Sunday, 5 December 2021

Life and Everything in Between (Episode Twenty-One)



Mutmainah grinned like a Cheshire cat as I talked about how supportive Farouk had been- the length he would go to protect me and ensure that I was okay.

 

Awwwn. This is so sweet, Rafiah. He really loves you,” Mutmainah stated as she smiled affectionately.

 

“I do know that. I cannot imagine spending the rest of my life with anyone else. He is perfect for me,” I explained.

 

“So, why haven’t you said a yes? If you keep delaying this…”

 

“It’s for a valid reason,” I quipped. “Farouk understands why I cannot say yes right now.”

 

“I am teary!” Mutmainah said with a chuckle as she cleaned her misty eyes. “Really lovely. Well, my love story is the complete opposite of yours. He jilted me for someone else. Well, I still love him, and I’m 100% certain that he is making a grave mistake getting married to someone else.”

 

Khalid,’ I thought.

 

“I am sorry about that. I’m sure you’ll find someone better…”

 

“No, I won’t,” she cut in. “I would never find anyone like Khalid. So, hold Farouk tight because a man like him is rare,” she added as the driver pulled into the green-coloured building.

 

The studio was smaller in size than I’d imagined. It was made of glass, and from where the car was parked, I could see a swarm of ladies engrossed in a discussion and watching others pose for the camera.

 

“Here we are!” Mutmainah said in excitement as she alighted from the car. I joined her as she walked towards the studio.

 

I sighed heavily as I stepped into the studio filled with tall and pretty models and cartons of the said product.

 

“Are you ready, Rafiah?” Mutmainah grinned at me.

 

“Yes!”

***

About an hour later, we drove out of the compound and talked about how great the shoot went.

 

“Thank you so much for accompanying me to the studio. You assisted a total stranger in taking pictures and promoting the brand she is working on. I am very grateful for this kind gesture,” Mutmainah said as she pulled the strip of her pointy heels and spread her legs on the seat.

 

“Oh, it is nothing. You’re not a total stranger. You’re a popular social media personality. Everyone will be excited to work with you.”

 

Mutmainah handed her phone over to me. “Can you type your account details here? And please, don’t start with the ‘why’ questions.”

 

“Okay,” I controlled my face from stretching into a smile as I grabbed the phone and inputted my account number.

 

I returned the phone, and my cell phone beeped that very minute. Mutmainah had sent fifty thousand naira to my account. “SubhanaLlaah! This is a lot. Thank you, Mutmainah. I have no regret bumping into you at the restaurant.”

 

Mutmainah turned sideways with a sad face and stayed silent for a meeting. “You know, I am very depressed. This may sound strange, but that is exactly how I feel. Despite my social media fame and dad’s wealth, I hate myself greatly. I lost the person I love the most, and I haven’t healed from the heartbreak.”

 

I squeezed her right hand tightly. “Everything is going to be fine. You have your family, and you have me now,” I said as she whipped her head up and smiled at me. “I’m also just healing from heartbreak. A colleague at work. He got married to a fellow colleague,” I chuckled as Mutmainah gasped in shock.

 

“How did you manage that? I would have resigned!”

 

I laughed loudly. “I honestly don’t know how I was able to manage it. But here I am, madly in love again!”

 

Erm, can you describe your home address to the driver?”

 

“You don’t have to do that…” I was saying.

 

“I insist. It’s the least I can do for stealing your time,” Mutmainah argued.

 

“Okay,” I replied as I did so.

 

As we continued the journey to my house, Mutmainah talked about her struggle with mental health and how she had visited several therapists.

 

“Apart from Instagram influencing, what else do you do?” I asked.

 

“Well, I was in law school but had to take a break to heal. I should be able to return to school next year, in sha ALlaah,” Mutmainah added.

 

The driver pulled up in front of the house, and I turned towards her with a grin. “Thank you for today!”

 

“I should be thanking you,” she pulled me into a hug. “Have I saved your number?”

 

“Yes, we exchanged numbers at the studio,” I replied as I grabbed my bag.

 

“Great. I will call you tomorrow. See you soon. Bye!”

 

“Bye,” I waved at her as I walked into the compound.

***

I gasped in surprise and shock as I perceived the aroma of boiled turkey wafting the air. We hadn’t prepared a real food since Rasheedah got missing, and I’d practically spent the week forcing a spoonful of pap into Mom’s mouth. So, what was happening? Or had Rasheedah returned?

 

“You’ve returned!” Mom said in excitement as she walked into the living room with a wooden turner. “Who owns that car that you just got down from?” she asked with a smirk.

 

I stared at her in utter disbelief. The last time Mom smiled was before Rasheedah’s disappearance. The last time I saw her standing and…

 

“Is it a new person? You’ve found someone else?”

 

Beads of sweat formed around my forehead as I continued to stare at her. “Has Rasheedah returned?”

 

“Oh, she will. Didn’t she just travel? I’ve called the caterer to inform her that the wedding is finally happening on Saturday. She thinks I’m crazy. Your dad thinks so, too. Imagine!” Mom shook her head in disbelief.

 

“Which wedding is happening on Saturday?” I asked in confusion.

 

“Rasheedah’s wedding, of course! She’ll be returning on Thursday. Why don’t you assist with calling the small chops lady? You have her number, don’t you?”

 

“Ah, yes. I’ll call her now,” I said as I hurried into the room to find Dad.

 

Dad had just ended a call when I stepped into his room. He looked up at me with furrowed brows and patted the space beside him as a sign that I should sit. “Your mother will be fine. I just spoke to a psychologist. She is trying to cope with the grief of losing a child. And we still haven’t found Rasheedah.”

 

“SubhanaLlaah. This is unbelievable,” I said as tears filled my eyes.

 

“Don’t you believe in ALlaah’s miracles? I believe that Rasheedah is alive and will return home safe and sound. Your mother will also be fine,” Dad affirmed as he stared at me with sympathetic eyes.


on     Don't miss out on the previous episodes:

Episode One

Episode Two

Episodes Three & Four

Episode Five

Episodes Six & Seven

Episode Eight

Episode Nine

Episode Ten

Episode Eleven






Episode Seventeen 

 Episode Eighteen

Episode Nineteen

Episode Twenty

Sunday, 21 November 2021

Life and Everything in Between (Episode Twenty)



 Farouk stared at Khalid with furrowed brows as I placed a lid over the flask and stepped out of the car.

 

“Who’s that?” Farouk asked with an eager tone.

 

“Khalid, Rasheedah’s fiancé,” I replied with a whisper as I joined Khalid.

 

Khalid placed both hands in his jeans pocket and started to walk away to ensure that Farouk wouldn’t hear what he was about to say.

 

When he was confident that we were far away from where Farouk was seated, he whipped his head up and greeted me with a wince. “Asalamu ‘alaykum, Rafiah. How have you been?”

 

“Wa’alaykumu salam. I’ve been trying to stay positive. You?”

 

Khalid groaned. “I haven’t had up to three hours of sleep since the dreadful incident happened. Where could Rasheedah be, and who the hell is behind this?” Khalid sighed in frustration as he placed a hand over his head. “Your parents are not even giving me the chance to speak to them. This isn’t fair. I’m hurting as much as everyone is. But, unfortunately, it is my wife-to-be that got missing. On our wedding day!” he screamed.

 

“They are not listening to you because it is all your fault! We are in this mess because of you and your family members. My family is simple and easygoing. We do not involve ourselves in people’s businesses. We’ve been living peacefully until Rasheedah got engaged to you. Discuss with your parents. You guys need to sit down and analyse those you’ve offended. One of them is holding my sister captive.”

 

“Rafiah, please, you’ve got to listen to me,” Khalid said as sweat dripped down his face. “I don’t know where your sister is, and I’m also trying hard to make sure that we find her. I love Rasheedah. Do you know how it feels to lose your love when you’re a minute from tying the knot? So please, let’s work this out together.”

 

I swallowed hard and nodded. “That’s fine. I guess we’ll talk over the phone. I urgently need to be somewhere.”

 

“Where?” Khalid asked.

 

“To see your ex, Mutmainah. She’s also a suspect.”

 

Khalid laughed incredulously as he glared at me. “Mutmainah? What has she got to do with this?”

 

“Everything! Rasheedah talked about how she keeps disturbing you to return to her. Don’t you think she might have a plan?”

 

“You’re saying that twenty-five-year-old Mutmainah would have the guts to capture Rasheedah…because she is getting married to me, isn’t it, Rafiah?”

 

“Yes. Look, I’m not a psycho. I’m just doing all it takes to find my sister,” I blurted out as I walked out of his presence and returned to the car.

 

Khalid kept staring at us with a shocked expression until Farouk drove out of the compound.

 

About five minutes later, I gave Farouk a shooting look. “We’re not crazy, right?”

 

“Of course, we’re not! Don’t let anyone make you see yourself that way. We’re going to study Mutmainah until we’re certain that she doesn’t have Rasheedah. Cést fini!”

 

“Yeah,” I muttered as I scrolled through Mutmainah’s Instagram posts.

 

Mutmainah wasn’t just the only daughter of a wealthy politician; she also had a great fan base on Instagram. She promotes brands and shares pictures of memorable places in Nigeria. And based on her daily schedule, she was currently at De Cuisine, having a meeting with some of her clients and planning on taking more photos for her Instagram page.

 

Throughout the short trip to De Cuisine, Farouk prepped me on how to spend time at the restaurant without signifying that I was there on a unique motive.

 

At exactly 03:15 pm, Farouk drove into the restaurant’s building and parked the car. And there Mutmainah was, looking dashing as ever as she smiled affectionately and talked to two men, dressed in suits.

 

“She’s adorable, isn’t she?” I said as I stared at her through the glass walls.

 

Farouk ignored my question. “You’ve got this, Rafiah! I believe in you,” he smiled at me as I nodded in response and alighted from the car.

 

My heart jammered in my chest as I walked towards the entrance. I took deep breaths before stepping into the large room that smelled of lemon and raspberries, and I smiled appreciatively at the waiter, who opened the door.

 

‘Rafiah, you’ve got this. All you have to do is order a drink and secure a seat close to where Mutmainah is. She wouldn’t even notice you’re here. She’ll…’ I thought when I heard someone say the teslim.

 

I whipped her head up in shock to see Mutmainah grinning at me. She looked prettier in person.

 

Mutmainah was dressed in a red gown with puffy hands, and her lips shimmered in red. I gingerly lowered my eyes to catch a glance at her gold pointy heels. How could someone look this perfect?

 

“I’m sorry….can you hear me?” Mutmainah stared at me with confused eyes. However, she still had a bright smile plastered on her face.

 

“Oh…pardon me. I just can’t believe that I’m seeing you in person. You’re one of the few personalities I admire on Instagram. You’re so beautiful…” I was saying when Mutmainah pulled me into a hug.

 

“Oh, you are beautiful! I couldn’t help but notice you when I stepped into the restaurant. You have a lovely skin. Brown and smooth. This is the first time my manager is choosing the right model for the shoot,” Mutmainah said as she continued to stare at me.

 

I chuckled. “Model? Oh, I’m not a model. I’m just to relax after a busy day.”

 

“My bad. I’m sorry once again. But, please, can you join the shoot? You are gorgeous. What’s your name?”

 

“Rafiah.”

 

“Great. Rafiah, please, I need you to become one of the faces of Zurie Moisturizer. Not free, obviously. Are you free? Can we have a drink and talk about random things?”

 

“Err…okay,” I said as Mutmainah squealed in excitement.

 

“Great. I just found a new friend! What would you like? Here’s the menu…” she was saying when my phone chimed in my bag.

 

I brought it out and checked the new messages, certain that it would be from Farouk.

 

What’s up? Have you guys met before?

-          Farouk.

 

LOL. We haven’t! I’m also surprised. She’s been gushing about my beauty and all that…

-          Rafiah.

 

Hahaha. I can see how you’re blushing over there. Well, this is also a good strategy. Get to become Mutmainah’s best friend and see if she’s hiding anything.

-          Farouk.

 

I honestly do not think she’s hiding anything. I mean, look at her! So sweet and adorable. I was expecting to meet a proud lady, but Mutmainah is really friendly. So I don’t think she should be one of her suspects.

-          Rafiah.

 

We have to be sure before clearing her name off the list. Better safe than sorry.

-          Farouk.

 

Okay. I’m hanging out with Mutmainah till evening. After that, we want to go for a shoot with other models.

-          Rafiah.

 

BE CAREFUL.

-          Farouk.

Be careful? Would Mutmainah drive elsewhere and hold me captive? Does she look like someone capable of doing that? No wonder Khalid was staring at me like a psyc…

-          Rafiah.

 

I was still typing when Mutmainah called my name. “Rafiah?” Mutmainah stared at me and lowered her eyes to the phone in my hands. “Gosh. Have you been listening to me?”

 

“I’m sorry. I had to discuss an important issue with someone,” I explained.

 

“Your fiancé?” she said with a smirk. “Or…are you married?”

 

“Well, my fiancé to be.”

 

“Wow. I love love stories. Tell me everything about him!!!” she sipped from her watermelon juice and giggled excitedly.

 

I gingerly waved my hands at Farouk as I dropped my phone and started to talk. “He’s amazing. Really amazing…”


 Don't miss out on the previous episodes:

Episode One

Episode Two

Episodes Three & Four

Episode Five

Episodes Six & Seven

Episode Eight

Episode Nine

Episode Ten

Episode Eleven






Episode Seventeen 

 Episode Eighteen

Episode Nineteen

Sunday, 14 November 2021

Life and Everything in Between (Episode Nineteen)

 


It was two days after the unfortunate incident, and Rasheedah was still nowhere to be found. We had spent hours at the police station and searched the nook and crannies of Lagos. But Rasheedah was still missing.

 

And I had to show up at work, struggling to concentrate while my heart raced faster with the fear of Rasheedah being in danger.

 

It was one of those lunch periods when Asmau, Munir, and I visited our usual restaurant and ordered plates of jollof rice while we caught up with the latest news and events.

 

But there I was, staring at my untouched plate of jollof rice and struggling to control the tears from streaming down my face.

 

“Rafiah, you have to eat. I know this is hard for you…but you must eat and work. Asmau and I have you in our prayers. We are very hopeful that Rasheedah will return home,” Munir said as he stared at me with pitiful eyes.

 

Asmau touched my hand. “Munir is right. Rasheedah will be home soon. We just have to do all it takes to bring her back. But, yes, you must eat!” she stated as she grabbed a spoonful of rice and tried to force it down my throat.

 

I winced as I got hold of the spoon and returned it to the plate. “Gosh! Let me be, Asmau. I will eat. You don’t have to feed me!” I rolled my eyes as I started to eat.

 

Tears stung my eyes as I tried to swallow a spoonful of the smoky rice that had no taste. How could a meal- I looked forward to eating every lunchtime- suddenly become tasteless?

 

“Farouk and I have plans we’re currently working on,” I said as Asmau grinned sheepishly.

 

“I know I shouldn’t be smiling…not a good time. But this is awesome! Awesome couple goals, innit Munir?”

 

“Ah, yeah,” he said, looking distracted as he kept staring at his phone.

 

“Any problem?” I asked with a look of concern.

 

Munir gulped down his cup of water and forced a smile. “Nothing really. I’m just expecting someone- a lady, actually. Bushrah,” he explained as he lowered his eyes.

 

Asmau chuckled. “Why didn’t you tell us about this? So she’s coming here?”

 

Munir gave a thin smile. “No. We’re meeting somewhere else. I can’t risk having you guys mocking me at a corner while I talk to a lady.”

 

I laughed at that one. “Woah. I thought you were not interested in starting a relationship with someone?”

 

Munir shook his head. “Not this one. She’s actually the reason I haven’t had an interest in anyone. I have been on this case for two years. It’s a long story, sha,” Munir said as he rose from his seat. “I’ll see you, ladies, later. And be fine, Rafiah.”

 

With that, Munir dashed out of the restaurant, leaving Asmau and me to complete our tasteless food.

 

“Rafiah, I’m resigning. I need time to take care of the baby. The doctor revealed that I have to avoid any form of stress…” Asmau was saying, but I could hardly hear a word.

 

“You’re resigning? Like, you’re leaving me here all alone?” I glared at her.

 

“It’s for the best. I know you will miss me…and I’ll miss you too. And we will surely keep in touch. You’re my best friend, Rafiah. I cannot do without you,” Asmau said, and I couldn’t help but burst into tears.

 

Why was everything happening so suddenly? Couldn’t these unfortunate events happen one at a time?

 

“We will talk every single day. You would forget I’m not here physically. And we will find Rasheedah. I can’t wait to grace her wedding…and yours,” Asmau smiled at me as she pulled me into a tight hug.

***

At exactly 05:00 pm, Farouk was already seated in the car, waiting eagerly for my arrival. My face lit up as I caught sight of him waving at me.

 

I ran towards where his car was parked and fought the urge to pull him into an embrace. “Asalamu ‘alaykum, Farouk,” I greeted with a cheerful face.

 

Farouk was putting on a blue t-shirt and black pair of chinos, and he wore a black face cap with the Spider-Man logo.

 

“Wa’alaykumu salam, Rafiah. How was work?” he asked as I sat beside him.

 

“Work went well. Mrs. Bola kept assigning me new tasks. Finally, I forced a plate of tasteless jollof rice down my throat. Munir went on a date with a mystery lady, and Asmau announced her plans to resign.”

 

“Oops. Such an eventful day,” he said thoughtfully as he turned backwards and brought out a large food flask.

 

I chuckled. “Are you going to do this every day? Cook for me?”

 

“Well, it seems that’s the only meal you enjoy. It’s the least I can do,” Farouk shrugged as he handed me the flask.

 

“Thank you so much. This means a lot to me,” I thanked him as I opened the flask to the sight of steaming afang soup garnished with fish and goat meat.

 

“But how can you cook all of these despite your busy schedule?” I asked.

 

Farouk ignored me as he gave me three wraps of fufu. “You have to finish all of these. It’s an order!” he said with a chuckle.

 

“Aye, sir!” I responded as I grabbed a bottle of water from the pigeonhole and started to eat.

 

Farouk glanced at me and stared out of the window. “I just…I really hope we spend the rest of our lives doing this. I look forward to the short period I spend with you every day, Rafiah.”

 

“Me too. But I hope you understand why we can’t start a relationship. Rasheedah is still missing, and I can’t wrap my head around giving love to someone else. I can’t even introduce you to my parents now,” I said.

 

“I totally understand. I’m patiently waiting. No matter how long it takes, I would be here waiting,” Farouk smiled at me.

 

“Gosh! I don’t deserve you. You are too amazing. Too perfect. This is too good to be true.”

 

“No, I don’t think I deserve you, Rafiah. You’re beautiful and smart and intelligent. I haven’t found anyone like you in my twenty-eight years of living on earth. Do you think I don’t feel the same way?”

 

I giggled as I stared at the road. “I guess we both deserve each other.”

 

“Yes, we do…” Farouk was saying when someone tapped the glass.

 

I widened my eyes to get a clearer view. It was Khalid, staring down at me with puffy eyes.

 

“Can we talk?” he asked.


't    Don't miss out on the previous episodes:

Episode One

Episode Two

Episodes Three & Four

Episode Five

Episodes Six & Seven

Episode Eight

Episode Nine

Episode Ten

Episode Eleven






Episode Seventeen 

 Episode Eighteen