Her name was Catherine. I still do not understand how I fell in love with her.
I had been working in Kirk Range National Park for almost a year now. And honestly I was enjoying my work. I had good, kind workmates and a great salary with benefits. Many of my co-workers had also turned into friends.
Being a fresh graduate from the university, I had resolved not to rush into marriage until after I was financially stable and had finished my postgraduate studies. Not to brag but I had great self-control when it came to chasing skirts. I believed that chasing ladies only for sexual self-satisfaction left them wounded and feeling used. Many people viewed me as strange.
Even though I did not have a girlfriend, I had a number of great female friends among my co-workers. One of them was Catherine. She was tall, light in complexion, slim and very beautiful. She was well spoken and open-minded. Catherine turned men’s heads around the office.
We first met when she was assigned as my junior co-worker, which meant spending a lot of time together.
“Welcome madam. My name is Bernard,” I told her.
“Thank you very much. I am glad to meet you. My name is Catherine,” she responded.
“Welcome Catherine. I am very sure that we will work well together,” I said, smiling reassuringly.
“I hope so too.”
That was the beginning of our beautiful friendship. Catherine was married with one child. During festive seasons, our company would organise parties for all the departments and all the workers were allowed to bring their spouses. Catherine often attended these gatherings with her husband.
I liked Catherine for her kindness, she was hard-working, disciplined and dedicated. Based on how well our working relationship progressed, some workmates would jokingly say we made a good couple.
After working together for more than four months, things changed between us. Our communication had always been only during working hours and we would text each other with the office phones. But one day, I received a message from a private number.
“I am sorry my dear. Today you really worked hard. You deserve a good rest,” the message read.
I wondered who it was that was following my work life so closely. Being a new number, I did not want to seem rude.
“Thank you very much. May I know who it is? I am sorry, the number is new to me,” I said.
“Oh sorry for not introducing myself. This is Catherine and this is my personal mobile number,”
“Ok Catherine. Thanks for your concern,” I replied.
I couldn’t remember giving her my number, but my heart beat faster after her texts.
We met at work the next day and life continued as normal. That evening she texted me again finding out if I had arrived home safely. These evening conversations became a routine until she even started bringing me gifts.
“This pair of trousers will fit you well. They’re a gift for your birthday as a token of my appreciation for the kind of boss you are,” Catherine said. It baffled me that she even knew my birthday. It got to a point where if I didn’t reply to her messages, she would complain and we would chat up to midnight most days.
“Are you in bed with your husband?” I asked her.
“No, he is not yet at home. He is still out for business,” she said.
The next day I decided that things were going too far. She was a married woman. But, I also enjoyed her company and I was slowly giving in to stronger feelings. One day, she told me she had something to tell me. I wondered if I had wronged her. I waited for our usual chats in the evening and after the normal greetings, she finally opened up to me.
“Bernard, I love you. I am sorry to burden you with this, but I have been hiding these feelings for a long time,” she said.
I didn’t know how to respond to her. Of course I loved her too but I didn’t want to break up her marriage.
“I have also been feeling the same. I mean I love you too,” I said.
When we met the next day at work, she looked nervous and shy, which was unlike her. I concluded that she just needed reassurance.
“Love is about caring for each other. Do not feel bad about telling me that you love me,” I told her.
“But I am married my dear. That makes it complicated. It makes me feel guilty for loving you. I know it’s a genuine feeling but I do not know how to handle it,” she said.
“Yes, I know you are married my dear, but I just want us to love each other.” After arguing with her for some time, she didn’t seem convinced about it. We continued chatting but our chats started becoming fewer.
A few weeks later, she came to explain to me that she had rushed in telling me that she loved me. She said that she could not go on with our love. I was heartbroken, but I had no choice but to painfully accept it and move on.