Daniela. Da-ni-e-la! Chocolate skin, tall and slender in the modern fashion! It would be an understatement to say she was lovely. How well then shall I sum up her fine features? Her face was a petal, her lips were two honeycombs and her eyes were two milk-washed new moons.
A lily around which admirers swarm like butterflies strutting round a nectar-filled flower yet she kept them all at bay with a wave of her gentle hand.
Her name hung on the lips of every male, it was written in the grass, on the leaves and even on rooftops of buildings.
Everyone claimed she was his but Daniela, the Queen Bee of Furaha College, actually belonged to none.
Many approached her but were reduced to the level of micro-organisms. Shamelessly, they went around whining about their disasters like a hoard of eunuchs. Having well calculated the pros and cons of the adventure, I, the Principal himself, the sharp shooter who never misses the mark, took the floor.
I would teach these half-men how a real man steals a lady’s heart leaving her helplessly in love with him. Had I not been nicknamed the-tamer-of-girls and the-pacifier-of-girls’-hearts?
Without hesitation, I walked majestically to the Girls’ hostel to execute my plan. My unexpected presence caused an uproar sending the girls scampering to their rooms. They could have mistaken my visit for an abrupt inspection.
I paused in front of Daniela’s room. As I was still meditating on the next move, her laughing voice reached out to me through the window.
“Sir, you are welcome! You may come in!” I stepped across the threshold, drew the white curtain and lingered a moment before entering. She was seated on a high wooden stool holding a book.
“Good morning sir!” sang her voice accompanied by a short laugh, a curtsey and several smiles. I replied the salutation as she offered me a chair. Silence. Minutes after, she looked up and met my curious eye. Her big almond eyes fell back to her feet.
She passed a finger through her mass of black hair combed beautifully backwards. I could see the slender neck, the rounded shoulders and a V-curve of her sharp firm breasts sketched by a spotted grayish linen blouse.
She smoothed down her long black skirt and crossed her legs. One tutor had once described her as ‘a blooming lily that chose to retire at a time she was supposed to be shining’. Absolutely!
To create a fertile ground, I took her through the routine of books, life at College etc etc. The conversation was warming up. I cleared my throat to change the atmosphere.
She looked up.
“I have received several reports about you…”
“Have I done something wrong?” she exclaimed, cutting me short.
“No,” I assured her. “On the contrary, you have done everything right. So, I have decided to appoint you as the chairperson of the Student Committee since you paint such a good picture of a role model.”
“That is a very good idea sir but I must inform you, no offence intended, that I dislike politics,” she stated with the frankness of a saint.
‘What if,’’ I pursued, “everything marvelous was in it for you..Nnh?’’
“Everything marvelous?” repeated her, ‘my answer would still stand.’’
“Look,’ I cut in, “It won’t affect your academics at all. You won’t campaign because I have already appointed you. I will also make sure that your grades keep up as expected.”
“And how will you do that?” she queried.
“I am the principal and I decide what happens at Furaha!”
“That’s the problem. The fact that I will be appointed! I can’t accept!”
“Provided you play your cards right, what can go wrong?’’
“I don’t understand!’’
“All you need to do is give me a couple of visits in my office. We should get acquainted and get to know each other more,” I pressed on.
“Sorry to disappoint you sir but I am not the right person. On your behalf, I will convince my friends who like leadership,’’ was her orthodox answer.
“You haven’t asked why I personally chose you?’’
“I don’t see the difference that makes.’’
“You are a very intelligent, dedicated and courageous young woman. Besides, you are so beautiful that any man would die to fulfill your command.’’ Her mock laughter made me pause.
“Sir, no offence still, but I have heard all that, time and again. It seems favours flow in my direction because of my looks. I want to deserve whatever I get in life; I should be able to earn it through sweat and blood,” she explained.
“All I am saying is that a pretty creature like you needs a real man to take care always,” I put in breathlessly.
“It doesn’t change anything.’’
This was a clear signal that I had hit my arrow on a bare rock. It seemed I was dealing with a girl of her own strange dreams, ideas and resident of a fantasy world she had invented.
In simple terms, she had retreated into her soul and given up the desires of the heart as well as the temporary pleasures given by the goodies of this world. It appeared as if nothing would ever shake her out of whatever line of thinking she stubbornly held.
Customarily, I would give her time to reflect on the whole subject with a sober mind. “Well, I will talk to you tomorrow. Take your time and think about my proposal,” I said standing up. She neither looked up nor protested. I smartly marched out.
I spent the whole evening devising new strategies of bringing her to her knees. I had known girls, tall, short, black, light-skinned, chocolate, small, big but all wanted the same things; money and outings with the 4Cs; chips, chicken, chaps and chapatti.
They all started with a NO till it gradually dissolved into a YES. Meanwhile, it was neither loneliness nor disappointment I felt. The feeling was unexplainable. I could not sleep that night.
As I turned and tossed in the bed, my wife’s rough old hand reached for my chest in a caress. I quickly rolled to the farthest end of the bed. Memories of all the girls I had caroused before showered in like a rainstorm.
I had enjoyed most of them but none had left me with such an obsession. There was something exceptional about Daniela. I rolled onto my stomach still thinking about her.
I summoned her to my office the next day. I made sure we sat in such a way that my knees always rubbed on hers. Occasionally, I would take her hands in mine and crush her fingers. So, I took her through the benefits that waited if she considered my proposal but her answer was still, NO.
I had to change my technique very fast. “By the way, you can always talk to me if you need to go shopping with your friends. I would be glad to help,” I said.
“Thank you sir. That’s so kind of you but I am not the stylish girl who goes on shopping sprees every now and then,” she chirped in. “No, don’t get me wrong. I meant in case you choose to, you can always take my car and ask me for some cash if you don’t have any.” I was at the old game again. She shook her head several times.
“You know,” she recovered herself and commenced saying, “I don’t know how to drive and besides, why would I borrow a married man’s car?” I put my hands on her shoulders, squeezing comfortingly.
“You needn’t worry my dear. The other girls have been borrowing it and my wife has no quarrel with them. Everything will be fine.” She brushed off my arms and sat upright.
“That’s where you miss the point. You expect me to be like the other girls; cruise in your car, get money from you and always visit your office. It is very wrong of men to think that all girls think exactly the same way!”
I slowly stood up and moved to the window. I could feel her presence all over. I had to act very fast. “Do you see that envelope on the table?” I asked still looking out of the window. I heard her move. “Go ahead. Open it and read its contents.”
She went and picked it up. I gave her a few minutes to peruse through it. Then I heard her sigh. I held my breath anticipating my coming victory. “So, what is it?” I asked feigning ignorance.
She took sometime before replying. “It’s a letter from the Academic Registrar of Furaha University,” she paused. “Go on,” I urged her. “Sir, I can’t accept this!” was her next answer. I turned quickly and walked to her. I held her both hands and shook her.
“Opportunities like this don’t come every day. Take it up,” I said firmly.
“No doubt sir, I want so much to go to University but not by compromising my conscience,” she interjected.
“You are not compromising anything. Just say you will be my soulmate and everything will go on smoothly.”
I was already fondling her breasts and kissing the nape of her neck. At first, she played along as if she was enjoying my romantic gestures. I swiftly went for those magical lips and kissed them, run my hand across her plump boobs and down, down the centre of her being.
Suddenly, I felt her body recoil. With one major force, she threw me off her and headed for the door. I recovered my senses quickly and intercepted her before she could open it.
“Daniela!” my voice was firm and urgent. She stopped but never turned.
“I have acted wrongly. Sorry for that. But we can go somewhere this evening and talk like sensible people.”
“Don’t worry about it. I hope you haven’t forgotten that today is the last day of the semester. I will be going home in the evening,” she said rather calm than I expected. I was abit relieved.
“The better, we can meet at the Dolphins Inn and have a drink. Then we can sort out things in the best way possible,” I suggested. She didn’t reply. “I will be waiting for you at the Dolphins, six sharp!” The door creaked open and closed. I sunk into my seat with a trillion emotions running through my heated body.
By six, everything at the Dolphins was set: the bottle of champagne, the eats and of course, the elegant bed. As I stood by the roadside waiting for her, I saw a beauty emerge out of a line of buildings. She was in a long black skirt, long sleeved maroon blouse and scurf tied round her head.
She walked to the stage and waved for a bodaboda rider. The two rode in my direction. She peered at me. I reacted like a shy school boy. I however recalled to wave at the cyclist to stop. Instead she whispered in his ear and the two rode past me.
My eyes followed her and she too never took her eyes off me. Then, a derisive laughter rang out. It reverberated in my ears. The mock laughter still hung in the air even after she had turned a corner and disappeared, never to be seen again.
Slowly by slowly, I felt a fog of shame coldly enveloping itself around me. It shook my whole being and left me deadened. They say the tide of time will always bear an abomination for those who ride upon it. Regret seized me. In my entire life, no one had ever made such a fool of me.
It is true then that the owner of what the other does not possess shall always have the last laugh. Like a dog that has lost hope for a promised bone, I sneaked away still conscious of the whole world that had been watching.
At dinner, the temptation to confess to my wife was overpowering. I weighed the idea and pocketed it again. How would I even start? I did not sleep that night either. A great lesson scribbled itself on the ceiling upon which I stared blankly. I could still see the contemptuous look on her face. It seemed a supernatural force had sent Daniela as an interlude in my sex escapades with students. Or was she my redemption? Yes, that is the word! So, I at last turned to confess to my wife. She was fast asleep.
Rogers Atukunda, the author, is a journalist and writer