Toshiro was back in Tokyo. He returned two weeks ago. It was hard being away from Kampala. All he could think about was Ife and how much he missed being with her. All along he knew that what he had been doing was wrong but he couldn’t help himself. He wanted Ife so much. She filled him with a desire that was so potent and raw that it scared him.
He could tell from the way she responded when they made love that she wanted him too. And that realization was what he used to rationalize his actions. But his conscience continued to trouble him.
And he felt badly about Asuka. They had been going steady for some time now and still he hadn’t broached the subject of marriage with her. His family expected him to pop the question soon and he imagined that her family might expect the same thing. He knew that Asuka was in love with him but he realized that he didn’t feel the same way and that was before he met Ife.
Speaking of Asuka, he was supposed to meet her for a coffee at the cafe where they usually went. It was within walking distance from his apartment. No doubt she was already there waiting for him. She was always very punctual.
They hadn’t seen each other for months and when he was in Tokyo, he made sure that they spent time together. This year, however, it was different for him. He didn’t look forward to coming home anymore. For him, Kampala was home. It was where Ife was. He closed his eyes briefly. Oh, Ife, I wish I could be with you right now. Was she thinking about him? Did she miss him? She’s probably glad to be rid of you for a while because of what you’re doing to her, an accusing voice retorted and he flinched.
As soon as he walked into the cafe, he spotted Asuka. He went over to her and she stood up, her expression one of delight. She was obviously very happy to see him. She put her arms around his neck and kissed him on the lips. Then, she sat down. “I ordered you Hot Tea.” She put it in front of him.
“You’re welcome,” she said. “You must be happy to be able to speak Japanese again. How are things in Kampala?”He attempted a smile. “Thank you.”
“The usual,” he said. “Well, while I was there, journalists were protesting alleged abuse by the police. They saw what was happening as an attack on press freedom in Uganda. Then, there’s growing concern among some Ugandans about Chinese funding because of the debts they see other countries struggling with. And then there’s the charcoal trade which is decimating forests.”
“Last week Tuesday was World Toilet Day so I was reading up about it online and came across an article which said that there’s a toilet crisis in Kampala. It said that there aren’t public toilets for about 1,200 people, I think and that mud tinged with feces washes into homes during heavy rains. How disgusting!” She made a face and shuddered. “How could people live like that and why isn’t the government doing something about it?”
“Yes, the sanitation crisis is growing worse. It’s not only happening in Kampala but in South Africa, India and other places.”
“We’re so lucky, Toshiro. We have access to clean toilets at home and in public. I think that sometimes we take these things for granted. I wanted to help so I sent a donation to one of the charities which is helping to provide clean toilets for the people in Africa. Using public toilets isn’t safe for the women. They could catch diseases or even get raped. Can you imagine that? And children aren’t safe either. I read about four children who drown in pit toilets. I still get choked up just thinking about them, especially, the three year old. ”
“Let’s not talk about this anymore because it’s upsetting you.” He couldn’t bear to hear it anymore. It made him think of Ife and how she could have lost her job if it had been discovered that she had used the toilet in his suite that day when he caught her. He wondered if she was one of those people who didn’t have toilets in their homes.
“You’re right. Let’s talk about something else. The hotel where you stay, is it nice?”
“Yes, it is. It’s a 5 star hotel.”
“What do you do when you’re not on business?”
“I go sightseeing or I stay in my room and catch up on the News.” That wasn’t true. He hardly went sightseeing and in the evenings, he was in his suite with Ife.
“Maybe one of these days, I will visit you there. I read that it’s a relatively safe place for tourists. Besides, I won’t be alone. You will be there to protect me.” She reached over and squeezed his hand. “It’s so good to see you. I always miss you so much every time you go away and I count the days when you’ll be back. When do you go again?”
“I don’t know. Maybe next month.”
“But not during Christmas and New Year’s I hope.”
“I don’t know.”
“Why do you go there so often?”
“Business.” That wasn’t true anymore. Ife was his reason for going to Kampala now.
“Well, I hope you plan to spend Christmas here.”
He didn’t answer. Instead, he sipped his tea. I wonder what Christmas is like in Kampala.
“My parents are wondering what your intentions are.”
He stared at her blankly. “What do you mean?”
“Well…we’ve been dating for five years now and they are wondering if we are going to settle down anytime soon. We’re both in our thirties now.”
Toshiro sighed. “Asuka, I have something to tell you.”
She looked wary now. And she set the cup of coffee down on the table. “What is it?” she asked.
“I haven’t been completely honest with you. You asked why I go to Kampala so often and I told that it had to do with business. Well, it doesn’t–not entirely. This year I have been involved with a woman I met there.”
Asuka stared at him. “What do you mean by involved?”
Toshiro could feel his face getting warm. “I’m in a relationship with her.”
“But you’re in a relationship with me.”
“Does she know about me?”
“Are you sleeping with her?”
Asuka’s face was pale now. Hurt and pain etched her features. “Are you in love with her?”
“I don’t believe this. I have kept myself pure for you because I believed that we were going to get married.”
“You told me that you couldn’t sleep with me because you’re a Christian.”
“Is that why you’re sleeping with her?”
“Well, I guess this is it for us.” She got up and pulled on her coat and scarf. Grabbing her handbag, she muttered, “Goodbye, Toshiro” before she turned and walked away.
He sat there for a long time, feeling terrible. The last thing he wanted to do was to hurt Asuka. If he hadn’t met and fallen in love with Ife, he would have married her. In time, he would have grown to love her the way she loved him.
He finished his tea which had gotten lukewarm and then got up and left the cafe. He didn’t go straight home. Instead, he walked for a while, thinking. He had to sort out what he was going to do about Ife. He hadn’t banked on falling in love with her. Initially, it had been an extremely strong sexual attraction which he thought that he would get over after a while.
He knew what he ought to do but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. This whole thing had turned into a great mess. He needed to talk to someone. Miko. He called her immediately on his cell. Her voice mail came on. He left a message asking her to call him.
She returned his call a couple of hours later. He asked her if he could stop by her place the following day because he really needed to talk to her.
Next up is Toshiro’s Exploitation.
Source: AP News