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Caleb Somtochukwu Okereke: The Love that Keeps Running



Oftentimes when I think about the kind of love I want, it is in easy pixels, a soft blend of elements that are within reach; the kind of love that does not scuffle to exist, the kind that is paltry. I think of it as a fruitful garden with trees, bearing all I want. In that garden, I am holding my basket, and in which all I have to do is reach out and pluck my yearnings.

There are other times when I think about the love that wrestles, the love that tightens the knot on its wrapper in preparation for an exchange of blows, the love that takes effort. I imagine this kind to be like a woman whose son has just been wrongly accused for stealing. I imagine this kind to not be subdued; to rise up, hands on hips, shoulders squared and stir a brawl.

And even though I would like my love to be as described in the first divide, even though I rather would sit in a coach on this train of love and let my emotions do the driving, while I am gulping a glass of cranberry juice and flipping the pages of a James Baldwin novel. Even though I want to be able to write about the kind of love that is magical, that is spent staring at stars, talking about favourite scenes from a novel; the kind that does not demand particularly, because there is nothing that has not yet been fulfilled.

Even though I want to write about the kind of love that executes before requested, the kind that offers you a shoulder to lean on before you start to cry, that gives you a hand to hold before you needed to be held. The kind that is most generally not the case, and I am learning – though sadly – to live with that.

Therefore, in this new realm of my understanding, all of what I get is commonplace and I am shunning that likewise understanding it. It is like the news of the possible death of a child from a chronic ailment; it is shunned but understood, recognized but refused.

Although I am recognising that life perhaps will always offer me this, this overly blemished parcel of love, not because I am any less of magic; because that there is what life is, imperfect, damaged and one can only give what they are, I am, however, shunning this.

This kind of love that is running, fleeting, that allows me make an effort and then scuttles out my grasp, this kind that is very demanding and likewise not as demanding.

Maybe this is what living means, not denying the negatives, not saying they do not exist, but amplifying the goods, cherry picking, which you might have been schooled to think of as a bad trait, a characteristic of unrealistic people but there is no wrong in choosing where to cast your glance.

And this is what happens with every relationship gone wrong. There is a lowering of bars, a watering down of expectations, promises left crashing to the floor and a heart too frail to stand on its own.

This is what happens when you take the next step. You realize that you are too far-gone to remember yourself, that in the excitement of walking together, you forgot how to walk alone.

And this love keeps running, till its feet is dusty from the earth, till beads of sweat crack across its forehead, till its forgotten, thrown into a corner of our mind from which thoughts do not come, this love keeps running.

Sometimes it takes you along with it, grabbing you by the hand, ignoring your cries and forcing you to enjoy the ride. Other times it doesn’t, it runs alone, sole, enjoying the pleasure of self. But it’s fleeting, running farther than you can reach, scurrying from your embrace. This love is running.

So learn to compromise, this will save you, learn to ration your expectations, this is politically correct. And I am too learned now to say give it your all, never give it your all, never ever give it your all. Give it a lot, give it many, give it more than you have ever given, but never your all, save the remainder for yourself, for you too deserve your love.

Learn to never misplace self, learn that the presence of one in your life does not have to displace the presence of you, learn that there is a great possibility for them to coexist and that it’s not just a possibility, but a necessary one.

Make mistakes, love wrongly, because one thing I’ve learned is that love is never wrong, it’s often people who are, so love the wrong people, get hurt, and in doing that learn how to love right, learn how it is not to be done.

Say you never find the right person whose love is stationary, whose love has roots ready to be planted in the voids of your life, whose love has sworn not to always solve your problems, but to always be there, do not lose the love in your heart, remember that love was first crafted for your consumption.

Say you never get flowers at your doorstep, or romantic dinners at penthouses, or a kiss under the Eiffel tower, do not gauge your life by these things. If you have love for self, if you have love for anything, for music, books, TV shows or friends, you have lived; one who has love has lived fully.

But it is my earnest desire that you do; that someday there will arise the sort of love that literally takes your breath away, the kind whose romance is easy, whose romance is passing bars of chocolate or giggling at personal jokes at the mall. The kind whose romance is stable, maybe not without tottering –for nothing is- but eventually stable.

And If like me, you have amidst a web of complexities found this kind of love – and because it’s what really matters – this is my only creed for you, may your love never be commonplace, may it never run.

Photo Credit: Paul Hakimata |

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