Celebrating East African Writing!
I stiffen the shiver that is snaking up my spine and fix indignation into my eyes before turning to face him. I have nothing solid to say. My eyes, the disloyal fools, can’t even focus. I sound like I am panting. Do I honestly have to breathe so much?
I shove his hand off my dreads.
“You don’t know me like that.”
“Anymore”, he says and slides into the chair across from me, his eyes are bold. I cast a quick glance in the direction of the high table. Amani is saying something funny to one of the bridesmaids. They are laughing.
“You’ve been eyeing the high table all night…I know that look, Eva.”
“Don’t be ridiculous Barry!” I’m hissing.
“You’re the only girl I have eyes for. Tonight. Always…even though your dreads could use some work hehe.”
He’s talking about the way I look? He’s going there when, and I’m sorry, Amani’s changing dress looks like a fishing net! But we must not attack Amani. Sisters before misters!
And she IS my sister, my sister in bad luck for falling for this good for nothing.
“Huh. Eyes. How many eyes do you have that you can keep one on me, one on Amani, one on your daughter, all on your wedding day… mst you know what, nkooye nonsense. You’re in my date’s seat. Leave.”
“Yea. Absolutely. Your date.”
What else can Barry talk about apart from eyes? That’s the only part of his body he knows how to use, as far as I know.
I will always insist that the only reason I paid him attention was hormones. I was going through a most intense broody phase. Life is fucked up. One minute you’re just trying to be a responsible adult capable of resisting the oily pieces of sabulenya that Mama Okello sells at the corner right by your flat. The next you’re a red eyed monster looking to have a baby put in you.
In the glare of my hormonal madness, I even wrote a call and response song that I sent to all of my girlfriends via whatsapp and now I will never live it down.
HER: All I want is some hugs and some sperm
HIM: All I want is some pussy and some food.
It was the most unfeminist moment of my life and Barry seemed perfect.
The first time I saw him was on a stage. He was swinging his arms so hard that the whole theatre seemed to shake. He had the body of those fat men you just know were ripped at some point, the ones who look delicious even if they have let a couple of beers get between them and their abs.
He was an actor in a play that I had been sent to review, and due to some horrible laxity in the rules, I was allowed to witness final rehearsals. I was so bored. The only reason I didn’t slit my wrists open with my plastic Bic was Barry. His voice. That belly which looked exactly how I wanted my pregnant belly to look like one day, and his butt. His butt was full of personality.
After rehearsals I introduced myself. He immediately dominated the conversation, inviting me to a party at his house and then dismissing me. Everything was perfect, especially the way he looked at me. As he talked, as I talked, as I ate, as I walked. His eyes said he wanted to ravish me. His words were literally, “I want to ravish you.”
For six months I was ready but he never was. We would spend hours, hours! Him in his shorts, me in his boxers, listening to playlists that we would each take turns to assemble. It was romance. Except that when it came to sexy times, to the dirty rutting; then he’d swerve my advances as expertly as a boda boda rider in 4pm traffic.
He rejected me so many times, while making such rich promises with his eyes, hands, words that I stuck around, convincing myself that this was some advanced power play which I could win whenever I chose to. Did this jama think I was born yesterday?
I didn’t win. I didn’t ever win and when I stopped going to his house I was swiftly replaced.
Amani had just returned from some University in S.A, looking fresh as a mojito and so full of life that people seemed to glow around her. She worked at an advertising agency that I sometimes wrote for. I introduced them once. Amani was pregnant before the end of the year. Kai! My surprise almost managed to distract me from the fact that I had been used as a primer. A porn .gif could have done in a few minutes what I did over the course of months of my life!
And hear him now, saying he has eyes only for me. Mstcheeeew.
“I’m serious Barry. Fucking respect yourself. I thought we were beyond this. Get back to your wife.”
I rise as majestically as my wobbling heels will let me and sashay to the bathroom.
Barry’s laughter is long and loud. Do you know how hard it is to sashay when you’re being laughed at? By the time I reach the door to the ladies, my eyes are burning. I duck into the middle stall, slam the toilet seat closed and sit on it. I kick my heels off and breathe.
I can’t figure out what I am feeling. How dare he laugh? What is he so amused about? Do they laugh at me together? Does he tell her how much I wanted him? About how he’d shame me softly, subtly for wrapping my body around his and rubbing myself against his leg? And why is my clit at attention like a soldier ready to serve her country?
Rejection remains alive, hot like coals between the rejector and the rejected, infusing all interactions with a stifling warmth that resembles hope.
My deep breathing is doing nothing to shield me from the layers of lust that I still feel for Barry. If he walked through that door, no amount of pride or loyalty would stop me from surrendering to him.
I have cried myself into an almost enjoyable rhythm when I hear soft knocking.
“Are you alright? Hey, Are you okay? Can I open the door?”
Instead of rejecting this random woman’s concern, I pull the door open and stare.
Mwas’ date, the one with the unfortunate weave stares back and her brow wrinkles into a thousand fine lines. She hesitates at the door for a moment and then steps into the stall.
Mildred Apenyo is a writer, entrepreneur and activist with a passion for the safety and wellness of women.
In 2014, she started FitcliqueAfrica (F.K.A Fitclique256), a social enterprise that opens exclusively women’s gyms, creates personal safety curricula and promotes wellness through the distribution of herbs and herbal products.
Mildred was part of the inaugural class of the Mandela Washington Fellowship of Young African Leaders in 2014.
Mildred has also spoken at TEDx Kampala about Women and Spaces. Watch it here: http://apenyo.com/if-anybody-is-looking-at-you-tell-them-free-me/
She writes a weekly column for Sunday Vision and will occasionally break into Fiction. She’s been published in Eleven Eleven, Short Story Day Africa and Uganda Modern Literary Digest. Much of her work is archived on apenyo.com.