“Where are you now?” I said.
“I’m at S.U.B, just got back from town. And I’m exhausted” she replies.
“Er, ok, chill, I’ll meet you there, just give me 5minutes”
“No, don’t worry, I’ll meet you in your room, just wait for me”.
As the call ended I pictured her face, fair and graceful, invaded now with what are sure to be induced wrinkles of stress. I walk back to my room – or should I say our room? I share this cubicle with four other blokes – ok our room and set on to change my sheets. They fumigated the hostels earlier today and my bed smelled like nerve gas- totally uncool.
She came just as I finished laying the bed. She didn’t even say hi, just jumped on the narrow bed – like Phelps on course for his next medal. Well then, swim on babe, swim on – attestation of her weary state. I soon join her on the bed, and she recounts her day’s events. The long story of her search for a house came to an end with “…And the house he brought us to was Jeffrey’s house. We’ve cleaned the house, washed the bathroom, and Jeffrey helped with the windows”.
As she talks on, I picture the said house in my mind. The room she paid for happened to be on the side of the compound that wasn’t fenced. They’ll be needing some heavy curtains there. It wasn’t the best around but it would have to do for now, until she gets a better place next year. As I return from my sojourn, I’m greeted with an overwhelming whiff, the unmistakable mixture of aloes and olives. The signature scent of her hair. It’s so powerful it resurrects memories from the grave-yard of great times past.
Now it’s my turn, she listens as I speak, her eyes sparkling in rapt attention. “We’re almost done with the site, we’re starting the report this week…” I finish by telling her about the agent I called. The man promised to return my call, but apparently he forgot, or found something more engaging than reconnecting with a potential client. So much for business ethics.
We go on chatting about other random stuffs, about classes, about hobbies and friends. It’s almost 8:00 pm and we’re still talking, still have a lot left to talk about. It’s funny how we it still seems like we just started out dating, when we’ve been together for more than a year now. I look at her, taking in every detail, every smile, every subtle shift in gait, the rhythmic rise and fall of her pouty lips, the cadence of her clear tepid voice. I remember Emeli Sande’s words “you will never find him where the rest go, you’ll find him next to me”. That’s where I am right now, next to her, next to happiness, next to the best thing I’ve ever had to call mine.
We drift on to a dreamy sleep, in a reassuring hug that knots in our entwined fingers. I somehow manage to stagger close to the door and bolt it in place. It’s never too paranoid to be cautious. I still value our laptops. I wake up to the sound of knocks at the door, finally somebody’s back. As Mikolo walks in, I drift back to bed, ignoring everything else around. Ann awakes with a start, rights herself and then mutters, “I think I should be going now”. As if in a trance my hand reaches to her and I manage to stutter “Stay” in a voice lacking clarity. She understands though, and begins to rejoin me on the bed. I’m grateful for this, the last thing I want to be right now is lonely. We’re soon engaged in another phase of gists and yarns as we steadily drift back to sleep.
We both wake up to the sound of rats at about 2:00 am. I reassure her the cretins won’t dare to climb up. She complains about aching all-over, about the bed being too narrow, about me having to sleep on my side so she could be more comfortable. She really cares about how I’m faring. It’s all I could do not to shed a little tears as the emotions from this realization threatens to go out of control.
I’m not thinking straight now, I suddenly want to be a better man, able to put a roof above our little heads, meet the needs of my family. To be responsible. Words refuse to form, and the ones that manage to dissolve in my throat before my lips try to pronounce.
I take her face in my arms, I smile in the darkness, she can’t see but somehow she knows and she smiles back. Finally I conjure up words, they’re not the most eloquent, but the message is clear, “This tells us, my dear, that we can never be poor”
Everything seems to come to a halt as she laughs. The tone of her laughter is laden with understanding of my words. It’s affirming, prompting. And then I realize then what I have to do.
We drift back to sleep, in each other’s arms. This is going to be a night of blissful dreams, on this lean, narrow bed.