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A letter to an old friend

Jan 5, 2012, 2:27 PM | Article By: Isatou Dumbuya

Dear Dear,

I heard that you settled down, that you found a girl, and you are a married man now.

I heard that your dreams came true; I guess she gave you things I couldn’t give to you. I wish I wasn’t writing this to you, but I couldn’t fight it. I used to think that you were a closed chapter in my life, long gone and forgotten until the day I saw you in a train– a train we shared, and I was sitting directly opposite you.

You couldn’t have seen me even if you wanted to because I was having this big funky Afro on my head, and it covered my face and gave me a different look. Moreover, I was wearing this big winter coat that was big enough to make room for two.

It was then that a man came in all dressed up in a Tuxedo suit, his hair all cut up neat and nicely. A brief-case in one hand and his other free hand tucked in his trouser pocket. I wouldn’t have given him a second glance except it was the way he walked and the way he tilted his head to his left side. He reminded me of you. There was a cockiness about him – something you always had. And he was you when my eyes finally rested on his face. Not even in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought that we would meet again, and in a train for that matter.

You walked in and the doors closed behind you, and you quickly sat down on the nearest available seat, placing your brief-case at your feet.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I shut them tight hoping that this was a dream. But when they flew open you were still there. Nothing about you changed one bit not even the way you ran your tongue around your lips to moisten them, and not even the way you wipe your wrist-watch before checking the time. You never checked the time unless if you were in a hurry.

It was then I knew that you were late for work or an appointment. Perhaps that was the second appointment you have missed in a row that morning.

It feels like yesterday when we were little children. Do you remember when we used to play husband and wife and our mothers would beat us after searching for us for a long time. “My rice has burnt while I went looking for you, urchin!” My mother would rant.

Do you remember when the rain came down every year, and we would rush out to catch the first droplets through our mouths? Do you remember how heavenly they tasted? You would say that God was done washing his clothes and he was throwing the dirty water on us. That was funny. We would go to the afternoon Arabic classes together to know God more so that we would do good deeds and drink God’s clean water when we die. You would tell me, “God is giving us a taste of what he has up there.” We would dance around in the rain, washing, jumping screaming, fighting and making up, laughing, crying, and swimming in the puddles until our mothers would ask us into our houses.

And when the rain had wet the sand, we would dig to build mud houses over our feet. The one whose house survives for a long time is made the boss.

Do you still remember that I never played with anyone else except you, and you stood by me even if I wronged other people and that our class-mates named us husband and wife? You would get mad when they called us that, but I never grew mad. Infact I liked it. I always toyed with the idea of us getting married and having children when we grow up. Until our mothers fought over us saying that we would never play together. As we grew up I saw you distance yourself from me everyday, and so did your dreams from mine. And then one day, you had to go to college. That was disheartening to me and today we have to meet like this.

Yours truly,



P.S.  I am happily married now with two kids. Do not bother writing back to me because there is no return address, and I do not want you to. Forgive me for getting your information and God bless you.