Thursday, 12 December 2019

Her Last Breath (Episode Eighteen)



Taofeek
The aroma of fried meat and jollof rice whiffed the air and the compound brimmed with people, dressed in kaftan, lace, and Ankara. Their faces were radiant as they chatted cheerfully, laughed loudly and devoured their plates of food.

Lukman, my elder brother, was celebrating the aqiqoh of his newly born daughter, Sumayyah, and he had called his family members and friends to grace the event and celebrate with him.

I gazed at him from where I was seated, watching as he walked around with energetic moves, supervising all activities and ensuring everything went on smoothly. I could see the look of pride in his eyes as he greeted his guests and strode around the compound. I was jealous. I wished I had a healthy wife. I wished I had children. AstaghfirLlaah! But…really…something had gone wrong. I was starting to become ungrateful for the blessings in my life- like Khayrah.

“Aren’t you eating?” Khayrah nudged me as she stared at my half-eaten plate of food and trailed my eyes suspiciously.

“No appetite,” I replied brusquely, wincing as my phone buzzed in my pocket.

It would definitely be from Rekiya, the lady that had distracted me from Khayrah. I wished that she hadn’t stumbled upon my Facebook account and sent me a friend request. I wished that I hadn’t accepted and went through her pictures. I wished that I hadn’t replied to her ‘hi’, which sprouted into longer conversations and an exchange of numbers.

Reuniting with an old lover from the past had reignited my uncontrolled feelings and desire for women. I thought it would be easy…I thought falling in love would change it all.

“Taofeek, are you okay? You’ve been acting strangely for the past two weeks. What is wrong with you?” Khayrah yelled angrily as she glowered at me.

She lowered her eyes as she noticed that she had spoken quite loudly and several pairs of eyes were staring at us.

“I’m sorry, love. It’s work and all. Give me a sec. I’ll return shortly.” I smiled at her as I stood up hurriedly and walked towards Lukman’s apartment.

This time, my phone was ringing. I hastened into the living room, marched past groups of people that would want to greet me and entered the bathroom. With a deep sigh, I clicked on the answer button. “Rekiya, what is it?”

“Coming from someone who is missing me. How’s your day going?”

“Couldn’t be worse.” I frowned, wishing that I could appear at home and escape from the party.

“Haha! It’s your brother’s naming ceremony and you’re saying this? What has become of you, Taofeek? Is this what marriage does to a man?”

“It’s not about marriage, Rekiya. Where are you?”

“The room where I lodged. I’ll be leaving Lagos next tomorrow. So, you have only tomorrow to see the damsel you’re truly in love with. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to miss out on a chance with me.” Rekiya said in her usual tiny-sexy voice that would make a man say ‘yes’ instead of a ‘no.’

Memories flashed to my mind. Pictures of Rekiya as she explained a point with her white set of teeth glittering from beneath. Her wide and bright eyes that you could spend the whole day staring at. Her ‘yellow paw paw’ smooth and glowing skin that was tempting to touch. Her figure-8 shape and the way her butts moved in even motions whenever she walked…

“Taofeek? Are you there? Well, we’re meeting tomorrow. At six-thirty in the evening. We’re spending the night together at my hotel. You better find a convincing story to tell your wife.”

“Please, Rekiya. Do not call me again. Send me a message and I’ll reply when I see it. Do not put me in trouble.”

“I hear you. See you tomorrow!” Rekiya sang as she hung up the call.

I heaved a sigh of relief as I pulled the phone away from my ear and opened the bathroom door. I shrieked in shock when I saw Lukman standing in front of the door. “SubhanaLlaah! What are you doing here?” I exclaimed as I glared at him.

“What are you doing here?” he folded his hands across his chest and gave me a suspicious look.

Lukman was putting on a white gini and red cap, but the kaftan already had streaks of oil and dirt stains on it. I could understand because he had been supervising all activities- ranging from the food, barbeque and drinks section.

“In the bathroom? It’s…obvious I came to…urinate.” I stuttered as I avoided his eyes.

“We both know what you came here for.”

“I... don’t know…what you’re talking about.” I said in between breaths as I lowered my head.

“Can we go to my room? I need to talk to you.” He said as he started to walk without waiting for my approval. I tailed him as we entered the room and settled on the bed.

Lukman stared at me thoughtfully and cleared his throat. “I want to tell you a story. Two years ago, I met this Muslimah in the bank. I had forgotten to take a pen along with me, so, I requested a pen from the person closest to me. It was a pretty lady who I would later refer to as Ameenah. As I turned sideways to ask for a pen, I locked eyes with her and believe me, Taofeek, I didn’t know what was going on around me. I had forgotten that we were in the bank and I had gone there to deposit some amount of money. I couldn’t lower my gaze. I stared at her lustfully and wondered how such a pretty person could be human like me. Her smile was so radiant it could melt the highest of mountains. My hands trembled in pleasure as I tried to remember my signature and append it on the form. I accompanied her to her car like a dog following its master. I requested for her name and number. And that was how it all started. I would be with my wife but my thoughts would wander to Ameenah, the pretty lady who had the perfect shape I wanted in a woman- the way my wife had looked before she got married and had her first child. Ameenah and I would meet up after closing from work and we would sit in a restaurant and talk till late at night. We both liked each other so much. However, we were both married. Ameenah claimed that she no longer loved her husband and she wished that she could divorce him…but she wouldn’t, because of her child. I also started to bear the thought that I might fall out of love with my wife. We both knew that we couldn’t leave our marriages but we both yearned for each other. So, one day, we had stayed at our usual restaurant till very late at night and…we just couldn’t stand up to leave. We locked eyes and craved each other. We knew what we both wanted. But then, something struck me. The fact that ALlaah was seeing us. The fact that I was committing haram. Then I imagined what would happen if I fall into temptation. We would drive to the nearest hotel and I would peel her clothing from her body, commit the grave act and regret for the rest of my life. I would live the rest of my life wallowing in regret. I would be ashamed to talk to my Creator and seek forgiveness. I would know that I had betrayed my wife and child’s trust. So, I stood up and walked away. I blocked her number and vowed never to talk to her again.” Lukman said as he faced the ceiling with teary eyes.

 The room fell silent as we both reflected on the story without saying a word. Guilt crept up my face as I imagined what I was about doing; performing an act that was worth getting stoned for. Betraying the trust of the woman I love with all of my heart- Khayrah. Committing a grievous sin and disobeying my Lord despite promising to shun such acts.

“Why did you decide to share this story?” I asked, turning towards Lukman with moistened eyes.

“You know why, Taofeek. You know why.”
***
The thing about cheating…or attempting to cheat is that you’ll always have this fear that you might get caught. And I’d been living with that fear for the past two weeks. I would delete messages and my call history from my phone. Then, re-check over a million times to be certain that I hadn’t left anything suspicious by mistake. You’d study your wife to be assured that her face holds no trace of suspicion.

“I don’t feel too fine…not the other stuff. It’s a strange feeling and I can’t explain it.” Khayrah was saying as we were returning home from the mosque.

She clamped her left hand in mine and rested her head on my chest as we were walking down the path.

“What could be wrong? Should we visit the hospital tomorrow? Have you been taking your drugs?”

“I’ll hold on to see if this condition persists. But darling, I can’t believe you’re asking if I’ve been taking my drugs. You don’t act as caring as before. Or is this what happens when we stay longer as a couple? Oh! Maybe the estate women were right. None of them had a positive remark about staying in love after several years. But at least, we should wait till we clock one year, right?” Khayrah stared at me in the dark and guilt stole over my face.

“I’m so sorry. It’s work. I’ve been so busy. Let’s make out time this weekend to spend in a different place so that we can reignite our sparks of love?”

“Sounds like a brilliant idea!” Khayrah said brightly as she held me tighter.

As we stepped into the house, I pulled Khayrah closer to me and hugged her tightly…so tight that I could hear her gasp for breath. We stood there for minutes, in each other’s arms, as I whispered ‘I love you’ over and over again.

Khayrah was one of the best things that had happened to me and I couldn’t imagine that I wanted to risk my moments with her because of a one-night stand. I hadn’t done it but I felt ashamed for even considering betraying Khayrah’s trust.

When I pulled away, she sat on the sofa and took heavy breaths, staring at me suspiciously. “Woah! You haven’t done that in ages. My real husband just returned. I think I’m the happiest person right now. What really happened to us?”

“I really don’t know…but we shouldn’t let that happen again. Let’s go out for dinner and steal kisses in the dark.” I grinned at Khayrah and she gave me a knowing smile.

“I’ll change to my red gown. Be right back!” she said, running into the room.

It was just then that my phone buzzed in my pocket. I confirmed that Khayrah was out of sight before taking out my phone.

Hey love. Ready for tomorrow? I’m going to put on the sexiest gown that will pop your eyes out of its sockets. Just wait for it!
-          Rekiya.

Hello, Rekiya. There’s a change of plan. I don’t want to see you and I don’t want to have anything to do with you…ever! Kindly delete my number and pretend that you’ve forgotten Taofeek Adewale. We’re not seeing and nothing is happening between us. I’m happily married and I won’t risk my marriage and deen for the sake of zina.
-          Taofeek.

Okay…okay. But how about getting married to me? At least, that’s not zina?
-          Rekiya.

AudhubiLlaah! I would never consider getting married to a lady who sees no crime in sleeping with someone else’s husband. Why don’t you revisit the Qur’an and hadith and repent from your wrongdoings?
-          Taofeek.

Really? Now you’ve turned to an over-night Ustadh? You know what? Get off my phone. I’ve got other men on their knees, pleading that I love them. And you’re here saying thrash. Get away jare!
-          Rekiya.

I smiled in satisfaction as I deleted all of our conversations and headed towards the room to meet Khayrah.

***
“It’s so bad I couldn’t give my wife money this morning for her hospital bill,” I said bitterly as I mixed a part of the boiled rice with stew and dipped a spoon into my mouth.

Daniel and I were in a restaurant and I was revealing my problem to him- my alarming financial status and how it was taking a toll on my emotional wellbeing.

Her papa be big man. Why don’t you just call him and ask for help? I’m sure he wouldn’t spill the information to your wife,” Daniel said as he gulped a cup of water, watching me with sympathetic eyes.

“He calls very often. He even called this morning, asking if there is anything he could help us with.”

Daniel gave me an incredulous look. “And what did you say?”

“That we are fine.”

Your own too much nah! I understand you want to act as the man of the house and provide for your family…but let’s face it. You are broke and if care is not taken, Khayrah would start to suspect. She would confide in her mother. Her mother would tell her father and your case will become a family matter. You should contact her father privately and ask for help.”

“But he has done enough…or hasn’t he? He bought a car and a house for us. It feels awkward to start asking for money again. It’s a shame because he had previously offered me a job in his company but I declined.”

Daniel rubbed his forehead with his palm. “What will you do now?”

“I’ll ask my brother. I hope he has a surplus to help me with. He just celebrated his daughter’s aqiqoh and he spent a lot of money. Fortunately, the month is ending next week and we’ll receive our salary.”

“True talk bro…true talk…” Daniel was saying when I cut him.

“Wait…today’s 20th right?”

“Yes. Why do you ask?”

“Oh my gosh! We’re six months today!”

“You and Khayrah?”

“Yes. And I’m sure she’s forgotten. I’ll surprise her.” I stated, imagining ways to surprise Khayrah.

“Daniel, you sef do quick marry. This man is making you feel jealous.” Daniel remarked as he laughed loudly.
***
I had gotten the perfect plan! I would make a surprise dinner for Khayrah and read her poems I had composed a few months ago. That was the cheapest way to celebrate our anniversary, courtesy of my financial situation.

I was just driving into our street when a call from Khayrah came in. She had spent the day visiting the hospital and seeing Janet, her new friend, for lunch. And we hadn’t spoken since I left for work in the morning.

“Asalamu ‘alaykum my pretty, sweet, loving princess…”

“Wa’alaykumu salam, darling. Where are you?”

“Just heading home. You?”

“Well, I’m still at Lekki. I have a massive surprise for you.”

“Gosh! I’m impatient! What is it?”

“Should it wait till I get home?” Khayrah asked as she laughed teasingly.

“Oh gosh! You’ve started again. You know my heart races when I hear the word ‘surprise’. What is this massive surprise? Please tell me, love.”

“Okay.” She cleared her throat and laughed again. “I am…”

“You are what?”

“I am pregnant! Three weeks pregnant, darling. The doctor confirmed it this afternoon.” She yelled in excitement. 

AlhamduliLlaah! AlhamduliLlah! I am speechless! Oh gosh! I love you! I love you more than you can ever imagine, Khayrah. You are my world, Khayrah.”

Khayrah vibrant laughter made me smile and cry at the same time. Tears moistened my face as I reversed and returned to the road. “Send your current address. I’m coming to pick you up.”
“But I’m at Lekki. I’ll just order an uber…”

“I’m taking you and my child home in my car. I cannot risk anything happening to you. Send the address now.”

“Okay, husband. I’m sending it right away.” Khayrah laughed as she ended the call.

Don't miss out on the previous episodes:















Sunday, 8 December 2019

Things No One Told You Before Graduation



“Maryam, I’ll not read anything again…even sign posts by the roadside.’’ A friend had said to me in a surge of excitement, grasping a red marker and signing on the white t-shirt of another friend.
There was a burst of exhilaration seeping around the school compound, which was brimming with youths pacing back and forth as they signed on each other’s t-shirts.

“Four years don waka, we still dey carry go. Nobody waka, nobody go so low…” They sang excitedly, glad that they had completed the four-years rigorous programme of studying in the university.

I was also excited. I would finally be termed a ‘graduate’, coupled with the fact that I do not have to wake up early for lectures, sleep in a room with four other people and study hard to excel in my examinations.

Graduation day is one of the most remarkable days in a person’s lifetime.

‘I am finally free!’ Someone would exclaim, knowing that he would no longer be classified as an undergraduate.

One would no longer need to stay up late at night to read for a test, mutter prayers before entering a lecturer’s office, buy handouts, prepare concoction rice to save cost, etc.

However, a person will graduate and realise that things are actually not the way they had imagined. Several unforeseen events occur after graduation…events no one prepares you beforehand.

What are those things that no one told you before graduation? Share your true-life experiences with us now (mareeam802@gmail.com/08147693307).

‘Things No One Told You Before Graduation’ will be a weekly series. So, grab a bottle of Coke and a bowl of popcorn, and stay updated with these thrilling stories.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

5 DIY Moisturizer Recipes That Will Help You Treat Dry Cracked Skin Naturally



There are many factors that contribute to the dryness of your skin. As much as the weather can be quite unfriendly to our dermatological well-being at times, other causes of dry and scaly skin can be traced to the daily care of the skin. Irregular bathing and other factors would be considered subsequently. 

The good news is that you do not necessarily need to visit a big-time dermatologist in order to get your skin smooth and fresh again. There are magical ingredients for making an anti-dryness potion lying in your kitchen. Natural oils such as olive oil, argan oil or patchouli essential oil are great for skin care. You do not really need to get drugs or anything of that sort. With the exception of extreme cases, of course. 

In this article, we would be considering these natural recipes that can work the miracle your skin has been waiting for. However, we would consider those things that cause dryness of the skin in the first place.


WHAT ARE THE MAJOR CAUSES OF DRY SKIN?
Xerosis is the medical state of experiencing dryness. Skin dryness or xerosis, most times, is often caused by environmental factors. However, more severe skin dryness can be traced to certain forms of skin diseases. 

Some of the most predominant causes of skin dryness include:

  • Weather: This is one of the greatest factors that lead to skin dryness. It is not strange for the skin to become drier during periods such as winter, harmattan and other extremely dry and cold conditions. In these seasons, it is important to keep oily and lubricate materials at a hands-reach distance. 

  • Bad Body Hygiene: People who do not pay attention to taking care of their bodies have a greater tendency to end up with very dry skins. In worst cases, they might end up with more vicious diseases that could do more damages to their skin than mere dryness. Those who fall under this category include a person with poor bathing culture, poor skin lubrication and excessive exposure to sweaty activity without immediate cleanup.

  • Heat and Hot Bath: Constant exposure to intense heat, or places such as fireplaces, and space heaters can reduce the humidity and dry the skin. Also, taking extremely long hot baths or showers can dry the skin.

  • Skin Diseases: Certain skin diseases such as eczema or psoriasis have a tendency to cause dry skin.
TOP 5 DIY REMEDIES FOR DRY SKIN

  • ALOE VERA

The aloe vera gel is widely known for its richness in skin beneficial properties. It has been proven very useful in maintaining healthy skin, especially during the dry seasons or fierce weather periods. According to research, it has been practically proven that the aloe vera gel possesses properties that can ameliorate the redness and irritations that are related to dryness of the skin. It is also useful in decreasing wrinkles and other signs of aging, sunburn reliefs, and acne. 
Some skins might have an allergic reaction to aloe vera. In other to prevent more harm than good, it is advisable to do a patch test – apply to a small part of the skin. 

  • COCONUT OIL
The oil extract of coconut can take a solid form when it is cooled at room temperature. At this stage, it looks like a cream that has proven to be very useful for treating skin dryness. Such cream could be applied before bedtime or anytime on the affected area. 

  • OATMEAL/HONEY

The oat is a very soothing product. It has high rehydration properties. It can be applied either by adding oatmeal to a warm bath or making a homemade oatmeal and honey mask, especially for the face. 
The oatmeal bath helps your skin to retain moisture. Also, the oatmeal makes a very good mask when made with honey. Add 2 tablespoon of oatmeal and a tablespoon of honey to warm water. Apply the mix to your skin. It can be washed off either immediately or after 10 to 20 minutes. 

  • OLIVE OIL
Olive oil is one of the greatest natural oil for skin cleansing. It acts as a skin moisturizer and a skin cleanser. It can be applied by rubbing it into your skin and gently touch the surface of your skin with a warm towel until it cools off. 
It can also be used to create an exfoliator when mixed with sugar which would be applied like a mask. 

  • ARGAN OIL
It is the best decision to use Argan oil for skincare. The oil is a natural skin moisturizer for hydration and softening of the skin. 
Argan oil is rich in vitamin E and fatty acids. This makes it the best fit for natural skin replenishing. Just apply it on your skin after a bath.

HOW TO AVOID DRY SKIN

In order to keep a healthy and moisturized skin, you need to pay attention to how you expose yourself to intense conditions, such as extreme heat and extreme cold. 
Also, avoid the usage of harsh soaps, shampoos, and detergents on your skin as they usually possess oil extracting materials. 

CONCLUSION

The remedies stated above are majorly for those who are experiencing a mild level of skin dryness. In a case where your skin requires dermatological attention, kindly see your doctor.


Monday, 25 November 2019

Her Last Breath (Episode Seventeen)


Taofeek
I watched as Khayrah paced back and forth, muttering incoherent words and crying openly. Her hands trembled as she placed them on her tear-soaked face.

“It will be fine, insha ALlaah. Tijanni will be fine.” I assured her with a trace of doubt in my voice.

I could hardly believe that the person who had been placed under intensive care for the past two hours, would be fine.

“Really? You think so? And we haven’t seen him?” Khayrah glared at me like I was responsible for his predicament.

I walked up to her and held her in my arms, having this unusual heart-wrenching feeling as she sobbed on my shirt. “I’m scared. What if he doesn’t make it?”

“Let’s not lose hope now. Not now.” I remarked as I walked her to a seat.

Khayrah rested on my shoulder and we sat quietly, listening to our heartbeats and dreading the moment the doctor would approach us and give us the news.

I imagined Khayrah in Tijanni’s position…audhubiLlaah, but it might happen one day. Khayrah wouldn’t be here with me, arms in arms. I would be here with my heart juddering in my chest, praying that she scales through.

“Mr. and Mrs. Adewale.” The doctor said as he approached us in hurried steps.

Khayrah and I flinched in shock as we stood up to meet him.  We had expected him for long…but a part of us still wished that he would wait a little bit longer, to avoid hearing the dreadful news.

He smiled ruefully as he stared at us with warm eyes. The doctor was a short and plump man with a bald head and a fair skin. He had dark patches on his face and he wore small-rounded spectacles that could hardly fit his eyes.

“He has regained consciousness but his condition isn’t stable. We may have to undergo surgery…well, that’s what he wants. We advised that he go through another round of chemotherapy because of the 50% chance of survival in undergoing a surgery…but it seems he is adamant…” the doctor cleared his throat uncomfortably and dipped his hand into his lab coat’s pockets. “Is any of you related to the patient? You’ll have to sign a form to attest that we go ahead with the surgery.”

Khayrah glanced at me and then turned to the doctor, cleaning her misty eyes. “I’m his friend. He doesn’t have a family. Please, doctor, do you advise he go ahead with the surgery?”

“If the surgery turns out successful, it will be better but what if it doesn’t? I think you need to talk to him. We have just twenty minutes.” The doctor sighed deeply as he walked away.
“Please, I can’t do this alone. Come with me.’’ Khayrah said as she held my hands.

“Okay.”
***
The room wafted of iodoform and was painted blue and white. Tijanni was lying on the large-sized bed and his face broke into a smile as he spotted us entering the room.

“Hey TJ.” Khayrah said softly as we occupied a seat beside the bed. “How are you?”

“I’m sick,” Tijanni chuckled. “Isn’t it obvious?” he laughed, then turned sideways and gazed at me. “Now I get it. He’s very handsome. Nice to meet you, Taofeek. I’ve heard soooo much about you.” He grinned at me and I smiled in return.

“Nice to meet you too,” I replied, nudging Khayrah as a form of encouragement. She needed to convince him not to go ahead with the surgery. Only Khayrah could do so.

“We spoke with the doctor not quite long. Tijanni, are you really sure about this?”

“I haven’t been surer about another thing. This is me and I have only me…until I met you. You are my only family.  What else am I living for if I can’t live a healthy life? It’s either I’m okay or I’m not. I don’t want a temporary relief.” Tijanni sighed deeply as saliva foamed in his mouth. “I want to be over with this. I can’t bear this pain anymore. If this won’t work out, I’ll die peacefully. You might not understand…even you, Khayrah. I think this is right. I know it.”

I cleared my throat. “We want you to say the shahada…in case anything happens. You must become a Muslim, Tijanni.”

Tijanni turned towards the other side of the bed, backing us. “I’ve been alone. I’m still alone.”

“Excuse me, please. The doctor will like to have a word with you. He said the twenty minutes are over.” A skinny and tall nurse with a high-pitch voice said as she entered the room.

I held Khayrah’s hand as we walked out of the room.
***
An hour was gone. One good hour and we had no iota of knowledge of what was going on. Khayrah sat quietly at the last bench with her head lowered. She pulled on the tasbih as her lips moved faster. Tears filled my face as I watched her. I regretted ever suspecting that she was interested in Tijanni. All she wanted was for him to become a Muslim…and she felt disconsolate that she hadn’t achieved that.

I wanted to pull her in my arms and comfort her…but I wasn’t confident myself. How could I tell her that everything would be fine when I doubted that?

“It’s maghrib time, love. Let’s find a mosque to pray and grab something from a restaurant to eat.”

“Have you forgotten that I’m off-salah?” Khayrah glared at me like I had committed the worst of crimes by forgetting that she was menstruating.

“I’m sorry. What would you like to eat? Fried rice and chicken? Noodles and fried eggs?’’

“I’m not hungry.”

“Yes, but you have to eat…and take your drugs,” I said as Khayrah stared at me with sad eyes. “Okay. Please, I need a cup of tea.”

“I’ll get you one when I leave the mosque. Please be fine.” I kissed her forehead and walked away.

Walking to the mosque in the cold night, I would bawl my eyes out and wonder why life appeared in mysterious ways. I could cry openly in the dark…pouring out my feelings and not trying to feign confidence in the presence of Khayrah. I would laugh at the moments I thought I understood life and how it could go on in perfectly. I would walk into the ablution centre, feeling downcast and disconsolate as I try to clean my wet face with the tip of my t-shirt so that no one would notice. I would pray in the mosque and ask ALlaah to make the surgery a success, to keep Tijanni alive and change his heart towards the right path. I would pray that I do not lose Khayrah and that her health is restored. I would appreciate good health and accept that it is one of the best gifts from ALlaah.

I would return to the hospital about thirty minutes later to meet Khayrah sitting on the floor and bawling her eyes, out.

‘Tijanni didn’t make it. He died a kaafir.’ Khayrah would cry as I take her in my arms.

We would remain there, crying and wishing such that calamity does not befall us.
***
“Khayrah grew up as a confident lady. She wanted to become an engineer. She was the golden child of the family. She would bag the best prizes in most of her subjects when she was in secondary school. We were proud…as proud as we were of Fadilah. But, you know, a parent would always cherish the brainy child.” Khayrah’s mother said as we sat together in the dining room and watched as Fadilah spoke to Khayrah in the living room.

Fadilah, in her usual cheerful and vibrant self, was showcasing her recently-designed clothes to Khayrah, who was sitting on the sofa. A soft smile was plastered on Khayrah’s face but I knew that it wasn’t real. She hadn’t smiled a real one since Tijanni gave up the ghost.

It was two weeks now and Khayrah hadn’t returned to her normal state. It seemed that Tijanni’s death took a greater toll on her that I would have expected. She spent sleepless nights staring at the ceiling and sobbing into the pillow. I would wake up and try to comfort her but it was all fruitless. I had tried my possible best to find ways to make her feel better…but nothing worked out.

Frustrated, I had put a call to her mother yesterday, explaining all that had happened and the current state that Khayrah was. I was glad to see them visit us today. I knew it would make a difference. Fadilah was Khayrah’s only sister and best friend. Being around her would make her feel better. Her mother’s words of wisdom would also make her accept all that had happened and move on with life.

I sighed deeply as I ruffled my hair and stared at the table cloth. It was sparkling white and it had a patterned design at its middle. I seemed to be so fascinated by a simple tablecloth as I watched it avidly. Suddenly, I wished that I wasn’t a human being. Maybe a tablecloth…AstaghfirLlaah. But to be honest, life is filled with uncertainties and surprises. This minute, you’re excited and the next, you’re mourning an unexpected disaster. Can’t be it fun all through?

“Khayrah believes that she punished you for making you fall in love with her. She sees herself as being selfish for making you marry her.” Her mother said as she cleaned a tear that was about to drop from her eyes.

Surprise stole over my face as I gazed at her. “She thinks so?”

“Yes, she does. You see, receiving the news was one of the worst things that had ever happened to me and my husband. We could hardly believe that the energetic and brilliant Khayrah would be fighting cancer…would be struggling to live…but we had to accept ALlaah’s will because He has a reason for everything that happens to us. If it is about money, Taofeek…I mean, if money could buy Khayrah good health, you think we wouldn’t have done so long ago?” She stated as she picked some grains of groundnut from the ceramic plate and started to chew.

“Khayrah just gave up on everything…her dreams, goals and aspirations…everything. She wrote down this list of things that she wants to achieve before she dies. Travelling, moving closer to ALlaah and attaining taqwa, getting married. She was determined to achieve all before she breath her last. Abdul Lateef, the one who had promised her everything, left her in that critical time. Khayrah’s story is a long one and words would be insufficient to explain what we felt during those trying periods. But still, I’m forever thankful to ALlaah that He granted Khayrah a loving and caring husband. You are just everything and more than that for Khayrah. Who would accept to love her for who she is if not you?”

I smiled as I watched her closely. “SubhanaLlaah. I’m just trying my best but I’m not perfect in any way. Khayrah is more than I ever dreamt of. We are made for each other.”

Khayrah’s mother grinned appreciatively and swiveled her head towards the living room. I also turned my face. Khayrah and Fadilah were dancing in the living room. Khayrah laughed loudly as she raised my legs and moved her arms swiftly.

‘AlhamduliLlaah.’ I muttered as my face glowed in happiness.
***
“This gown will suit you perfectly. I know what will look beautiful on you.” I winked at Khayrah as she smiled shyly and added the gown to the clothes that rested on her shoulder.

We had decided to visit a boutique after dropping Fadilah and her mother off the street. Khayrah hadn’t looked this excited in weeks! She held my hands lovingly as we walked into the boutique to shop for clothes.

“This should be enough. Don’t forget that you just bought some gowns last month…and I haven’t worn any of them.” Khayrah grinned from ear to ear.

“Okay, my love. Go try these out.”

“Okay. Thank you. I love you. I really do love you. I really really love you. You’re my everything.” Khayrah was saying as she brushed her lips over me, breaking the kiss with laughs.

Oyaa, go and put this on before they chase us out of here. Let’s hurry so we can continue at home.” I said in a frisson as Khayrah hurried into the dressing room, still laughing.

I was grateful again that I invited her family members over. Maybe it’s true what they say that family will always be first. So, they had a more powerful effect on her than me, her husband. As Khayrah commented on the way the dresses looked, in the changing room, I was concerned about the costs of the dresses. I had not been financially stable for a while now and Khayrah had no idea about what I was passing through in terms of finance.

My phone buzzed in my pocket as I hurriedly took it out. I had a new message. It was from Rekiya.

I arrived in Lagos yesterday. Ready to meet this princess?
-          Rekiya.

“Darling! This blue gown is the most elegant. You picked just the right gown.” Khayrah yelled from the room and I screamed ‘yes’ in return.

I scratched my neck as I tried to resist the temptation that was right in front of me. The urge to meet Rekiya, the light-skinned lady with big bright eyes and a captivating smile.

Ready to meet you, Rekiya. And I can’t wait.
-          Taofeek.

I typed and clicked on the ‘send’ button.