Written by Mauryn Okunga

Christian said he’d make dinner for me “soon”, but left the decision on the exact date to me. I love being in charge, on top, if you please. But this open invitation gets scarier whenever I think about it. A nagging thought lingers, that this dinner date might be the needle that pricks our bubble.

I enjoy Christian’s company in a way I never thought I could. But men were a means to an end in my previous life, and after Xander, no one had taken interest in me beyond how short my dress was or how loud I moaned between the sheets for them. It’s the reason this thing with Christian kills me – mostly sweetly.  

I wish I had a girlfriend to share my dilemma with. Su – the closest friend I have ever had – has not really warmed up to the idea of my relationship with Christian. Plus, she is still stuck in the past life I moved on from long ago.  Maria, the receptionist would be helpful but she laughs too loud, wears too much make-up and is just weird. Annette the data entrant could have a wise thing to say, but she gossips too much, knows too much. I’m sure she even knows what the spider in the office bathroom had for breakfast.

“The Director is ready to see you,” Maria’s voice came through my office phone.

Drat! The report the director reminded me about last night is supposed to be presented today! For the first time since I started work at UT University, it will be the first time I’m meeting the Director without a third party. He’d asked for the report on what challenges my office was facing in handling student issues. I’d emailed him the report this morning but he wants us to go through it in person.

I was not in the mood for that meeting but it went better than I’d thought. He was happy with how keenly I was tracking progress of our student clients. We also discussed my current position in the department and he informed me about a new Head of Department who would be joining as soon as HR finalized the documentation. Hmmm! I hoped it won’t be another John.

*

Christian and I are on the phone every day, talking or texting, sometimes sending blank messages to each other. We find every excuse to keep in touch. Even with the “dinner date” hanging over our heads, Christian is still as funny, entertaining and warm. I can almost touch the chemistry between us and that is scary.

He hasn’t said the three worded phrase – I love you – and neither have I.  It doesn’t bother me much, after all his actions show he does. I don’t know if I love him or if I am in love with the illusion that a man could actually treat me like a fragile flower, and make me feel pretty and important without asking for sex.

My last attempt at exclusivity was with Mugisha who nearly killed me the day he found a flirty text message on my phone. I didn’t understand where his rage came from considering that he was a married man with a daughter older than me. Leaving him led to my “salvation” from men. 

Until Christian happened.

Christian with the wink, the infections smile and eyes that draws you in. Christian with the hug so warm you’d want to remain crushed in his arms forever. Christian the fixer of the broken office stapling machine, the non-responsive telephone handset and everything in between.

Would I live with myself if he decides he didn’t want to talk to me again? Even with the daily bliss, I can’t help but wonder why I opened myself up to this drama. The uncertainty of not knowing if this is for real or another slow journey to getting laid before it’s all over, is plain painful.   

“Are you up for scrabble tonight?”

Christian is a pro at Scrabble. I’ve only beaten him once since we started playing the game online. I keep thinking he cheats. After all he is a techie.

I have beaten him at chess though.

“I’ve lost enough scrabble games to you. How about chess after dinner at yours? Friday night,” I text back.

“Game on! Thank you so much. ” A wink emoji came in a follow up message.

My heart beat several times faster.

*

Dear reader, thank you for passing by as always. Look out for the last two installments in the coming weeks. 

 

Written by Mauryn Okunga

Christian picked up the phone after I called for the second time. I could hear anxiety in his “hello”. When I half whispered a “yes”, there was silence at the other end of the line. For a moment, I wondered if he’d changed his mind about the coffee date.

“Yes,” I said again.

 “Thank you,” he said, “Goodnight.”

I replayed the conversation in my head all night. Thoughts of whether I had overstepped my mark weighed on my mind. For the first time in months, I considered calling in sick at work. If it wasn’t for the team meeting I’d scheduled for the last day of the semester, I would’ve stayed put in bed.

At work before the meeting, a cocktail of emotion hit me when Christian walked in and calmly sat opposite my desk. He smiled brightly, his eyes exuding confidence I hadn’t seen before. Then he placed a piece of paper on my desk, winked at me and walked out. On the paper was the name of the restaurant we’d be having coffee at and the time he’d be there. A heart emoji was drawn below the details.

My lips broke into a smile, my heart flapped in excitement.

*

It’s been three weeks of our “Christian evenings”. I like him more with every date, with every detail he reveals about himself and his family. But he knows nothing about my past, just a bit about my future plans. He recently suggested I enrol for a Master’s - something I’d been thinking about already. How thoughtful!

Once the new semester commenced, Christian stopped popping into my office every morning. I was relieved. I don’t know how I would’ve handled the awkwardness, however sweet the feeling. Even when there’s not been any declaration of love, or attempts to get the other naked, what we have feels beautiful, better, different from what Xander and I shared. 

He never runs out of jokes, loves food and movies like I do. He’s an avid reader of novels, which I find super sexy, considering he’s a scientist. While Xander showed me the world and worshiped my body, Christian respects my space. When I said yes to the first date, I was sure the call for sex would follow three days later. It didn’t, even when his eyes kept roaming my body.

I almost feel love. Like yesterday. My phone buzzed just as I was walking out of the UT gate in the evening. “Want to catch a movie? Yes? Awesome!” The way he asked and responded on my behalf was both sweet and funny. I’d planned to go straight home since I had a report to complete and submit to the Director that night. I’d planned to call him after I was done with my assignment but that message was too playful and enticing to ignore.

At the cinema, he chose seat numbers 10 and 12. That meant we won’t be next to each other. When I asked the reason for the seat choices, he said he wanted me to miss him. He signed off with his trademark wink.

The walk home after the movie was the best. Halfway the journey, he suggested we have dinner.  I scanned around for a restaurant and couldn’t see any, but followed him regardless. The “restaurant” we ended up in was a roadside food stall. I was blown away. Not that I hadn’t partaken of roadside food before. I just never saw it coming from Christian.

At the stall operated by a man in a blue shirt, there was an assortment of chicken and beef muchomo on skewers. A large brown tray had boiled cassava, grilled plantain and chips, while the kachumbali - chopped onions and tomatoes - was in a large dish. These would go with whatever a client chose – chicken or beef muchomo. Like it is with roadside “restaurants”, we pointed at the chicken pieces of our choice and waited as the man in blue warmed them up. 

“Not take-away,” Christian told the man, as he led me to a table where several people were already eating. I tried in vain not to laugh at his “not take-away” line.

Then he asked.

He asked if he could cook for me a proper dinner sometime soon at his house. I was still recovering from the fact that we’d just had a roadside meal. That offer of a dinner at his house just upped the greatness of the evening. Simple as the offer seemed, we both knew it would be more than dinner.

***

Hallo reader, we hope you're enjoying this diary. It's soon coming to an end. be sure to catch Part 8 next week, Friday. 

Written by Mauryn Okunga

I’m in John’s office, frozen to my chair. From the look in his eyes, he is enjoying taunting me, watching me shake with fear and uncertainty about how far he can go with his threat. I don’t wonder for long.

“I know your past Maureen, no need to play innocent with me. I thought I had seen you somewhere before and when I asked a few people from your previous circle of friends, they confirmed my suspicion,” he raps, a smirk on his face.

He walks over to my seat, stands behind me and continues speaking, his breath cold on my neck. “I should have done this long ago. Lord knows I have been dying to, but my wife was pregnant and needed me around. But now that she is breastfeeding, I need your cooperation. After all, you are not new to this thing.”

I look at the photo frame bearing pictures of his two little boys. I feel sorry for them.

“Come on Maureen, you know I can recommend a bigger salary than what you’re getting. I am also aware of how class attendance has improved since you joined this team. But I could as well take the credit or place it on another team member’s card and have your new promotion cancelled.”

He grabs my shoulders and strokes them.  I grab both hands, and push them off.

“Uh! She’s a tigress too!” he muses, standing before me before bending so that his face is just an inch away from mine. The urge to spit in his face is strong. But I hold back.

“I have seen one student frequent your office and rumour has it that he has the hoots for you.”

“That is not true.”

“I don’t care what you do with him or any other student for that matter. All I need is my share.” He winks. His wink disgusts me. It’s nothing compared to Christian’s.

I wonder why my past has to resurface at a time I have just made a major stride in my career; at a time when I feel like my jolly six-year-old self at a birthday party (the only party my father attended); at a time when I have strongly considered Christian a fair replacement of Xander.

I weigh my options; throw a tantrum by shouting and accusing John of sexual harassment; cower to his demands and become his sex slave and get fired when he’s done with me; or, play interested until I have a plan to execute. After all, lunch time stories are told of how he sleeps with students and his juniors with impunity.

As if he has sensed my dilemma, he walks back to his desk and tells me to think about his proposition and let him know what gift I want for a Christmas. I look him in the eye without saying a word, a technique I use to make a point. I promise that by the time I am done with him, he will regret ever considering seeing my nakedness. He has no idea I meant every word when I swore I go back to my whorish ways for anything or anyone in the world. 

I get up to leave, my most innocent smile on display. I ask if he wants us to talk more after work. He falls for it. I wish he knows how much I’ll make him pay for his sin.

***

For weeks, I flirt with John without getting sweaty with him. He is too eager to be pleased he misses the little details of revulsion. I remember Susan praising my flirting game and how it had gotten my forevers wherever I wanted them to be.

I miss having a friend like Su to talk to, but I’ve vowed never to go back to that life or anyone close to it. Su swore she would rather die than get a ‘normal’ job like I have.

As I flirt with John, I plot his downfall. He has students who satisfy his sexual appetite every so often within the confines of his office. That is against all rules and regulations. I just have to pick one of his victims who doesn’t mind playing snitch.

Before long, my plan falls in place. An anonymous tip is sent to the Human Resource Director about John’s unofficial activities during lunch break. He is told to take leave as investigations commence.

With John out of the way, Christian’s words resume teasing at my heart strings. I’m also appointed acting manager for my department after John hands in his resignation, probably afraid the probe would find him guilty.

I am relieved and excited but I badly need someone to share the events of my life with; someone with whom I can talk about my badly-cooked Sunday meals without being judged. 

On the final day of work that semester, I arrive home and lay in bed, face up and toy with two temptations; dialling Su’s number with a possibility of getting dragged to a shadowy past, or accepting Christian’s coffee date with the risk of embarking on a dangerous ride with another bit of forever.

***

Editor's Note: Hallo reader, thank you for following our diary. Do let us know your thoughts in our comment section here, or on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Happy New Year!

Written by Mauryn Okunga

Christian made it a habit to stop by my office for a “hi” whenever he was on campus. He served the “hi” dry, in the same plain tone. After a week, I started doubting if he had actually winked at me the last time he had a counselling session at my office. I reminded myself that Christian was just a student ‘client’ after all, grateful that I’d helped him pick up the pieces of his life.

That was until my phone buzzed at 9pm, one day. Picking it up, the number displayed on the screen was a strange one. I answered after the second call.

“This is Christian,” he said. “Good evening,” he continued.

I sat up in bed, for a moment wondering if something was amiss. But when he said the good evening with a tinge of seduction in his voice, I knew he was up to no good.  I listened, without saying a word, as he professed his love for me. I laughed and dared him to say the same to my face, when the sun came up the next day.

“I will, if that will make you believe me.”

The notice in my office displays my phone number, but strictly outlines that students can only call me during working hours and only for counselling and career-related issues. Christian had broken both rules. I was supposed to be angry and feel disrespected but the voice on the other side of the line sounded like an expensive baritone.

I swallowed my reprimand as I thought about his beautiful face, and eyes that communicated clearer than his words.

***

Christian stopped passing by to deliver his “hi” or to re-confess his love for me like he’d promised. Days became weeks and he began to fade from my thoughts. But a month later, he showed up at my office, unannounced.

He walked in, pulled a chair opposite my table and sat staring at me for a while without uttering a word. I could have chosen to ignore him, but it dawned on me that he is a student entitled to my professional service. The urge to re-assign him to another counsellor was strong, especially since I was Assistant Manager, but I chose to listen to whatever had brought him to my office that morning.

 “I’m 29 years old.  I’m a student. I have a stable source of income. I can take care of you.” He took his time completing each sentence, like each depended on the other for completeness.

I clapped my laptop shut and looked at him, even though my mind was screaming.  

I’m done being taken care of. Yes, you are three years older than me but the things I have done qualifies you to be my son. You don’t want to go down this road, neither do I. There will never be another Xander. I don’t want another Mugisha. Caretakers terrify me.

“Look,” he continued, “All I’m asking is that you don’t dismiss me so easily. I‘m sorry I called you past office hours for an issue unrelated to your service…”

“…”

“Please stop smiling at me and say something.” He said it like a half question, half plea.

His eyes had not left mine and in them I saw fear and honesty laced with lust. I had seen the lusty look in one too many men’s eyes not to know it. While that was my golden key before in my previous life, seeing it in Christian’s eyes disgusted me.

“Christian, I admire your boldness. I’m NOT going to think about your proposition but my office is open if you have any issues regarding your life at school. Do I need to remind you what the university rules say about this path you’ve chosen to tread?”

I delivered every word with a stern face and I hoped he wouldn’t sit there and try to reason with me. His head was bowed, eyes fixed on his fingers. For a moment I wondered what it would feel like to wake up next to him, eating a meal from one plate...

Then the phone rang. 

“Have a good day,” I said curtly once I was done answering the call. I got up to head to John’s office.

Christian left.   

“Congratulations again, Maureen,” John said, without looking at me.

“Thank you, sir.”

“Before you sit down, I want you to focus on the conversation we are about to have. It will make or break your stay here. So, do not dare dream off while I talk to you.”

As Assistant Manager, I thought I had immunity against such lectures. I cursed inwardly and pleaded with my ancestors to intervene in the meeting. I needed to keep the Assistant Manager position at all cost.

John talked about how he needed my cooperation now that I had been promoted. He hoped that I understood what he meant by cooperation as it was my ultimate password to keeping my job.  

As he spoke, my lips remained zipped, eyes glued on him, unblinking.

***

Hallo reader, we hope you are enjoying this series as much as we are. Look out for Part VI next week on Friday. 

 

 

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