Rotten wood, old books

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A tall, black man came to my workplace yesterday.  A very tall man. He was black, not like coal, but the black that can’t leave your mind for a while. A ‘rememberable’ blackness. Blackness with colour, taste, and smell. I stared at him for a while, not sure why but he smelled of something similar. I hated that smell because it was rugged, old, akin to that of old books which have accumulated dust over time, and when you dust them off, a smell so old and dusty wafts to your nose. The feeling is emotionally confusing, you can like the smell of old books, and at the same time dislike it. You’d like the smell for a few seconds. After that, it populates the air around you, making you tired and irate.

That smell reminded me of my last girlfriend. Let’s call her Samantha for today. Sam is allowed too because writing isn’t that easy for me anymore. I called her Sam because she was in every inch similar to a Sam I attended YALI with. The main difference could be class and intelligence perhaps. Because my Sam was only 18 years old, chocolate and 18-ish.

I dated her for four months. It was the purest kind of, yet the most torturous relationship I ever entangled myself in. I don’t necessarily recall how I met her. I don’t keep records of things so cut me some slack. But I remember loving her for her humility.  There is a way a woman can be sooo beautiful yet behave as if none of that matters in this world. I loved that about her, that she knew she was beautiful and that she didn’t have to stress on it.

When she stood straight, her head would disappear under my armpits. To say that she was short. I’ve always regarded short women as sweet. I have my reasons (and since this blog is about applauding fornication and profanity, I’ll tell you why). I can easily satisfy a short woman because I have a tall dick. I can reach and stretch the walls of her pussy, and go as far as the entry to the womb, and make her feel as if she’ll vomit her intestines. Satisfying a woman in the bedroom is key to any man. It comes with respect and respect soothes a man’s ego. It gives him confidence because self-esteem is everything to a man. Take that away from him and you’ll have truncated his life.

I like short women because when they hug me, they have to step on the tip of my shoes, stay on toes still, to hug me. Then I’ll lift them up and whirl them around while they do that thing they do with their legs, lifting one up. I love that.

Thirdly, if we have a disagreement, she’ll think twice before slapping or saying shit to me. She’ll know that if I slap her (which I’ll never do), I’ll completely shut her lights out. So we are able to solve our differences more decently like grownups. Sounds like a grown up thing to do, yeah!

The other reason I’d go for a short girl is that I can handle her easily. I can carry her around the house.  I can throw her in a trolley when going shopping. Shit, I can fuck her in positions never seen in Pornhub and still make her enjoy it.

To say that I like short girls home and away will be my undoing. I love tall girls too because when you walk with them you feel their presence. They exude some confidence and reign some wireless command when present.  They’re great huggers and the sex can be great.  They tend to say their mind easily.

The point of all this being that if girls were paraded in front of me, from short to tall, I’d probably go for the middle height with big boobs and ass.

Sam and I had an extraordinary relationship. She’s the first girl I ever sat down, looked her in the eyes and told her I liked her and I’d love her to be my girlfriend. I did so because I knew she was chaste. She didn’t fake it with me. Though she held many things, a person who would start telling you something and then decide not to continue.

She smelled of old books. I can’t honestly say that I liked it because over time it suffocated me. However, I always managed to survive that tornado because her warmth surpassed that smell.  The relationship was based on her terms, not mine. I felt so powerless while in it because she was the one who decided when we meet and sometimes introduced the subject to discuss to the table whenever we met, which was not often.

I couldn’t blame her for not loving me the way I wanted her to love me. And I didn’t want to change her to fit that description because then I’ll have changed her being. I understood her, for some time, as she came from a place where she had never been loved by a man or a boy before. The only kind of love she knew was that her parents gave her.

She knew a lot about love and relationships, yet bringing that knowledge to practicability was always a challenge. It was a change she was not ready to welcome, so she wanted things to go slow. Perhaps slower than the snail. And I, of the quick love generation had a tough time grooving by her conditions.

When she came to see me, mostly early mornings or late evenings at my cyber, she would sit near me. Her legs together like a true, traditional woman, even when she was in trousers. She wore decently I must say, no skirt above the knee. No revealing clothes and stuff. She had a sense of fashion only she could understand. A unique one.

I would hold her arm, perhaps the only part of her body she wanted me to touch. Sometimes I’d run my fingers through her hair when it is not braided. And other times I’d pull her closer to me so that she could rest on my skinny chest. She liked the company. Occasionally, she’d hug me. Sometimes an excited hug, sometimes a boring hug. She’d go with emotions. Emotions whose genesis she never let me know. When I probed, she’d tell me. I could not understand why she’d get mad or sad about petty things, things that amounted to nothing. She’d be embarrassed about tones of things, and get sad about small things that didn’t guarantee a streak of worry.

That part of her always worried me. Most of the time we met she would be about one thing or another. I’d try to calm her and talk her through it so that she could see how simple happiness would be if she let small things be, but she wouldn’t. She would point out that I had means to get what I wanted or that I had freedom. She really cared much about what others would think or say about her. Shit that I don’t worry about because it doesn’t feed or clothe me.

We were like from two different parts of the cosmos. Me being open-minded, carefree, positive and loving, and her being problematic, complaining all the time, simple-minded and naïve. She was only 18; I expected much of that because there was a nine-year age gap. I wanted to understand that the gap had everything to do with how things were between us. She had just finished high school, knew nothing about life or adulthood. Maybe she was just fascinated by the idea of a relationship because her friends were in one and she didn’t want to be the only one not in one. She had no idea of the responsibilities that came with it.

At 18, you are about exploring the world, making mistakes and finding your way. It is the time you’re beginning to see the world anew. A time to indulge and entangle in pleasures that you’d always dreamed about, or of the many things you’d heard from your “woke” friends. It is the age where peer pressure reins.

I stopped to think of all those possibilities and the surge of emotions in her young body, in search of things she found pleasure in. and our relationship was not one thing she found pleasure in. It was out of formality, or something she had to do to feel whole. For me, it was a purposed thing, something more than myself, something that could be shared and build, to offer something I couldn’t off myself when alone or single. That something was a connection. To feel, to care, to love. That is what I wanted.

There is no single approach to loving someone or running a relationship. You have to learn to get by with time, learning new things about your partner and trying best not to fit in but to be yourself, and at the same time being able to meet in the middle at all times. I would go past the middle, sometimes going past 80% because I was the adult with experience, the one with sense, the one who had accrued wisdom. The teacher.

So I called first. Or was it always! I texted first, mostly. And when I was not in my mind, off from this world because I had disappeared for a week or two to chase bad men and women in dangerous territories, she still wouldn’t call or text. The next time we met she would ask why I had not texted or called, as if it was my responsibility to do so. As if she didn’t have my contact. I would look at her and wonder if she had a brain or just a nicely shaped head that is empty. I would laugh softly afterward, hold her hand and tell her I’ll call next time; all because I was the adult.

I liked her, that part of her that was sweet. There are times she’d show up and be all cheery, few times I must confess. Other times, she’d come with a long face. When she finds a female customer seated next to me, she’d give me that jealousy eye, sit briefly or leave. I never understood that part.

Then three months into the relationship things started getting really bad. The relationship wasn’t going anywhere. It is not necessary it goes anywhere, but I wasn’t comfortable with the way we did things casually. We’d gotten used to each other until the uniqueness had run out. Not mine, hers. She was treating me as if I was her brother. She would show up unannounced and then be casual about it. I had to fight to even get a hug.

Then ego set in. I got way bigger ego than any man I know alive. When I feel someone is taking advantage of me, I turn that ego on, and it is the kind of ego that doesn’t wear down no matter how many nice things you do to me. I can ignore you in a way that makes you hate me to your deathbed. I can become so cold that you will need to pray to God every day to melt me.  I can be as silent and still, so calm and unperturbed by your presence that you begin to ask God why you. It is a game I know too well. I didn’t want it to get there because I don’t like to play games, especially not with kids. It would be unfair to anyone, and I would be the dick head there.

She had been admitted to TUM for a diploma course. She was to leave in September. I knew that once she left, she could no longer be mine. College is unforgiving. Somehow, I felt that once she left she‘d come back a different person. I wanted to consummate the relationship before she went to school. I wanted to be the one to break her virginity, for reasons I don’t understand. I thought that that would mark something.

But since we were playing by her rules, fucking was out of the topic, so was kissing. So I was starved, emotionally. She said she was not ready. And I didn’t push it because that’s was a decision only she could make. I understood begrudgingly, but I knew that is not what I wanted. I wanted a relationship where I could have sex as much as possible, and kiss someone every time we meet. I wanted to love and to feel my insides turn happy when I see her.

In the last days I had wilted. She had drained me of my emotional bank. I had invested all I had, and I had not grown an inch. She didn’t care much about my love because she was comfortable with the little she had used to get. She was in her zone, unmoved. When I told her I was breaking up with her, she didn’t feel shit. I didn’t feel much shit either because I was fucking someone on the side. Man can’t do four months without sex. He’ll be sad and stressed.

When we saw each other last, it was like meeting the first time. It is like the feelings we had for each other had died. Our fondness to each other had died too. We just talked casually and laughed slightly.

The few weeks that followed had astounding silence. We texted, but I had already given up. I told her that I wished her all the best.

It has been weeks now, I had forgotten that smell of old books, the smell of rotten wood. I wonder why she would put on such a spray. But it is not in my place to question her preferences. Surely, it is one thing I will never miss about her. But that man made me think of her, in ways that my heart can’t describe. He made me see her face, her young beautiful face, scared with mixed emotions and of wants she never told me about because she never did tell me anything at all unless I insisted.

I served him well, looked at him again. A long look that suggested nothing in particular. Perhaps I was perplexed why I couldn’t find that smell alluring when other people did. Or just wondering why he wore that spray, and what the two had in common.  Apart from their black skin tone, and their peculiar love for a spray with an odd smell, I couldn’t trace any other similarities.

Thank you! I told him.

He picked his prints and left.

Mzangila Snr.

Where shall we go, we who wander in this wasteland in search of better selves?

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About Mzangila

Mentor, media consultant, photographer, editor, poet, writer, and counselor.

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