Identical twins, love and infatuation

TADALA TEMBO says it is garrulous, meaning difficult if not almost impossible, to distinguish them. They look alike. They share traits. They appear the same. One is called love and the other, infatuation.

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (7th edition) defines them differently and, that is what they are: different things. Infatuation, according to the dictionary, is a very strong feeling of love or attraction for somebody, especially feelings that are unreasonable and do not last long. There is a problem, however, with this definition (like all definitions); for instance, what does ‘long’ mean here – one night, one week, one year, one decade or what? What qualifies feelings as those that have lasted long? Is not ‘long’ subjective?

And love, says the dictionary, is a strong feeling of affection for somebody that one is sexually attracted to. This is romantic love, the one we are discussing. But love, like poverty, is complicated and not easy to define. We define it differently. We explain it the way we understand it, the way we feel it, the way we want it. Thus, a dictionary definition is somehow not enough.

The definitions from the dictionary make love an element of infatuation but the reality is different. Nobody wants infatuation, we all want love. The moment a man proposes to a woman, he expects love (save for abnormal cases) not infatuation. The same is true of a woman when she accepts a man’s proposal. But, how many get that love and how many give that love?

There once was this lady I went out with. She was beautiful, as usual. I thought I loved her, now I know I never did. I thought she loved me too, now I know she never did. Time and distance tried our ‘love’ and found it wanting. It died.

That is the first element of love that separates it from infatuation. Time and distance. Love stands distance, it grows with time. Love can never be a victim of Geography. Never! Infatuation, on the other hand, is a victim of Geography. Time kills infatuation. Instead of having feelings for people we have been together with for long, we start to lose those feelings and say ‘my love is coming to an end’! Well, we lie there. It is not love that dies but infatuation does. Love, true love, never dies.

There is another thing that separates love from infatuation. Factors can kill infatuation but not love. Love can only be unconscious but not die completely. It is infatuation that does so, that dies – not love. If you say your love for somebody died then, well, you are explaining the feelings you had for that person, they are not love but infatuation.

There once was a story in the papers of a couple that remarried each other after a good number of years on separation. That was blissful, an example of true love. The point is that love can only be hindered but a time will come when it will manifest itself. Infatuation on the other hand cannot survive hindrances. The moment a reason is put against such feelings, the situation is accepted, the two part ways. But, that can never happen to love.

How do I know that the feelings I have for someone is love or infatuation? Well, many people feel guilty to accept that the feelings they have for someone is infatuation. But, I unlearned to never accept my state. Yes, I have loved some and others, it has been infatuation (I hope they won’t read this). Of course, many times I did mistake my feelings for love but now I know better.

How do we behave when those whom we say we love are not any near? The answer is what can tell whether what we have is love or infatuation. True, in love there are deviations, and mistakes too, but there comes a limit and that is what proves our feelings for those whom we claim we love. How do we act when our so-believed lovers are not any near?

The reason why we stay in a relationship with the people we do is yet another factor that can help us justify our feelings. Many relationships, and marriages too, are in existence not because of love. One lady told me that she could not leave her boyfriend because of the church. ‘They know we go out, they expect us to marry, we’ve been in a relationship for so long,’ she cried. In her statements there was nothing like love but reasons for what she said was her ‘love’ for the man. But, each time the two called each other, they finished their phone calls with prophesying their ‘love’ for each other.


Power of sex

POLYGAMY, claims the Malawi government, must be outlawed. Reason? To protect children, women and even men in polygamous relationships. There might be some element of truth in that and also some element of lies, little doubt about that – if any!

Sudi Sulaimana, PhD., that man whom both the Muluzi and Kamuzu government troubled for the very same issue (or crime?) of treason, was at Chancellor College a few weeks ago. He was commenting on recent government decisions that they (the government) want to translate into bills. There was also the issue of polygamy. He was against the government; he was (and still is) in favor of polygamy. He says polygamy should not be outlawed. Why?

There are just no convincing reasons for outlawing polygamy, that he said. After all, he went on, a lot of Malawian men are in polygamous relationships only that a good number are in ‘unofficial polygamy’. True it might be; that Malawian men are in polygamous relationships, they have concubines – some small children, school going teenagers. Why?

We can pretend to not know the answer for whatever we describe as culture but the answer we know. It is not love, at least that nobody can deceive us. These people, the old ones, are searching for sex with the young ones. Shameful! And the young ones? Some say poverty. Fine; but what about the daughters of the rich ones, what do they search for? Money? I beg to differ. They search not for money. We all know what they search for. Shameful too!

The world of one Grey Mkungula almost crumbled in 2008. Reason? Photographs of him and some women were on the circulation. So, what is wrong with photos circulating? Nothing wrong but not when they are nude photos as they were of him. They were photos that displayed the power of sex. A power that can paralyze right thinking individuals to think so low so as to put their nudity on display. Married people, for that matter, with children. A power that can be compared to none, not even money.

Blantyre Newspapers Limited (BNL) launched an afternoon paper last year – Weekend Times. Since the launch, only issues of sex have been on the front page. Is the paper too obsessed with sex? No! It is the nation that is too obsessed with sex. It is the people of this country who are obsessed with sex such that we have made it a front page news item. As a nation, we have been arrested by the strange power of sex. A power that has made giants fall since time immemorial, an example is in the Bible of Samson the powerful – he fell for Delilah, nay sex!

The Catholic Church, with all due respect, has been rocked in scandals not only outside Malawi but even within the country. It is wrong to think the church is not desperate. It is desperate, that is supposing that there is no such a description as ‘too desperate’. Little wonder then that a priest stood and said all men sleep around. True? Perhaps, I know not – a man of God does not lie, at least that I know, unless he is not a man of God but just pretends to be. Then, he proceeded to say that we should not blame the priests when they ignore their celibacy vows. What was he admitting, that priests are men too? No, that we all know and better too. He was admitting that sex is too powerful, even for men of God, such that it can lead and it leads to the violation of vows. Nobody can blame him for such an acknowledgement.

It is a fact, hate it or not, that sex is powerful. It has a power. A very strange and peculiar power. A power that seems, just seem, to be beaten by none. But, you know what, there is another power that beats that of sex. It is powerful, very powerful, than that of sex. Money? No, not money. Money is a weaker power when compared to sex.

This is a power that existed, exists now and will always exist. The power of the blood of Jesus Christ. It is a power that we all need for us to escape this power of sex. It is a power found in none; no church, no man but the blood only. The blood of Jesus Christ. If we have this power than we will keep the celibacy vows. Then sex will not be a problem anymore, a problem to make businesses, nations and relationships crumble. The power of the blood of Jesus Christ is a power that is greater than that of sex!



Living our faith

TRADITION is more often than not broken, and violated. But then, there always are consequences, sometimes dire, when the tradition is broken. It, not all times, invites wrath – the breaking of tradition.

And nothing could stop the consequences from unveiling themselves on Thursday, 25th March 2010, when tradition was broken, pardon, abused and ‘raped’, yes defiled!

One of the few open secrets that exist at Chancellor College, and even outside there, is that room B is a room with an arrogant corner that always hinders people from seeing what is happening on the other side. It is the same room also that is used by the Writers’ workshop each and every Thursday night when school is in session for their weekly meetings.

And, as usual, on the aforementioned Thursday, the room was to be filled to capacity, to even overflow, by Writers, readers, aspirers and even sympathisers. Why?

Because it is a tradition, a well known indubitable fact, that the room is used by Writers of the College every Thursday when learning is in progress at the Campus. Not only that but also it was for the very first time in almost three years for the man who was to visit, no! make himself available, to the workshop; not just be present but deliver a talk.

However, when the clock ticked to something close to six thirty, the gathering time, room B was far from being used by the Workshop. Very far from being overflowed by the Writers, and sympathisers. Why?

There was a class in the traditional room. A class on a Thursday, not just a Thursday but a Thursday night, not just a Thursday night but a night that was totally different from the previous ones. Why different?

Bright Molande, the poet, political analyst himself, erudite scholar too, a PhD student with the University of Essex also, an essayist in some stances, was to offer a talk. A talk on writing. No! it was not to be a talk but a clinic and Molande, nay Bright the son of Molande, was to be the doctor. His prescription, or rather medicine, he called it ‘Living our Faith’.

6:30 PM

ROOM B was full. Full of light. The doors were closed. In front, stood a lecturer – not a doctor – delivering the much sought after knowledge to the people, students in his class. It was more than impossible to tell the people to march out of the room, tradition says no to that and to offend that tradition is as risky as risk itself. We always search for an alternative, of course, with pain in our hearts, on our chests, in our fingers, hands and writing pads not forgetting the brains.

Quickly, the search for the new room began before one of the patrons appeared, Dr. Mark Anderson, the Canadian. This was to be his first ever meeting to attend of the Writers’ Workshop but not the first for Writers congregating.

I briefly introduced myself to him: ‘Dave, Writers’ Workshop Chair.’ He took my hand in his. ‘Mark, one of your patrons,’ another brief introduction.

Then, the little information on what was happening was offered to him. We were both in a fix. And, at the mention of the word ‘Writers’ , a certain lady appeared and asked what was happening, she said she was searching for the room which was hosting Molande’s clinic. She had been there since six. Something close to danger was looming here!

6:35 PM
A SEARCH, a gallant one, for an alternative room ensued. Usually, we shift to room F or C in the law section but on this day, this Thursday, both were in use. Well, that was a blessing in disguise for if we had fooled ourselves to settle for that room then…horror would have been the word leaving our lips upon the arrival of Molande!

The search was extended to rooms we had never dreamt of using. Rooms very far, as are the words on our lips from our hearts, from room B and then, room U was found. It was written, on the board, booked but there was nobody there. Time was fully against me, against the Writers’ Workshop, against everything. The phone had been ringing for so long. It was only once I had picked it and had been greeted by a very rough voice asking my whereabouts.

6:40 PM
AFTER being informed of the new room, people started trekking to there. Another way of communicating had to be done to tell all the late comers that the venue had been shifted – not changed. Room U in the education faculty was the new venue. Tradition had been desecrated, our tradition.

WHOEVER chose room B in the early 1970s must have been a prophet. Why? Why also did he choose room B of all the rooms? Why, oh, why?

This clairvoyant of some sort who opted for room B after ceasing using the Senior Common Room saw a day, a Thursday, coming in March, on the 25th day of the year 2010 – almost forty years later. He knew that no room was big enough to accommodate the people who were to congregate on that Thursday he saw but only room B – as poorly located as it is.

Room U was small, that is to say small is the word used to mean too small, very small. It could not accommodate the population, the frightening one, that congregated that day to be healed by ‘Dr.’ Molande. Even after using all the techniques of creating space, there still was no space in room U. So scary that was!

FORTUNATELY, the class that was to be in Room T, a bigger one compared to U but small when compared to B, was cancelled. And, it was suggested that people move into the other room, T. This was after the suggestion that we just use the Library Resource Centre as an emergency had been shot down, defeated!

But even room T was not enough. Strange, shocking this was to everyone who has ever been in the Workshop meetings before.

And while the chairs were being arranged and disarranged in Room T, a bespectacled Molande appeared. The man whom the frightening majority had gathered for. At least, Molande was still too smart, not dirty, to never ever have thought of standing as either an MP or President simply because there was a majority that had gathered for him. Such smart thinking is rare, very rare, like the swelling and strange number of the Writers’ Workshop that day.

THERE was silence, not dead silence, when seats were booked disorderly in room T. nobody knew who was responsible for breaking the silence. And, apart from the silence there also was heat, hot heat despite the bare fact that all the windows were wide and open.

However, Molande never allowed the silence to terrorise for too long. He broke the silence, not with an introduction. He broke it with his medicine, the prescription. He started by naming it, revealing its name to the hungry, angry, sick and starved souls.

He said the title of his talk was ‘living our faith’, our faith as writers.

Then, he proceeded into the real stuff. The main emphasis of his clinic was on short stories, novels, novellas or to be very brief, prose. How do we construct prose? that was the first disease he started attending to before moving to the other ailments that go together with the mentioned disease: where do we get inspiration for the prose, how do we get and develop the characters, the plot, the setting, the conflict etcetera?

And somewhere in the light of room T, Molande interrupted himself with jokes from his own lips, nay brain. They all helped in stitching together the wounds of prose, especially short story, writing in the patients that sat before ‘Dr.’ Molande.

And Molande's elucidation was not the usual one, it was abnormal in the positive way. He elucidated as though he was writing, not just writing but in his usual style and way of writing – the one in which he writes things so easy to read but difficult to understand though important and very beneficial.

Never think he never gave to us any of his attributes, he gave them all. Somewhere he diverted, he wore that robe many knew he would fail to not wear on such a day, that of the political analyst. He said something that prompted many to mention a name of a certain politician, I have just forgotten who – forgive my brain.

Molande said the problem with Malawian writers, of short stories, is that they do not write stories as they ought to be. They just tell stories as anybody else. Malawian writers in our papers – said he – write stories as we told in the past when we were young, back in the primary school days. They have an established way of their narrations. The order is that this happened, then this followed, this came after and then this and lastly that – a short story is over.

Well, according to Molande, short stories need and must be different from the usual telling of stories. They must be those that should make someone change positions when sitting whilst reading them; if someone had his back against the chair when beginning to read a story, he must be sitting upright by the time he is finishing the story.

A short story, using Molande as our reference, must make the reader impatient. It must make the reader wonder what happens next and what then after that. A reader must be forced to skim some few paragraphs to see what action is happening in the coming paragraphs, what happens between the protagonist and antagonist. A short story must not be obvious.

He observed, I mean Molande, and it seems rightly so, that unfortunately most of the stories that appear in the papers lack that, our faith. Many writers, this was an observation by he, are not living our faith – the faith of writers; they do not write short stories but just stories.

THEN after some minutes of talking and saying things, not just talking, Molande took his seat. He parted with the patients, they looked healed. He now deserved a rest. A rest from talking and speaking. He had to part with talking and parting he did. His parting made Shakespeare truer when he writes in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ that parting is such sweet sorrow. It was a sorrow so sweet to part with the talk of Molande. A talk that told stories and narrated tales.

CHARLES Mkoka asked how many times the clinics will be provided. Molande was uncertain, his answer revealed that. He did cast a shadow of doubt on the people available, the patrons, the patients with wounds, just some – very few –, still bleeding.

But, the clinics will be there – that is a fact – an answer to Charles’ question. The 25th of March clinic was just the genesis. It is upon the heart of the Writers’ Workshop to hold these clinics for as much as it can.

We dream, a very possible dream it is, of having Steve Chimombo one day. We wish, a more than strong wish this, to host Mzati Nkolokosa one day. We desire, a burning desire is this, of having Benedicto Wokomaatani Malunga one time. Alfred Msadala is on our plans to come again this year.

Zondiwe Mbano – middle name Bruce, Shemu Joyah, Temwani Mgunda and the list is endless, we expect to have them all this year, to come and heal the bruised souls here, the wounded soldiers who have vowed to keep on fighting with their pens and papers.