Each time I asked Shamiso on a date, she politely refused. Her one excuse was that we were both too young to date. To me, her excuse did not hold water at all, as most people of our age were in the game. In my mind, Shamiso was the most beautiful girl there was, and I was determined to win her before somebody else did. So I kept trying. Then, one day, she agreed on a date, with conditions.

The conditions for our date were exciting to me. They were that I was to wear a bright pink outfit, decorate my face like a clown and be willing to meet at a busy McDonald’s outlet in the centre of town. When I objected to pink, Shamiso told me that she too would be putting on a similar outfit and that she simply wanted us to match. So, I agreed. I also told myself that if appearing like a clown was her wish on our first date, so be it. In the end, I swallowed all my pride and accepted her conditions as given me.

Although we went to the same school, Shamiso and I stayed far apart on opposite sides of town, and the centre of town was equally far. It was a mission for each one of us to visit town. Also, I communicated with her either at school or on mobile phones, for we both had phones. However, I refrained from calling her often for fear of being rejected outright.

The agreed date for our date was the 30th of March at 10.00 am. That gave me a week of preparation. I was so excited and barely slept for the days that followed. My elder brother too barely slept, for I kept bugging him for stuff and advice on dating. My brother sacrificed his time and money for his hysterical younger brother. I returned the favours with doing anything he so wished I could do for him – washing, cooking, ironing and running on errands. Then, the day came.

As I adorned myself in the new pink outfit that my brother had bought me, the phone rang. It was Shamiso, announcing the unexpected. She said that something had come up at home, and it was no longer possible for us to go out that day. However, we would definitely go out the following day, she said. Her sweet, smooth voice was more comforting than ever. In my state of devastation, I agreed to meet the following day, without letting Shamiso know of my frustration, of course.

At just about the same time the following day, the phone rang again. It was Shamiso. I held my breath, as I expected another excuse. But I breathed out an audible sigh of relief as Shamiso started asking me what I was busy putting on at that moment in time before she said she was almost ready herself and then hung up. After the phone call, I dressed up quickly, and my elder brother finished off decorating my face with all fads and colours for a perfect clown. In time, I went and boarded a train to town.

It was not an easy ride. All eyes were on me, and some kids on the train even poked me all the way. I just sat there, pretending not to be bothered until we got there. But I became more worried as I got off the train and found my way to McDonald’s. I was the spectacle of town. I picked up pace as people jeered and whistled. A few youngsters followed all the way. Obviously, I appeared funny and stupid, I thought. However, I persisted with my brisk walk.

I was at McDonalds ahead of Shamiso. I bought myself a milk shake, sat at a corner table and waited. Still, I could not hide from the wild gazes of some of the shop customers and service staff alike. It was a long wait and still Shamiso was not there. The crowd at McDonalds grew, and I became desperate to leave. One mother and her two kids approached me and asked if I was going to perform later, and I calmly said I was just waiting for my date. She laughed and left. One hour later and on my second drink, I took out my phone and called Shamiso.

Shamiso answered me with a calm voice, “Where are you?”

I pretended to be calm too, “At McDonald’s, of course. Have you forgotten?”

Her answer was, “No, of course I haven’t. Listen, I think you look awesome in your pink outfit. Now, do yourself a favour. Go to the nearest photo shop and get some pictures done. As for me, I am home. It’s fool’s day, Bob! I told you that I am not ready to date anyone and that’s it,” her voice sounded harsh and unapologetic.

My phone slipped off my hand and fell to the floor. I picked it up, got on my feet and sauntered off without looking at anyone. I was filled up with anger and hate, and I promised myself never to talk to Shamiso again. I didn’t.

Ten years on, I look back and thank Shamiso for shunning my proposal. It made me who I am today: an accomplished engineer working for a blue-chip company. After Shamiso turned me down, I too hated dating and focused on what mattered most in my life, my education. However, I sometimes wonder what it would have been like for me had Shamiso agreed to date. After we finished middle school, she too vanished into thin air, and I have no way of guessing if there would have been anything in it for both of us.

TELL US: How would you react to being stood up?