A UBA`s Valentine`s Part 2

By Tendai K Saungweme

Takudzwa sits in his usual corner. A copy of Macleod`s is open in front of him. He watches his new roommate, Greg, whom he has been staying with for the past five days, sort out some random papers. His gaze is especially fixed on the charcoal gray watch that wraps around Greg’s fair wrist. The metallic hands of the watch theatrically turn through the crystallized digits and the ticking is audible when the papers rest. Something about this watch reminds Takudzwa of Rumbidzai. He had told her exactly how much he wished for one exactly like it, and she always mocked him for fussing so much about a simple watch.

Greg senses the attention and flexes his wrist to show off the contrast between the watch and his caramel, hairy skin. “Original Timex. You like it?” he asks with his usual bragging repose. “Got it from my girl,” he adds. Since Taku moved into Greg’s apartment, Greg talked about his girlfriend often but Taku has never seen her. Takudzwa simply nods and shifts his attention to his phone. A text pops up: “Taku, we need to talk.” He wonders why all of a sudden Rumbidzai would want to talk to him. She sent a similar text exactly a week ago and he ignored it. It has been almost two months since their awkward separation after the Valentine’s Day incident, and he heard through the grapevine that she has moved on to better guys: richer guys, to be more precise. He finds himself again drifting into self-loathing thoughts: he is good for nothing; just a poor nerd who is counting on his degree to earn himself a little dignity. She probably just wants to hurt him again. His face becomes gloomy.

“Dude, you need to relax. You seem so stressed.” Greg comes through. He may be a rich spoiled brat but he still has some goodness in his heart. “Come on, put on your best clothes and we can go out together. We’ll meet up with a couple of boys and some hot chicks for drinks. You know, machills,” the invitation comes. Takudzwa knows very well that he needs to get his mind off Rumbidzai and recover from the stress of the neuroanatomy exam that showed him flames in the afternoon. He sets aside his phone without responding to the text that has been stealing his joy and he puts on his brown corduroy pants and a scotch shirt. “Dude it’s 2023, who on earth still wears corduroy,” Greg mocks as he pulls out a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and some Balenciaga sneakers. Takudzwa accepts the clothes for a change, just to fit in for the night. Quite frankly, he hates how he looks in them, like one of those city heartbreakers, the so-called boyz dzetonaz; well, one night won’t kill him.

The ride in Greg’s BMW feels heavenly. Taku lays back in the front seat and a soft breeze brushes his face. “I just need to pick up my girl,” Greg says as he pulls up at one of the boarding houses in Mt Pleasant. “I hope you don’t mind sitting in the back,” he adds. Takudzwa moves to the back, his mind constructing an image of what Greg’s girlfriend should look like: a supermodel, perhaps. The zinc gate opens with a creak that startles Takudzwa. The sight of Rumbidzai walking out gives him an even greater heart race. Was he hallucinating? He pinched his hand to try and wake himself from the trance he thought he was in. However, what he saw was real! He slides down the seat to try and hide but Rumbi paces towards the vehicle. “Save me God.” He whispers the prayer of one who is in danger, hoping Greg will not notice his strange movements that any medical student might diagnose as chorea.

“Hey, babe,” Rumbidzai says as she opens the door and settles in the ‘mother’s seat’, smiling at Greg. She turns and makes eye contact with Takudzwa. A surprised look floods her face and the awkwardness in the car escalates in a second. They both have tons of questions for each other but these are masked beneath cold hellos and fake smiles. Takudzwa glues his eyes to his phone but casts random glances at Rumbi time and again, which probably makes her uncomfortable. Greg throws out a couple of dry jokes to try and disperse the tension but his efforts go in vain.

They get to The Chillspot and Rumbi is the first to leave the car. Takudzwa reaches for the door but before he gets out, a subtle warning comes his way from Greg. “I saw you checking out my girl, man. Please show some respect.” Maintaining his calm and suppressing the anger, Taku simply nods and walks out. Youngsters are already littered around braai stands with Champagne popping and beers clinking. Shisha clouds the spot and the kids pass around joints. He can tell that most if not all the people around are high. “How is Rumbi handling this?” he thought. She hated smoking with a passion. For him, the closest he has been to being high was the previous night when he took some Bioplus and three Red Bull energy drinks to keep him up and studying for his anatomy exam. There is no doubt he is a lost sheep here.

Takudzwa grabs a chair and sits in the corner, as far away from Rumbidzai as possible. He watches her sit on Greg’s lap and get all cozy. It disgusts him and he frowns. He regrets coming here, worse still as Greg’s minion. Earlier, he overheard Greg telling the other boys that he would cover the costs for bringing an extra belly to their tank. Never in his life has Taku had alcohol but he walks to a table and grabs a beer to try and drown the distress. It is clear, Rumbi has moved on. She even bought her new guy the watch he could only dream of. But why had she texted him?

One beer motivates another. He sits looking at the group talking and dancing along to the music coming from a bluetooth speaker. Takudzwa feels his head go weightless and hopes to get to a state where his worries disappear. Instead, a strong headache strikes him and he becomes dizzy. He had expected the alcohol to make him stress free but now he is only drunk and stressed: a worse combination. He feels his tears pooling as it becomes clear that he has lost the love of his life. Part of him blames himself for not going after her, maybe he should have ignored the rumors of her shenanigans with numerous men. Maybe he should have swallowed his pride. The fact that she has moved on so soon, however, makes him think that she has always been for the streets. All these thoughts continue to converge into one: “Why did she want to talk to me all of a sudden?”

Takudzwa staggers from the spot and goes to the restrooms. He sheds a few tears and washes his face before walking out as if nothing has happened, as if his pride is not scarred. He turns into a foyer on his way back and finds Rumbidzai waiting in a dark corner. “Takudzwa, we need to talk,” she says. He finds all the emotions he thought he had cried out coming back again. “Why Rumbi? Why now?” he says, looking straight in her face. She tries to narrate how her phone was stolen, how she lost contacts, how she had missed him and how Greg means nothing to her, but he is not buying it. “I see, you haven’t changed at all. You can keep your lies to yourself. I am done with you.” He turns to walk away. She grabs his arm and he looks at her through rage infested eyes that seek to tear her up. She whispers through a sob, “Taku, I am pregnant.”

7 March, 2023