If it was the last time you were holding her hand, how would you do it? Hold her hand I mean? If it was the last time you would feel the bones in her delicate fingers, would you stroke them ever so gently, to feel every ridge, abrasion and fold of skin or would you let them just rest there in your palm, drawing strength from the many countless times that these same fingers had stroked your cheek from the lobe of your left ear down to the cleft in the middle of your chin.
If it was the last time you were sitting next to each other in the backseat of a car while someone else did the driving, how would you seat? Would you stay at opposite ends of the backseat, looking out the window at the passing buildings, people, vegetation and sounds of night-time Kampala, remembering countless taxi rides you’d taken together in backseats and how you’d snuggled so close to each other, your bodies fitting into each other with a snugness that seemed so easy and natural it was all you could do not to cry in joy.
Or would you sit like you used to, your knees touching every time the car jolted and bounced over a Kampala pothole, sending a jolt of pure excitement coursing through your every last nerve like an avalanche of white hot lava, till it was all you could do not to cry out in anguish, that this would be the last time your bodies would be this close together, your legs touching beneath the fabric of your jeans and her blue and white silk dress.
Would you keep your hands in your lap, holding hers, or would you stretch out one hand over and behind her shoulder, like in the days of old, so that she’d cradle herself in the fold of your shoulder and rest her head on your shoulder, her rounded forehead nestling in your neck, her nose and lips just inches from your lips, so close you could feel her breath whisper in and out of her nose, even as your bodies of themselves started to breath in tandem like a well oiled machine running in sync, yet so far away because you would never again taste the delicious fullness of those lips again, that elixir like mix of tenderness, sun, heat, Fair & Lovely, Apple lip gloss and sweet baby breath that always made kissing her such a heady experience.
Would you let the moment exist, would you close your eyes and breath deeply of her scent, that bewitching mix of youth, musk, sweat, lotion, soap, womanhood and deodorant? I would, that this moment would forever be imprinted on the eye of my mind, that in months, nay, years to come this last drive along Mukwano Road would grow in significance till it became a thing of myth, of lore told to one’s children and grandchildren beyond them, a thing to rival the greatest love lost stories of old, one that belonged in the annals of history with Cleopatra’s asp, Napoleons’ letters to Josephine, the love poetry of Elizabeth Barret to Robert Browning, the endless locks of Rapunzel, the silent repose of Snow White, the culmination of these last three years distilled down into the stretch between Makindye Kirundu and Shell Jinja Road on a warm Saturday night.
And when it was over and done and you were bidding her goodnight, for probably the last time in your lives together, would you reach out and hold her in a hug that seemed to reach far back in time beginning the day you walked into a living room on the university campus and saw her sitting there in excited animation, and, stretching far forward for all time and times that you’d never get to slip your hands under her arms and behind her back, enveloping her in your arms, holding on for dear love while all of your body inhaled ever so deeply one more time, and releasing, letting go, unlocking your arms and heart even as the pent up breath begun its sigh from the depth of your innermost being, up and out, swirling above your heads into the mists of time, dissipating and scattering to the four winds even as you felt yourselves slipping away, slowly and finally.
And then it was over.
Saturday April 18, 2009