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.
“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.