Another school semester had begun and Taku had gone back to the university residence. This time, he lived in Carr Saunders, a moderately sized, quieter hostel unlike the big Manfred Hodson with over seven hundred rooms where he used to stay. The car park at his former hostel was always busy and full of noise from fancy cars of older men visiting the university to prey on the young girls. Because some girls wanted an outing each Friday to the extent that they were willing to trade off their principles, these men`s efforts usually paid off. Taku presumed that the moment a girl agreed to go out with an older male stranger, nothing would stop them from indulging in intimacy. At least half of his brain still believed that there were still good girls out there who would not be cheap enough to sleep with these men. Older men who seemed not to take a moment to think about the consequences of their actions on these girls’ lives.
This time his roommate had changed. A down to earth introverted Theophilus, who spent his day after class sitting on his computer trading currencies. At times he even skipped lectures. “Academics won’t pay you early enough,” he would say. He made losses mostly, but the few dollars he made motivated him to continue and not have many conversations with Taku. Taku did not mind the lack of attention from his roommate. At least he did not have to deal with thoughts of his roomate dating his ex-girlfriend.
The young man could not remember the last time he had a perfect and peaceful sleep. His mind was in turmoil from the flashbacks of the last view he had of Rumbi, her sleeping and cuddled up in Greg`s arms. “What if all this time she was lying to me that the two had separated. I was so foolish to fall for this trap. I should never have trusted her,” he thought, whilst sitting on the dirty cement lay-by seat outside the hostel, staring into an empty space like the world had been removed from around him. He started remembering all the promises he had made with Rumbi when they still loved each other from head to toes. They had made multiple kiss promises to always be true to each other. At some point they even wanted to do a blood covenant. All they lacked was an object sharp enough to prick their fingers. As all these thoughts came back, he felt a huge lump on his throat but could not bring himself to produce tears. He had only known how to love through Rumbi, and all these incidents made him feel cheated and let down.
As he was lost in the abyss of these thoughts, an image started forming in front of him. First he saw a nicely fitting black dress going down to knee level. From it were light-skinned legs gracefully extending down and feet finding themselves in the cutest pair of pink sandals. As the image cleared up, he could tell that there was no single blemish on the pair of creations. Going up, the contours of her hips were perfectly complemented by the nicely built bum area whose hump extended to form a nice lordotic back. She had long hair, which were most likely extensions of a wig that looked perfectly customised. Before he could say anything, the captivating piece of art turned to look at him. Their eyes locked and tried to remember each other.
This was Tinotenda, a girl Taku had last met in primary school. It had been over twelve years now and she had grown from being the little girl in the blue Baring Primary uniform with an oversized hat and dental braces. Now, she was a goddess. Above all, she remained sweet, as her smile reminded him of the kind-hearted girl who used to loan him pens. Taku always never had one.
“Taku! Is this you?” She shouted as she ran to jump into Taku’s arms. The two got locked into the moment for a minute or two. For a moment, he forgot about the sorrows he had been fighting. The hug was therapy.
“It’s so nice to see you. Where have you been?” Tino asked.
“I’ve been around. You never looked for me,” he said, smiling at her.
The two began to catch up. Tino had been studying law at the same University but they had not crossed paths. Her public speaking and debate prowess from her youth had found a welcoming discipline.
At least he had finally met someone to steal his thoughts off Rumbi. He liked the conversations and the two planned to meet up outside every night in the cold when they both would be free from their daily schedules.
“You can’t touch my waist as we walk because I am a virgin,” joked Tino as they made their romantic walks under the shining half moon of the mid-winter month. At least she was conservative and Tino did not mind waiting before doing anything physical. He didn’t have to worry about another Greg scenario. The friendly walks as the weeks went by became addictive. The two couldn’t wait to finish the day so that they could find themselves in each other’s arms under the moonlight. They recreated their Twilight. They laughed, teased each other, shared daily struggles and acted as each other’s therapist. “Please listen to Heat waves by Glass Animals when you get the chance. It really reflects my words to you,” Taku had said one night when they were saying goodnight to each other.
The memories of Rumbi were slowly fading away. The face he was used to meeting in his dreams was slowly being replaced by Tino’s. He increasingly found himself smiling again. “I think I am in the right place,” Taku said to himself, smiling and facing the moulded white roof of his university room.
Soon, Tino started visiting Taku at his room during the weekends where they would watch movies and play board games. She brought the happiness that he had been missing. Still, he stuck to the no intimacy principle when she came over.
“Can you check, there is a knock at the door,” Tino said as they were busy singing along to Heat Waves one Saturday afternoon.
“Why would people disturb us when we are having such a good time,” Taku complained as he walked barefoot to the door.
Upon opening, what he saw threw him in a state of panic. He had no in any way expected to see the face that was smiling before him.
“Surprise!” Rumbi said, holding a small cake. “I’m sorry” was written in frosting.
Taku found himself going back and forth. As Tino sang along to their favourite song, he was here smelling the icing on the apology cake in front of him. At a time when he thought he was making ways to forget Rumbi and the misery she had caused him, just a glance at her totally confused his mind. Was it Stockholm syndrome? Had he loved too much to let go? Did he feel he had invested too much in the relationship to just walk away? He had come to hate older richer guys in society as he tried to find someone to blame for the way things had turned out with Rumbi. Was it the older rich men who were wrong for preying on younger girls? Or was it the girls who were unprincipled enough to indulge in activities with these men?
“I used to be intelligent enough to figure out solutions to problems, but at this point, I am stuck,” Taku said to himself as his pulse continued to race.
16 October, 2023