THIS STORY IS ABOUT THE MYSTERY OF LOVE
While I was growing up, I watched an Indian movie with my sisters. Love is eternal, they said, but I did not believe it. I believed love was a product of our relationship with other humans. Nothing special; nothing magical. Love was something that you had control over and not something that had control over you. That was my philosophy.
I had two gorgeous twin sisters and they always told me that I was just being stupid about my ideas on love; that one day, my Mrs. Perfect would knock on the door of my heart and then I would have no option but to open.
“You guys don’t understand,” I would angrily retort. “Love is just like renting a cab, I can decide to exit whenever I want to. Love is a choice.”
“Seriously?” Shola, my sister would hiss.
“Leave him alone.” Deola, the other one would put in. “When you find her, and I pray she breaks your heart, just don’t come crying to us.”
“Break my heart? Come crying to you?” I would roar in laughter. “You guys are going to wait for eternity.”
* * *
I was the sort of child that could be termed a prodigy. I built experimental models using complex mathematical tools, and even attempted to understand and predict the nature of the universe by pure reason.
I got admitted into the university and had to leave home.
“Hey Sam,” Shola hugged me. “I believe you will cope.”
We were at the bus station and my sisters had come with me to see me off.
Deola was beside her, already in tears. I took her in my arms and hugged her tightly.
“I will miss you so much.” She mumbled.
“I will miss you too.” I replied and looked into her eyes. They were wet, and misty, like a dream.
“I hope you find her.” She said, as we parted from the embrace.
“Find what?” I asked.
Shola giggled. Deola too.
Then I understood and smiled. “You know girls, I think you guys should reduce the dose of Indian films you watch.”
They laughed harder.
I shook my head, glanced at the copy of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil that was clutched in my hand.
They did not understand.
I wanted to change the world.
* * *
I had read a book written by Jacobsen Dramo, and it was titled: THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE.
Jacobsen taught that love exists but man, who has been given total control over everything, had the power to control it. He reasoned that love was a choice that we make and that the idea that you can be ‘helplessly in love’ was a farce told by foolish poets and bought by society.
Jacobsen Dramo explained that love was as a result of our relationship with people. He clearly affirmed that you cannot love without a relationship. And that you can un-love if you wish to, since it was a choice in the first place.
In the closing parts of the book, he hammers home the fact that love, like knowledge, can be undone. In his words: “LOVE, IN ITSELF, HAS NO ETERNAL VALUE, IT IS ETERNAL MAN THAT HAS CONFERRED ETERNITY ON IT”
I read that book twenty-eight times.
I nearly memorized its four hundred pages.
Love, I came to believe, was something I could control.
* * *
We started having lectures. And my exceptional brilliance immediately overshadowed the whole class. And then I met a girl.
Her name was Rachael Wright. Tall, bold, ravishing and abundantly gorgeous, her name was on the lip of every boy on campus.
One sunny afternoon, Rachael approached me and begged me to help her out in her studies.
I was, at first, reluctant. I knew I could fall in love with her. But since I already understood that love could be undone and I could not be tied down for eternity, I accepted her request.
Like my genius mind had already intimated me earlier, I fell in love with Rachael. But I was not afraid because I knew that love was only a tool for man’s happiness and that I had the remote control.
As soon as we finished our first year exams, I walked up to Rachael and told her we could no longer be friends. It was as simple as that. I broke the bridge that supplied the flow of her love into my heart – our friendship. So, since the bridge was broken, it was only a matter of time before all of her love that remained in my heart dried up.
Is it not true, that if a river forgets its source, it is bound to dry up?
It was that law of nature that Jacobsen Dramo was talking about.
Love is a choice we make.
And not something that makes us.
* * *
I worked very hard in solving a lot of mathematical problems that were beyond my level at the university. The problem of P versus NP, the Hodge conjecture, Riemann hypothesis, and many more filled my thoughts. It was not just because I was studying Mathematics in school that prompted me to undertake these seemingly fruitless ventures. It was something else, an obsession to make the world a better place. It was the reason why I chose to avoid the fruitfulness of love.
Then, an event changed my life.
It had been raining, and I had been sleeping in my room at the school’s hostel when a voice woke me up. The voice was calling my name. It was like nothing I had heard before. A soft melody from life’s grandest opera? A whisper from heaven’s arch-angel band? Or was it God himself that had decided to whisper into my ears?
I opened my eyes and the miracle was complete.
A girl was standing in front of my door, a smile on her face
I squinted. I could not really pick out the features of her face since the room was almost dark, but somehow, it seemed like I knew everything about her. Like she was one of my sisters.
The truth was, I did not even know her name until she said it.
“My name is Maria and I want to see you.” She was backing the door.
That changed my life.
* * *
Maria was not the most beautiful girl I had seen, but there was something very mysterious about her that I could not place my hands on. Her face was reminiscent of a Chinese woman’s beauty but it had the African flavor of simplicity and originality. Her body was as perfect as the revolution of the universe; everything seemed to be in place. And she smelled like a scent I had once smelled in Shakespeare’s poetry – Lerity, which means the perfume of love.
She had actually asked me to help her solve a physics question which took me less than a minute.
She was so glad that I had helped her. I could remember the way she smiled at me and said thank you. It was so funny; something like ‘tankyu.’
“No problem,” I had said.
“Okay,” she said and left.
That night, when I sat down to continue studying, all I could think of was two things.
And her smile.
* * *
The next time I saw Maria, I knew I had fallen in love with her. My heartbeat was faster. Goose pimples covered my whole skin. And for the first time in a long time, I was afraid of what I felt.
Jacobsen Dramo’s theory of control was proving useless. I did not fall in love because I had a relationship with her. What made me fall in love?
Dramo had advised, ‘break the bridge of friendship’. But, then, I had forgotten to ask the most important question – what if there was no bridge? Or what if you don’t even know what the bridge is? How do you undo love?
Jacobsen Dramo had left no answers.
* * *
I became friends with Maria. I could not stop the gravitational pull that drew me closer to her. I could talk to her and she could talk to me. I could smile at her and she would respond with a beautiful smile.
Then, I began to doubt Jacobsen Dramo’s theories.
The kind of joy I derived from the relationship, I reasoned, was only going to increase my desire to work harder and fulfill my dream of helping a lot of people.
I was about to change my ideas and philosophies.
I had found my Mrs. Perfect and I could see my twin sisters giggling at me.
Little did I know, that I was being tricked by fate.
You know what I feel for you?
* * *
Within two months after I met Maria, I solved two of the supposedly unbreakable problems of mathematics and I presented my answers to an international conference of world renowned mathematicians. The conference held at Switzerland. I was just nineteen and in my second year at the university.
Maria’s love had done one thing for me – sparked the intense power of my brain. But even she did not know it. We were still friends – just friends.
I shared the news of my love with my sisters and they were so ecstatic that I had finally seen reason with them. They nudged me to talk to Maria about how I felt.
I decided to heed their advice.
The night was cold. I wore a large sweater to cover my susceptible skin. As I entered the classroom and walked to where Maria sat, my heart beat faster. That night, she was wearing a very beautiful headgear and her face lift up when she saw me.
“How are you Sam?” She offered me a hand. “I’ve been waiting for quite a while.”
“I’m sorry.” I shook her hand and sat beside her.
Everything fell silent.
“On the phone, you said we needed to talk.”
“Yeah.” I nodded.
“So?” She was facing me squarely, her elbow propping against the desk.
I became speechless. All the cramming I had done for this one presentation deserted me like powder blown away by a gust of wind.
“What is it Sam?”
The words were not coming out. My face was positioned straight into space, I could not even bare to look sideways – into her face.
“Come on, speak up dear. Are we not friends? Don’t worry, I won’t laugh.” Her voice retained its calm smoothness.
I summoned all the willpower left into me and turned to face her. “You know Maria, the law of entrainment in physics states that some specific sounds increase the rate of your heartbeat. The sound of your voice, since the first day I met you, has always had an earth quaking effect here.” I placed a hand on my heart region.”
“I love you, Maria.”
* * *
Since I was a kid, I had always loved to play in the rain. When I left the class that night, on my way to the hostel, it rained. I did not run for cover; I just walked on as the waters kept pouring down from heaven. My heart was not just broken, it was shattered, grounded, and pummeled to ashes. Maria had told me there was no way we could be more than just friends.
“I like you Sam, but just as a friend.” She had said. “I’m sorry if the way I was acting made you think I was also in love with you. I’m so sorry that –“ She was almost in tears.
Maria did not understand. I never fell in love with her because of the way she acted towards me. I never fell in love because we were together. I fell in love for reasons even I could not explain.
Drenched in the rain, I collapsed under a tree, just some few meters away from the hostel buildings.
* * *
I woke up in a white room. I was lying on the floor of the room. A man in white overalls was standing in front of me. He had a compassionate look on his face.
“Welcome back to earth Sam.” He announced.
“Where am I?” I asked.
“You are at the National Psychiatry Hospital. You were admitted some few weeks ago.”
“Psychiatry Hospital?” I tried to remember how I got there but everything was blank. Blank. Except for one thing – Maria.
“Maria.” I said to the doctor. “Where is she?”
“Sam, you need to relax. In your sub-conscious state, which you have been in for the last six months, you have been repeating that same name over and over again.”
“Six months? I don’t understand. Why am I in a psychiatry hospital?” I tried to stand up then realized my hands were tied. “What.” I stared at the chains on my legs and hands too. I looked up into the man’s face.
“You have shown extreme signs of violence for the past six months that you have been here. We had to make sure you won’t harm anyone.” The man said, his face drawn into a shade of misery. “I’m sorry Sam, but I think you may never leave this institution.”
A tear dropped from my eyes.
* * *
That was how I ended up in a mental institution which was my home for eight years. At night, I would scream Maria’s name. I wanted to see her again, just once. I would bang my head against the walls and scream in frustration.
But, she never came.
My family would always come to visit me, and when one of my sisters, Deola, was getting married, Doctors said I could not be released; that I was still not cured of a mental sickness they did not even have a name for. So, I was not there for Deola’s wedding.
And even Shola’s.
After eight years of confinement, I was temporarily discharged on the basis of good behavior. But I never became whole again.
I could not understand simple math; books meant nothing to me again. I could not even think coherently anymore except if I could write it down. My life had been razed down by the fire of love.
I learnt that Maria had moved on. After finishing her University Degree, she had gotten married to a rich banker and together they had four kids.
I never felt bad. I felt she deserved everything she had. After all, she was not the villain of the story.
I fell in love.
And I remembered Jacobsen Dramo.
Dramo was wrong.
But I wished he was right.
I wished love could be controlled.
Then, maybe I could have changed the world.