Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Flaming Home! (Episode Thirteen)


Anas’s Point of View
Recovery
The pungent smell of iodoform is wafting the hospital room covered in white. I find the sight of hospitals revolting but surprisingly, I am glad to be here with my wife, to see her get better every day and become healthier and more beautiful. I am sitting beside Najwa, staring at her pale face and wondering if all that had happened was all a dream…that we had almost lost our lives to a person we had trusted. I scowl, remembering the way Barakah had pleaded when her wrists were handcuffed by the police officers.

“Please don’t let them take me. I’m sorry! Please! Najwa, Anas…don’t let them take me!” she had yelped in pain, her face blanching in shock and disbelief.

She had no idea what I had planned before visiting her. She had thought she had everything planned out. She thought she was the smartest. Well, I proved to her that I would do all it takes to protect the one who owns my heart.

I cannot help but chuckle as I remember the way Barakah’s eyes had turned red and swollen within the blink of an eye. She was trembling all over, crying and begging for help. Who would have thought that Barakah has a heart?

‘Well, spending years in a Nigeria prison will teach her a lesson! She would never come close to my family again.’ I mutter between my breaths.

I am glad Najwa is responding faster to treatment. I am glad she is alive and healthy. I thank Allah for making her rescue successful. I thank Allah for keeping her alive despite all that had occurred over the past weeks.

“You should keep thanking God that she was brought in at that very moment…all else, we might be telling a different story.” The doctor had said the night Najwa was rushed to the emergency ward.

Sahadat, dressed in a pink blouse, black pair of trousers with pink veil is pacing back and forth, doing all she can to make sure that her mother feels comfortable. She is adjusting the pillow and moving Najwa’s arms to rest in a better position on the hospital bed. She is cutting a part from her chocolate bar and I know what’s next…she would want her mother to take from it.

“Err…no Sahadat. Your mom is not fit to eat that now. She will eat more of this when she is discharged.” I smile at her.

“Asalamu ‘alaykum.” Yasmin greets as she enters the room. She is holding a large flask and a bag of toiletries. The smell of strawberry wafts the room as she stalks closer, dressed in a navy-blue khimar.

Najwa opens her eyes just at that instant and smiles at her. “Wa’alay…kumu salam. You’re welcome.” She says wearily and with a strangled voice as I assist her in sitting up.

“Ah mom, you’re awake. I want to read this for you.” Sahadat says excitedly as she opens her pink-coloured squared-sized storybook.

Najwa grins broadly. “You read this yesterday. Don’t you have another one?”

Sahadat bites her lower lip for some seconds and stands up. “Okay, I’ll get another one from the car.” She hurries out of the room and we all laugh in relief.

“Sahadat is the best daughter you can have.” Yasmin smiles as she holds Najwa’s hands.

I chuckle in delight. “I agree. You won’t believe it, Najwa… Sahadat was demonstrating how she would have punched Barakah if she was given the chance. That girl looks exactly like you.”

Najwa rolls her eyes and smiles at her sister. “Thank you for taking good care of Sahadat. I could have listened to your warnings. You warned me to never trust Barakah. I, instead, blamed you for being jealous of my life…”

“No, Najwa. I was indeed jealous. Who wouldn’t be jealous of your life? You have a lovely family and a successful career. I was jealous but I still love you very much and I’m also sorry.” Yasmin replies as they hug each other.

“In sha Allah, you’ll find a righteous man that will love you for who you are. Aameen.”

“Aameen,” Yasmin replies as she pulls away from her embrace. “I’ve brought the necessary things that Sahadat would need today. I have to head to my shop now; some customers have been waiting for me. I will be back before sunset, in sha Allah.”

I have just realized that the fat-and-smooth-cheeked Yasmin has some similar features with Najwa. In fact, they have the same shape of lips and nose.

“Okay, sis. Have a great day.” Najwa waves at her.

“Bye,”

“Thank you, Anas.” Yasmin nods in appreciation as she leaves the room.

As Yasmin leaves, I gaze at Najwa, grateful once again that I can live to see her face shimmer in delight and happiness. Najwa rolls her eyes as she catches me gazing at her. “Why are you staring at me that way? Give me a mirror!” she orders, rubbing her right palm all over her face.

I laugh mockingly, watching as her face twitch into a frown. “Anas, don’t be ridiculous! Do I look horrible?

“You look beautiful anytime or day. You are always gorgeous, Najwa. That’s why I love you. You make my life beautiful.” I say as Najwa smiles in satisfaction.

“My love, words cannot express my level of appreciation for fighting for me…for risking your life to rescue me. You’re one of a kind and I’m glad to have you as a husband. As for that Barakah…I will teach her a lesson. How dare she tie me up and feed me with rotten grains of leftover rice. And she wants my husband. Imagine oo, she was brazen enough to claim she loves you, Anas! My own husband oo. The love of my life…that’s the person she has her eyes on. I took her as my best friend and sister. I told her everything …all my secrets. Who would have thought that she was the enemy?” Najwa is prattling incessantly.

“Najwa…” I am saying as her phone starts to ring. I pick it from the shelf to check the caller. It is Mrs. Bola calling.

“Who’s that?” Najwa furrows her eyebrows.

“It’s Mrs. Bola.”

“Don’t pick…”

“No, I will.” I insist as I stand up and walk towards the door, nodding and replying swiftly to the caller at the other end. Najwa gives me a death stare as I am talking to her. I hang up and return the phone, taking my position beside Najwa. “She wants you to resume as soon as you are discharged and have rested enough. Mrs. Bola apologises for misjudgment.”

Ahbeegiii! Mrs. Bola doesn’t like me. She would be glad if I do not return. Moreover, they have to beg me well enough before I can return to that place.” Najwa is yelling and I can see her throat strain in discomfort. I urge her to sit well while she remains calm. “You shouldn’t trust the wrong person and make decisions because of personal sentiments. That job will assist your career and you will resume work. Barakah is in the cell now. Your fans are eagerly waiting for your return and your office is calling you. You just need to leave this antiseptic-stricken hospital and continue your wonderful life from where you stopped. I miss us, Najwa and I want us to return as a happy family like we used to be before all these started.” I kiss her on the forehead.

Najwa smiles appreciatively. “Yes, Anas. I can’t wait to return home.”
***
Mahmud’s living room is a medium-sized, simply-furnished room comprising of two sets of sofas, a table, a TV set, and a brown rug lay on the floor. His children, Zulaihat and Ameer are flopping on the couch and playing in excitement. His wife, Sherifah comes out with a tray of orange juice and pieces of crackers. She serves the tray on the stood beside me. “Mahmud is having his bath. He will join you soon. Do you want anything else?”

“No. I’m very fine with this. Thank you very much.”

“Okay,” Sherifah smiles shyly and starts to walk away. She stops for a moment and turns towards my direction. “I’m happy Najwa was rescued and I’m sorry about your loss of job.”

“Alhamdulillah Mama Zulaihat. Allah has a reason for everything.” I give an encouraging smile as she returns to the kitchen.

The truth is that, I need money. Najwa will soon be discharged from the hospital and I need to settle the hospital bill.

“Anas. It’s been a while bro!” Mahmud says as he walks into the living room, cleaning the sod in his ear with the tip of his towel.

“I need your assistance pal.”

“Okay, let’s talk in the dining room.”

“Najwa must not know about this. I know she has the money but I’m her husband and it is my duty to take care of her.” I remark, sipping from the cold juice and swallowing hard.

“I understand. I’ll give you the money. You can pay back whenever you’re financially buoyant.”

“Oh, thank you so much. I’m really grateful!”

“You shouldn’t be. What are friends for? Anas, what path do you plan on taking now? Do you want to keep searching for a new job or you want to start a small business?”

I rake my uncombed hair and wince. “These past few weeks haven’t been nice at all. But now that Najwa is safe, I’ll start exploring new opportunities and see which would pay. I regret not saving up for a moment like this but I’ve learnt my lesson. I was trying hard to compete with Najwa and I spent most of my earnings on frivolities. I’ve learnt the hard way, Mahmud.”

“It’s never too late. You have an amazing family and that’s what matters.”

I nod in agreement. I have a lovely family. I have Najwa and Sahadat, and I love them with all of my heart.

***
They say prostrating to your Creator is an ideal way to re-connect with Him, pour of your emotions, seek His forgiveness and mercy, request for your needs and thank Him for his uncountable blessings. Yes, sujud is a great way to reconnect with Allah and this is what I’ve been doing since we all returned home…since Najwa has been discharged from the hospital.       
 
This particular night, tears are streaming down my face uncontrollably. I’m reflecting on the things we take for granted; the blessings in our lives that we do not appreciate. My lips are busy muttering praises to my Creator and my face is a flood of tears.

I remain in this position for the next thirty minutes until I am tired and exhausted. Whipping my head up, dabbing at my eyes and gasping for breath, I spot Najwa sitting beside me. With a quick whisk, she hugs me tightly and we remain there for a long time; arms in arms, Najwa’s warm breaths from her nostrils and her long eyelashes tickling my neck, the sound of her heartbeat on my chest…I want us to remain this way forever…I want Najwa beside me every time…

My heart plummets. I can feel a soft arm surrounding my shoulder. It is Sahadat and she has wrapped her arms around me. “This hug is incomplete without me, mom and dad.” She grins happily.

“Yes, my baby. It is incomplete without you.” Najwa strokes her cheeks.

“Mom and dad, no more quarrels?”

“No more quarrels.” Najwa and I reply in unison.

A/N: We have one episode to go!!!❤๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’œ

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Sunday, 21 April 2019

Flaming Home! (Episode Twelve)



Najwa’s Point of View
The Rescue/Revelations
“Anas? Anas?” I stare at him as his eyes flutters. My throat is parched and words can hardly come out of my mouth. I swallow hard as I watch Anas roll on the floor. Dried red-thick blood stains his milk-coloured shirt and his hair looks disheveled.

Anas’s eyes finally open and they widen in shock. It takes seconds for him to realize how he got here and what had led to his loss of consciousness. I could see his face twitch into a frown as he remembers how Barakah had hit him on the head…blood dripping down his shirt as he falls to the ground.

Anas tries to move his arm but is then he realizes that his hands and legs have been tied. He raises his eyes and stares at me gloomily, his eyes moistening in tears. “I’m sorry, Najwa. I couldn’t save you…I could have prevented this from occurring. It is all my fault.” Anas says as tears are streaking down his face.

“No Anas…you’re not at fault…I shouldn’t have trusted her…I thought she was my best friend. Where is Sahadat?” I ask with a husky throat.

How did I just realize that my daughter has to be safe…that I haven’t seen her…that she has to be fine…?

“Sahadat is with Yasmin. She is safe.”

I sigh deeply as I watch Anas gaze at me with sympathetic eyes. I’ve never seen him cry…not till now. I haven’t realized how much he loves till this moment…we’re together…locked in a room, not knowing what would happen next…if our love story would be another version of Romeo and Juliet or if we would scale through this and live happily ever after with our daughter…and probably have more children…

I wish life could return to the way it used to be when we newly got married…when our love was still strong and unbreakable…and we adored each other despite our individual differences and imperfections.

“You look sick and pale my love…”

“I was poisoned. Barakah says that it will be a matter of days. My stomach sting and I feel pain all over me. I haven’t eaten food or tasted water in days. I can’t make it out of here… I will eventually die, Anas. You shouldn’t have come here. Why do you have to be a part of my calamity?” I cry in pains as I watch the man I vowed to spend the rest of my life with. Despite our current state, he still looks handsome and breathtaking; dark, smooth-tawny skin, captivating eyes, soft small lips, and black wavy hair. Oh no Najwa, you’ve been wrong all these while. You truly love your husband…you love him with all of your heart and he loves you too. He risked his life to save you! Now, you’ll end up leaving this world without professing your love for him.

“Don’t say that again. We will both leave here alive. We will raise Sahadat until she leaves for her husband’s house. We will have Mustapha, Aisha, and Farouk. We will raise them in the right way and be the best of parents to them. We will be together till our old age and watch as our hair turns from black to streaks of silver. I love you, Najwa. I love you more than you can ever imagine and I won’t trade it for anything else.”

“I love you too, Anas…”

“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! You guys still have time for all these…you’re professing your love for each other when you should be muttering your last prayers? Ooh, what a lovely couple…all tied up in a dark room. Why don’t you kiss yourselves? You can’t? Such a pity! Your hands are tied.” Barakah roars in laughter as she paces around the room.

She must have probably gotten here some few minutes ago, eavesdropping and mocking Anas while he reassured me that we will leave here alive.

“What do they call you guys again? The most loving couple, dream couple and blah blah blah? I wish the world can see how their most cherished couple looks now.”

“What do you want from us? Why don’t you leave us alone? We have never hurt you in any way. Why did you decide to pay good with evil? Najwa trusted you and cared for you like a sister, but is this how you’ll repay her kind virtue?” Anas glared at her in disbelief.

“I’ve hated Najwa from the first day I set my eyes on her. I wondered how we even became friends. The first day she resumed work at XYZ and I walked into her office to welcome her into our organization, Najwa stared at me repugnantly and haughtily from head to toe like I was a piece of shit and guess what she said? That she would teach me how to appear fashionable instead of looking shabby. Soon, she rose to a top position, and I got there before her…I’ve been at XYZ two years before Najwa arrived!” Barakah chokes in tears and she cleans her face with the hem of her blouse, struggling to regain her composure. “Suddenly, Najwa started to visit my office to have a little chat and invite me over for lunch. She wanted us to be friends but I never considered her as one. She talked about how much she despised you and wished that you were dead. She told me the truth…that all she said in her show and on her Instagram page were all false. She said she hated you and regretted getting married to you. She made me hate you without even meeting you…and the first day I set eyes on you…all I could see was love. You were the perfect man I wanted to get married to. I knew she hated you but I love you and I wanted us to be together. I become closer to Najwa so that I could spend more time with you. I would stare at you while you talk in the car…the movement of your small lips and the glimmer in your eyes. I fell deeply in love with you, Anas. I would spend sleepless nights staring at your picture and dreaming of you lying beside me, pulling locks of hair beside my ear and staring at me with lustful eyes. Najwa became more popular and famous. The higher she rose, the more I despised her and wished for her downfall. I devised a plan…I made Najwa hate you the more…especially when I realized that she still loves you. I poisoned her mind over Mutmahinat and encouraged her to find ways of dealing with her and teaching her a lesson. I created the perfect plan on how to take over her family and job. I framed her so that she could get suspended, and in turn, get fired from work. I had planned on killing her when she surprisingly appeared by my doorstep. It made the plan easier. I poisoned her with the plan that I get married to you while she dies.

I didn’t expect you to be here, Anas. I believed you when you confessed your love for me today. I was the happiest woman on earth because it was what I’ve always wanted. But I noticed a foul play when you were holding my foot mat. I knew you were on a mission when the key hidden there got missing. I pretended to be asleep when you broke into my home to rescue your so-called wife. Now, I have the two of you, captured like goats waiting to be slaughtered!” She chuckles and rolls her eyes, staring at us with a perpetually disdainful expression.

“Please Barakah, just let him go. You can kill me but please, let Anas go. You can get married to him and take my position at work. Please, release Anas because he isn’t a part of this. This is all my fault.” I cry disconsolately as I watch Barakah raise her eyes in surprise.

“You love him that much?”

“No! Kill me and let her go. Nothing bad must happen to Najwa. You mustn’t harm her. I will never get married to a murderer like you!” Anas screams incandescently.

“No. This is all my fault. I was the one that trusted her…you had warned me several times. This is a cross I have to bear alone. Please take good care of Sahadat…”

“What is wrong with you two? I haven’t decided what to do with you. You can’t impose on me who to kill and who not to. By the way, you only have a few days to spend on earth, Najwa. I’ll figure out what to do with him later.” Barakah scoffs impassively as she leaves the room.

The room falls silent and I am numb with horror as we hear the sound of her feet marching away. Soon, the sound dies down and I blink in pain, wondering why Anas has decided to risk his life for me.

Petrified, I try to yelp in pain and frustration but what comes out are breaths of dry air. My stomach rumbles loudly and I weep, knowing fully well that the end has come and I will never leave here alive…I will never live to correct my mistakes and see my daughter again.

The sound of a chuckle makes me swivel around incredulously. To my utter surprise, Anas is grinning widely. My mind is a whirl of confusion. Just a minute ago, he was pleading that Barakah takes his life instead of mine. Now, he is smiling broadly and watching me with a look of triumph.

What is wrong with me? Have I started to hallucinate? Why will Anas be smiling when our lives are at risk? Or is he a part of the plan? Maybe he works with Barakah…they plan on killing me?

“Don’t be frightened, my love. I am fine and we are fine.” Anas says reassuringly.

“How?”  

“Can you reach into my pocket? Try your best…” he is saying as he drags himself closer to where I am. “You’ll see a pocket knife. Bring it out and cut the rope off my tied hands.”

Blinking rapidly and swallowing hard, I quell a shudder as I try my best to reach into his pocket despite my tied hands. My brain reeling, I bring the pocket knife and start to struggle with the rope, watching as Anas gaze at me with a look of encouragement.

Within minutes, I am done with the rope and Anas cuts mine in return. He pulls me into a tight hug as our hands have been released. Anas pulls away and thrust his hand into his pocket. To my utter amazement, he brings out a small phone.

“Where has this been?”

“I hid it in my knicker. Barakah broke the wrong phone. I will call the Police. Barakah will be arrested and we will be rescued.” Anas hugs me briefly and pulls me into a kiss. “I recorded all that transpired here. In sha Allah, you will be treated at the hospital and the poison will be prevented from eating your system.” He says as he raises the phone to his ear.

“Hello, this is Anas Mukhtar. I’m calling to report…"

A/N: Maryam is back!☺❤

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 Photo credit: ruangmuslimah.co



Thursday, 4 April 2019

Flaming Home! (Episode Eleven)




Anas’s Point of View
The Bold Step
“What do you mean Anas? Is this a prank or something? Why are you just realizing this?” Barakah asks, trailing me with suspicious eyes.

Her face is dripping of sweat despite the movement of the creaky standing fan in the living room. I can perceive a faint smell of the mixture of cologne and perspiration. The red lipstick she would probably have applied in the morning appears smeared and the brown powder’s mixture with the sweat gives her face a muddy look.

“I saw something in the room this morning…a diary where Najwa pens down her daily thoughts. It was written there that she doesn’t love me and she never will. Her last words state that ‘I will trick him into thinking that I still love him…so that our fake display of public affection will look very real. He will never be my kind of man.’” I say, watching as Barakah’s lips twitch into a smile.

“So?” she rolls her eyes, appearing to have doubt in what I had just said.

“So our marriage was all a lie. I’ve just come to realize that I’ve been wrong all these while…that you’re the one I truly love. Have I been blind all through these years?” I fake a frown, placing my palm over my forehead.

“Yes, you’ve been blind not to have noticed me. I’ve always known that we were meant for each other.” She walks closer, grinning excitedly.

“Najwa fled because she knows what she did at the company. She left me and Sahadat and ran away.” I sob.

Barakah runs her fingers over my shirt. “This is the right time to get married for good. I will assume Najwa’s position and become a TV presenter. We will become the people’s couple crush and this time, our affection will be real…not like you and Najwa.” She scowls as she makes mention of the name; Najwa.

“What would people say? Najwa’s best friend getting married to her husband?” I raise my eyes.

Barakah roars in laughter and paces around me. “Who cares what people say? What matters is that we love each other. There’s nothing new under the sun, my love…when should we get married? Tomorrow? Next week? It should be as soon as possible!!!” Barakah squeals in excitement, moving closer to place a kiss on my lips.

I cringe internally and take a few steps backward. “Let’s take things one step at a time, my love. First, I’m starving… can you prepare one of your delicious meals?” I smile seductively.

“Of course! What do you want? Jollof rice? Amala and efo riro? Semo and egusi? Just name it…you know that I beat Najwa a thousand times in the kitchen.” She laughs.

I can spot the crookedness of her teeth and one of her front teeth slightly broken and forming a ‘V’ shape. I have never realized how ugly and unattractive Barakah is until today!

“I know that, my love. I’ll prefer iyan and efo riro.” I reply.

Barakah jumps in triumph. “I’ll make that. Kindly make yourself comfortable. I’ll make it specially for you, darling. I promise you, you’ll cut your tongue in pleasure.” She winks at me as she hurries out of the living room.

I let out a smug smile as I watch her leave the living room. Iyan and efo riro will keep her busier in the kitchen. This is the best time to take the bold step and execute my plan.

As soon as I hear the kitchen door close, I rise into action. Barakah’s black bag is lying at the centre of the table, half open. I jostle towards the table and furiously rummage through it.

She hasn’t emptied her bag and I can still spot the chisels and nails in it. A black nylon hides deep and it is evident that it is bell pepper. Barakah would need it for the efo riro

“I need to take the ata rodo I bought from my bag…” I hear her voice from a distant.

In the flash of a second, I carefully return the bag to its former position and return to my seat, pretending to be engrossed on my phone.

Barakah returns to the living room sweating more profusely and reeking of bad perspiration. “I want to take the ata rodo for the soup. Should I add enough pepper? Do you want your mouth to become watery and make the ‘shu shu shu’ sound?” she laughs in excitement.

I smile delightfully. “The pepper should be more than enough. I can’t wait to eat this food because I haven’t eaten anything good in a long time.

“Okay, my darling.” She says, holding the nylon of bell pepper and returning to the kitchen.

As soon as she leaves, I continue with my mission. I search her bag and bring out her bunch of keys. There are several keys in the bunch and it is hard to tell which one belongs to the main entrance. Gingerly, I take steps towards the door and try each of them. After the fifth attempt, I spot the right key for the main entrance. It is of silver colour and has a crooked bend at the edge. I remove it from the bunch and dip it into my trouser pocket.

I am certain that Najwa will be in this house…only if she’s still alive. Barakah wouldn’t want her to slip at the tip of her finger and keeping her at home would be the best decision she can make.

The question is: where would she be?

“I want to use the toilet!” I call out to Barakah, who has started to make the sauce as the whole house is wafting of fried pepper and onions.

“Enter the lobby…it’s the last door by the right.” She screams from the kitchen.

“Okay, thanks.”

It’s time to find out where Najwa can possibly be!

There are four doors; two at the right and left respectively. The first at the right is the kitchen and first at the left is Barakah’s room. It is unlocked and I can see her small-sized wardrobe and well-spread bed. The second to the left is a room. I try to open it but it is locked. The last room by the right is the toilet.

Why is this room locked?

I return to the living room in haste to grab the bunch of keys again. The sound of the sauce frying fills the whole room and I’m grateful for that. I return to the room door and try out all the keys. Surprisingly, the key isn’t part of the bunch.

“Anas, have you seen the toilet?” Barakah calls.

I run into the toilet and turn on the tap. “Yes? What did you say?”

“Don’t worry, I can see you’re in there already.”

Running water over my head, I wonder why that particular room is locked and the reason the key is nowhere to be found. Maybe that’s where Najwa was killed…or kept hostage.

I return to the living room looking disappointed and frustrated. How do I find Najwa when the door is locked?

Determined to not give up, I search the living room’s shelf for any trace of a key. I check the stack of books and collection of DVDs. Nothing is found there. Scanning around the room, I can spot the foot mat by the entrance, looking bent. Inquisitively, I open it. Behold, a small-rusted key lies underneath it.

“Anas?” a voice makes me tremble in fright.

“Yes?” I turn back. Barakah is standing behind me, giving me a shrewd look. She smells of garlic and pepper.

“What are you doing there?”

I laugh in pretence, placing the table mat in an orderly way. “Oh…the foot mat wasn’t well laid…so I decided to fix it right.”

Barakah stares at me for a long time. “Are you okay? You’ve been acting a bit weird since you got here.”

I stand up and try to act normal. “I am a hungry man who is madly in love with a beautiful woman. I am hungry for food and love.” I smile at her.

Barakah laughs in delight as she takes a seat. “I’m boiling the yam and I’ve prepared the soup. The food will be ready in no time. I want us to talk about our life together…where should we spend our honeymoon? I’m considering Paris but I heard that the Maldives is a nice place to explore and enjoy the beauty of nature… we should have three children… two boys and a girl…I want to live at Lekki…I want to drive Toyota Corolla… economical and durable…I want to give birth in India…” Barakah is trailing off but all I can think of is the key beneath the foot mat and how I lost my chance of getting it. Maybe that’s the key for the door.

I need to leave this house and devise a new plan. “Oops, Mrs. Susan just sent me a message. She’s going out. I kept Sahadat with her. I need to return home now.”

Barakah eyebrows furrow in disappointment. “Oh, okay. But all these would end when we get married. I will always be there to take care of Sahadat,” she smiles softly.

“Thanks. Let me be on my way…”

“How about the food? You’re hungry…”

“Yes, I am. But I have to get there on time because she has an appointment.”

“Okay…I’ll pack the soup in a plate for you. You can buy fufu or make eba when you get home. I’ll pack what would be enough for you and Sahadat.” She smiles proudly as she returns to the kitchen.

I use that opportunity to take the key from the foot mat. Barakah packs the plate of soup in a small bag and waves at me. “I hope to see you soon. I love you.”

“I love you more than you can ever imagine. We’ll talk later.” I smile at her as I open the gate and leave the compound.

I am sitting in my car, staring at Barakah’s gate from a distance and thinking of my next plan of action. I had thrown the soup into the nearest dust bin…who knows what she might have added to it? Love charm? Poison? I would never be another of her victim.

I check the time on my wristwatch. It is 6:30 pm. “9:00 pm, I will take the bold step,” I mutter, still staring at Barakah’s brown gate.
***
9:00 pm on the dot, I am in front of Barakah’s door. I had no problem getting into the compound because the gate is open as some of the occupants of the building have still not returned from their various places of work.

I unlock the door with the stolen key and peek into the house. The living room is pitch-black and everywhere is silent.

“I sleep around 8:30 pm every night. If I sleep anything later than that, I will wake up the next morning feeling groggy and sick.” I’ve heard Barakah tell Najwa this couple of times. I can only executive this mission when she is fast asleep and this is the right time.

I walk gingerly into the lobby and silently open Barakah’s room door. I am right. She is fast asleep and she would have no idea of what is going on around her.

I move to the door of the locked room; the reason I’ve returned to Barakah’s house. I try the key stolen from underneath the foot mat and surprisingly, it opens the door.

Putting on my torchlight, I enter the dust-filled room and scan through it, my heart thumping loudly and my hands trembling.

The room is bigger than I imagined. Houseflies are buzzing from around a corner and the room is wafting of an odour like that of a refuse bin. I notice pictures on the wall and flash the torchlight on them.

I squeal in fear, staring at them one after the other. “Kill Najwa…Be Najwa…Marry Anas. Najwa has to leave. Najwa is a hindrance. You have to become Najwa!” Several inscriptions of this sort are written on the wall.

There are also pictures of Najwa with the ‘X’ sign drawn across them; drawn in thick-red colour. Also, pictures of Najwa and Barakah with her head chopped off and a danger sign underneath it. It is implausible. I wish all this is a dream…that I would wake up beside Najwa on the bed and realize that it is just a nightmare…that I had watched a horror movie the previous night and it is taking effect on my sleep.

The houseflies buzz becomes louder and I hear faint moans from a distance. Cleaning the sweat streaking down my face and my moistened eyes with the tip of my shirt sleeve, I take slow steps towards the area.

I’m frightened. I’ve very scared, knowing fully well that I would see would be unimaginable. Najwa’s body soiled in blood? Najwa body filled with maggots and insects? Gosh! I want all these to become a dream.

The moans become louder as I take closer steps towards the area. Swallowing hard, I flash my torchlight and I see Najwa. Her hands and feet are tied together. Her mouth is sealed and she is sitting on a bare floor. She looks bedraggled and hunger-stricken. Her eyes are swollen and red and her cheeks are hollow. Her hair is matted and she is reeking of a foul smell.

“Najwa!” I scream, holding her in my arms and placing a kiss on her right cheek. “I’m sorry…I’m here for you…I will save you from your evil friend…we will go home and start a new life together with Sahadat…” I am saying as Najwa cries.

I take my phone from my pocket and dial the Police. I was right all along…Najwa had been in Barakah’s house.

Najwa moans loudly but I can’t tell why. Her eyes are directed behind me as she moans loudly. What could be the problem? Is that a sign? Is Barakah here…
“No so fast Anas.” Bakarah’s voice fills the room as she hits me with an iron rod. I fall to the ground with a loud thud as I watch her smash my phone. I can see blood dripping from my head.

“I just knew it…I knew you were up to something. Now we have the husband and wife.” Barakah roars in laughter as she walks out of the room, locking the door behind us.

A/N: This is me feeling like James Bond while writing this episode yesterday๐Ÿ˜›๐Ÿ˜›๐Ÿ˜› Happy reading!!!

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