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Reads: 25

Kate the intern, swayed to her desk with a fancy handbag.

"I am going to that oil company that we talked about."

"Good." Aabha replied half-heartedly. Her cell phone vibrated against her desk with such force.

"Hey dear." She smiled nervously.

“I don’t get it, is there something wrong?”

“No darling.” She rolled her eyes at Hans Múller.

When she strode down stairs, Vince was coming up.

"Anything new?"

"Just going to pick some tenders from a hotel."

"And I guess you need my car?"

"How sweet of you!" She beamed. She grabbed the keys from him. Although her company would offer her the transport, it was in cash form so his car would be handy.

It was a very nice looking five star hotel. The receptionist had a trained smile that hardly left her lips. She gave her a copy of the tender documents and Aabha got back into the car to leaf through them. She mentally ticked off every requirement. This seemed like a win-win situation for them. How she wanted to win this tender, but she started the ignition and remembered how her father had taught her to drive.

All the hours he had patiently put in trying to explain to her that she did not have to grip the steering wheel with a death grip had paid off. And I will et this contract and cure your darling wife and I will be promoted and I will soar higher. If I got this contract, I wonder if Hans would really marry me. Is he just trying to string me along so he can get into my pants? But last time I asked him about this and he did not seem to be interested.

Her heart started pumping at the thought of marrying Hans Múller. In their traditional wedding, he would be dressed in a kanzu and a coat, with his entourage at her kwanjula or introduction ceremony, carrying so many gifts, each with a basket on the head. They would come in a line, his side; brothers, cousins, e.t.c.

Each placing their basket on the ground, which contained a gift, like a cow's thigh, tomatoes, curry powder, etc. Meanwhile the women would be dressed in a gomesi, lined up to greet the visitors. Several well-dressed visitors as well because such events were no show for the poverty stricken, it was a show of grandeur and ability to take care of their daughter. The bride's group would have their own speaker and the groom's group their own speaker. These two men would exchange jokes over the microphone, as they stood in front of their own group, in well decorated tents.

The jokes to the effect that should the groom make any slight mistake in discipline, or norms or even a shallow pocket, they could change their mind concerning their giving him the bride. Although in old times they could refuse to give their daughter for such faults, one of which was failure to raise the bride price. Of course, Hans would have met her elders and paternal Aunt already, for she was the one to prepare her for marriage and advise her. That Aunt taught you things like never disrespecting a man, never answering back, cleanliness, humility like taking care of your step children lovingly, e.t.c. ‘Never do that my daughter; never bring disrepute on us from the in-laws. A woman never quits marriage. A woman is not proud. She always kneels and speaks humbly.’

Yet all this would not stop her thinking about any co-wives or co-girlfriends or whatever skeletons he had in the closet, Hans was not for her. She would faint if she found out about those. Even though a traditional marriage was potentially polygamous, she would not settle for that, she would be like so many, she would level it up with a church marriage. If Hans even mentioned a woman’s name, her tears would fall like fountains. That is why I cannot date you Hans, you’re a liar and you will break my heart.

As she reversed out, she knew what she had been wanting all along; to pass by Han’s company along the way, even if just to glance there for a while, just to see it’s sturdy walls and maybe get a secret glimpse of him. She fancied stopping there just to be in his parking lot and feel the ambience of 'Müller Machines'. So after a short drive, she swerved and took the road off the highway and downwards on the hard tarmac.

She expertly swerved through the huge maroon gate. 'Müller Machines' was a mega establishment with a very big, thick building in a maroon colour and the company logo. The entrance was designed with shiny white marble floors and glass doors. Hence, she parked on the tarmac together with several other cars, under the sun and watched thoughtfully.

Once again, the great portrayal of wealth brought butterflies to her stomach but his questionable character dampened it all. What if she had been born in such wealth? All her life she had gone to the 'not so good schools' where they just survived on the line of 'presentable and decent'. In fact at sixteen, she borrowed a dress for the leavers' dinner. Then Lucetta, the coolest girl in class had the perfect pair of heels but they said she threw one at her troublesome dog and it got a small damage from the dog bite. Lucetta then threw the pair in the dustbin. That night Aabha cried herself to sleep over that pair of heels. So whenever she got money, she made herself look rich and classy even if it wiped out more than half of her bank account.

Yet here was Hans who had no idea how blessed he was to be rich. She watched his drive way again. She was in no mood to call him right now but she watched his entrance closely. True enough, Han's figure stepped out of the building and he was dressed in a slim, black suit and a slim tie. He looked like he had been cut out of a modelling magazine. But his hand was holding a young lady's waist, side by side. A tall dark beautiful, African girl with an hourglass shape, an oval shaped face and very long thin braids. Aabha bent her head on the steering wheel out of reflex when they glanced in her direction, it hit the horn instead which went off loudly.

Jayzus! Her heart pounded. A glance in her rear view mirror said they had not seen her. They were heading to Hans’ car and their backs were facing her now. It's alright; I do not love him that much. I will just wait around for that contract. But very hot tears were burning down her eyes. So she swerved the car around and drove out like a crazy fool and she nearly crashed into another parked vehicle. Aabha drove into the parking of a supermarket. Snatching her over used cell phone from her handbag, she punched in his number.

"Hello, this is Hans Múeller here, Rita hold on." Müller's voice was rough and full of delight. Rita, hold on. She rolled the words over when she hung up. Her guts had failed her; they could not bring her mouth to speak. Her tears were however violent and angry. They were desperate and aching. She blew and re blew her nose into her handkerchief. It’s alright; calm down, this is not a real relationship after all. Her face had turned red.

A few minutes turned into twenty minutes of sad wishful thinking, then finally, a resigned breath and a reverse back towards her office. In the well tarmacked, extremely spacious parking lot that had small vehicles and trucks, Vince was there, chatting with the loading boys. She stumbled out of the car.

"What is wrong with you?" He had hurried to her in a second.

"I am just really tired." Vince spread out his arms.

“Can I hold you?” He looked tall and strong against the sun. She went into them willingly.

A loading boy in the parking lot watched them. His name was Billy. He was short and muscled with a stern, brown face and he knew Hans and Aabha very well. He took out a small cell phone and took a picture of what he saw, a very tight embrace.

Vince made her some tea once inside and brought a plate of three warm samosas to her desk.

Her heart was pinning for someone who made her cry and it did nothing for the one who served her like a servant.

Her cell phone went off again, to her utter surprise and, she gazed at it like as if it had two heads; Hans on the caller display. It turned into a long day and a long evening after that. She worked overtime, into the night, putting together a very bulky tender application. But to her amazement, the door to Maurice's office was opened and slammed shut.

Kate swayed out, her lipstick slightly smudged. She was shocked to see Aabha.

"Kate, I thought you left hours ago." Kate smiled in an embarrassed manner. "See you tomorrow."

She mumbled and swayed away. Aabha’s heart went lower. Perhaps if she fell right into Maurice’s arms, she could keep her job.

There was no other explanation. She was having an affair with Maurice and if so, it meant that she could take Aabha's job; people around here got fired and replaced in minutes. She paced and re-paced the company balcony that night. The sun had gone to sleep but her mind was racing.

She left office that night with a pounding head. She went into a deep sleep. The vibrations of her phone kept up a rhythmic mode. The next morning, she made herself very busy. When Hans finally called again, mid-morning time, she yanked up the phone.

"What's going on?" He demanded.

“Everything is fine.” She nearly yelled.

Hans demanded about plans for valentine's day.

Submitted: November 24, 2022

© Copyright 2022 Kristan Kurora. All rights reserved.


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