Soul Safari by Alnoor Amlani, published in the Caine Prize 2010 anthology, is a story about a well-planned but botched marriage proposal between former high-school lovers, Adam and Zara. Adam has carefully planned a Safari trip for his long time high-school who had just a terrible break-up with his boyfriend that required the police to literally uproot him from her apartment.
Adam seemed not to have taken the psychological consequences of such a horrible incident into consideration when planning for this romantic adventure. Upon reaching the place the relationship between the two went sour when Adam openly expressed his love for Zara. Zara on her part let it known to him that she loves him too, but only as a sister would love a brother. This statement broke the last string that held them together. Red with jealous and almost annoyed with anyone who dared hold a conversation with Zara that kept him out, the relationship was descending farther and farther into an irremediable state. And Adam was bent on pushing his proposal through. He was virtually obsessed with her: dreaming of her being chased by lions and he working to save her.
But Zara also has her career before her. She's yet to complete her degree in Film Studies in London, where her parents have migrated to five years ago and Adam is already settled with a well-paying job. Petty quarrelling ensued during their journey towards the last park they had to visit. When a bulbul settled on their car and looked at itself in the mirror, Zara asked "I wonder whether it knew it was looking at itself" and Adam responded "Maybe it thought it had found a girlfriend". This, or another, bulbul would later settle on their table after Zara had told Adam that she thinks she is in love and Adam had smiled for the first time since the time he professed his love to her and she had brushed it off. Did that smile and that acknowledgement of love mean the two would get involve?
This is a love story of sorts though not the romance-soggy types. It portrays the relationship between a man, set to marry, and a woman, set on her career. Yet, it doesn't lead to much estrangement as each is not holding to an entrenched position. Zara might be acting it out per her previous encounter, Adam could wait for her. But, definitely, there was a flicker of hope in the end.
About the author: Alnoor Amlani is a third-generation Kenyan of Indian origin who lives in Nairobi. He has worked in East Africa as a management consultant and written articles and opinion pieces for over a decade. He began writing fiction in 2009. He is currently writing his first novel. (Source: anthology)