7. The Ship Sails
Sonia had kept her emotions in check while we were in the café, but that peck, as playful as it was, spoke tons about her response to my earlier confession.
Back at the hostel, I was tempted to text her but decided against it. I should not look too eager, or for that matter, too desperate, I told myself. An hour later, could not hold it any longer.
“Got home safe?” I texted her.
“Yes, luckily dad’s not yet home.” She replied. It was a relief that I had not got her into any trouble.
“Though Raj was home, told him am from a date with you.” She continued.
This was rather disconcerting given how Raj was acting towards me lately. He was a great friend and I would feel bad if we were on bad terms. I did not press further, even though I wanted to know his reaction.
“Le’me take a bath, TTYL.” She texted some more.
“Cool, later then.” I responded.
I took the opportunity to join my roommates for a quick supper at Mama Karis’s place. I was quite absentminded to and fro, giving occasional non-committal responses whenever a query was shot my way.
“You ok dude?” Johnny asked, curiously gazing at me.
“Yea, am fine”
“You seem distant.” He observed.
“Just tired, the exams and everything.”
“If you say so.” He said as he shrugged and he ordered his meal.
I could tell he was not convinced, luckily, he is not pushy.
“Taken supper?” Sonia’s text startled me from the conversation we were having as we made our way back.
“Yea, just did. You?”
”Yes, just done with the dishes.
“So what’s up?” I ventured.
“You tell me.”
“You never gave me your response.” I reminded her.
“About?” She tried to play smart; she knew what I was talking about.
“Sonia, I think I have feelings for you and would like to know if you feel the same about me.”
“Sorry, I HAVE feelings for you.” I corrected my statement, thankful she was not around to notice the blush.
“C’mon now, what does that even mean?”
“Can I think about it? Will give you my response tomorrow.” She replied.
“Okay then, have a lovely night.” I signed off, not happy with the game she was playing.
Why do girls always, almost always, need to ‘think’ before responding to a guy’s advances? A straightforward yes or no is not too hard to utter, is it?
The next day, Raj came in late, just in time to catch the lecturer handing out answer booklets. After being done with the paper, he caught up with me in the hallway.
“Hey, what’s holding your gaze?” He startled me.
“Nothing major, just enjoying the view.”
A message came in and I whipped my phone out and typed a response rapidly.
“Chatting with Sonia?” He asked provocatively.
“No, it’s a roommate. Is there a big deal if it was from Sonia anyway?”
“Whoa! Calm down, am just asking. She’s been asking about you pretty much lately.”
“Oh, really?” I said, not sure what else to say.
“I understand she was with you yesterday evening.” He went on.
“Yea, your sister is a friendly person.”
“Of course she is. Look here man, not that am against anything but you need to take things slow with her. She’s vulnerable and I wouldn’t be happy if you guys start something you can’t see through.” He said as he slung his bag over his shoulder, preparing to leave.
“Okay.” I was not sure what else to say, despite knowing exactly what he meant.
Raj was not happy about the bond developing between his sister and me; he was only being civil about it.
I also left and made my way to the hostels.
Nobody was in the room. I flung my bag at the foot of my bed and laid my tired body on Rashid’s bed. I was too exhausted to climb to my deck.
“Hey, plans for the afternoon?” Sonia’s text roused me from fast sleep.
“Shower, nap then revise for tomorrow’s paper.”
“Seem you got it all planned out…”
“Yea.” I replied, knowing she wanted to say something.
“Thought you were free so I take some of your time.”
“Oh, what’s up?” I asked, genuinely interested.
“I’m moving some of my stuff from my campus room and could use some help.”
“I thought you operated from home.” I wondered.
“Yes I did, but I kept some stuff, mostly books, in the room assigned to me and my friend.”
“Okay, what time?” I asked, glad I could be of service to her.
“Sure, see you then.”
I made it to Sonia’s school a few minutes to three. I notified her I was about to get there and she texted the room number. At the door, I knocked once and she opened it almost instantaneously, as if she had been waiting for the knock.
“Am sorry to trouble you, glad you’ve made it” She said as we embraced.
“No sweat. Wasn’t in the mood to revise anyway.”
“Really? Anyway, come on in.”
It was a small cozy room, painted pink with warm undertones. Her friend was in bed reading some magazine. I waved and said hi. She turned, nodded and gave me a once over, quite shamelessly. She looked at Sonia smiling mischievously. Her actions were quite unsettling but I kept my cool.
Sonia had already packed her things in two cartons. She embraced her friend and bid her goodbye with a promise to see her the following day. I hoisted the larger of the two cartons to my shoulder and tried to gather the other in my free hand.
“Le.me take that Mr. Superman.” She said sarcastically as she grabbed the box and made it downstairs.
A cab she had called was already at the gate. I loaded them into the trunk and stepped back.
“Get in,” she beckoned as she disappeared into the back seat.
“No, you go on, I need to get back. Lot’s of reading top do.”
“C’mon now, it won’t be long and no one is at home.” She tried to convince me.
The cabbie was getting impatient so I got in. She beamed and pecked me lightly, leaving me wondering why she was acting all playful. It was a short drive. I almost asked about her response but the cab was already at their residence’s gate. We got out and I picked the cartons from the trunk. She paid the cabbie and we made it towards their house. Sonia halted briefly but went on with a different gait, as if she had seen someone she was not expecting. Indeed, she had seen someone she was not expecting; her dad was by the garage door speaking on the phone. He noticed us but looked too engrossed in the conversation he was having.
It suddenly became cold and I felt goose bumps on my skin. It was dumb of me to give in to Sonia’s persuasion, I thought. I put the cartons down at the front door and told Sonia I had to leave.
“Hello there young man.” Her father’s voice greeted from behind, sending chills up my spine.
“Hello Mr. Shah” I responded as I turned and feebly extended my arm for a handshake.
“You are Edwin, right?” He ignored my arm and continued.
“Yes Sir.” I said as I withdrew my arm, visibly embarrassed. I remembered Raj telling me it was normal for older men from their community to snub handshakes, but I was unsure if it was the case in the moment.
He invited me in but I politely declined, citing the following day’s exam as an excuse. He did not press, just nodded and disappeared into the living room. Sonia had kept quiet all along, visibly shaken. I bid her goodbye and left. At the gate, I caught a matatu, which dropped me at the hostels. I immediately went to bed and tried to relax.
Sonia called later that night and said that her father was not too happy, which I expected, and he had warned her against growing too attached with African boys. It hurt but I understood where it was all coming from. Her mother took her father’s side and her evening was all about being chastised. I seized the opportunity and asked her what her true feelings were.
“I love you Edwin, but am afraid it will be difficult given the opposition from my family.” She stated.
“Okay, it was stupid of me to forget that.” I said, agitated that she seemed to be giving in to her family’s pressure before we even got anywhere. She kept quiet for a while that I almost thought the line was disconnected.
“I don’t know what to do Edwin.” She said after exhaling audibly.
I did not know what to say so I also kept quiet.
“What I feel for you is real. I have never felt so connected to anyone in this manner and I wouldn’t want to throw it away yet.” She added.
“But you deeply care about your family’s opinion, meaning we are headed nowhere.” I reasoned
“Don’t say that. Maybe they will come around.”
“Maybe? You personally sound unsure.”
“We can give it a try and see how things unfold.” She said
My roommates were filing into the room and I knew it would be too chaotic for a meaningful conversation to go on.
“Okay, I’ve got to go now. Talk more tomorrow. Love you.”
“Okay, I wish you all the best in tomorrow’s paper. Love you.”
As much as I tried to concentrate on revising, my thoughts kept drifting back to Sonia. I caught myself reading the same sentence over and over again. I decided to sleep early so I could revise the following morning.
Thankfully, exhaustion from the day’s activities ensured I drifted to slumber land moments after hitting the pillow.