David, Julie and Diane share different spaces in one another’s lives, yet their worlds collide on an axis none of them saw coming.
The next time I saw Julie was a few days later. I had just left a cocktail thrown by one of our clients, and was heading home a little after eight, when I spotted her at a taxi stage in a crowd of late evening commuters.
The traffic was heavy, and chances were she had been, and would be, waiting for a while. Without thinking, I put on my double indicators and pulled up to the curb in front of her.
“Hey, Julie,” I called out twice before she noticed me, her eyes widening in surprise when she did.
“Hop in,” I invited with a reassuring smile.
“Good evening, Mr Mujuni; sorry, I hadn’t heard you,” she apologised, as she climbed in hurriedly.
“No problem, and it’s after working hours; so, you can call me David. Don’t tell me Mark has kept you working this late?”
“No, I left a while ago; it has just been hard getting a taxi,” she explained while looking down at her hands shyly, her tone embarrassed.
“Yes, I can imagine, the traffic is a nightmare at this time; usually I’ll sit it out, but today I was desperate to get away from a function I’ve just been at; so, I decided to brave it,” I said conversationally, trying to put her at ease. “Must have been a pretty terrible function then,” she smiled shyly.
Standing at the taxi stage waiting for a Bweyogerere-bound taxi, too exhausted to shove and push for a seat every time one appeared, all I could think of was what a relief it would be to finally get to my stage, buy a pack of chips from the roadside food market that sprouted up in the evenings, go home, have a warm shower, and eat my dinner cross-legged on my bed while watching IDX.
When I saw a large BMW pull up along the curb, I did not pay any attention to it; I did not know anyone that drove such a fancy car apart from Mark my boss, and his was a Benz. It, therefore, took me a minute to realise that the voice calling my name was coming from the car, and that is when I saw that it belonged to David Mujuni.
“Hop in,” he invited with a smile, and aware that he had parked wrongly on my account and was infuriating the drivers behind him, I quickly got in.
His car smelt of his cologne - expensive, and that along with the leather seats, made me feel completely out of my league, and unsure of how to act. When I told him I was going to Bweyogerere, and he said he would drop me off, my confusion only multiplied tenfold.
Although David paid for all our home’s and family’s needs, it was I who went to do the shopping, supervised the maid, instructed the gardener, dropped the kids at school in the mornings (the school van dropped them back in the afternoons), and helped seven-year-old Daniel with his homework, while trying to keep five-year-old Stacy from bothering him while he did it, and stop one-year-old Sandra from touching things she shouldn’t.
All this while at the same time trying to hold down my own job as a bank branch manager. It was this that infuriated me with David; that he had left the raising of our family and running of our home entirely to me, so that he could work on his career, and meet ‘the boys’ at a pub in the evenings.
As though my career did not matter, or like I did not want to hang out with the girls more often; like my personal life and goals were irrelevant.
It was no wonder he had not asked me about my work in ages. If he had, he would know it was not going well; that I had had my appraisal done today and it had gone badly to say the very least.
For starters, a lot of emphasis had been put on the fact that I did the ‘bare minimum’; I came to work on time, but never stayed a minute late, leaving my deputy to handle anything that stretched beyond five o’clock.
It also did not help matters, that while I never put in any overtime, I was constantly taking time off to deal with personal emergencies. Most of these centered around Daniel, our first born.
He was asthmatic, and I was constantly being called to pick him up in the middle of the school day. It was useless to call David, as he was constantly in one meeting or another, and most times his phone was off.