I’m at Javas – Cafe Javas. The one in Lugogo. There are a million people here. As always. Each side of the eye is swarming with movement. Noise and chatter.
The tables are now close to each other, you have to eat and hear the conversation on the next table. And it’s not even by choice.
My neighbours are a young couple. I know so because they are talking about sleep. Asking how each of them spent the night and they have foundational questions; “How can you sleep for just three hours?”
People who’ve been dating a while don’t have the time for this balderdash. When they sit down for a meal at Javas, if they ever do, it is to reconcile pending arguments. It’s exactly what’s on my other side.
“I sent you the screen shot last week Moha” she says.
And I know in that moment, Moha is finished.
I know he is because he now says his phone had some ‘issues’ in the week.
I also know because if ever your babe reminds you of something that was important to her and you forgot, you’re cooked.
You are also probably a douche but this is a judgement free zone.
But I am at Café Javas and the waiters are swarming.
I’m here to grab a small meal and leave. Every time I come here I eat exactly the same thing; The Chicken Hawaiian Burger. I don’t even know why I bother reading through the menus.
The wait-staff always bring the large cardboard with a smile that says; “You have food money, give it up already” and I pick them up, stare them up and down and look closely and even ask; “Do you serve the pasta with fried plantain?”
Don’t give me that look. Plantain is to be eaten everywhere.
And they always respond; “No we don’t, but you can have these chicken orders that come with a plantain side”.
I snort, put up a little fight, wiggle my way out of it;
“Since you leave me no choice, the Chicken Hawaiian Burger will do”
I turn back to forcefully eavesdropping the conversation between Moha and his now angry mate.
“So what weekend do you think we will do it Moha, what weekend?
People like repeating words to give them effect. Like the first time wasn’t enough, let me say it twice.
“What weekend Moha” she raises her voice further.
It’s now a little unsettling, I’m shifty in my seat looking round if any table frees up so I can flee an oncoming crime scene.
Moha has a beard, the connecting kind. It covers parts of his brown face and terminates at his ear where black shades are robbed. He has a bald head too, the kind that’s in vogue and not forced on him by nature.
His mate on the other hand has on a flowery short dress with a high up slit, her face is the mark of fury, she’s beautiful but angry and jeers away at every explanation.
Moha is trying to make things right. He is bent into the table with his hands stretched out to his mate. She’s having none of it. A lot of us are onlookers – we are waiting on our orders, true, but we can’t escape the spate of good drama. Unpaid for drama. Untaxed drama. Free scripted and free acted. We are the supreme court and this isn’t the drama that will be withdrawn.
My burger has arrived, with its mountain of fries. They look crispy. The pineapple is slightly out of the burger. It’s peeping to see the heart of drama. It’s head is peering out of the brown bun bread with careful enthusiasm.
“Anyway it’s fine Moha” she says with a deep sigh. It’s a sigh of regret. A sigh that crowns a mark on Moha.
On the other table though, some drummers have come. It’s a birthday for the girl. I know she is called Janet because they are singing it along with the drums. It’s a short commercial break from the pains Moha has been going through. I want to eat my burger in peace but it will now look awkward to not sing along for Janet. The drummers and singing quartet of waitresses have been joined by the embattled Moha and his mate.
Everyone is clapping. And singing. And routinely staring at the table to see who Janet is. There’s a sense of community in the restaurant. The kind that will not extend to my bill but a community nonetheless.
For a brief minute, the worries of Moha and his mate wipe away under the slosh of drumming and singing of Janet’s birthday.
“OH GOD, MOHA!”
A scream belts from the back. I am now jolted from both my burger and Janet’s singing.
I am imagining the worst. Is she going to spill a hot cup of coffee on him? I am in a white shirt, Its not the best attire for being an accessory to the fact. It isn’t even good attire to write witness statements in. The cops will be there guiding you down the testimony and statement and ask you questions like; why were you wearing a white shirt on Sunday? Why really?
I am also half worried that Moha may have jolted a knife into himself. What with all that quarrelling that made for the better part of his morning?
I turn, expecting the worst. There’s a minute of dead silence. In a Café Javas restaurant. Dead silence!
Moha is on his knee – one knee. There’s no blood flowing from his chest, “Phewx!” my first sigh. The cup of hot coffee is also still on the table – “thank the heavens” my second sigh.
I’m trying to make out what’s happening now.
Moha’s mate is wearing a face of utter shock. Her veins are trudging along her face in awe. Ghost seers aren’t normally this shocked too.
Moha is saying some inaudible things. I can make out however a small black box in his hands.
Is this what I think it is?
A bloody damn lovely proposal?
Is it really?
Moha’s mate recovers from her shock, the restaurant and its people now hang in an awkward impatience.
How can she possibly say yes after shouting at the top of her voice?
Moha, if he’d turned to me, to ask a penny for my thoughts, I’d give them for free and pay the bill too – that go home, make her happy first, then get on your knee.
But he didn’t. Besides, what do I know about proposals?
I want to write beautiful things here and tell you how happy she felt and how she gave an emphatic yes, and how they kissed and he held her in his arms and swung her around and how we applauded and the world stopped for a minute, and how she posted on her Instagram ‘I said yes’ and many people commented ‘Love wins’
But she said, well, errr, she said a very emphatic YES! And everything in the paragraph above happened.
Her engagement ring was perfect. It was, as we later found out, the picture in the screenshot she had sent Moha – and Moha had gone and bought it. And pretended that morning that he had forgotten. And gotten her pretty pissed!
Moha, after his brief act, turned to me, for the first time locking eyes and asked; “Did you record this dude?”
How, Moha, in the middle of thinking we would have a murder to witness and imagining we’d both be hit with a hot mug of coffee would I have thought, oh, here’s a moment to record?
This is me keeping a record of that moment.
Plus, I will write a set of blogs on engagement rings in the coming weeks…
If you have a good engagement story, reach out on [email protected]