whole town thinks me mad and my family has washed their hands off me, they say I have a strange spirit to pine for so long. Sometimes I wonder if they are right but my lover has never been one for deceit so how do I doubt him now? True, it feels like yesterday when I was the envy of the town, my lover being the comeliest of all the men. Women whispered and let out longing sighs when we walked out hand in hand, for he was as sunlight breaking through darkened clouds and me, being one of the most sought-after women, fit perfectly by his side.
It wasn’t for this I loved him though. Yes, his beauty and the soothing rhythm of his speech always made my heart smile but it was just a bonus I was grateful to have. I loved him for his honesty in a place where spinning the truth was equated with manliness. I loved him for the value he placed on my words for I was not some mere ornament to him. His strength of purpose and the working of his mind were a wonder to behold. The uncanny ability to see through my smiles and soothe my pain and hurt were unrivalled and the peace I felt in his arms spoke of hopes for tomorrow. He was no ordinary lover, no, he was the fire that burned and a gentle breeze that soothed. He was both storm and gentle seas. He was like the other half of a soul seared in two and waiting to be whole. My lover was like no other, I was his most precious and knew no fear with him.
It’s been 12 moons since I started to wait for him; he’d said he’ll come, so I wait. My hair has lost its shine and my strings of jigida no longer sit well on the curves of my waist. The suitors have stopped knocking on my father’s door and the women no longer sigh with envy at the sight of me. Even Suwe, my dearest friend no longer darkens my father’s threshold with her shadow. The old gossips talk in hushed tones when I walk past and I never venture out anymore but to keep watch for my lover in moonshine at my father’s door; for he said he’d come and he never lies to me.
Yes, I had seen the body, I’d even gone through the funeral rites I was mandated to as his betrothed. Was this why they thought me mad? I can only sympathise with them for they do not know my lover, he said he’d come so I wait for him still. He had gone with three others to the next town to purchase my bridal beads and with hurried kisses told me he’d come to see me that night when the moon was out. I have no bridal beads and I wait for my lover still, for the crushing impact of a truck like a hammer to an ant, destroyed my beads and slows my lover’s coming. I wonder if he delays because of his anger at my initial disbelief of his promise. I had cried with the rest and made my silky ebony skin red with the mud of the earth and my tears. I had been inconsolable for I forgot his promise, the promise of my lover.
True, I’d doubted but my faith now holds strong. For even as he was being lowered down, I remembered his promise and he always keeps his promises. So why do the town’s people look at me with pity? Why does my mother wail when I rub the scented oil he likes so much and go out in the moonshine to wait at my father’s door? Why do the women who prayed for their daughters to have my fate make signs to ward off evil when I smile at their little ones? I wonder but can’t be bothered, for soon my lover will come and hand in hand we’ll again be the envy of the town.
I can see the moonlight from my place on the floor and I know it is time to prepare for his coming. My oils and beads are all in place and tonight I’ll wear that dress he was so crazy about. The moonshine is strong tonight and I wonder as I take my place by the door, “is this the night when he finally comes?”. Truly, it matters not. He said he’d come, so I wait.