Monday, 2 September 2019

Her Last Breath (Episode Nine & Ten)



Episode Nine
Taofeek
“Shouldn’t we invite your mother’s old friends? They would feel offended if they realize that you got married and they weren’t informed.” My father was saying as we all sat in the living room, watching the TV.

Excitement seeped inside of me as I listened to what he had just said. Yes! I would be getting married in less than a few days. Just like that! Taofeek would become a married man…married to the most wonderful woman on earth.

Yes! It seemed unbelievable…not because I’d never dreamt of getting married but because I had never expected it to be so soon…I had never seen myself getting married for real…

Okay, calm down Taofeek. You would be getting married. Don’t get too excited…people had gone through this phase and they never died out of the excitement of their big day. You’d be fine!

I knew I wasn’t fine. This minute, I would feel exhilarated thinking of my wedding day and getting married to Khayrah. The next minute, I would be anxious and scared, wondering if I would make a good husband and if all the cliché tales I’d heard about marriage were all true.

“Oko iyawo! Otun ti ronu lo abi?” Lukman guffawed, tapping my arm and reviving me from lost thoughts. “Who would have ever thought that Taofeek would feel this way before getting married?” Lukman said with a mockery grin playing on his lips. He had visited to assist with the wedding preparations and spend time with the family.

“Who would have ever thought that he would get married? People do change…even after having three chil...” My father was saying but Lukman interrupted him, in a bid to change the topic.

“Father was asking if we should invite mom’s old friends. You know they were really supportive after we lost her?” Lukman said.

Talking about my children was not the right thing to say at such a moment…not now, not ever. And Lukamn knew that.

“Khayrah and I are planning on having a really small and simple wedding. I don’t think we can invite them. And it would be unfair to invite some of them while we neglect the others.” I replied, Lukman and Jaleel, nodding in approval.

Aliyah sat on the sofa at the left-hand corner of the living room, reading a book and glancing intermittently at the TV screen with a scrunched up face. She had worn a doleful look since I revealed my plan of getting married.

Even when both families had met and I had introduced Aliyah to Khayrah, she had tried to appear calm and friendly, but I could feel the flame of anger burning inside of her.

“So, that wealthy and influential family wants a simple wedding for their first daughter? Is it because she is sick?” My father stated, clasping his hands and raising his eyes- the way he did whenever he found a thing hard to believe.

“Father, please. Khayrah is sick but she’ll be fine in sha Allah. I want to have a bath and get dressed. I have places to visit before the end of the day.” I remarked, frowning as I sauntered out of the living room.

About a month ago, my father had called me privately to be certain that I really wanted to go ahead in getting married to someone diagnosed with Leukemia. Lukman had also asked me the same question. He had even suggested that I take a month break to think things through and reconsider my decision. Even Khayrah’s parents had asked me if I knew what it would to take to be married to their daughter. Yes, sometimes, I would wonder if I was making the right decision…but well, I knew this was right. I knew that my heart told me to do so.

Lukman tailed me into the room, watching as I grabbed my wedding checklist from the table and skimmed through.

“Like play like play, this man will be getting married in a week time. Like play like play oo! Taofeek will become someone’s husband. Hehehe!” Lukman chortled, slapping my arm repeatedly and gazing at me like that would be his last time of seeing me.

My face lightened in amusement as I shoved his hand away. “Yes, I would. It’s like I’ve gotten multiple butterflies in my stomach. Sometimes, when I close my eyes and try to sleep, all I think of is how the wedding would turn out to be. I would wonder if it would be as perfect as planned.” I said morosely, gazing at Lukman as he gave me a thoughtful and concerned look.

“I felt the same way too, before getting married to my wife. Everyone would feel that way; except one is not excited about getting married. It is very normal to feel you have butterflies in your stomach, Taofeek. You are fine.”

Lukman smiled at me, watching me with concerned eyes. He strode towards the window, looking deep in thought. “When are you meeting Jasmine?”

I raked my hair as my face tightened. “We’re meeting this afternoon, at Mr. Biggs.”

Lukman nodded in response. He didn’t need to say a word- we all knew what it meant. Ever since Jasmine made that call to inform me that she had returned to Nigeria and she wanted to see Aliyah, I knew that a lot would happen; things I would never imagine.

We had agreed to meet at Mr. Biggs and I imagined what the outcome of the meeting would be every minute- a lot was going on in my life. First, I was getting married and second, my daughter’s mother had just returned and she possibly wants her daughter back.

The day would be filled with loads of activities. I needed to see Jasmine and also stop by Funmilayo’s house to see my children. When I had called to inform Funmilayo that I would visit them, she had squealed in surprise and shock, doubting my sincerity and asking a series of questions.

“I just want to see my children. I haven’t seen them in months. I have no evil intention, Funmi.” I had informed her on the phone and we had agreed that I would come in the afternoon before she leaves for her salon.

Lukman was about to talk when someone knocked on the door. I knew it was Aliyah. I knew she would ask me about her mother and the reason she wanted to see me.

“Come in, Aliyah.” I said, watching as she entered the room with lowered eyes. Greeting us, she stood in front of me, as if waiting for Lukman to leave the room.

“Rofi’ah’s PTA is today. I want to get home on time so that I can drop her mother off. I’ll see you later. Take care of yourself, Aliyah.” He smiled at her and gave me a knowing nod before leaving the room- the nod signified a wish of good luck as I set out to achieve several tasks before the end of the day.

“So…” Aliyah began, toying with the hem of her blouse and glancing at me with a nervous expression.

“Let’s sit, Aliyah.”

We sat on the bed, glancing at several places in the room and willing ourselves to utter the words that were hanging in our throats.

“The yam and egg sauce we had for breakfast was marvelous. Jaleel is such a good cook. It’s no doubt that his fingers are gifted. Asides coding, he is also a good chef.” I made a burst of nervous laughter but Aliyah didn’t laugh in return. She blinked her eyes and gazed at me thoughtfully.

“My mom is back in Nigeria and now she wants to see you? Does she want me back after she dumped me with you ten years ago?” Aliyah said morosely, her eyes turning moist in an instant.

“I don’t know what she wants. I can only tell after we’ve met. It’s just thirty minutes away. I’ll head there now and know what she has to say.” I said blankly, staring at Aliyah and knowing full well that she doubted every word.

“What does she look like?”

I stared at her lovingly and smiled. “Exactly the way you look.”

They had the same fair, smooth skin, bright eyes that looked like they would pop out of its socket, thin pink lips, slender body and long legs like that of a supermodel. It was these features that got me attracted to Jasmine at first sight.

We had met at a friend’s party on the island. Jasmine was seated amongst her friends, sipping from a glass of wine and smiling graciously, her white-coloured set of teeth glistening and standing out. I had gazed at her with passion and lust, wondering how a lady would be that beautiful and would smile graciously like the world’s happiness was contained inside of her. Walking towards Jasmine and her friends with a look of confidence, I approached her with the sweet words I had mastered back then and Jasmine agreed that we go on a date.

Our first date was more than I expected. We fell for each other instantly and agreed to begin a romantic relationship.

“I love handsome men!” Jasmine had exclaimed as she stared at me in pleasure, nibbling at her pie and trailing her fingers over my head.

Our relationship kick-started but turned sour not long after, when she got pregnant for Aliyah.

“Dad?” Aliyah patted her hand, reviving me from my lost thought.

“Yes, my love?”

“She doesn’t love me. She left me and went away without returning. Now, she’s returning after ten years? Is that fair?” Tears streaked down her face as it turned tomato-red. I pulled her into her arms and listened to the sound of her sob on my shoulder and felt the wetness of my collar as her tears poured on them.

“She loves you, dearest. Every mother loves her child. Let’s see what she has to say.”

“And Aunty Khayrah? You’re getting married, dad. Can things remain the same? I lost my mother years ago and now, I’m losing you. Will you still love me?”

“Nothing will diminish the love I have for you, Aliyah. Nothing in this world. I promise.”
***
Jasmine was already seated at the left-hand corner in Mr. Biggs building, holding her phone and absentmindedly staring through the glass and watching the busy road ahead of her. It was the same spot she was seated upon when she blurted out the dreadful news about her pregnancy. We had had a series of date in this building, thereafter shopping for chocolates and biscuits at Super Savers supermarket, located beside Mr. Biggs.

I was just seeing her after ten good years, save for her Instagram and Facebook posts where she gushed about her partner and displayed lovely places she visited in Italy.

No doubt, she looked prettier as ever- fairer and glowing skin, bright and lovely eyes and rotund. She was putting on a red sleeveless blouse and a pair of jean trousers. Her fingers were filled with several designs of rings, with nails painted deep red, and she wore a bracelet with the inscription: ‘Ade mi.’

“Hi, Taofeek.” Her face crinkled in a smile as she watched me sit in front of her.

I smiled in return, watching her closely and then lowering my gaze. “How have you been?”

“I’ve been good…”

“It’s obvious from your lovely pictures on social media.” I interrupted her speech with a chuckle.

Her eyes wore a sad look as she smiled slightly, sipping from her bottle of Pepsi and staring at a distant place.

The atmosphere fell silent as I stared around and wondered what next to say. But my head was filled with lots of questions: What was she doing here? Why did she return to Nigeria? Does she want Aliyah back? Why would she return after ten years?

“What would you like?” Jasmine smiled sweetly as if knowing that my head was a whirl of confusion.

I stared at her confusedly. “Huh?”

“You haven’t ordered anything. Should I get you a bottle of Coke?”

I cleared my throat and willed myself to begin. “I don’t want a bottle of Coke or anything. I want to know why you’re here.” I blurted out, seeing the spasm of shock that engulfed Jasmine’s face.

She replaced that with a smile, nibbling at her meat pie and swallowing hard. “I’m the worst mother on earth. I left my daughter without even caring to check up on her. It is over ten years and I don’t even know what she looks like. I feel so guilty. I am a bad person.” She said as her eyes were filled to the brim with tears.

I never liked what she did and I never imagined forgiving her totally for dropping Aliyah with me…but I had a feeling of sympathy as I watched her break down in tears. “You’re not a bad person, Jasmine.”

“I am. I’m a very bad person. I shouldn’t have done that.” Her face had turned tomato-red; just the way Aliyah’s face usually appeared whenever she was angry.

“But it’s too late.”

“It’s not too late, Taofeek. I’ve realized my mistake and I want to make up for the old times.”

What? Wait, what? Jasmine thought that she could just appear out of nowhere and mend things like a cobbler or carpenter? I wouldn’t take any of that!

“After ten years? You think you can just pop out of a hidden cave and say ‘Sorry, I’ve realized my mistake’ and all will be over? Do you think Aliyah would ever forgive you for what you did? Can you even stare at her in the face and tell her that you’re her mother? How did you even know she bears Aliyah?”

Jasmine buried her nose into a handkerchief as she sobbed openly. I felt great pity for her. Yes, I had once thought I loved her but now, all I thought of was Khayrah; the woman I would be getting married to.

Jasmine cleaned her nose and whipped her head up, blinking away tears and smiling ruefully. “I’ve been studying you for a while now…before I made that call. I arrived in Nigeria last month and I decided to check up on the latest development before notifying you that I’m back. It was then I discovered that you’re working as an accountant and our daughter’s name is Aliyah. That she is my carbon copy and she attends Graceland Secondary School at Magodo. I learnt she is in JSS 2 and she has a best friend named Maryam. I also discovered that you’ll be getting married soon.”

I stared at her incredulously, wondering if other people were spying on our lives. “Whoa! What else did you discover?”

Jasmine pulled her plate of meat pie away and folded her hands together, looking serious. “Look, I know that I am a bad mother and I admit it. I also know that I cannot make up for all the mistakes I’ve made in the past. However, I want to try. I’ll try to win the heart of my daughter. I’ll do all it takes.”

I couldn’t avoid asking, “Why made you change? What happened?”

“I got married six years ago and…well…I have two kids. Well…Jamal found out from a family member that I have a child, which I had hidden from him. Gosh! It wasn’t funny at all, Taofeek. Family meetings upon meetings. His family convinced him to divorce me but he just couldn’t do it. He loves me that much. We talked and agreed that we would be together, I would return to Nigeria to make amends and get back to you and my daughter. That’s why I’m here.”

I nodded sympathetically and replied, “I’ll talk to Aliyah and get back to you. I promise to give you a call before the end of the week.”

“Thanks so much. I really appreciate it. And I wish you a happy married life!”

I smiled at her.  “Thank you. I should be heading to Oshodi. Just so you know, I have two other children, Hassan and Hassanah.”

Surprise stole over Jasmine’s face as she gasped in shock. “You what?”

“I have two other children. But I promise I’m a changed man.” We convulsed into laughter and I ordered for a bottle of Coke before leaving the building. We spend the next thirty minutes talking about how the past few years had been and what we’d learnt and improved on ourselves.



Episode Ten
Taofeek
How did it go, love?
-          Khayrah Roqeeb.

I sighed deeply and massaged my temple, watching as buses ground and hooted in the scorching sun. Passers-by walked with hastened steps as they pushed through the crowd, looking confused and beleaguered and clamping their bags tightly to prevent any incident of theft.

It went well. Couldn’t it better!
-          Taofeek Adewale.

I remembered how the meeting went with Jasmine. I recalled getting to Funmilayo’s house and taking my children into my arms after such a long time. I cherished the moment they squealed ‘daddy!’ as they flopped on my legs and held me onto them like they never wanted to let go. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life.

Funmilayo had served me rice and fried pepper sauce filled with chunks of smoked fish- the meal I had relished eating from her when we were still together. We would eat together from the same plate, kiss each other deeply and spend the rest of our time together, dipping chunks of fish into each other’s mouths.

“I’m happy for you. You are a good man, Taofeek. Your children love you and it’s obvious. Thank you for taking good care of them.” She had said softly as she watched them lovingly.

Funmilayo had also changed. She looked prettier and she didn’t appear as skinny as before. Times had truly changed and the good thing was that we were all getting better and improving on ourselves.

Are you on your way here?
-          Khayrah Roqeeb.

Yes, I’m close to your house. Will be there in the next twenty minutes. Can’t wait to see you, darling!
-          Taofeek Adewale.

I miss you so much. Come quick, I’m waiting.
-          Khayrah Roqeeb

Miss and love you so much!!!
-          Taofeek Adewale.

Love you too, my husband!
-          Khayrah Roqeeb.

“Owaa o!” I yelped at the conductor as the bus tottered towards Allen junction. Alighting from the bus, I crossed over to the other corner of the road to board a keke marwa to Khayrah’s house.

I arrived at the white-painted building ten minutes later, looking drained and exhausted. It had been a long day and what I really wanted was to have a cold shower, flop on my bed and sleep till evening. But I needed to see Khayrah. I longed to see her bright face and the way her nose crinkled whenever she smiled. I loved to see her and imagine how my life would be filled with happiness when we get married.

Entering the compound, I could spot loads of canopies, plastic chairs, tubers of yam, a basket of tomato and red pepper, a bag of rice and other provisions occupying the space in the compound. Everywhere looked jam-packed and smelt of onion and cabbage. It was obvious that they were preparing earnestly for the wedding.

Abdul Lateef was heading out of the compound when I stepped in. He was dressed in his usual t-shirt and jean trousers and he had been jabbing on his phone with fixed eyes that he hadn’t noticed me until he raised his eyes. Our eyes met briefly and I could spot regret and jealousy evident in them but his face glinted suddenly.

“Asalamu ‘alaykum groom-to-be.” He smiled pleasantly, taking my hand in his.

“Wa’alaykumu salam. How have you been?”

Abdul Lateef placed his hands on his forehead as if to say: ‘I haven’t been fine. You took my love from me…now my heart is shattered.’

However, he replied with: “AlhamduliLlaah, I’ve been fine.”

“Great. I guess we’ll see soon.” I smiled at him.

I had started to stride off when he called my name. “Wait, Taofeek.”

“Yes?”

“Thank you for everything. I mean, for making Khayrah feel happy again. For feeling the space I couldn’t feel. For loving her unconditionally. Thank you so much.”

“You don’t need to thank me. I love Khayrah and that’s what matters.”

***
My face blanched in shock as I entered the living room. I didn’t expect it to be that crowded. There were some elderly women Khayrah had called her paternal aunts and a frail-looking man whom she described as a distant cousin. Their faces appeared strange because they hadn’t been around during our introduction ceremony. Her father was also around and his face lit up in delight as he caught sight of me.

A young lady I hadn’t met at all had a riveted stare at me- just the way most ladies would do when they see me for the first time. Fadilah was seated beside her and I assumed at once that she would be Faizah, Fadilah’s lousy and nosy best friend. Khayrah had said so much about her and I knew at once that she would be the one.

Khayrah was seated beside her mother on the large sofa, staring at me with amusing eyes as they twinkled in delight and I stared back, blowing her an air kiss and winking at her. She was putting on a white gown and black hijab.

“Asalamu ‘alaykum warahmatuLlaah wabarakahtuhu, everyone!” I greeted them pleasantly.

“You’re welcome our husband! Come and have a seat. Hafsah, please get him a cup of cold fruit juice.” Khayrah’s mother said sweetly, surveying a brown and red fabric with great interest. “Eyin omo isi yin! You don’t even want a grand wedding that will shake the whole Lagos! Imagine, I didn’t even choose aso ebi for my friends. I can’t even invite most of them…”

“You can, ma. You can invite your friends,” I stated as I watched Khayrah roll her eyes.

“You don’t how many friends my mom has. If you tell her to invite all her friends, we’ll be having an additional fifty guests at the wedding.” Khayrah said in mocking tones as the whole room erupted into laughter.

Khayrah’s mother beat her playfully with the fabric. “Go and discuss other things about the wedding jare. We need to have a little grown-up meeting.”

“Taofeek, come along. Let’s go to the balcony.” Khayrah beckoned as I tailed her, followed by Fadilah and Faizah.

“Oh gosh! He’s so handsome. Khayrah is sooo lucky.” I could hear Faizah gushing behind us while Fadilah whispered that she behaved herself.

But she couldn’t. As we settled on the couch in the balcony, Faizah couldn’t help but grin at me.

“Your drink, sir.” Hafsah came in that second with a tray of juice.

“Thank you.” I replied as I grabbed the cup and gulped it in less than a minute.

“Faizah, let’s assist Hafsah in making lunch while we allow the soon-to-be couple some ‘alone’ time.” Fadilah dragged her out of the place.

I sighed deeply and stared at Khayrah, noting how strained and weary she looked. “You’re also stressed?”

“Yes, my love. The wedding preparation is exhausting and overwhelming. I can’t wait for all these to be over.” She said, putting her hands over her face in frustration.

“I feel the same way too. It will all be over. It’s just a matter of a few days. We’ll get married and become the latest couple in town. Bella Naija should cover our love story; the best love story I’ve ever heard of.” I raised my hands in the air with a wide grin plastered across my face.

Khayrah frowned slightly and stared at me. “How did it all go? Jasmine and Funmilayo?”

“It went well.”

“Are you sure? Are we safe?’’ Khayrah searched my eyes for the truth as if I had things hidden in them.

“I assure you that we’re safe.” I smiled at her. “What is it? You’re hiding things from me?” I remarked, searching her eyes with a doubtful look.

“Nothing really…” she said, turning her face.

“We’re getting married, remember? We shouldn’t keep secrets from each other.”

“Okay, I’ll tell you.” She said, sitting upright and gazing at me. “I’ve heard several tales about marriage. I heard that it comes with more challenges…challenges that outweigh the fun part of it. I heard it takes patience and endurance to live with someone. I heard I’ll find out scary and new things about my partner when we get married. I’ve heard a lot and I’m kinda scared. Can we really do this?”

“I’ve thought about this same too. Lukman told me scary things about marriage. But I want to risk taking this adventure with you. With any other woman, I would be doubtful, but with you, I’m certain we can do this together.” I said matter-of-factly, imagining how I would be having such conversation in some days’ time- hugging Khayrah tightly, fiddling with her ear and whispering such statement in her ears.

“Yes, we will do this together. It will be like attending one of the toughest courses in school and studying hard together to make an A.” Khayrah laughed loudly and I joined, wondering who would compare marriage with a course, if not Khayrah.

“You’re so hilarious. By the way, I met Abdul Lateef on my way here today. He was thanking me for making you happy and all the blah blah blah that some exes say. I’ve been meaning to ask, what is he doing here? I mean, why he is living in the same compound with you?”

As much as I trust Khayrah, I was still bothered that Abdul Lateef was living beside her and they saw each other every single day. I knew that he hadn’t forgotten totally about Khayrah.

“Abdul Lateef’s father and mine are close friends. Because of this, they agreed to built their houses side-by-side in the same compound. I’ve known and liked Abdul Lateef since I was ten. However, his family relocated to Canada when his father got a job there. Abdul Lateef remained in Nigeria to complete his university education and he has been the one occupying the house since then.” Khayrah stated, looking lost in thought as if reminiscing the old days. “Wait, are you jealous?”

“Sorry to disturb you, lovebirds. Can I see you for a moment, Taofeek?” Khayrah’s father said, stepping into the balcony.

I stood up immediately and rubbed my hands around my jean. “Sure. Why not?”
***
“But…sir…I don’t think I can accept this. I mean…I’m not trying to reject your gift….but this is just too much.” I prattled in exasperation, gawking at the red Toyota Nissan parked in front of us and the new-sparkling set of keys that he dangled in front of me.

I had not expected any of these. Neither the house nor a car. Khayrah’s father had offered me a house as well as a brand new car as a gift for our wedding.

“You didn’t accept my offer to work at my company. You’ll reject these too?” He asked with a look of disappointed evident on his face.

“I appreciate all these but I’m not getting married to Khayrah because I want to be compensated. I don’t want this gift to be a form of compensation for marrying your sick daughter.” I said matter-of-factly, staring at the brand new car and imagining myself driving it to work on Monday morning.

“I’m not offering you all these because my daughter is sick. Please Taofeek, I’m begging you to accept these from me.”

He had a pleading look on his face. He truly wanted me to accept all of that. But wait, why should I reject all these? Stretching my right palm, Khayrah’s father smiled broadly and dipped the set of keys on my palm.

“Congratulations!” He smiled and walked away, leaving me to admire my new car and confirm if I was dreaming or everything was a reality!

A/N: Whew! Finally, I got these two episodes out. I'm sorry for such draggy episodes but Episode Eleven will be better in sha ALlaah (Khayrah and Taofeek's wedding will be the centre of the next episode!)
I sincerely apologise for being away for such a long time. Now, I've returned and I'll try my best to make up for all we've missed, in sha ALlaah. Happy reading!!!💕💕💕

Don't miss out on the previous episodes:










Friday, 23 August 2019

7 Ways to Make Your Time on Facebook More Productive



Facebook is for the old ones! OMG! Do people still use Facebook in 2019? I deactivated Facebook because it is filled with gory and unseen pictures! Yuck! Facebook is disgusting. People keep tagging you to stupid posts and you keep receiving annoying messages every time!
We’ve heard similar stories from people. While social media can be seen as a form of distraction as it has some negative impact on people, Facebook has often been listed amongst the social media platforms to be avoided.

However, we have people that have improved their skills and become more productive through Facebook. How can this be achieved? Below are 7 ways to make Facebook more productive.

1.      Stay in touch with your family members and friends
Your family members will not be with you forever. They will move to different cities, work in different places, get married and start their own new families.
How do you then stay in touch with them without having to travel a long distance just to know how they are fairing or spend hours on a phone call while you ask after their welfare?
Facebook is an ideal platform to keep up with their lives. However, this goes beyond scrolling through your newsfeed to know what school your old classmate is attending. You can create a group dedicated to your family members. In this platform, you will share information and updates while maintaining privacy from the outside world.
In a closed group, the posts will only be visible to group members and they can upload photos, chat and invite more family members to easily join the group.

2.      Find a job
Are you on the hunt for a new job? Searching for a new position can be done using social media. Facebook can serve as a platform to find a job. You can connect with people at several organizations with the use of Facebook. After having an idea of your interests, you can update a status, asking friends to assist you in contacting someone in the industry for more information.
However, you need to be very careful when doing this. Avoid writing a status such as: “Assist me! I need a job and I don’t know how to go about it!”
If you are cautious of what you update on your status, you can search for companies on Facebook (if they have a page and you have friends on your list who have shown on their profiles that they work there).
You can also learn about the company’s values, job openings, and programmes through their Facebook page.

3.      Plan an event
Planning an event is very quick and easy to do. At the left-hand corner of your Facebook page, you can click on the “Events” icon. With this, you can manage invites (select either public or private event and if your guests can invite other friends), add important information to the guests and keep track of RSVPs.

4.      Publicize your blog
A great way to publicize your blog is by creating a Facebook page. You can also publicize it by using WordPress’ Facebook Plugin. This will publish blog posts to your Facebook account automatically. Also, this post will pop up in the newsfeed of your friends, making them like or comment on your posts. They can also share your post for their friends to read, thus, making your blog more popular.

5.      Use Facebook to your advantage
You can use Facebook Docs to integrate document sharing with Facebook friends seamlessly. Through Facebook Messenger, you can also integrate Facebook with your other communication needs. With this, you can send Facebook messages to the mobile phones of your friends and also receive messages from them.

6.      Sell on Facebook
Just like Amazon and eBay and Craiglist, Facebook is another way to sell items. It is free to list items on Marketplace.
Through Marketplace, people can publicize their posts in the newsfeed of their friends. Visitors can also ask questions based on the items posted.

7.      Keep your organization’s members up-to-date
Organizations, celebrities, and business can easily keep up with people through their Facebook pages.

I’m sure you’ve learnt how to make your Facebook account productive! What other benefits did we miss out? Let us know in the comments section!








Monday, 19 August 2019

Her Last Breath (Episode Seven & Eight)



Khayrah
I slumped on the bed, feeling drained and exhausted after cleaning the room, folding my clothes, and that of Fadilah. I had swept and mopped the floor at the wee hours of the morning when Fadilah was still asleep and the sun hadn’t set in the sky. My mind was a whirl of confusion and I couldn’t sleep throughout the night. My thoughts were transfixed with all that had happened in the restaurant…the way Taofeek’s face had jolted in shock when he heard of the dreadful news, the way he had revealed his secret…that he had three children.

But come to think of it, why would Taofeek have three children? Three children out of the wedlock at the age of what? Twenty-seven? It sounded implausible!

I folded my favourite gown, the one I had worn on my first meeting with Taofeek. That day was one of the happiest days of my life and I could hardly sleep. I spent all night, thinking of Taofeek’s face and wondering how lucky I was to be getting married to such a handsome and lovely man.

I should have known that things would never work out…that I only wished to get married and have children like other women…but it would never be possible.  Tears streaked down my face as I remembered Taofeek’s bright face and the way he had talked about how we would spend our lives together, swinging his hands back and forth and widening his eyes with glee and hope. I had stared at his wide arms and imagined being in them…resting my head on his chest and listening to his heartbeat. I could hardly wait to stare at him longingly without feeling guilty, hugging him tightly and kissing him deeply. I had wished that he would one day be mine…but it would never happen. Never happen!

“Khayrah?’’ Fadilah said slowly, tapping me on the shoulder.

Startling with surprise, I dropped the clothing I was holding to the floor and cleaned my wet face. “You’ve woken up?”

“Yes. Have you prayed subh?” Fadilah yawned with sleepy eyes, her mouth wafting of a foul smell.

I winced, covering my nose with my hands. “I’m off-salah. Go and wash that your smelly mouth before it pollutes the room.”

“Okay Mama,” Fadilah chuckled, plodding towards the toilet door. “This one you woke up to clean this room…”

“Go and perform ablution before mom reaches here.” I interrupted her with a warning, in a bid to change the topic because it was heading to what had happened yesterday.

Fadilah nodded in return and entered the bathroom. We never wanted our mom to march into our room and remind us about salah before we wake up. She would scream at the top of her lungs and sprinkle water on our faces if we were still in bed till fajr time. I stared around the room. It was as neat as a pin. I needed to engage myself in several activities, in other to avoid thinking of Taofeek and all that transpired yesterday.

Taofeek! The excited look on his face when he told me about his promotion. The way he had reacted when I told him about my ailment. The moment he confessed and opened up on his secret.

I glanced towards the shelf, where my phone was lying. A part of me wanted him to call me and plead to have me in his life again, irrespective of when I would be leaving this world. A part of me wanted him to send an SMS, expressing his undying love for me and how he would love and accept me irrespective of the fact that I was dying.

A sudden buzz my phone gave made me shriek in anxiety. I fastened my pace towards the shelf to reach for my phone. Unlocking my phone in a rush, I saw a new message from Facebook. It wasn’t from Taofeek. But it was from another man.

Asalamu ‘alaykum.
-          Talhah Munir
A surge of excitement seeped through me as I replied the message. It was the same way I had met Taofeek. This could be the perfect replacement!

Wa’alaykumu salam.
-          Khayrah Raqeeb.

I smiled eagerly as I watched the received icon tick, showing that the message had been delivered. He had just read the message and he was typing.

I imagined how Talhah would look like. He might probably be more religious and handsome than Taofeek. That would be Taofeek’s loss! Haha! He would sleep in front of the gate, begging me to accept him into my life, just like Abdul Lateef had done. He wouldn’t bear to see our wedding pictures! Talhah and I together, hands in hands while we smile widely and wave at our wedding guests. He would cry till his tears dry up and he wouldn’t be able to cry anymore. He would then start writing books, advising people to cherish the one they love and stand by them no matter what.

‘I left her because she has cancer. That is the biggest regret of my life. I lost a diamond. I lost Khayrah.’ I imagined Taofeek saying, while he wallowed in regret.

The vibration my phone gave as a new message popped up almost made me jump out of my skin. A sly smile appeared on my lips as I cleaned my eyes before reading, imagining seeing a sentence such as: ‘You’ve been my crush for over a year now. I just mustered the courage to chat you up.’ ‘Are you still single and ready to get married?’ etcetera.

Was up pretty lady. Hw r u? I lv u
-          Talhah Munir.

My face creased to a frown as I blocked him and threw my phone on the bed. Oh, he was one of those unserious men who slid into lady’s inboxes to flirt. Why did think he was different from Taofeek? Didn’t he turn out to become someone who had been engaging in illicit affairs?

No! I couldn’t really imagine myself getting in fists with several baby mamas and raising children who weren’t mine. What was even the possibility that he had changed… that he had stopped fornicating?

I placed my hands on my forehead, willing these sorts of thoughts from clouding my mind. The room was neat and there was nothing else to do. Throw the clothes on the floor and re-fold them? Scatter the room and start re-arranging? My family members would start to suspect that I might have probably gone mad.

I left the room and headed to the kitchen. There would surely be tasks to finish in the kitchen: the making of breakfast, washing the dirty dishes and cleaning the floor.

Hafsah shivered in fear as she spotted me entering the kitchen, the knife she was using to cut green vegetables falling to the ground. I knew she had to be surprised. I couldn’t recall the last time I stepped my foot into the kitchen. Hafsah was saddled with the responsibility of cooking the dishes and serving us with whatever we wanted. The kitchen was like her room. She would wake up before dawn to start preparing what we would have for breakfast.

“Sorry oo! I’m sure I startled you.” I smiled at her, entering the kitchen to realize how much things had changed. The brown carpet had been replaced with white tiles. The gas cooker was different from the one we were previously using. The cupboard was designed with zebra print and there was a new refrigerator!

“It’s fine…” Hafsah smiled uneasily, trailing me with suspicious eyes as she bent down to pick the knife and continued chopping the vegetables at a slower pace.

“I came to assist you. What do you plan on making for breakfast?”

“Boiled rice and vegetable soup with fried fish.”

“I’ll help you make that. You can go to your room and sleep.” I stated, taking the tray of vegetables away from her.

Hafsah gasped in disbelief, giving me an odd look. “But…you…mom…” she spluttered.

I gave her a reassuring smile. “I’m serious, Hafsah. Go and rest. You work so hard, you should rest.”

“Okay,” Hafsah replied as she walked out of the kitchen.

I chopped the vegetables, wondering why it wouldn’t slice as thin as the one Hafsah had done. I knew that I had a lot of work to do in terms of the kitchen.

“Khayrah?” Fadilah called as she entered the kitchen, convulsing into laughter. “When did you start to cook…I mean, when was the last time you touched a spoon or seasoning cubes? I’m surprised you can find your way into the kitchen!” Fadilah smirked at me.

“Whatever!”

“You’ve cleaned our room and you’re making breakfast…what is going…oh, that reminds me, he is here again oo!”

My face jolted in shock as I stared at her with an eager expression. “Taofeek?”

“No, not Taofeek. The pest is here again. Ensure you take pesticide along with you.”

“Who is the pest?” I asked with furrowed brows.

Fadilah rolled her eyes. “Abdul Lateef! That’s the only pest I know of.” She shrugged nonchalantly and opened the refridgerator to grab a bottled water.

Without saying a word, I returned to the room to wear hijab and stormed outside, reading to give Abdul Lateef the piece of me.

He was standing in front of the doorway, dressed in a white- crisp shirt and black trousers. He sighed loudly and glanced at me with a sad look, before lowering his eyes. Abdul Lateef was my first love…the person I had written about in my diary.

I filled my diary with stories about him, the reasons my love for him was unexplainable…the way I savoured the smell of his strawberry shampoo, how I would struggle to lower my gaze because of his small and bright eyes, curvy lips, curly and dark hair, and long beautiful fingers. His smile was just everything. I loved to see the glamour his white neatly arranged set of teeth displayed and the way his nose creased whenever he smiled. If I were to write an epistle, regarding what I loved about him, words would fail me. But now, all I could see was a man who had betrayed my love and trust.

“Asalamu ‘alaykum, Khayrah. How are you?”

“Wa’alaykumu salam. I’m fine. What are you doing here?”

“I miss you. I miss so much…and I want you back. I’m ready to do all it takes to have you. What do you want me to do? I’ll do anything in the world to have you back.” Abdul Lateef said with all seriousness, his eyes slightly raised, the way they did whenever he meant what he was saying.

“I want you to leave me alone. I’m going through a lot right now and I don’t want to be put into pressure. You had your reasons for ending our relationship and nothing has changed.”

Abdul Lateef walked closer to where I was standing, making me nervous and jittery. He sighed deeply and stared at me with pity, rubbing his right thumb over his forehead. I could still perceive the sweet smell of his favourite perfume, the smell that made me imagine taking strawberry and grape. “No one will want to get married to you because of your condition. If Taofeek knows about it, he’ll leave you…”

“He knows about it.” I replied blankly, pulling my face away.

From the corner of my eyes, I could see the way his eyes widened in delight. “And?”

“It’s complicated Abdul Lateef. We both kept things from each other. We cannot be together anymore.” I stated morosely, blinking away the pain that was evident in my eyes.

“Khayrah, do not forget all we shared. The memories, the promises we made to each other, the way we had planned on having our wedding and travelling to Paris to spend our time alone in the ‘city of lights.’ Do not make these dreams dash away because of a silly mistake I made. I love you and you love me. We both know that and we can’t deceive each other. I’ll give you till the end of the day to decide on accepting or rejecting my proposal. If you still want to be with me, the one true person who will love you sincerely, then let me know. If you don’t want to, then I promise to never disturb you again. But remember this, I love you more than you can ever imagine.’’ Abdul Lateef said and walked away.

I stood at the same position for over a minute, wondering if I was making the worst mistake by not accepting him back into my life. Maybe he was right. No one would accept me for who I am. I was tempted to run to his house and tell him that I had accepted…but I changed my mind. After all, I still had until night time to make a decision.

“Will you accept?” Fadilah asked as I entered the living room. It was obvious that she had been eavesdropping on our conversation.

“I don’t know. Maybe this is the best option.”

“Whatever decision you want to make is up to you. But, do not forget when he had ended the relationship. When you had pleaded in tears that he does not leave you but he wouldn’t even listen to what you had to say. When he invited his new lover into the compound and the way she had done things to spite you and make you feel jealous. Do not forget all these when making your decision.”

“What did you hear about you making breakfast, ehn Khayrah? You want to make breakfast and you haven’t even finished chopping the vegetable lataa ro? Are we going to feed on raw vegetables?” My mom interrupted our conversation as she entered the living room, still dressed in her white nightgown.

“I’ll head to the kitchen now and continue,’’ I stated, plodding towards the kitchen and glad that I didn’t have to respond to Fadilah’s statement.

“Do you have an appointment with the doctor today?” my mom asked.

“Yes,’’ I replied blankly, walking faster towards the kitchen door.

I was not in the mood to engage in any discussion with anyone. My mind was clouded with a lot and any discussion about my illness would make me disconsolate.

“Faizah and I want to hang out this afternoon. We wouldn’t mind if you join us.” Fadilah remarked, reading through her phone.

As much I hated to be around Fadilah’s best friend, Faizah, I was eager to leave the house and clear the troubling thoughts away from my head.

“How about her appointment with the doctor?” my mom inquired.

“We’ll leave for Ikeja City Mall immediately after leaving the hospital. How about that?” Fadilah smiled, raising her hands.

I sighed deeply. “Okay.”

  


Episode Eight
Khayrah
Faizah was the tallest woman I had ever set my eyes on. She had chocolate skin with long legs and big, red lips. She was undoubtedly pretty and so full of herself. Of all the times I had been around her, she would frequently talk about the number of men that were dying to make her their wives, and the new rich man that had promised to buy her a car or sponsor her trip to Dubai. She was the worst talkative I had ever come across. Faizah would keep talking and cut you off whenever you had something to say. Sometimes, I would wonder why she was the best friend of my sister. I dreaded the moment she would pay us a visit at home and place her feet on our bed, staining the bed sheet with chocolates and talking about how unusually quiet I was and how strange it was that I didn’t have friends. I would never dream of being here, but I was desperate to leave the house.

“Fadilah, your sister is so weird. I’ve never seen a friend visit her. She is usually alone, doing things I don’t understand. How come you guys are sisters?’’ She would say in mockery tones.

Now, I was sitting in the KFC section in Ikeja City Mall, munching on a chicken drumstick and gazing at Faizah as she kept talking about her new fiancé, Ibrahim, who was the son of a wealthy and influential politician based in Abuja. Now, she was talking about a man she had recently met and how she wanted to hook him with Fadilah.

“This guy is soooo rich and handsome. Way handsome than that Rasheed who wants to leave you for one yeye Ph.D. programme,’’ Faizah snorted.

She was dressed in a blue and yellow pinafore, and gold veil, Fadilah dressed in a similar outfit and hers of green colour.

I studied how uneasy Fadilah looked at the sound of Rasheed’s name. Yes, she still loved him and she would be willing to take him back. Rasheed was Fadilah’s first love and the only man she had dreamt of being with. It came as a surprise when she decided to end their relationship because he would be travelling out of the country for four years.

Fadilah sipped from my bottle of orange juice and pressed her lips tightly. “But…”

“Oh, please. Don’t tell me any love yen yen yen. He loves you and decided to leave you? Please, don’t tell me that. I will hook you up with someone that you’ll love so much.” She said, then turned towards me, scratching her head. “I could have hooked up your quiet sister too, but…you know…”

“I have cancer? Don’t worry, Faizah. I don’t need you to hook me up with anyone…” I was saying when someone walked in.

It was Rasheed! His eyes were fixed on Fadilah as he walked towards our table, his face looking solemn. Five years before, Fadilah would never dream of getting married to someone like Rasheed.

‘I want a tall, dark and handsome man with white sparkling teeth.’ Fadilah had fantasized when we were talking about our dream man. However, life happened and she fell in love with someone we never expected. Someone who was the direct opposite of her dream man.

“Asalamu ‘alaykum everyone. Please, I need to speak with you, Fadilah.” He pleaded with guilty eyes.

I knew that he had come to beg her, to tell her that their lives were incomplete without each other. Fadilah tried to hide the excitement in her eyes as she moved to a different table to talk to him, watching him longingly as he talked slowly and with passion.

“They look so perfect together.’’ Faizah gushed as she grinned at them.

I rolled my eyes at her. Some minutes ago, she was talking about hooking Fadilah with a richer and more handsome man. Now, she was gushing over them. Such a pretentious friend! That was why I never considered having a friend.

I wished that Taofeek would do the same…appear out of nowhere and beg me to return to his life. But I couldn’t wait any longer. If Taofeek would not come to me, I would go to him. We love each other and we should be together, no matter what. Cancer or children, we were meant for each other.

Picking my phone from the table, I dialed Mr. Lolu’s number. “Please come and pick me up. We’re heading to Fushia Company Ltd. at Ogba.”
***
Fushia Company Ltd. was a richly-furnished office composed of a large number of workers. The workers sat in cubicles, working with full concentration and typing away on their keyboards. I had always dreamt of working in such establishment but I just couldn’t, not with my condition. My dad had offered me a position in his company but I had declined it.

“I’ve informed Mr. Taofeek that you want to see him. Please, kindly wait for a minute.” The fair-complexioned receptionist with a face filled with excessive makeup said in a sing-song tone, struggling to speak like the British.

“Okay, thanks.’’

I retouched my face with powder and adjusted my hijab, feeling scared and nervous. I had never done this. I had never begged a man to be with me.

“You can go in now. His office is the third to the left.”

“Thanks,’’ I muttered and walked towards the door, breathing hard and willing myself to knock on the door.

“You can do this,” I muttered to my face, stretching my shaky hands and knocking on the door.

“Come in.” I counted to three and entered the office.

Taofeek’s office was a medium-sized office that was wafting of a sweet fragrance. Taofeek focused on his laptop with a frown, then looked up as I strode towards his table. Gosh! He looked more handsome than when I had last seen him…when I had walked out of the restaurant. I shouldn’t have done that. I shouldn’t have walked out on him.

“Asalamu ‘alaykum Khayrah. To what do I owe this visit?’’ he sounded very professional as he rubbed his weary eyes and glared at me.

Taofeek was putting on a red and black shirt, and his skin glowed brighter than before. Was that because he had been promoted to a higher position?

“I came to beg you and plead that you forgive me for walking out on you the other time. I am sincerely sorry and I hope that we can start again. I will accept your children and your past…and all your flaws. I love you so much and I can’t do without you.” I said in sobs, tears coursing down my face.

‘’Do you really love me?’’

Really? Why would he be asking such a question? ‘’Of course, I do. I love you very much.”

‘’Or you are looking for someone to get married to…anyone to get married to…because you’re left with no choice? You’re coming back here to beg me because you’re left with no choice. You’re scared that you’ll find no one. You just want to fulfill your wish of getting married to anyone. Be it Taofeek or AbdurRahman or Yusuf…anyone at all. You wouldn’t have accepted my past if you had better choices, but you’re here because you’ve looked around and you know you’ll be all alone.”
“No. I love you. I love you very much, Taofeek. I’m not here just because I want to get married. I’m here because you are the one I want to be with. What do you want me to do to amend this…I’ll tell my father to buy you…’’

Taofeek’s laughter interrupted my speech. I felt very offended as I watched him glare at me in irritation. ‘’That’s it right? To buy me off? To find a pauper you can buy off and get married to before it’s all over? If that’s your plan, then you have failed.”

“No…that isn’t my plan…’’

‘’You have cancer, Khayrah. Remember that.’’

“I shouldn’t have come here.” I yelled, covering my tear-soaked and walking out of the building.

I would have caused a scene as I stumbled on my way out of the company building, bawling my eyes out till I entered the car.

I buried my face in my hands and allowed the tears to flow freely down my face. I shouldn’t have done this. I had humiliated myself. Maybe Abdul Lateef was right. No one would be able to love me because of my condition.

“Aunty, sorry oo! Man no worth to dey cry for oo! No cry abeg.’’ Mr. Lolu said, turning back and glancing at me with pity.

I ignored him and dialed my mom’s number. ‘’Okay, customer. See you again.’’ My mom said as she picked at the first ring, obviously bading goodbye to one of her regular customers at the shop. ‘’Khayrah, how are you?”

I blew my nose into a napkin as I replied. “I’m not fine. I went to beg Taofeek in his office. I humiliated myself and he wouldn’t accept me. Why did I come to this world in the first place? To face all these? Why can’t be like you or dad or Fadilah?” I whimpered in anger.

“Astagfirullah. Everything in this world happens for a reason oo! Omo mi, I’m sorry about everything. I wish we didn’t have to go through all these but I am certain that ALlaah tests his servant for a reason. You are not the only who is affected by this. We all are. Every single morning I pray, I ask ALlaah to restore your health and grant you long life. Do you think I’m really strong? That’s because I try to appear strong whenever I’m around the family. I try to appear strong so that you won’t lose hope. When I’m alone, I cry and wish that this had never happened. But we will be patient and prayerful because this is a test from ALlaah. We will never lose hope because we have faith that things would get better by ALlaah’s will. If Taofeek’s isn’t the one for you, he won’t come back and you’ll find someone who’ll sincerely love you irrespective of what you’re going through. Do not allow this to make you feel sad. Remain grateful because there are people who are worse off than you. Keep praying and hoping for ALlaah’s mercy and healing. Please, Khayrah, I love you so much and I won’t want you to brood over this.  I’ll leave my shop with Bukky and start coming home. Please, get home and take a rest. I’ll join you shortly.’’

‘’Okay mom.” I threw my phone on the chair and stared out of the window, reflecting on all she had said.

Some seconds later, my phone buzzed, signaling a new message on Facebook. I hissed loudly, knowing it would certainly be from men like Talhah.

My phone buzzed repeatedly and I picked my phone, wondering who had sent me messages. My eyes almost popped out of its sockets when I saw Taofeek’s name.

Asalamu ‘alaykum Khayrah. How are you? I stumbled upon your profile and I must sincerely say that I’ve been overwhelmed. Can I know more about you?
-          Taofeek Adewale.

I smiled widely as I started to type. It was the first message I had received from Taofeek. It was how we started our relationship. It meant that he was ready to start all over again.

Wa’alaykumu salam. I think I love you already!!! Please, can we get married?
-          Khayrah Roqeeb.

Khayrah, I’m sorry for the way I acted earlier. I accept you, no matter your condition. Whatever it is, we will fight it together as a couple. We will make each day count.
-          Taofeek Adewale.

I’m sorry for hiding this from you. Please forgive me.
-          Khayrah Roqeeb.

I also hid secrets from you. We’re both guilty.
-          Taofeek Adewale.

I’m excited to be their mother. I’m not very good with children, but I will learn to become a great mother to them. So tell me, what other secrets are you hiding?
-          Khayrah Roqeeb.

Lol! I roll on the bed when I sleep. I eat more than you can ever imagine. I pick my nose when no one’s watching. I hate beans and yam. I can’t kill cockroach to save my life. I hate reading. Hahaha! Now tell me yours.
-          Taofeek Adewale.

My head is bald. I have few strands of hair left on my head…
-          Khayrah Roqeeb.

You’re my real African queen! Something else?
-          Taofeek Adewale.

Yes. I squeak when I sleep. I’m not working. I can eat rice throughout the year. I’m scared of death. I don’t have a single friend. There are more I can’t recall now.
-          Khayrah Roqeeb.

I love you despite your flaws and imperfections.
-          Taofeek Adewale.

And I love and accept you too!
-          Khayrah Roqeeb.

      Don't miss out on the previous episodes:

     Episode One


     Episode Three

     Episode Four

     Episode Five

     Episode Six