In the cover of darkness, everything is clear.
Everything is polite. Everyone is your friend. All occupants of the night space work together to make it comfortable.
The watchman opens the gate for you, not bothering with your name but opting for the easier, universal ‘Mrembo’ instead. The waiter smiles at you as he refills your glass. The man in whose company you sit is more than willing to pull out the chair for you. He even moves your drink closer. He suggests that you allow him to adjust your seat so that you don’t have to stretch for your drink. His manners remind him to place a coaster underneath your glass. He leans in to listen to what you are saying so that you do not have to shout above the music. When you have to go to the ladies, it is in his custody that you leave your handbag and your phone.
It does not matter that you are much younger than this man. It doesn’t matter that the man, this man who will undress you in a few hours is old enough to be your father. It does not matter that the man is married and has children who are being put to bed by their mother at the exact time that he is nibbling at your earlobe and whispering sweet nothings to you. He is promising to leave that mother of his children for you. Because he loves you. And cares about you. Because your breasts are perky and sexy and his wife’s are…well, they have breastfed four children; a boy and three girls, and gravity has not been kind to her. Because he cannot imagine living the rest of his life without you. Because you make his blood boil. Because you make him come alive in more ways than one. Because he feels like a young man when he is with you.
In the cover of darkness, nothing much matters. Not his gray hair, nor the potbelly that goes so far ahead of him.
He expects you to avail yourself when he needs you; you cannot be too busy. Busy with what exactly? What are you doing with your life that is so important? You are only in college. Classes can always be skived, parents can always be lied to, girlfriends can always wait, boyfriends can always be cheated on. So when he instructs you to go to Kempinski, or Hilton, or Intercontinental and ask to be let into room no.42 or 102 or A70, a room reserved by his secretary, when he is willing to take a few minutes off his very important and very tight schedule to come and meet you there, you leave everything you are doing, you do whatever it takes to convince your parents that your lecturer, the one who insists on giving you C.A.Ts every so often, he who insists on excellence, forcing you to study into the night and leaving you no option but to spend the night in the campus hostels at a female friend’s room, is just the devil from hell.
The darkness shields you from prying eyes and wagging tongues, inquisitive looks and endless questions. Long Facebook updates dedicated to you, roving cameras and pointed fingers.
Enjoy the darkness while it lasts because soon, daylight will come. When it does, it will glare at you as only it can. In the brightness of day, everything will become hazy. All the way from your expensive weave sponsored by him, your young made-up pretty face to your pedicured toes. You will stand inside the circle of light with nowhere to go, nowhere to look. Stripped to your bare minimum.
At that time, the watchman who was content with calling you only ‘Mrembo’ in the guise of darkness will blurt out your full names (including that middle name that only your mother uses) to quash your anonymity. The waiter who was eager to serve your drink will now be too busy paying attention to other ladies, spreading his smile infectiously and generously. The cab guy who was more than willing to facilitate the numerous trips to and from the various hotels you visited, will stop picking your phone calls.
The man you slept with, the one who promised you heaven, him who told you that you will never lack anythinng, will be nowhere to defend your honour. He will be with his wife, the mother of his children. The same woman he promised to leave for you. Yes, she who gravity doesn’t like too much. When the time comes for him to deny you, his denial will put Judas’ to shame: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”, he will say. Unlike the watchman who will know all your three names, this man will suffer amnesia. “That woman” will be you.
Your parents would be willing to defend you because you belong to them and they are not in the business of denying their children, but in their wildest dreams they will not imagine that you could need any defense. Not from an exam if the studying that you claim to have been doing is anything to go by! Of course they will be shocked to learn that not much studying was going on on most nights. Let’s just say that they will be lost for words.
So you’ve had your fun, you’ve had your exotic meals, you’ve had your drinks, you’ve given your sponsor a wild night of passion, he has boosted your finances to make your life flashy and bearable.
Now what remains is your conscience. It is about to be awakened.
Daylight is here to do that. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come alone. We’d all love it if it came alone, wouldn’t we? But no. It tags along with shame. And both are eager to embrace you. Ready to make you a leper.
Both will approach you – Shame a bit too enthusiastically. Shame will lean in for a tight embrace, one that you will be unable to dodge. If you are lucky, it will let you go eventually without breaking any of your bones. If you are not so lucky, it will tighten its grip until you hear your bones crackle as it squashes you to death.
So hang tight. Here comes daylight.
Here comes the shame.