I said to Sa’afia that I wasn’t in love with Ana, and that I was in love with her, Sa’afia. She just watched me talk, disbelieving me. She was wrong. As far as I knew I was telling the truth. As far as I can judge it now, I was telling the truth. But she disbelieved me and watched me, and there was nothing I could say or do that would change her.
But we were reluctant to let go. I held her and Sa’afia wanted me to hold her. Eventua;lly I said, “But why do you want to get married anyway?”
Sa’afia shrugged. “It’s not that. It’s that he wants to help people, in the village where I grew up. There’s a lot has to be done, in housing, and the paths that people walk -“
“You mean that metaphorically, or are there literal paths that are a problem?”
“Literally the paths. They’re slippery. Old people get hurt, and sometimes kids. And they get worse as people walk on them. They need to be replaced with boardwalks, or actually a stone walkway would be best. It’s that sort of thing. Paul can do it as a Minister, but he can’t as just some guy. And I can help as a Minister’s wife. Not as someone who lives with him. Or is the girlfriend of a nice man in LA.”
“Yeah. I can see that. It’s your life in a good cause. You’re a good woman. It’s a good cause. I can’t argue against it.”
“Wouldn’t you wish me well?”
“Oh for fuck’s sake! I’ve just told you I love you. I’m in love with you, whatever you think. And not with your cousin. Whatever you think. And the reply I get is you saying, thanks, but I’m off now? I’m not happy. How the hell can I be happy? Jesus, darling. So yes, in one sense I wish you well. No, in every sense. If you go, I wish you every success and happiness. Even with him, this … Paul. But I’d wish you every success and happiness beside me.”
Sa’afia touched my mouth. Months ago she’d touched my mouth like that, at a party. It was how we’d become lovers.