I made this playlist for you, my dear friend, who is going through a breakup. I know how much you love music, but this playlist is not for therapy. It’s sort of a cheeky compilation of phases in a breakup. I made it because I dream of writing a musical, a story where lyrics drive the plot. I’ve struggled to come up with a good idea, partly because I’m not a musician (Well, last year, a certain festival put ‘musician’ in my bio and I didn’t realise until I was on stage to talk about my writing and someone asked me to sing), mostly because I’m yet to find a musician I can collaborate with.
Before I give you the playlist, there’s something I’ve always wanted to say about relationships. Being in love is pure misery, but its pure happiness when you love someone and never tell them, and you instead fill your fantasies with scenes of a perfect relationship. I’ve been there a few times, once was with a married woman, call her DK, back in the day when I used to fall in love with pregnant women. No. I’m not a pervert. I was doing it for research. I was writing a screenplay about a man who falls in love only with pregnant women, and then one day he meets a girl with such a big tummy that she looks pregnant…. So as I wrote this romantic comedy, whenever I saw a pregnant woman, I fell for her. DK was the sweet kind. She allowed me to care for her in her pregnancy, so much so that her husband growled at me.
You know, there is a misconception about pregnancies…. that a woman needs to chew stuff or else the baby will be born without some parts. So three months after conception, she needs to do it to give the baby ears. (Ears first, I wonder why). And then, she does it three weeks later to give the embryo hands, and then legs. It has to happen in three-week intervals otherwise the parts won’t be fixed properly. Dr. Mandazi of Makerere did a research about this, and he wrote it in his book, The Secret to Happy Babies, published in 2011.
So, DK’s husband read that book (I think), and he one day growled at me; “Do you want to put ears on my child?” Of course, I was shocked. DK was shocked too. Her husband did not believe there was nothing going between us. “Why are you so kind to her?” he screamed at me. “Why do you buy her ice-cream whenever she is sad? Why do you take her on a weekend holiday to the source of the Nile? Why? If you are not planning to add body parts to my baby?”
So I stopped caring for DK. I never told her how I felt about her. Years later, she told me, “Dilman, thank you for being a good man. You are one of only three men who have never asked me for sex.” I looked at her face and I saw pure happiness in it and I felt a little ashamed. If I had courage, I could have asked her, but I’m a big coward. You can read about it here.
But anyway, that moment, when you love and never tell, is the best. She will fill your fantasies, you’ll see yourself getting married, you’ll imagine your first kiss, you’ll walk with her by the riverside hand-in-hand, listening to birds sing. You’ll be in heaven. Never tell her! The moment you tell, you spoil things. The world will come to an end. Don’t tell her!
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Well, when you say it out loud, one of two things might happen. She’ll say no, and the rejection will crush you. It’ll give you so much pain that next time you fall in love, you’ll be wise enough to keep your mouth shut.
Of course, she might say yes, and then you’ll sing Robin Thicke’s “I’m lost without you / Can’t help myself / How does it feel to know that I love you baby” And then, for a few years, you’ll be happy in love. You’ll sing Minnie Ripperton’s “Lovin’ you is easy cause you’re beautiful / Makin’ love with you is all I wanna do / Lovin’ you is more than just a dream come true / And everything that I do is out of lovin’ you”
But soon, maybe after two years, maybe after twenty years, maybe after only one night, it will end. The break up will come. Sometimes it’s sudden, sometimes it creeps up on you. And just before it happens, there is always a certain mutual feeling you both have about the relationship. This is Phase One, which I call “The calm before the storm”, and Luther captures it perfectly when he says, “So many times I’ve seen, so many people’s dreams / Lost and washed away out to the sea, yeah, / I said no, not I, pain would surely pass me by / Happening to them, but not to me, yeah” Oh girl. You deceived yourself. “Hearts Get Broken All The Time…. This time it’s mine”.
She says: Irreplaceable, by Beyonce. Some men are stupid. In this phase, they think the woman will never leave them. It’s worse if she has given birth and has lost the vibrancy of her youth. They say nasty things, “standing in the front yard telling me / How I’m such a fool, talking about / How I’ll never ever find a man like you…” But the woman knows someone out there will love her. “I can have another you by tomorrow / Matter fact he’ll be here in a minute….”
He says: Burn, by Usher. I used to love Usher. I play this song a lot whenever I find myself in this phase. I want to hang on, but he whispers, “Deep down you know it’s best for yourself….. you know that it’s over….. Let it burn / Let it burn / Gotta let it burn.” When you are fed up of endless arguments, of bickering over little things, of nagging, of cheating, of broke lovers, let it burn.
Then comes Phase Two. Anger. Whatever the reason for the breakup, you get furious. You invested a lot the relationship, a lot of emotions, a lot of time, maybe even a lot of money, and it hurts so much when it doesn’t work out. All that effort. For nothing. My friend, you’ll get mad.
She says: Get out, by Jojo. “Get out (leave) right now / It’s the end of you and me / It’s too late (now) and I can’t wait for you to be gone.” Whew, that’s deep.
He says: Wasted Time, by Lionel Richie.“You should go, I no longer feel like wasting time / With you, goodbye cause I don’t need you in my life / It’s time you know, that all the things we had that felt so good / Were wasted time, and I won’t waste my time with you no more…”
So, you break up. You pack your bags and go. The first few days you’ll be good, I mean, you’ve done it. You’re free. The loser is gone. You are in Phase Three, trying to Move On, so you’ll want to hear songs like this.
She says: It’s Not Right but It’s Okay, by Whitney Houston. I played this song a lot after I got fired from my first job. It suits any situation, not just heartbreaks, because of these two lines; “It’s not right but it’s okay / I’m gonna make it anyway”
The girl will say something like this because girls get weepy the first few days of the breakup. But the man will be all bravado, and he says: Just Another Girl, by UB40. “There’s one thing you should know, you are just another girl / Just another girl, that’s what you are / You are just another girl, bigger eyes but you are not that small / I love you but remember that you are just another girl, girl, eh irl /” I’ve never figured out why they had to say she has bigger eyes but she is not small. What does it mean?
Munange, all that bravado, all that thinking there’s plenty of fish out there, either for you to eat or to eat you, soon fades, and Phase Four sets in. The Sorrow. The gloom. That moment when you can’t believe you had love, and now you are all alone.
She says: Big Big World, by Emilia. Oh man. I used to listen to this song every day. I love the voice, the simplicity, the sadness. “Outside it’s now raining / And tears are falling from my eyes / Why did it have to happen? / Why did it all have to end? (chorus) I’m a big big girl / In a big big world / it’s not a big big thing if you leave me / But I do do feel that / I do do will miss you much / Miss you much…. / I have your arms around me, warm like fire / But when I open my eyes / You’re gone…”
He says: Lonely, by Akon. I don’t need google to remember the lyrics for this one. I can hear the words “Lonely,” “Mr Lonely,” “so so lonely.”
That sorrow soon gives way to Phase Five. Acceptance. It’s gone. You can’t have it back. You start to seriously think about moving on.
She says: It Must Have Been Love, by Roxette. The poetry in this song is mind blowing, and I know you love poetry: “Lay a whisper on my pillow / Leave the winter on the ground. / I wake up lonely, there’s air of silence / In the bedroom and all around / Touch me now, I close my years and dream away / It must have been love, but it’s over now….”
He says: Goodbye My Lover, by James Blunt. More poetry here. I love these lines, “I am a dreamer, / And when I wake / You can’t break my spirit / It’s my dreams you take”
You try to move on, but you can’t. You cling to the past. You are in Phase Six. You regret breaking up because you can’t find someone who is like that person you broke up with.
She says: How do I live Without You, by LeAnn Rimes. It’s a crappy song, suitable for teenage girls, especially those who watch Twilight. Sorry, I had to put it here, but I won’t bother with the lyrics.
He says: I’m Missing You, by Case. Oh oh oh oh my, I can’t love this one enough. I love the imagery. I listen to it, even when we have not broken up, because it’s a sweet love song. “Like a cold summer afternoon / Like the snow coming down in June / Like a wedding without a groom / I’m missing you? I’m the desert without the sand / You’re the woman without a man / I’m a ring without a hand / I’m missing you….”
Soon Phase Seven sets in, when you think you should get back together, and you both say: Picture, by Kid Rock (feat. Sheryl Crow). Oja!, this is another beautiful poetry. It makes you sad, even if you are eating ice-cream and feeling you are the happiest woman on earth, this song will make you want to cry. “I thought about you for a long time / Can’t seem to get you off my mind / I can’t understand why we’re living life this way / I found your picture today / I swear I’ll change my ways / I just called to say I want you to come back home…./ I just called to say I love you come back home ”
Ha, I guess you see where this playlist is headed. A reunion. But no, it’s not like that. Those happy endings only happen in cheap Hollywood rom-coms. In the real world, you’ll meet someone else, and you’ll be so much happier. Here are the last two songs in the Phase Eight, when you find new love
She says: Mary’s in India, by Dido. This is a sweet one, though a little sad. It’s tells a story, and quoting a few lines of the lyrics just won’t tell you what it’s about. You have to listen to the whole song.
He says: Another Used to Be, by Joe. “I used to love someone I didn’t like / We used to wanna break up every other night / I used to think relationships were a lot of stress / I used to think that pain was a part of happiness / Now all that’s changed since you’ve come my way / But I don’t want us to become / Another used to be” This is not a particularly good song, it’s not a classic, and with time it will be forgotten, but it’s the only one I could find with lyrics that nicely ends this playlist.
I’ll add one more, just for kicks. Difference, by Genuwine. “My whole life has changed / since you came in, I knew back then / You are that special one / I’m so in love, so deep in love / You made my life complete / You are so sweet, no one competes / Glad you came into my life / You blind me with your love / With you I have no sight blah blah blah”
Yeah. That crap. My friend, it’s a circle. Soon, you’ll be heading back to Phase One, and you’ll hear Luther Vandross whispering, “You think it’s love, but it never really is….”
So there you go, feel sad for a few days, play music, eat a lot of ice-cream and pizza, binge-watch series, read a lot of books, go see the waterfalls in Aruu, and then read a lot of good poetry books. Your heart will heal with time.
Now that you are here, I have a small favor to ask. I regularly make science fiction short films and I’m looking for your support. It’s very difficult to make it as a filmmaker in Africa, where there is virtually no market to encourage big film investments, and so any dollar you can spare will go a long way into changing things. Please pledge on patreon.com/dilstories You only pay after I make the film, and you can stop payments at anytime. For other options, like donating via mobile money or PayPal, please go here dilmandila.com/donate