Heart of Tumult

By James Kahongeh

A man of about 35 pulls off at a city hotel’s façade. It’s a huge respite for him to have finally weathered the unnerving evening traffic. The sole occupant of the car, he stays put for a few moments after sending the engine to sleep.It has been a treacherous day. However, Jamie can’t tell what’s worse; the hunger roasting his intestines or the pricks of fatigue digging into his very core. Or the tumult that incinerates his head. The dizzying pace of life in the capital has recently had a huge toll on his tolerance.

It has been a treacherous day. However, Jamie can’t tell what’s worse; the hunger roasting his intestines or the pricks of fatigue digging into his very core. Or the tumult that incinerates his head. The dizzying pace of life in the capital has recently had a huge toll on his tolerance.

He finally pulls out of the car with lethargy and proceeds inside. Locating an empty space in an isolated area, he descends into a chair. Scarcely reading the menu, he makes his order.

With fork, knife and a pair of deft paws, Jamie attacks the fried Nile perch and rice as soon as the waiting blonde delivers them. The man’s powerful hands manoeuvre with skill between the main course and a plate of an assortment of tasty-looking veggies for salad. A sizeable portion of an expertly-coloured –and perhaps savoury too –cake for dessert sits inviting in an adjacent plate. A bowl of steaming soup lingers by.

All his adult life, this banker has embraced, like a personal religion, the courtesy of never disregarding the portion on his plate before he has licked it clean. Tonight though, he nearly fell into the discourteous way of gluttony –imagining that this serving would not sate his ravishing hunger.

Chefs in this food court have an almost mystic touch with delicacies in the line of fungi. On this evening particularly, their mushroom soup has Jamie well ensnared. Its look is delightful, thickness and aroma outright heavenly. As he tears through his dinner with relish, his thoughts are torn between his job and fiancée and, like every man, his troubles –and his are abundant.

Presently, his phone rings.

Speak of the devil, he exhales.


Jamie has a strict ethic of not receiving phone calls while in the middle of something else important. And dining for him is as important a task as any other under the sun. Especially after a whole day of slogging his guts out and getting numb in an office chair. Everything else could wait. Just like every folk, he holds the view that office pests are never likely to devour a small task that is left unfinished overnight.

His boss and fiancée are exceptions to this code: he can’t snub them.

Prevailing over the resistance of his taste buds, he lowers the bowl of splendour and presses the receive key.

‘Sweetness,’ he begins.

‘Darling,’ she responds with something of over-spilling buoyancy.

Soon, Catherine dominates the conversation, enquiring about his day and other small things such as a concerned girlfriend would seek from her lover. To all this, he lies without a hint of guilt. For what seems an eternity, they gab over other matters, from substantial subjects to total trivia, and a host of other such mainly unimportant things as about which a couple is wont to exercise their energies.

A sports physio, Catherine is a stern but pleasant woman with a strong sense of ownership over her man, even overbearing when she decides to. Before hanging up with the promise of visiting him the following day, she reminds him of her love for him, to which he returns with a virtually inaudible undertone of hesitancy.

Thereupon, he proceeds to plough his repast.

When the cheery waiting girl emerges to clear the crockery and china, he orders for a beer. This, in addition to preventing possible indigestion, will calm his spirits.

For the next hour, Jamie amuses himself by sipping at his bottle, watching patrons as they come and others disappear into the night, his girlfriend’s prattle rolling in his head, yet remaining entirely heedless to the euphonious classic jazz playing in speakers mounted on the walls of this establishment.

He starts when moments later, his eyes stop on the wall clock. It’s 12:15 am! Just how time has flown he can’t possibly conjecture. He must leave for home now to pull himself together.

Swiftly, he takes a slug of all the remaining contents of his bottle. Upon settling his bill and tipping the woman whose service has been both speedy and expert, but also subtly flirty, he stumbles out to his car, taking long half-inebriated strides in the wake.

Soon, his Chevy slices the city’s midnight darkness into two as he rifles homeward in Garden City suburb.


Throughout their two-year courtship, this couple has not gotten what one might call overly romantic. They have done anything a couple would; gone for weekend-long dates and been to countless dinners. Kiss they have too. On infinite occasions. And snuggled. Snuggled in his car, and hers. But it has never gone past that.

Jamie thinks Catherine is butter on the outside, brass in the inside.

He too has not asked. At least not openly. Yet, should a man worth his salt –and this one thinks he is –openly demand for sex from his would-be-wife? Besides, Jamie is too courtly to cause unease to his fiancée for clamouring for that which could, and should, wait.

‘Do you consider it the most scared element in our union? She had asked him once, emotions boiling over.

‘It’s not unimportant,’ he had retorted with need muffled in clear desperation.

‘I don’t share the view. Sorry.’

Afraid that the fast-rising whirlpool of emotions could escalate into full-blown violence, Jamie had thus elected to back down.

‘If you’d rather not, I promise not to venture into that subject. Again.’

That had been then.

Before they met and began dating, Jamie had been a free-roaming alpha male. He had hunted for and done, with a haughty lack of restraint, everything he could lay his hands on. Upon crossing paths with Catherine however, his existence had taken a spectacular U-turn –except that a leopard may not lose all its spots.

Truly, Jamie has succeeded in taming his vicious propensity for unseemly adventure –the beast in his loins in especial. But it was hurtful to his body and pride. Before long, it might become unbearable.


Shortly afterwards, Jamie arrives home.

A cold shower is all he cares about on earth.

With the towel still hugging his virile frame after the revitalising bath, he lights his Davidoff cigar.

No colleague at work has the littlest clue that Jamie uses nicotine, much less alcohol. Catherine must not notice, never. With her health consciousness that borders on obsession, a discovery would certainly drive a wedge between them. Jamie has learnt to poison his body with the stealth of a gray wolf: he strictly doesn’t keep a bottle or a stick in the house lest Catherine runs into them; doesn’t own an ashtray; keeps only holy drinks in the cabinet; and ensures to leave no trail after smoking or drinking, usually in the dead of the night when no guest should drop by.

This way, Jamie has managed to conceal his self-destructive practices from Catherine’s notice. For two ungodly years.

Be that as it may, this practice, the practice of attending to his amoral desires under the table, has wearied this man, leaving his inside a jagged map of ruin, rue, and rancour. His forbearance is on a perilous nosedive, and in estimation, everything has come to a watershed.

This must be put to bed.

Almost too quickly, his grey matter furnishes a conclusion.

At his private chest, he draws what he needs. Briskly, he hobbles to his bedroom and slides under the cover of velvet. For long minutes, he glowers into darkness and the infiniteness of his woes.

When sleep attempts to creep into his bed, he takes a long draught of cold nocturnal air, and tugs the trigger.


Then silence.










blog comments powered by Disqus