July 09, 2020

Peplum Diary: How Dare He?

mirror room


By George Ojema

‘He wasn’t asking me out?’

She pokes at the French fries on her plate in a disinterested manner. She’s been in this mood since they left the church.

‘He wasn’t asking me out?’

She was amicable through the walk to the restaurant, even laughed at Grace’s jokes and made some of her own. But she refused to look at him, refused to laugh at his jokes, refused to entertain his advances. How dare he butter her up with compliments and small talk? How dare he be the perfect gentleman to her and offer his good manners for her amusement? He still had the nerve to crack jokes and expect her to laugh with him? Some of them were really good too but that’s beside the point. He should know better!

She had sat next to him at the restaurant, and though this seemed like a bad idea it was actually well calculated. She knew if she sat opposite him she would have to look at his face. That perfectly sculptured face with that nose and that smile and those eyes…those lovely eyes…

She could not stay angry at him if she was looking at his face. So she elected to sit by him, from where she could steal glances at his face, his dimples, and the creases around his eyes when he laughed…just enough to keep her awake and yet sustain the residual anger of what he had aroused in her.

‘How dare he?’

He ordered for her…and Grace but that’s beside the point. Grace was his sister and he knew what she wanted to eat before she knew she was hungry. Besides, it’s Grace.

Back to the point. HE ORDERED FOR HER! She wanted to punch him and kiss him at the same time. Who did he think he was taking charge of the situation? And did he smile at the waiter? What’s that all about? Why was he still being a gentleman? Why did she like it?

She liked it, that much she was sure of. She was tired of arriving for a date and being asked the same stupid question.

“So, what are you eating?”

If she wanted to answer this question she would look at the waiter…or eat alone. Why would you invite her out if you had no idea what she would prefer eating? Hazard a guess based on the many conversations you’ve had before this moment. Why did you text her about food and still pick up nothing she texted back? Were you even paying attention or had she become some means to pass the time between getting to bed and falling asleep? How dare you?!

But he ordered for her. Chicken salad, he remembered.

She decided she was not going to enjoy the salad and therein lay the problem. It was well prepared, very difficult to dislike. And in a way it made it very difficult to dislike him. He was sitting there, unaware of what he had done to her, unaware what he was still doing even with his innocent cologne. Oblivious of the hopes he had stirred in her and how he had dashed those very hopes. Her rescue from the obstinate Bosco plays in her mind, vividly, down to the excitement that played down her spine.

Her encounter with the singer also jumps into mind though she would rather forget it fast and not dwell on it.

Grace made the whole thing more tolerable with her own insights into rioting youths, politicians, old people and how women should be allowed to report late to work because they have more to put on in the morning. It sounds ridiculous but she made some very good points.

Lunch over they started off for home, she knowing that she would be traveling alone since he would have to take Grace home. Although there was a moment when she hoped she was wrong. He was dragging his feet, drawing out the short journey to the bus stage, walking very close to her but not so close to irritate her. She hoped he was going to go off script. Hoping he would kidnap the whole trio and put Grace in the matatu so they could all go to her place. Hoped he would sit next to her, by the window, and pay the fare, insisting she should not. Take charge of the situation again.

But he did not.

They got to the stage, they said their goodbyes and she got on the first matatu that came her way. She could not be picky. He had already made his intentions clear. He was just being a gentleman, a bastard. She was no luckier than any damsel that would happen upon his way.

The commute home was a blur. She had no idea what had happened between the two important stops, she could barely remember paying the fare. Her mind was occupied but she did not know with what exactly. Was it him? Was it her.

‘He wasn’t asking me out?’

She pokes at a French fry and puts it in her mouth. The glorified potato is cold, they all are. She shakes her head, stabs the half eaten sausage on the plate and takes a bite. It’s cold as well.

With a deep sigh she finds the remote on the sofa and points it offendingly at the television. Before she can switch channels her phone vibrates on the coffee table. Without looking at the display she swipes it and puts it to her ear.


His voice comes through the earpiece, bold as ever. She nearly chokes on the still un-chewed sausage in her mouth.


She replies and instantly feels like the world’s biggest idiot.

“Could we talk?”

“Yeah, sure”

“Cool, I’m actually outside. Can I come in?”

He was where now?!

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