One of my guards told me he wanted to have a word with me before I went on my next trip. He was particularly keen to track me down, even sending me a text at work to be sure that I would be home that evening.
I hoped he wouldn’t ask for another loan. He already owes me money, and although he is always very good at paying me back, this one has been outstanding a little longer than usual. He’s recently been bringing me the odd ‘gift’ – a fresh mango here, something planted in the garden there – I think in lieu of interest as he knows he should have repaid me by now. I guess times are tough, as security guards don’t earn all that much. & I didn’t think this was going to be a repayment, as for that there was no need to ask to speak to me, he could just hand me the money.
So it was with a bit of trepidation that I answered the door to his knock on Friday evening. I did not want to lend him more money until he repaid the previous loan, but also did not relish the prospect of saying “no” to him, as he has been with me since I first moved into my house and is the sweetest, gentlest, most helpful of men.
I invited him in to sit down, and he started by telling me that he hoped what he was going to say would not upset me, that he knew he was risking his job by what he was about to say, but that he could not keep quiet for any longer. I told him to go ahead and tell me whatever it was.
“I’ve fallen in love with you” he said.
Well! That was the LAST thing I expected, and I really didn’t know what to say. He is a lovely person, who would treat a woman really well (the type who would never look at another woman again in his life) – as I said above, a really sweet, gentle and kind man. Reminds me of my Mum’s new husband, in fact.
But not what I would be looking for, even were I looking for a man at all! I really didn’t know what to say to him (nor how to talk about this sort of thing in French…) so had to just tell him I was not interested in him but that I was not upset by what he had told me and that his job was safe. Apparently he has been hiding this feeling for some six months now, and the fact that I was about to be away from Dakar for seven weeks meant he just had to tell me how he felt. He wants me to ‘think about it’ while I am away.
How do you tell someone, gently, that there is absolutely no chance on earth that you will ever get together with them, in a way that is final but does not hurt their feelings?