As a Somali man, I used to think that it was impossible to love someone, truly love someone without any limitations. Terms like “in love” and “blinded by love” were just words whose usages were dominant in western society, they were terms that I could never really relate to.

Our parents used to teach us that love usually comes after marriage and that it would be born out of respect for one and other, living with each other and planning a future together.

You rarely hear about true love stories, let alone be exposed to real-life examples of them. A husband has certain responsibilities and so does a wife. Our religion teaches us that marriage is half of our deen, and the reason to get married is to have children in order to increase the number of followers of our religion.

Many people have arranged marriages. Some are arranged differently than others. Sometimes the people involved in such arrangements communicate in advance to see if their ideologies are aligned in order to speak honestly about what one would expect from another. Other times, not much communication takes place before the marriage and couples are chosen for each other for different reasons. Some marriages work and some don’t.

In theory, mine worked. I had a home, a job, a wife and family, and a career. I was financially and socially in a good place.

Looking in from the outside, people would think that I had everything in order and that nothing was missing. It was technically true, there was nothing I thought that I was truly missing. Love was born throughout my time with my wife. I loved my wife as a mother. I respected her for standing by me and allowing me to build a life together for us but deep down I always wondered, “is this love?”. Is this all that there is in loving someone?

For a long time, I really thought that it was. Until I met her. I met her in the last place that I thought that I would find love; 10,855 km away in Africa.

We got to know each other via social media because we had another language in common besides our Somali mother tongue. We spoke for a day and I told her that I was married. Like any other sane woman, she wasn’t comfortable communicating with a married man. Our conversations would flow naturally without set topics or expectations, or without the need to try to impress one another. It felt like two long lost friends who were catching up on life and were just chatting away, until she decided to cut it short that day.

She knew that we couldn’t offer each other what we ultimately both wanted and she thought it was best if we got on with our separate paths.

That same night, I got another message from her and we started picking up our random topicless conversations. We chatted for hours and we tried hard to find each others flaws in order to put ourselves off, but the more we found out about each other, the more it attracted us. It was surreal. I kept her up until 5 am that day. We continued our conversation throughout the next day.

I was soon coming to Africa and I told her that I’d like to see her in person. She refused without hesitation. I kept on trying for days and weeks and the answer never changed. We cut it off again because we knew we’d fall for each other. She was never married before and couldn’t see herself with someone who was married. It took 2 or 3 days before she reached out to me again. My trip was coming up quite fast and the only way for us both to fully let go off each other was to meet in person and hope we didn’t click as we did on social media.

She went against all odds and advises that she received from loved ones to meet me.

She met me the first day I landed in her city, picked me up from my hotel and the first impression I had was “wow!” she is stunning!”. She was kind, attractive and very social. We laughed, smiled and joked like we had known each other for years.

We knew there would be sparks but it was more intense than expected. She was stylish, beautiful and incredibly cool. She was confident and funny. We saw each other for about an hour and it felt like it was 5 minutes. We both knew we were in trouble as soon as we met. She mentioned that she liked meeting me in person because it proved to her that I wasn’t a catfish.

She dropped me back off at my hotel and called me a little after she got home. We spoke on the phone for approximately 7 to 8 hours straight until the sun came up. Again, it felt like it was 5 minutes.

We spend the entire next day together. I kissed her in the elevator and she kissed me back. She held my hand throughout the day. We laughed, smiled and held hands the whole day until she dropped me off again.

Being in her presence made me forgot my entire world, I couldn’t see past her. She made me forget I had a life back home. All I wanted was to be besides her, to be with her, to hold her hand and hope the sun won’t come down too quickly.

I didn’t want my days with her to end. I told her that I loved her and that I couldn’t imagine a life without her. She felt the same way. She told me that she never had seriously envisioned marriage before I came along. She used to catch me looking at her when I thought that she wouldn’t notice. And when she did notice, I would tell her, “I love the way you look at me”. 

If only I could have that look every day. It gave me purpose, ambition and drive to work towards the ultimate goal, which is being with her. For the first time in my life, I can finally relate to love stories because 04-01-2021 was the first day that I felt love in 30 years.

To be continued.

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