Our first experience of love is of something pure and beautiful; but ever before we reach the age of twenty-five that outlook becomes so bastardized and twisted and tainted and tarnished giving rise to a potpourri of jumbled confusions and beyond that only just a few lucky of us will go on to realign with that truly pure essence of love
Four months later Linda went to the hospital and the doctor confirmed that she was again in the family way. James was rapturous at the news. This had got to be Jake, and he had come to stay this time. She was six months into the pregnancy and James sent her back home to London, for once beaten was twice shy.
There was an opium that ran high within the circle of James’ countrymen, colleagues and friends in Salisbury, everyone had a girlfriend among the locals. The business was finished on benches within the station and against the walls in offices. No one was hurt, everyone went with something. But for James the love of Linda permitted no such complicities. He could not bring himself to partake in the liberty even with Linda back home several miles across the oceans. Linda was a dream came true; how she had walked out of his dreams to assume a human and tangible dimension, James would forever consider a miracle. His adult life experiences had impressed it upon him that life often did not give to a man in the exactness of his wishes. And throughout his life this had played true for him as the reality in all things except in Linda.
James, a quiet and calculated man of candour, loved his simple quiet life devoid of complications. His taste for quality in material and in human association ran deep. He had only few friends – that was the much he was capable of. Everything he chose and owned he held dear and because he did not have too much space in his heart he kept the margin of the things he chose narrow, so his devotion to each one of them would not suffer.
When Linda came, a satisfaction came filling up the hollowness of his life. She quenched all his hunting instincts and doused all the embers of emotional wants. And in his heart there was no more space since Linda had come to stay. And over the years as he himself realized how woven his life was becoming with Linda James began to suffer unspoken fears. He feared the possibility of living in a world where Linda was not. If Linda stopped to love him and walked away, he was sure he would die the next moment; if something happened to Linda and she died, James knew that if he survived it would not be for long. His fears became his bondage. They were transparent to Linda and during their silences as she lay cuddling against his chest in the afterglow of giddy lovemaking, she often said in a small voice, “I’m not going to leave you, if you don’t leave.”
Those words were pregnant with meanings for her as well as for James. Linda was a defeated dreamer; marrying James had come as marrying the next available man when life had played a prank on her with the man she had truly given out her heart to.
Several months after Harry had walked away from their relationship Linda’s nights and days were still helplessly fraught with the thoughts of him and the sound of his voice hitting at her from somewhere far away. In her mind, she saw herself standing at the crossroads watching Harry’s back as he went away hand in hand with the other girl, giggling and cavorting, completely ecstatic about the new future for which he was headed. Harry was too happy to realize how upset Linda was about this. He just couldn’t look back to see her standing there, a forlorn figure, wishing he were back to where they had both been. And by the time that he had even blended in into the horizon with his new love and Linda could no longer hear his voice or the sound of his laughter, she still stood there looking down the road expecting him to come running back telling her he realized she was but the very one who had shown him what true love meant and that it was with her he ought to be. But nothing like that happened.
People kept passing, crossing her path but blinded by her tears she just couldn’t see anyone. And when someone tugged at her arm and told her to come back home for that way was the way to the future, she began to move but still she couldn’t stop herself from looking over her shoulder, back down the road that Harry travelled. She needed to try so very hard to push the memories behind her. But as it seemed that forging ahead was humanly impossible she turned to God to heal her hurt and help her move on in faith towards the future full of unrevealed blessings, a certain morrow in whose belly untold goodness and treasures awaited her.
And James came along feeling lucky to discover her. Linda came hauling on with James in a relationship that elicited no sparks in her heart. She needed to get by, she needed someone, that was why she stayed. But there was a gaping hole in the centre of her heart all the time. She would sit back and wonder why it was that love like life was one circus of shenanigans where someone loved someone and “the someone” loved had loved “someone else” in a circuit that goes without an end. A circuit of frustration! It began to appear to Linda that of every two who married there was always one, who settled into the relationship like a defeated dreamer while the other one was a winner, who won something that had been hoping to win something else. And at the end of the circuit were people who gave up and married as a way of getting by, as a way of meeting needs rather than out of spontaneous love.
In the two longest years of James’ life while he waited with edge-driving angst for Linda to give him a yes, Linda had stalled hoping that love would come back her way in another colour, the colour of Harry. Desperately she sought answers to many questions, “Was it really true that women don’t get to marry the man they truly love?” she had approached her Aunty Rose. After listening to her, Aunty Rose voiced in a solemn, sagely tone,
“Linda, you are not alone,” she said. “This is the way the world works. What I came to discover is that, for the good some of us, our first experience of love is of something pure and beautiful but ever before we reach the age of twenty-five that outlook becomes so bastardized and twisted and tainted and tarnished giving rise to a potpourri of jumbled confusions and beyond that only just a few lucky of us will go on to realign with that truly pure essence of love.”
Linda turned out as not one of the lucky ones. James was lucky.
Previous Posts in the Series – In Linda's World
IN LINDA'S WORLD Synopsis
IN LINDA’S WORLD I: Coming to Salisbury
IN LINDA’S WORLD II: Uncle Jake – the Dreamer
IN LINDA’S WORLD III: On the Day That James Learnt to Ride
IN LINDA’S WORLD IV: A Man Like Mr. Mwanyisa
IN LINDA’S WORLD V: Meet Sondoko
IN LINDA’S WORLD VI: A Miscarried Hope
Next Post in the Series – In Linda's World
IN LINDA’S WORLD VIII: The Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back