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Milk and Chocolate

There is this girl. Well, there are a couple of girls. That I like. That I love. But this girl simply makes me smile from within, endlessly.

We met in 2007. In a place I never thought I’ll see. That is because I never heard of it till then. We arrived in Yasothon in the hot summers of Thailand. Like strangers, unknown to us, we were waiting to be married in a friendship none of us boarded the plane anticipating yet welcomed without reservation.

She was the one-year exchange German student and I was the six week exchange Ghanaian student. She was and is my Cordi, the milk to her chocolate and so was this a affectionate reference reciprocated . Back then, I was unaware of the meanings behind racially cultivated words. Not until I was harshly introduced to the concept of skin colour, and the barriers they present for the darker toned. Meeting her was the perfect remedy to the cruel disparities I faced upon my return and beyond.

I do not recall the exact date we met. Nor do I recall the moment we zinged. I do, however, recall we both disliked people who made us feel less than wonderful. I recall that very clearly. Maybe that was the thread that wove us together, but certainly not the thread that kept us interwoven for twelve years and beyond.

one of the many gifts she got me, a shirt that spells out our entire story!

The irony is I dislike chocolate. The taste and smell remain foreign to me. It has been this way since I was in third grade or so. It was in school, St. Martin de Porres, Ghana. I was eating lunch with my friends at the torso of the staircase leading to the field and parking lot. Everyone was enjoying their lunch and showing off how well off they were through the items in their lunch boxes. I measured up. I know this because I was not teased about such things in school in Ghana. Not until I relocated to the States and understood for the first-time what privilege means and how that is interpreted and categorized to fuel power. We will chat about that later.

As we ate our lunch I recall a girl taking out her Golden Tree chocolate bar and running it into her mouth before anyone said, “give me some” As she ate, she spoke. As she spoke I saw the chocolate disco in her mouth. From that day, I disliked chocolate. At some point I thought I was allergic to it, but it turns out, I simply disliked it, fervently.

But she is one of the very few I will endure chocolate for. For I am her chocolate after all.

As the summer sweated along, we grew closer. One of our favourite things to do was to write letters upside down to each other. We have since continued this tradition of upside down letter writing for twelve years. It is now our thing. An open secret we both share and admire. One we both giddy over.

Never once did we or have we skyped, video called, or voice called. Years of knowing each other across continents, and in all the countries we both found ourselves, our emailing sums up to about a month out of those twelve years. We simply waited for each other’s letter - no matter what countries we travelled or moved to, no matter how long the letter took to write, send and receive, we waited. And waited. We waited knowing it was on its way, but never knowing when we would come home to meet it – that was the ingredient to our letter writing – the wait. The wait carried love, proclamation of love, joy and thought.

Getting her letters were like opening Christmas boxes I never had the chance to experience. But with her, I did all year round. “I got a letter from Cordula”, I smiled to my heart. And like a child, I drop my bag and find a dim corner to read it. She was the Star that lit that dim corner, just like her Thai name, Weldaw.

Our lettered friendship evolved over twelve years. And for the first time in twelve years, we met again. Words cannot describe the delight my heart felt when I saw her walk out the elevator. Words cannot express the puncture I felt when I said good bye to her after the seven day visit to Chicago – just to see me. “You are my agenda and it does not matter what we do, I flew here to see you.”

I hugged her all the time, tighter each time. I held her hand to the level of comfort we both felt. I smiled without reservation and I teared up inside more times than she knew.

I love her infinitely. I am not sure why, but I need no reason.

All I know is, should I die tomorrow, I will die fortunate in memory, rich in love and serene in bliss because I had a Star in my life. One that crossed my path and stayed there through it all. One that makes me wear dresses and heels. One that makes my heart smile. One that writes me upside down letters, and will do so for as long as I live.

Here is the girl. That I like. That I love, dearly. She simply makes me smile from within, eternally.


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