“Tell Zoe that I love the dress she is wearing today!”
Kuziva looked surprised. Hadn’t he previously told Kudakwashe he has feelings for Zoe? But, as they say, brothers before girls, so what can he do but pass on his best friend’s message? After all, Kudakwashe would be a better suiter for Zoe.
That same afternoon, Kudakwashe followed Kuziva into the school bus, who went on to stand beside Zoe and her friends. Obviously, he was more confident, he had built rapport already. His best friend Kuda followed through.
“Did you get my message?” he asked, avoiding eye contact with Zoe.
“Oh yes! Thank you so much,” she answered before resuming the conversation with her friends.
“Well, that’s a start,” Kuda said to himself. He stared at the landscape that passed by outside, thinking about how he could get a longer conversation with Zoe started. His mind was racing. Should I ask her what she likes, or is that subject too cliché? No one could answer these questions, the only way to find out was to try, but, until recently, Kuda had been in a serious long-term relationship and he hadn’t sweet-talked to anyone for a long time.
When they came to their stop, he pulled himself together and offered Zoe his hand to help her climb out the bus.
“That’s very nice of you to do,” she said smiling.
“You’re welcome,” Kuda replied.
When he had climbed out the bus too, he saw that she had waited for him, giving him the green flag that she wanted to walk with him. Kuda’s experiences in the Toastmasters club in high school came in handy at this point. They walked slowly, talking and laughing along the way. Kuda was a natural joker, making her laugh easily. He loved the sound of her laugh. He had to act right and say the right things, he couldn’t afford to make mistakes.
The next day, they had an outdoor seminar on sexual and reproductive health. It had only just begun when it started raining. Kuda almost instantly forgot everything the tutor said. The only thing he recalls today is the bowl of condoms passed around, for them to see and familiarize themselves with.
When the bowl was passed to Kuda, he paralyzed. Zoe and him were so immersed in their conversation that they had no idea what was going on around them. Kuda was trying to act as saintly as possible, and picking a condom from the bowl would have shattered that image. How would he explain the need for a condom to his new friend? He however took one as the lecturer told him, and quickly said he was interested in public health related matters, especially those to do with sexual and reproductive health and rights; a white lie to ease the awkwardness that was to emanate.
Despite the awkwardness in class, the day ended gracefully with the two friends sitting together in the bus, chatting and enjoying the ride back home. Throughout the day, Zoe started opening up to him, fantasizing about everything they would do together in the coming days.
“I will call you when I get home,” Kuda said as he got off the bus along the way. In his mind, he started going through many scenarios and possible futures for their friendship. It was too early to tell. He got home, made the call as soon as he could and laid supine in bed, and smiled when Zoe picked up the phone and said she knew it was him.
19 January, 2023