David, Julie and Diane share different spaces in one another’s lives, yet their worlds collide on an axis none of them saw coming.
Julie had a beautiful smile.
“…Where were you trying to get to?”
“I’ll drop you,” I offered easily, without a moment’s hesitation.
“Oh, there’s no need for you to do that; it’s probably way out of your way, and the traffic on Jinja road is really bad,” she protested.
“No, it’s no trouble, and I insist,” I brushed off her protests, even though she was absolutely right; home was in Muyenga; so, Bweyogerere was indeed out of my way, and with the traffic on Jinja road, it would take at least half an hour to get there - if I was lucky.
But it did not feel like a bother; quite the opposite actually, for the idea of being stuck in traffic with Mark’s pretty secretary was certainly more appealing than the alternatives: faking smiles with a bunch of corporate bootlickers at the cocktail I had just left, or trying hard to ignore Diane’s frosty attitude at home.
Her continuous sulking had begun to grate on my nerves of late, particularly because it was so unreasonable.
I could not for the life of me, figure out why she was always so bitter!
They say, “behind every successful man is a woman”, and this was certainly true in our marriage; Diane fell under the category of a ‘high-maintenance woman’.
She wanted a five-bedroom house, I built one; she wanted new furniture, I bought it; she wanted a bigger car, she got it. She set her standards high, and it was my job to meet them, and I always did.
There was not a thing she wanted that I did not provide; so, by all counts, she should have been happy, but it had been a long time since I last remembered Diane being happy.
I remember how excited David had been when we found out we were having a boy. “Wow, a boy! A smaller version of me,” he had declared proudly.
But then Daniel had been born two weeks early, and was nothing like his father. He was tiny and frail, and the doctors were worried about his lungs; so, he was put on oxygen in an incubator for three days.
He had my facial features as well, and for the first two years or so of his life, he was constantly being mistaken for a girl. As he grew older, and his lungs continued to trouble him, it was obvious that he would never be as athletic as his father, and that playing football, or swimming, would be out of the question.
Although he would never say so, I knew David was disappointed; so, a year later, I was pregnant again, and praying desperately that this time, I would give him the son of his dreams.
Stacy was born. She was healthy and boisterous, and more like David than Daniel would ever be - but she was a girl.
After that, I stopped trying, too scared of feeling like I had failed yet again. In any case, by this time, David had gotten his promotion, and was spending more time at work being a manager, than at home being a father.
He missed more and more bedtimes and school events, and I had to remind him of the kids’ birthdays; so, I did not see the point of giving him another child, when he showed such little interest in the two he already had.
Mr Mujuni probably lived in some posh neighbourhood like Kololo or Munyonyo; nowhere near my ‘lower class’ side of town, and the traffic was a nightmare.
A quick glance at his hands revealed a wedding ring proudly displayed; so, he did have a family to head home to, and yet here he was offering to drive me home. It made no sense.
Nor did it make any sense when he started talking to me about his evening, and some cocktail event he had been at. I was a secretary, he was a big shot marketing manager; our social circles did not cross paths, and they certainly did not discuss each other’s social events.
Not that I had a ‘social circle’ or ‘social events’ to discuss; at the moment, all I had time for in my life was work and figuring out how to pay my never-dwindling stack of bills.
Like every girl, I dreamt of meeting Mr. Right, getting married, and having a family of my own, but somehow it had not happened yet.
My first love, Bill, had turned out to be a serial cheat, and my second, Eric, had felt I needed to loosen up and enjoy life more, not spend it worrying about my mother and siblings; when he realised that they would always be my priority, he cut his losses and moved on with a girl that had less baggage.