The other day as I was walking to my house I saw a young couple leisurely taking a walk. They were several steps ahead of me. When I say young I mean like really young-like late teenage, 18 or 19. They probably had just finished high school. If you push it, you could say they were freshers in college. The boy was wearing a pair of blue jeans, a heavy, hooded jumper and a pair of turquoise sneakers. He had black head phones with red marks hanging loosely around his neck. The girl was wearing a pair of jeans, a pink top and black sandals with multi-colored straps. The girl’s jeans were those tattered types that my village self has never really accepted as fashion sense. I still remember the first time I saw someone wearing them. It was a beautiful girl with an expensive phone and looking all classy except that pair of jeans that was tattered and looked dirty. What more, she looked completely at ease, not like someone who had just been involved in a violent physical scuffle. Plus her face did not have blood stained scratch or bite marks (women for some reason find nails and teeth to be effective weapons in fights) and her hair was neatly tied in a ponytail behind her head. It could only mean one thing: she had worn them deliberately. I was horrified. Of course I have been in the city for a while now and I have managed to befriend a number of city girls. They have over time explained to me that it is the in thing. I am now used to seeing them, though they still make me uncomfortable because well, a bushman always remains a bushman. At least at heart.
The youthful couple looked adorable as they teased each other and engaged in mock fights on the road, giggling happily. Perhaps they were each other’s first love. They were experiencing the magic of chemistry that is usually at play when people are in love-especially for the first time. That first time when hearts have not been broken and therefore there is a sense of youthful optimism, with little or no caution. They were probably also suffering from teenage hormonal imbalance that makes one easily excitable and therefore makes the experience even more thrilling. Add that to the lack of any real responsibility in life, and you have a couple that is hopelessly in love, dreaming of a lifetime together doing little else other than hiking and scuba diving in Vanuatu.
This young couple reminded me of my own experience at teenage love. I did survive high school without a single romantic exploit thanks to my conservative socialization, but the bug caught up with me soon after clearing school. The girl was admittedly beautiful, a chocolate brown beauty with inquisitive eyes. She had a lovely smile that exposed rows of neatly arranged teeth. And she was slightly shorter than I was (come to think of it, that’s like really short because I happen to be a midget. Reminds me of a colleague in campus who used to joke that God made her really small so that people like me could have admirers who thought we are “tall, dark and handsome”). But the most attractive thing about this girl was the sense of pride she had. In words and actions she made it clear she was a class above the average village girl. I found that to be very appealing for some reason. Perhaps it had something to do with the raging teenage hormones.
I knew I was not the only one seeking the attention of her heart. But technically speaking, I had a head start: she was my friend. I said technically because friendship in certain circumstances is a liability. There are those girls who hold you in very high regard. They confide in you and trust you like a brother. But one stupid move in the romantic direction and the friendship goes up in smoke. You lose your status and become just another man. I agonized over this matter for a long time. I wanted to ask her out, but at the same time I did not want to put our friendship on the line of fire. We usually spent considerable time together, yet opening my mouth to say the all-important words became more difficult than my obese self becoming a star in martial acrobatics. Yet there was a sense of urgency because another acquaintance of mine was closing in. He began to spend more and more time with her, significantly reducing my share of time. Every time I saw them together I felt as if someone had poured sulphuric acid down my throat, leaving a stinging sensation on my oesophagus. This would be replaced by a burning sensation arising from my stomach and going up to my chest, where it would then start boiling, fueled by periodical doses of hydrochloric acid. The green eyed monster.
Finally I did work up the courage to stutter the words. I remember it was an evening and the sun was setting. The orange glow made a face seem to radiate warmth. Her eyes sparkled in the dying sunlight. But once I said the words, those eyes seemed to harden. I felt lightning strike my stomach twice in quick succession.
“I’ll think about it,” she finally said. I let out a sigh of relief. At least the friendship was safe, whatever her answer. She did not think I had gone mad. She did say yes eventually, and what followed was a blissful period of following each other like twins. Whenever I was invited to preach-yea I started preaching as a teenager-I would tag her along. It did not last long though. Just a few months, and our immaturity started to take its toll. We both made a series of reckless decisions that led to an acrimonious break up. You know, a mean word here, a chilly treatment there. Soon we were not talking to each other and ultimately we broke up. Thank God we were both Christians and so to a large extent we came out of it physically unscathed. But the emotional torpedoes were intense. I felt as though my intestines were being chopped into very small pieces by a very patient butcher. My heart was in a riotous mood. The same hormones that fire up the excitement and bliss come back to haunt you with vengeance.
That was eight years ago. We have both grown up. We do have friendly conversations whenever we meet. I have since realized that that was nothing more than the folly of youth. Love is more than a beautiful face and dreams of everlasting bliss. This especially comes down heavily on me whenever I hear a college student or a teenager has stabbed another to death in a romantic brawl. Love is good, but it is dangerous if mishandled. Some of these kids should probably just acknowledge that they are too young to handle it, though if you say that to them they will usually puff up their tiny chests in false bravado or roll their eyes because at only 26 you are sounding like their archaic father.
These were the thoughts that I had as I watched the two lovebirds walking in front of me. I hoped they were mature enough to realize that love entailed responsibility. That affection has a twin sister called respect. I hoped that both of them sincerely wished to honor God and each other, because that would come in handy when the hormones started raging. I silently made a prayer for them. That their teenage romance story would turn out better than mine. Even if they did not make it to Vanuatu, at least they should navigate the treacherous waters of teenage romance and come out victorious. Not used, ruined or emotionally destroyed. Or dead. I should make that prayer more often for all the teenagers out there.
Edward Maroncha is a lawyer, and a pupil at Damaris W. Gitonga & Company Advocates. He hopes to be admitted to the Roll of Advocates by the end of the year. He is also a writer, itching to tell a good story as observed from his surroundings. He is a Christian and fellowships at KAG- River of God Church, Parklands.
For more from this Author see his website Sanctuaryside