“Wow, jealous down, madam! You really do look amazing!”
I was standing in front of a dressing mirror in my bedroom. The mirror reflected a 34-year old woman clad in a purple jumpsuit, purple nude heels and purple studs.
“Purple really suits you fine, madam,” complimented Mule who stood in the doorway, staring at me.
I adjusted my Afro wig. “Thanks, Mule.”
“Are you sure you’re going for a book opening?”
“No,” I spared her a glare as I applied some make up. “I’m going to a nightclub to dance the night away. Of course I’m going for a book opening, Mule. Sometimes you really do ask stupid and irritating questions.”
She silently stepped out of the bedroom. Once she was gone, I went over to my bedside drawer and grabbed a photo of Lisa which was always on top of my drawer. I ran fingers on her beautiful face.
“Hey, sister. I miss you. Um, I’m taking good care of your daughter. Hell, she’s more than my own daughter now. Anyway, just wanted to ask you to please send blessings down upon me. I really want to meet Curtis L. Maliti and even get an autograph of his. I don’t know why I’m this obsessed with a writer but please just help me, sis.”
I sighed and put her photo back down. Beside hers stood a picture frame containing a picture of Fred, Bob and I.
I grabbed it too and planted a kiss on the stationary Fred.
“Hi, sonny. I really do miss you and wish you’ll one day come back to me.”
After putting the photo down, I glanced at the ceiling and folded my hands as if praying, “Heavenly Father, please watch over my son wherever he is. And please also cast blessings down at me tonight.”
No sooner was I done saying the short prayer than I grabbed a huge shopping bag which contained my work attire. It was already past 6 PM and the book opening was scheduled for 7:30 PM. My shift would begin at 10 PM so I had no plans of coming back home from Protea Hotel, I’d just go straight to work.
I got my purse from the bed and made sure the K200 ticket I’d bought earlier that day was in it.
“You look nice, mummy.”
I found Faides seated on her favourite couch in the living room, watching Sofia the First on Disney Junior.
“You be a good girl, okay? Mummy will see you tomorrow.” I pecked her forehead.
“I’ll be on my best behaviour,” said Faides ominously, winking.
I added, “Please just make sure you don’t give Mulenga hell. I don’t wanna hear any complaints about you tomorrow.”
“Mummy.” she sounded irritated.
“Alright, baby. Love you.”
“Love you too.”
I called Mule and asked her to help me take my work attire to the car. Once in the car, I drove off. As I drove, I turned on my car’s radio and tuned in to radio 4.
It was Whitney Houston’s ‘I will always love you’ playing. I immediately turned the radio off, scowling. Not that I hated the song, no. In fact it was one of my favourite songs ever. But it reminded me of Bob and it hurt me to realize I still loved the bastard after 11 years of not even setting my eyes on him. I just couldn’t seem to get the dude out of my system and this agitated me to the core.
As I approached the hotel, I sent Baison a text informing him I might run a little late for work. He gave me a call almost immediately.
“This is the first time you’re planning on coming late for work, Ali. Don’t tell me you out on a date or something?” said Baison breathlessly as soon as I picked the call.
“Relax, dude. I’ll be at Protea Hotel, not getting laid by the way. There’s a book opening by Curtis L. Maliti and I’m kinda obsessed with the dude so I just wanna lay my eyes on him and at least get him to sign an autograph.”
“Oh. As in, Curtis the writer of Ecstasy in Hell? I can’t believe you are mad over that guy, Ali. First of all, I’m quite better looking than he is and I remember dumping his book after reading only a 100 pages. Alicia, I’m sorry but to me, that guys writes shit. I wonder why he’s so adored.”
“Wow, why do I smell envy?” I mocked Baison. “And yeah, people like him because there are different strokes for different drums. And just a friendly warning, the next time you place Curtis and shit in the same sentence, I’ll pluck out your tongue.”
“I’d like to see you try.”
The place was packed. A crowd was waiting for Curtis L. Maliti outside the lobby. I made my way to the pool area where I sat and waited along with the crowd. Most of the people present were ladies ranging from 18-50 years of age. Guys were there too, but not too many.
It was beginning to get cold and I shivered as I played Geometry Dash on my iPhone 4 which was in trend back then.
After failing level 4 for the hundredth time in a few minutes, I quit the game and was shocked to see the time was past 8 PM.
“I wonder what’s taking him so long,” I muttered under my breath.
I was starting to get lonely and the fact the Monde wasn’t here made me feel worse. She’d wanted to come but her husband Blessings couldn’t permit her. Being married che, it’s another issue. It had been so long since I’d been referred to as ‘Mrs’ that I had even forgotten how it felt to be married to someone.
I felt someone tap me on my shoulder, snapping me from my reverie.
“Mind if I sit next to you?”
“No, you can go ahead and sit.”
I now found myself in the company of a beautiful lady who seemed to be in her mid twenties.
“It’s a beautiful night, isn’t it?” she had a soft voice.
I glanced at the starry, part cloudy sky and smiled. “Yes.”
“I wonder what’s taking Curtis so long, he’s never been this late before.”
“You acquainted with him?” I inquired.
The lady nodded. “Yes. I never tell people this but you seem harmless so I’ll go ahead and tell you. I’m Diana, his closest cousin.”
“Nice to meet you, Diana. I’m Alicia, his number one fan. No, let me rephrase that, I’m a die hard fan of his that I’d stay here till dawn just to personally see the talented man who has made my days less boring with his novels.”
Diana giggled. “I’ve been in your shoes before, hun. I remember when Enrique Iglesias had come late to a concert back in Manchester, I’d been mad at myself for going there in the first place but when he showed up, I screamed myself hoarse and just couldn’t get my eyes off him as he performed ‘Hero,’ live. Oh what a splendid night that was.”
“I like Enrique Iglesias,” I absent mindedly said. “But unlike you, Diana, I’m not mad at your cousin for keeping me and his other fans waiting.”
“You sure you aren’t mad, it’s Alicia right?”
I nodded, not hurt by Diana’s uncertainty over my name.
“You aren’t mad at Curtis, not even 1 percent mad?”
“Wow, you’re indeed his die hard fan. You know what, I’ll see to it that you don’t go home without speaking to him in person.”
“You lie,” I exclaimed in disbelief. “You don’t know how much that would mean to me.”
“And you don’t know what talking to someone as cool as you’re makes me feel. By the way, I like your jumpsuit.”
I blushed. “Thanks. I like your dress too, it’s lovely.”
Wow, this Diana girl was really jovial. She and I talked about random stuff and didn’t even notice that the time was now past 10 PM.
“Why don’t you give him a call?” I suggested upon seeing how late it had become. The impatient fans had already started going home.
Diana smiled and said, “I need an appointment. Just kidding, his phone’s off. So’s his manager’s. I’m honestly growing impatient too, Alicia.”
I was about to reply when I felt someone tap me on the shoulder, I turned my head just to see Baison Daka looming over me.
“Thank God I finally found you,” Baison exhaled and sat beside me so that I was now seated between him and Diana. “I can’t believe how many people are obsessed with this guy that they are still waiting for him until now. I suggest we just go home, Ali.”
“First of all,” I defiantly said. “The lady seated next to me is Curtis’s cousin so mind what you say about his books, Baison. Secondly, I don’t even know what you’re doing here dressed in your work attire and lastly who’s at the police station now that you’re here? And lastly, I’m not going home without seeing Curtis.”
Baison shook his head and said to Diana, “Firstly, nice to meet you, Curtis’s cousin. I’ll be honest with you, your cousin’s novels just aren’t my cup of tea.”
Jesus, how could Baison afford to be this blunt? I was so embarrassed and wished the ground would open up and swallow me whole.
Diana merely smiled. “Nice to meet you too, sir. And I don’t mind your not liking Curtis’s novels. As you said, he’s not your cup of tea.”
“Thank you!” Baison exasperated in relief. “And Ali, don’t worry about the station cause I’ve taken care of everything so we’re covered tonight. So, what are you guys drinking? Don’t tell me you-”
His voice was drowned by the cheers that erupted. We all stood and saw Curtis L. Maliti clad in an expensive black tuxedo. He was wearing dark sunglasses despite the late hour but to me, they made him look more sexy.
In the company of two bodyguards, he headed to the raised platform where he grabbed a microphone and smiled. His smile caused butterflies to jitter in my stomach. So did his dreamy and calm voice.
“How are you all?” he greeted in fluent Nyanja.
There was more cheering.
“I can see the place is packed. I’m humbled you’ve all spared me your precious time, thank you. I’ll firstly apologize for being late. Some matters are just beyond us as humans……”
He went on to talk about the book he was officially releasing tonight, ‘Heavy Rains in the Desert.’
I was so excited when Curtis mentioned everyone present would go home with a copy.
“No thanks, buddy.” I heard Baison mumble under his breath.
I jabbed him in the stomach. “Just get the book when the time comes, Baison. I’ll give it to Monde.”
Curtis’s speech took approximately 45 minutes.
“Let me get him to sign you an autograph,” Diana said. “Follow me.”
Curtis was now in the lobby and we literally had to push our way there.
Baison and I had had glasses of cocktail and in my hand I still had a semi filled one. Plus I was kind of feeling tipsy but I still managed not to stagger.
Curtis’s back was turned to us when we finally located him.
“If it isn’t my favourite cousin,” said Diana loudly, causing Curtis to turn.
OMG, the dude looked like he’d stepped out of a magazine!
I was trying to adjust my stance when my heel broke, lunging me forward. Straight at Curtis. His jacket was now stained with my cocktail.
“I’m- I’m so sorry, sir.” I stammered an apology as Baison held me and prevented me from hitting the floor.
And then Curtis reacted. His reaction left me flabbergasted.