The day had come. That day when he, with his twenty years of life on this planet, had to do what any male species would do. He took breaths. Deep breaths first, followed by a few short breaths. It’s called pumping yourself up, for those who have no clue about it. The ancient art of giving yourself psyche when you are about to do something which you have been planning for weeks or months. One way or another, the outcome of this upcoming event would shape your days towards your favor or go totally against your expectations and backfire with epic proportions. It’s one of those moments of uncertainty we all have to face, whether in the near or distant future: but eventually, it will come knocking.
He was seated at the edge of the lower bed of the double-decker, a common feature in all hostels in the University. He wore his clean white t-shirt which he had just gotten it from the clothesline after being thoroughly scorched by the midday sun. It was white and shiny. Just what he needed. He looked down at his black jeans, which was also washed. The black color matched with the white t-shirt like a match made in heaven. He went towards his locker, opened it and took his prized possession. A pair of black, original Timberland shoes. They were fresh off the boutique just a few weeks ago. His pride and joy. He went back and sat on his bed and began wearing his shoes. He tied the shoelaces to the last hole, something which he was not used to.
But today was special.
Both shoes were tied to perfection. He stood up, glanced at himself one more time from head to toe. He stretched his hands wide, observing all aspects of the clothing he was wearing, especially the white t-shirt, making sure it had no strange spots.
“Mi ni ule msee,” He whispered to himself as he rolled his dreadlocks to a man-bun at the top of his head. The whisper of self-belief that all would go as planned. He was now all set to go. Then he remembered something. Something very crucial. How could he have forgotten such a thing? He went and opened his locker and quickly grabbed it. It was a rectangular, red-ish, ‘Versman’ cologne. He looked at it and it was empty except for some few scattered droplets dangling at the lower left corner inside the bottle. He tilted the bottle at an angle towards the left side. The scattered droplets slowly began moving towards the tilted side and they all merged forming a small portion of applicable perfume. He pressed the spraying nozzle of the perfume and the little amount quickly got sucked into the straw which released the bottled contents to the outside world. He held the nozzle against his chest and sprayed once into each armpit. He looked at the bottle and there was still some left inside the tiny straw. He sprayed in strategic parts around his upper body, making sure they got equal amounts of the perfume. He was now, finally, ready to go. He went out of the hostel towards his destination. He passed by the mirror next to the washrooms. He paused. A rare event was happening. Never had he ever stopped to look himself in the mirror. NEVER. But today he had to. And in his eyes, he was best dressed than any other day.
And off he went.
The midday sun made his white t-shirt shine even brighter. He walked from the Eastern Zone of the campus towards the ladies hostels. You know you can’t just enter the ladies’ hostels as though it’s your playboy mansion. He followed the usual boring protocol of signing in and leaving some sort of identity, ‘just in case’. He went up the spiral staircases and reached the second floor. As he was informed, the event would happen in the Common Room, a place which was used for students’ social purposes. He walked a few meters from the stairs and reached the said location.
The chairs were neatly arranged in a circle and between, a considerable amount of space was left and a small table was in the middle. On top of the table was a medium-sized cake surrounded by all sorts of drinks. People were seated calmly, some hooked to their phones while others were chatting as they waited for the birthday girl to arrive. He scanned the room from left to right.
He saw her.
Seated on the far left of the room, he spotted her chatting with her friends. The stories that were being told seemed quite interesting since she was hysterically laughing as she touched her long braids and rolled them playfully. He walked and sat on one of the front chairs, a short distance away from her. He looked at her one more time and he was short of breath. He looked behind and more people were streaming in as time went by.
He knew the perfect moment to act.
Moments later, the birthday girl everyone had been waiting for finally arrived. The quiet and calm mood of the room quickly changed and everyone became ecstatic. All eyes were on her as she gracefully walked in and headed where the cake was.
The time to act was now.
It was now or never.
He took a deep breath and stood up. He slowly walked to where the birthday girl was standing and whispered in her ear. She nodded and went to sit right where he was seated. He looked around the room, which was now full of people.
“Hey guys,” he greeted the multitude and they responded back. Then he proceeded.” My name is Michael and I know you are all wondering why I’ve stood here disrupting the birthday celebration. There is something that has been bugging me for so long and I have finally decided to let it out. I cannot leave like this anymore and I had to say it now. “
Everyone was dead silence, gazing at him as he touched his chin. He walked and stood next to her.
Their eyes locked.
“Honestly speaking I have been madly in love with you for a long time now. I have persevered for so long but the more I hold it in the more it hurts. I want you so f@#$ing bad Jane. You’re beautiful and smart and I would love to be your girlfriend.”
He moved closer to her and got down on one knee. He stretched his hands towards her hands and looked at her straight in her eyes. Everyone was amazed. Her friends who were seated next to her could not believe what was conspiring before their eyes. Their mouths were wide open as their hands found themselves covering their wide mouths. Phones were unleashed out of the pockets as people moved closer in attempt to get their photos and videos in 3d. She was seated, her eyes looking at his as she curved out a smile.
“She is going to accept. Holy @$#!” He thought as he tried as hard as possible to conceal his joy with a serious face. “I’m winning,” He thought. His hands held her warm hands as he anxiously waited for her reply. She looked down smiling, a clear indication that his courage had her blushing. All this time he was staring at her reaction. People on the background were whispering in excitement, especially the girls who were even screaming with joy, unable to control their off-the-chart emotions.
In his mind, he was winning her, bit by bit. If only knew what she was thinking at that moment.
If only he knew.
After looking down for some time, she looked up and straight towards him, who was still on his knee, eagerly waiting for her to speak.
“Kubali maze!” Some of the males inside the room began chanting behind them, a show of support and solidarity to their counterpart. She looked around and saw the multitude of people gathered to witness the beginning…or the ending of a love story.
Then she spoke.
“I…I…I don’t know what to say.”
She paused for a moment and looked at him again.
“I’m sorry but no.”
The excitement that was in the room immediately vanished. His face which was beaming with hope frowned unceremoniously. He looked at her with shock in his eyes, unable to believe her response. He looked down, bit his lips and heavily blinked. He opened his eyes, took a deep breath and looked up at her. Behind her, people were hovering their phones around both of them in silence. The males who were supporting their counterpart were surprised by the unexpected turnout of events.
He lifted up his bent knee and stood up. He let go of her hands. He didn’t utter a single word. He walked out of the room as everyone’s phone recorded and took shots of his silence exit. She was still seated as he left.
He climbed down the stairs and headed outside the ladies’ hostels. His face was a clear depiction of sadness and anger.
“Hey Mister, you’ve forgotten your ID,” shouted the housekeeper who was seated at the entrance of the hostel. He heard her call but totally ignored her and continued walking.
His hands clenched into a fist as he walked, making people move away from him as he walked along the school pathways. He walked past the school’s annex and stopped. His mind was in shattered pieces as he could not believe that the girl whom he wholeheartedly loved refused his proposal. He being the only known case of a male student proposing to a female, something out of a fairy tale and supposed to be a flawless ‘yes’ went contrary to his expectations.
He dipped his hands in his pocket and it came out with a one thousand shilling note. He looked at. That was the only cash he had for surviving the oncoming week.
He looked at it one more time and made his choice.
He entered the students’ annex center and the smell of alcohol blew into his nostrils, luring him to come and drown his sorrows and failures.