Christine and Castro

I started writing this on the 18th of November. That is three weeks ago. You know how they speak about work-life balance? Well that is just hot-air because sometimes, work is the entirety of life. Additionally, life is work – the daily activity of living is hard work. So, for me, when work takes over my brain, I relax into it and enjoy the ride. I am aware it will not last forever, and that it will mean that I neglect some other stuff.

Unfortunately, this episode of “too-much-at-work” meant I neglected the blog. It also means I have some more material for this post. WIN-WIN.

Anyway, we are back!


First time for everything

There is a first time for every single thing. Some first we all expect because we know they are coming. Mostly, someone has tried to prepare us for them. Some firsts are unexpected due to our limited imagination or limiting environment.

The first time I realized love can kill you, I was 15 years old. A child, and I was not prepared. My ignorance shocks me now because I grew up with alcoholics, victims and co-dependents. Inside my childhood life, husbands beat their wives up in the night – we heard screams in the night – and we saw the black/red eyes in the mornings. Drunk spouses and relatives fought half to death. A man was murdered by the river when I was 7-8years old. Still, it didn’t click in my head that love is a killer. Nobody spoke about love in the sense that love was all consuming.

We were conditioned before we were born that marriages were practical arrangements. How else would you explain the survival of marriages even when both parties in the marriage were completely detached from each other? Most husbands and wives slept in the same bed, but mostly, they were at war with each other. Even in their silences, you could feel the detached hostility and criticism. Men disappeared every end month to wherever and came back to bitter wives and rents unpaid. What I felt for my siblings was never defined as ‘love’. It was defined as a blood-connection that made us inseparable and each other’s protectors.

Of course, some men and women were dedicated to each other. This was not called love in my childhood hoods. It was called hen-pecked or being sat on. Especially mocked was the man who was dedicated to his wife. The one who came home early, provided money for household maintenance, took her out and treated her decently – he was the weakest man in the neighborhood. Mothers hoped and prayed that their sons would never grow up to be controlled by women in this way.

Abuse, irresponsibility, addiction and general societal disorderliness was normalized and expected – we were all being conditioned to expect it as part of life.

Imagine my shock when Castro, our neighborhood hunk drunk rat poison because Christine was pregnant?! A total deviation from the norm. Young men were expected to deny the pregnancy and distance themselves from the girl who so carelessly got herself pregnant. I was used to that, and I expected that. It was the girl’s parents who chased the boy’s parents down to force them to force their son to ‘own’ the pregnancy.

All this was opposite in Christine-Castro’s case.

Castro was 18-19 years old and had been dating Christine since forever. To us other love-less mortals in the neighborhood, Christine and Castro felt like the same person. If you saw Christine, you asked her where Castro was, and later same day, when you met Castro, you asked him where Christine was. You didn’t ask them because you wanted the other person, it was just that one felt incomplete without the other. They made a beautiful couple.

Then, Christine got pregnant before she finished high school. She was 17 years old and we the neighbors didn’t know that Christine was pregnant. We only found out later when we found out that Castro had tried to kill himself. We, the neighbors, would have horror-enjoyed to hear the scandal of Christine being pregnant before she finished high school. Just the same way we horror-enjoy to watch murders on TV. And we would have been thrilled by the idea of a Christine-Castro baby.

However, to save face, Christine’s parents advised her to hide the pregnancy, have the baby and her mother would pretend to be baby’s mom. This way, Christine could finish her education without shame. The trouble is, Christine had already told Castro she was pregnant and he was the happiest man-boy in Eastlands.

Castro was named by his revolutionary father, after the revolutionary Fidel Castro. Sometimes, we called him Fidel – well, older teens called him Fidel and I hang my tongue out in longing for him. My teens were raging with haywire hormones. I was green-jealous of Christine for having Castro and I know other girls were too. My best friend Shiku once told me that she dreamed that Christine was gone, and Castro was free for her to take. When I asked her ‘gone where’? she looked at me as if I was the mother of all morons.

Gone meant gone. Didn’t matter where. She could be dead, or eaten by the dog, or over at her aunt’s forever, or married to someone else. As long as Castro was free, we shouldn’t care where Christine went.

Anyway, Castro the revolutionary loved Christine and the idea of his and Christine’s baby being hidden and then taken over by Christine’s parents made his blood boil. He tried everything to change the story, but Christine’s parents were adamant. No way was Christine being associated with an out-of-wedlock pregnancy and no way was she being tied to a revolutionary such as Fidel.

Castro’s parents tried to negotiate and almost ended up at the police station accused of encouraging their son to have sexual-relations with a minor.

Castro was devastated. He wanted to die, so he mixed rat poison with alcohol and drank it, ending up at ICU for a week or so. Rat poison is treacherous. It is not always strong enough to kill revolutionaries, but it can leave them weakened.

I heard the talk of loving too much after this. It was whispered and hushed in warnings. It was meant to internalize the fear of love in us.

Loving too much can kill you.

You want to know what happened to this couple don’t you?


Have you heard Queen’s Too much Love will kill you?

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