Not all the visitors who crossed that threshold would have happily done so in the light of day. Or under the cloak of sober judgment. But I was always happy to host a new face. Many times I had the persuasive power of alcohol to thank. Not just for impairing their judgments but also for lowering their inhibitions. My irresistible charm and smooth talk alone would never have sufficed. And I knew it all too well. Often times, they were the ones that lived in those estates on the other side of town. You know, the ‘hoods that hosted people of my own kind (socioeconomic class and age bracket). Other times they were students in one of the many colleges in and around town. The ones who were learning how to live away from their parents for the first time in life. With too much freedom and too little cash to enjoy that freedom.
That is more or less how I met Anna. We were having drinks in this new joint in town. Swanky place with beautiful hostesses who smiled at all customers with great courtesy. Somehow I had given in to the insistence of an acquaintance to drink in town rather than outside. We were drinking William Lawson and spacing the mouthfuls of whisky with beer and water. She had seen us, and thought we looked presentable. She and her friend had found the courage to come and say hi. Predictably in the hope of free drinks. She was studying something to do with fashion and beauty or textile preparation and had gone clubbing with her friends – so she said. They were broke, like most college students in those days. And were looking for loaded strangers (read sponsors) to buy them drinks. We were strangers alright. But loaded, we were not. One thing about her struck me and peaked my curiosity. Her speech was impressive; I found her pronunciation of words exquisite. Even the most mundane of words like “counter” or “waiter” or “Black Ice” rolled out of her tongue with zeal and zest.
I thought her perfume was okay for a college kid. Her big eyes tickled my fancy. They shone with desire and thirst. She was in a dress that struggled to make it past her knees. A black and blue number that knew how to flatter the tipsy eye. A thick grey belt sat quietly on its waistline. Her feet, which I would later realize were too big for a girl, had been squeezed into these pretty grey doll shoes with tiny blue and black bows on them. Her full succulent lips were the color of Ribena. She spotted thick braids that looked like the ropes used to tie boats onto pier railings. They were freshly done because I could see her mahogany scalp from my position on the high bar stool. Her friend found company in my companion. And we let them be. Moved to a quieter booth on the terraces. She almost drank me broke that night.
Time ticked away beautifully. Her stories got livelier with each can of Black Ice and louder with each of those expensive tots of whisky. The arm touching lingered longer and longer. Her stares grew lazier and the lip biting got crazier. She told me she had roommates back in college that she wanted to get away from. At least for the night. I was happy to provide her with the accommodation. We stumbled out of the club at quarter to three and hailed a cab to my place. Ordinarily I would have preferred a tuk-tuk because they have character and are more fun to ride in when you are hammered. You can’t doze off in a moving tuk-tuk. It will shake the tipsy right out of you. Cabs on the other hand are too smooth a ride and are likely to hypnotize you. Plus they tend to charge drunks a lot more than other people. But I had company, and so I was forced to behave like a proper gentleman. We squeezed into the back seat as the driver impatiently watched. Maybe silently daring us to puke in his car so he could raise the fare.
She struggled to kiss the nape of my neck as I fumbled with my keys at the gate in the youthful hours of that Saturday morning. Focus evaded me and I kept wiggling because she was tickling me, and denying essential parts of me the much needed oxygen. The gate took unusually longer to open. I was damn near broke – the cab had robbed me of 1000 bob for a fifteen minute ride. She on the other hand, was all too happy to be drunk, and away from college. That’s if at all she was a student in the first place. I still had my doubts. I was worried sick whether I had enough money left in the house to starve away any embarrassing situation. In case she turned out to be one of those ‘pay-for-pleasure’ ladies. You can never be too careful with females who approach you in clubs.
In the house, she showed herself to the kitchen and promptly cleared the contents of my sufuria. It was some left-over meal of rice and beef from the previous night. She gobbled it down. Cold as it was. Didn’t even find the decency to warm it up first. Washed it down with a mug of flat soda that had also been on the kitchen table. What a character she was.
The purple fluorescent lighting in my sitting room made her seem taller than I remembered. And a tad prettier. I was very tipsy, so I might have been seeing things. Her endless legs brought great beauty to my usually dull coffee table. And her husky voice made my night infinitely more amazing. We smoked some of the sticks that I had left on the coffee table in the living room as we listened to Diamond Platnumz’s Ntampata Wapi over and over. She must have been mourning a boy. I was mourning other things. The fumes made us even more emotional. She danced on the table and on the couch, and on the fringes of my lustful desire.
Later, as she got higher and higher, she found the courage to give me a lap dance. She swayed so beautiful to those beats. Holding the blunt in her hand with such delicate care that I felt like crying. I was hooked to her, and to the smoke lazily rising from between her long fingers. I remember gasping every time she sucked on to the small end of the sticks. And blew out the thick smoke right into my nostrils. At some point in the night, she fell flat from the table while trying a striptease. We laughed and smoked some more and sipped what was left of the soda. Kissing and singing along to those emotion-invoking lyrics.
Bit by bit, we faded away right there on the couch – on that love seat.
When I woke up around 8 a.m. she was in the kitchen preparing pancakes…