You are Dari?” Muna said in a tone which was more of an affirmation than a question.

“ What are you doing here?” Dari quizzed in response. He could feel his hands trembling and the effort he made to conceal his nervousness, proved futile. Muna, who had now snapped out of her shock and replaced her expression with a smirk, moved closer and dropped her bag on one of the seats meant for guests.

“No wonder you’ve been acting so strange since the wedding. It was so unlike Yomba. I should have known.”

“ I don’t know what you’re talking about. Please leave, I have plenty of work to do.”

“ I will leave. I came here to ask about ‘Dari’, I didn’t know I would actually come and meet him.  Does Allila know? No, I don’t think she does otherwise she would have told me. You are such an impressive actor” , Muna said while clapping her hands. She further asked Dari where Yomba was, but he ignored her. She persisted till Dari finally said he didn’t know. She took her handbag and headed for the door as Dari pretended to type something on his computer.

“ It’s fine if you don’t want to tell me. I’m just wondering how Allila will feel if she finds out she’s been married to the wrong person all this while.”, Muna smiled after her statement and closed the door behind her. Dari sensed her threat and wasn’t surprised by it. It was Muna after all, one of the most mischievous people he had ever met. He looked forward to her likely unexpected visits to his office, but she never showed up which made him wonder what exactly she was plotting against him. Her silence was too loud and sometimes Dari thought of calling her, though he had nothing to tell her specifically. A week later and just when Dari had resumed being at ease, he found Muna in his living room with Allila one evening after he closed from work.

“ Oh, it’s good you’re here, Muna was about to tell me something concerning your brother,” Allila said,as Muna smiled at him mischievously and asked him to join them. He sat on a single sofa opposite Muna and avoided her gaze.

“ My friend, as I was saying, Dari is probably not missing o, I think he is…”, Muna’s speech was interrupted by Allila’s yelp, “ My food is burning o”, she hopped out of her seat and rushed to the kitchen.

“ What do you think you’re doing?” Dari asked Muna in a whisper.

“ Telling Allila the truth.” She answered with a shrug.

“ What do you want?”

“ I want you, Dari. I have always wanted you and I’m not going to sit and watch Allila snatch you from me.” Muna pressed. Dari was a bit relieved, at least, her reason wasn’t as deadly as he imagined. He convinced her not to say anything to Allila and promised to talk to her anywhere of her choice like she always wanted. Muna readily agreed and when Allila came back from the kitchen and asked that they continue the conversation, Muna lied about an emergency meeting with her mother and promised to visit Allila again.

Dari received a message from Muna late that night, asking him to meet her the next morning and sent him the location of the venue. As Dari drove, he realized he was getting to the outskirts of Accra. He reached his destination and noticed it was a hotel. He had no idea such a place existed and wondered why Muna would want to meet him at a place so far from home. He walked to the reception and as soon as he mentioned his name, the receptionist gave a knowing smile and said “ Madam” was waiting for him in room number  “21”. He nodded and scurried off to conceal his astonishment, first, because Muna was referred to as “ madam” in a tone of familiarity and secondly because Muna was able to find a venue in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by tall trees and bushes. The hotel looked deserted, like a haunted house. Even at the vast car park, Dari spotted only one car. Muna came to the door after he knocked once, wearing a brown nightie and looking like someone who had spent the night there. She stepped aside, paving the way for Dari to go in.

“ So what is it you want Muna? I need to get back to work”, Dari said hastily, while glancing at his watch. She ignored him and went ahead to pour him a cup of coffee. She poured herself another cup and sat next to Dari.

“ I want us to revive our relationship.” She said, after sipping her coffee. Dari looked at her with furrowed eyebrows and began chuckling.

“What makes you think I want to get back with you?”, Dari asked with a sardonic look.

“ Can’t you just forgive me? I told you it was just a silly mistake which I have no intention of repeating.” Dari who had already stood up and was heading for the door, stopped, turned, and began slowly, “ You call sleeping with my brother a silly mistake?” “ That was no mistake Muna, you slept with your best friend’s boyfriend, my brother! Of course, you knew exactly what you were doing!” Dari added angrily. When he felt he had had enough, he made to leave but she rushed to the door before him and blocked his way. She threatened to reveal his true identity to Allila and everyone else if he didn’t agree to a relationship with her. Dari glowered at her for a moment, not knowing what to say as he was seething with anger. He eventually shoved her from the door and walked out of the room with Muna behind him, screaming and raining insults at him. For the first time that morning, he was thankful that the hotel was deserted. Even the receptionist was nowhere to be seen. He drove out of the hotel and from the rear-view mirror, saw Muna still screaming and kneeling on the ground.

 Dari felt he had finally gotten rid of her but was proven wrong when Muna barged into his office the next day and subsequent days, each time, with Diana, his secretary, trotting behind and trying to stop her.

Muna called him at odd hours and unfortunately, had an encounter with Allila, who had answered one of her calls while Dari was asleep. When asked why she called so late and on Dari’s phone, Muna told Allila she tried calling her(Allila) but couldn’t reach her, thus, the reason for calling Dari instead. Allila, being undoubtful, believed her.

Dari finally decided to reach a compromise with Muna, when she interrupted his meeting with one of the highest shareholders and Managing Director of the company, Maltiti Danaa, who also happened to be Dari’s fiercest competitor for the CEO position. Though Mr. Asowura owned the company and Dari was the current CEO, Maltiti never concealed his intention of taking over the company. He passed by Dari’s office every morning, telling him he was touring the company and making sure everything was in order. Dari always responded with faint smiles and squinted eyes, while praying secretly that Maltiti would disappear from his office and never return.  Maltiti always made sarcastic statements and jokes about being the CEO of the company and firing Dari. But to Dari, the seriousness behind those jokes was lucid, and he vowed never to make Maltiti find fault in whatever he did. The enemy always had his arms folded and legs crossed, waiting and scanning for his opponent’s weakness, to use against him. This was a fact Dari was fully aware of.

So, when Muna barged on him with Maltiti that morning, Dari knew he had to do whatever it took never to make her step foot in the company again.

Dari politely asked Maltiti to leave his office while he had a word with Muna. He reluctantly stood up, with his eyes, glued on Muna. When he reached the door, he stared suspiciously at Dari with a smirk, nodded, and left the office without shutting the door behind him.

Dari hastily shut the door and begged Muna never to step foot into his office, promising he would meet her at the hotel the next day.

“ Does it mean we are back?” Muna asked with a beam and optimism.

“Whatever Muna, just leave!”

Dari drove as slow as he could. He was willing to spend the whole day on the road, rather than being an inch close to Muna. However, the universe was mightier than his will. He was at the hotel without realizing it and in Muna’s room in the blink of an eye. Muna welcomed him with the broadest smile and began talking about things Dari cared less about, like how she cut her nose with her nails that morning and how the food at the hotel was as horrible as her aunt’s Waakye.

Dari had almost forgotten how expansive Muna was and a voice in his head kept screaming at her to shut up. Dari wasn’t sure how or why it happened, but he blamed the oatmeal he took that morning, for what happened next. While Muna was chattering, he leaned forward and kissed her. She was stunned, not because of the kiss, since the probability of one happening was inevitable, but because of its suddenness and initiator. They made love and when Dari was heading back to work right after, he wished the truck that was speeding in his direction, would crash him. Fortunately, the truck driver applied his breaks on time and hurled insults at Dari for using the wrong lane.

 Regret, disgust, shame, and hate, all entangled at his throat, suffocating him. A bitterness that he never knew existed arose, and each time he met with Muna at the hotel, it intensified. For two weeks, he found himself going in and out of the hotel, with the smile of the security man, getting broader each time he saw Dari’s car emerging through the gate.

Dari began avoiding Allila again and this time, it was due to the guilt he felt. Though he wasn’t her real husband, he felt committed to her and felt he owed her some level of loyalty.

In the middle of one stormy night, Allila experienced one of her numerous nightmares and as Dari held her tightly in his arms and tried to console her, they kissed. For the first time, they kissed and probably would have made love hadn’t it been for the thunder that struck, startling Dari. He hastily got out of bed, apologizing to Allila who was astonished by his reaction.

He went to the living room, thinking hard about how complicated and hard his life had become. He got a memory of his kiss with Allila and immediately realized why he had been guilty about his affair with Muna all along. He loved her or was falling in love with Allila or probably had been in love with her since the day he bumped into her at the bank. After meditating for two hours, Dari made his final decision. Though it was going to be difficult, he knew he had to do it.

In the hotel room the next morning, Muna flared up after Dari told her, he couldn’t continue with the affair anymore. She screamed and threw whatever was in her reach, at him. As Dari was trying to calm her, there was a knock on the door. They simultaneously scanned the messy room and exchanged looks. Muna had forgotten she had ordered breakfast and knew the hotel staff would get suspicious if he or she caught a glimpse of the room. Muna was reluctant to open the door, so Dari offered to do so and asked her to sit on the bed.

Dari narrowly opened the door but hopped back with a startle when he saw who was at the door. He unconsciously left the knob and the door flung wide open. When Muna also saw who was at the door, she gasped and threw her hand on her mouth. After she recovered a little from her shock, she managed to find her voice and asked, “ A-Allila, what-what are you doing here?”. Allila’s gaze, danced between Dari and Muna till she finally said, “ I just passed by to say hello.”

Written by : Nasreen Zankawah

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