Another hot day in the savannah. The young man, barely 24, wouldn’t take his eyes off her picture on Facebook, I wrote as I looked out at a collage of zebras and giraffes farther on the open savannah. There they were, the animals, also talking how this man would do anything for this woman on whose profile he doted.

That was odd, but I wrote.

The man wrote secret messages to her saying he wanted to know her better; he wanted to speak to her. He even called her a few times, only to be disappointed. They chatted on Facebook, using first names as endearment. But in the indomitable spirit of youth, the man demanded more. Her profile looked pretty. He wanted to know where she lived, what she ate for breakfast. He wanted to hear her voice on the phone. Then, one day, he asked her what she did. She told him singing was her hobby and that writing was her passion. She even got awards. Was she trying to sell him her books? Was she treating him like a potential client? she asked herself as she allowed this relationship to grow.

I took a break from writing. I put my laptop down and went into the kitchen to make some tea. I thought, she knew what he ate for breakfast every day: eggs, bread, and tea. He also knew what she ate for breakfast every day: coffee. Now, those were some intimate details about each other. Should she tell him more? Egg him on? After all, it was all virtual. No one had to come up front or needed to become personal. This was intriguing. I finished my tea and went back to my computer.

In the meantime, a strong storm rose. The sky was shaded in grey patches of ink smudges. She could hear the wind rage outside the closed window. A lyre of unbroken strings, a rhythm trying to push through. This pensive, pale day of mourning for labour’s lost love. How would this story turn? A comedy or a tragedy? Where was morality in all this? Should morality even have a place? No. No. She must not indulge in this. She must tell him at once that she couldn’t go any further, prepare him for a romantic interlude. Why did it matter? Love of the heart, love of the mind, all was fair and square in affairs of love? No? A soulmate, perhaps, across long distance and time. Both a virtual and a virtuous relationship, that he was young, but he was also mature. She liked him. She liked him a lot. Wait! Should she block him? He was calling again. Her impulsive fingers teetered like bare brown winter twigs on the brink of this fantasy/reality button. She went to the edit option on WhatsApp. She blocked him. She quickly rushed to block him on Facebook and deleted all the messages on Facebook and WhatsApp. There, all gone, a clean slate.

Then she sat down quietly, listening to the song of the winds. There was a song in her heart, too. She looked out at the night and saw two shadows making love on the opposite balcony. She ran out to see more, but she saw two potted palm fronds rubbing each other in the dark. She took her phone absentmindedly and went back to their chat. She had blocked this man. There were no new messages about how her mornings were, whether she had her breakfasts, if she was taking care of herself. This intimacy, she deleted, murdered it with the brute press of a fingertip. But here were no restraint buttons on her emotions. She began to miss him.

Which way was it all going? She was going to engage him in interesting conversations. She was going to unblock him. Before she unblocked him, she tried to remember his last messages. How he asked her every day what she did and she had said, she wrote all day. Then he said, how come you never rest? She had allayed her fears. She felt this man had something that pulled her. He had a sensitive heart and wanted to learn about life. He had even told her that he wanted to listen to her songs. So, should he call her? She had said no, no, never. He demanded why not, ever. She had said, she had her reasons. She had vulnerabilities. She was going to unblock him today. She had been really mean to this man. He had not done anything even remotely bad to deserve this. On the contrary, he had said he could give her a few lessons on his culture, the country he grew up in. That was rude that she had blocked him.

As soon as she unblocked him, she asked him why had he called? He apologised and told her that he didn’t mean to, it was an accident. She took him back. The usual chatting began all over. But she knew this was caprice, for her at least. What should she do? Play with his emotions a bit, feather them and brush them up in pale pink and blue with romance? The romantic flutters, the aahs and the oohs. Open up, let yourself go, revel in the warmth of young love, imagine yourself in his deep embraces and hot sighs on your hair. He, inhaling the fragrances of your hair; lips connected. Loves entwined! Let go! Let go!

Stop! Stop right there. I took my fingers off the computer. By now, the sizzling heat had mellowed on the far savannah. The giraffes and the zebras had left. I looked out at the stifling sun. It dipped down the horizon. The savannah stood aloof in the backdrop of a scarred night of pimpled, feral hyenas and wild, spotted Dalmatians.

She was going to wreck him. She was going to woo him with her words, so he’d be glued to his phone. She was going to wrap him up in the powers of her poetry and beguile him so that he’d forget to eat his breakfasts; his sleeps would be a wet awakening’s night sweats in the early hours. She was going to push him to the cliff where she would rule supreme like Venus, drive him to his fantasies and lock him in this gilded cage of her fling, her own little toy bird. Those sweet nothings, her magic potions, her fluttering joys. Could she be this heartless? That she would crush a half-fledged person of a man to his emotional demise? After all, what was in it for her? An escape from this remarkable drudgery of boredom? It couldn’t be love. No. She couldn’t be that person, no matter how lonely, how bored she was.

I took a break again. I walked over to the balcony. The heavy clouds glided across the sky in spectacular elegance, the biting winds on my face. Fly, fly away, the wings of poesy declared, a steamy romance in the air.

“Tell me, tell me, why do you not want me to call you?” he wrote.

“Because I have problems.”

“Like what? You can tell me, yeah? Are you married? What is it?”

“No, I can’t. Forgive me, please forgive,” she pleaded. “Stop this. Does it matter if I’m married?”

“No, not at all, but I cannot stop now, I like you. I like you a lot. You cannot ask me to stop. I think, I’m in love.”

“In love with whom? Do you have a beautiful girlfriend?” her fingers trembled.

“Girlfriend? Must you ask? How did your breakfast taste this morning?”

“Good. And you?” she asked.

“You had me for breakfast? How did I taste, my love, my sweetheart?”

“What? I have to go. Bye.”

She quickly logged out. She felt agitated. Next, he would want to know where she lived and try to come over. And then, and then…but she went back to the chats immediately, anyway.

“You work too hard. You should rest from your writing sometimes,” his messages lay in the chat box.

“Thank you for your concern,” she replied.

“You don’t know how to enjoy life. You’re bored and lonely, and that’s the plain truth. But you must learn to enjoy life, too. Life is for enjoyment. Let me call, let me hear your voice, I’m dying to hear it. Let me hear your songs, I’m dying to hear them. How else could I listen to your songs if I couldn’t call you?”

“No. No. No. Never, you must never ask for more than what I can give you. I don’t have time to talk,” her shot bullet words.

“Make time, then. I’m going to die if you won’t let me.” He was unstoppable.

“Love me all you like, but only in your fantasy. We must never meet.”

She wrote back. The click sounds were loud. She logged out. She was sitting in her bed. She slipped solidly under the quilt and covered her head. She panted awhile. This gave her a thrill, this cyber-romance, as much as it thrilled him. Both waited eagerly for the next text.

“It’s raining here today. I love rain,” she wrote.

“Are you taking care of yourself? Or drinking just coffee? Why? Are you on a diet or something?” he replied.

“Why do you care so much?”

“I don’t know. I just do.”

“You do realise that we would never meet? And that this has to be a long-distance relationship, pure and sweet?”

“That is true. You’re right. But I just need to write, and write to you.”

“I understand. But I’ve to go now, bye.”

I paused. These short bursts of texts had an exultant effect on the man. He thought she was playing hard to get. I thought, it was time to end this charade. I thought, she must tell him.

Next morning, she woke up and found the phone right next to her bed. She went straight to WhatsApp. There were no new messages.

She wrote, “How old are you?”

Instantly, he replied, “24, and you?”

She thought for a while. This restless lad kept sending the same message at least five times.


“Seriously? Are you kidding me? You don’t look your age at all in your profile. Tell me you’re joking.”

“No, I’m not joking. Time you found a girlfriend your age?

“Haha, girlfriend? You search for one for me, okay?”

“Oh! I can’t.”

“Just joking.”

“I guess, this is it then? Goodbye,” she said.

“Girlfriends are mostly bimbos. I’d rather have one true friend, and that would be you.”

“You really are good, you know. Honest. I wondered why I continued. Now I know why? It was your purity that attracted me.”

“I know,” he said. “But you know what? I also care about you, far too much.”

After that day, the texting stopped. She repeatedly went to WhatsApp, but there were no new texts. She looked at herself in the mirror and the deep wrinkles mortified her, as did her wrinkly fingers, her sagging skin, the drooping lips; the ephemera reared its ugly head.

A new text arrived.

“Hello, how’re you?”

“I’m good, and you?”

Then the woman sat back and thought about his parents. What would they say? Yet, she couldn’t bring herself to end this relationship either. There was a picture on his profile. But who knew if this was his real face? Another message came through.

“I feel like talking to you all day.”

“Oh no, you must go to work, not waste time on me.”

She thought she needed to change her role from a potential lover to a mentor, to guide the young man who was so obviously smitten by her.

“Yes, yes, I know. You’re still the most beautiful woman. You get more and more beautiful with age.”

“But I’m not your cup o’ tea.”

“I love, I love your beautiful mind.”

“You must go to college.”

“I love you.”

“As a friend?”

The communications stopped. But they didn’t quite stop in her head. What was she going to do now? I thought. I would make her go crazy over him, so he drooled over her.

She thought of him. She thought he had come to visit to her. She took him to town. They wondered around in the city, ate at restaurants by the river at sundown. Then he took her wrinkly hands and kissed them. Then he advanced and came closer to her. He took her face and he held it in her palms. He looked at her deep brown eyes, her crow’s feet, and her deep furrows. She smiled sweetly, and it held him in her spell. He lifted her chin and brought his mouth down and he kissed her, lightly, then deeply, and ever deeper. She moaned with joy. She wept silent tears down the corners of her eyes. She stopped thinking. She went to bed. In the early morning, she woke up and found his messages. He was saying,

“Hello, are you there?”

“Yes, I’m here.”

“I need your help.”

“With what?” she asked.

“I dreamed of you last night. That we had a great time walking through some city. You and I were out together and you were showing me around.”

Oh God! Oh no! She thought, as she fought her own fears, her thoughts about him last night. Oh God! Was this even possible? But it was happening. He kept shooting sentences one after another like bullets.

“I dreamed of you, you and I together in the city. And then I woke up. When I woke up, I was all wet down there, My pants were wet. I was hot. I’m very hot.”

“What was it? Sweat? Fever?” she asked desperately.

“No, no, no. It was that, you know what. I’m doing it. Doing it now, releasing myself…”

No tapping.

She wrote, “You must see a doctor, soon.”

After a while, he wrote, “It’s too early here, just 4AM.”

She wrote, “How are you, now?”

“Better, better, much better. I think it was you, which was why I was wet like that. Now I have to take a shower, this early in the morning. I woke up to find myself in a state as though someone had poured water on me. I was anxious. I was frightened.”

“Check the Internet and find out your answer. I must unfriend you,” she said

“No, you can’t. Too late.”

“For what?”

“I’ll commit suicide if you do that. Seriously”

“No, you wouldn’t.”

He logged off. He probably went to take a shower, she thought.

Next day, it was the same distress call that he had an early morning erection.

“Where’re you?”

“Where’re you?”

“Where’re you?”

She woke up to find several messages.

“What is it?” she asked.

“Same thing, I’m having the same fantasies, and a huge one, this time. It’s very erect. What to do?”

“I don’t know. Go to a doctor.”

“What doctor? You tell me. My penis is excreting water. Once it is out, I’ll calm again.”


“And now again.”

“The water is all out. Hell of a lot.”

“You really must go to a doctor.”

“But it’s still very erect.”


“That thing! My penis, the one which excretes water!”

“What do you want me to do? I don’t know.”

“I feel hot inside. It must be my youth, like you said.”

“Go see a doctor.”

“There’s curfew on now.”

“Will it make any difference if I had sex with someone? Maybe it will stop the second time around.”


“Maybe I should stop watching sexy videos, it may make a difference so it may not happen again the second time. What do you say?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you not feel like it, sometimes?”


He started sending her pictures of young women. She thought it was them he thought about in his fantasies, not her. Then why did he call out to her every morning? Was he using her, somehow?

“Get married. You need to get married,” she wrote.

“He wrote back, “Yes, I think you’re right. But why do you know so little about sex?”

“Because I have no interest. Besides, it must be the cabin fever from the coronavirus. You’re young and in lock down. That’s why.”

Then he logged off. But she still couldn’t figure out why he had dreamt about her wondering through the city together, when she thought of doing exactly the same thing, the same moment.

“A mystery, perplexing,” she mused. But she also knew they were bonded in a strange kind of way. Maybe it was a spell. Who knew? But they had wedded. This bonding was for real.