Most of the people I know would nod their heads affirmatively that it is hopeless and unbecoming for a man my age – twenty-five – to be writing love letters to my ‘crush’. Even the term ‘crush’ could be considered inappropriate for my age. But I cannot give them the luxury of nodding their heads. I cannot ask their opinion on this matter. They were not there, in my heart when I saw her. I was alone as I assessed her and immediately imagined life with her as my wife.
I forgot all about her. I always forget all about them – the ladies, because I still find it easier to forget than to walk up to them and talk.
She returned to my head today, the fourteenth day of February. It is pressure from the media that has restored her; all the advertisements about free dinner for the lucky couple, discounted gift items, red gift items. That’s where the pressure came from. I saw the smiling couples in the posters, as perfectly matched as they were and my void became glaring. So I remembered her. Then I sat at the desk in my room and wrote her a letter:
‘My dear Abigail, I wish your name were Gold or Emerald or Diamond. It would have been closer to the truth of who you are to me. My belly turned when I first saw you. There was a sparkle in your eyes. You are like a precious rose to me. I cherish you. You are the sugar in my tea.’
Cliché. Watery. Teen-aged. Words that aptly describe my letter. But I don’t know this. I think I have written the best love letter ever. I think she would drag me to her parents and beg me to marry her the moment she reads the words. I am proud of what I wrote, a simplistic pride.
***** ***** *****
She is a colleague at the little firm where I work. She calls me ‘Pastor’ just like everyone else does because I always share handbills inviting them to church crusades and I always share tracts. I always say ‘by God’s grace’ and I never tell dirty Jokes.
When she read it, she laughed and shook her head sideways,
‘Pastor! You are too funny.’
I stood perplexed but laughed along with her as though I agreed it was a joke. I had to conceal my shock. She showed everyone at the office the letter, except the boss and the domestic staff. They all laughed and stopped at my desk to say ‘Pastor, we read your letter. You sha. You are very funny. We know you don’t believe in valentine’ s day.’
I felt like weeping, yet I laughed along with them. They simply assumed it was a joke. It wasn’t. It was real. The Pastor title seemed bad for business. While I thought of this, she walked up to my desk, beaming with semi-laughter, apparently enjoying herself, unaware that she was hurting me. She handed me a piece of paper.
‘I have written my reply’ she said and stood hands akimbo. She wanted me to read it immediately.
I unfolded it.
‘My dear Pastor. You are the only cockroach in my cupboard, the flower in my garden, the sand in my desert.’
She was laughing heartily by the time I was done and I felt obliged to join in.
‘Pastor, you know, your letter reminded me of the things I did in secondary school. All those letters I felt jittery to read. Where are all those boys now?’ she sighed.
‘Abi?’ I said, shaking my head as if I agreed that it was all caricature. No, it wasn’t. I felt deeply about her the first time she walked into the building for a job interview. I shouted ‘yiiipee!’ at home, in my room when she was employed. Then I forgot.
But today is Valentine’s day. The day of ‘couple love.’ My real pain though is that she thinks this is a joke because I wrote it in a letter. You don’t woo a lady with a letter when you are twenty-five years old. You tell her with a grave face, while she looks to the ground coyly and says she would think about it.
She was still standing there, at my desk, so I asked her:
‘Is it fair to conclude that ladies prefer verbal rather than written modes of communication?’
She looked at me blankly, obviously unsure what to make of the question. It seemed to pop out of nowhere. It was such philosophical-sounding nonsense that put me in jeopardy all the time; how I always rationalized things that matter to everyone else and claim those things are senseless when actually I secretly cherish them.
‘Pastor, you want to start with me this morning. Wait, let me show others my reply.’ She excitedly snatched her reply from me and walked off to show it to the others.
She never returned to answer my question. By noon, after I was still unable to forget about her, I wrote another letter:
To Abigail, my crush.
I know you think my first letter is a joke. It hurts that you think this but I guess I understand. I meant every word I wrote. I have wanted us to happen from the moment I first saw you. All this time, I have been too afraid (I’m not sure ‘afraid’ is the right word but it must be fear). Not that you look scary or anything, on the contrary you are beautiful, light-hearted and sweet.
Please be my Val. Can we have dinner after work? We can talk about this over dinner since ladies prefer the verbal way.
And stop calling me Pastor.
I was determined to give this to her- but I forgot.
What should Charles do next?