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.


“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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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 none 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 take 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 in 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 yesterday😛😛😛 Happy reading!!!

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Friday, 29 March 2019

Cooks' Corner (Chinese Fried Noodles)

Who doesn’t salivate at the sight of Chinese noodles? I’m sure you’ll drool whenever a Chinese roll noodles strings in an amazing way!

Chinese fried noodles is an easy, a quick and delicious recipe that you’re certain to savour. You can add cooked chicken, diced beef, or vegetables to improve the taste.

Ingredients for preparing Chinese Fried Noodles
Ø  Vegetable oil
Ø  I peeled and grated small-sized carrot
Ø  4 thinly sliced green onions
Ø  3 eggs, beaten
Ø  2 packages of Oriental flavoured ramen noodles
Ø  A quarter cup of minced red bell pepper
Ø  Soy sauce
Ø  2 tsp of sesame oil

Estimated time:
Twenty minutes cook time; to be ready in no less than four minutes.

RELATED ARTICLE: Caribbean Rice.

How to prepare Chinese Fried Noodles
-          Boil the ramen noodles for about three minutes until it is softened. Boil without flavour packets. Reserve the flavour packets, drain the noodles and set aside.

-          In a small frying pan, heat a tablespoon of oil and scramble the eggs in a bowl. Cook and stir the oil and then set aside when firm.

-          In another frying pan, heat I tsp of oil over medium heat. Cook the green onions and stir in oil for about two to three minutes. Continue doing this until it is softened. Transfer this to a separate plate and set aside. Heat another teaspoon of oil in the same frying pan and cook and stir the peas, carrots and bell peppers. Set them aside when done.

-          In a separate frying pan, combine 2 tablespoons of sesame oil with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Fry the noodles in oil for about three to minutes over medium heat. Turn regularly. Sprinkle sesame oil, soy sauce and some of the reserved ramen seasoning packets over noodles. Add vegetables, turn frequently and continue to cook for another five minutes.

And your Chinese Fried Noodles is READY!!! Serve with fried chicken, beef, fish or boiled egg.

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Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Flaming Home! (Episode Ten)

Anas’s Point of View
I Will Find my Wife!
Oko mi, you should always consider Sahadat in this situation. If you don’t act strong, how will she have hope that her mother will return home?” my mom is saying over the phone.

I am sitting on the bed- the very corner that Najwa usually sleeps every night- holding her clothes and pressing them to my nose, perceiving the smell of her usual cologne (the one that has the strawberry flavour).

Tears are streaking down my face and I am crying in between sobs. I can tell my mom is crying too. Her voice sounds low and cracked, and it is obvious that she is as sad as I am. “This is different. Your loved one getting missing is one of the worst thing that can ever happen to you. Now, I can’t even tell if she is dead or alive…I can’t tell if I’m to mourn her and move on with my life or wait for her for as long as it will take till she returns. I’m confused…I want my wife…I just want her back.” I cry loudly, hardly believing myself.

Just a week ago, I was definite that I hated Najwa so much that I wanted her out of my life. I hated her more than anything in the world and living under the same roof with her felt like living in a burning house…a flaming home! But right now, I can see how unbelievable it is to be without Najwa. I can see how much I love and cherish her more than anything in the world!

Eiii! I’m scared oo. Should I come over today? I’ll tell your brother to book the latest flight to Lagos and I’ll be there before dusk. I’m scared something might happen to you. I’m scared you might not be able to go through this alone.” My mom is crying on the phone.

I hate to see her panic. I hate to see her cry because of me. I clean my moistened face and blow my nose. “I will be fine. I promise you, I will.”

“Okay, Anas. Please, take good care of Sahadat. Jo, toju omo mi oo. Please, don’t make her feel hopeless…her mother will return home and we all know that. In sha Allah, she will return home alive and healthy.”

“Ameen ma. Please, I have to go now. I want to check on Sahadat.”

“Okay oo. Take care of yourself oo. Bye.” Mom says as the call ends.

I stand up from the bed and pace around the room, angry with myself for making Najwa leave the house on that unfortunate day. Angry with myself for not being man enough to settle our differences when we were still together. Angry with myself for not telling her the truth about her friend from the onset!

But would she have believed me?

I pound my hand into a fist and thrust it on the wall, squealing in pain and angry at myself. Blood oozes from my wounded palm as I cry in anger and frustration. I am not angry at the pain I am feeling. I am angry for being foolish all these while. I am angry for not being brave enough to find my wife and bring her home.

My phone rings. I jostle to the bed where it lays. It might be the police. Maybe they’ve found Najwa! I check the caller ID. It is Mahmud calling.

Mutmahinat and Mahmud have been calling since last night. The fact is that I don’t want to speak to any of them. No one knows how I feel and no ‘sorry’ will bring back Najwa.

I remember when I had first proposed to Najwa and she gave reasons why she wouldn’t be the best wife for me.

“Give me reasons beautiful lady. Give me baseless reasons why I shouldn’t spend the rest of my life with you.” I grin at her, watching as her rosy lips broke into a smile, revealing her neatly arranged white set of teeth.

“I’m not a good cook. I didn’t cook when I was in boarding school and Yasmin was always trying to prove that she was the best cook and most hard-working child in the house. I didn’t stay with my parents. My aunt treated us better than her children, just to fulfill her sister’s wish before her death…” Najwa was saying.

“Is that all?”

“No. I get angry easily. I can act irrationally sometimes and may be difficult to understand. I’m very ambitious and…”

“Shhh…I will love and respect you. I will embrace your flaws and imperfections and still love you for the rest of my life.” I had assured her.

The day I had visited Najwa’s family house and met Yasmin for the first time, all stories about her jealous sister that Najwa had narrated filled my head.

‘She is jealous of me…always trying to prove that she is better…” Najwa had said so much about her sister that meeting her replayed all those memories.

“I want to take Najwa on a date and I’m thinking of buying her flowers. What do you think?” I had asked Yasmin, who laughed mockingly and eyed me in amusement. “Flowers ke? Najwa is not oyinbo oo! If you want to make her happy, buy a silver bracelet or gold earrings.”

She might be jealous but she was right. Even when I had bought the silver bracelet for Najwa, she rejected it because it wasn’t very expensive.

The sound of a knock on the living room door distracts me from my thoughts. I saunter to the living room to check who it is. Maybe it is the police. I have lost all faith and hope in them. They haven’t made any significant contribution in trying to rescue Najwa.

“Who is it?”

“Mutmahinat. Please open the door.”
Mutmahinat is sitting on the sofa directly opposite me. She wears a black gown and veil. She is dressed in a simple way but still looks breathtaking. Somehow, I see Najwa in her. They have the same confident and relaxed look that can be intimidating. “You haven’t been picking my calls.”

I lower my head and sigh deeply. “Mutmahinat…”

“I understand why…I really do. I’m certain that Najwa didn’t plant that mail on my computer.”

I widen my eyes in surprise, eyebrows puckered in concentration. “You do?”

“Of course. It is obvious that the person is trying to frame her…through me, because everyone knows that she detests me. Who would record his or her conversation and mistakenly send it to a public group? This seems all planned out Anas.”

“Do you think Barakah is the culprit? Do you think she did all these?” I ask her.

“I don’t think so, I know so. Anas, it’s high time you left the house and find your wife. You must find Najwa before things get worse.”

Mutmahinat is right. I should do what it takes to find Najwa. I shouldn’t rely solely on the police for support. I should play my own part. “Thank you, Mutmahinat. I will do that…I will find my wife!”

“I pray you find her. I need to get going…I decided to pay you a visit during my lunch break….and Anas, what I told you about not getting married again? I’ve changed my mind. I’ve found a good man who is a widower with three children. I will be getting married again.” She smiles excitedly.

“I’m very happy for you. Congratulations Mutmahinat.”

“Thank you and good luck.” She says as she leaves the house.

“Do you believe her?” a voice calls immediately Mutmahinat steps out of the house.

Sahadat is sitting on the sofa, staring at me with sad eyes.
“Yes, I do. Sahadat…” I walk up to her and pull her into a tight embrace. “Your mother and I love ourselves so much. I will go in search of your mother…I will make sure I find Najwa.” I stare at her with sad eyes.

“Should I come with you?”

“You’ll stay in Yasmin’s place till we return. Please, you have to resume school and stop brooding over your mom’s disappearance. In sha ALlaah, she will return with me.”

“Okay,” Sahadat mutters, hugging me briefly and standing up. “I’ll go pack my bag.”
It’s a new day and I am staring out of the window, hardly believing myself. It is over two hours that I have been sitting in my car, at the front of XYZ’s building. I’m unsure about what I am doing but I know that I have to make something work.

Sahadat didn’t enter Yasmin’s house without hugging me tightly and praying that nothing bad happens to Najwa. I want both of us to be alive to raise our child and if possible, bear more children. I want us to live happily ever after, re-igniting our love for each other every blessed day and striving towards being together in Al-Jannah.

Yasmin had smiled encouragingly and prayed that Najwa returns home. “You know I love my sister very much? Even though she doesn’t know this, I care about her and I want us to grow old together,” she had said, sobbing into her hijab.

It is after thirty minutes that Barakah walks out of the building to observe her lunch break. She is hopping on the street and smiling complacently. She is dressed like Najwa; maxi skirt, chiffon blouse and stiletto heels; only that her scrawny physique doesn’t match with that of Najwa. It looks like she has visited Najwa’s wardrobe to claim her possession. Is she trying to become Najwa?

Barakah walks into the usual restaurant where they usually have lunch and I trail her with my eyes. About twenty minutes later, she walks out with a bag of food and returns into the building. The atmosphere is sweltering and the scorching sun lights up the surrounding. I wear my dark sunglasses and watch the roadside traders, street hawkers, passersby, cars and bus grinding and hooting…watching the same street for hours!

Barakah comes out the exact minute they closed for the day. She hops into a car parked outside of the gate (probably a cab she chartered) and I start my engine, following them as they drive down the road.

They park by the roadside and Barakah enters the market. Staring at her from a distance, I can spot her buying vegetables, red meat, balls of pepper and tomatoes. Shockingly, Barakah also buys ropes, nails, and chisels!

“Maybe she needs a carpenter to work in her house.” I wonder with a queer feeling, watching her hold the big bag as she returns to the car.

The driver starts off to her house and I gingerly follow the red-coloured car. About twenty minutes later, Barakah alights from the car and waves at the man, opening the gate and entering the compound of her house.

I wait for another ten minutes before opening the gate and entering the compound. I can feel the thumping in my chest as I take each step towards the door. My hands tremble in fright as I knock on the door. Barakah opens just immediately.

I can see the look of shock and surprise in her face as she quirks her eyebrows. “What are doing here?”

“I came to seek your forgiveness. I’m sorry for blaming you to have a hand in Najwa’s disappearance. Maybe we should get married and start a new life… I love you.”

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