Our love was like that of a romance novel. Two young star crossed lovers with so much hope, promise and determination that we thought that was all we would ever need.
He was my dream man, I called him Hero, I was his princess and he said he could not live without me. I genuinely believed that if there was no place on this earth for us to be together then we would have to die in order to be happy, he never said it but I knew he felt the same way.
Like all tragic love affairs there were many obstacles, reasons and excuses why we would not get our happily ever after, at the time we were just too young to realize how naïve we were. Life, reality and the world did not revolve around us, and together or apart people would continue living on without even knowing our names.
I was only 5 years old when I can first recollect him in my memories. I remember seeing him one day and just instantly falling in love. Is that even possible? At the time I didn’t know it was love, but he took my breath away. I felt my heart beat fast, I felt my palms sweat, as a rambunctious kid, I was not shy, but around him I would blush and sometimes I’d be at a loss for words. Our first few moments together involved me running out of the room if he entered. Being around him gave me such butterflies. As a 5 year old, I didn’t understand it. But now I guess I would consider it being the time I first felt love on a different scale than how you feel for family.
Over the years I saw him grow up from a shy and funny kid to a handsome teenager, ever more shy around me, but we both managed to climb the obstacles of awkwardness and share our first romantic moment. We had known each other for years as friends but the day I received my first love letter from him, things changed and our love story truly began.
At first it was fruit baskets and gifts, love letters left in the house, he would coyly walk past our home several times to see if I had received it. I would sneak out late at night so we could talk. It was all so innocent, we’d never go far maybe just around the corner, or meet up under the mango trees between our two houses. We’d talk, laugh and share stories with each other, as if our nervousness around each other was non-existent. Late at night we were two very different people, we were more relaxed around each other. With that we started to fall in love, we shared something so special that we were unable to share with anyone else.
When you’re that young you can live in a fantasy where the world is all about you and what you think is important. I was such a love sick fool that I never thought much about the future, Hero had to slow me down before I got too ahead of myself. Whilst he loved me deeply, he was a realist and I was the dreamer. Two opposites but what I lacked he made up for and the other way around too.
One thing was the same for us both, our love for each other. Well there was nothing anyone could do to convince us otherwise. We knew we were each other’s destinies and we were going to be together forever.
He was my greatest love, sometimes when I’m sitting quietly outside listening to the birds sing, I can feel his heartbeat.
The problem is we came from very different worlds. Whilst with him I found home, I knew our romance would have to stand the test of time and distance. He lived in another country from me, lived a different life from me.
He came from a very poor family, whilst mine was by no means wealthy; we lived a substantially more luxurious one than his. Just by that very difference was enough to make our life together almost impossible.
Despite this we allowed ourselves to dream of a life together, where time, money and all other irrelevant things granted us the reprieve to love each other.
I never cared about money, I never saw him as anything less than what he was. The kind, loving and ambitious man who was handed such difficult and unfair hands through his life. He never let the hardships of life stop him from dreaming big, wanting more, working hard to eventually achieve the things his heart desired, he never failed to tell me how I was number one on that list of dreams.
Our summer’s together were a dream, I was never happier than when I was with him. I would get lost in his stories; pour my heart out under the blanket of the stars. I would wait in anticipation for his love letters that I’ve kept to this day. A day without him was a day wasted. Being a teenager, so young and hopeful, I promised him my heart, we had all these plans that involved us running away together and living out our greatest passions, he was going to be an electrician and I was going to write and paint, I know they’re not exactly the most glamorous aspirations, we didn’t even know how much money we could make from these careers but we didn’t care, we wanted to be together and that was the most important part of our plan. We allowed ourselves to dream up whatever a young and naïve teenager could do, reality would be setting us straight sooner or later.
I wonder now how our love could have only strengthened when as we got older we would not see each other 2 years at a time. It was hard, we allowed ourselves to live our lives separately, because we were secretly convinced that we would eventually be together in mind, body and soul.
Those times when we could finally be together, we just cherished our time together, always so aware of how limited our time was. Always so cautious of the uncertainty of when we’d see each other, as I grew older, I started to realize how we would eventually outgrow the fantasies of two teenagers. We were both maturing and making plans that actually had a chance to become reality. Our love never wavered.
The summer we returned, I never knew that it would be the last time I saw him. Things were different, I had grown up, he had too, and we were both getting ready to move forwards with our lives. He was working on the fields, he never got a chance to finish his studies, which meant his dream of opening his own electrical store wasn’t going to happen, I was just finishing up some really important exams and was getting ready to think about what I was going to do next, where I would study. I had changed my work goal from artist to a nurse, something more stable and would give me a chance to earn some good money. When we first looked at each other, we noticed how much we had both changed. He had grown taller, his skin darker, he was a lot skinnier than I remembered, my face and body had matured, both of our ideas and beliefs had changed, but despite this we embraced each other believing that our love was still within us both. We weren’t wrong; we were very much in love. We knew the years apart would mean we would change; the important thing was that we still cared for one another. Our last summer together was just as magical as that of any of our years together. We shared our first kiss, we finally held hands in public, we were finally ready to share with the world that our love was destined for forever. Being older, we knew that if we wanted to we could start really planning our years together. I only had a few years left of school then I could move with him, he would carry on working on the fields, he would try to save, we would build a house together, we could have our love story. Even then we thought we could still have it all.
The difference between before and that summer was we had grown up; there was not as much room for dreaming as we had in the past. My family could see how much I was falling in love with him, how I was going to dedicate my life to him.
One evening we were sat on the bench like we had done for so many years, talking about our future and the things we hoped for. Somewhere along the line we had a disagreement, I was adamant that I would die if we couldn’t be together, he said I was being dramatic and that I didn’t know what life had to bring and he had calmly but hurtfully told me I had changed. I didn’t even know what he meant by that and I didn’t give him a chance to explain it before walking away. I remember looking at him in the eyes and seeing disappointment in his eyes. Like I was a stranger who had acted inappropriately. First a disagreement and then my uttering of words we had said so many times together, we had for many years agreed we wouldn’t live in a world where we couldn’t be together. Was it the fear that it could be true that made him push me away? Whatever he meant, however he was feeling, I was convinced was nothing compared to the kind of hurt he had just put me through. I was distraught.
My grandfather comforted me as I sobbed convinced that Hero had just ripped my heart out. My grandfather soothed me and when I had calmed myself, he spoke.
“You know there is no future there.”
He said simply, he continued to tell me that marrying Hero would only bring me a lifetime of misery, how despite him being a good, polite and respectful man, he would not be able to give me the life I was destined for. The comforting words I was expecting never came. Instead my grandfather told me how I was better off marrying someone with money, despite my protests that I would never marry for money and that I wanted to marry someone I loved, my grandfather expressed his disapproval. How he would never give his blessing if he knew that I could find better.
Who can say what is better? Would it be better that I date the guys who have beaten, abused, hurt and abandoned me like the ones I have in the past? No one could know what my history of dating would lead me to, I didn’t even know back then that I would end up in many dead end and abusive relationships. But one can’t help think, had I married my childhood love, would I have found a better life? Would I have avoided years of pain and misery? Maybe I’d be living in a hut in the middle of a field, spending my days raising kids and farming but happy, rather than struggling in a big city, uncertain about whom I am and where I am going?
After my talk with my grandfather, I started to re-evaluate my life. He had said that love can be learned but being poor was almost impossible to get out from, especially if you lived in a third world country. I started to feel like no one wanted us to be together, especially after my Auntie had sat me down through my protests that I would be marrying Hero, and told me ‘love doesn’t feed you.’ It was like my whole family didn’t approve of him. Like they were so afraid that I would end up dying a destitute instead of reaping the promise of a life in the UK (I didn’t care about what more it had to offer then, just as much as I don’t care now). No one was listening to me and the one person who I thought shared my love had disappeared. I didn’t see him for a long time. It was like he realized how serious I was, that I was no longer a kid-playing house with him, I was going to give up my entire future for a chance at happiness for him.
It wasn’t until much later that I found out he was sick, very sick and had almost died. Whilst he lay in hospital, I was at home believing that he was running away from me and our future together.
When it eventually came back to me what had happened to him, I was angry. Hurt that he had tried to hide his illness from me.
“Will he die?” I asked my Mum, distressed about the whole situation? She was silent for a few moments before finally answering, “We don’t know.”
For the longest time I prayed, hoping for a miracle, wishing that the pain from both of us could be taken away.
Time went by and he was finally home. We took a walk together and he told me that he loved me. The first time he had ever uttered the words that I already knew, it was so nice to hear him say it but I was still so afraid, I didn’t want to smoother him with my love, I was so scared that he would die and was uncertain of how long we would have together. I told him my plans to move with him right away, he asked about school and I told him he was more important. He shook his head, he insisted that I finish school first, it would only take a few more years and then we could be together without any limitations.
“It’s only a few more years and we can be together forever.” He whispered to me as we wrapped ourselves around each other. I cried into his chest, afraid that if I left him, he may go without me being by his side. “I’ll never leave you.” He said as he stroked my hair like I was a little kid. In that moment I felt like I was a kid, I wanted to lay with him forever; so afraid that the forever we had once dreamed off was no longer going to happen, that our time together was going to be cut short.
We stayed in contact for several years after I left. I didn’t get a chance to go back, even after two years, school took over my life, I was always studying, every opportunity to go back was at the time when I needed to study for exams or had to work to save up for something important, eventually we lost touch. I allowed us to loose touch because in my heart I truly believed that when I next go back, that would be it, I would be home, I would never return to the UK and finally we would be together. I allowed that distance to part us because I wanted to work hard, save up and give us the opportunity to live a life before finally being together. He was my destiny and I was his. I genuinely believed that after everything we had been through we were each other’s rewards, that we would find our happily ever after soon.
He hadn’t fully recovered after his illness, he was in and out of trouble with his health and the last I heard about him, he had actually gotten married and had a baby with his wife.
I mean, I should have seen that coming, because you know, who waits 10 years for someone? I mean for the longest time I thought he would, we had waited so long to be together that I thought it was only a matter of time before we were both finally ready to forget what everyone else thought and said and would finally embrace the life we could make for each other.
We never really got to close our book, and I know I’m a firm believer that you don’t always need a closure, but still, I like to think that there is a life for us somewhere, someday, maybe when we’re both old, and have lived a life that we wanted, when we’re a little more settled, when we’ve discovered a little more about life.
One day I might go home, open the front door and find a love letter from him, or maybe not? Maybe the love story of those two kids was only ever meant to be just that, a story.
Maybe someday we’ll both be able to say goodbye to each other?
Who knows, all I know now is that it’s my turn to find my happy ending, I’m opening my heart to the possibility that I may fall in love and have my heart race like it once did. My true love may be a stranger, but I hope if that’s the case, then they are kind, loving and are able to promise me forever.
Love is a crazy, painful and beautiful thing all at the same time, we all deserve to love and be loved. I hope you find your Hero, when you do, please don’t let time pass by before you give them your heart, don’t waste any time making them wonder how you feel about them, you could just be losing your forever.
Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday but most importantly, you proud every day!
Peace and Love