“Hello sweetheart,” I said as I leaned in to kiss her on the cheek. Not that she offered anyway. I had at last I got Shiri (by sheer luck) and she had conceded to meeting me (obviously at her place of choice).
I couldn’t believe what my eyes were telling me. When I sat down across Shiri yesterday at the Nairobi Serena Hotel, I knew that she was gone. I had lost her.
She was in a tailored black pant-suit, sling-back heels and a gold necklace. Behind her I could see a table laid out – lit candles, china, silver-flatware, and crystal. Somebody was going to be treated to a romantic evening. For me, well, on she and God knew.
The cold in Shiri’s eyes made me freeze, and I knew better than to talk. Everything was screaming ‘this relationship is over’.
“How have you been, sweetie?” I asked, just but to break the silence.
Shiri forced a smile. “Fine. Holding up,” she said.
“You don’t look fine to me. Anything the matter.”
“No, I’m just fine.”
I boast of the rare gift of reading of human mind, cracking the human thinking code, as in breaking through their defences, but I never knew Jewish women are such hard nuts to crack. Shiri is so difficult to read. Just when you think you’ve got her, you ain’t even a thousand miles to; and when you are, she gonna blast your head off. She’s a bundle of complexities, and contradictions.
“Shiri,” I said, reaching for her hand. She didn’t pull it away, but it was so cold that for an instance I thought she was dead. “I’ve been worried for you. I mean, your phone has been off for two weeks now, I was always told you were away when I called your office. Tell me, what’s wrong, please. I’m here for you, if you need someone to…”
“Frank,” she cut me mid-sentence. “I told you, I’m fine.”
“And why are you so aloof, so cold. Is there something you are not telling me?” I tried not to be alarmed. “For God’s sake, you haven’t told me where the hell you have been and why your phone was off…”
The minute I said that I wished I could grab back my words. I saw it on her sweet face – the contempt, the expression that retorted ‘like you own me.’
Shiri looked me in the eyes, blinked, tried to spit out a reply (something I doubted was going to be nice), but changed her mind.
A waiter appeared and she ordered red wine – St. Anna or St. Celine. I had never seen her take wine or any alcoholic drink in public, only at her home. I ordered Alvaro, unlike me a whisky connoisseur.
Silence loomed over us until our drinks were brought. As though that was the cue, Shiri started interrogating me. She began to slowly poke and prod me for information about my life. Her questions were slow, leading and very calculated.
All along she was watching me. She was getting the jeepers creepers in me. I could feel layers and layers of my dark life starting to give way, almost making me panic and nervous. I was uncomfortable, and I wanted to stop her probing right there and then. I was not applying to be her boyfriend to go through the vetting and the arduous interview.
Well, at some time I had to defend myself, at least say something. I tried to concoct a story that even the deaf could tell was bull, but Shiri was not going to fall for anything.
“I think we should leave,” I said after Shiri received a call that I saw as a way out. I could see that she was not through with me yet, but the truth is she had gotten to me, and I was not going to go through the gruelling process as though I was applying to be a Supreme Court Judge.