The headache was so severe that it caused me to rise from bed sooner than I should have wished. It was Sunday morning and the events of the previous night were a blur in my memory. Making my way to the kitchen, feeling nauseous, I cursed myself for succumbing to temptation and consuming all that alcohol, a ferocious combination of red wine and beer. I vaguely remembered leaning against Garuba's powerful shoulder, as he steered me away from the crowd in the living room, which by this time had become somewhat riotous. He had guided me towards my room, stripped off my buba and put me in the bed, leaving me after he saw that I was safely tucked in. Vaguely, I remembered how prior to being brought to the bed I'd been quite excited as the night's events unfolded and how I had wound up outside in the darkness, holding someone close and running my hands across his back; and how he too had crushed his body against mine, pushing me up against the brick wall that surrounded the house. Then, slowly, the recollection came flooding back. It was Usman! Gosh! I couldn't believe that this had really happened. But it had! And now that I remembered it more clearly, the hangover felt even worse. How could I? Usman, Garuba's friend, Audu's lover! I felt awful, but then I remembered now that it was he who had led me outside.
Usman and I had been standing together chatting, surrounded by several others at the party, me holding a glass of wine. His boyfriend Audu was engaged in some kind of agitated conversation with Femi and Femi's friend, who by then I'd learned was called Rashid. Garuba and Abu were across the room, talking and laughing loudly. There was much excitement in the air and all the women, including Ukpong and her two friends were dancing with one man or the other. Under the pretext that the room was rather noisy, Usman had suggested that we step outside for some fresh air, and of course I had agreed somewhat eagerly as I put down my now empty glass on a side stool. While still inside we had been talking generally, him about his business, me about my impression of working in Bauchi and how it was nothing like I had imagined it would be; about how interesting it had been since I'd arrived in this city and more so because I'd been with Garuba. But there was no denying it, Usman was very handsome and I was enjoying every minute of his company, the sound of his voice, the way he laughed. And when he smiled at me looking down into my face, I was totally captivated. And the effect of the alcohol that I'd so far been consuming non-stop didn't help matters.
Outside, we had wandered towards the side of the house, away from the front entrance and out of sight of the crowd in the front room. It was dark in this part of the compound and it was here that Usman put his arm around my shoulders. At first I'd stiffened instinctively, I knew that I ought to resist his advances. But maybe because I'd had so much to drink already, or because Usman was such an attractive man, I offered no resistance whatsoever when he tightened his grip around my shoulders and pulled me close to him in a hug. He then turned me around so that my back was against the brick wall, pressing his body against mine, pushing me against the wall without saying a word, and in a rather frenzied manner crushed his mouth on my lips. At first I tried to resist, it was the natural thing to do in the circumstances. But he was too strong and I was enjoying this too much, so I let myself go and responded to his kiss, throwing my arms around him, clinging to his massive shoulders as he squeezed me even tighter. We remained in that position holding each other for I don't know how long, when I suddenly came to my senses and while still holding him, whispered that it would be best if we went back inside. But it was terribly exciting being with Usman in this darkness and I'm not sure that even I believed what I'd just said about going back inside. It was in fact Usman who had first let go, and now when I looked up at his face as we stood facing each other, I could see that he was uncomfortable about what had just happened. I felt really awful, and I think we both felt the same.
I had left Usman outside and returned to the crowded front room searching for Garuba with my eyes, feeling terribly guilty, hoping that neither Garuba nor Audu would have noticed that I'd been outside with Usman. Audu I saw was engrossed in whatever he and Rashid were talking about and their body language suggested that whatever the topic was, it was not entirely innocent. Garuba sat alone, Abu was dancing with one of the ladies who somehow I'd missed being introduced to. And Garuba was staring at me as I walked up to him. He ought to be smiling, I thought to myself. I mean, normally he would smile at me whenever he saw me. But he wasn't smiling. And I felt really terrible. I believed then that he must have seen me leave the room with Usman, but this in itself was no reason for him to assume that anything untoward had happened whilst we were outside. I'm not a good actor and I knew that Garuba would see the guilt written all over my face. I was so sorry about what had happened. So when I sat down beside him on the sofa, the first words that came out of my mouth were "I'm sorry.." Garuba said nothing, but held my hand and squeezed it when I'd placed my hand on his. I felt guilty that I'd ruined his evening and felt really bad. But rather selfishly I sought to make myself feel better by drinking even more alcohol, which eventually led to me having to be led out of the room by none other than Garuba himself. I had seen little of Usman after that escapade. I assumed he too must have felt bad enough not to want to be around Garuba or me. And I was not even aware that he and Audu had left for home until Garuba mentioned it to me as he was helping me out of my buba while putting me to bed. Garuba had left the house after I was in bed. Now it was early in the morning and it was Sunday, so it was understandable that I'd heard nothing from him since. The house was eerily quiet as I stirred the milk into the piping hot coffee I'd just made for myself and I wondered what the consequences would be of my antics with Usman last night on my relationship with Garuba. My head was pounding as I returned to the bedroom cup in hand and settled back into bed, but this thought bothered me. And and try as I did, I was unable to fall asleep again. I missed Garuba..