The Color of Chocolate

“The best thing about you is your tan,” he’d always tell me.
“What tan?” I’d laugh, “I am as dark as chocolate.”
“And I’m crazy about chocolate” he’d respond adoringly.

We’d walk down the corniche holding hands,
And when we didn’t buy anything from the annoying kid who sells roses,
He’d come next to us and say, “You two look like chocolate milk together.”
My love would laugh: “Mind your own business. We love chocolate milk!”

We were neighbors.
And we were brought up together.
When romance brought us together, we hid our love from our families and neighbors.
He’d sneak into his balcony to see me.
And I’d watch him from my window.
Watching him when he woke up and when he went to bed.
When he’d want to speak to me, he’d play Munir’s song “My love is the color of chocolate”.

He never made me feel that my color had an effect on our love.
When I’d get upset from people’s comments on the streets, at university, or at work on the color of my skin,
I’d run to him and vent my anger.
He’d laugh and say, “They’re stupid. They don’t value the beauty of chocolate.”

He’d always hide the comments his family made on my color when they felt that he was giving me any attention.
But I knew everything they said, and what people on the street said too.
I could tell from his eyes.
“Her heart is pure as snow, but her color is just ugly.”
“I can find you a girl as beautiful as the brightest moon.
Just please don’t go after someone as dark as the night sky.”

I was scared of him leaving me more than anything.
He reassured me that I was his chocolate and that he’d never let go of me.
My mother sensed what was in my heart.
“We can only be with those of our color,” she told me,
“Listen to me, his mom would never accept you.
Don’t waste your life waiting for him.
He will leave you eventually”
I didn’t listen to her.
He loved me and I loved him,
What did his mother have to do with it?

He told his mother that he wanted to marry me.
She raised hell.
“You’re leaving all the fair girls for a black one?
How could you? Do you want to break my heart?
You are not marrying her, and if you do then forget that you ever had a family,
And you can consider me dead starting today, too.”

I was sad.
He promised that all it would take was time to convince his mother and his family.
So, I waited.
A day passed, then a month, then a year, then years.
His mom refused to give her approval, and he refused to disobey her.

I decided to end things and move on.
He didn’t object.
He, too, got tired of our battle.
I travelled abroad.
But just because I decided to forget and move on doesn’t mean I was able to.

I heard that he got engaged.
I felt happy for him and prayed for him.
On his wedding day, he sent me a fancy box of imported chocolates.
I got not one, not two, but three suitors who looked like me.
They were of the same color.
I tried, but I couldn’t love any of them.
My heart was busy thinking of him.
I heard that he got divorced.
He, too, couldn’t love her.
I was happy.
“Come to the country I’m in and let’s get married,” I sent him.
“I’m sorry,” he replied, “My mother still doesn’t approve!”

He got married a second time.
And I turned down my fourth suitor.
My mother died, weeping over my situation.

I brought my siblings to live with me and got them jobs.
I tried to forget.
But I couldn’t.

He got kids and named his daughter after me.
Knowing that he hadn’t forgotten me was enough.
But time flew by and I was soon past the age of marriage and pregnancy.
My siblings got married and got busy.

I returned to my mother’s home.
Underneath my grey crown of hair,m y chocolate face has grown older.
I opened my window, wondering if he still remembered me.
A beautiful girl opened his window.
She looked exactly like him, light-skinned.
Her laugh sounded like his.
He came from behind her.
He looked closely at me and recognized me.
He gave me a cold smile and excused himself, closing the window.

I closed the window and kept crying while looking at my face in the mirror.
As I smoothed my grey hair,
I found myself singing,
“My love is the color of chocolate, brown, with humor so sweet.”

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