The Girl Whisperer
as published in the Sunday Guardian
of February 15 2009
An Open Letter To Ariyike
You and I met under the strangest circumstances. There had been a strong possibility that you would not be there that day, and we would have missed each other, like ships that pass in the night. Your name would have been mentioned by your friends as an aside, and I wouldn’t have given it a second thought, not knowing the beauty that was in your heart and the graciousness of your person, never finding out that you and I were truly meant to meet.
I do not believe in coincidences, Ariyike. I do not believe it is accidental that you wake up to think of a fellow one morning, and then as you step out of your house, there he is, way down the street, walking towards you, waving. Some things are just meant to be. You and I were meant to meet and to enrich each other’s lives through the beauty of our acquaintance.
Your eyes were the first things I saw that day at dusk, warm and friendly, laughing eyes, cheerful eyes. You stood and took in the unfamiliar landmarks, and as you looked at the newness of it all, I looked at you. I stood, bemused for a few seconds after I met you, for who is it, that has ever seen true magic and not stood in awe?
And then gradually, I got to know you better and understood that there was a great heart to go with that lovely person, and that heart had been through great pain before, but had recovered, had regained strength and still dared to look life full in the face. You are a curious mix of suavity and naivety; in one moment, seeming to have great insight into the most complicated issues in the world and in another, almost childlike in your vulnerability. From the first few moments I heard you speak, I wanted to stretch my hands out, hold you close and protect you from the troubles of the world. I still hear your voice in the mornings, your eagerness to start the day, your enthusiasm and your purpose. I can still feel your charm as we set out for the day, on another journey, hoping, believing that only goodness will come out of our endeavours.
I hear the contentment in your voice in the evenings, the satisfaction you would show at having had a fulfilling day, of meeting your objectives and goals.
There are differences between us, Ariyike, for there are no two people born of women that are in perfect tandem, but even at the same time our similarities and shared outlooks are striking.
You are who you are, confident in your personality and your background, as even I am, but there is a meeting point for us both, and that place is one we found easily; a place where there is no lack of ease, where the sun shines gently on the lovely flowers in vast fields and where we can sit and talk and think and muse for hours on end, unafraid that life might throw us a curve ball. You have shown me the truth in the saying that there is beauty in this world, just by your very existence.
The world can be a complicated place, a place where terrible things happen, where there are no rules of fairness and where pain comes easily to the undeserving. This may be true but I ask you one thing. Do not forget me, Ariyike, no matter how far you go, no matter how many rivers you cross. Do not remove my thoughts from your heart no matter how many mountains you climb or hilltops you descend from. Remember the wonderful moments, the few snatched moments where you and I , both, would both sit and reflect. When you walk the sun-bleached corridors of the world, remember he whom you laughed with as you sought the shade then. And in the days when the sun will set early and you will walk on those dark, grey and lonely roads, head down to protect yourself from the biting cold and you pass the quiet streets lit with the soft yellow glow from overhead lamps, give thought to him, that laughed and sang by your side, and sometimes touched your soft hair in very quiet moments.
I will remember you no matter where fate takes me or the winds of time blow my ship’s sail towards. I will remember the beauty of your heart, the wondrous workings of your mind, your kindness and the greatness which accompanied you like a halo.
In our march through life, you will meet other people as I will. Promise me, that you will create a place for me in your heart that no one else can take. Keep a small place for me there, a place you can go to, when the dark storm clouds gather and you will be absolutely sure of shelter and safety. Promise you will remember me when the skies are grey and when the sun breaks through.
When my footsteps are heavy on the roads I must walk on here, I will bring up my sweet memories of you, smile a little to myself and walk with a much lighter step. In the bleakest situations, I will remember I have you, Ariyike, I will remember I have sat and communed with you, I will remember I have made you laugh and no one, no circumstances, will ever be able to take that from me.