The weekend had come to an end quicker than Zuba had anticipated. Luckily, she had spent enough time indoors eating (a lot), napping, watching Netflix, and emptying tissue boxes all due to a combo of cramps and mood swings. Although on days like these she felt like fighting Eve, she knew the poor girl couldn’t have possibly spent a lifetime watching that one tree go to waste. Zuba gave Eve a pass on that one although she thought Adam was a coward to blame it on her. Another one of her period rants was that homeboy could’ve shared the pain and at least taken on the burden of giving birth so that way the men wouldn’t be so quick to ask for “another one under my name” or “one ain’t enough I need two”. Butoyi hated hearing Zuba talk about how unfair the whole Adam vs Eve played out and often reminded her that if God, the master of the Universe had made it that way then it was the fairest decision. “Besides,” he would say, “women are even more beautiful when they become mothers. Do you even realize how powerful that is? Like you can literally bring a human being to life.”
“Yea yea…it sounds all dreamy and perhaps it would be all that if you men where to take responsibility and not act like the baby’s gotta be a full grown kid for you to interact or spend time with them. I bet you a great deal of men out here are the first to announce they’re expecting but won’t even be present in the delivery room.” Zuba would say.
“You know what, I cannot wait until you get married and start popping babies like you planning on a full soccer team”
“Well, apparently I do not have to wait until marriage. Wouldn’t be the first to do it.”
“Leave your mother out of this Zu!”
There was no winning against Zuba at that time of the month.
The days at work seemed much longer than usual and she tried to avoid crossing paths with Mr. Gihu, her boss, so she wouldn’t have to announce the bad news. Zuba was disappointed in herself as she had managed to get an opportunity and sabotage it all within one month. She had to think fast and see whether there was an alternative that would make her look a little less of a quitter. When the two inevitably bumped into each other, the only thing she could come up with was,
“Hey, can you come over this Saturday at my place?”
“You are inviting me?” he asked.
“Yes…why do you act all surprised?”
“Well I normally have to beg for us not to go to a hotel…”
“Let’s just say I’ve missed you and have prepared a nice cozy evening for two.”
Mr. Gihu was not the one to be told twice so the date was set and Zuba had not though about it through, but did not doubt she would later be full of ideas.
When Saturday evening came, she lit some candles, put on her robe and opened the door when Mr.Gihu rang the bell. He was no beginner in the romance department and brought fresh white tulips as he remembered Zuba hated roses. After a warm embrace, Zuba sent Mr. Gihu to change into a bath robe while she added the finishing touches and checked on their dinner.
“What are we celebrating? Have we been seeing each other for a year yet?” he asked.
“No but feel free to leave if you can’t appreciate me preparing something nice for you…” she replied.
Mr.Gihu decided to be quiet but still careful as something was certainly up. Zuba had prepared a mini pedicure session with her new foot spa bath massager that had coincidentally arrived the previous week from Kampala.
“I could get used to this Zuba…”
“Yea…let’s not let that happen.”
She then started the hot tub with the idea of a romantic bubble bath with Epsom salt and a mixture of essential oils in mind. When Mr. Gihu saw the candles around the tub, he could not help but admit, “I’m just going to let you know that you can already ask me anything right now…”
“Just wanted you to have a good time away from work…”
Their eyes met, and he grabbed her small waist and drew her close to him. The two exchanged some warm kisses for a minute.
“You should take full advantage of the tub while it’s hot, I’ll join you in a few…” she said. Although Mr. Gihu did not want her to leave, he was not going to stop whatever Zuba had planned even though it was enough already. Zuba set the table and brought out her ice bucket to the living room and her favorite Veuve Clicquot champagne. The bathroom was to be used for other activities and besides she was already tipsy from the cocktail they had drank during the pedicure session. Half an hour later, the two sat in the living room barely watching the movie on the screen, cracking jokes, and sipping champagne with a plate of spaghetti and meatballs.
“I no longer wish to produce my own show at the Network,” she confessed.
“Why is that? I’ve already arranged a meeting with the President.”
“Let’s just say that I changed my mind…”
“Is that why you did all this? You could have just told me last Thursday and I would’ve understood.”
“Yes but I had to make it up to you and besides, you looked like you could use some good time from all the stress you’re under with that radio show project.”
“Definitely, the president is a little ambitious and wants to venture into radio as well when we could use all the effort towards bettering what we have going on already.”
“Well, he’s kind of right. If you think about it, not all Burundians can afford a TV, but radios are affordable even to those in remote areas.”
“The president said those exact same words. You’re such a smart woman!”
Mr. Gihu stayed over and the two spent the rest of the evening talking about the current state of the country, feminism, whether war is ever justified, and so much more. There were only a few men of Zuba’s age who could hold such an intellectual conversation and she loved learning from Mr.Gihu.
When Sunday morning came, Mr.Gihu left early to be there when his kids woke up for church. Bukuru showed up right before 12PM irritated that his ex-wife was still second guessing his ability to take care of his two sons for Christmas.
“Can you believe that woman would rather my boys spend Christmas with her new husband’s parents?”
“I am really sorry Bukuru, I really wish you could let me help you.”
“And do what? Send some of your ‘friends” in Belgium to threaten her?”
“Well… I’m not that savage. I still have some manners. They would first ask politely and if she played hard, they would do it the other way.”
“Zu you really have to get checked as you might have some mental health problems.”
“Makes the two of us no? We would fight right in the ward!”
An hour later, Butoyi came through right in time for lunch. Bukuru and Butoyi had met a few times at Zuba’s place. Butoyi was a little jealous of the time that Zuba spent with Bukuru, and although he was much older, Butoyi still worried that something might happen between them perhaps on one of those drunk nights.
“So, remember the girl I told you about Zu?” Butoyi asked.
“Your new chica?” Zuba said.
“Yea…she’s amazing and all but wants me to put a label on the situation.”
“First of, I’m sure ‘situation’ is not the word she would like to hear you use. Secondly, I was hoping she was the One for real. It’s been weeks, no?”
“ I don’t know if I’m ready to commit.”
“Right! Or maybe you’re scared she will run away after knowing the monster you really are deep down…”
“Oh shut up! Takes one to know one.”
At this moment Bukuru was messaging his ex-wife some hotel names in Burundi where the kids would stay as she was coming along too if all was settled.
“If I may, young man, she isn’t the one if you have to think twice about committing.” Bukuru said.
“With all due respect mutama,” Butoyi said, “She is nice, smart, got her own things…basically wife material. She is definitely the one, I just don’t really like the idea of settling down.”
The two went back and forth while Zuba took a call outside. When she came back, she announced,
“Kwezi is coming too. She’s having a little hard time with the man she is seeing and wanted some girl time.”
“Who is Kwezi?” Bukuru asked.
“The baddest bitch in town!” Butoyi answered.
Bukuru had been around Zuba long enough to not be surprised by the language of young folks.
Kwezi came through and asked for some beer before she even sat.
“I am having such a shitty day! Who wants to take some shots?” Kwezi asked.
Bukuru came and sat in the living room across from Kwezi.
“I have better to offer…” he said.
Butoyi brought out a Ciroc bottle and shot glasses while Bukuru rolled the joints and Zuba prepared a plate for Kwezi.
“Y’all are having some drama in your love lives, damn! Don’t bring all that energy in my home. I’m good folks!” Zuba said.
Everyone rolled their eyes and pretended not to have heard her comments until Kwezi said,
“Is it just me or this place smells of some expensive men cologne? Was Mr. Gihu here last night Zu?”
“I don’t kiss and tell but let’s just say I had a great time last night.”
“I hope y’all did not do it on this couch cuz eww…” Butoyi said.
Kwezi came up with the idea of truth or dare for shots. They got to learn that Bukuru was cheating on his ex-wife, Butoyi had some feelings at the beginning for Zuba but swore he now saw her as a sister, Kwezi had some regrets about certain affairs, and finally Zuba admitted she missed her mother on some days. All these truths came out as they all figured the dares would be a whole other level of craziness especially with Butoyi and Kwezi. For all Zuba cared, she could’ve been dared to increase her body count to seven by the end of the week. A bunch of psychos; her friends!
“You know it’s less than an hour flight from here to Kigali Zu? I can even get you a family discount.” Kwezi said.
“Yes, I can hook you up with a driver while you’re there…” Butoyi offered.
“I also know the manager of Hotel des Milles Colines so your stay would be nothing short of an experience.” Bukuru added his piece to the puzzle.
“I appreciate all the love and support, but I do not have it in me to go to Rwanda. Besides, the woman probably doesn’t even want me there.” Zuba said.
“Think about it Zu, we all have our struggling relationships and deep down you want to repair yours and there is no better time than now.” Kwezi said.
“Come through Oprah!” Butoyi shouted as he lit his joint.
The four of them chilled in the living room while sharing some funny and at times deep memories. Even though Zuba was high on the weed, she still knew she’d loved to have a photographer capture this moment and frame it for her house to be complete. She was proud that in all her twenty and some years, she had managed to invest in a good circle of friends that she could count on and still have some out of body experiences with. Zuba had to decide whether she had some room left in her heart to forgive her mother. She managed to push away those thoughts and enjoy the present.
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* Chapter Six *