Tam told me that she had sent an email to Viv. She had asked him to come see me at a bar. I thought she’d gone crazy, why would Viv come to see me. It was amply clear that I was not needed, in any way, in his life. No complaints, it was just understood.

I decided to swing by the bar in the evening. It was a little early, there was still time before 7pm, which is when Tam had asked him to be there. I thought I’d swing by at 5pm, he wouldn’t be there and that would be the end of it. But to my surprise, he was there! I looked at him and asked him what he was doing there! He said that he got Tam’s email and, hence, why wouldn’t he be there. I lost my nerve to ask any more questions. The only thing that had always mattered to me when he was there is that he WAS there!

I turned around and saw a dozen of my school classmates at the bar. That was weird because I never knew Viv from school. But he said he would be back after he mingled a bit. I was fine, as long as he was there. The night wore on, I kept seeing glimpses of him as he went on meeting folks but felt warm and safe having him around me. The smile never left my face.

After midnight, I got a call from my husband. He knew I was out, meeting “friends”. He was frantic, he wanted to know if I was at a bar which had a big cat like statue on the outside. I replied in affirmative and he asked me to leave, pronto! There was something on the news that said that the bar was going to be attacked because it “went against our culture”. He urged me to leave, I told him I had to hang up.

I looked around, I couldn’t see Viv anywhere. I ran around looking for him, frantically. He was nowhere. I called him several times – no answer. God, I didn’t want to leave without him. I couldn’t leave him there and escape the danger. May be I would stay. I didn’t mind the worst, if I were to meet that fate with Viv – that thought brought me some peace because I couldn’t leave him. I closed my eyes and my daughter flashed before my eyes. No! I couldn’t leave her. I couldn’t just sit here and get killed and leave her when I had a choice. Tears streaming down my face, I started running. I was constantly calling Viv but I couldn’t reach his phone. I was going to lose him. I was running away when I should have stayed and looked for him. I was running to my daughter.

I was some distance away when I heard an explosion and I was thrown to the ground. My husband called me again, I answered and told him I was out of there. And I was safe. I was alive. But my heart was dead.

I didn’t know if Viv made it. I hoped he did but I had abandoned him. I don’t abandon people and I abandoned the one person that I wouldn’t ever have wanted to abandon.

And then my alarm went off. 3:30am. I had never been happier to wake up at 3:30am. It was a nightmare and it was over. It had many elements of truth – political instability, a man from the past(?) whom I’d been unable to once reach when a bomb exploded, husband, child, choices to make, a big hippo (and not cat) statue, all twisted together into a sordid saga by my subconscious but it was not real. It wasn’t real. Viv must be safe. I didn’t leave him to die. I didn’t abandon him. And my family didn’t lose me. And there were no choices to make, not anymore…