Bachelor’s Party
 
“Where are we going?” I asked as my friends ushered me into the back seat of an old Nissan Sentra.
          “Don’t worry, you’ll see,” they replied.
          I knew the purpose of our trip and I felt sorry for them. Their scheme to lure me from marriage would never work. “I wish you guys will one day find the kind of love that my future wife and I have,” I said.
          “Oh, look who’s giving advice now.” They laughed.
          “I’m serious,” I continued in a firm tone. “When you meet that one special girl, your heart swells up with joy and you realize how shallow you had been running after one night stands.”
          I was talking, but nobody was listening. The car sped away from the village and headed towards the City of Nairobi.
          Two hours later, we coasted to a halt on Koinange  Street under the skyscrapers and glow of neon lights.
          “What are we doing here?” I asked “You guys are out of your mind if you think…” The street was famously known for prostitutes.
          “Let’s go Mutombo,” they said and pushed me out of the car. I felt like I was being kidnapped. Nervous and a little scared.
          There were five of us and we had all grown up together in the village. The city for us was a fantasy place and tonight was no exception.
          “Room 221 please,” my friend told the receptionist at one of the fancy hotels. We took the elevator to the top floor and into a luxurious Presidential suite. The living room looked like a hall and was lined with cozy couches. There was also a conference room and walk in closets.
          At this point in time, I was beginning to suspect the details of their plan and my heart raced at the prospect. I walked over and sat on the couch, bouncing up and down to get the feel. “This is the life!” I exclaimed.
          “Oh no,” my friend said as he made me stand up. “Your place is over there.” He pointed at a chair in the middle of the room and motioned me forward. I obeyed, walked over curiously and sat down. My head turned in every direction as I studied the dimly lit room. The expensive décor made it look fit for a King.
          “Champaigne?”
          “Yes please,” I replied and raised the red drink to my lips. I needed the drink to get me through the night. “Another one please!” I called and my friends laughed. They could tell that I was nervous. Days like this came once in a lifetime.
          Suddenly, the lights went dimmer and soft music drifted through the air. A bathroom door opened and a nurse dressed in white uniform stepped out with a stethoscope dangling around her neck. She cat-walked to the sound of soft music and headed straight for me. I felt the stethoscope on my heart: she smiled at the pounding of my heart. And the whole time my eyes were riveted on her body… feasting … and not getting enough of it.         Suddenly, the beats picked up pace and she stripped to reveal a tiny red dress. She started dancing sexually around me, her body brushing against mine in intimate ways, her hair covering one eye mysteriously. I felt aroused and my breath caught in my throat. And then she was gone and the music changed as another fine girl stepped out of the bathroom: this one sexier than the first. My eyes popped wide open as I feasted on the sight: long legs and pink lingerie. She sat on my lap and grinded against me to the beat of hip pop music. Her hands moved down my neck and she whispered sweet nothings into my ears. She was all over me. She switched position and her long acrobatic legs sat on my shoulder, her head almost touching the carpet. And somehow, she still managed to make it look sexy and fun. And then she was gone and my best friend walked over and handed me a beer.
          “You look like you need a drink,” he teased.
          “Whoaa!” I said as I tried to catch my breath. “Where did you get them from?”
          He didn’t reply but instead raised his glass at me and laughed. “Enjoy Mutombo, for in two days, you will belong to one, and only one girl for the rest of your life.”
          “Ya. Thanks for the reminder.”
          I was thirty years old and I had had my share of women. But tonight… tonight was a cruel reminder… a test if I may call it. My juices were flowing strong and I hadn’t thought once about my wife to be, since the first girl had stepped out of the bathroom. Was that a bad thing? I wondered.
          There were five girls in total, all in their mid twenties. And they did not look anything like prostitutes or strippers. I realized that my friends had gone an extra mile to hand pick these girls: to heighten the stakes and make sure that I was ready for marriage. The idea of having a final one night stand had its appeal but that’s all that it was… a warm thought. My mind was focused on one girl and an upcoming wedding.
          An hour later and tipsy, I looked around the room and suddenly realized that I was sitting alone in the center of the room. Every other friend of mine was busy grinding against some girl. And suddenly a frown appeared on my face and I felt neglected. Wasn’t this supposed to be my bachelor’s party? I took a long sip at my beer and was ready to confront my best friend when suddenly, the music stopped and smoke appeared in front of the bathroom door. A voice in the overhead made me perk my ears.
          “Ladies and gentlemen, I now introduce to you the one and only Miss Kat. She is a cat in the jungle discovered from the most exotic parts of the world. Give it up yo!”
          The music came on to a salsa beat and I saw her radiant silhouette gliding towards me, her face hidden by the smoke. The first thing I noticed was her bottle like figure… the long legs underneath the mini skirt … the tiara on her head. Her pelvic movement was well tuned to the beats and she made an exotic dance look erotic without even trying.
          I started whistling and she gently put a finger to my lips and hushed me up. And then I saw the crown move from her hands to my head and suddenly, we were King and Queen. A silly giggle escaped my lips and this time I raised a finger to my own lips and hushed myself up. 
          “Hello gorgeous,” she greeted as she extended a hand and helped me to my feet. The smell of her seductive perfume drifted into my nose and drove me wild with want. I could tell that she was very pretty underneath the red make up, and the unity of the moment made me feel intoxicated with desire. If I was to ever cheat on my wife to be, then this was the girl for it.
          The music switched to a faster salsa beat and we started dancing. She took my hand, pulled me into her arms and led me around the dance floor. My friends applauded and liked what they saw: me, the bridegroom-to-be having a marvelous time.
          It was amazing how aroused I was by a girl who hadn’t taken off a single piece of clothing. There was something mysterious about the way she carried herself. It was like she was in total control, and every step or touch to my body was calculated to emit a certain reaction.
          The smoke cleared and I searched for her face. It took a while to find her but when I did, we both stopped dancing and stared at each other in disbelief. The song ended and my friends applauded. I turned and bowed at them.
          Two hours later, I was ready to leave.
          “She’s coming with me,” I told my friends as I wrapped my arms around Kat.
          “Excuse us for a moment please,” my friend told Kat as he pulled me to the side. He was my best man at the wedding and I knew that I was in for a lecture. “Mutombo,” he began. “You do know that you are getting married the day after tomorrow?”
          “I remember,” I said and my friend broke into a grin. “You sly dog.”
          He wanted to make sure that I knew what I was doing before I made the biggest mistake of my life, and I appreciated his effort. He moved closer and looked into my eyes.
          “I’m not drunk,” I told him. “I will meet you guys back in the village.”
          He looked shocked. “You are not driving back with us tomorrow?”
          “No,” I said. “You guys go ahead and get ready. Make up something to tell my wife.”
          And now he looked really worried. “Are you sure?”
          “Yes. Go now!”
          He took a step back. “Remember Mutombo, the wedding is at noon 12pm!”
          I pulled Kat into my arms and we dove into a cab and sped away, leaving my friends looking very confused.
          “Hilton hotel please,” I told the driver.
          Kat’s head lay gently on my shoulder and I could tell that the drugs she must have taken before the show were kicking in. By the time we got to the hotel, she had passed out and I had to carry her up the elevator to the room. I placed her gently on the King size bed, took off her shoes and covered her with a blanket. Then I walked over to the balcony and lit a cigarette.
          A tire burst in the distance made me look up. The time was 3am and NairobiCity was dark and deathly quiet, a far contrast from the usually crowded streets under the sun. Snoring behind made me turn and walk back into the room. Moonlight beamed through the window and onto Kat’s face. She was deep asleep and despite the fatigue lines on her face, she looked beautiful. I walked over and brushed the hair from her face and then sat on the bed and wondered about her for a long time. What are you doing Mutombo? You are supposed to be getting married soon. The thought sat above my head like a dark cloud. A few hours ago, my head had been clear of purpose, my thoughts aligned… and now suddenly, I wasn’t so sure. One look at Kat’s face and my world had come crumbling down, my emotions changing to the beat of my heart. The questions bombarded me like fireworks but the answers didn’t.
          Sleep was long in coming on this night. But eventually, I lay beside Kat and stared at the ceiling until I fell asleep.
“Wake up Mutombo,” someone was saying. I rolled over and struggled to open my eyes. And then subconsciously, my hand reached for the cell phone and I looked at the time.
          “It’s eleven in the morning sunshine, you overslept.”
          I followed the voice and saw her. The makeup was gone and she looked fresh from a shower. Sober and all, we stared at each other for a minute before I broke the gaze and slipped out of bed. There were so many unanswered questions and yet I didn’t feel like asking them. I was scared of the answers. The truth was a dark cloud hovering over our heads and I instead chose to dive into the shower.
          “I brought you something to eat from downstairs,” Kat said a while later and we sat on the table by the window like an old couple.
          “Ask,” she finally said.
          “Ha?” I looked at her and pretended not to understand. She had always been the bold one.
          “Ask,” she repeated. “I can see the burning questions in your eyes.”
          I shifted my legs restlessly and tried to find a beginning. “Why Katalina? Why did you leave the village? You never said goodbye to anybody. Who does that?”
          She shrugged. “I had to leave Mutombo. I needed to find a new life and see the world. I couldn’t stand the rules and the pestering elders any more.”
          “Five years?” I asked. “Not even a word from you? You could have visited once or called. We now have cell phones in the village you know?”
          Katalina looked nervous for the first time and hesitation crossed her eyes. “It wasn’t that simple Mutombo. It’s hard to explain it.”
          I sat back and gave her a hard look. “You owe me that much,” I said adamantly.
          She nodded and took her time to find the right words. A distant look appeared in her eyes as she talked. “It’s the story of a She Wolf,” she begun and I leaned forward.
          “The She Wolf arrives and falls in love with the city. The people love the wolf back and offer help in everything: food, clothing, shelter and a job.” Pause. “But one day the She Wolf wakes up and realizes that the world has turned against her. The people who once loved her, now hate her. They break her heart and wound her spirit, and the She Wolf finds herself craving for sanctuary and a place of belonging. But the fear of failure grounds her to the city and forces her to face her challenges.” Katalina wiped the tears streaming down her face. The aura was morose. “The She Wolf becomes bitter and angry.”
          I understood what she was saying but still… “What about me Katalina? What happened to us? You were my first love. And you just up and left without saying a word.” I raised my voice. “How could you do that? How could you play with someone’s heart like that?” The anger was impulsive.
          “I’m sorry Mutombo.” She started crying. “I’m sorry I left you. I regret that to this day. But it was the only way to end it. I couldn’t look you in the eye and tell you that I didn’t love you any more. That would have been a lie.”
          I was confused and so I stood up and paced the room. “I thought about you all the time Katalina: woke up in the middle of the night and wondered where you were. I gazed at every car that came to the village for years until one day it dawned on me that you weren’t coming back. And it hurt a lot.”
          “And that’s when you decided to move on and marry another?” Her tone sounded accusing.
          “Ha? Yes.” My mind was very far. “She’s from another village.”
          “Do you love her?” Katalina asked blatantly and anger boiled inside my blood.
          “How dare you ask me that?” I yelled. “How dare you come back into my life at a time like this?” My emotions were jerked and I felt very strange. I had to go. I had to go back to the village and refocus on my life. Katalina was dead to me… she had been dead for the past five years. The dead never came back to life.
          I turned to her. “Kat….”
          “Shshhhhh… Did you hear that?” She asked as she ran over to the window. And then her voice dropped into a whisper. “Oh no, they found me!” she cried.
          I rushed over to the window and saw a brown Cadillac pulling into the parking lot. Four men stepped out and looked around, black leather jackets shining bright under the African sun.
          “Who are they?” I asked.
          “My boss,” she replied. “I didn’t report back last night. They think I stole the money or ran away.”
          “Can I just pay them?” I asked innocently.
          “Nooo!” She grabbed my hand and led me through the door and into the hallway. “He doesn’t like to talk. A few girls have been found dead already. We have to get out of here!” Her voice was frantic and the panic on her face told the whole story.
          I followed her down the fire escape staircase and we hit the back door running. The alley was dimly lit and trashcans lined the stained walls. Sunlight hit our eyes as we emerged into a quiet street and here Katalina stopped and looked around. And just when I was wondering as to her objective, she walked over to a parked Toyota and broke the driver’s window with a rock. I watched as she reached inside, unlocked the door and motioned for me to jump in. I did, my mind half dazed by the turn of events. Things were unraveling too fast for a country boy like me.
          Within a minute she had connected the wires and started the car. She checked the gas light with satisfaction before revving the engine and garnering the vehicle down the street. I could tell that she had done this before and the thought unnerved me.
          Suddenly, a gunshot rung through the morning air and glass window on the Toyota shattered. I looked back and cursed. The brown car was coming at us at a very fast speed.
          “Drive!” I yelled. But there was no need to yell because Katalina was already whizzing down the morning traffic like a maniac.
          “What’s his deal? Gosh!” I yelled above the air whooshing through the broken window.
          “His name is Konzi, and he’s a shark in a suit,” Katalina explained. “He will kill us both just to set an example. And am not bluffing.”
          I believed her all right and the bullet hole on the window confirmed the gravity of the situation. Katalina was a great driver and she managed to somehow keep a reasonable gap between the two cars. But at the back of my mind, and my anxiety heightened, I knew that we could only run for so long before they caught us. This had to end now!
          “Take the highway,” I yelled.
          “What? No. That’s too easy for them!” Katalina threw me a worried look and then decided to obey. It was something that she saw in my eyes: anger, determination. The Toyota bounced dangerously away from the maze of streets and onto the smoothness of the highway.
          “Where are we going?” she asked.
          “We are changing the rules of the game,” I yelled. “We are going somewhere where we have an advantage.”
          I watched as her forehead wrinkled in thought. The wrinkles slowly smoothed over and her face lit up with excitement. And after that, she needed no further directions as to our destination. With a new sense of purpose in her eyes, she garnered the car on the tar road like she was born to drive.
          Meanwhile, I jumped into the back seat and searched for anything that we could use … to help us survive the next few minutes or hours of our lives. The brown car behind us seemed to have given up trying to catch us and instead settled down to following. They knew just like we did that we would have to eventually stop for gas and make a run for it. It was only a matter of time and it worried me to know that I was dealing with strategizing thugs. And I respected them for that.
          Half an hour later, Katalina turned the wheel and veered off the highway and onto a dirt road. “Is this good enough?” she asked in a non-assuming tone.
          “It’s perfect.”
          It had rained the previous day and dirt had turned into mud. The car could only go so far.
          “To the trees!” I yelled, and we both jumped out and dashed into the urban rain forest.
          Vegetation was initially sparse due to land grabbing by the public, but as we climbed higher, the number of trees increased and we were able to look down and watch the brown car pull behind the abandoned Toyota. Four belligerent looking men jumped out, one with a rifle, the other three brandishing pistols.
          “Is that him?” I asked as we peered from between the trees. I was pointing at a big black man in a purple suit, who still looked rough on the edges despite the nice clothes.
          “Yes, that’s Konzi,” Katalina confirmed as muffled voices drifted uphill. “The one with a rifle. He’s the cause of all my miseries. I wanted out but he wouldn’t let me. Said that I brought in too much money. I want him dead, not just for making my life miserable but for all the other girls who couldn’t protect themselves from his cruel hands and diabolic plots.” Katalina’s voice was cold and I realized that I didn’t recognize it. The city must have brought the worst out of her.
          The strong smell of wild flowers caught my attention. We watched as the men split into two groups and head in our direction, cutting off our chances of running back to the car. “We have to go now!” Katalina whispered in panic.
          We ran deep into the forest for almost an hour and it drizzled the whole time. Along the way, monkeys scampered out of the path and bushbucks craned their necks as we whizzed by. Our jeans and tops were soaked and I couldn’t differentiate between the sweat and rainwater on my face. My lungs ached for air and I could tell that Katalina was also tired. Our footprints on the mud and broken twigs were like a GPS compass for the men to follow.
          “I can’t run any more!” Katalina finally said as she leaned against a tree.
          I joined her and we both gasped for air.
           “I’m done running too,” I said, and she detected something in my voice that made her look into my face. I turned my eyes away and looked up the tree, at the leaves dripping with rainwater. I lined up a few leaves and watched as water dripped from one leaf to a lower one. Four leaves later, I had a leaf full of water and asked Katalina to open her mouth underneath it.
          “Drink,” I said. “You will need all your strength.”
          She drank greedily. “Again!”
          I repeated the process and managed to evict laughter from her. It was something that we used to do as kids and it brought back fond memories. She did the same for me and I drank my share before we straightened our backs and looked into each other’s eyes. She looked adorable under the rain… her black hair sticky against her skull. She looked like the girl that I had once fallen in love with and before I knew it, I drew her into my arms and kissed her on her mouth. She kissed me back passionately and we sunk into a long kiss. The smell of her skin triggered my brain and I heard gates from my past swing open to reveal memories that I had long deemed locked away. The kiss was perfect and it came with no regrets because deep within, we both knew that we could be dead in the next few minutes of our lives. This could be our last kiss on earth.
          “I’m sorry,” she said, her voice slightly above a whisper.
          “Shhhh Katalina, don’t be.” I cupped her face with my hands and looked deep into her eyes. “Listen to me. We stay together and fight for our lives. We do what it takes to survive. We live!” We would not go quietly into the night.
          She smiled with tears in her eyes. “We have to separate Mutombo. You know it as well as I do.”
          I knew that she was right but the idea of her alone with those men made me feel sick. I dug into my pocket and pulled out the small knife that I had found in the glove compartment of the car.
          “Wait here!”
          I ran into the bushes and searched until I found the right vines and flexible bamboo sticks and a few minutes later I had fashioned out a bow. Meanwhile, when Katalina saw what I was doing, she took the knife from me and quickly cut out five arrows from dead hardwoods that she could find.
          “Just like the old days, ha?” I said as I let her test the weapon.
She placed the bow in front of her chest, pulled the vine and released. The arrow sped throw the air and struck a nearby tree.
          “Wish we had some flight feathers for the arrows,” Katalina said.
          We quickly made the necessary adjustments before she swung the weapon over her shoulder.
          “What about you?” she asked.
          “I’ll take this,” I said and raised the pocketknife for her to see. She refrained from saying anything further and we hugged.
          “We stay alive Katalina.”
          “May the ancestors watch over you Mutombo.”
          We blocked out our emotions and dashed into the trees in opposite directions. As soon as she was gone, I searched out a tall tree and climbed up as high as I could. It had stopped raining by now and a lukewarm sun struggled through the clouds. I craned my neck and saw Konzi and his friend heading in my direction and I knew that I had them where I wanted them to be. I turned the other way and a bird coed and flapped in my face. I narrowed my eyes into the trees and a gasp escaped my mouth. Katalina was heading straight for the other two men, and she had not seen them. All the blood drained from my face.
          Oh no. My first instinct was to climb down the tree but I also knew that I had to stick to the plan and pray that she would take care of herself.
          Suddenly, something happened. Katalina dropped on all fours and crouched into the bushes. And then she emerged on the other side of the bush and rolled herself into a pool of mud, completely submerging herself. The change was mind blowing and I watched in shock as she ran towards a tree and blended against the trunk. The two men walked right by her and when they were a distance away, Katalina raised her bow and aimed. The hunter had become the hunted. It was time for me to go.

 

          Pocketknife in hand, I dashed through the trees after my targets. The leaf canopy in this part of the forest had been destroyed: the shrubs were thicker due to access to sunlight. My hunting skills were sharp and growing up in the village had homed my skills. I was a natural when it came to killing: rabbits or deer, wild cats or humans, the mechanism was the same, just different emotions.
         I borrowed a leaf from Katalina and rolled myself in mud. The trees and brushes acted as a perfect camouflage as I moved from trunk to ground, following the prey and waiting for the right opportunity. Twenty minutes later, my chance came and I took it. Konzi’s friend dropped on one knee to tie a shoelace. I stepped out of the bushes, slit his throat with the pocketknife and hugged his body tightly against mine as he took his last breathe.
          The click of a rifle caught my attention and I looked up and locked eyes with Konzi, daring him to fire.
          His gaze was cold as he leveled his rifle and took a step forward. “Who are you?” he growled in a half scared voice and I realized that I was quite a sight covered in mud.
          “It doesn’t matter who I am,” I said in a deep voice. “You hurt my friends, you hurt me.” The clasped knife hovered surgically in my hands.
          The rifle shook dangerously in his and I used the dead man as a shield, repositioning him with every move that Konzi made. The big man towered at six feet, slightly taller than I and I could tell that he weighed a lot more too. I mean, he didn’t look like the kind of man dedicated to a gym although I could tell that he had a good fifty pounds on me.
          “You are just a village boy.” He chuckled. My country accent had given me away. It was time to end this.
          “How about you put your gun down, we end this like men,” I said.
          Konzi struggled with the decision and then with a sigh threw his gun to the ground. “Okay village boy. Let’s do it your way.”
          “Kick the gun away,” I barked and he obeyed. Satisfied, I let the dead man drop to the ground and took a step towards the big man. It was as far as I got before the reflection of metal caught my eye. Suddenly, another gun appeared in Konzi’s left hand and I knew that I had been played for a fool. I froze and subconsciously raised my hands.
          “You village boys are so naïve,” Konzi said with a hardened tone. “You should have kept the dead man junior.”
          I didn’t have any smart remarks in me and so I said nothing and waited for my imminent fate.
          “I will tell you how this is going to play.” Konzi took a step forward pistol leveled at my chest. “I will shoot you in the right chest and leave you to die slowly. Then I will go and bring that girlfriend of yours and kill her in front of your eyes.”
          The thought of a helpless Katalina crossed my mind and I clenched my fist in anger. I had a premonition and felt afraid for her. Konzi raised his gun and I stared in horror. It was hard for my brain to process what was about to happen. A sadness descended over my heart and I knew that I had failed. And then, the gun went off and I dropped to my knees. It was the loudest thing I had ever heard.
          I was breathing hard as my knees hit the ground. Something was wrong. I couldn’t feel anything on my body. I wasn’t bleeding anywhere. I looked up in shock and saw Konzi staggering, his hand over his heart. Katalina walked out from the bushes and shot him in the forehead at a close range. And then everything went deathly quiet, but for the rustling of leaves.
          “You all right?” she asked as she helped me to my feet.
          “Yes.” She dropped the gun that must have belonged to one of the other men and I opened my arms to embrace her. I was in a minor state of shock and so was she. What had just happened to us didn’t just happen to anybody. Our nerves were rattled.
          “It’s over now,” I whispered as I kissed the top of her head. “The She Wolf has had her vengeance. The darkness is gone…a new dawn awaits … let’s look to brighter days ahead.”
Hand in hand, we lumbered through the urban forest and headed for the nearest town. Freedom and fresh air felt like a drug… and it invigorated us.
         
          We found a cheap motel an hour later and took long showers. I showered first and decided to go look for something to eat.
          “You got some money?” I yelled through the bathroom door.
          “Check in the side pocket of my jeans,” she yelled back above the sound of running water.
          I pulled out the wallet and counted out some cash, and it was then that the picture fell onto the carpet. It was a picture of a little girl. I replaced it without much thought and stepped out of the hotel room. Fifteen minutes later, I returned with some plain French fries, the only thing that we could afford.
          “Katalina?” I called as I walked through the door. All was quiet. Too quiet. Something was wrong. Where was Katalina? Had something happened to her?
          I ran to the bathroom, flung the door open and saw her on the floor with a towel wrapped around her body. She was crying.
          “Its okay,” I said as I sat down next to her. “Don’t cry Katalina. It’s over now.”
          “I killed three men Mutombo. I took people’s lives away.” She sobbed hysterically.
          “If you hadn’t, they would have killed you. You hear me? They would have killed both of us. You did what you had to do to survive.”
          She sniffed and tried to regain control. Killing a man was easy, living with the memories was tough.
          “Come,” I said. Not wanting to give her a chance to resume crying. “I know something that will cheer you up.”
          “What’s that,” she asked curiously.
          “Food,” I replied and watched her face light up.
          “Haven’t lost your sense of humor I see.”
          “It’s all that I have. Come. Let’s go to the other room.”
          A few minutes later.
          “I’m so hungry,” Katalina said as she voraciously shoved the food into her mouth.
          “Hang on,” I said and moved the fries onto the bed where it was more comfortable. We ate in silence and drew comfort in each other’s presence.
          “Katalina?” I called halfway through our shared meal. “Who’s the girl in the picture in your wallet?”
          She froze with her mouth full. “Were you snooping in my wallet?”
          “The photo fell when I was getting the money. Who is she?” I didn’t realize how nervous I sounded.
          “It’s my daughter,” she said as she quickly recovered.
          “You have a daughter?” I asked in disbelief. “How old is she?”
          She hesitated and then replied. “Five years old.”
          It was my turn to stop chewing as my brain worked furiously. She watched me with keen eyes and waited patiently. I hadn’t seen Katalina in five years, and now…
          “Is she mine? Is that why you left? To protect me from shame?” I blurted out.
          She shrugged. “You were the golden boy in the village Mutombo. I left so that you could finish your studies and be the man that you were born to be.”
          I couldn’t believe my ears. She had sacrificed herself for me and I had hated her for leaving. It was not fare. “You should have told me Katalina. We could have done this together.”
          “It’s okay Mutombo. That’s in the past now.”
          It was not. Somewhere out there in the world, a little girl didn’t have a daddy, and I was to blame for it.
          Not knowing the way forward and our thoughts too clouded with fatigue, we lay down and instantly fell asleep. On this night, we would dream about nothing.
 
          We woke up the following day in each other’s arms and lazily lay on the bed … the aftermath fatigue of the previous days taking its toll on us. Bright sunlight beamed through the thick curtains and threw shadows into the room. The TV was turned off. The overhead fan made a constant whooshing sound.
It was a strange thing, I wondered … life… one day you are so happy … and the next, you find yourself in a motel room in the arms of …
          A noise in the distance made me stiffen. It was a church bell.
          “Mutombo,” Katalina whispered. “I think you just missed your wedding.”
          I reached out with my right hand and pulled her into my arms. We held each other tight. I had lost her for five years. I wasn’t going to let her out of my sight again.

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