Mirko and Saleha were seventeen and each other’s first love. On the cusp of youth and adulthood, they had a foot in both worlds. They fell in love with each other’s being and then with each other’s body. Perhaps, it happened at the same time. Saleha was a religious girl and had an ongoing battle with her own ethics. Her normal response was no. Mirko was a young man. His body pushed for physicality and, besides, he was in love with Saleha. His persistence tended to win, one way or another. They adored each other as young love does. They also fought. Young love has a million misperceptions about life. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that boys have boy germs and girls are useless creatures. The two worlds converge and there is much to discover.
Mirko would later say that Saleha taught him to talk. Like many men, it is their female partner who will open the world of emotional connection and demand that they participate. Mirko, in return, showed Saleha the power that women have over their men. To be loved as a pure thing is to feel the privilege of responsibility for another’s happiness. Saleha only knew and loved his body. At that age, other male bodies were not only disinteresting but somewhat alienating. A woman can love her man and not want his body, however, to have both adds weight to any relationship. If one thing is not working, the other may be. Between the two, many rivers can be crossed without falling into the water and drifting hopelessly apart. Long lasting sex appeal comes from our inner being. Self-possessed, present, and protective men and feminine, kind, and self-assured women radiate a strong attractor field. We all must work on all of these qualities but we, also, must be able to be the counterpart of our mate.
As much as Mirko loved Saleha, he also had an eye for other female bodies. He was a good looking boy with a lot of sex appeal and it was all too easy to give into readily available opportunities. Sex appeal and young manhood is a difficult combination to master. Mirko didn’t try to master it. He went with the flow believing Saleha would not be hurt because she would never know. It took many heartaches, yet to come, for Mirko to learn that the gift of attractiveness must be used cautiously or its owner will become its slave. It is a sweet destroyer. For the duration of their relatively long, youthful relationship, Saleha knew nothing about it. It was probably just as well. Eventually, Saleha outgrew the relationship and knew that it was time for both of them to take a different path in life. It was a painful decision after the innocence and intensity of young love. She didn’t need to deal with infidelity, as well as growing up. Nor did Mirko need to deal with shame, as well as grief, at that stage.
Saleha heard that Mirko could barely drag himself out of bed in the mornings for some time after their split. His parents were very worried about him. All sensible parents watch their teenagers closely after relationship break-ups. The possibility of forever feeling utterly defeated and lost seems very real at that age. Mirko’s mother would coerce him out of bed in the mornings and send him off for the day. Mirko’s father watched him and told him occasionally, “Don’t worry son. It will pass. I promise you.” First love is deep and its demise is deeper. Mirko’s mother blamed Saleha. Mirko was her oldest son. She was never going to like the girl that broke the mother-son spell. A boy needs his mother but a man needs his woman.