The moonlight flowed through the darkness like a silvery stream. The air was unbelievably cold and windy, and the chirping of the crickets had no discernable rhythm, concerning which I made a note to myself to tell you how it sounds like a show of drumming skills by a one handed demon. The spirit of the place was overtly obvious, even to an unbeliever, and you could almost hear the holy liturgy in the air, fashioned through the tongue of the famed ancient Ethiopians. The long obelisk stood tall and high, looking like a giant gazing unto the horizon, keenly awaiting the sunrise. The whole atmosphere injected fervor and a sense of patriotism into our hearts and spirits.
You had once said that you wanted to travel the world, and I promised that if we stayed together, we would travel. Years passed, but I kept my promise, and we followed our hearts to a sound that called, and the call did come. The ancient city of Axum called us. Fitting, was it not? The very first letter of our alphabets was coined here, and we were about to coin a new chapter in our journey of love and adventure.
We sat nearby the giant obelisk with my hands wrapped around you, and your head resting on my chest. I was doing my best to shield you from the piercing cold that seemed to have made the ancient city its home. We theorized that perhaps that was why the ancients were so strong and healthy, and we laughed when you said one needs a skin of crocodile leather to fully tackle the pelting cold air.
I mentioned Mr. Asmare, whom you told me has made a habit of waking up early to read the psalms of David(because you are an early riser), and I told you how he walked while swinging his huge walking stick, which was unusual since he was perfectly healthy and was in no need of one. We talked of Hailu, who tried to hit on you once and got punched (God forgive me), and how if he was as determined about anything else as he was about womanizing the local beauties, he would have become quite successful. I mentioned how grateful I was for knowing Mr. Tesfu, who agreed to let us stay near the obelisks for three hours, alone. We talked of the widow, Marenet, and how she promised to accommodate our needs until we decided to leave. You mentioned how her hospitality hinted that she never wanted us to leave at all.
“She is just lonely” I said, my sadness apparent in my voice.
“I know” you whispered.
“We could stay in Axum for a long time” I suggested, the idea fleeting through my mind. You seemed to almost consider it. You shifted slightly, and breathed.
“Only if you buy me a skin of crocodile skin”
“You could wear that and I would still love you” I smiled.
“I know” you said.
“We can rent a place and breed crocodiles for a living.”
“In Axum?” you asked.
“In Axum.” I concurred.
We talked until there was nothing to talk about, and you slept, tired from my ranting. That was when I took my time looking at you. I looked at you and saw an angel. To me, you looked like an angel that somehow tripped and fell in my arms, a divine accident that would never be repeated. The moonlight wasn’t helping either, reflecting on your skin as if it was a perfectly still lake. Your breathing was calm and soft, almost musical even (speaking of music, did I tell you about my one handed demon joke?) I kissed you on top of your head and contemplated my luck. I wanted to call it luck, but it couldn’t be. The alternatives sounded ridiculous. It was luck, a divine accident, or God actually wanted us together. God doesn’t make accidents, and there was no such thing as luck.
I saw Mr. Tesfu’s car approach and we both got up. Before we left, you looked back.
“This would be the night that we talked under the only standing pillar of the Axumite Empire.”
Is that how we were going to remember it?
I took you by the hand and led you to the giant obelisk. We kissed passionately, your back against the carvings that looked like doors. People made out. We kissed. It was a way that we expressed our love. It was when our lips parted that I returned to myself. The first thing I noticed was that your lips tasted like strawberries (you like those don’t you?)
“King Ezana wouldn’t have approved of that.” You said, smiling, and wrapped your hands around my neck.
“See…” I said, “Now this will be the night we kissed under the obelisk and you made a joke about King Ezana.”