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Published: June 10th 2013
She stands in the doorway, shimmering in her pink sari, and stands fanning her face with her hand. It's hot outside. Her almond eyes glance at him to see the effect she is making. Frank sits in the darkness of the room awaiting her next move. She enters and sits down by the table, still untouchable. He knows the routine by now. He locks the door and hangs an old table-cloth over the window.
“What are we waiting for?” Frank asks. He has finally been able to rouse his dormant manhood into action, and is now confident in the outcome of these encounters.
“I'm hot.” The fanning continues. He has to wait patiently until she chooses the moment. She doesn't want to crease her sari, and so she gets up, and, silently, un-tucks it from her petticoat, and then unwinds herself from the material, folding it into pleats, this way then that, as it leaves her frame and, when she has pleated the whole length, she drapes it over the back of her chair They make love on the big double bed and her little frame shakes. He asks: “Are you OK?” She nods. He raises himself up and scans her torso. He has never seen anything so perfect: the sweet, gentle, fragility of her child-like face, the innocent display of young breasts, and the tapering of her body to the secret place that Frank is the first to be permitted to enter. She runs her hands over his back. “What are these?” she asks, giggling.
“Goose-pimples,” Frank says. It's cool in the flat.
“They are jealous,” she says.
“Jealous of what?” Frank asks, bemused by this turn of logic.
“They're jealous of our love-making,” she says. “They want to make love too.”
They are lying sleepily in bed when there's a knocking at the door. They freeze.
“Frank! Are you there?” The voice is that of Jenny, a white Zambian colleague, who, asthe Resident Representative's PA, enjoys a close working relationship with the head of the UN Mission. The lovers look at each other in alarm, and say nothing. More banging. “Frank! Open up! I've got some birthday cake for you!” It’s his birthday. He has forgotten. They try not to breathe. They can hear her talking with someone else, a man with a gruff voice, but can't make out what they are saying.
They hear her leave, and heave great sighs of relief, and, once the fear has left them, they fall into silent giggles.
But soon they're back. The banging recommences. Jenny calls out: “Open up! I've got some birthday cake for you!”Silence. “Frank! Come on!”
Eventually they depart, not to return. But the event has knocked the stuffing out of the lovers. They shakily dress and Sunita leaves hurriedly with just a brief parting kiss. Jenny shares an office with Frank, so there will be no escape from embarrassment on Monday. Fortunately it is a weekend, and he has a day to gather his wits and think of some convincing explanation for his refusal to open the door.
“Alex and I came to share some birthday cake with you,” said Jenny on Monday morning. So Alex Papadopoulos, the Office Manager, a noisy Greek Egyptian, had been with her. He would not be discreet.
“Oh! That was nice of you. Sorry I was out,” Frank said, manufacturing a look of disappointment. Jenny gave him an old-fashioned look.
“Your neighbours said they'd seen you go in,” she said. Was she using the singular or plural 'you'? Frank would just have to brazen it out.
“They must've made a mistake. I was visiting some friends.”
“That's funny,” she said. “They said they'd seen you go in about an hour before we arrived, but didn't see you come out.”Surely they must have seen Sunita?He had dug himself in too deep to change the story now.
“Well, unless they were looking non-stop, they'll have missed me,” he said, and took some papers from his in-tray to indicate that the interview was over. Of course, she didn't believe him, but she knew she was not going to be allowed to know the truth, and gave up.
But as he got up to leave at the end of the day, she looked up and said: “Be careful, Frank.” He replied with a quizzical look and closed the door on her.
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