Thursday, December 6, 2012

On Free SHS and Evaluating Campaign Promises...

I have been largely uncomfortable with the way the debate on free SHS has gone. Today, Steven Landsburg’s words in “The Armchair Economist” gave me some clarity… (I think)

“One of the first rules of policy analysis is that you can never prove that a policy is desirable by proving its benefits. It goes without saying that nearly any policy anybody can dream up has some advantages. If you want to defend a policy, your task is not to demonstrate that it does some good, but that it does more good than harm.” Thus on the flipside, if you want to oppose a policy, your task is not to demonstrate that it does some harm, but that it does more harm than good.

To demonstrate that a program does more good/harm than harm/good, one must at least take an implicit stand on the fundamental philosophical issue of what ‘more’ means, and how much ‘more’ is required to implement a policy, or throw it out of the window. You also have to determine the right standard for weighing one kind of cost (harm) against another kind of benefit (good).

It is easy to get carried away with making long lists of pros and cons, forgetting that sooner or later, we must decide how many cons it takes to outweigh a particular pro, and vice versa.

We can commission experts to estimate costs and benefits, but when the costs are measured in apples and the benefits in oranges, mere arithmetic cannot illuminate the path to ‘righteousness’. When all the facts are in, we still need a moral philosophy to guide our decisions. This is where ideological differences come in and invariably leads to people on either side of the fence.

Thus the winner of the elections (or any elections for that matter), will not determine whether a manifesto policy is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, whatever those words mean to you in this context.

The important thing to me then, is to ask how Ghana can benefit from the dialogue about this free SHS policy or any other campaign promise, no matter the outcome of the elections.

In the case of free SHS, if the NDC wins, how do we hold them up to the standard of ‘not now’? How do we ensure that they put in place at least some of the preparatory measures required for ‘later’, and at a pace that will not make the ‘later’ effectively ‘never’?

Should the NPP win, how do we ensure that the catastrophic ‘now’ predictions of harm are minimized? How do we ensure that casualties will be minimized even if it falls flat on its face like some predict?

Sitting down and folding our arms should not be an option, no matter what side of the divide we find ourselves on. It is in no one’s interest to just wait and be able to say “Aha! We said it!” especially when the future of the nation is at stake.

But then again, that’s just my two cent’s worth.

PS: Talking this over with my Dad made me realize this may be seen as a call for a national development agenda so that we are not swinging from party manifesto to manifesto. But alas! We all know how that story goes…

Monday, October 22, 2012

On Getting over a Break-Up

Sometimes, a bad break-up is a blessing in disguise. It leaves little room for entertaining 'sankofa-ish' thoughts. Sally thought back to how this was recently true in her own life. Her last break-up had been particularly painful and nearly cost her the scholarship she held at the time. She had cried herself to bed more times then she cared to count and had dated many ice-cream flavors in a series of one-night stands which left her waistline carrying a few extra inches as battle scars.

She stopped wearing make-up and wore naught but sweats for months on end (Granted, after a while, this was because they were the only things that fit anymore). She lost all interest in school and only went to class so she wouldn't get kicked out of the program. Once in class, she spent the time trying very hard to look interested while counting the seconds till she could go back to her apartment, lay in the fetal position, cuddle whichever ice-cream flavor was sharing her bed that night, and watch sad movies or listen to heartbreak music till sleep gave her respite from her wandering mind and aching heart. It was a dark, dark time.

Through all the darkness however, it never came to calling Senanu to take her back. Nary a drunken text (or whatever the teetotaler equivalent was) passed her phone. And it was all because of the nature of the break-up. Senanu's treatment of the situation left no doubt in her mind that she was never going back to date him. This is not to say that she walked away from him without a second glance. Having been friends long before they dated, she would often weep for the loss of their friendship and wish he could be there for her as he was pre-dating. It wasn't until much later that it sunk in that the whole "Let's be friends" after a break-up thing held very little appeal for most people, especially when they are male... especially when there's next to no chance of future copulation.

Anyway, Sally was taking stock of the blessing of her break-up today because she just finished talking to her best friend Akosua on the phone and that conversation made her realize that although she never wanted a second chance after the break-up, it wasn't until recently that she had gotten over the whole Senanu incident. She hadn't talked to Akosua in a while and it was Akosua who pointed out her healing to her.

Sally had equated not wanting a come-back to being over Senanu. However, as Akosua pointed out, she was never able to talk about or to him without getting somewhat emotional. She had suppressed all her anger at the break-up and so a little would escape every time she came into contact with him or his name was mentioned in conversation. While they were no longer together, he still had rent-free accommodation in her heart. Only difference was that he had been moved from the master bedroom to the boys quarters.

Akosua noted her friend was getting healed the day she met Senanu and his new girl. Sally had initially been hesitant to meet them, having her suspicions that Senanu had started dating this new girl while they were still together. She was afraid she would meet the girl and act in a way or say something untoward. However she met the girl and realized that all her questions about when they started dating didn't matter. Not immediately, mind you. She had wanted to query Senanu and settle the issue in her mind once and for all. But she started asking the questions and realized there was no point. It didn't matter. And that was the beginning of her closure.

Her other close friend Gyamfua offered an explanation to why this was so. Forgiveness. Sally had never forgiven Senanu nor herself and that had laid siege to her letting go and truly getting over him. When Gyamfua's own boyfriend broke up with her, he moved away from town and so was able to make a fresh start. Gyamfua always resented his fresh start while she had to stay in town and deal with all their family and friends and their 'well-meaning' questions. She had had to not only get over the break-up with her boyfriend of nine years, but also, explain the break-up to all who knew them at home, at church and what have you.

To make matters worse, everyone believed her beau was such a great catch that it must have been her fault that he broke up with her and some ladies at church went as far as asking her to confess what she did to them so that they go apologize to him on her behalf. He was a wonderful man, they said, and would forgive her if she begged him, and they added their voices to it. The thing was, her boyfriend was gay. She had been his beard for the nine years they were together. He had told her he had pledged abstinence till marriage and had always chastised her for tempting him whenever her hormones got the better of her.

She had decided to surprise him one day only to hear moans from his room. Thinking it was his flatmate narrowing him again, she had rang his cell only to hear it ring in the room. He told her he wasn't at home, and she had used her key to find him in a compromising position with his 'flatmate'. Instead of staying to face the music and coming out, he had skipped town, leaving her to do all the explanation and to become more resentful with every question and pitying stare she got. It took her four years to forgive him, and it was only then that she got over him and moved on.

Getting over a break-up isn't an exact science. It is all too relative. Some will take months, others will take years. Some have more to forgive than others and some are more easily forgiving than others. Sometimes, the most difficult person to forgive will be yourself. At times because you (feel you) failed your heart by giving it to your ex, other times, it will be you who wronged your ex so bad that you can't forgive yourself for letting a good catch go. In any case, take all the time you need and be honest to yourself every step of the way.

No matter how long you need, that day always comes. The day you can talk of an ex with nothing more than passing interest. With no need to explain why you dated them or how horrible a person they/you were to anyone. That day, you wont have to say it out loud. You wont have to convince anyone. You will know. That it's truly over.

Like Stephanie Georgopulos said, “Moving on is not like a birthday, you can’t count down the hours ‘til it arrives and you can’t mark it on a calendar and you can’t call up your friends to help you celebrate. You can’t plan for it and you can’t conclude it by blowing out a candle. When moving on happens there will be no announcements, no notifications, no congratulations. There will be no parade; only you will know”.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

One Night Stand

She woke up before he did and stood before the mirror
Lips swollen, two hickeys on the side of her neck
With a heavy shadow on her face, the shadow of shame

She woke up before he did, wanting to throw up
Disgust and regret stirring up a storm in her belly
Rising bile to her throat and sending her to the bathroom

She woke up before he did and promptly went back to bed
Hoping she'd wake up later to discover it was all a dream
Crossing her fingers and toes, She woke up before he did and went back to bed

She woke up before he did and snuck out the window
If she didn't see or talk to him before she left
Maybe she could erase last night from her memory

She woke up before he did and called her mama
Sobbing into the phone, she repeated brokenly
" I'm sorry, Mama, I'm not the girl you raised anymore "

She woke up before he did with a tear stained face
And to these old tear trails were added fresh ones
As her prayer warrior mama began to pray with her

She woke up before he did full of regret
Sick to the stomach and craving amnesia
She woke up before he did, a broken woman

But as mama cried out from the depths of her womb
Her deep regret became true repentance
And comfort from above engulfed her grief

She woke up before he did, a broken woman
But she left the hotel before he did, a changed woman
And that was her last one-night stand ever

Friday, June 15, 2012

On Forgiveness...

"To forgive is not to condone the offense, to say it made no difference, or to license its repetition. Rather, forgiveness is a decision to no longer hold an offense against another group or person. It's a choice, just like love. Choose wisely!" ~Robin Harford

Forgiveness is something I struggle with ever so often. One of the joys of letting few people close is that those who do, get really close and so have amazing power to hurt you. 

Another thing that brings me to the forgiveness struggle over and over is my need to understand things to let it go. When I have been hurt or let down, what caused me the most anguish was the 'Why?'.

For this reason, I am convinced that breaking up with someone without telling them exactly why you broke up with them is tantamount to emotional terrorism... but I digress.

So yeah, the forgiveness thing is not my forte and even less so is the forgetting part. And God being the patient teacher, time and again, I have been reminded of things that make nonsense of holding grudges.

1) Nobody can nor will wrong me to the extent that I wrong God. And if He forgives...

2) No matter how badly someone wrongs me, God wont stay mad at them because I haven't let it go. When they repent, He will forgive them. And will not withhold His blessings from them just cos I said so.

3) Whether we understand the actions of others or not, we are solely responsible for how we choose to process and react to them.

While the first one cannot really be debated, or at least elicits very little debate from me, the second and third have struck close to home a couple of times. 

When you seek closure from a past hurt and you realize your past tormentor doesn't remember and has changed and so feels bad and apologizes although they don't remember, you realize how futile holding on to past hurt and grudges are. You're often the only one who suffers... and remembers.

Makes you wonder who you hurt and may not even remember, doesn't it?

When you see a friend's ex who was cheating with like ten different girls become a pastor and marry an amazing minister of God, and go on to have an awesome life while your friend still harbors some resentment, you realize how God isn't waiting for your forgiveness to bless someone.

And even when they don't change but remember and feel no remorse, you see them later on and realize that allowing their decision to be deliberately evil to affect your soul is a complete waste of time and emotional resources.

And you realize how although the starting quote said it was a choice, it's a necessary choice.

How do you handle forgiveness? What makes it easier?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How are you really, friend?

Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.
-- Ed Cunningham

Three words, nine letters, and it can make all the difference in the world: “How are you?” At times I am convinced that a sincere “How are you?” says more about how much you mean to someone than an “I love you”.

We can gush out an “I love you” to a stranger that lets us go before them to the bathroom when they notice us dancing to the tune of a bursting bladder and totally mean it at the time. And of course, we can say it more times than we can count no matter how false it may be when we feel it is what we need to say to get ‘some’.

But I have noticed this; No matter how badly you want a person or want a favor from said person, or are grateful to said person, it is mighty hard to listen to the answer to “How are you?” when you do not care. Especially when the answer is anything other than “I am fine, thanks for asking”.

At times, I do not realize how far I have drifted from a friend until they ask “How are you?” If a reflex “I am fine” comes out when I am anything but, I know the friendship is going downhill and I need to decide if I’m going to try and save it or just watch it fall into that dark abyss of past friendships.

If I ask a perfunctory “How are you?” and cannot be bothered to listen to anything that is not an equally cursory “I am fine”, I know there is no need lying to myself about how little someone really matters.

It amazes me how amazed everyone is at a suicide. The amazement is even more amazing when the person has tons of ‘friends’ and loved ones coming out to say how sorry and sad they are and that they had no idea what the person was going through.

It makes me wonder, if people are such amazing actors/actresses, why are we being plagued with so many horrible movies these days? (JK! Ok, half-kidding)

It makes me wonder, would someone asking “How are you?” and waiting to hear the full answer, no matter how long and horrible it was, have made a difference? I don’t know… but I wonder.

A failed suicide attempt had parents and friends ask; “Why?” “Why didn’t you talk to us?” “How could we not know?” Still shaking from the visit to the no man’s land between life and death, Anna said, “You did not ask”. Mary looked away and said ‘I did. You didn’t listen’

While some people would judge and say you should be proactive about seeking help when you need it, blah blah blah, I think of how often we ask ‘How are you?’ and neither expect nor wait for a real answer.

Sometimes all we need is someone to listen. So what if the next time I ask a friend ‘How are you?’ I ask in a way that told them they could get vulnerable? What would I learn? What could I prevent?


Sunday, April 22, 2012

I know the internet has made long-distance relationships 'easier' and our loved ones are more available to us now when they are not with us than they've ever been. Yet, sometimes, like a sick child or a pregnant woman who will refuse any food that is not the vegetarian pizza sold 50 miles away when they are not even vegetarian, no amount or mode of communication can fill the void of their absence.

There are just those times where you want to go and find Celine Dion and hug her for her song 'When I need Love' because you're detesting the miles and miles of empty spaces and realizing a telephone can truly not take the place of a smile...

It sucks that Long-Distance is inevitable at times. Watching the army wives and girlfriends around me, I don't know how they do it. Even people with ah-so-frequent communication are crying for more. I asked my friend how she did it and she said no matter how little of him she gets, she'd rather have 0.001% of him that 0%. I guess that sorta kinda makes sense...

I’d rather have you here…

I know I could text you, IM you, ping you, etc.
But I’d rather hear your voice

I’d rather feel your stubble
Gently grazing my neck
As you whisper into my ear

I’d rather breathe you in
With my arms around you
Holding you near

I’d rather not text,
Or Skype, or IM
I’d rather have you here

And it hurts,
That I can’t have
What I’d rather

But through all the pain,
If stopping the pain
Means saying goodbye,
I’d rather miss you
I’d rather hurt

Although above all,
I’d rather have you here.
(Right now)

PS: Distance can go play in traffic right now.
PPS: I just realized this is my 100th post. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Why I know I will 'always' love you

  • Because I couldn't grasp the dictionary definition of euphoria until you held me away in your arms after a long hug, looked me in the eye with wonder and kissed my forehead with reverence. 

  • Because I, Miss flippant and nonchalant began to do crazy, fiercely possessive things like envy the sun its ability to touch any and every part of you, right there in the open.

  • Because the light and heat from your smile that greets me when I enter a room makes me wonder why energy is still an issue when there's enough light and warmth for an eternity in that smile.

  • Because your hand holding mine is more than enough backbone to face whatever obstacle life may think itself clever to have thrown my way. 

  • Because I never understood Romeo and Juliet until I stood by your bedside, machines beeping and wondered what would be left to live for if you didn't make it.

  • Because I never understood leaving the 99 sheep to pursue the lost one until I stood in my dream house, dream job in hand and realized I'd gladly give them all up to have you back from beyond

  • Because I can't bring myself to talk/write about you in the past tense after all this while.

  • Because I've never stopped asking God why

  • Because, just because

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Story that cannot be Told

What do you do with a story

you cannot tell yourself?

A story where not even the

hundredth person narrative would do

And so first, second and third are out?

A story which shows you in the most

unbecoming light ever?

Going against everything you are (were?)

And everything you ever stood for

Being everything but you?

What do you do with a story

you cannot forget about?

A story which would change everything

and yet wont stay down

no matter how hard you push?

A story that would make your

mentors and mentees at the very least

See you as an ugly beast

Or at the other end be so shocked they wonder

if the sun truly rises from the east?

What do you do with a story

that is a painful lump in you throat?

A story you'd gladly have surgery for

To get rid of the lump

And to erase it from your mind?

A story which makes you cry each night

scaldng tears that would not fall?

A story which sends you out

for a strenuous midnight jog

just to pause the thoughts?

A story which when you return from the jog

exhausted beyond belief

cold and shivering

and enter the the shower,

comes rushing back with the hot water?

A story you pray about every night?

A story you cannot forgive yourself for?

A story which... *swallows*

What do you do with such a story?

What can you do with such a story?

What must you do with such a story?

Can you do anything with such a story?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Retail Therapy

I used to scoff at the idea of retail therapy. I am not a shopaholic and wouldn’t qualify as anybody’s definition of a fashionista, no matter how loose the definition.

Yet if retail therapy was a religion, I have gradually moved from an agnostic to an attend-several-times-a-year believer. This unwelcome realization came today when I felt really low, frustrated and uninspired due to a couple of things not going as planned and one big dead end.

As I sat mulling over the turn of events, the happy music I had put on failing to do its work of cheering me up, one thought overrode the rest - ‘Go visit the mall’

On a good day, I would scoff at the idea. Today, I realized the potential of a mall visit as a pick-me-up and sometimes, even a source of much needed inspiration and wanted to share.

The nice thing about retail therapy is that the placebo effect works equally well. You don’t actually have to buy anything on your trip to make you all better and this is a particular plus for a student on a budget.

Of course, there is always the risk of coming away feeling low because you were unable to purchase an item you really set your heart on, or conversely, making an instantly-regretted-upon-reaching-home impulse purchase. With a little planning, this can be avoided or dealt with.

·         To avoid the allure of the treacherous bit of plastic called a credit card which allows you to spend money you do not have at present, you may want to leave that at home.
·         Decide if and how much you’re going to spend before leaving the house.
·         If possible, take only that amount with you to the mall
·         Take a long, hard look at your bank account balance against the things you have to stretch your money to cover to re-enforce your determination to not spend
·         Refrain from trying on tempting items you cannot put back on the rack if they fit

My three go-to kinds of shopping for retail therapy are window shopping shoe shopping, and underwear shopping.

Window Shopping
Window shopping is the best kind of retail therapy there is. It is a cost-effective way of boosting your mood, getting inspiration for future outfits/purchases and getting your daily walking miles in whilst at it. It can be done with any item, cars, perfume, clothes, shoes, underwear, etc.

One of the perks of window shopping for me is that I have visuals of what I am working towards when I get back and my books are proving stubborn. Since I am not actually buying, I do not shy away from the higher-end stores. Whist it may be considered vain, the thought of being able to buy the nice things I cannot afford at the moment has helped me power through many a difficult assignment. I guess it is comparable reasoning to going to the show-room and test-driving a luxury car you’re in no position to purchase at the moment.

Shoe Shopping
Nothing beats the rush of finding those pair of shoes that make you sigh in appreciation of the genius behind its design. Never mind that between the chiropractor bills its four-to-six inch heels will probably lead to in future, the six-to-ten times a year you’ll actually wear it and the ridiculous price tag, it makes no sense to buy those shoes. It makes you feel sophisticated, confident, sexy and invincible in a way that is surely worth every penny.

Besides, you reason, it’s the perfect confidence boost for that million dollar interview you have coming up sometime in the future and if your confidence gets you that job, it will more than have paid for itself, no? It’s okay if guys don’t get it. Their shoe designs aren’t as inspired anyways.

Underwear Shopping
In all honesty, I much prefer this to shoe shopping and have to exercise more restraint in this type of therapy. This is last only because it doesn’t make as much sense if you have zero to spend. It’s not an easy task finding that elusive bra that is a perfect combination of fun, flirty, pretty and functional. For someone who needs the functional part, this can be quite a challenge.

Each time I go underwear shopping, I have a suspicion confirmed; designers don’t bother being creative after a certain size because they reckon your boobs don’t need any help with presentation. Damn you, designers! Who says a girl cannot look nice underneath if no one’s going to see what she has on?

The frills are for me, my dear designers. If a shoe/dress can boost your confidence, a pretty bra can do so much more. Added is the I-know-something-you-don’t thrill. When the girls are happy and look good, one can wear sackcloth and still feel like a million bucks. This is true whether I am an AA or DDD cup. *side-eye at bra designers*

I found that I felt so much better after penning this article I didn’t have to go window shopping after all. Whilst retail therapy is a great form of therapy, I would make a poor salesman for the practice. I could say that it’s such an excellent form of therapy even writing about it works. We know better.

So if you’re like me about writing, write a light-hearted article about any topic that is or has been on your mind when you’re feeling down. It doesn’t even have to be related to whatever is causing your present turmoil. My next article should probably be ‘Writing Therapy’… Right now though, I need to make me a cup of tea and get on that assignment. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Letter from the Other Woman III

(This is the final part of a three-part story. You can read the first part here , and the second part here ).

In spite of my growing jealousy, I’d panic every time he would mention that you two were having problems because I didn’t want you two to break up.

Then it would mean that I’d have to decide whether I wanted to be with him for real. And I didn’t want to be with him. By now, I was sure.

Whilst I wish I could say it was because I didn’t want to be a home-wrecker, which I didn’t, it was more because his being with me showed his home was wreck-able.

And I didn’t want to become another ‘If he cheated with you, he’ll cheat on you’ statistic. Yes, I’m ashamed to say my ambition had been reduced to not becoming a statistic… when I was already one.

Did the shame make a difference? No. There I was counseling Paul back into your arms whenever he was in a place where it seemed he would break up with you… whilst he was in my arms.

There was I temporarily withdrawing and breaking off communication with him whenever I felt he was getting too attached to me during one of your rough patches, only to run right back when it ended.

Once in a very long while, my near-dead conscience would draw from the last vestiges of its strength and reprimand me. But by now, it was so weak that a roll of my eyes returned it to its comatose state.

It fought valiantly. It just never won. It kicked and screamed when it noticed the time I spent talking with, thinking about, planning for and being with Paul exceeded the time I spent on everything else.

It reminded me that an idol was anything you put before God. I wasn’t even praying much anymore. I listened for a short while, and then gave it a generous dose of Valium.

What is the point of telling you all this now? Forgive my rambling. Poor man’s therapy, they say. But then again, being the psychologist, you know this more than I.

Yesterday, at 19:47 GMT, Paul got down on his knees and asked me to be his wife. He said he had asked you for a divorce and your response had been a resigned “ok”.

He said that your recent miscarriage had made him realize that if a child came into the picture, he would be stuck with you forever and it was me he wanted a forever with.

He said it was the worst acquiescence he had ever obtained and that the loud thud of a broken woman throwing in a towel heavy with her hot tears was not a very pleasant sound.

He said, “The worst part was that I couldn’t even hold her as her frail frame racked with sobs. All I could think was, stop crying so I can go to Gifty”.

He looked at me expectantly and I saw his heart sink from his eyes to the bottom of his stomach when he saw the horrified look on my face.

My comatose conscience miraculously leaped back to life and filled me with remorse deeper than I ever imagined a human could feel. I’d become the woman I said I’d never be; the home-wrecker.

The engagement ring, supposed to be one of the things a girl looks forward to most, slapped me like a glass of ice-cold water poured into one’s face at 4:00am on a cold Harmattan morning.

I sank deeper into the sofa. Good thing I wasn’t standing. Someway, somehow, I found the strength to pick up the ring, put it back in the box, and send him home.

I didn’t see that coming. I guess I should have known when he stopped talking your problems over with me. When he stopped getting angry at things you did.

Or maybe when he told me he loved me and instead of the usual “get away!” I found myself saying “I love you too” and he smiled as if he’d won the biggest ‘try-your-luck’ balloon.

Or perhaps even when he was in that recent car-accident and his siblings and close friends were calling me, not you, to ask how he was doing… but I didn’t.

I had received a transfer letter earlier in the day. I was re-locating to Brussels in three months. I told him I had a surprise when he came over and he said he had one too. His surprise was obviously bigger.

I never thought I’d be the other woman. I read my bible and prayed since I was a little girl. I still blush when a kissing scene comes on and I am not watching the movie alone. I’m no Delilah.

I had the Cinderella dream once upon a time and whilst I realized I’d let go of my happily-ever-after dreams when I turned 17, I never intended to take yours away… and certainly not this way.

I hear Paul never made it home last night. A drunk driver hit him, they said. The one time I decided to do right by you and Paul… and this is how it ends.

So whilst I’m the last person you’d want to hear from, I needed to confess my pending man-slaughter (I may as well have put a gun to his head if he dies) …and to explain the request for divorce …

… and why Paul insists on holding on to an engagement ring as he fights for his life in the ICU.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Letter from the Other Woman II

(This is the second part of a story. You can read the first part here ).

I met Paul at a particularly low point in my life. I had just ‘broken up’ with the love of my life who claimed he loved me to bits but wasn’t good enough to date me. (Yeah, right!)

Of course, kind courtesy of ‘He’s just not that into you’, we all know it’s one of the oldest lines in the ‘Douchebaggery for Dummies’ manual.

I wasn’t looking for a relationship and I wasn’t looking for a fling either. I’m not that kind of girl, you see. Yet that first night, drunk on excitement and cheap wine, we kissed.

I apologized the next time we spoke, telling him I had a boyfriend and so we couldn’t go anywhere although I was sure he was a wonderful chap.

He also apologized and told me he also had a girlfriend so we could never go anywhere. This was you, by the way. It should have been the end of our story. Sadly, it wasn’t.

Many a boy/girl dreams of that friendship which defies all latent and overt sexual tension and remains a platonic, life-long friendship. We found we both had that dream.

Of course we could have been using it as an excuse to stay in touch, chasing the thrill of playing with fire and escaping unscathed. I don’t know. I am not the one with a PhD in psychology. You are.

Paul and I had this amazing conversational chemistry that I hardly find with others. Our phone networks definitely benefited from our virtual time together.

We could talk for four hours without a lull in conversation and resume two hours later groggy from sleep with a good morning text and text back and forth all day. O, the folly of youth! (Wistful smile)

And so I kept him around, for the witty conversation and friendship, or so I told myself. The lies we tell ourselves so we can sleep at night!

Every lady knows that the guy who can make you laugh more than anyone else in the world has your heart. I found our senses of humour were 97% compatible. Enough said.

And so the friendship deteriorated into friendship plus casual make-out sessions where you would disappear and all thoughts of the future would disappear too, for we insisted we didn’t want one together.

Time would however betray our lie. For as many who have tried to divorce biology from psychology have found, the heart, head and hormones rarely stay in their boxes when we separate them.

Whilst I convinced myself that I didn’t care that whenever we were together, he’d have to leave if you called, I found myself getting jealous whenever he left to be with you.

I found myself getting annoyed with him and myself whenever he would pick a call and end it with a smile on his face and it wasn’t you he had been talking to.

I guess I had accepted the hierarchy and that you came before me; but refused to share second place with anyone else. The depths to which I had sunk! I was jealously guarding my second-best position. (Stay Tuned) 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Letter from the Other Woman I

Dear Chrysta,

You do not know me but I know you very well. For whilst he cannot talk to you about me because you do not know I exist, I know you do and so he does.

I know when you have a bad day and when you get a promotion or raise. I even know when your PMS causes you to snap at him and throw him out of the house.

No, he does not come to stay with me. He calls but I turn him away. Nature has played this cruel joke on us where our cycles are perfectly synchronized. God has a sense of humor and the joke’s on us (him).

Oh, where did my manners go? There they are! I guess I should introduce myself. In case you haven’t already guessed, I am the other woman in Paul’s life. Or am I one of them? You never know these days.

I am not your average ‘other woman’. I am not trying to steal your husband nor get back at my father. I am neither a sex fiend nor exceptionally good in bed. He says you’re much better.

In fact, many a time, he comes to me complaining how you tired him out in bed, his half-hearted complaints belied by the fact that he is usually grinning like a Cheshire cat. You’re doing it right there.

My name is Gifty and like the name suggests, I am both gifted and a gift. Lead soprano singer in the choir, Sunday school teacher, CFA, and ladies wing vice-president are a few of the titles I can claim.

Over the weekend, I volunteer at a school for special needs children. They love me. Everybody does, including your husband but we will come to that.

If you are shaking your head whilst going through my profile and asking incredulously “…and other woman?” you are right. It does not fit in the picture.

But like I found out from my childhood obsession with picture puzzles lasting well into my teens, sometimes, not every piece fits... (To be continued)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Breaking Her Own Heart

Tears stuck behind her eyelids, Anna blinks, trying to get rid of the foreign material in her eyes. Foreign because tears that wouldn't fall aren't tears; God knows what they were. She lifts her head high and shakes her head, sniffing back more 'tears'.

She refused to cry, for there was no one but herself to blame for the pain. How would she explain her tears? "I took a knife, stuck it in my own chest and twisted it like a screwdriver?" For that was the naked truth.

She had broken her heart all by herself. Her head and heart had both said no and yet she had gone ahead and fallen anyway, fallen upon the sharp knife which now wrenched her gut, called it love when it was pure, unadulterated lust.

But through it all, she smiled. For she had broken a heart she thought she no longer had. And the excrutiating pain at least meant it was still there. Its magnitude showed the insurmountable joy she could one day feel

And so she smiled through the 'tears' that  would not fall. They'd fall when joy arrived. They'd fall as tears of joy. (Or so she hoped prayed)