Celebrating East African Writing!
Written by Amina H
“A drum? You got me a drum? I can’t believe you got me a drum!” She shrieked as she held the drum in her hands, disgust all over her face.
“I saw it in the market, and thought it was the most amazing symbol for our love.” He took the drum from her. “Because my love for you makes my heart go…” And he hit the drum with his hand in an arrhythmic beat.
“Stop it!” She threw her hands over her ears. “You’re going to make me deaf! If that’s how your heart beats then you probably have arrhythmia.”
He knew it was a bad idea giving her the drum for their five year anniversary, but he had forgotten all about it until he entered their apartment and she surprised him with a wrapped box. When he opened it, he found a Samsung S3 lying in soft rose petals. He had wanted one since the device was released but his irregular paycheck as a freelance writer and his share of profits from his brother’s business were barely enough to keep a roof over their head, and food on their table.
So he told her that she would get her gift after dinner. Then he rushed to the store room where he kept three of his boxes and searched for the drum. It was an old gift from a friend. His friend had wanted to get rid of it because it had come from his ex, so he just gave it out as a gift. He knew its history, but it was the only thing he could think of to give his wife. Luckily, he had never unpacked those boxes after marriage so she didn’t know what was in them. All he had to do next was clean it with a rag, and sneeze profusely while doing so as the unsettled dust floated all around him. But he managed to get it clean in the end. He closed the boxes, and put it in the bedroom while she was in the kitchen preparing dinner.
“So you don’t like it?” He had a disappointed look on his face.
“No, it’s not that I don’t like it. I outright HATE it!” She hit it with full force and the sound reverberated in the room.
There was a wounded look on his face as he sat at the edge of the bed. She sighed and sat down next to him. “It’s just that…I’ve been saving up my allowance from you for ten months to get you that phone, and the idea that you just went to a market and bought such a cheap thing….”
“It’s the thought that counts, honey,” he said.
“I know, I know,” she said. “It’s just that I had great expectations. This is not about the drum.”
“Not about the drum,” he repeated, nodding as though he understood when he was clueless.
“It’s been five years. When we got married, you had a good job as a journalist, and then you quit to follow your dream. Now you’re making money from your blog, but we’re barely making it. You keep on borrowing money from your brother…”
“It’s my money, too. I invested money in his business a long time ago and the money he gives me is part of the profit.”
“No, it’s not. Your actual share is less than what he gives you. He just gives you more, because he feels sorry for you.” Then she corrected herself, “Feels sorry for us.”
“What?!!” He jumped off the bed and faced her. “How the hell did you know that?”
“His pregnant wife came over yesterday and said since there’s a baby on the way, she wanted you to stop asking for charity from your brother. She told me to tell you to get a proper job! You know how humiliated I was?”
He walked to the window, and stared out at the dark night, but all he saw was his reflection, then he said quietly, “At least it’s not about the drum.”
Suddenly, she laughed. She didn’t know what made her laugh, but it was probably the fact that out of their entire serious conversation,that was the part that seemed important. He laughed as well. She saw him laugh and laughed even harder, until she was clutching her stomach. He also doubled over from laughter, and for a second there he thought they were going mad.
When they finished laughing, he straightened up, wiped the tears from his face and tried to catch his breath. “So what do you want me to do?”
“About the drum?”
And they started laughing again. When they ran out of laughter, he said seriously, “No, about going back to a full-time job.”
“Go back to a full-time job and work on your freelance stuff at night. I’ll help you as much as I can.”
He nodded. It made sense for the time being, especially if they were going to stop receiving money from his brother. He just felt sad that his brother hadn’t told him about the issue himself and that he had to hear it from his wife.
She figured it was the end of the discussion, and she grabbed a book from the bedside table that she had been reading, but accidentally dropped it.
When she bent over to pick it up, she noticed something at the side of the drum. It was a message written in black ink, saying, “To my darling, I love you so much! Your sugarpie, Melanie!”
©Amina H 2013