There is no point questioning in others what you have not first questioned in yourself. So, Dike, how far are you willing to go in pursuit of a fetish? For I take it for granted that we all come flawed in one way or the other, with desires that can only be satisfied incognito, and things we will only do under the cover of darkness. You understand? That there are saints amongst us. This is a fact. But whether these people were also saints yesterday, and will remain saints tomorrow, I do not know. For it is a difficult thing to find a human path that does not twist and turn, rise and fall. This is a difficult thing.

You see? We are built rough. Or maybe we have turned out so. That the rose with its mesmerizing petals is the rose with its savage thorns. Like this, we love, we desire, we reach for each other, not just with the beauty within us, but also with the ugliness within us. I know. That you can hurt the one you love, again and again, because we are feathers and clouds inside, yes, but we are also razors and blades, jagged cliffs and bottomless holes, ravenous caves and blistering deserts. I know. That it is your best friend that will bear the brunt of your worst days. I know. But, surely, there must be a step towards the dark side that registers, somewhere deep within our souls, as a step too far? There must be a point, in our single-minded pursuit of the objects of our desires, when the cracks our actions are opening up in the hearts of those we are hurting grow loud enough to pierce the silence passion wraps around the ears?

Yes. If we do not build firewalls around our hearts we will feel the pain of the person in front of us. Yes? That to rape a woman you must continuously ignore her pleas, her cries, her fears, her hopes, her desperate appeal to you not to damage the wings she needs tomorrow. You must continuously ignore her uncertainty, the way she wavers between wanting this and not wanting this. You must continuously ignore the doubt in her eyes, wondering if this was such a good idea after all, to be here, alone with you. Am I safe? You must continuously ignore this question as it hovers in the tense silence enveloping the moment. Do you know? Do you know what it means for someone to feel safe with you? To know that no matter how faint the sound of their hesitance, you will hear it; no matter how weak the hand they hold up in resistance, you will feel it; no matter how confused and garbled the sentence they mumble expressing discomfort at what you are doing, you will understand it. And you will stop. This is the meaning of Respect…


And when all the poems have been written, and all the ballads have been sung, when all the fields have been stripped of their flowers, and there are no cuddly teddy bears left in any stores, this truth will remain, that it is better to have your respect than to have your love. You understand? That it is better for me to treat you with respect than to drench you in that psycho-emotional babble we call love. For there is Light and Darkness in everyone, and on some days the Light advances and on some days it retreats. But our Humanity is this, that on those days when the Darkness gains the upper hand on this battle field, with every step we take in retreat our conscience cracks a whip across our backs. Till we reach the fatal line – beyond which is no redemption – the line we MUST hold, where conscience whispers harsh in our ears: ‘Today, today, there is no retreat, there is no surrender.’ Yes. This is our Humanity, that even at our worst, we find altars we will not desecrate, and gods we will not eat. This is the meaning of Respect.

Follow Dike Chukwumerije  @www.simplypoetry.com.ng to get see more of his arts.

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