Prologue 


‘HE’S NOT COMING!’  'Excuse me?’ 'He would have been here by now if he was.’ The taxi driver had a point. I had been waiting at Entebbe Airport for nearly an hour, bags by my side. Travellers were coming and going, but despite the hustle and bustle all I could hear was tinny 60s music seemingly on permanent repeat. I kept looking at my watch and then looking around, but there was no sign of Boaz (pronounced Bo-Az). I couldn't ring him as I’d accidentally left my mobile behind in Lebanon—maddeningly, still on charge. Everyone around me seemed to have a mobile, and not a public phone in sight. Luckily my friend Rita and her sister Maria had come to wave me off at the airport. I’d been using Rita’s SIM card which had all my contacts, so I had written Boaz’s number on my plane ticket. It was a disappointing start to the trip, especially as I had left Lebanon on such a high. It was my birthday, and the girls had made such a fuss. They even surprised me with a Happy Birthday cushion. I was in Uganda to start a new life with Boaz. I had never been to Africa and I was so excited. This was the biggest decision I had ever made; my very own big fat adventure. But as the minutes ticked by waiting for Boaz, my excitement began to turn to doubt. Where was he? Maybe he was caught up in traffic or got delayed while looking at apartments (one of many tasks we had to consider as a couple)? I had been expecting to see him in the lovely brown, pin-striped shirt that I’d bought. I was forever finding excuses to buy him clothes. But this shirt was special. I had seen it in a small shop in Texas, having spotted it on a mannequin in a shop window. The store was about to close, but I banged on the door until the shopkeeper let me in. I knew the bright colours would look beautiful against his dark skin. We had agreed he would wear it to make it easier for me to pick him out from the crowd. But he was nowhere to be seen. I liked to spoil Boaz. The previous Christmas I had bought him a very expensive Omega watch from the UK. I hadn’t given it to him yet as it was a surprise wedding gift. 'I will be back in twenty minutes,’ said the taxi driver, ‘and if you are still here, I will take you wherever you want to go.’ But where could he take me? Without Boaz, I had no idea where I was supposed to be going. Twenty minutes later he was back. I was feeling a bit embarrassed and, despite harbouring some doubt about his motives, decided to let him help me. 'What’s the number of this guy?' he asked, taking out his phone. I read out the number. He rang, but there was no answer. I was now starting to panic, and my mouth turning dry. Earlier, while changing planes in Addis Ababa, I cheekily asked a cleaner if I could use her phone to make a call to Boaz. I couldn’t leave a message as he didn’t have voicemail, but once he spotted the missed call, he’d call back. Wouldn’t he? I had an hour and a half to kill before my connecting flight, so I sat near the cleaner just in case. But the phone never rang. Admittedly there had been times when I would call Boaz from Lebanon, and he wouldn't answer. He would later blame a poor signal. My experience of technology in third world countries confirmed that this wasn't unusual, so I had no reason to disbelieve him. By now the heat was overwhelming and panic was setting in. I wondered if anything untoward had happened. This was a man who was never late. In fact, he was usually early.  'Is there another airport?' I asked feebly.  I was determined not to burst into tears in front of this stranger. ‘No, this is the only one,’ said the driver. ‘I will try the number again.'  I could see in his eyes that he felt sorry for me. This time Boaz answered. The driver handed me the phone. Now I was annoyed. I had crossed a continent to be with this man and he'd left me standing alone, frantic with worry.  'Where are you? I’m stood here at the airport.’ ‘Sorry, sorry, traffic. I am on my way.’ He sounded surprised to hear my voice, which stirred a little annoyance in me, but I didn’t want to have this conversation on somebody else’s phone, so I quietly asked how long he would be. 'Not long. About twenty minutes.’ When Boaz finally turned up, he looked pleased to see me and gave me a big hug, but something wasn’t right. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I admit I didn’t have much of a smile on my face, and the excitement of my arrival had long dissipated. This was not the welcome I had been expecting. 'Let’s take a picture of you at the airport,’ he said. ‘What, like a bloody tourist?’ Was he kidding? The last thing I wanted was to have my picture taken. I’d only just got off a plane, for God’s sake. All I wanted was to know where we would be living and what plans he had for our future. My sense of unease grew. I knew for sure that something or someone had changed. Could it be that I was about to make the biggest mistake of my life?
 

 

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