A love story about a homemade birthday cake

Cakes and Love

Yesterday was my birthday, so I decided to bake myself a cake. I love cakes. I associate them with romance. With love. Sometimes, I wish I were a professional baker. The first time a woman showed interest in me, she did it with cakes. I would wake up at dawn and find freshly baked cake dangling on a kavera on my door knob. No one has ever shown me such sweetness. I almost wrote a romance novella about it. I drafted a note on my blog, but I never got round to it because that cake love never materialized. Maybe this year, I’ll sit down and write it, especially after I baked a birthday cake and enjoyed it, with a beautiful lady, for breakfast on New Year. Watch here my animated sad love poems.

Oh, that breakfast. One of the best I’ve ever had! This lady (call her Cake Lady) heard I was making the cake, and she said she wanted to taste it. So I texted her, “Let’s eat it for breakfast tomorrow,” and she immediately texted back, “Yes! Yes! Yes! Of course I’ll come for breakfast at your home!” That’s when it struck me that she had a crash on me. I began to warm up to the idea of us together, but – oh well, love is, well, how do I put it? Somehow, the breakfast went from the best one ever to the worst date. Worst, worst date.


I’ll tell you about it in short while. First, let’s talk about the cake I baked for my birthday.

A bowl, stained, fresh out of the oven, dregs of cake.

Looking for a simple cake recipe

You didn’t know it was my birthday because I turned it off on all social media. I got fed up of fake happy birthday messages from strangers. Only those who care about me remembered it was my birthday (some were sweetly confused, not knowing whether it was 31st December or 1st January) My bank robots did not forget. One sent me over five inhuman birthday wishes, but at least their messages came with a statement of how much interest my money earned during the year. It upset me a little that my crush did not remember my birthday, and that is probably why I invited Cake Lady for breakfast. Probably. Do you know how it hurts for someone you love not to acknowledge your birthday?

I was there being depressed, and decided to alert other people that it was my birthday. You know, we all want to be loved sometime, we want to know that the people we talk to actually care about us, so I sent a few persons messages asking them for cake recipes. I was a little shy to just say, “It’s my birthday, send me a gift,” so I messaged a few people, somewhat randomly, telling them I wanted to bake myself a birthday cake and needed a simple recipe. One person told me that she is a professional baker. She gave me a recipe, which I failed to use. It was too complicated.

One of the people I texted was the Cake Lady. We’ve been friends for a while. We went to the movies twice, but things sort of frizzled out between us. Well, mostly my bad. I got taken up by work and she slipped out of my mind. It’s really how I have avoided commitment all this time. Run away from those who have a crush on you, and fall in love with those who don’t even acknowledge your existence. Looks like I was in Cake Lady’s mind all the time, because when she heard it was my birthday, and I was spending it by baking myself a cake, she texted; “Oh, that’ll be the loveliest cake ever! I want to taste it!” That’s how I got a breakfast date. But that is not one of the Seven Tricks Ugandan Girls Use to Hook Men. Read them here.

Now, pressure climbed. I was no longer making the cake for myself. A lady was coming over. A beauty who had a crush on me. Maybe I’d start the year with falling in love, and maybe by the end I’ll make my mother very happy by finally getting married. I had to bake her the ‘loveliest cake ever’. I scratched my head. I sweated. I panicked. I cursed myself for sending out those messages, I should have just had a quiet birthday, and eaten my cake in peace. But a voice was telling me that I can’t remain single forever. This was an opportunity to fall in love. I had to take it, though I had never baked a cake before…

Actually, I had baked a cake once before, about five years ago. Only one person tasted it, my girlfriend at that time, and she said it tasted like burnt ugali. She was so mean. That’s why we broke up, by the way. She killed my dreams of being a baker. I know why I failed. You see, at that time I didn’t have a proper oven. I used a microwave, so the cake came out tasting funny. But not like ugali!

This time, I had to motivate myself. A beautiful lady was coming to have breakfast with me. And we live in the dotcom era (do people still say that?), surely I could get a recipe somewhere online. I googled ‘simple cake recipes’.

The problem with googling for cake recipes is that you get this list of ingredients that you’ve never heard about in your life, and that you can’t even know where to get in a city like Kampala. Professional bakers would have time to find all that stuff, but me, I didn’t have that time. Cake Lady was coming the next morning.

So I searched my kitchen and I realized I had all the ingredients I needed to make a cake! I had an oven, I had flour, I had baking powder, I had raw eggs, I had bananas and a lot of fruits. I could make a fruit cake! I decided to cook up a recipe so I made up this list of ingredients:

  • Some flour
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 banana
  • A good chunk of sliced pawpaw

That’s it. No sugar. No nothing that will make you hate your own body. Just a small cake that will make you fall in love.

Breakfast. Homemade cake. Glass bowl.
My fruitcake. It didn’t actually look too bad.

Baking the cake

So, step 1: Pour some cold water onto the flour to make a paste. (Not pest, but I can’t resist the joke. Me and my crush were once dining out, and we saw on the menu ‘pested boo’ to mean an Acholi dish of boo – pronounced boh – cooked in groundnut source. As I typed ‘make a paste’ I remembered that evening and a tear – wtf Dilman!)

Step 2: Add a tablespoon of baking power. Use Chapa Mandazi. One of the most arrogant brands I’ve ever known. They never advertise. The package has remained the same from the ‘80s when I was a little child, maybe even from the 60s. Yet it has no competitors.

Step 3: Blend the fruits. Ah, what would we do without a blender? I threw in three bogoya and a good chunk of pawpaw and to make a smoothie. I could have added avocado and mango, because, well, I was making a fruitcake, but I only had bananas and pawpaw.

Step 4: Mix the smoothie in the flour paste. Then break three eggs and add into the mixture. By this time, my concoction was looking nice and delicious, I sent Cake Lady a few pictures of the work in progress, and she sent me an emoji of a salivating glutton.

Step 5: Pre-heat the Oven. Okay, this is a step I actually got from google. They say the oven has to be pre-heated, for some reason. Then, after it was hot enough, I shoved the cake into the oven, turned up the heat, and waited.

About twenty minutes later, something came out of the oven. It was a cake, I think – well, it looked like a cake, but it tasted like porridge. How did I go from making cakes that taste like ugali to cakes that taste like porridge? That is backward progression. There is no way this Cake Lady would fall in love with me if I fed her cake that tastes like porridge.

I ate it anyway, why waste food? I didn’t have anything else for supper, because I’d spent all my energy trying to bake, and so I had to punish myself for making that horrible cake. I have cooked better food though, you can read here my Quick Recipes for the Love Hunting Bachelor

I repeated the process. Mixed the flour, mixed in the baking powder, blended the fruits, added eggs, put it in the over and left it to bake. This time, I found a website that said I should set a longer baking time, maybe an hour. That’s what I did.

I decided to watch a movie in the meantime. I got a glass of wine, fell onto a couch, and settled for the Joker. I thought it was another superhero movie, and I wanted something I could turn off at any time and go back to baking, but the Joker surprised me. It is a dark film, just the kind I love. I once went through a list called “25 films that will make you lose faith in humanity” and this one would have easily made that list. I got lost in the story. I forgot about the cake in the oven. I forgot about the Cake Lady. That is what good stories do to me. Why else do you think I’m still single? When I find a good story, whether it’s in my head or in a book or on the screen, I forget the world.

As the Joker credits rolled, I became aware of noise outside. New Year fireworks. My doors were still open. I hurried to lock up. I was locking up the kitchen, I looked at the oven and for several seconds I could not remember why it was still on. Then it hit me. The cake. I dived for the switch, flipped it off, yanked open the oven door, and a huge blast of smoke engulfed me.

I escaped from the kitchen, coughing. I fell into my bed, thinking I should text Cake Lady and cancel breakfast. Yet another part of me thought I’d have time in the morning to get a cake from a supermarket and pretend I baked it. I fell asleep before I could make a decision.

Breakfast on a white plate. Homemade cake. Banana. Pawpaw. Tomatoes. Grapes. Cakes. Red mugs. Tea.
The breakfast didn’t turn out too bad, fruits and cakes make it look yummy. It looked nice once laid out on the table.

Breakfast with the Cake Lady

In the morning, it was too late to cancel breakfast. First, I had told her I was making a fruitcake, and I there was no supermarket nearby that sells fruitcake. I couldn’t cheat my way into her heart. Then, I thought that of being honest, show her the charcoaled cake. Maybe she will only laugh about it. Surely, she wasn’t coming only for the cake. Was she?

Well, I went to the kitchen, and looked into the oven. A miracle had happened in the night. The cake had not turned to charcoal. It actually looked good, like an old fashioned homemade cake. So I thought, maybe cupid was smiling on me. Maybe this is my time.

I wanted to taste the cake, just to be sure it did not taste like porridge or ugali, but well, if I cut it, it wouldn’t look good on her instagram timeline. She wanted to post pictures of the breakfast. And I thought, if cupid made the cake look this good, even after I had seen smoke billowing out of the oven, surely the miracle had extended to the taste as well.

At that moment, my crush texted; “how did the cake turn out?” I told her what happened. And I added, “Someone wants to eat it for breakfast. She’ll be the first to taste it. Pray for her.”

I did not know that Cake Lady would actually need prayers because of my cake. “Dilman!” my crush texted, in that way of hers of telling me I was doing something stupid. I didn’t know what to say, so I insisted; “Please, pray for her.”

Cake Lady came. I laid breakfast table. It looked beautiful. We took photos for instagram. You can see some of them on this page. She said her timeline was going to catch fire, and I read between the lines and knew she was thinking cupid had finally smiled upon her.

Then she tasted the cake.

Oh God.

Okay, look, I don’t want to go into all the details. This blog has already gone on for too long, I should have kept it at five hundred words or so. And if I tell you the details, you might figure out who she is, and I don’t want that. She is the victim. We have to protect the victim. I’m the, you know, the whatever.

“So,” she said, munching on the cake, and I could tell from her grimace that someone had put a gun on head and told her that if she doesn’t swallow the cake her brains would decorate the wall. “So, this if fruitcake.”

“Yes!” I said, with exaggerated enthusiasm. “Yes! Fruitcake!”

She said, “Excuse me,” and ran into the bathroom. She stayed there for a long time. Maybe thirty minutes. Maybe an hour. I don’t know what she was doing in there. Maybe she had an invisible friend and they were having a great conversation about how she was having breakfast with the nicest baker on earth. Maybe she was puking. Maybe she had caught instant diarrhea. I really didn’t want to find out why she took so long in the bathroom.

When she came out, she was staggering, and her tummy looked empty, as if everything she had eaten since the last decade had ended up in my toilet. There was a smell also coming out of the toilet. I called cleaner for an emergency job, and paid her 50k instead of the usual 10k, so I never knew what caused that smell.

“I’m not feeling well,” Cake Lady said, and picked her purse and staggered out.
I don’t know if I’ll ever hear from her.

Now, I want to adapt this story into a vlog episode of a web-series I’m planning to create for my Youtube channel, a series about real life in Kampala. Be sure to subscribe to the channel and hit the notification bell you’ll be the first to know when the series comes out.

Now that you are here, I have a small favor to ask. I regularly make science fiction short films and I’m looking for your support. It’s very difficult to make it as a filmmaker in Africa, where there is virtually no market to encourage big film investments, and so any dollar you can spare will go a long way into changing things. Please pledge on patreon.com/dilstories You only pay after I make the film, and you can stop payments at anytime. For other options, like donating via mobile money or PayPal, please go here dilmandila.com/donate

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