She knew she did not have to go out of her way to dress up in something exquisite because he never seemed to notice what she wore. Yet she found herself shaking her head no to every dress that she pulled out of her closet, suspended it in mid-air and tossed it aside to join the heap of already ruled out dresses. And why wasn’t he keen on what she dressed anyway? Thought Amara. Was he too shy to say what he thought of her sense of fashion? She was almost giving up on finding something that would suit her intentions when she found a green dress that she had bought a long time ago but never wore because it held her too tightly and her mother disapproved of it. She contemplated it for a while, imagining herself in it and concluded it would be perfect for her dinner date with Masai. He had called earlier on to tell her that he wanted them to have dinner together.
“I will cook,” he had said. “Just to be clear.”
Him offering to cook was unexpected because men did not cook for their women in Ola village. You cooked for your woman and word got out, your name would be whispered in drinking dens and you would have difficulties convincing anyone that you were truly your father’s son. So Amara had a feeling that maybe he had other surprises up his sleeve, which was why she was wary of her dressing. Who knows, I might get laid tonight, she mumbled as she walked away from her wardrobe. The dress ended slightly below her knees. It hugged her body so tightly you could easily count all her curves with half closed eyes. Since it was low cut, her cleavage was on full display. She stood before a mirror fixing her braids and even she was in awe of her own body. Feeling naughty already, she seductively run her fingers from her breasts to her thighs, hoping Masai would capitalise on her naughtiness later on.
Her mother was in the living room when Amara appeared from her room, walking with a slight sway and suddenly all the air seemed to be drawing towards her. Her mother placed the glass of water she was holding on the table and folded her arms.
“Amara, what is that you are wearing and where do you think you are going this late?” Her voice was calm but with a slight tremble. It was like she had wanted to say something mean but thought better of it.
“Dad is taking a nap, right?”
“I don’t see how that answers my questions.”
“Just tell him that I have gone out with his car and that I will make sure I return it in one piece.”
Her mother stood up abruptly. “Listen to me, if you think I will let you walk out of this house dressed like a prostitute and drive away with your father’s car, then you probably don’t know me too well. And your father, he will kill you.”
“Not if I don’t come back!”
“I am just kidding, mum, of course I will be back. And he will not kill me because no father kills their daughter, at least not their favourite one.”
“Favourite one? You are his only daughter!”
Her mother eyed the car keys that she was holding and suspecting that she would try to wrestle it from her, or worse, wake up her father, Amara quickly stuffed in her bag and made for the front door.
“Don’t you dare walk out on me!”
“See you later, mum. I love you!”
Her father’s car, an old Toyota Premio, whirred to life. Driving with the front windows rolled down and the cold wind whipping her face, she felt lightheaded. She felt free, like a released prisoner walking out of the prison’s gate. That defiance had awakened something in her. Something that had been sleeping for far too long forcing her to make decisions she had no business making. All her life she had been too agreeing with her parents, doing as they said and apologising even when she wasn’t sure what she was apologising for. That’s why she pursued law even though her interest was in Mass communication. Radio, in particular, fascinated her. Her dream was to one day work as a radio presenter. To be able to become popular and unknown at the same time. To leave her listeners and fans with that longing of wanting to know how she looked like in person. To leave them curving imaginary images of her face. To guess whether she kept dreadlocks or simply kept her hair short. The mystery is what intrigued her.
So she pursued law but learned and read everything she could lay her hands on about radio. She idolised Achika, the host of the popular late-night show— This Is what I Think—in Truevoice Radio. It was a show in which women called to give their opinions about men and their chauvinist ways. Though it was mostly women who called in, men called too, some to agree with the women and most to vehemently disagree. Then, in the end, Achika would give her thoughts on the topic of the day. Once, she ended her show by saying, “We, and by we I mean women, can not achieve great things if we are too agreeing and conforming to the misguided society norms, like refusing to walk out of an abusive marriage because we feel it’s our responsibility to keep our family together. That it’s we who should make the ultimate sacrifice and suffer because of our family or children to be precise. We forget that sometimes, to do what is great for your family, or children, you first have to do what is good for you. And that, ladies and gents, Is What I think!” She had said this in that husky voice of hers that commanded respect, a voice that portrayed a demeanour of a woman who was not swayed easily if at all. And that closing statement of hers stuck with Amara.
Unknowingly to her, she had always longed for the day she would put this in practice, to put her own interest above everyone else’s’. She was so lost in her thoughts that she missed the left turn leading to Masai’s home. Were it not for Masai who called to ask why it was taking her too long, she would have kept driving.
Darkness had descended upon Ola village by the time she pulled over in Masai’s compound. She saw him peeping through the window before he came running towards her, pulling her in for a tight embrace. She closed her eyes, wrapped her arms around him and lay her head on his chest. Moments later he led her into the house and after closing the door, he came and hugged her gain, this time from behind. His strong arms sent a shiver down her spine especially when they moved up and cupped her breasts. She was right, tonight she was in for a big surprise. He turned her around in his arms and for the first time she saw something in his eyes that she had never seen before. Something that, like her mother put it, made her want to follow orders. Did he have what her father had when he was young?
“This dress looks good on you,” he said, leaning forward to kiss her on the forehead.
“Would you love something to drink?”
“Do you have anything else that is not water?”
“No. But it felt good asking.”
She laughed. He looked different tonight. He acted differently. She also noticed he was groomed differently. He had ditched his customary shorts and T-shirts and wore a striped shirt and blue jeans. He was also clean shaven. His beard was well trimmed. It felt good to know that he had gone out of his way to look good for her and she was glad that she had given a thought to what she put on. She helped him serve the meal—rice and beef stew—and they ate mostly in silence. Occasionally, she would look at him when his focus was on his plate and would think how an enigma he was. Before, she had concluded that he was a typical traditional man, which was what she preferred thinking of him rather than a village man. She had never expected him to be the kind to do something out of the ordinary to please a woman. And yet here he was, smartly dressed, eating dinner with her, dinner that he had prepared.
It dawned on her how easy It was easy for everyone to dismiss him as a troublemaker as soon as they heard stories about him. Stories which always ended with someone in a hospital bed for so much as trespassing on his land. But now that she was closer to him, he was like a book she had read to the last page and still didn’t understand what it was all about. Like she wouldn’t be able to answer the simplest of questions about or from the book. So she needed to reread it, this time keenly, paying attention to every detail no matter how small. And the more she thought about this the more she felt less crazy about falling for him.
“Your dad knows you are here?” he asked without looking up.
“And he still gave you his car?”
“If stealing his car keys while he is taking a nap counts as him giving me his car, then yes.” She winked at him.
“No way!” He placed his spoon down. “Amara—” he paused as if to rearrange his flow of thoughts. She looked up and locked eyes with him. At this very moment, it felt as if a Tsunami had happened and they were the only survivors. He stretched his arm across the table and took her arm to his, fiddling with her fingers. Her heart raced a little bit faster. She could feel her dress swell around her chest area like her breasts were too eager to pop out.
“You are a good cook,” she said, “Better than I expected.”
“I can understand if you don’t expect much of me.”
“I didn’t mean it like that. I mean, you are a man and you know what they say about men and cooking.”
“What do they say?”
She tried to see if he was joking but he had on a straight face.
“People,” she faltered.
He laughed. A short laugh. “Come on, I am just messing with you. The truth is I spent the whole day figuring out how I will prepare food that will not make you want to move your bed to the toilet.” He raised her hand and kissed her palm.
“And you succeeded, thank you.”
She was sure that tonight something would happen between them. At least, she wanted something to happen. They had been seeing each other for a while now and all this time he had shown no signs that he wanted to make love to her. Almost like he feared things would not be the same after they made love. When she cleared the table and took the dishes to the kitchen, he followed her. She turned around to find him standing too close with his eyes were fixed on her. He moved closer and wasted no time in taking her to his arms. She placed her hands on his shoulders and closed her eyes in anticipation. A soft stifled moan escaped her mouth when his lips touched hers. And almost too suddenly, like they were both possessed, they were all over each other, his hand raising her dress above her thighs. She unbuttoned his shirt and an even louder moan escaped her mouth when he took her left nipple into his mouth. He then swiftly swept her off her feet and she kicked playfully as he hurriedly carried her to his bedroom. He was just laying her down when they heard a loud bang on the door. Startled, they both sat up straight and listened keenly. The unmistakable voice of Amara’s father ruled the air, shouting, swearing, threatening to disown Amara and castrate Masai with his bare hands.
“Shit!” Amara cursed