I know I am too late so I outdid myself. You have above 3000 words just for you because this is the dinner we’ve all been waiting for. Plus I can finally sleep and argue with Miss Boham and Afua Pokuaa that I did deliver on Wednesday…;)😌😆😘
Senam Awoonor stood on the first floor taking in the view — her husband, Jonathan, Sule and Kwaku were chatting and laughing heartily. She stood and looked on a few more seconds. She’s always dreamt of when her house will be this full of life every day; she’s imagined severally when Dzidzor’s grandkids will fill her house. No. Their home wasn’t a dead one. Life rang from every wall and they have people over whenever they can but she would do with more chatter, not just the barks of their two bulldogs and the chirping of birds in the trees surrounding their large property. She cleaned under her eyes, on her eyelids, close to her balls so she won’t ruin her liner. She chuckled at the thought and cleared her throat. She did loud enough so the men would hear her.
“Now that I have your attention.” She started, staring them from face to face and smiling effortlessly as she did. “The men talk will have to pause till after you’ve eaten all my food and have no space in your tummies left.”
“A good deal.”
Jonathan winked at his wife, a few strands of gray hair standing out in his beard. Matey threw his hands up, whispering all yours. Sule laughed quietly, admiration shining from deep within him. He has never come close to love like he has witnessed in this family. Jonathan led the way for the stairs. He has never been a shaver. Senam has learnt to live with it and bully him only into trimming to keep a clean look. The men made their way up the stairs. Jonathan stopped by his wife. He kissed her cheeks, stroking them as he withdrew.
“Freda and Junior and His aunt?”
He asked of the last three guests who haven’t arrived for the dinner yet. Senam’s face lit with realization.
“I better call them. Junior was to pick his aunt and Freda from that women’s leaders meeting.”
“Let me call them. Go ahead and get everyone settled down.”
Senam hugged her husband briefly. She loved this tenderness about him. She never ceases to thank God for bringing them to himself in circumstances they would have never plotted for their life, their marriage. The doorbell rang and she smiled. She turned back and caught Jonathan’s eyes in time. They shared a knowing look. Only one person presses down on their doorbell like this ¬— Yaba Anokye, Junior’s aunt. They laughed and Senam headed to the eating area. They made a bigger space upstairs for exactly this, having friends and family over without having to worry about the number. When Jonathan met Jesus, he instantly wanted to turn their home into a ready place for strangers. That verse in 3 John has never ceased being his favorite.
We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.
Of course, today’s dinner is with people they have come to know. But as Jonathan says it, why not practice for when the day comes. She sat by her daughter, the corner of her eyes taking note of how her fingers were eased in Sule’s. She decided not to pay attention and perhaps cause others to do so. Besides Matey was seated opposite her and Junior will be up any moment. Junior works with Target. When Matey had run off, herself and Jonathan had thought him the next obvious match for Dzidzor. Dzidzor may have considered the idea till Junior started coming on too strong and she said no to him. Her daughter maintains he is a flirt and flirts don’t make for husbands.
“Pretty. Pretty. Pretty.”
Yaba’s bigger-than-life personality took over the whole dining area.
“Pretty. Pretty. Pretty.”
Senam responded to their banter, letting herself into Yaba’s open arms for an embrace. Giggles went around the table. Junior and Freda trailed behind her. Dzidzor walked over to Freda, welcomed her and led her to her seat.
“You’re looking pretty. I didn’t get the chance to tell you after service. Mum hurried me off and Miss Yaba had her arm tucked in yours.”
Freda smiled that gracious smile of hers. Dzidzor couldn’t help but notice again the way she was lighter after she confided in her she may want to put up her restaurant for sale. Dzidzor had taught the decision will eat her up. After all this has been handed down from her grandmother through to her mother and aunty and to her. Rather, her smile was back. Her laugh is easy and her eyes were getting back the glow and shine she used to meet her with during lunch.
“I see Sule is here.”
Freda glanced quickly towards Sule and smiled. Dzidzor could read in between the lines. Rather than explain herself, she smiled and nodded.
“He is. Mum won’t be stopped from inviting him.” I was dying to meet him too. She glanced towards Sule herself and returned her attention to Freda. “Welcome.”
She let her go and noticed Junior was steep in his stand waiting for her. She would give anything to avoid Junior. Anything. She has for months now. But not here. He has a way of getting unnecessary attention and bringing the mood down no matter who is present.
She prayed and faced him, smiling her best.
His face took on a flirty spark. He looked at Dzidzor from head to toe, his eyes staying on her in a way that made her cringe. She wanted to scream what do you want? But she didn’t. She kept her lips lifted.
“Thank you. You’re welcome.”
She let him down as softly and as quickly as she could and hurried back to her place beside Sule. She met with her eyes and after a coy smile, let them fall on her fingers. She stared at her nails. Her mum has insisted she gets them manicured on Saturday. Between them, the dinner was more of a date between Sule and her. If she allowed herself, it may actually be one.
Sule leant towards Dzidzor, gaining her attention.
“I don’t want to miss the chance of telling you you’re pretty. Especially not after all the hard work yesterday in my absence.”
He kept his voice low for the ears of only the two of them. Dzidzor smiled. Her heart should have danced because she felt it beating faster.
“I’m glad my instructor is so appreciative.”
Sule laughed. A little louder than he had thought and instantly they had the eyes around the table on them. Sule shared a look with Dzidzor. Dzidzor spoke.
“You all know Sule is a gym instructor.” She didn’t wait for any responses. She didn’t look anyone in the eye either. She kept the residues of her laugh through her talk. “So he is currently my instructor and apparently he believes I’m working harder than he has seen any of his clients do.”
“My daughter has always been an achiever.”
Jonathan took his seat beside his wife, at the head of the table. Sefa followed him, filling the space on his left. Laughter rose from the table. Matey had his gaze fixed on Dzidzor. That is when Dzidzor remembered they hadn’t linked hands to pray and eat all these minutes because his dad was not here. She had forgotten her godfather was to be here. Her father may have stayed at the door to meet him after Freda and the others came in. That is when she also remembered Kate’s spot opposite Sule was empty. Perhaps Kwaku called. They had been talking about him earlier — how demanding his work was getting day in day out and how Kate and him should come and talk to her parents soon. She would have just sat and not worried days back but not with all she has come to know; Kate’s marriage was on the rocks and she feared it was with the bubbly personality of the woman who has been her best friend and support after her mother through the years. When all eyes were closed around the table and hands were linked, she let go off her mum’s and Sule’s carefully and rushed off after Kate. She went into the bathroom, slid the doors leading to the outside. Kate was pressed against the glass at the corner of the space. Her phone was in her palm and she looked shaken.
Dzidzor called her. She thought she may have startled her but Kate’s eyes were calm or indifferent. She didn’t know which to think. Her face looked worn out. But she had instantly smiled at her friend as if she could read Dzidzor’s mind and wanted to put her at ease.
“We are about eating.”
“I was waiting for that.”
Kate bagged the emotions rushing through her away. Kwaku hadn’t just gone silent on the line. He hadn’t just confessed what she was sure she couldn’t survive. Her marriage was not broken. The threads holding her heart were not slowly ripping through the sore she’s been trying to heal. She was fine. She was here to enjoy fellowship with the people who will never hurt her. Her eye wasn’t watering. She was certain she’s lost the art of mourning. At least for now. Her heart was ripping but her whole being was numb, too numb to say anything at all.
“We see you found Kate for us.”
Jonathan said, hearty. He was the life of the party. Always. Decades back, Senam had been sure she would walk away because of it. But a miracle happened. And she couldn’t leave. She wouldn’t. Her faith, her conscience, her convictions and his pursuant love won’t let her. Kate hugged her father and sat opposite Sule.
“Junior here tells me Matey is going to get a big break at work in December.”
Yaba beamed at Matey and then at Dzidzor. She was helping dish out the food. She scooped Mpotompoto into Junior’s bowl, adding a generous amount of light soup and dry fish to complement.
“I’m praying and trusting God with it.”
Matey glanced around the table. He had worked hard for this. Too hard he almost blew his cover. He was hoping to knock that off, knock Dzidzor off and move on with his life. The two pending items on his checklist should be sorted in December.
“Matey deserves whatever good opportunities fall on his lap at his workplace. In fact all the lawyers in his firm do. They work pretty tough.”
All the plates and bowls were filled with either Jollof rice, Mpotompoto or Fufu by now.
“I get a number of lawyers order lunch from Tahil. They hardly will lift their eyes to yours when you deliver. One of my delivery men said they just nod and stay right in their heavy books, their pencils marking almost every sentence in it.”
Freda giggled at her own words. The room erupted with delightful laughs and comments and the whole meal was eaten that way. Jonathan loved that and Senam wouldn’t have it any other way. After the meal, they spread out in the living room. Sule picked his spot by Dzidzor. Kate was seated with her father, her arm gripping his, needy. Freda was chit-chatting with Yaba, her quiet laugh overshadowed by Yaba’s passionate high pitched giggles. Junior was with Matey ogling Sule and Dzidzor. The two have become best friends. Kate’s eyes darted occasionally to Yaba and back to her father’s. She will never forget Yaba. She could have laughed at how herself and Dzidzor did their best to avoid her whenever they can. Not because she wasn’t nice to be with but because you’ll never get to leave when she gets started. She could have laughed but not today.
“Deserts in a bit.”
Senam came from the kitchen downstairs and announced.
“My tummy has already made the space.”
Matey pretended a rub over a pot-belly. Everyone laughed.
“Dzidzor come help me.”
Senam motioned with her hands for Dzidzor. She was on her feet. Freda was on hers too right after.
“I am the one who owns the restaurant. I’ll help. Dzidzor here can…” She hesitated, finding the right words to say. “…be the guest.”
Dzidzor’s protest was soft and clearly thankful for the care shown by Freda.
“I am not backing down sweetheart.”
She said those and was behind Senam, descending the stairs in her one-inch heel to aid in serving deserts. It was times like this in her family that persuaded her mum and aunt to hand their family’s business to her. She was happiest running helping however she can. Like now. They were soon back up and handing bowls of cake with fruits and ice-cream to everyone. She resumed her place with Yaba.
“I don’t think it’s healthy to eat this Dzidzor. Or what do you say Mr. Instructor.”
Matey was standing beside Dzidzor and Sule. Sule laughed and exchanged greetings with Matey, tackling each other’s arms in the process.
“He may be right.”
Sule shot Dzidzor eyes that said sorry and teased at the same time.
“I’ll work out twice as hard to pay.”
“Not a bad proposition.”
Matey echoed and stood. Sule gazed back and forth and understood what Matey was trying to say. He was also a male after all.
“I will excuse you both.”
He said and decided to have a conversation with Jonathan Awoonor. He has wanted an opportunity to speak properly with him for long.
He smiled at the older man. He was glad Senam was with Freda and Yaba. He wouldn’t have known how to bridge the gap with both parents seated together.
“You should call me Jonathan.”
Jonathan pointed to a space by him. Dzidzor’s eyes darted to them and she looked back at Matey. Her words were spoken to Matey but every fibre within her wanted to be with Sule. She wanted to stare into his eyes and laugh easily when he teases without worrying who was and who wasn’t watching. She wished they could go and lock themselves in the gym. Only the two of them, talking how they understand each other.
“Do you want to take a walk?”
Matey might have seen she was distracted to have asked her. She should. She would. But first, she wanted to go to the bathroom.
“Good idea. I’ll use the washroom and I’ll be back.”
She hurried inside and the urge to puke was overpowering her. She held on to the sink. And then when she forced two fingers down her throat, the door was thrown open. Sule’s face questioned hers from the mirror. She chucked both fingers out and faced him.
“I am sorry.” Sule offered. “I didn’t see anyone walking in here.”
Dzidzor didn’t talk.
“You are fine. You are okay. Right?”
Sule asked, the puzzled lines on his face deepening.
“It’s Bulimia.” Dzidzor smiled guiltily. Her eyes flickered from the sink to the floor and to Sule’s face, avoiding his eyes. “I have Bulimia. The day you asked if there is anything you should know, I should have told you. I have the condition. My mum knows.”
“Okay.” Sule blinked and smiled. “I’ll just go ahead and use the washroom.”
And with that, he was locked inside and she got hold of her feet and walked out to meet Matey. He was seated waiting for her. She wished she could get to her mum first. She looked around the room and her mother wasn’t there. Her father and Sefa weren’t either. Matey saw the surprise on her face. He met her halfway.
“Your parents and Sefa got a call and rushed off. Your dad mentioned they will be back soon; something about an old friend.”
Her words were simply her true feelings of how fast the night was taking so many different turns.
“We’ll be out soon. Let me let Kate know.”
She walked to Kate who was now standing by the curtains. She had few sides cramped in her hand and she was gazing away at the stars.
Dzidzor called her. This time, she was startled. She turned to her and when her face fell on Dzidzor’s, relief was drawn all over her.
Dzidzor probed her friend.
“I don’t look fine?”
Kate pulled on her glow. Dzidzor laughed and stood by her for a full minute. Then she turned to her.
“You are hiding something Kate Gabra. Take your time and tell me when you are ready. For now, where did our parents go?” She wanted to ask her if she would like to hear her secret and then tell her about the Bulimia but what was the point? Kate looked disturbed enough.
Kate smiled — genuinely. She may have teared up but she couldn’t find the energy to.
“I heard your mum tell my dad of a Fiona and they were gone the next minute. I think it’s a business friend of theirs. She’s called my house once asking after daddy.”
“I haven’t heard the name before.” Dzidzor stood for another thirty seconds. “But it’s fine.” She lowered her voice. “Matey wants to walk with me.”
“Mmm.” Kate feigned romance in her tone. “Go ahead sugar.” They laughed. Dzidzor turned to leave.
“Dzidzor.” Kate called her. “Can I stay for the night?”
She prayed Dzidzor won’t ask any questions. She didn’t. She just said, of course, silly and left. Kate watched Matey take Dzidzor’s hands and lead her down the stairs and towards the front porch. She had imagined Sule rather any time she thought of the possibility today. Rather, anytime she forced herself to think of that. She had no happy thoughts to pull from her own love life. The ugly had marred anything beautiful she would have looked back on.
Dzidzor looked one last time towards the living room before allowing the door close behind her. Sule has still not come from the bathroom. She allowed Matey’s fingers fill the gaps between hers as they took the pavements between their lawns. When they got to the side of the living room, she could hear Sule’s laugh with Freda and Yaba. Junior must be by himself and so will Kate. This wasn’t how she had imagined the evening. The sun had set now and soon, her parents will come and everyone will say their goodbyes. She wondered how they’ll feel about rushing off and leaving their guests. But that wasn’t what really bothered her. What bothered her was how very well she was pretending and not only her but Kate and Sule as well. She is beginning to wonder what the truth will really cost.
©M’afua Awo Twumwaah 2017.