“I'm folded in the bread you made. You're cold until my body bathes you in the heat I kept aside. All these days
I'm not afraid of anything even time.”
Snow Patrol-The Golden Floor
She would have called it his arrogance. His most annoying, irritating, deluded, I’m more important than anyone else way. His striding into an office meeting late, sitting in the most comfortable leather sofa that was available, and when all eyes turned to look at him, their alarmed mute horror attempting to will him out of it because he was in their boss’s seat-he simply asking, ‘Can we start?’ Like they had all been waiting for him-this stranger from the accounts division they never met except on their monthly checks.
Ignoring him, not talking to him, did not work. He seemed unaware that she could choose to ignore him. Refuse to call him, refuse to answer his text messages; even he clogged up her phone in-box with smiley clip arts. He could only seem to assume that it had been a network error. Not that she was angry at him. Hurt by him. For cancelling an outing at 4:50pm in the evening on Friday, she had been looking forward to since he promised on Tuesday, when he had come to their building, to meet the head of her department and seen her washing her at the kitchen sink-almost made her drop her gray clay tea mug, when he had put his hand on her shoulder-forcing her to pause the Hoobastank song on her iPod midway.
He was like a child. Her six year old little brother, James. James could scratch the touch screen of her Samsung phone with the CRV’s car keys, and ten minutes later come back, still asking about the ‘lift’ to Jumbo, to get ice cream. As if he had done nothing. Or had completely forgotten that this phone was the last present their father had sent her-before he fell ill in Maryland, USA, ‘A simple fever,’ they had been assured. In a week’s time, get the call from Uganda Funeral Services; he had long had an insurance policy with them...could they begin to make arrangements to return his body?
He was like that. He did not expect, no, he did not believe, could not even begin to think, that anyone could be angry at him for months and months. Not want to talk to him. Not wish him well. Forget about him and put him out of mind. He used to say, and she used to think it cute-ish then, ‘I have a face which is easy to remember,’ when walking together, men and women would often take startled second looks, not at her, but at him, like they thought maybe, surely, they had seen him before.
That day when he called, four months after he had without explanation stopped calling her, changed his phone number without telling her, been promoted and reposted, he had started with the worst possible story. Obviously not thinking about how it might make her feel, ‘So, this girl laid her head on my shoulder and I thought of you....’
Did he imagine she wanted to know which girl he was with now? Did he imagine she wanted to care and wonder who he was with now? Who he was taking on those twilight coming down walks he used to take with her, saying let’s leave the car and first walk, talk, think, we can come back-walking through streets, holding hands like they were giggling teenagers-making her see in shut lit windows, lives and thoughts she would never have had on her own. Filling her mind. Making her yearn. When would he kiss her?
Did he think she would want to go back to all that?
He did not seem to notice, telling her, like as if they had been talking all week, about the girl who reminded him of her, like she had been some misplaced memory from the hard disk of his mind come back-like the wafting scent of a perfume you know.
‘My driver, the fool, took the car keys with him, when he went to visit his wife, so I had to use a taxi. But it was nice. It’s been so long since I used a taxi that I think I was beginning to forget some things. So this girl laid her head on my shoulder, she was dozing, my God, she sleeps like you. At first I thought, eh, can it be you? But it was not. It was the way she laid her head on my shoulder, like oba I’m a pillow, but you know I did not mind. Her breath was tickling my neck. Then I knew. I want to hold you again...”