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The Epiphany: A Short Story by Oscar Mubila

It was a typical boys’ evening; Lots of drink, lots of bragging and lots of loud music. After two or three drinks they began to talk about what boys really like to talk about.

‘The thing I will never understand is why girls are more likely to believe a story which is so obviously a load o’ bull than the truth.’

‘That’s not really true and you know it,’ retorted Oliver.

‘The thing about you is that you are sex starved. You aren’t being serviced.’ That was Fred. It always seemed to Oliver that that was all Fred ever thought about. That was not to say Oliver didn’t feel that he was sex starved. Recently he had been going through a phase and now trying to be honest with himself he had to admit that he was looking for something more than sexual gratification. For once he wanted to make love and not have sex. You couldn’t really make love with someone you didn’t love, could you?

‘Are you sex starved?’ Chola’s eyes were fixed on him. ‘I know Cindy is still crazy about you. Isn’t she, James?’

‘Yes. She told Gertrude that. I forgot to mention it. They are both coming tomorrow.’ James said pointedly.

‘Come on guys cut it out. I am not sex starved. I am just not interested in girls at the moment.’  He ignored James’ implication.

‘You mean girls aren’t interested in you, don’t you?’ Laughter all round.

‘You are hopeless Fred. When did you last have some action yourself Romeo?’

‘Well if you must know, Chewe came over last night and lets just say my roommate did not quite enjoy his sleep. Boy she was really frisky. I have never known her that hot.’ More laughter.

‘I hope you used protection. The number of girls that come here…’ he let it trail off.

‘Come on. What do you take me for? I bet that if I were to say to every one that we should all go for an HIV test, none of you would be in a hurry to do it.’ Uncomfortable murmur.

‘Damn right you are.’ That was James.

‘We have all done something at one point in our lives we wish we hadn’t.’

‘But don’t you think it is better to know than not to know?’

‘What if you are found to be positive? What then? Let’s not pretend guys that we could handle it. It is bull shit.’

‘The problem is that we seem not to know enough about the damned disease. I went recently for a test.’ Oliver added as an after thought.

Everyone turned to look at him.

‘And?’ Chola asked wide eyed. There was a deafening silence. All eyes were on him.

‘I’m negative.’

‘That’s a relief. But what if it had been the opposite?’ Fred asked, shaking his head.

‘I don’t really know.’ Oliver said truthfully. ‘Live with it I suppose.’

‘I think you’re bloody brave.’ Fred finally said after an awkward silence.

‘’I could never do it.’ said Chola with emotion.

‘I have done it before,’ said James ‘and now recently with Oliver here.’

‘You guys are nuts.’ laughed Fred

‘Nothing nuts about it.’ smiled James

‘And were your babes aware that you had gone for tests?’ Fred asked with his drink half way to his lips.

‘Of course.’

‘Where do you get your hot babes guys?’ Chola couldn’t keep the envy from his voice, but it made a welcome change to the uncomfortable subject.

Chola was going out with a really hot number called Barbara. She managed to tame Chola beyond belief.

She, despite having spent several nights in his room, was still a virgin. Poor Chola had been trying for a whole month to get her to sleep with him, but he had not made much progress. This, of course, meant that Fred teased him mercilessly.

It was not the Chola they all knew. Barbara had done something to him. He was really in love. Although Oliver contributed to the teasing game, deep down he knew he was a bit envious of Chola. That’s what he wanted; to really be in love with someone. He was tired of running around and having girlfriends just to prove that he was man enough.

‘I best be going now,’ he said. ‘Thanks for the drinks.’

‘Come on the night is still young.’ Chola objected.

‘I know but I have a lot of studying to do. Besides tomorrow I will have to go to this conference. You never know what opportunities may lie ahead. This is the time to make contacts. It won’t be that easy once we are in the field.’

The truth was that he needed some time to himself. He needed to think about things and to decide what to do next. His mind was on the girl behind the counter in that fast food shop. He quite liked her. He would definitely go and have coffee at that place again. He had no expectations, but one never knew. She could turn out to be the thing he was looking for.

‘What do I tell Cindy?’ That was James.

‘Anything you like.’

‘So you are serious you told her you didn’t want her any more?’ Chola couldn’t keep the incredulity from his voice.

‘Come on Chola. It was hard enough for me to do it. When you say it, you make me sound like some kind of monster.’

‘I could never bring myself to tell a girl to her face that it was over. I think all this yoga that you have been doing has screwed your head.’

‘Drop it Chola.’ He was beginning to get irritated. It was a matter of principle. It had taken him several weeks of deliberation before he got up the courage to tell Cindy. He knew he was not happy in the relationship and there was no use in carrying on.

Cindy was not his dream girl. She was a good lay and that was as far as it went. He had never thought that it would be a relationship that would last 6 months. He had met her when she had escorted Gertrude to see James. In trying to be friendly one thing had led to another and one night while the four of them had been out together, they had kissed and wound up spending the night together. Oliver was never crazy about her but she was so much into him and liked to show him off to her friends.

Oliver was originally amused and went on with the charade. He had even almost convinced himself that he was going to settle down with her. Of course you cannot live in dreamland forever and he realised that they were from two separate worlds. Admittedly the sex was fantastic as he was able to give her multiple orgasms.

It had definitely become a conquest thing. It was always how many orgasms he could give her before he had one himself. He knew her every sensitive spot and how to get her going. She once confessed to him that she had never had an orgasm before she had met him and now she was having multiple ones.

This enchantment did not last long. Something kept telling him that he needed more and she wasn’t the one to give it to him.

He couldn’t bring himself to tell her the truth nor could he tell her straight that he just wasn’t interested in her. H e had to bring in the story of another girl. He had thought that it would be easier for her to understand that way.

She had taken it well. She did not make a fuss and surprised him by saying that she had been expecting it the last few weeks.

He was sufficiently apologetic but he could not help feeling like a complete heel.

This was why he felt particularly sensitive about going down that route during conversation.

‘Listen buddy, you will find me in the room. I just need to get something from Chanda.’

 It seemed to him that he always made the wrong decisions when it came to girls. He remembered the unmistakable excitement when a girl said she would go out with you or when you got your first kiss. Always the first kiss was the exciting bit for him. He cherished those moments and looked forward to them. Looking back now all he could remember about most of his relationships was the first kiss. Thinking about it hit him. That’s as far as he had ever got with most of the girls. Damn! It always seemed to go down hill after that. It wasn’t that he didn’t have the vibe or that he wasn’t romantic enough.

He concluded that his problem was that there was a huge disparity between his behavior and his social status. Then it made sense why he had got all those rejections from all those campus girls. Status was everything to them. Oli just didn’t cut it.

Having originally come from a middle class background, he still had elements of that. The girls always imagined that he was middle class until they discovered he was just a simple guy whose father’s name never meant anything and that he was paying his own way through university as his father had long ago retired. The money he used was all borrowed.

He felt angry with God. Why had He made him like this and then denied him everything that went with the way he was. He wanted to be able to take a girl out to one of the fancy nightclubs and shower her with flowers and chocolates. He wanted to dress in the latest trendy things. He knew that the only reason he dressed so shabbily was not that he had no fashion sense but that he could never afford to get those trendy things.

This hurt him more and the bitterness he felt towards life and God was so intense that he prayed that God would take him out of his misery.

He suddenly decided that he wasn’t going to go to his room after all. Instead he took a detour to the university lakes. There was a full moon and its light was beautifully reflected on the lake. The sky had cleared amazingly. Only a few hours ago it had been overcast.

He suddenly felt so tired. Tired of his existence. Tired of making all this effort just to make the grade. Tired of this huge disparity between his status and way of thought. Tired of living in dreamland and believing that he could write. Tired of always making the wrong decisions. Tired of being so tired. This was the time he should have been enjoying his youth. Fat chance of that happening with a God like this around. He had been disadvantaged by God. The all knowing chessplayer. Damn!

An emptiness filled his heart and he just couldn’t help it. He broke down and began crying.

Oscar Mubila
Oscar Mubila
Oscar Mubila is a teacher of English and Drama resident in Lusaka, Zambia. He has written several short stories and essays which he mainly shows to friends.


  1. Ba mudala this is a very nice story, well written too. it is almost too short a short story I absolutely loved it. keep up the good work we just might follow in your wake.

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