The reaction to Guest Contributor Asantewaa’s post a few weeks ago was visceral. I was amazed by the strong reaction that so many Adventurers had to a married woman having an affair – albeit brief – with a man who might as well have been married himself. After all, Ibrahim was in a 5 year relationship as well, almost as long as Asantewaa had been married from what I gather.
What would make a married woman with children cheat on her husband with so little regard? Asantewaa has not resurfaced to defend or explain her actions, and I don’t plan to shame her into doing so. I have however taken the liberty (with her permission) to fictionalize her hurriedly told story and tell it from my own creative perspective.
LSD is about Lerato Gqukani, a young South African entrepreneur who is getting her start in life. She’s fulfilled her duty as a child of the Continent. She’s finished school with honors, secured a marriage (or at least its promise) and has led a responsible life…until a chance meeting with her an old flame.
Shall we find out what happens together?
Lerato nervously played with the thin white napkin on the dining table. As people milled around the food court of the Accra Mall, she took a sip from her water bottle and asked herself what she was doing there at all. Just yesterday, she and Aamir were having lunch at the very same restaurant.
“Khalid is dying to see you,” he said, pulling a slow drag from his cigarette.
“What? Why is that?” she asked, genuinely taken aback.
She was trying to ignore how disgusting Aamir looked now. The last time she had seen him over twelve years before he was trim and athletic. Now he was pudgy, balding and slovenly. Smoking made him look even less attractive. All the same, Aamir was her friend, and she was glad to see him. She was only going to be in Ghana for a month, and she wanted to see as many of her old friends as possible. Time always flew by when she was home.
“Home” was officially South Africa, but she barely remembered it. Her parents were pan-Africanists, and left the country at the cusp of the apartheid regime to resettle in West Africa. She’d lived everywhere: Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone – but Ghana was where her deepest roots laid. Maybe it’s because it was here where she first fell in love…or thought she had fallen in love.
Khalid Haddad had told her as much when she was twelve and he was administering her first kiss under the steps of their primary school. It was Our Day and he had just told her how pretty her floral print dress was before he clumsily leaned in for a sloppy kiss.
“I love you Lerato, and you love me,” he whispered.
For the next three months she carried this truth in her heart, until Aamir delivered the devastating news.
“‘If you don’t have sex with your girlfriend, you have nothing’. That’s what Khalid said, Lerato. I heard him,” said Aamir.
Lerato was crushed. She hastily scribbled a letter to Khalid, breaking things off and handed it to Aamir.
“Give this to your cousin,” she ordered, her face contorted in rage. “And tell him I never want to see him again!”
And she never did…until now. Khalid was walking through the corridor and back into her life, still as handsome as she remembered the former primary school head boy to be. She smiled as she thought about the Lebanese boy she used to know in khaki shorts and a cream shirt as she rose to give him a hug.
“Hi Kal,” she said, grinning lopsidedly.
“Lera! It’s been ages!” he said, hugging her tightly.
The little girl with insecurities scurried away. She was 24 now, not a kid anymore and Khalid Haddad was a grown man. She tucked her negative thoughts of their past away.
“I’ve waited so long to see you,” he said, smiling with genuine pleasure.
“So Aamir tells me,” she laughed. “I hope you’ve been well?”
“Yeah, yeah! Everything is great,” he replied. “God, I’ve missed you.”
Lerato was surprised by how contemplative he sounded. Wasn’t this the same guy who’d declared their sexless relationship meaningless? What an asshole he was! They were barely teenagers and yet…
“Why are you frowning?” Khalid asked, obviously alarmed.
“Huh? Oh, nothing,” Lerato replied quickly. “I was just thinking about the last time I saw you.”
“Which was much too long ago,” he said, reaching for her hand. He stroked the diamond carat on her left hand. “I see you’re married now! I want to hear everything that’s been going on in your life.”
She laughed and placed her hand in her lap.
“I’m not married yet,” she confided. “Paul proposed three months ago. I’m very happy. He’s a great guy.”
“I’m so glad,” Khalid smiled. “You deserve to be treated well.”
“What about you?” Lerato asked, sipping greedily from her water bottle.
“I have a girlfriend,” he said smiling coyly. “Her name is Ivy. We’ve been together for 3 years.”
“Wow! That’s amazing. Are you gonna ask her to marry you?”
“I’m not sure yet,” he mused. “I just want to make sure we’re both ready. “
He noticed that Lerato’s bottle was empty and called for a waiter.
“Do you want to eat?”
“Sure,” she smiled.
She settled into her seat and listened to a now very mature, very accomplished Khalid prattle on about the paper plant he managed.
“That’s very un-Lebanese of you,” she teased.
“I know,” he laughed in return. “I just didn’t want to sit in a shop all day and sell things, you know what I mean?”
He suddenly turned pensive.
“I know what you mean,” Lerato said reassuringly.
She had never really appreciated before how much cultural pressure to conform he must have been under. It took guts to rebel. He was running a plant, dating a Black girl, and at 26 was still unmarried. His mother must be in hysterics over her wayward son!
Before she knew it, four hours had passed and it was time to get back to her hotel. She had only planned to spend 60 minutes with him. She had timed herself. Kal finally asked her what the alarm on her phone was for. Did she have somewhere to be? She didn’t have the heart to tell him of her pre-planned flight from dinner, complete with a ready excuse for her departure. She was glad she didn’t have to. But now it was late, and she had to go.
“I have to get back to my hotel,” she said apologetically. “And I’m sure you have work in the morning too.”
“You’re right, I do. Aamir said you’re staying at the African Regent?”
“Yes,” she nodded. “I can walk across the street. It’s not far at all.”
“Lera, you’re a London girl now and can take care of yourself, but there’s no way I’m going to let you walk by yourself in Accra at this time of night. Let me give you a lift.”
When they got to the parking lot of the grand hotel, Lera suddenly realized she didn’t want the night to end. She climbed out of the car and shut the door gently. Khalid was gripping the steering wheel of his car, smiling. The engine was still running.
“Kal…do you want to come up? You know, just to talk a little more?”
Say no, say no, please say no…
“I was hoping you would ask.”
When Khalid grabbed her hand in hers she prayed for strength. The she realized she was being silly. She was engaged, and he was in a committed relationship. She trusted that nothing was going to happen between them. That would be absurd! Wouldn’t it?