[Editor's Note: this was delivered to us in the mail, a tattered excercise book. There was a note with it: "publish it - his memory deserves better than the current vitriol being circulated. Please do not contact me. (Aja Mariam)". Though we have taken pains to ensure that the so-called diary is authentic, we have respected the author's wish and have not contacted her, though we are as full of questions as you doubtless will be after you read it.]
The first time is a softness. Yes, in his lips, on his mouth. But also in the way he holds me - in his embrace there is desire, barely tamed, making his hands shiver.
He begins with his hands on my waist, their pressure barely felt through my blouse, his mouth come in quest of mine. And we find each other the first time, despite the dark behind our closed eyes, and as we ease into the kiss his hands increase their pressure on my waist, and he is holding me properly now, and he is becoming more confident.
It is a selfless kiss - all his attention is on me, and it passes warm shocks through my chest that make my stomach tingle. And I know this is him, this is the man I want to be kissing, every night, how could I have survived without having been kissed like this before, this is the man whose attention I want. And I can't help it, I sigh, and it ends the kiss - he pulls his mouth away, and holds my head to his chest, and rubs my head.
I feel like some music, dear kiss diary. And perhaps some warm milk, before I sleep.
If you wish to know a man, dear kiss diary, then kiss him. Their words lie, but their kisses cannot - I believe this. My mouth is all smiles. I can't hide my teeth, dear kiss diary, I am in such a playful mood today.
When he arrived last night he found me sitting alone in the room.
- What is it?
- Nothing, I said.
He took me in his arms, and flicked at my nose with his finger, gently.
- Ow, I said, softly.
- Tell me, he said, flicking at it again, or I will not stop.
I shook my head unh-unh. He bent, toward me, the shadow of his face darkening mine... The smell of a person, dear kiss diary, contains a mini-history of them, of all they have done during the day: a whiff of the spray they touched here, a whaff of the domoda they ate for lunch...
Tonight's is a different kiss, from the kiss of the first night - it is full of an experienced tenderness, the beginnings of a maturity, a setting down of roots, and when he is done my dark mood is all dissipated, I want only to lie in his arms and listen to the rumble of his voice, the rise and fall of his chest.
There are sly ways into a man's heart, ways of shamelessness, ways of seduction.
Yet better than these is his own way, when he holds your hand and takes you in past the walls of brick he has constructed, the dungeons of his manliness.
This is what his kisses do, tonight: they let me in. I am his lover, and also, paradoxically, I am his mother.
Tonight our roles are reversed - I am the giver, and he receives, with gratitude, as I have received before, and there is no greater sign of how much I mean to him. I wonder what happened, what changed.
What is it tonight?, I ask his presence in the dark, my hand rubbing his chest, caressing his answer out. What do you mean? he asks, and I realize my mistake: there are to be no sounds here. Sounds ruin the moment, speech is too much. So I lay my fingers gently on his lips, and he takes them into his mouth, and begins to suck on them, and past that point, dear kiss diary, I am not willing to explain...
Tonight he is not there, he is in another place and the kiss is a horrible one: glugging, liquid, fumbling lips.
I pull away soon after it begins, pushing back at his chest.
He runs his hand distractedly over my hair, down to my shoulders. His eyes gaze off into the distance, another place reflected in them, a longing... He notices me watching and looks down into my upturned face. He gives me a peck, a dab of wetness lacking in emotion.
- What is it my love? I scratch his head, his receding hairline.
- I'm sorry - I am not myself today.
- Hmmm, I say. Perhaps we can remedy that.
I pull him toward me and into the bed, I sit in his lap and put my arms around his neck and do a little jiggling dance. And he puts his hands to either side of me and brings them together. He draws me close, and he holds me still, my heart beating against his.
But he is not there still - he does not embrace me, he holds me like a man holding a sack, stiff, unfeeling. After a time he climbs into bed - an unentangling of limbs - and pulls me to him, and lays me down on his chest, his hand on my back, the slightest of touches.
And he begins to talk, and I can hear the rumblings in his voicebox before the words come out of his mouth, and my breathing slows.
- It is this bloody repatriation attempt, he says. That is what they do not like.
His voice is a flatness, without hope in sight. I throw my arm around him, bringing it up behind him, drawing him closer in a hug. He turns to face me, and our breath falls on each others' faces: his warm and tinged with peppermint, cigarette smoke, chuyi kong...
- The toubab, he says, they are the ones behind all this. That is why it is impossible to win. And he sounds sad, so sad I squeeze him tighter, and he is not holding me anymore, his arms have gone slack. He is completely in my embrace. I kiss his forehead, and tell him he'll be fine.
He lies there while his breath slows, and turns into snores that start in his stomach and rattle around in his throat.
I have not seen him in two weeks. When he comes tonight the kiss is urgent, a brief thing, a momentary brushing of lips - and I wish to lock onto his mouth, and close my eyes, and hold on to him that way. But he will not engage, he draws back, and stands at a distance, his arms stretched out, his hands on my shoulders. He looks tired, and he looks happy, and it gladdens my heart, but it saddens me too, for he is not mine tonight, there is a distance between us. He seems overworked and exhausted, his face newly gaunt, his baldness seeming to have advanced even further.
- The Independence documents are all signed, he tells me over dinner (for while on other nights he has rushed straight to the bed tonight he insists that we sit down for a meal).
- Very good, I say, and I try to smile. But he knows me too well. He drinks the last of his water, he wipes off his mouth with a napkin. Then he comes to stand behind me. He puts his arms around my chair, and kisses my cheek. His beard is a five-day stubble, and it tickles - I can't help but smile.
- See, he says, that's better. Now let's see what the full one will do...
And he turns my chair around and... well, kiss diary, let us just say that night the Independence of the country was not the foremost thing on his mind.
Tonight he holds me tight - in his embrace there is possession, a hint of violence.
Many things happen, but this is a kiss diary, and I am already being immodest enough. But the kisses - there are too many to recount.
Only, dear kiss diary, he has never kissed me like this. Each is a climax, a new record, and yet the next somehow manages to improve on it.
He seems to be scaling mountains, he seems to be sailing seas. The warring parts in him, the violence and the sensuality, have come together in perfect union, and the results... Even thinking of them makes me breathless. He takes me to peaks I have never been to, and we come down again and I cry, and I am the happiest person in the world, and I am the saddest person in the world, for I shall never feel like this again, yet again he takes my hand and runs back up with me, now slow, now fast...
Afterward I go to sleep in the warm hollows of his chest, and dream I am at home with my mother, and there is a look of approval in her eyes. When the dream ends my eyes open, and he is lying there, his face slack with sleep, his arm bent awkwardly under me. I shift, bring it around to wrap around me again, snuggle into him, and let myself wander back into sleep...
He has not showered. I can smell him as soon as he comes in, from the door. I rush to him.
A rubbing of lips. His mouth is dry, his lips are chapped.
- Where, I say, you could not even send a message. All I hear I hear on the rad...
- Shhh, he says, holding his hand up to my lips. We don't have time. I have to go.
- To go? Where?
- The toubab have armed a rebel group... I cannot stay here - it is too risky - I must retreat back into the lower river, and re-assemble.
His eyes dart about the room as he speaks. He keeps looking behind himself. He does not look at me, cannot see how stiffly I stand, the frostiness of my expression. Finally I can't take it any longer.
- And me?, I said.
- What?, he said. Oh - well you'll be fine. Of course you'll be fine, he says, putting his hand on my shoulders. - Separate plans have been made... you will be given enough money... you will live well all your life.
A notion for violence comes over me then, dear kiss diary. He sees the look in my face, and misreading it comes up to me. He stoops forward and lays his lips on mine.
I don't know what comes over me - I bite down on his lower lip. He gives a start, but then tries to relax, to indulge me. I can feel his impatience.
I bite down harder. The bitter taste of blood in my mouth. He pushes me away roughly, his hand coming up to feel his lip.
- What is wrong with you he shouts. I stand there and watch him, and do not say a word. He keeps touching his lip, and looking at the blood disbelievingly. Then the look of rage on his face turns to one of disgust, and he turns and leaves the room.
- Behave yourself, he shouts behind hihim, now is not the time for all these your theatrics.
And then he is gone.