Amir has been in Dubai for two years now and was beginning to settle down to life. His wife has joined him from Toronto and they were beginning to make Dubai their home.
It was a little after 8pm on Saturday evening when he received a text message saying, ‘I am in Crown Plaza hotel, room 245 let’s hook up’.
He replied ‘who’s this?’
He thought for a moment. Which Anita? A couple of Anitas ran through his mind. Still he couldn’t pin his mind to anyone and he didn’t want to get drawn in.
Few minutes later, another message arrived and that sound of pebble dropping in water signaled it, ‘I’m starving, should I wait for you so we could eat together?’ the message read.
Amir moved to the living room. He quickly typed ‘which Anita is this?’
‘Anita your cuisine partner’, the reply came through.
His heart skipped a beat. Blood rushed to his face and his heart thumped.
What on earth would she be doing here? How on earth did she know that he was in Dubai?
The first time he met with Anita was in Lagos, Nigeria. It was during the annual West African conference on digital networking. They had stayed in the same hotel, Eko Suites in Victoria Island, Lagos. The conference finished most times at about 5pm and they would afterwards have a buffet style dinner at 7pm. It was while in Nigeria, that they tried a lot of local cuisines. That was when Anita and Amir found out that they shared great love for food and local delicacies.
They spent endless hours after each buffet dinner talking about the foods they had tried and how the foods tasted. The pepper soup was so spicy and peppery. They both loved it though, especially when eaten with plain boiled rice. Anita preferred hers with boiled yam if that option was available. The excellent thing about the ‘P soup’ as they fondly called it was that it could serve as a starter, dessert or even main course. That was astonishing!
By the last night of the conference, Anita and Amir had developed a bonding for local cuisine. They sat for hours after the dinner to talk about the different foods they had eaten in different continents. Then they struck a chord- Anita relished the ceviche meal in Peru, while Amir concurred with the papasrellanas meal of Bolivia. Both meals were served with potatoes and they salivated as they spoke about these meals. Anita demonstrated her love for the ceviche by talking about how she drank the left over citrus juice that was used in marinating the fish. Amir was impressed. The romantic music from the pool side bar serenaded them. They walked over to the bar and ordered for drinks. Then talked some more about their different travel experiences and finally ended up dancing.
Anita woke up in the morning not understanding how she got to her room. She wasn’t supposed to be in her room, she was supposed to be in his, curled up pretty on his bed. She tried to recollect what happened but she kept hitting a brick wall. Oh no! This could only mean one thing, her little ploy had failed. She took a shower and went downstairs for breakfast. She bumped into Amir. Then the memories flooded back. Her heart thumped and raced. She tried to exchange pleasantries with Amir, but he warded her off saying he was somewhat busy.
After that episode, Amir avoided Anita like a plague. No amount of apology could assuage the damage that she had done. As far as he was concerned, it was far better to be with a drunkard and know she is a drunk than with an actress trying to be decent when she is not.
The last time they spoke about it, wasn’t a delightful experience. “But I was only trying to help you” Amir raised his voice. “Do you know what you could have caused me by your foolish behavior?”
“I am so sorry Amir dear” Anita begged. “I was under the influence of alcohol; I didn’t know what I was doing”.
“Oh no, go tell that to the marines! You knew exactly what you were doing because that morning when you saw me, you feigned ignorance and later in the office I overheard you telling Simbiat that you tried everything that night to …”
“I am sorry” Anita continued to plead.
“If I ever wanted you, you would have had to give yourself that respect and dignity for me to win you over under normal atmospheric pressure and not induced…” Amir could not complete his sentence as she interrupted him with her plea.
“Please, I am willing to give you the opportunity to win me over.”
Amir couldn’t care less. He stormed off and since then he applied the law of scarcity where she was.
The next time they would meet was in a shopping mall at Maputo. She ran into him at Bert’s pharmacy. He had a cold and was purchasing some pills.
“Hi, Amir darling!”
“Oh hi, Anita.”
“How are you?”
“I am well thanks, and you?”
“Oh great, thanks.”
“Here’s your change sir” the cashier handed Amir his change. The local pharmacist handed him the med pack and reiterated the dosage.
Amir sneezed and coughed, blew his nose into a folded tissue and discarded it into the waste bin.
“You don’t look too well sweetheart” Anita started. “I will cook you some pepper soup, the type we ate in Nigeria when we went for that conference, with plenty spices. It will drive that cold and cough away” she purred.
Looking into her blue seductive eyes, Amir felt inundated by her beauty. He shook his head to clear the cobwebs that were beginning to gather there.
The whole event of that night in Lagos flooded through his mind: how Anita got drunk and he had to take her to her room. How she tried to seduce him and how he managed to escape her claws! He knew she was drunk and would never want to take advantage of a woman in a vulnerable state. At that instance, Amir had remembered the nursery rhyme he used to sing with his friends while they were little children which goes ‘run, run, run, there’s fire on the mountain!’ That was exactly what he did. He had bolted right through the door!
A recall of the ugly incidence seemed to have insulated Amir.
“Thanks Anita but I will be fine. I gotta run along. I will see you around.” Amir dashed outside to the waiting car. He had to be at the airport by 12.30pm latest if he was to catch his flight.
It’s been two years and a lot has transpired between that last meeting at the pharmacy in Maputo and now.
Amir’s life had transformed 360 degrees. He had gotten married to Isabella. Isabella had joined him from Toronto. They were trying to make Dubai their new home as they had both agreed to put in ten years ab initio in Dubai. They will try to make two babies and give them some sound private education before they head back to Canada, all things being equal.
Amir remembered that just two evenings ago, he and Isabella had some conversation about transparency and here he was sneaking to text Anita.
‘How on earth did she trace me to Dubai?’ Amir kept pondering.
He smiled as a fifteen years old illustration came to mind, it was one given to them at an Agric practical session while he was in high school, about the calculating, cunning and vicious nature of the green snake in the green grass…
The pattern was becoming clearer to Amir, he was in Nigeria and Anita was in Nigeria, when he went to Maputo, Anita showed up there, and now that he had settled down with his wife in Dubai, who found it so convenient to ask for a hook up? – Anita! Was Anita stalking him? If yes; how long has she been on his trail and why? This was a bit too much of a coincidence he concluded, as he walked straight to his wife and showed Isabella the text messages.