Celibacy Blues

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Writer: Ms Doo-Wop
Photograph: Musa N. Nxumalo

I had a conversation with a friend of mine the other night. Both of us are new in America, five months into our ‘international degrees’ and already feeling the emptiness of the promise of awayness.

We have both left lovers back home.

It is not that he does not have the opportunity to cheat or that he doesn’t want to. What he is afraid of is the freedom that comes with being anonymous.

“I am afraid that if I started, I don’t know if I would ever stop.”

We spoke about desire, about freak, about boundaries and what it means to be in a new place, presented with the opportunity to be anything you dare.

“Offered the chance to do anything you want, as many times as you want, with as many people as you can handle, would you lose yourself?”

I said I have no religion so the only borders I draw are at the point where my physical and mental well-being are tested.

He said he draws the line where home-girls like me are concerned because even from afar we are too close to home.

“What of the lovers left, the promises we made to keep ourselves until we return?”

Both of us fell silent.

Me, thinking of stories of a grandfather who kept two families in Johannesburg and Cofimvaba because migrancy had made his heart a liar. Both of us, unwilling to dare to unravel the question of betrayal.

We hung up the phone and I readied myself for sleep, humming Jill Scott’s celibacy tune to deafen my senses to a body that offers no rest.It is relentless in its refrain:

“Hey Ms Doo-Wop, why hast thou forsaken me?

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