The Test of Love

Frank Lukupwa

© Copyright 2020 by Frank Lukupwa

Photo of a leapord.

In this world, many will portray that they love you when things are okay, but the moment you fall into trouble needing someone to help you out by sacrificing somehow, they will stay aloof.

To perform a sacrifice for another person demands that one puts himself in the shoes of those who needs help and forgets about the cost even if it means not being paid, compensated or refunded in some way. By sacrificing for our friends, we might place ourselves in danger with their enemies if the matter is a conflict of some sort. We also risk our lives if it needs to save our friends from harmful situations.

When people calculate the cost of sacrificing for others in order to show love, they usually find that it demands of them to die a bit. Not many are willing to venture that far.

There are times when even those who call themselves “lovers” get tested by situations and fail the test of love when one of them falls into some serious problem.

This should make us know that there is indeed two types of love. The first one does not want any commitments. When things get bad, go and solve them then come back. But there is love which sticks around in every circumstance; the one that is ready to do just more than talking in order to help.

To a great extent, people who are willing to love and sacrifice for others without asking questions are parents. The only predicament that can be there is when one has also grown up and have children. His parents may be old and not as physically and financially sound to help.

Parents in many cases see helping out their children as a calling and a joy for which they are ready to die. For example, even if it seems that chance of retrieving their children alive from an inferno is completely zero; parents would want to go inside the fire. However, given the same scenario, these same parents would never dare try to do that if the children involved are for their neighbours. They would for sure be counting the cost.

When we were growing up, I came across an incident that made me realize that it is not easy to sacrifice your life even if you say you love someone. It all started on a bright sunny morning. My best friend came home to take me in the bush so that we could pick some fruits.

This friend of mine was more than a brother to me. Having to come from a well to do family, he understood how we lacked some of the basic needs at home and made sure he stole them for me from their home. I had never met anyone like him in life. Wherever he was I was, and vice versa. The bond was so strong that it was impossible for other boys to find space to play with any of us. However, unknown to me, my friend had always been looking for an opportunity to prove if really I loved him to the point of dying for him.

We took a dusty road and headed towards the forest. As we were going, my friend started to narrate to me that there was a leopard that had come in the area. He went on to describe how fierce the wild cats can be; that they conceal themselves perfectly by blending themselves with the tropical savannah bushes.

No matter how fast you can be,” said my friend, “leopards are so fast that they will “fly” at you before you even realize it!” He said.

What if one had a gun?” I asked.

It’s the same thing. They will leap over the barrel of your gun and tear off your skin from your scalp starting from the back of your head and bring it over your face like a towel to obstruct your view,” he said.

And as you are trying to come to terms with the excruciating pain and the obstruction of your sight by your dangling skin, the “no nonsense” beast would slice your throat with its razor sharp teeth,” my friend said.

What if one dashed up into a tree.” I asked.

That’s of no use. The leopard can climb into trees and sort out their victims,” replied my friend.

For as long as we walked, my friend kept “idolizing” the wild cat and made me get convinced that if one came face to face with it, there would be no chance of escape.

From nowhere I just found that I had changed my behavior. I started looking up in the trees, I looked left, I looked right, I turned behind; I started to “feel the presence of something strange.”

When we had ascended the mountain halfway up, we came to a big tree and stopped. My friend looked “pressed” and decided to go up the mountain and answer the call of nature. Before he could go, he took an axe and put it into my hands, saying, “Here, this can protect you in case anything tries to attack you.” In the first place I doubted if I could even have the courage to face “anything.” I just wished he could help himself right there than for him to leave me alone.

I took the axe and positioned myself on top of a large rock. My only prayer was that my friend should come back quickly. At once I started to imagine that a leopard would come out any time.

I couldn’t tell why and how exactly, but every shrub that I looked at seemed to be hiding the dreaded beast. I could imagine first, seeing only the whiskers pop out, then short ears capped on a rounded head housing fire like eyes, and lastly, the whole damn beast. My friend looked to have been away for a year!

My God! As they say, “Talk of the devil and he will appear!” it did not take long. The voice of my friend at once vibrated throughout the mountain woods like a public address system: “A leopaaaarrrrd!” The first thing that I did was to throw the axe away. Then, turning back, I jumped down from the rock. I did not have time to see the leopard. I literally bounced from rock to rock with the agility that I had never known I had possessed. Lose rocks rumbled out of position and followed me behind as I ran downward the mountain.

I am bitteeeeen!” cried my friend. It was such a passionate cry that I doubted if he would be able to cry again. I imagined the beast standing over him with its canine teeth deep inside his face, then shredding it off his skull. Then,

Should the leopard see you,” I warned myself, “it will leave him and come after you!”

I was not going to allow myself to be easy meat for some pugnacious and senseless beast that only wanted to satisfy its stupid appetite. I summoned even the little strength that was left in “reserve” and started “piercing” through thick shrubs like flying dart. I couldn’t find the time to go around them. As I ran, fresh and dry braches of leaves bruised my arms placed in front of my face to protect it from being sliced. Horrified that I would slice my tummy open with sharp sticks, my friend shouted at the top of his voice: “There is no leopard!” What came to my mind was that he had somehow managed to escape, with the “mad” cat in pursuit, though. I “zoomed” on.

My friend, being a bit older than myself managed to sprint and get somewhere within 25 meters or so from me, still calling on me to stop. I could hear his footfalls, I could also hear very well the leopard’s, which, in a few minutes would be “flying” onto his back to send him crashing to the ground with its weight. How I wished I could just grow wing at once and fly away, out of the forest and land at home. I knew very well that the leopard was happy to see two “possible meals, not just one.

I am just joking, there is no leopard!” My friend shouted again. I decided to give it a benefit of a doubt and see. What I saw when I turned back surprised me. My friend was all alone and unharmed in anyway. For the next few minutes we both bowed our heads down with exhaustion, panting for breath. That was the end of our expedition. We had to return home. However, one thing was clear, I had failed the test of love; I couldn’t sacrifice for my best friend and I could not deny it.

It reminds me of an incident that happened to a couple that was the talk of town at one point. They were always in each other’s hands as they moved about. One day as they were crossing a lake at midnight, their boat capsized, throwing everybody into the water. After a few minutes of searching in the pitch darkness of the night, the man managed to find the wife. He told her to hold him so that they could die together and make it easy for people to find their bodies in one place. Again the couple went down. This time, only the husband came out, extremely exhausted and clinging to life. Simple logic suggests that for a drowning person to let go of someone, he used extreme “force” to rip his wife off his body. For the weeks that followed, all he said was, “I just want to die!” People had no trouble concluding that his conscience was condemning him for betraying his wife under the water when she needed him most. All he had said and done for her in life were diminished in that single night.

Let’s take it that it was parent who was with his son on the mountain, he would have dashed to meet the leopard. Similarly, on the lake, he could have died with the girl, trying to save her life.

In this life, many people have died because the people who were there weren’t ready to sacrifice their lives to save them but were more willing to take pictures with phones. Some have gone to prison, lost their property, divorced, sacked from work and so on simply because those who could have given true testimonies were not willing to sacrifice for them.

After all,” they say, “there was nothing we could do.”

 Indeed, a day will come when our love for others will be tested.

Frank Lukupwa is a Zambian writer who has been working on many articles in poetry, fiction and nonfiction and hopes to publish them. In addition, he has done manuscripts on nature, his favourite topic. He has attended writing seminars on children's books with the University of Zambia. He works as Magistrate and lives in Mumbwa, Zambia with his wife and four children.  Apart from writing, Frank likes listening to world news and visiting places.

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