The Monitor (Kampala)

Uganda: Falling in Love On Valentine's Day

Ones first love, and the first time they celebrate Valentine's day are landmarks, writes ESTHER OCHAN

I can vividly remember that day, as it was the best Valentine's Day I had ever celebrated in so many years. I tell you this story just like it were, because I recall every feeling and sensation whenever I narrate this to anyone. For it was the day I fell in love. A gentleman I had gotten to know through a mutual friend asked me out. He was a mature person and had a great reputation. I went out with him just to kill the Valentine's boredom and to jump on the day's band wagon. His name was Joe. Built and good looking, a lad from the fictional land Oz! He was charming, well informed and he had a way with words.

He picked me up on time and took me to a lovely restaurant called Sam's along Bombo Road. We had a table reserved and all the patrons were at his beck and call. I was overly excited yet his charm cut through my anxiety and he made me feel at ease. We had all sorts of foods brought to us, crocodile and the whole works-was this sophistication or what? Everything was prepared to the nines and I loved the taste of the food.

My heart beat two times faster, each time I thought of the bill, I contemplated escaping, through the ladies because I was sure he surely could not pay for all we had eaten . I thought wrong. Joe paid all the bills and asked me to come with him to Bugolobi were we had dessert.

He fed me black forest cake and ice cream and by the end of it all I had indeed gotten to like him. We talked a lot. He told me of his escapades and his travels, and we talked about books and school and love. He was not looking for a commitment; he was quite an adventurous soul to stick in one place for such a long time. I knew what I was getting myself into but nevertheless, I was already smitten by this man's world. I wanted in.

The night was still young and as lovers held hands and walked by, I could only dream of having a blissful relationship with Joe. He later took me to his friend's house-they had organised a small gathering filled with Amor (love) and each one of their friends was in a light mood as we danced to gypsy kings and other exotic musicians I would later get hooked on to. Love was in the air.

Joe and I took a walk by the gardens and never spoke much; he simply held my hand and spoke in mysterious tones. We were a perfect match made for the day. And although my dreams never came true with him, I am forever grateful for that special Valentine's Day, the day I got to understand what love meant, the day I discovered who I really am by listening to one free spirit that I could never blame.

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