Dinner, like Sa’afia, was had over the kitchen table, with wine. One curry was chicken and cocoanut with baby aubergines, and the other was long beans, tomato and okra. We drank it with a Catalunya rosado. I’ve told you that because the woman in the liquor store recommended the rosado. And I recommend it to you, for curries, though beer would also have been good.
It was warm in the kitchen, though the evening was getting chill. I wore my pants and no shirt. She wore my shirt and no pants. I was going to tell her to take my shirt off, because although the food was good, it hadn’t distracted me from her. But her phone buzzed. Sa’afia looked at me. It took three cycles for me to understand she was waiting for my permission to answer it. I said, “yes, of course. Take it.”
She fished the phone from her jeans pocket on the floor, glanced at the name and scampered into the corridor. I poured more rosado and didn’t listen. But I knew it was a girl. Sa’afia hadn’t casually off to the toilet, taking the phone and the conversation with her, as she’d have done if it was another boyfriend. And she laughed a lot but she didn’t have that seductive edge to her voice that she used when she talked on the phone to me.
Eventually I realised that the laughter was social. It involved me, and I was supposed to notice it. So I brought Sa’afia her wineglass, and because she had the phone in one hand – “just a second, uh” she said – and the glass in the other, I lifted my shirt at the back.
She wriggled frantically trying to dodge my hand, but that only made the resounding smack I gave her bottom even more satisfactory. So I gave her another.
Sa’afia yelped, then tried, too late, to cover the phone. I walked back to my chair while the laughter pealed out again.