Daeshim was at a business function which required formal wear. It felt strange being dressed like that during the day instead of in the evening. And it was too bad that it was during the week because he couldn’t take Sade. He told her about it last night when they were lying in his bed after making love.
“I wish I could take you to me although I’m not sure you would enjoy being around a roomful of businessmen, their wives or girlfriends and having polite but very shallow conversations with them,” he said before kissing her on the shoulder.
“I wish I could be with you too but I have classes. It’s too bad that it isn’t on a Friday or Saturday night.”
“I know. I don’t like attending black tie affairs during the week.”
“Do you attend a lot of them?”
“At least two or three a year.”
“Do you meet any interesting people?”
“Yes, I’ve met a few whom I enjoyed talking to and have kept in touch with them.”
“Do beautiful women attend these functions?”
“Yes. Last year Ae-Cha Hyun was at one of them.”
“She used to be a famous Korean actress but is now a very successful businesswoman. The first thing she asked me when we met was if I used to be a model.”
“Sounds like she was flirting with you.”
“I don’t think so. She was just being friendly and besides, she’s married with children.”
“Oh. I wonder if there are going to beautiful women at this function.”
“Most likely but I won’t even notice them.”
“You know why not. I’m crazy in love with you.”
She smiled and put her arms around his neck. “And I’m crazy in love with you too.”
A tap on his shoulder brought him back to the present. He was surprised to see Min standing there, looking up at him. She was wearing a simple but elegant black cocktail dress. She wore no jewelry and her hair was swept up in a knot with a few loose strands. Makeup added color to her fair skin. “Hello, Min,” he said quietly.
“I didn’t expect to see you here.”
“My boss couldn’t come because he had another engagement, so he asked me to come in his place. I’m not surprised to see you here, though. When we were together, these are the sorts of functions you used to attend. You took me to a few, remember?”
“Yes, I remember.”
“Are you here alone?” she asked, looking around.
“Where’s your girlfriend?”
“She couldn’t come.”
“She couldn’t come or you didn’t want to bring her? Has the novelty already worn off?”
“The novelty of having sex with a black girl. Has it worn off?”
Anger rose in Daeshim but he forced himself to remain calm. “I didn’t bring Sade because she’s at the university. If this function were on a Friday or Saturday evening, she would be here with me. And as far as my feelings for her, they have never been nor will ever be a novelty.”
“You know when I told my parents that you broke off our engagement on account of this girl, they were shocked.”
“I’m sure they have gotten over their shock by now.”
“Yes, they have. Still it was a heavy blow for them and your parents that you chose that girl over me.”
“I didn’t set out to hurt you or to disappoint them but I couldn’t help that I had fallen in love with someone else.”
“Did you ever love me, Daeshim?”
“No,” he admitted. “I never loved you.”
She flinched. His honesty was like a slap in the face. “It’s funny how you want someone to be honest with you and when they are, you wish they weren’t. You wish that they would tell you a little white lie like yes, I loved you but my feelings changed when I met her.”
“I’m sorry, Min but I can’t tell you what you want to hear if it isn’t the truth.”
“No, you’ve always been very truthful, haven’t you until you met her. You were seeing her behind my back. While we were planning our wedding, you were two-timing me with her. Did she know that you were engaged?”
“Yes, she did. I told her and then, I broke up with her before you and I went to Seoul to finalize our wedding details.”
“And then, we came back here and everything was going well until you showed up at my flat to tell me that you wanted to break off our engagement. This was 8 weeks before the wedding. I was disgusted, insulted that you would rather be with a Nigerian school girl instead of me, woman from the same culture and background as you.”
“I’m sorry I hurt and insulted you, Min and that I brought shame to both of our families but I couldn’t deny my feelings for Sade and I couldn’t carry on with our wedding plans when my heart wasn’t in it. I decided that I was through with my family’s tradition of arranged marriages and marry for love.”
“So, you’re going to marry this girl?”
“Yes.” I made a vow to myself on the night when Sade and I got back together that I would ask her tom marry me on the day she graduated from high school. On the evening of her graduation and over a candlelight dinner at my place, I proposed and she, beside herself with excitement, said yes.
“What about your family? Don’t you care about them?”
“My family can no longer dictate whom I can or cannot marry. I’ve made my decision and nothing they say or do is going to change that.”
“They’re going to oppose you.”
“They can try but it won’t work. They can disown me and it wouldn’t change anything. I love Sade and I want to spend the rest of my life with her.”
Min swallowed hard. His words and declaration of love for the girl hurt. “Well, don’t expect me to congratulate you or to wish you well, because I won’t.”
“I wasn’t expecting you to.”
“I hope for your sake that this girl is worth you losing your family.” She gave him a withering look before she turned and walked away.
Daeshim watched her go. She was full of bitterness and he couldn’t blame her. He had hurt her badly when he broke up with her weeks before the wedding but he had to do it. How could he have gone ahead and married her when he was in love with Sade? He had saved Min and himself from an unhappy future life together and he hoped that one day, she will realize that.