Baaba has joined the main road towards Achimota, and she keeps casting furtive glances at Chris.
Chris is reclining back in the seat, head back, eyes closed, hands lying limply on his thighs.
Baaba looks at his long eyelashes, his thick brows, his sensuous lips, and once again she is struck by how absolutely handsome he is. She sighs and rummages in a CD pack in a compartment under the car’s player.
She selects a compact disc and slots it into the car’s CD player. Very soon the smooth sounds of AZ Yet’s “Last Night” fills the interior of the car. He opens his eyes, turns his head and looks at her.
Listen, Chris, I’m not really in a hurry. I can pass through Madina and drop you off if you wish.
His eyes search her face, and his face remains expressionless. When he speaks his voice holds a little tint of uncertainty.
What’s going on, Baaba?
She raises her eyebrows at him.
With? I don’t understand your question, Chris.
(looking intently at her)
You’ve been good to me ever since you were transferred to the Grand Castle prison two years ago. You’ve always treated me with respect even when your colleagues were doing their best to break me. Surely you’ve heard the bad stories about me! So what’s this? Why are you so good to me?
She bites her lower lip. She looks ahead for a while, her hands gripping the steering-wheel so tightly that her knuckles almost show white. When she looks at him briefly again he notices how fragile she is looking, and how beautiful she really is. For a moment her lips tremble, and then she gives him a sad little smile.
You mean it? You want honesty.
Honesty, yes, Baaba. What you have been doing for me, your immense help and encouragement these two years go beyond mere kindness. There’s something more, and I want you to tell me what it is.
She hesitates for a moment, and then she nods almost imperceptibly.
You’re right, Chris. But I don’t think now is the time to talk about that. I’ll see you again after today, won’t I?
He looks at her for a long time; there is no smile on his face.
Do you want to?
She looks at him again, and her expression is as frank as it is direct and honest.
Yes, Chris. I want to see you again.
Okay. Then you will.
So I take you to Madina?
Alright, Baaba. I would appreciate that very much, thank you.
She smiles at him, and they listen to the music for a while. Suddenly she starts, and turns to him again.
Oh, I almost forgot. Please, my handbag is in the back seat. Can you reach it?
Chris turns and picks up the beautiful black handbag and proffers it to her.
No, look inside the side pocket. There’s a phone in there.
He unzips the side pocket and brings out a beautiful Samsung Note 4 phone.
He again extends it towards her.
She shakes her head without looking at him, and a little smile plays around the corners of her beautiful lips.
You keep it, Chris. I wanted to give it to you on your birthday last year, but you know, prison rules. It is for you. Fixed a sim card in it for you too…. and oh, I stored my number on it too.
Chris puts the bag on the back seat again.
He presses power button on the side of the phone, and the surface of the phone lights up. The wallpaper is a picture of a smiling Baaba. He looks at her without a word and swipes the screen. The phone lock appears, and he turns to her.
(looking suddenly demure)
What? Oh, yes, the password is BBBB.
She laughs then and shakes her head.
You can change the wallpaper, you can change the password, Chris. That was just an initial setup requirement and I just used the settings on my own phone … and oh, yes, I’ve loaded some credits on it.
They look at each other for a while, and then she smiles, and his eyes also soften as a sweet little smile plays around his lips.
I love your dimples, Chris.
He gives a little laugh then, and holds up the phone.
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Thank you, Baaba. I really appreciate it. This must have cost a fortune. Really appreciated.
She smiles happily and reaches out suddenly and squeezes his hand.
You’re welcome, Chris.
He looks deeply at her.
You know I’m married, right?
She nods once and turns her attention to the road again. They are now at the Toll Gate. She takes out a one cedi note and pays the toll fee at the booth although the attendant recognizes her and tries not to take the money.
Chris reaches into his top pocket and takes out a lovely wedding ring, and slips it unto his ring finger. As she drives along again she speaks softly, and her voice is a little bit frosted over, and shakes a little with hidden emotion. She looks once at the ring on his finger, and her jaw tightens perceptively as she continues to speak.
Yes, Chris, I know you’re married. I also know your wife filed for divorce almost as soon as you went to jail. I know that Mrs. Effe Bawa has not made any secret about her wish that you sign the divorce papers so that she can marry the man who was once your best friend, Mr. Steve Hollison, who invariably was also your best man at your wedding. I have always wondered whether your wife and your best friend were having an affair behind your back even when you two were married because frankly I find their behaviour absolutely disgusting. And oh, yes, I forgot to add that she never once visited you in prison these five years. That’s no news. You were a public figure, Chris, and everybody knows your story. And oh, did they tell you that she has been saying over and again that she took off her wedding ring the day you went to prison? She has written you off, Chris, baby! She’s now in an intimate relationship with your best friend and just waiting for you to sign the divorce papers for her so that she can marry him. They’re certainly making love every night, so don’t you think that ring on your finger is really absurd?
He looks at her, and she sees the torture in the depths of his eyes, and the sudden pain that rips through his soul so that his handsome face becomes a tortured mask of pain.
She realizes that she has just hurt him deeply, and she reaches out to take his hand but he draws his hand back sharply.
I’m sorry, Chris. I didn’t mean to hurt you.
He leans his head back and closes his eyes, and does not speak to her again until they reach Madina. He makes her stop once, and he enters a gift shop and returns shortly afterwards pushing a little gift-wrapped package into his pocket. When they get to his destination he begins to get out, and then he stops and turns to her.
His eyes are still sad, and there is pain deep down in the depths of those beautiful eyes, and without meaning to she leans across suddenly and gently rubs his right cheek.
I’m really sorry, really. I don’t know what came over me, Chris.
He nods, but he does not try to smile.
Thank you very much. For everything. Very much appreciated.
You’re always welcome, Chris.
He gets out of the car and walks away. He does not look back. She looks after him for a moment and then she sighs deeply.
(in a sad voice)
Why do you affect me so, Chris Bawa?
She engages gear and drives away.