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She died as a refugee during the Liberian war

A Town Reject Became my First Love

My first love was Ms. Comfort. She and I met in a tiny Jr. high in Liberia. Comfort was a very beautiful girl, but she never thought of herself in that way. Even though she saw the world just like any healthy person, many people in and around town assumed her eyes were “abnormal.” She was painfully bothered by grayish dots on her eyes. As if by design, each eye had one of the peculiar dots. Some kids made painful jokes about the dots. Occasionally, even some adults were downright insensitive and inconsiderate toward her. What added to her emotional pain came from the most unlikely person, a friend of mine. He was the architect of the demeaning portrayal: ” bird eyes.” These were the vicious words he had coined and despicably used to depict the young woman’s terrible condition. I noticed that she was too shy to talk to me about her eyes. Equally, I never brought the topic up either. My attitude was indifference. I saw a beautiful girl every time. Any eye-related issues I heard came either from her friend, or another source. The sound of the coined insult was enough, no matter who said it, to trigger excruciating emotions. Typically, she either ran home or into a self-imposed isolation. Other times she simply knelt with her face down and sobbed bitterly.

Because of her eyes, she was afraid to ask any one out. And not many boys wanted to ask her out. In town, that was stooping low. Comfort liked me, but she was skeptical what I would say if she told me herself. So, one evening while the youth danced a traditional Konbo dance, she asked her friend to play matchmaker. She agreed. That night, I was one of the singers at the dance. I did not do anything to lure the young woman to me. Perhaps good look, luck and being a singer might have played a role. I simply do not know why this unique beauty found me so attractive.

She told her friend to relay numerous messages to me, including this initial one: “Comfort wants to talk to you; she is behind the house.” Believe me, at 13, I was not ready for this kind of talk. I was really uncomfortable, so I did not know how to react. It was the type of moment I dreaded. I liked females, but at that time I was too shy to discuss the topic of love to an opposite sex. But on this night, it was all set to change, thanks to the friend. There was no excuse to get me out of meeting her. Running home, an alternative I briefly weighed, was not the right answer because my friends were surely going to have a great time laughing at me.

Her friend directed me to the back of the building, where she had previously positioned Comfort to wait. She immediately held my hand when I reached to her. Then there was a long pause, as if we had been ordered to participate in a considerate moment of silence. We were both shy. The silence continued for well over three minutes before she had enough and broke it. “Are you going to tell me something?” she asked me. “Oh yes,” I said, “she said you wanted to talk to me.” Without saying a word, she gestured a hug. I did not hesitate. Then more and more hugging followed. It was too dark outside to facially recognize any person from the distance of about six or more meters. The visibility level was so low that the curious matchmaker who now stood just a few meters away from us, presented a shadowy glow beyond recognition.

Comfort and I were together until my relocation to the states. She died in the Ivory as a refugee during the Liberian war. She was 23. May the Lord continue to bless her Soul, Amen…..


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