The Girl Whisperer
as published by the Sunday Guardian
of May 11
When Lightning Strikes Twice
It’s an impossibility they say, for lightning to strike in the same place twice. The chances are almost impossible and beyond ordinary odds. It’s also the same, apparently, with a relationship that illuminates your entire life like a flash of lightning, that one great love that you thought would last the rest of your life, and then dies out, or is extinguished for some reason, beyond your ability to repair.
Conventional wisdom tells us never to go back to a former love no matter how beautiful the memories are, no matter how wonderful that person made us feel. They say those who think of it, view the past through rose-tinted glasses and if the relationship was really that beautiful, there would have been no separation in the first instance.
There is no human alive, the Whisperer dares submit however, who has not wondered what it would be like if he or she was to go back to some long-lost love. Through some chance meeting, the mention of a name, eyes locking across a crowded room with that of the person who is now a stranger, some strain of music heard as we flip channels on the radio, we remember the good times we had with that person and briefly, for an instant, and maybe for even longer, we wonder how it would have been and whether it is possible to fold time back on itself, and re-awaken what is now lost... fanning dying embers back to life.
Many reasons could have been responsible for the break-up; a relationship that couldn’t stand the strain of distance, parents deciding to move cities, move countries, move worlds and in the process smashing the relationships of their respective children to smithereens. In this case, when people who loved as late teens meet as adults, what happens? What if the spark remains? Is it advisable to follow the natural reflex since all the memories are good? There might be dangers inherent in this. As adults, you have grown up through different experiences and as Robert Frost wrote, the road you have taken might have led you through a very separate route from that of your ‘true love’. I met up with a girl I ‘loved’ when I was sixteen and she was fourteen. Even now, I still have her letters (that’s weird, I know, but I kept letters from a certain era, that kind of innocence is a beautiful thing). I met her as an adult living in another country and even though she was still as beautiful as I remembered her, she had grown...away from me, and I from her. We spoke, great memories of childhood, but the spark was gone and the lightning had left only scorched earth behind.
A female friend of mine from one of the war-torn countries in West Africa relocated to England but one day decided she was off to find her true love. When war broke out, her father being a diplomat, managed to spirit her to Europe, but her boyfriend was not so lucky and was trapped in their country for a long while. After some time, she heard he was in a refugee camp somewhere and made up her mind to find him. It was amazing because she hadn’t seen him in more than fifteen years. She had married, had two kids, divorced but she got up, told her employers she was going on vacation, left England and tracked him through several refugee camps, one of them being in Nigeria. She eventually found him, her great love, and somewhere in my drawers, I have a photograph of the couple at their wedding in England (my mother and sister were in attendance)
So for her, lightning struck twice...or did it? That wedding was about four years ago and even though I do not know how things stand between them now, I am sure that story would make a great movie someday. She decided he was her great love and she went to reclaim someone who once brought great beauty to her life.
Can we all be this fortunate? The chances are slim because memory has a way of playing tricks on us but magic can happen. The most important factor here is not to be self-deluded. If this was not the Richard Burton to your Liz Taylor, there is no use lying to yourself.
The only reason you should attempt to re-start a relationship that didn’t last once is because you are certain it will work for you. Longing after a person just because of his good looks or her high cheekbones will make your boat crash like the Titanic, and unlike that boat, there will be no survivors this time. I read in a play, the line that many people fall in love with a dimple and make the mistake of marrying the whole person. That rarely works, believe me.
So you may ask the Whisperer, can lightning strike twice? Can it be like the romantic comedies we love to watch, where they finally meet up again after a long while and the years all seem to fall away? The odds are long ones but if I said it was impossible, I would be going against my very nature. Make certain first, be sure that it’s true, true love; that he’s the one that once heard the voice of your heart and still does, then go for it. To see new horizons, we must leave the shore behind.