She wrote on her jotter.
Dr Magege stood on the podium in front of the lecture theatre telling stories about his days at the prestigious University of Bradford. He was a grey, bearded man of about sixty-five years, but Dinma thought he could have been seventy considering he obtained his PhD in 1982. Dinma, whose friends invariably called her Dee was sitting on the front row of the class seats, staring at her jotter, neither hearing nor caring to hear about Dr Magege's adventure as a student in the prestigious University of Bradford. Dinma guessed that none of her classmates had ever been to the United Kingdom so they could not possibly know if the University of Bradford was prestigious or not. They all had to take Dr Magege's word for it, just as they took his word for it that control systems were the most vital components of aircraft.
One of the things that made students pay attention to Dr Magege whenever he came to teach was his speed. He could switch from stories of how they spent their leisure time in nightclubs to the schematic diagram of a control system within one minute. And while the students were just trying to draw the schematics, he would switch to a story of how he caught one of his students watching 'naked' bodies in the school cyber cafe, then he would dictate notes from his class notes which were in pieces. The students may not understand a thing he said while in class but they were always busy and attentive while it lasted. Dinma was not an exception, but that day, she was not in the mood for Dr Magege's stories and disjointed teaching.
Dinma continued to write in her jotter:
I knew what you were going to ask
So I waited for you to ask
I held my breath for you to ask
And put me out of this misery.
But you asked wrongly
I would have given you everything;
My heart, though the pastor says I should give to Jesus
Was yours for the taking,
I could have given you my soul, my body, my innocence
But I wanted you to ask
And you asked wrongly
All I wanted was for you to ask properly;
Ask like your life depended on it
Ask like you meant it
Ask like it meant the world to you
Ask like it will complete you
Ask like the world would stand still if I said NO
But you had to be a man and asked for a number
When you could have the whole of me
You asked for a hand when the owner would follow you gladly
Had you asked properly maybe my answer would have taken the pain away
And we would not be in this place
Where unfulfilled wishes and dreams are commonplace."*
Dinma was daydreaming about her days in the La Campagne Tropicana resort the weekend before. She became unaware of Dr Magege's presence as she closed her eyes and felt the cold wave wash her bare feet. That was not her first time at the beach, but she wondered once more how the water on her feet could caress her brain without touching it. Every one of her friends was screaming all at the same time, and it seemed to her that the waves heard it and was showing off as it lapped on the shore and receded from it. Oh, how I envy the sand, she thought, seeing how the ocean never stopped kissing the shore no matter how many times the shore sent her away.
She was mesmerised by the ocean when he walked past her. She should have seen his chiselled face and broad shoulders, and she should have paid attention, but she did not pay much attention to him: he was just one of many people enjoying the hot tropical sun in shorts and colourful beach shirt.
"Did you see that?" he said. It was a deep voice, and she thought, if vocal cords were made of metal, that one was bronze.
"Excuse me?" she replied
"'...there is nothing more beautiful as the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shore, no matter how many times it gets sent away... '" he quoted.
"'...you will put the win in the winsome, lose some...'" she replied.
"Oh, so you know Sarah Kay?" he asked.
"I think she is pretty awesome," she said.
"I think you are awesome!"
"But you barely know me," she said, smiling back.
"I know enough," he said smiling and revealing a set of beautiful white teeth.
"Hey, I'm Max. Before the other guys beat me to it, I would like to have your number," he said.
Dinma turned her face away from him so that he would not see her smiling.
"Could you give me your number, please?"
"No way!" she said smiling.
The ferocity of the wind seemed to have increased since Max met Dinma. They could see the waves rising higher and higher from a distance as the speed increased. The less daring of the crowd retreated from the waterfront. Suddenly, a series of screams and shouts erupted from the crowd. Dinma looked around to see why the people were shouting. She followed their stares back to the water where a man was running towards the humongous waves. At that same moment, she looked for Max beside her, and he was no longer there. Further on in the ocean, Dinma could make out a small figure being thrown up and down the waves.
Dinma was confused: it seemed that she had been absent from the beach for a few moments and he felt like someone who arrived late for the showing of a thriller movie. She went to a small group of men and women near where she and Max had stood.
"Please, what's going on?" she asked.
"A little boy was carried by the waves, and your man and the boy's father have gone after him," one of the ladies responded.
My man? She thought. The undulating waves revealed Max momentarily and covered him again. He seemed to have reached the little boy as the crowd could see the little boy being thrown up above the water higher than the waves could have. On the third throw, the boy's father caught him and managed to bring him to shore, but there was no sign of Max.
It was two hours later before rescuers were able to recover Max. The little boy and his parents were taken to the hospital where he was treated, and he received a full recovery.
As Dinma recalled the events of that weekend, she thought how things could have been different if she had said yes. Would he have gone on to be a hero? Would he still be there?
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