By Paul Kisakye, Uganda:
A loud knock on the door startled me. With frenzied keystrokes, I typed out a reply to my boyfriend, Joel. “Get back to you. Someone's at the door.”
I logged out of Facebook.
While getting my legs into a pair of shorts, I heard the knock again, this time louder. Did someone want to break down my door?
I opened the door and beamed, “Sanyu!”
My best friend was standing in front of me. The smile on my face disappeared when I saw that she was on the verge of tears.
“Just hold me, David,” Sanyu said, her shoulders slumped and her eyes downcast.
I pulled her to myself and hugged her. I pushed my hostel room door closed with my left hand.
Sanyu's shoulders shook with heavy sobs. I held her tighter.
“It's Jimmy, isn't it?” I asked, almost in a whisper.
“Hush.” I stroked her back. “There. There.”
When the hug turned awkward, I moved a step back and wiped the tears from her eyes with my thumbs.
“Can I get you a drink?” I asked, clearing my throat.
“That would be nice,” Sanyu said. She sat on the bed.
I had turned a corner of my room into a kitchenette. It had a table on which I'd stacked a few melamine plates and tumblers which I used to eat takeout food with my friends, especially when I didn't want to spend on disposable crockery. Apart from the plates, there was a bottle of Uganda Waragi and a large, plastic bottle of Coke. I poured two glasses of Waragi and offered one to Sanyu.
“So, tell me,” I said, sitting on the bed next to her, “what did Jimmy do this time?”
“I'm not going back,” Sanyu said. “I have had enough of his games. He treats me like trash. He beats me. See for yourself.” She unzipped her jacket and pulled the blouse up to show bruises on her belly. “There's more on my back.”
A string of obscenities escaped my lips. This was not the first time Sanyu had told me about Jimmy's unfaithfulness but I had not imagined that Jimmy could stoop so low as to raise his hand and hit a girl. I had advised her over and over again to leave him. That guy is lucky that I have not met him yet, I thought. Otherwise his neck would have had a dislocated bone by now.
“But I love him.”
“You are putting your love where it doesn't belong, baby,” I said.
Sanyu's voice raised an octave higher and she fought hard to keep her emotions in check. “How can he repay me like this for my love? I've never hurt him, David. I've never hurt him.”A wave of sobs rocked her small body.
“Cry it out, baby,” I said. “Cry it out lest you break.”
Thus encouraged, Sanyu cried, and cried, and cried some more. I kept speaking soothingly in her ears while caressing her back.
When her crying turned into whimpering and finally stopped, I let her go, stood up from the bed and looked down at her. “So are you going to take that drink or not? I still have half a bottle there.” I pointed in the direction of my kitchenette.
Sanyu contorted her face into a mischievous grin, tilted her head and poured the contents of her tumbler down her throat.
“That's my girl!” I said, smiling.
I picked up the bottle of Waragi, opened it and refilled her tumbler.
“Thanks,” Sanyu said. She lifted her tumbler like she was proposing a toast.
“All guys are jerks,” I said. “Don't let them screw you. You deserve a good life.”
Sanyu nodded her head and said, “To a good life.” Then she raised her tumbler again.
I raised my tumbler too. “To the best life you've ever dreamed of, free of Jimmy.”
And we both burst out into uncontrollable laughter.
“Let's party,” Sanyu said. “Put on some music.” She then worked up my laptop and within a minute Maurice Kirya's voice wafted from my subwoofer.
Sanyu downed her Waragi, stood up and started dancing. I joined her, my strokes a little uncoordinated, which got us laughing all over again.
As Maurice Kirya's Malaika started playing, she held my hand and drew me towards her. I wrapped my arms around her and we swayed to the smooth ballad. We continued dancing to four or five other songs until Sanyu asked me a question that caused my heart to stop beating.
“Why can't you be straight, just for me?”
My whole body stiffened.
“I know you love Joel and all that, but you're the best guy I've ever met.”
“You know what I mean, David.” Sanyu extricated herself from my arms and pushed me onto the bed.
“I think you're drunk,” I said, my eyes as wide as saucers.
“You bet I am. And very, very horny.”
Sanyu shrugged her jacket off and started unbuttoning her blouse.
“Don't!” I said, trying to move my limbs so I could stop her but failing.
She got her blouse off, crawled onto the bed and got on top of me. Her lips brushed mine. I closed my eyes and kissed her back, tasting alcohol on her tongue.
I felt her hand grab my crotch and I let out a moan. Her fingers fumbled with the fly of my shorts and pulled down the zip.
“Oh my god! You have no underwear on?”
I awoke with a start!
I was naked. I was not alone in bed. And the person on the other side of the bed was not Joel. It was a girl. A stunningly beautiful girl with lips slightly curved in a dreamy smile.
Sanyu. It was Sanyu.
The events of last night flooded my memory with staggering clarity.
I picked up my phone from the bedside table, right next to the empty Waragi bottle. I had nine new messages from Joel.
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