Monday, 10 December 2018

Abak Atama Soup



Abak Atama soup is an appetizing and sumptuous soup, prepared mostly by the Ibibios in Akwa Ibom state. The name ‘Abak Atama’ is derived from two major ingredients; Palm Fruit Concentrate (Abak) and Atama Leaves.

What are the ingredients for making Abak Atama soup?
1.      Five hundred grammes of palm fruits
2.      Assorted fish or meat (it could be beef, smoked fish, goat meat, stock fish, ponmo, etc.)
3.      Neatly shredded Atama leaves
4.      I ball of onion
5.      Atarodo, atagigun, Cameroun pepper to taste.
6.      2 seasoning cubes
7.      Salt to taste
8.      150g of cat fish
9.      Small cup of periwinkle
1.  2 tsp of ground crayfish
1.  Ground uyayak

How do you prepare Abak Atama soup?
1.      Boil the meat and fish stock with one seasoning cube. Add the chopped onion and salt to taste.
2.      Shred the Atama leaves or pound, and set aside of later use.
3.      Boil the palm kernel fruit for thirty minutes and make sure that the skin is soft. After that, pound lightly in a mortar to extract the oil. Make sure that you do not break the nuts when pounding.
4.      Pour some hot water and strain the extract with a sieve. Place a pot on fire and boil until it becomes thick and the oil has risen to the top.
5.      Add the mat stock in the pot. Note that the less stock you add, the thicker the soup would be. After that, leave to boil for close to ten minutes.
6.      Add the assorted meat/fish and periwinkle. Mix properly, add the ground crayfish, pepper, ground uyayak and seasoning cube.
7.      Cover and leave to boil for close to seven minutes.
8.      Add the cat fish, cover and cook for another five minutes until the fish is well prepared.
9.      Add the Atama leaves and salt to taste. Leave to simmer for three minutes. Mix properly…and your Abak Atama soup is ready!!!

Serve with eba, semo, akpu, pounded yam and wheat.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

The Precious Figure (Chapter Fourteen)



The examination period was filled with incessant and frantic activities. I had spent the last two weeks, reading effortlessly and writing my exams with the determination to get the best grades.

Okay. Confession time: I couldn’t do without listening to Najib’s voice. There were periods that I would read for ten minutes and spend the next two hours talking and laughing on the phone with him. However, for the past three days, our call hadn’t lasted long and there had been no chats or text messages. At first, I thought that he wanted to give me a break so that I would study well, but he confessed some few days after that he had his daily workload in his office had been overwhelming.

Yesterday, we spoke for barely three minutes and he hung up the call without calling back. Exams were over and I was eager to spend more time with him. An idea struck my mind when I opened a novel to read after breakfast. I had never gotten the opportunity to visit Najib in his office. Even when I suggested to him, he waved his hands nonchalantly and muttered a reply that said it wasn’t necessary.

‘What if I make his favourite food and pay him a surprise visit?’ I grinned at myself as I stood up and headed for the kitchen.

I was walking with a doleful look, wondering why Najib would be engrossed with work in the same period when I had just completed my exams. We would have had a swell time together!

I hummed the lyrics of Bruno Mars’ When I Was Your Man; the music that I had listened to a countless number of times in Najib’s car. My lips twitched into a smile as I imagined the triumphant look on Najib’s face when I show up with a large cooler, filled with amala and efo riro; his favourite. I knew that it would lessen the work tension and revive our spark again. Our great love that was scarce to see. I had once suggested to Najib that we should share a YouTube video with the caption ‘The best love story in Nigeria.’ I was lying on his laps and laughing between mouthfuls of suya. A large collection of suya laid in the newspaper wrap and we munched the peppery grilled meat one after the other.

“You’re a dreamer chocolate,” Najib had said, laughing uncontrollably and tickling my hands till I spilled the meat in my mouth without control.

I grinned like a Cheshire cat, picturing Najib’s face and the way the corner of his lips creased whenever he smiled. It was a lovely sight to stare at. I would always fantasize spending all day, staring at Najib’s face. He was the most handsome man I’d ever set my eyes on. His twinkling eyes were beautiful and magnificent. His soft-luscious lips could be tempting to stare at. You would almost run the risk of brushing your lips against it...

“Fareedah...concentrate,” I soliloquized, reaching for my phone and playing Bruno Mars’ Marry You. It was one of Najib’s favourite songs. He would sing it while driving, stealing lovely glances at me and pointing a finger at me when it got to ‘I think I wanna marry you’ part. We could just get married immediately and start a new family...and I’d become Najib’s wife...then we’d tell the world how we met and fell in love...

“Fareedah, concentrate!” I said to myself again as I reached for seasoning cubes and salt in the shelf. Minutes later, I was engrossed in cooking but I still couldn’t fight the picture of Najib’s face that clogged my thought.

After making the meal, I packed a large quantity (I knew Najib wouldn’t be able to complete half of it) in a cooler and returned to my room to change into a nice outfit.

I was wearing my silver earrings when Raqibah barged into my room, squealing in delight and sweating; her body reeking of a slight bad perspiration and the mixture of light cologne. It smelt like stale urine. I had no idea that someone had entered the house. Mom would be very exasperated if she found out that I had left front door unlocked again.

My body shivered in fear and anxiety, but I re-gained my composure when I discovered that it wasn’t a thief...but my best friend.  

What is it oo? You just commot from zoo? Why you dey pant like this na?” I inquired in a mocking tone.

Raqibah was always full of wonders. I wondered what could have happened; Did she just get access to a book she had been striving to possess?

“Someone just proposed to me!” she screamed with a frisson of excitement.

My special earrings dropped to the floor in shock and bewilderment. ‘It can’t be possible...probably one of her pranks.’

“Stop all this yeye play jhoor. Be serious oo.” I chortled in amusement.

“I’m serious oo. Someone just proposed....like proposed...I love you...will you marry me...” She was saying out of breath and her face was dripping sweat to my carpeted floor.

It was real...Raqibah was serious...I could see the seriousness in her eyes. Raqibah couldn’t hold a joke for long without bursting out in laughter.

“Really? Who? Who’s the lucky man???” I asked hesitantly.

 “Munib! He just proposed to me!!!”

The smile on my face faded instantly. I was gobsmacked. Munib? Okay...that’s fine. Really? Fine? No way! It can’t be fine. Munib was our course mate, who sat in the second row. He was also a bibliophile and the third best student in our department. Munib was very dark in complexion and was slightly shorter than Raqibah. He wore three pairs of trousers every week and had two shirts. We could predict what he would be wearing the next day and yes, we were always right (the blue shirt and faded-black trouser on Mondays and the white shirt and blue trouser on Tuesdays. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, he would repeat his outfit of Mondays and Tuesdays and wear his faded caftan and cap on Fridays). Munib wasn’t in anyway perfect and he was our course mate!

Raqibah was squealing again. “Can’t you imagine? He said that I’m the most beautiful woman he had ever set his eyes on!” she was beaming with happiness and joy.

I tried to hide my disappointment because Raqibah was obviously happy...and that was what mattered.

I feigned surprise and excitement. “Wow, and you said yes?”

“Of course! The feeling is mutual...and it has been on for some time now. We study together sometimes and discuss in the library. We couldn’t hide the deep feeling we share...so he proposed.” She grinned triumphantly.

I pulled her into a hug. “Congratulations. I’m happy for you.” My face was plastered in a terrified rictus.

“Thank you, bestie. Are you going somewhere?”

“Yes. I want to pay Najib a surprise visit at work...and I made his favourite!” I smiled wistfully.

“That’s great. You know, I wish that Munib was as perfect as Najib...”

“No relationship is perfect, Raqibah. I have to leave now.” I said, taking my bag from the bed.

“I’ll just remain here and boil rice to eat with the efo riro.” Raqibah was saying as she removed her clothes.  “My regards to Najib.”

“Okay. See ya later.” I waved at her and walked out of the house.
***
Technair building was larger than I had imagined. It was a three-storey building with transparent glasses and a huge gold-plated logo that read TECHNAIR. Courtesy to the transparent glass, I could see swarms of employees at their desk space; typing away, sipping from cups of coffee, walking and talking in a formal way...I tried to see if I could spot Najib from afar but the view was a bit blurry.

I silently prayed that no undue security protocols would arise at the gate or my surprise would be ruined. Several brands and models of cars were parked in the large compound, such that no one else could occupy another space for the smallest of cars. I could have recognised Najib’s red Mercedes-Benz car but the cars were too numerous to start studying one by one.

I entered through the glass door, the air-conditioned room giving me a grand welcome. People were walking and talking briskly in a formal way, while some people laughed and walked out of the building. It was obvious that they were leaving for lunch.

The men wore black trousers and a classy suit and the women dressed lovingly; wearing expensive weave-on, high-stiletto shoes, suede jackets, and red-bold lipstick. I grew jealous, knowing that these women would in no way or the other come in contact with Najib.

No wonder he wanted me to use a scarf!

“Hi.” I smiled at the receptionist who had just ended a call with the telecom on her desk. “I want to see someone.”

Her eyelids were thickened with eyeliner and the cornrows on her head were glittering. I imagined her applying Shea butter on it every morning before leaving for work. She smiled back sweetly. “Yes please, who do you want to see?” her voice was sweet as the nightingale and I instantly knew why they had employed her as the front-desk receptionist.

“Najib Aliyu.”

“Do you have an appointment with him?”

“No, I don’t.”

“Okay...I’ll inform him that...”

“Fareedah... Fareedah Adams.”

“Thank you...that Fareedah Adams is here to see him. Kindly have a seat while I put a call to him.”

“Thank you.” I walked to the nearest seat and scanned the areas of the large reception.

I could hear the faint sound of her voice. “A Fareedah...ok...you’re...alr...I’ll tell her...”

“Mr. Najib said that he will be with you shortly,” she smiled at me.

“Thanks,” I smiled back, wondering whether her cheeks did not hurt by over-smiling. Because my face was already hurting!

I could imagine the charming look on Najib’s face when he sees me...and when he realises that I made his favourite.

While waiting for him, I read our previous messages. I muffled laughter when I read the message where he called me a potato. I had promised to give him a knock on his head when we see again.

I lifted my eyes to see Najib sauntering towards me. He was putting on  a white-starched shirt and a tight black trousers (I could practically see the shape of his legs). I smiled at him but he didn’t return my smile. Instead, he furrowed his eyebrows as he strode towards me. “What are you doing here?” he gave me a death stare.

It was so rude. No greetings...no smiles and warm welcome. I was visiting his office for the first time and all he could say was, ‘What are you doing here?’

“I decided to pay you a surprise visit since you’ve been very busy...and I brought you lunch...efo riro and amala with ogunfe!” I winked at him, definite that hearing his favourite would make him feel better (Yes, I knew that work stress could be overwhelming).

Najib was looking daggers at me. “I’ve had lunch.” He replied brusquely.

My heart sunk instantly. “Alright. You can still...”

“What else do you want Fareedah?” he raised his voice harshly and he was staring at me in a repugnant way.

Fareedah? The same person you call chocolate? That you’ve promised to give her all of your heart?

“I thought we could...”

“Since you have nothing meaningful to say, excuse me.” He blurted, scowling and storming out of my presence. Without a goodbye!

I could hardly breathe. Tears stung my eyes as I watched him leave my presence. I was crestfallen. I held the tip of the wide chair for support. Wasn’t he the same Najib that would tell me the sweetest things and smile breathtakingly? Wasn’t he the one that captured my heart?

‘Fareedah...don’t be too quick to judge. Najib is not this way and you know that. He’s definitely stressed from work. He’ll get over it.’ I thought as I turned towards to the receptionist who stared at me with pitiful eyes.

‘Don’t get all pitiful. We’re engaged and we love ourselves.’ I thought, wishing I could spit that to the receptionist’s face.

But I decided that I wouldn’t transfer my aggression to an innocent soul. I tightened my hands around the cooler and walked out of the building.

Just as I left Technair building, I met Moyo at the entrance with two ladies. They were laughing and gossiping in hush whispers. I was certain that it was their method of having fun during their lunch period.

She was putting on an A-cut white and black striped trousers and a very tight black blazer that almost ripped her body off. “What are you doing here?” she glared at me.

The other ladies, wondering who I was had turned to give me black looks, just like their friend had done.

“And how is that your business?” I rolled my eyes at her.

I was downcast and furious; another irritation from Moyo or anyone would turn me to a spit-fire. I had witnessed enough drama for the day. Moyo shouldn’t add to them.

She roared with laughter and mimicked what I had said. “Who’s giving this one confidence sef? See how she dress like pepper seller.” She said wryly, glaring at me from up to down.

I was almost crying but I decided to comport myself or I’d make a mockery of myself before leaving.

Then the latest news would be, ‘Fareedah, Najib’s fiancĂ©e, disgraced herself by crying in public because his former lover made a jest of her.’

‘God forbid.’ I muttered as I started to walk away but Moyo pulled me back.

Be deceiving yourself ehn!. You don’t know that you’re so-called Najib is engaged to someone else. You better goan find one alfa to marry.” Moyo sneered at me and her friends joined in making a mockery laugh.

“Those ones with unruly beards and short trousers that dangle around their legs,” one of her friends ridiculed and they all broke into a staccato of laughter.

I hurried out of the compound with my face, filled to the brim with tears. I flagged a taxi on the road and hopped into the rickety- black faded taxi without asking the old driver with three tribal marks at both cheeks for the fare. I rested my head and watched the path that the car was passing.  A while later, I buried my face in my hijab and cried profusely.

Aa ti de junction oo,” the driver yelled at me.

I raised my head in a startling way and squeezed the hundred naira note into his scarred palm. As I got down, I could hear the driver murmuring in Yoruba, condemning the 21st-century women that would give all of their heart to a man (If only he could understand what had happened!)

I dabbed at my eyes with a handkerchief, cleaned my misty face with my hijab and wore the dark sunglasses that Najib had bought last month for me. This was to avoid stares from the people on the street.

When I returned home, I was glad that Raqibah had left and my mom had not returned from the shop. I buried my face in the pillow and soaked it with tears. I wanted to pretend that it was all a dream...that Najib didn’t glare at me with palpable disdain...that he didn’t walk out on me and stared at me like I was refuse bin...I wanted it all to be a dream but it wasn’t. It was real!

A/N: Heyy readers! I sincerely apologise for the late update (to those I promised an update yesterday). This week's workload has been overwhelming...but, we have a new episode!!!
Two significant events occurred in this episode:
1. Raqibah finally finds her heart desire...even though Fareedah is not pleased with her choice.
2. Najib turns into a monster and displays an unusual attitude.
What are your thoughts? Could the work stress cause this strange behaviour...or do you think Moyo is right?
Happy reading!!!đź’•đź’•

 Don't miss out on the previous episodes:














Monday, 3 December 2018

My Quirky Review of Sophie Kinsella’s I’ve Got Your Number



Sophie Kinsella’s “I’ve got your number” is a thrilling and captivating book that kept me glued to my screen (yes, I read the e-book). Believe me, I couldn’t do any other thing until I completed the 800+ paged novel.
This is an unusual review because of my love for this book…one of the best books I’ve read in 2018!!!

#Spoiler Alert
Why did I find it attractive? What’s so unique about the storyline?
I’ve got your number is an autobiographical fiction about a woman, Poppy Wyatt, who lost her engagement ring which had been in her fiancĂ©’s family for three generations.
On the very day that her fiancĂ© (Magnus)’s parents were to arrive from the US, she lost her engagement ring and in the same panic, also ended up losing her phone.
She found an abandoned phone in a bin and decided to keep the phone so that the hotel, where her ring was lost, could phone her when they find it.
The owner of the phone, Sam Roxton wanted his phone back, and Poppy and Sam found their lives becoming increasingly entangled.

What is intriguing about the characters?
Poppy Wyatt- Poppy is a charming and jovial lady who had eccentric ways to handle her unpredictable situation.

Unique qualities I love about the character.
*Patience- I loved the way she handled the loss of her ring…and then her phone. She was patient when she discovered that Magnus was cheating on her.

*Fun- How about when she danced Beyonce’s single lady’s dance as ‘Mr. Yamashaki?’ It made me laugh really hard. I could imagine the amusing look on Sam’s face.

The part where she had worn Ruby’s clothing, mistaking it for Magnus’s gift made me facepalm. It made me wonder how she could face them after such an incident.

When Poppy sent a picture of a man with a decayed set of teeth, to lure Sam into going to a dentist’s place, I also spilled coffee on myself…lol.

Poppy’s description of her every day’s scenarios…explaining how to react to a certain circumstance, meet with some certain set of people, how to reply to a message, how to reduce the love symbols in a message…calling Willow a witch and predicting the physical looks of employees of global consulting from their mail made me giggle.

*Simplicity- Poppy’s character displayed a very simple, yet an elegant woman. She had compared herself with several sassy and over-trendy woman in the novel. When she was accused of being badly dressed, it was so sweet of Sam to defend her.

*Carefree life- You know what it means to relate freely with someone you barely know? Share fascinating pictures with him and read from his email box like you’re his secretary? That’s who Poppy is.


*Kindness- Poppy could go any length just to assist Sam and Sir Nicholas. She also felt sympathy for the man Sam called dad (the man she had mistaken for his real dad).  She had this unswerving love and compassion for others. Imagine how she assisted Lucinda (her wedding planner) in making arrangements for the wedding like she was actually the wedding planner? She also had a great sympathy for Clemency (the wedding planner’s assistant) when she was treated in a very harsh way by Lucinda.


*Affection- The way Poppy described her fiancé was magnificent. Despite Magnus coming from a very weird family, Poppy saw unique qualities about him.

How about what she felt for Sam? How she described his expression, looks, classy suits and dark hair?

*Moving on- Poppy was ready to move on, despite what happened to her on her wedding day. She was a very brave and strong woman that could fight amongst all odds.

*Trust/forgiveness- Even when Poppy found strong evidence indicating that Magnus was cheating on her, she tried to find several reasons to doubt it. How about when he came, pleading and begging for her to marry him? Poppy found reasons to trust him again (even though it was for the wrong reasons).

Poppy had declared several times that she would have nothing to do with the arrogant Sam and blah blah blah. Well, she found every reason to be with him.

*Pain- Yes, Poppy had been through a very traumatic experience; losing both parents in a fatal accident. She didn’t deny the fact that it was really painful.

*Quirky behaviour- Poppy, no doubt acted in several humorous and silly ways. She was so different from her in-laws. She made silly mistakes- sent messages without authorization and the rest…

Sam Roxton
*IDK attitude- His ‘I don’t care’ attitude is fascinating. I love his expressions description and his brusque way of replying to messages.

I love the part where they visited the jewelry shop, and Sam replied to Poppy in a matter-of-fact-nonchalant way. “I don’t care about what they say.”

*Workaholic nature- Sam proved to be a very successful and hardworking man that did all he could to make sure that he maintained the success of the company.

*Dedication- Sam showed that he was a loyal and dedicated person by fighting all odds to protect and restore the dignity of his manager, Nicholas; even when it Was likely to affect what he had built for years.

*Fewer words- Sam didn’t say much when texting and didn’t express much of his feelings. There were lots of things that Poppy had misconstrued about him. Later, she discovered that the way she had perceived Sam Roxton was very wrong.

*Caring- Sam had his way of being very caring and loving, even without expecting that from him.

*Unpredictable- Who could ever predict some actions he made in the story; grinning, hugging Poppy, sending messages to all her wedding guests, confessing his love for her…oh my gosh!



Magnus
*Sweetness- The constant way he called Poppy ‘Sweets’ was really sweet. He had his way of penetrating deep into someone through his deep eyes and sweet talk. When he came begging, I also felt that he should be given a second chance (I know this is funny) but gosh, he acted all sweet that night.

*loving- Who wouldn’t have fallen head over heels with someone who chose to present his family’s most cherished heirloom to his wife-to-be?

*Intelligence- Magnus is really intelligent and smart. Well, it isn’t surprising since he comes from a family of bookworms and nerds.

*Hypocrisy- Who would have thought that Magnus was a liar and a pretentious man? He pretended to love her deeply. Who would have an idea that he had some selfish reasons to get married on time? No wonder he proposed after just two months of being with Poppy.

These are my 3 best characters and you should read Sophie Kinsella’s I’ve Got Your Number.

 Want a copy of Sophie Kinsella's I've Got Your Number? Send me a mail (mareeam802@gmail.com).








Wednesday, 28 November 2018

The Precious Figure (Episode Thirteen)



It was three months into our relationship and Najib would be meeting my mother for the first time. Shouldn’t I be elated? I should but I didn’t feel that way. For the past few weeks, I’d been feeling insecure about our relationship. There was no one to talk because no one would understand how I felt...not even Najib.

Everything seemed too perfect... in fact, too perfect that I started to worry about the uncertainty.

‘What if something happens and our perfect relationship ends just like that?’ I would think.

I had the unusual feeling that Najib was hiding things from me...but what it was, I had no idea about.

“Have you made the beef stew?” My mom startled me from my thought as she entered the kitchen.

“I’ll do so after I make the amala,” I replied.

“You said amala and efo riro is his favourite?”

“Yes, it is.”

Je kodun oo, like the soup you made three days ago. I almost bit my tongue while eating,” my mom laughed. “First impression matters oo. You know this is the first time that he’ll be visiting.”

“I will, mom.”

“Okay...I’ll clean the tables in the living room,” she said, leaving the kitchen.

Efo riro and amala was a meal that was prepared at least once a week. Suddenly, I became jittery.

‘What if I add extra salt...or it becomes too peppery? Najib has once complained of having ulcer symptoms once...’ I thought.

I steamed the beef and left for the room. I knew that Najib would have called and I was right. I was about his dial his number when his call came in. “I’m a bit nervous. What if your mom doesn’t like me?” he said in a hurried and nervous tone.

“She will like you...at least when she meets you in person. You’re a nice man, you know?” I couldn’t help but smile.

“Now you’re making me blush. Anyways, I’m in front of your gate. I’ll be at your door entrance any moment from now.”

Immediately, I hung up and changed into nice clothes. I informed my mom that Najib was around and she hurried to change into a presentable outfit.

Two minutes later, we were welcoming Najib into our living room and he was sitting on the chair beside the door. I served a bottle of Malt and placed a plate of groundnut in front of him. Najib greeted my mom and soon, they started to converse.

I returned to the kitchen, desperate to ensure no lump appeared in the mixed yam flour. I served the meal and we all assembled in the dining room.

“So you said your father produces movies?” my mom asked, pouring cold zobo from a large jug. We had just completed our lunch, where Najib couldn’t stop commenting on the food’s unique taste.

“Fareedah never told me.”

“Yes ma, he’s a movie producer,” he replied.

“Your mom... Where is she now?”

“She’s currently in Morocco. She’s a tour guide. She travels to several countries at different times in a month.”

“That will be a fabulous job. I wish that I can explore places in the world and leave this country.” My mom laughed. “Why did you return to Nigeria with your sister?”

Najib’s mood changed in an instant and I knew that my mom regretted asking. “I’m sorry, you don’t have to say...”

“No, it’s fine. My parents went through a painful divorce when I was five years old. It was an opportunity for my mom to fulfill her dream of touring the world, and so she left just immediately. My dad married two wives shortly after and the home wasn’t the way it used to it. We didn’t feel loved and we weren’t well-taken care of...so much comparison and rivalry. When I completed my degree in Software Engineering, I returned to Nigeria with my sister. It was the best we could do.”

I could see my mom’s eyes moisten. “I’m really sorry. How is your sister?”

“She’s fine. At least, she’s coping with her studies now.” Najib tried to give a rueful laugh but what came out were breaths of air.

“You should invite her over to the house. She can be spending days with you.” My mom was saying to me.

“Okay.” I was staring at Najib and my mom, and I had this unusual feeling.

Yes, I was in a happy relationship but things weren’t just right. It didn’t look real. I was also diminishing spiritually.

‘What if I’m just over-thinking?’ I thought.
*** 

Najib had planned to take me to his house after the visit. Fauziyyah claimed that she had just downloaded a captivating movie. She called it When Love Happens (While reading at the library, Fauziyyah would spend time downloading movies with the school Wi-Fi. Such a case!).

I wore a mini-length hijab and didn’t even care to make up my face. I wore a saggy gown and carried my bag. Believe me, I looked like the older version of Raqibah.

Before we entered the car, Najib inquired to know if I was okay, scrutinizing my sad eyes.
“You’ve been acting funny for weeks now. Are you okay?”

“I’m okay,” I assured him.

“Do you mind pizza?”

“No,” I replied, walking out of his side and entering the car.

The ride home was a really quiet one. Najib had managed to comment that my mom was really nice and I nodded in response, without uttering a word. I knew that he would be wondering what had happened to me, but how do I explain that our relationship looked too perfect?

He pulled into the compound and parked beside the Toyota Camry. “We’re home!” He said as he was alighting from the car. He attempted to walk towards my side and open the door but I didn’t wait for him. I opened the door myself and walked inside with a frown.

The living room was wafting of baked food and eggs. The aroma was so inviting that I couldn’t help smiling. I knew that it would be Fauziyyah’s handiwork.

Fauziyyah appeared in front of us, grinning from ear to ear and holding a tray of cakes and doughnuts. “I made these, sister Fareedah. Just imagine. It was fun!” she yelled in delight.

I smiled at her. “That’s my girl. They look delicious,” I said, licking my lips.

“Great...let me set the table.” Fauziyyah hurried to the dining room and placed three ceramic plates, the tray of cakes and doughnuts, and two bottles of Fanta.

We assembled around the table and started to munch the delicious snack. She had added honey to the doughnut and it made it more sumptuous.

We ate silently, Najib and me stealing nervous glances at ourselves. Fauziyyah stared at us suspiciously, wondering what could be wrong.

She clasped her hands to gain our attention. “Okay...you guys have to tell me what’s wrong. You’ve been acting weird. Any issues you have to sort out?”

Najib stood up immediately and left our presence. “What is wrong with you guys? Tell me.”

I tried to think of something convincing to say because I really could not explain what was wrong. “I don’t trust his ex,” I pouted my lips.

Fauziyyah laughed, “She left him...he didn’t. Why would she be interested again?”

“What if I’m just a medium to get her to feel jealous and return to him?

“My brother doesn’t forgive someone that has hurt him before. Be rest assured that Moyo is in the past,” Fauziyyah assured me.

“I’ll be back.” I stood up, smiling at Fauziyyah and she winked in return.

She knew exactly what I was trying to do. I walked to Najib’s room and knocked on the door.

“The door is open,” came his voice.

I entered his room to see him drawing on a white paper. “You draw too?” My eyes widened in surprise.

“I draw and paint like Fauziyyah.” He was still concentrated on the paper and pencil and his fingers moved in several directions.

“Wow. Since when?”

“Since we were little. We learnt it from our mother. My mom loved to draw and paint, and we would just sit there and watch her work with full concentration in her small room.”

I sat beside him. “You miss her, don’t you?”

“Of course. I wish we can see before the end of the year. It would be great to see her again.”

“I’m sorry love. I’m sorry for acting funny and displaying a strange attitude. I think I’m just being too ungrateful. I love and trust you.” I confessed and suddenly, Najib pulled me into a big hug.

I was so shocked to respond but I didn’t pull away from his embrace. Maybe I’d agree to savour this moment and seek forgiveness afterwards. I found so much love in Najib’s arms that all I could think of was our life together...getting married, having our first kiss, spending our honeymoon in Paris, having beautiful kids...our life would be perfect together!

“Chocolate?” He whispered to my ear and I felt that my world should end there...being in Najib’s arms and feeling his soft whispers in my ear.

“Yes, sweetheart?”

“Can you use scarf like my sister. It’s more fashionable than the hijab you wear. It’s also very comfortable.”

I pulled away from him. “No, I can’t,” I replied stiffly. Najib might have the key to my heart, but he didn’t have the power to stop me from putting on my hijab.

“Okay,” Najib replied and pulled me into another hug.

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