BY DESALEGN DAGNEW
Staring up to the west Aman’s face brightened up with a smile, which created a ripple effect over his teeth and eyes. The moon’s light added a glow over his facial expression foregrounded by the darkness. “Come on baby!” He whispered in the quietness of the night, and tried to gather the moon into his hands. He continued to feel its presence hugging it close to his neck like as he had done thirty years ago.
Aman conjured up Redi’s image in his mind. That night he visited her tall and thin with curly hairs. She was dressed up in short skirts. A white smooth scarf was snaking her neck. She had put on a pink sweater. Here, she came closer. They appeared equal in height. They reciprocated in smile. They kept on hugging each other with ease. She tightly locked her arms around his shoulders. Her lips hovered around his neck. He encircled her thin waist tightly too. Sometimes taking a break they took a bite. She buried her red face in his necks for a while. This declaration of love in not so many words had continued for years whenever the sun hid itself behind the Yeka Mountain.
Often they sat down close stretching their hands up to cuddle the moon. The three of them spent a fascinating time. The three of them with the moons played going round and round. The wear and tear of time could not efface from Aman’s head their sweet memories after three decades. This unwritten stunning love story took place in a campus setting.
Nudged out from his drowsiness by the chilling fingers of the night, Aman left the moon. He swung his arm sideways for embracing it. But nobody was on the veranda when he opened his eyes. A pin dropping silence had descended over the place in the middle of the night. The village was deserted. After a moment he propped up his chin with his arms and narrowed his eyes examining the moon. Many times he rummages in the storeroom of his lifer memories that have left footsteps in his life. The Golden time had flown by. Only vestiges of reminiscence were left for tell a tale.
He has put on a black overcoat on his shoulder carelessly. The moon continued shining. His reminiscences converged because of one thing, the moon. A memorable event that took place thirty years ago made him to use it a reason to escape his wife’s skirmish amid his children.
Nostalgic he sighed and stretched back to rest on the veranda. The cold that night made him to recall some moments from the store room of his memories. He was trying to warm up the frozen fingers of his girlfriend burying it under his chin.A 20 year marriage dimmed his memory and approach to life. Now a henpecked husband he no longer plays a hero in any facet of his life. A docile person that is what he has become in the house.
“Redi! I know you are recounting our blissful times on the other side of the moon!” he uttered with pain stamped face. The vast universe swallowed his whisper. What a mind blowing memories for him even as he thought for himself. Some people come in and go out in one’s life for sweet indelible memory and some for punishment. But she crossed paths of his life to print a footprint not effaceable. She had looked him up as the only man as he decided she must be his soul mate. But the passage of time and the unfolding of events after events eroded his only thing his girlfriend. He has no inkling where she might be, may be abroad he thought when he worried. And he assured himself she might be gazing at today’s big moon on the other side of the moon.
Scrutinizing small lines on the small moon he wistfully recalled each habit she exhibited then like embracing each other. He drew out a pen from his shirt’s pocket and scribbled words supported bythe moon’s light. He zeroed in on the expression “on the moon’s other side”, “I hope you are looking it up” Aman added another word; the two statements covered the whole page. Aman squeezed his body to protect the cold. The grief smote him hard.
Sometimes men are prone to lament what they lost in life. “There is nothing sweet than one’s true love in this planet”! Aman wrote another expression on another page. For decades her youthful feature has been shuttling back and forth in his mind. That day the same thing happened. He flew many years back to one place, campus. Aman had no physical intimacy with Redi. But there was a genuine love between them. Unfortunately, a happy moment in life gets relegated to the back of one’s mind. They turn into bitter sweet memories.
Suddenly a shout awakened him from his daydreams.
“Haven’t you had enough of the chilling cold?” blurted out his wife heading towards him.
“Sorry get back. I will come soon,” he responded politely.
After a while, “What do you mean by the word human?” Samrawit looked down the words that Aman wrote on the paper below the aforementioned expression.
“Creature?” Aman mocked and resorted to his former stance.
“I don’t know but people’s identities are unfathomable like the depth of the ocean,” she growled.
“Identity is a process detected by thoughts”, easily he responds.
“I beg to differ,” she picks up the notebook. He looked her in a go to hell way. She repeatedly read the three sentences to find a reason or the meaning encapsulated in the words then she decided there must be a secret he is trying to hide from her. Especially the word he wrote “nothing is sweet like your love in this planet,” was the last straw that broke her back.
“As to me humans are not what they think they are. Rather they are what they hide,” Samrawit frowned suddenly moving her eyes away from reading. Aman eyed her with amazement. He had forgotten what he has written. Husbands that are unable of remember things become targets of their wives when it comes to nagging.
“What is the wrong with you? Human beings are mirror images of their thoughts!” he frowned. He craned his neck away to evade her gaze. His action betrayed the presence of something he wanted to hide in his heart of hearts
The interrogation technique of men‘s crime against women makes the courts busy. On the other side,women are wise in treating maen. First a woman poses a question even if she already knows the fact or the reason. Then men lies confidently failing to note the booby-trap. The former add another question, the latter get offended. In the meantime women silently read the faces of their male counterparts. If a man going under such verbal grill ducked his head or looked away to hide his face from the introgeting man, it becomes evident he is suffering from humiliation. Samrawit did the same things on Aman.
She tore apart the paper in to pieces. She understood his reverting back to campus and reliving his first kiss.
“I know it is an old flame. Who is she?” Her face turned into a red potato.
“There is no one here!” Aman looked around in fear.
Samrawit kicked a flower pot nearby and looked him straight into the eye with vexation. Aman understood that lying beyond this limit is begging for further grilling.
Humans have no power to accept the truth; he decided to tell her. He knows she do not resist the revelation of facts. But continuously lying amounts to adding another chaos. She probed into his soul to know the truth in a fraction of a second.
“You know that I love the moon,” he made a frantic bid to convince her about his innocence..
“So?” She responded strongly!
“I have a memory to cherish,” he murmured.
“With whom?” his wife decided as she is going to be a winner of the wrangling.
“It is not that much important,” he tried to downplay the thing. But she held his jacket down to toss him back. He lost his balance. Something bad seemed befall on him.
“Things are not like what you imagine. It is a thirty- year old memory or old flame. I don’t know whether she is alive or not”
When he began to confess she sighed with a sense of bravery. But she didn’t want leave the case easily! Thinking about another lover, whatever its nature, is just a scorn for a better half and adultery as she thinks.
“So what is happening after all these years? Do you miss her?” She dived into his soul via her eyes only to tell the chalk from the cheese.
He looked down in doubts. Responding “Yes” would be bad here! Most of the time “NO” can save his neck! There is no YES for all questions. Aman argued with himself! He was in a dilema to answer yes or no to his wife. The bad thing is he was angry for the last few minutes! She waited for the answer eagerly than ever before. “Yes” would be ruining all what he have. She gently goaded him on the shoulder to make him speak. He became a bit annoyed by her disrespect. That is what she wanted. Annoying is another technique that can lead to facts.
“You have said earlier, peoples are what they hide,” he sat on the grass bitterly!
“Okay! I find it hard to live with you after this!” she headed home angrily unable his utterance of “yes”. Not only his failure of answering the question, his quietness also made her blood boil. Making a clean breast oft such events makes women to calm down a bit. But, observably, they never ever trust their partner short of faith again. Hiding things from ta woman lover also makes both your and her life sleepless or miserable. Aman suffered double grilling.
She walked a bit expectant of the soothing words of her husband. She is not good at saying goodbye. Most of the time a goodbye seems a tragic end. For now he is letting her go to let her be. Sometimes people say “bye” to hear the words just “don’t go”.
(The author could be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Ethiopian Herald June 4/2023