He lies on the cold Sao Paulo ground in the park outside the cathedral. It’s cold. I’m used to the sweltering heat in Mombasa, anything below 25 degrees is cold for me. But I’m told it’s summer here. These people have not seen the summer, I muse.
He has a blanket. Surprisingly, it doesn’t look very dirty. My host, a catholic seminarian informs me that they are supplied with blankets and food by well-meaning Brazilians. Mostly Christians because they somehow see the face of Jesus on those once clean and handsome faces.
He’s not alone, but I note with interest that most of his ‘roommates’ are men.
“The law here protects women, when a marriage breaks which is very common, the woman takes the house and the kids. The man scavenges.”
I know I should be more concerned by the scavenging, which was my own word, by the way, but the journalist in me gravitates towards ‘very common’.
And we get into a long conversation about Brazilian marriages and their commonly short lifespan.
Later, I meet Marcia. I’m with a beautiful Angolan living in Brazil. It’s interesting how Africa feels like a country and brotherhood thickens when you’re out of the continent. Suddenly, the Zimbabwean feels like the guy you went dufa mpararo with.
Brazilians are so warm, you’ll be hugged out of your mind here. When we meet Marcia, she at first thinks we share a name. I have to spell mine. She’s among the few people here who speak English. If I got one Rial every time I said ‘Obrigado’ to get out of a Portuguese conversation I was clearly not understanding, conversations that I couldn’t make fingers or toes of, I’d come back and bail Sonko out.
Or maybe not, I’d rather go buy a non-carcinogenic wheelbarrow instead.
Marcia is divorced. She was married for 4 years to her Brazilian husband and then things went to Antarctica.
The banter between three women from diverse backgrounds is sweet and interesting. There’s little effort to look perfect or no fear of judgement. Unless there’s a Nigerian. Then you will definitely be judged.
In the 5th year of her marriage, Angola had a crush on another guy.
It’s the kind that sneaks up on you and before you know it, you’re walking around flushed and pink. You feel a constant burning in your stomach and your heart feels like someone stabbed it with a rose thorn.
He was a Zulu guy. Hot like the sun, but it’s likely that he was hot because she liked him so much. He was funny to the bone and an excellent listener. And when he laughed, she heard Madiba’s freedom speech telling her to flee into his arms.
She loved those arms.
And like me, she’s an arms girl. She’s the second arms girl I now know. The first one was a high school friend who was obsessed with hairy hands. Oh, she’d be singing serenades and pledging her virginity to hairy arms. Especially if they were light-skinned, strong, hairy arms.
So, Zulu boy got Angola all giddy and goosebumpy. At 32 years of age. And we thought teenagers had problems.
And a marital crush is way worse than a teenage crush. Because all the teenage scares you had, you now know how to navigate them.
Pregnancy — you have a 5 years implant on.
Losing your virginity to the wrong guy? Well, that ship sailed in 1912 with the Titanic.
Being caught by his folks in his 3*6, envelop-sized mattress? Hotels exist for such a time as this.
And so Angola’s heart was Gaza itself.
She struggled with this crush for months. It didn’t help that her crush knew how hard she had fallen for him.
Al this time, she had an amazing husband. He was everything girls want. And then some. Everything.
But she was Zulu struck. And you don’t want to be Zulu struck. It’s a tornado.
After a night of crazy Zulu-texting, she woke up with the realisation that in her mind, the next time she meets Zulu boy, she might be in the category of the women in Proverbs 23:28. (Yeah, people, go read Proverbs!)
And she couldn’t be that woman.
It didn’t matter how much her heart screamed for some Zulu talk and touch. The clicks in the Zulu language gave her tingles in places she didn’t think could tingle. Such vanity.
The Zulu crush was an absolute darling. Not once taking advantage of her misguided feelings. Or his.
Unlike Marcia’s husband.
You know what else the Bible says? What? That a problem shared is a problem half solved? Jeez, people, that’s not written!
It says to confess your sins to one another. And you will be healed. And believe me, a crash is a worse wicknes than malaria.
So Angola looked for a very trusted friend who will die with her secrets and poured her infatuation woes with her.
And it may as well be written in the holy book because when she shared that little secret, the little crush/love rock started to thaw.
She realised that greener pastures beckon but they can be just as bad after a while. So marriage will (should) win coz it insists on love where romance has faded as long as the love goes both ways.
If it’s one-way love traffic in marriage it can be bad when a crush hits.
If you’re having a crush now, the feelings you have now are not based on knowing the person. They’re based on the phoney assumption that the guy is as good as he looks and sounds now.
In real life though, you might hate his gut or be driven insane by his squeezing toothpaste from everywhere. Remember, he’s human as well.
If only someone had told Marcia’s husband that the little crush would end. Like his marriage, if he acted on it. Which he did.
With some sound deep talk and lots of Jason Gray’s music, Angola’s heart survived the blitz of a marital crush.