I took to university. I loved everything about it. I loved learning new things. I loved that everyone around me was busy with learning new things. I managed to convince my head of department that studying owls was as good as studying lions or elephants or rhinos. I finished my undergraduate degree with honours and continued on for my masters. It was then that I met Lekgotla.

He was in my department and we had so much in common. Though he didn’t understand my love of birds, he also loved the bush and was committed to conservation. He was a wildlife veterinarian, ten years older than me, but we found a way to connect. I wasn’t sure he was my Mr Right, but I cared about him, and I was starting to think my Mr Right didn’t exist. Maybe it was time to settle for ‘Mr Good Enough’.

“Let me just pop in here and get some milk,” Lekgotla said as we passed a supermarket. He was walking me home to my tiny flat near campus. He had been pressuring me to move in with him to his house in town, but I wasn’t quite ready for that.

Lekogtla went into the shop and I sat down on a bench outside. It was one of the first sunny days after a cold winter and I was enjoying the sun, my eyes closed, my head back, resting on the shop’s wall.

“Keamogetse?” I opened my eyes.

“I don’t believe it! Baboloki?”

I jumped to my feet and hugged him. I’d last seen him four years back – that time long ago in that airport bar where I spilled my heart on the table and then walked away from him, I’d thought forever.

He looked me up and down. “What kind of woman are you? You get more beautiful every time I see you. How’s Naledi?”

“Naledi is good. Married to Cyrus, three kids already. Kind of the life she wanted, actually.”

“And you?” he teased.

“No kids. No husband.” Had I not changed at all? I felt the same as I did in that club so many years before. I was that teenage girl meeting this handsome boy who took her breath away. “And you? I bet you’ve been snatched up.” I felt sure he was about to tell me he was married or engaged or…

“Nope. I’m free. And I’m here now. I just started a Masters at Wits, so you ought to be seeing more of me.”

Just then Lekgotla came out of the shop. He looked at us both, confused. “Lekgotla, this is an old friend, Baboloki. Baboloki, meet my friend Lekgotla.”

They shook hands. “Nice to meet you,” Baboloki said. “Listen, give me your number so I can call you. I need to rush off just now, but I want us to get together to catch up.”

We exchanged numbers and I watched him walk off. Then I turned back to Lekgotla and we walked to my flat.

Lekgotla was quiet the entire way home. When we got to the flat, I didn’t invite him in. I don’t know why – no, actually I do. I didn’t want him there. I wanted to think through my thoughts on seeing Baboloki again, about having him at Wits.

“I’ve got a lot of work,” I said.

“When did I become a ‘friend’? I thought I was your boyfriend?”

“You are. Of course you are. Did I say friend?”

“Keamogetse, you know you did.” He left. He wasn’t one for wild scenes and storming off. He left and I knew it was over.

Baboloki called the next day, after I’d dialled his number at least twenty times, but had never gone through with the call. When he called I picked it up after the first ring.

“Hey Baboloki.”

“I want us to meet,” he said simply.

“Where?”

“Anywhere, as long as it’s close and you can be there fast.”

I picked a café two blocks from my flat. I dressed and for once I wished Naledi was there to find me the right clothes. I looked through everything I owned and nothing was right. In the end it was my ‘Save the Eagle Owl’ T-shirt and my Chinese store jeans. Naledi would have been furious. But in her honour, I applied both eye liner and mascara.

I got there early and took a table at the door. I didn’t want to miss him. But it was only a few minutes and there he was. There he was with his untouchable smile. With his beautiful self.

I stood up and he took me in his arms. And there in that café we had our second kiss, which was not a light, bittersweet, good-bye kiss. Oh no. Not this one. This one was a ‘we-finally-got-it-right’ kiss. It was an ‘I’m-never-going-to-let-you-go-again’ kiss.

It was an ‘I’ve-been-waiting-for-you-my-whole-life’ kiss.

A ‘we-are-meant-to-be-together’ kiss.

Quite a few years later than it should have been, but we got there. We finally got there. And it has been wonderful.

***

Tell us: What do you think about the ending? Do you feel bad for Lekgotla?