Dushan stood up and pulled on his coat over his denim shirt and jeans. It was time to head down to the JW3 Center where he was meeting Chioma. They were going to see the movie, Mothering Sunday. He was really looking forward to seeing her again. He grabbed his wallet and keys.
After locking the door to his office, he headed for the bank of elevators. He had to pass several cubicles. Everyone had left, except two people–Stephen and Vera. Stephen was standing in front of Vera’s cubicle talking to her. Dushan smiled. He was probably trying to ask her out again. One thing about Stephen, he was very persistent.
“Goodnight, you two,” he said to them.
“Where are you off to, Dushan?” Stephen asked him.
“I have a date.”
Vera’s eyebrows rose. “A date? Who’s the lucky woman?”
“Have you ever read The Era?”
They both looked at him blankly. “Is that a magazine or a book?” Stephen asked.
“It’s a magazine similar to Time Magazine. I’m surprised you’ve never heard of it. Anyway, I’m dating one of its writers.”
“So, when do we get to meet her?” Vera asked.
“One of these days,” Dushan told them. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Goodbye.” He waved at them and walked out of the office.
“I don’t know much about Dushan’s life but I’d say that whoever this woman is, he’s crazy about her.”
“Yes. He’s like a school boy who was about to go on his first date with the girl he had a major crush on.”
“I seem to recall that there was a time when you would have liked to have more than a professional relationship with him.”
“Yes, I did but he wasn’t interested.”
“What about me?”
“What about you?”
“Is there something wrong with me?”
“Not as far as I know, why?”
“If there isn’t anything wrong with me, why is it that every time I ask you to go for a drink or a cappuccino with me, you turn me down?”
“Maybe it’s because you’re married.”
“Technically, you’re still married and I don’t date married men.”
“So, does this mean that if I got a divorce, you’d date me?”
“Well, a maybe is better than a no.” He excused himself and returned to his desk.
Vera smiled and shook her head. He was a nice enough guy and if he played his cards right, she might consider going out with him after he got his divorce.
Chioma was waiting at the front of the center for Dushan. Smiling, he went up the steps to the entrance. “Hello,” he said.
She smiled. “Hello.”
“I’ve been looking forward to this all day.”
“Me too.” They went inside. It was a small theater. The place was filling up fast but they managed to get two seats in the middle of the fifth row from the back. It had been ages since either of them had been inside of a movie theater.
When the movie was over and they were walking to his car, he asked her, “So, what did you think of the film?”
“It was not at all what I expected. The trailer made it look good and worth seeing because of the storyline and the cast but I found it to be very dull.”
“So did I.”
“And I’m really sorry about the profanity and sex scenes. Next time I will check IMDb before watching a movie.”
“I guess it was a big disappointment but not a total waste. We got to see each other.”
She smiled. “Yes, we did.”
He took her home. When they were outside of her flat, he said to her, “I just wanted to mention to you that I saw the married woman I was having the affair with on Boxing Day and told her that it was over between us.”
“How did she take it?”
“Very badly. She wants us both to rot in hell.”
“You told her about me?”
“She asked if there was another woman and I said yes. She asked me who you were and I told her that she didn’t need to know that.”
“Would you like to come in and we can talk about it?”
She unlocked the door and they went inside. After taking his coat and hanging it up, she removed hers and put it in the closet as well. Then, she preceded him to the living-room. They went over to the sofa and sat down. “So, she thought that another woman was your reason for breaking up with her?”
“Yes, I told her that you were the other reason for the break-up. She asked a lot of questions about you.”
“Well, she asked if we were sleeping together and if you knew that I was a miserable, cheating bastard.”
“Wow. She really went for the jugular.”
“Yes. I guess it was because she was deeply hurt. She also said that I will cheat on you just like I cheated on my wife because once a cheater always a cheater. Do you believe that?”
“No, I don’t. I believe that people can change.”
“She accused me of being selfish and not giving a damn about her because I was throwing away what we had. Whatever it was that we had, I didn’t want it anymore. I want to put the whole sordid affair behind me. My only regret is that I didn’t do so when I was still married.”
“Don’t beat yourself up about this, Dushan. The important thing is that you ended the affair and now it’s behind you. In time, this woman will realize that it was for the best and hopefully, she will use the time to concentrate on her marriage.”
“I hope so.”
“Are you hungry?”
“Yes. I haven’t eaten anything since lunch.”
“I hope you don’t mind leftovers.”
“No, I don’t mind at all.”
She excused herself and he got up from the sofa. He went over to the large window and looked out. Her flat was a good size and modest with a nice view. He imagined that it must be nice at night or at sunset. He turned when she rejoined him carrying two plates. She handed him one and they went over to the sofa to eat. “This is Asaro (Yam Porridge),” she told him. “It’s a traditional Nigerian dish. You can have it with prawns, crayfish, meat, or chicken. I used chicken because I don’t eat prawns or crayfish or seafood in general and years ago, I cut back on my red meat intake. Occasionally, I would have lamb or goat or mutton.”
“I don’t eat seafood and I occasionally have lamb and veal. This is delicious. When I think of porridge this isn’t what comes to mind at all.”
She smiled. “I know what you mean.”
“So, in addition to being an excellent writer, you’re an excellent cook.”
“Thank you. Do you cook?”
“Yes, but, I’m not as good as you.”
“What are traditional Slovak dishes?”
“Cabbage soup which my mother used to make every year for our Christmas dinner. I had two favorites–Pierogis stuffed with bryndza and bryndzové halušky. bryndzové halušky is sheep’s cheese served on top of halušky which are the potato dumplings.”
“I’d like to try those one of these days.”
“I’ll make them for you.”
“And the next time I will made Egusi Soup for you. It’s a stew usually made with crayfish or other meat and thickened with ground melon seeds which are the egusi. I usually make it with chicken or goat. I think it tastes better with goat.”
After they finished eating, she took the plates into the kitchen and left them soaking in the sink. He was standing at the window looking out and turned when he heard her enter. “You have a really nice view here,” he remarked.
She went and sat on the sofa. “It’s one of the reasons why I wanted this flat.”
“Do you live here alone?”
“No. Adaeze’s my room-mate until she can find her own place.”
“From what you’ve told me, she might be moving out very soon.”
“Oh, you mean that she and Aamin might soon tie the knot. Yes, that’s a very possible.”
“You mentioned that she’s in Dubai for the holidays. When is she coming back?”
“She’ll be back on January 2.”
He moved closer to her. “So, there’s no chance that she could walk in on us, is there?”
“Walk in on us doing what?”
“This,” he murmured before taking her by the hands and drawing her to her feet. He pulled her against him. Their eyes met before he lowered his head and kissed her.