Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Danfo in the Rain

Flagging down a danfo when there’s a sudden downpour of rain had been one thing I’d always dreaded. It was based on the ugly experience I had experienced a year ago when I entered a white bus, popularly known as ‘tata.’ The roof of the bus was leaking and rain came down in torrents, drenching the passengers’ clothes. It was a dreadful experience…one that made me avoid taking a white bus or anything related when it’s raining.

That was why when I had crossed the pedestrian bridge on a fateful evening and preempted that it would rain some minutes later, I hurried to join the long BRT queue and decided to wait till when it would get to my turn.

About thirty minutes later, I was sitting on the bus, watching as dark clouds filled the sky and the rain came down in sheets, people running in a bid to shield themselves from getting drenched.

I had rushed to my WhatsApp status, grinning widely as I typed ‘Trust your instinct always.’

It felt really good. I felt really good!
***
“Should I come down for you?” I had asked the long-limbed man dressed in a suit and tie, with a stern glare.

I had heard a series of tales about men insisting that they must sit beside the window, in the front seat of a danfo.

“As you like,” he replied, shrugging nonchalantly.

With a smile lingering on my lips, I got down from the bus, proud of myself for challenging a man to sit beside the driver.

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Returning to my seat, I unlocked my phone and opened the file that contained my evening prayers. Ramadhan was a fun period, courtesy of my effective planning and discipline. I would have packed three dry dates from home as well as a bottle of chilled water, Hollandia yoghurt…and a bunch of banana and groundnut from the office. My targeted prayer points had been typed and saved to my device and the Hisnul Muslim app. did justice to reciting the du’a before breaking of fast.

So danfo was the best resort on such days because it gave room for the period to sit back, pray and break the fast. Imagine standing for hours in a BRT queue with an empty stomach…then breaking your fast whilst standing! Danfo was definitely the best resort!

After about twenty minutes of calling passengers and the bus getting filled up, we prepared to leave the park. I was basking on my new-found love for banana and groundnut – which I would later agree was the best iftar for a Lagosian- while gulping down my bottle of yoghurt and wondering why the man – sitting beside me- looked so calm and composed.

We had just started our journey when the wind howled loudly, dust wafting the air and causing passers-by to run for protection. It was obvious that it would rain anytime soon because the sky was darkening…in fact, the rain had started to come down in sheets.

It was then it hit me! What happens when it starts to rain? How do we cope when we’ve just started our journey?

I reached for the car door glass winder and to my utter amazement, it was broken. In fact, there was no glass!

A downpour had begun and rain streamed down into the seats. Unable to keep my eyes open, I asked, feeling a sudden surge of anger run through my veins. “Driver, what will happen oo? This rain is disturbing us!”

Mon bo. Ma wa fi nylon cover e,” the old man replied, parking beside the road and alighting from the bus with white nylon.

He opened the creaky door and the ‘gentleman’ seated beside me assisted in placing the nylon as a cover.

“You’ll have to hold it like this,” he said to me, handing over the tip of the nylon.

I was utterly astonished! We were just at Ketu and the snarled-up traffic looked scary. Would I be this way till I arrive at my final destination?

The nylon had been punctured at the middle and streaks of raindrops filled my dress and poured beneath the car door. I briskly placed my phone in the middle of my bag while I held on to the nylon, wishing that minutes would turn into hours and I would finally be home, having a hot bath and sipping from a mug of hot tea.

All these while, Mr. Gentle was busy with his iPad, totally unaffected from the effect of the rain. His cloth was dry and he sat comfortably beside the driver, not worried about how wet he would be before he arrives home…not wondering if he would catch a cold before the next morning…not bothering to know how difficult it was to hold on to a nylon for hours and watch as raindrops pour on one’s seat, without control.

Mr. Gentle was lucky! Suddenly, I wished that I had agreed to sit beside the driver. I wished I hadn’t tried to prove that I was truly a Lagosian.


Another error: there were no windshield wipers! Yes, you heard me right. The driver was driving in the rain without windshield wipers. He would park and get down from the bus intermittently, pouring soap water over the windscreen and making use of drips from his sachet water to ensure that the screen becomes clearer.

Hours later, I would return home- drenched in rainwater- and narrate the terrible experience I had encountered in the danfo to my sister. She would laugh loudly and I would join her in laughter, talking about the perks of commuting using public transportation in Lagos.

Weeks later, I would also read a post written by a Facebooker, relating how a lady had insisted that she must sit beside the door in the danfo he had entered, despite the fact that he had gotten there about twenty minutes before she arrived. Unfortunately, the rain started to fall heavily and the lady was tremendously affected. I would have sworn I was the lady but the scenario was completely different!

Can you sense that it is about to rain? It is advisable you think twice before entering a danfo because it will be an experience you would never forget!

Translation
Mon bo. Ma wa fi nylon cover e- I’m coming, I’ll use a nylon to cover it. 

Friday, 21 June 2019

Her Last Breath (Episode One)


Khayrah
I had stared at his profile for over a million times…more than that if I had the time to count every single minute I logged into my Facebook account to read his bio over and over again.

Proud Muslim…Art lover…Artist…Poet…Skilled Architect…Ambivert…Sapiosexual… the list went on.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed reading his bio…in fact, I never got tired of scanning through the words. Reading through over and over again made me more eager to meet him.

Taofeek Adewale. His display picture portrayed the smiling face of a young man, who would be in his late twenties; dark-complexioned with small bright eyes and glowing face.

Taofeek had lots in common with me; we both liked rice in all delicacies (we could eat rice consecutively, three times in a day and for a whole month!). He loved art, which explained why he is an artist. He is also a writer. I’d always loved creative people. He also had the dream of exploring places around the world and meeting with people of different tribes and cultures…we really had lots in common. Sometimes when we chatted, I would think that he was my twin brother from another mother.

‘Asalamu ‘alaykum, Khayrah. Finally, we’re going to meet and I feel so ecstatic. Butterflies are in my stomach, Khayrah. I can’t wait to see you in person.’
-          Taofeek Adewale.

He had sent the message last week Friday and after reading through, my stomach churned in nervousness. I would finally meet Taofeek, the man I had started to chat with since the beginning of last month.

It was too good to be true. I was falling every day for a man I’d never seen. Intelligent, handsome, witty and religious, Taofeek was everything I was looking for in a man I would spend the rest of my life with.

“Madam oo, can you stop playing this Mohammed Hoblos interview with Ali Banat? This room is starting to make me feel frightened.” Fadilah whined, entering the room with her headset around her neck, and disrupting my thoughts. She was putting on a pink-coloured tank top and bum-short, dancing and humming the lyrics of Coldplay’s Yellow.

Fadilah, the short and plump fair-complexioned girl who was staring at me with a mocking expression is my younger sister and the only sibling I’ve got. Mom had concluded that we share the same room since my unforeseen condition began. Fadilah could be annoying- she was usually annoying most of the time- but she never made me feel any sense of loneliness or distraught.

“Don’t disturb me jare! If it’s disturbing you, then stay in the living room.”

“This is also my room, remember?” she smirked mockingly, flopping on the bed and laying beside me.

“Seriously, Ali Banat, May ALlaah have mercy on his soul, inspires me a lot. Look at what he had said about having cancer. He said that…”

“…It is a gift …that ALlaah blessed him with cancer,” Fadilah replied with a frown. “You’ve said this several times and you have memorised every word of this video. You have made us memorise it too. Why are you doing this, Khayrah?”

I struggled to fight the tears that were stinging my eyes. “Maybe, I’m just trying to console myself.” I cleared my throat in a bid to change the discussion. “So, what’s popping between you and Rasheed? What date are we fixing for your wedding?” I laughed as Fadilah’s eyes lit up in pleasure.

Her face flushed in excitement as she played with the tip of her iPhone. Well, he was thinking of meeting my family next month. I’ve been scared…wondering if this is what I truly want…if Rasheed is someone I’ll love to get married to. I think I’m certain now. He will pay us a visit soon,” she smiled shyly.

I’d always been jealous of Fadilah. She had everything…beauty, brain, good health, men…just name it! Her hair was black, long and silky. She had the perfect curvy-figure eight body that every woman dreamt of having. She was in love with an amazing man; Rasheed. I didn’t have any of this.

“So…what about this mysterious man that has made you different? When are you meeting him?”

“This afternoon,” I replied, staring at his picture again. I zoomed in on my laptop, noticing a dark birthmark at the side of his forehead for the first time. Fadilah joined me to stare at the picture as if we would be rewarded with millions of dollars if any flaw would be spotted.

“Oooh, he’s handsome. What are you putting on? Don’t tell me you’re going to wear one of those maxi gowns that make you look like my grandmother. You ought to look glamorous, sister. You’re going on a date!”

“So what should I put on, my fashion designer?”

She sprang up from the bed, jostling towards the wardrobe to ransack through my pile of clothes. I could spot her bringing out my favourite pink gown; the pink gown that used to be my favourite.
“You should wear this.”

“No! no! no! I’m not putting that on, Fadilah. I’m going to wear something else…maybe the black jalamiyah dad had bought from Umrah will be perfect. Something simple and sophisticated.” I wrinkled my nostrils, watching her with a look of disgust.

“I’m your fashion designer remember? No go fall my hand abeg. You need to make Taofeek’s jaw drop in astonishment when he sees you. I’ll go get the makeup kit.” She said excitedly, leaving the room in haste.

I sighed deeply as I watched the pink gown lay on the room’s couch. It was what I had worn on my first date with Abdul Lateef. How could she have forgotten?
***
“So, you haven’t met this man before?” Mom asked again as we were having breakfast. Curry rice, fried-scrambled eggs, fried plantain all lay in big bowls, on the dining table. Hafsah- our maid- would have started making the dishes as early as 6:00 am. Mom put a spoonful of scrambled eggs into her mouth, staring at me with scrutinizing eyes.
  
I could see her forehead furrow in concern, the way she looked whenever she was worried. Yeah, I understood why she felt that way. She didn’t want the same incident that happened with Abdul Lateef to repeat itself; worse for someone I hadn’t set my eyes on before.

“Let’s call it a blind date, mom. This guy is soooo handsome ehn!” Fadilah stressed, beaming with pleasure.

“Okay oo. I’m glad you’re going out and having fun. It’s way better than sitting in your room all day.”  Mom said, rolling her eyes and pouring the lemon-ginger juice into my empty cup.

Since my condition was discovered, she had taken the responsibility of watching what I eat, drink and the places I go to. She had, in fact, worked as my nurse.

My phone beeped on the dining table, causing the ceramic plate to cackle. I unlocked my phone, knowing it would be a message from Taofeek.

‘I can hardly do a thing, Khayrah. Can we just meet now???’
-          Taofeek Adewale.

My lips spread into a smile as I replied.
‘I feel the same way too. We’re to meet at 12 noon. You should be on your way now…wait! What if you don’t like me?”
-          Khayrah Roqeeb.

‘I have liked you right from the moment you accepted my friend request. Wait! What if you don’t like me too?’
-          Taofeek Adewale.

‘Lol, I’m certain I’ll like you. Now go and have your bath, and start coming. I can perceive the stench of bad perspiration oozing from your armpit.’
-          Khayrah Roqeeb.

‘Hahahahaha! I’ll punch your face.’
-          Taofeek Adewale.

“Khayrah?” mom startled me from my phone I concentrated on. It was then I realized that I had been laughing out loud.

“You need to eat so that you can take your drugs.”

“Seriously, I do not have an appetite. I’ll just take this juice and go and dress up.” I stated, gulping my juice Fadilah had nicknamed ‘concoction’ and standing up from the seat. I grabbed my phone from the table and strode to the room.

“I’m right behind you, sis. Let’s shake Lagos this afternoon.” Fadilah yelled, running swiftly behind me to perform her duty as my fashion designer.

We spent over forty-five minutes dressing up when on a normal day, I would spend not less than ten minutes to wear a hijab and gown. Fadilah planned on making me look spectacular and I did not blame her, it was long she saw her big sister go on a date. My frequent visit was to the hospital. I had once assumed that I would find a potential husband at the hospital because I literally lived there.

“You’re good to go! Have fun sis!” she gave me my bag, waving as I walked out of the room.

I was glad that mom had gone to her boutique; at least I would be free from the occasional questions and scrutinizing looks. I marched out of the house, watching as Mr. Lolu, my personal driver, sat at the driver’s seat, bobbing his head to a song on the radio as he waited for me. He had washed the black Toyota Corolla in the morning, just as I had instructed.

Just then did Abdul Lateef step into the compound with his fiancée!  Getting engaged to one’s neighbour would be something I would never consider. When Abdul Lateef had called off our engagement, I had dread walking out of the house to see the tall and handsome man I had fallen in love with. That was one of the main reasons I preferred to remain indoors, staring out of the window as I would watch him smile lovingly at his fiancée and hold her bag as they walked down the road.

Seeing Abdul Lateef every day…especially with the fact that his fiancée always visited, was one thing I dreaded every single day.  And knowing that Abdul Lateef had once been with me, the tall slender lady always found ways to spite me.

I regretted walking out of the house that very minute. I could have waited to have a cup of warm water, just as mom had instructed. It was too late. They had seen me and I could not turn back.

“Khayrah! Asalamu ‘alaykum.” Abdul Lateef greeted cheerfully, staring at my pink gown.

He would remember that I wore this when we went on our first outing. He would know that I was going on a date.

“Wa’alaykumu salam. How are you, Aisha?” I feigned a smile as I turned to her.

“I can never be happier with Abdul Lateef. He makes me happy always. That’s why I love him.” She turned to smile at him. Abdul Lateef’s face softened as he stared back.

He was putting on a red T-shirt and a pair of jean trousers; just the same way I had liked him to dress. It was unfair of him to keep dressing that way even when we weren’t together.

“Okay, Khayrah. We need to go. I plan on making catfish pepper soup for him. Bye!” she tugged her hands in his as they walked away.

I sighed deeply, willing myself to remain composed as I walked towards where the car was parked. Abdul Lateef would not spoil my name nor would his fiancée do so. I would never give them the chance to ruin the perfect date I would be having with Taofeek. Mr. Lolu started the car engine and he drove out of the building.
***     
As we drove towards Toyin Street, Ikeja, my mind was whirled with thoughts of Taofeek. I wasn’t certain I would be his ideal woman. Of course, he had seen a picture of me but pictures could be deceptive. More so, the picture only displayed my face.

I was scared because blind dates had never been my thing. I hated the fact that men looked for specific physical qualities- such as big breasts and buttocks. And I didn’t have any of them. My terminal illness had eaten my healthy look and now, I appeared lean and frail.

I stared at the mirror to take a view of my face one more time. Maybe I didn’t look that bad.

“Madam Khayrah, you fine wella. No worry!” Mr. Lolu smiled as he watched me through the front mirror as if reading my thoughts.

Ogaa, face the road. Don’t compliment me abeg.”

I don say my own oo. You dey beautiful,” he continued.

I tried to feign a frown but I burst out laughing. He joined too. Somehow, his compliment made me confident to meet Taofeek, the man that had appeared in my dream every night, consecutively for a month.



Thursday, 13 June 2019

Her Last Breath/Love by Fate (Synopses)


Her Last Breath
Khayrah counts her last days as she sees her life withering away. It is at this moment she values every second of her life…as her world is clouded by the tick of the wall clock.
As a part of her bucket list, Khayrah wants to accomplish one of her lifetime goals; falling in love!
When Taofeek, the playboy-turned-decent man meets Khayrah, their worlds seem intertwined and they fall head over heels with each other.
How will they reveal their secrets without hurting each other? When happens when Taofeek discovers Khayrah’s predicament?

Love By Fate

Hamdalah and AbdurRahman both share the same pain; the deep pain associated with losing their loved one. They also desperately seek their heart desires.
Fate brings them together, making them realise how their lives depend on each other.
(Love by Fate, which was published last two years,  will be re-written. To avoid spoilers, do NOT search for this title on the blog.😝😝)
                          


Thursday, 6 June 2019

Flaming Home! (Episode Fourteen/Finale)


Episode Fourteen/Finale
Najwa’s Point of View
A Fulfilled Life
“Najwa, this green shirt is just okay. I don’t see why the colour of a shirt will increase my chances of getting the job.” Anas is saying grudgingly, placing his hand over his head in frustration.

Anas is driving his brown Mercedes and we are on our way to XYZ Media and Sahadat’s school. After dropping us off at work and school respectively, he plans on attending the job interview he had been invited for last week.

He is putting on a green shirt despite my insistence that he goes for the blue. Anas had turned deaf ears while he was dressing up earlier this morning, insisting that he would wear the green shirt.

“The blue shirt is bolder and more attractive. It will make you appear more confident and charming. In this green shirt, you’ll look like a poverty-stricken unemployed youth who has spent several years searching for a fifty thousand naira job.” I say in mockery as he turns towards me, flames in his eyes.

“Don’t start this morning, Najwa! By the way, it is too late. I’ve worn the green shirt and the blue one is lying in the wardrobe. I cannot return home and change my shirt…or do you want to be late for work?” he sneers at me as he returns his gaze to the road.

“Mom and dad, you promise not to quarrel again. You’re breaking your promise.” Sahadat rises from her seat and pats our shoulders.

I just realize that Sahadat is at the backseat of the car, listening to all that has been transpiring. “Don’t mind us, jare. We’re only pulling each other’s legs.” I turn towards her with a smile.

“Okay, mom. I’ll always remind you of the promise you made.” She replies as she opens the storybook she is holding and continues reading.

I stare at Anas and wonder if we can ever stop quarrelling…if we will ever stop quarrelling. Anas returns my stare with a plastered smile. We both know what we’re thinking. We will never stop quarrelling…but we’ll always learn to settle our disputes and re-ignite our love for each other.

“The shirt actually looks cool on you.” I whisper in his ear.

“Of course, I know that.” He winks at me lovingly.

As Anas pulls into XYZ building, I stare out of the window and wonder if I will ever agree to what Anas says.

“He knows this is who I am. He loves me like that.” I mutter.

Chairmo, I hail you! We don miss you oo Madam Najwa!” Baba Sumbo, the gateman raises his hands high in the air as he greets us triumphantly in his usual reedy voice.

He is a tall and frail-looking man with silver streaks of hair covering his head. Baba Sumbo has worked as a gateman since I started working at XYZ Media. News has it that he had worked here since he was thirty years of age. By now, he shouldn’t be less than sixty years.

“How’s the family, sir?” I smile at him as he lowers his head to greet us.

Won wa oo! We don miss you no be small. You’re welcome back.” He grins delightfully, revealing his kola nut-stained crooked set of teeth.

Anas dips two hundred Naira in his hand. Baba Sumbo mutters prayers in appreciation as Anas finds a good spot to park. Suddenly, I’m starting to wonder how life had been for Baba Sumbo when he was much younger and how he was able to manage his family financially.

I know the psychological trauma Anas will be facing currently, following his loss of job…

“Are you nervous?” Anas squeezes my hand and stares at me, drifting me from my thought.

I stare back with arched eyebrows. “Nervous about what?”

“About resuming work again. You know, your best friend is not here and people will be staring at you with sympathetic looks…starting your TV show again and counseling viewers on relationship matters despite the news that broke the internet a few weeks ago…”

“I don’t care, my love. XYZ Media is like my second home. Do you get nervous about visiting your home?” I say, cupping my hands around his face.

“That’s why I cherish you, sweetheart. You’re bold and courageous. You’ve never been scared to take any step.” Anas whispers as he pulls me into a kiss.

This time, it is real. I mean, very real and passionate. We’ve spent every morning at this same corner, displaying fake affections for each other… but this time, it is real.

“I’m sorry for arguing with you about the colour of shirt to wear. Sincerely, you look good in any of them.” I say softly, kissing him on the cheek. “I wish you success in your job interview.”

“Mom! Dad! Be fast about it or I’ll be late for school.” Sahadat smiles shyly as she covers her face with her hands.

We clear our throat, muffling laughter. “Sweet love, you’ve really made your mom proud.”

“How mom?”

“Despite the setback that occurred a few weeks ago, you’ve been able to meet up with your classmates. I’m glad to have a brilliant daughter…” I’m saying as Mutmahinat appears from the thin air, grinning from ear to ear.

Dressed in a green-striped blouse and black-polka-dot skirt, Mutmahinat stands beside the car and greets us with a plastered smile lingering on her lips. Mutmahinat…only Mutmahinat has the audacity to break into a conversation and intrude a private moment with someone. If it were to be the old Najwa, I would have chastised her and accuse her of trying to poke nose into our family matters.

But I’m changed and I no longer despise her. “How are you, Mutmahinat?” I greet her.

“I’m very well. I can see that Anas is taking good care of you. You look prettier and healthier.” She smiles.

By prettier and healthier, I know she is comparing my current look with the period I had just been discharged from the hospital when she paid me a visit with her husband-to-be.

Anas grins delightfully. “Abi? That’s what happens when one has a loving and sweet husband like me.” He says as we all chuckle.

“Mutmahinat, thank you so much for everything. My family is forever grateful to you. And I’m really sorry for misconstruing your relationship with my husband. It was Barakah who kept poisoning my mind against you.”

I remember how I hated Mutmahinat and accused her of trying to snatch my husband and my job. The truth is, it wasn’t just about what Barakah used to say. It was actually because I was intimidated by Mutmahinat’s confidence and intelligence. No one had tried to outshine me that way…but Mutmahinat appeared at the doorstep of XYZ Media and suddenly, it seemed like I have a rival.

“I totally understand and I forgive you. My aqdu nikkah will hold the first week of next month, in sha ALlaah. I want you all to be in attendance.”

“Of course, we will.” Anas and I chorus.

“Okay, enjoy your day. Bye Sahadat!”

“Bye!” Sahadat replies as Mutmahinat walks away, her skirt swaying and rustling.

“Good luck once again.” I place a kiss on his lips before alighting from the car. I wave at them till they drive out of the compound, sighing heavily and willing myself to enter the building.

Anas was right. I feel very nervous to meet my colleagues and also talk on the show. But I will do so. I am Najwa. Najwa is confident. Najwa will face her fear.
***
I am seated by my desk, staring at the blank screen on my computer and smiling graciously, deep in thought. Remembering all that had occurred in the past, I am grateful to Allah for keeping me safe and making me survive the ordeal I had gone through some few weeks back. I remember how life used to be; Barakah running out of the building to welcome me while I tell her how much I hated my husband and the ways I had dealt with him.

My colleagues have since taken the time to welcome me back to work and express their delight for surviving the plans crafted by my so-called ‘best friend.’ I stare at the pink-and-white coloured cards littering my table, filled with congratulatory and welcome remarks, and I’m glad to be living a fulfilled life. Yes! I am living a fulfilled life. I have a successful family and a good job.

“O Allah, please protect my family from trials and tribulations, and make our lives more fulfilled and filled with happiness.” I mutter in prayers.

Now, I’m thinking of how I had thought of killing my husband in his sleep. But it’s different now. I wake up at the middle of the night to stare at his bright, glowing face, revealing how unquantifiable my love for him is.

“Mrs. Mukhtar…Najwa…” I hear my name being called.

Drifting away from my lost thoughts, I widen my eyes to see Mrs. Bola in front of the table, staring at me with anxious eyes.

Ahhh, I’m sorry. Moti ronu lo. Good morning, ma. Please have a seat.” I fake a smile as I beckon her to sit on the chair.

Mrs. Bola smiles nervously and sits, staring at the ceiling and willing words to come out of her mouth. “Look Najwa, I know you have never liked me but I’ve never wished anything bad for you. I’m sorry for wrongly accusing you of breaching the trust of the organization…but you know it was beyond my power. There was no evidence to prove that you were innocent…” she sighs deeply and continues. “…I’m glad you’re back to work. We’ve all missed you.”

I stare at her with scrutinizing eyes. ‘Or you wish I don’t return?’ I think but brush off all negative thoughts.

“I’m actually at fault. I trusted Barakah despite all the glaring signals, warning me to stay clear of her. Let’s say I learnt my lessons the bitter way. Thank for taking the time to welcome me back. I hope you have a great time at work.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Mukhtar.” Mrs. Bola remarks as she walks out of the office.

“You have to be sincere…you have to be sincere, Najwa… Tell the viewers the truth about everything and you’ll gain their love again.” I mutter as I prepare for my TV show.


       *************************************************************************

Chapter Fifteen
Anas’s Point of View
My Wife is Hilarious!
Barakah is walking towards us, looking bedraggled and emaciated. She is leaner and her eyes look like they would pop out of its socket. Her hands are handcuffed and two police officers are shielding her at both sides. She weeps with creased forehead as she walks towards where we are seated. I can spot Najwa’s eyes opening wide in bewilderment.

Ei! Barakah. Is this you?”  Najwa says with a fake-pitiful expression which is undoubtedly in sheer mockery.

Barakah is reeking of a foul smell; one that smells like the juicy-remains of a dead animal…worse than the way Najwa had smelt when she was locked in that room! Her face is filled with marks and blisters, and blood is dripping from the corner of her right ear. Her left cheek is swollen and she looks a different version of the Barakah I know.

“Yes, ore mi. This is what they’ve been doing to me. It’s crazy here…just one night in this cell is tormenting. And they said that the prison is worse oo. You have to help me ehn, Najwa.”

Najwa clasped her hands and glare at her. “So if you had succeeded in killing me and my husband, will you have the mouth to beg me and say all these? Abi you’ve forgotten the way you were bragging and treating me like a bag of shit when I was captured by you. Now you have the mouth to say ore mi abi?” she is saying in a fit of anger.

I pat Najwa’s hand and beg her to keep calm. “I understand how furious you are. I am too. But we have to learn to control our emotions, after all, she has been arrested.” I say softly.

“Please, I want to be released. I do not want to go to prison. I haven’t gotten married nor given birth to any child. I promise you that I’ll leave this city and start a new life elsewhere. I will not disturb your family ever again!” Barakah cries as she kneels to the ground, her tears dripping to the cemented floor.

Najwa is about to open her mouth but she glances at me and keeps quiet.

“I have wronged you my friend and I am begging for your forgiveness. Now I’ve learnt that it is not right to compare one’s life with another because our life journey is different. I am really sorry… I even wanted to snatch your husband… I know it will be difficult but please, forgive me Najwa. You were a good friend; you cared for me more than I care for myself. Yes, you were a bit proud but you never acted snooty towards me. I wasn’t contented…I wanted to be you…” Barakah weeps loudly.

“Barakah, if I knew Anas was the problem, I would have begged him to get married to you as a second wife. We’d have shared him as friends and all matters would have been resolved.” Najwa says to my surprise.

Barakah gasps as her eyes widen in surprise. “Really?”

Najwa chuckles. “Of course, I’m joking. Why will I want to share my husband with you ehn? You still have your eyes on my husband Barakah! What is it sef?

I try my best to suppress my laughter as I nudge Najwa by the shoulder. Now, she is overreacting. “The deed has been done and we’ve all learnt our lessons. We should learn to forgive and move on.” I say, staring at Najwa lovingly. Her eyes soften as she reaches for Barakah’s hands and touches them.

“This matter is beyond us. We can only pray that the judge’s verdict favour you in a way. It is a case of attempted murder Barakah, and justice has to be served. And please Barakah, in whatever years time you leave the prison, do not come close to my family again. Never! Lailai!”
***
“For how long will your mother be staying?” Najwa asks as she rests her head on my legs. I am weaving my hands into her jet-black silky hair as we both lay on the couch, listening to the soft recitation of Najwa’s favourite poem; Love Conquers All by Daniel Elystrydom.

Mama has promised to pay us a visit next week and since she made that telephone call to tell us of her intention, Najwa hasn’t stopped prattling about how strenuous it would be to make meals for Mama.

“Najwa, if it is about cooking, we will do it together. While you’re making the ewedu, I will be turning amala beside you.” I say as she burst into laughter.

“So that your mother will say that I have cooked soup to steal her son’s brain abi?” Najwa hits my head playfully.

“How can you even prepare the soup to steal her son’s brain?” I laugh in mockery.

Najwa sits up and smacks my shoulder. “You’re saying I can’t cook abi?”

“The rice you made yesterday, wasn’t it salty? Sahadat and I had to force ourselves to take spoonfuls without cringing. We appreciate your efforts and that’s why we aren’t complaining. Seriously, I’m proud of you, my love.”

Najwa beams affectionately as she returns her head to my laps. “There’s something I want to tell you.”

“Oh, what is it?”

“You don’t complain but I know how you’re struggling this period. I know you borrowed money to pay my hospital bill and I know that things have not been very easy for you financially. You didn’t get called for that job and you haven’t gotten any other offer since then. Anas, I know you don’t want this but I sent some money to your Fidelity Account. I want you to start a business instead of sitting at home with hopes of getting a job soon… at least for now…”

“No, Najwa. I can’t accept …”

“Please my love, accept it. It’s a gift from me to you. This is my way of supporting you as your wife. In sha Allah, you’ll secure a better paying and more fulfilling job soon.”

“Aameen. Thank you so much, Najwa. You’re the best wife a man can ever dream of having.” I say, pulling her into a tight hug.

I clear my throat. “Mama talked about having another child…”

“Or children? I want to have Taofeek and Zaynab and Mutmahinat soon in sha Allah,” Najwa grins in triumph.

I raise my eyebrow in surprise. “Mutmahinat?”

She laughs loudly. “Yes, Mutmahinat.”

“In sha Allah. We’ll have more children and our home will be filled with more love and not flames.” I say, pulling her into another hug.

The truth is, I love my wife. I love Najwa with all of my heart and I won’t trade her for anything in the world. No, this isn’t a flaming home. It’s a loving home.

THE END.

A/N: Thank you by being patient and following me through the lengthy course of completing this story. Words cannot express how grateful I am.
Flaming Home is actually the first-real story where I shed light on marriage (me wey never marry…lol). I thought it will be difficult, but AlhamduliLlaah, it was a story I enjoyed writing.
Our new story ‘Her Last Breath’ will kick start Next week in sha ALlaah. Here is what I’ve gained from Flaming Home!
To not compare my life journey with anyone or pray to be like someone. Only ALlaah knows what he/she is passing through.
To not over-trust friends, colleagues, etc.
To appreciate what I have and cherish my family members.
To avoid all forms of jealousy and envy.
To worship ALlaah always instead of calling Him only in time of need…
…the lessons are numerous. What have you gained from Flaming Home? Have a wonderful time and happy reading!!!

Don't miss out on the previous episodes:

Episode One

Episode Two

Episode Three

Episode Four

Episode Five

Episode Six

Episode Seven

Episode Eight

Episode Nine

Episode Ten

Episode Eleven

Episode Twelve

Episode Thirteen