Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Interview with Maryam Amer


Maryam Amer is a Pakistani writer, blogger and a great lover of books. In this interview, Maryam Amer will take you to a world of books and writing, and ensure that you’ve gained one or two things on why you should fulfill your dreams and passion.

Q: Tell us more about yourself.
Maryam Amer: My name is Maryam “Aamir” as I was unable to get the domain name with Aamir so I considered it as “Amer.” I’m a social sciences student, a firm reader, I play guitar and I love to write whatever hits my head. I am a self-taught person and if you ever see me doing something different just believe it that I taught it myself. I am still figuring myself!

Q: How did you discover your passion for writing?
Maryam Amer: I was 14 years old when I started writing in my diary. I used to write my feelings (not thoughts) in it. That is where I learnt to convert my feelings into words.


Q: What is writing to you?
Maryam Amer: To me, writing is like healing. You pour out all the sadness and distress on paper and share it with other people.

Q: What inspired you to start blogging?
Maryam Amer: I always wanted to contribute myself to make this world a better place so least I’d do was to blog it.

Q: What are your major fulfillments from being a blogger?
Maryam Amer: A freedom of speech.


Q: What social media platform has been best used to reach out to your fans?
Maryam Amer: Instagram because it is the only social platform where you’ll meet people of different age groups. My parents use it too.

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Maryam Amer: Helping people around. Inspiring them to grow and rise to make this world a better place.

Q: Any plans for the nearest future?
Maryam Amer: I am currently working on my blog. Besides this, I am writing a novel.

Q: What is blogging to you?
Maryam Amer: Some people think that blogging is just about earning money or that a person should take it as his/her full-time job. To me, blogging is just a place where you can share, give your opinion and change people’s perspective with your words. I blog whenever I feel like it, I don’t impose it on me.

Q: List 5 creative bloggers that you adore?

Q: Your happiest moment?
Maryam Amer: My happiest moment is whenever I learn something new or whenever someone tells me that I made them happy/smile.

Q: Who is your favorite celebrity?
Maryam Amer: I read books, so Khaled Hosseni, Paulo Coelho and many more.

Q: Your favorite quote?
Maryam Amer: To Heal A Wound, You Gotta Stop Touching It ~ Elephant Journal.


Q: Your favourite food?
Maryam Amer: Pakistani/Indian food.

Q: Your favourite choice of holiday destination?
Maryam Amer: My home! As I live far from my home because of my studies. My home is the only place where I meet all the solace.

Q: Your social media platforms for fans to reach you?
Maryam Amer: My Instagram!

Q: What advice do you have for upcoming writers?
Maryam Amer: When I started writing I used to think that many of my pieces are somehow similar to others. This was the most degrading thought I ever had. You should not compare yourself with other writers. Just like other things, Writing demands practice too. Just don’t give up too easily. Be Real, appreciate other writers, accept the critiques and first of all appreciate yourself.


Sunday, 10 November 2019

Her Last Breath (Episode Fifteen)


Khayrah  
Hey babe. When are you coming home?
-          Taofeek.

Two hours’ time. We’re still here…
-          Khayrah.

I typed, staring around the room to ensure that no one noticed that I was using my phone.

Two hours??? Gosh! I’m dying here…missing you and craving to be by your side. I made macaroni and smoked fish. It will get cold before you get here.
-          Taofeek.

I will warm it when I get home…
-          Khayrah.

But it won’t be as fresh as when it was recently made. Come home now, my love.
-          Taofeek.

“I cried when I first heard the news. It was the worst news to hear weeks to my wedding…” the rotund woman with a face covered with birthmark, bawled her eyes out as she spoke to us. People reached for tissue paper and handed it over to her to blow her nose.

I turned sideways again and was shocked to see the young man still staring at me.

I’ll talk to you later. I need to listen before I get caught…
-          Khayrah.

I clicked on ‘sent’ and pulled my phone away. I had decided to attend the event to gain a lot and Taofeek shouldn’t become a form of distraction. I glanced at the man again but he had shifted his gaze and was staring at the person who was talking.

“We were born to fight and we would not give up. We’ll fight with everything we’ve got until we take our last breath. We will leave a mark on the world. We will be bold and courageous and fight against all odds. That’s who we are…fighters!” Paul said loudly, raising his hands in the air and gleaming in excitement as we cheered in return.

Paul- a cancer survivor who looked tall and scrawny- was the leader of the cancer support group. He would start off by saying words of encouragement, highlighting stories of cancer patients who fought till the end.

“Yes! Yes! We are fighters! We will never give up!” Tomiwa, the young man who had just narrated his story, stood up from his seat and clapped with enthusiasm.

He would be in his early twenties but he looked frail and emaciated. His eyes looked sunken and his skin looked like they had wrinkles. Tomiwa was diagnosed with a stage 3 lung cancer last year and since then, he had tried to utilize his limited time on earth.

The meeting was usually held in the Cancer Support Group Centre at Allen, Ikeja. The room was painted white and had pictures of smiling faces with captions such as, ‘We were born as fighters.’ ‘Cancer has taught me the true essence of life.’ ‘Life is short…make use of the time you have.’

We were twelve in number, all seated in a circle and probably wondering what we were really doing there. The group wasn’t a solution to our problems…but somehow, we felt that we weren’t alone, we believed that being together proved that we could fight the deadly disease together. We fixed beads into ropes as we listened to Paul. Paul called it a soothing treatment. We had listened to several others narrate their cancer stories…and others would offer words of encouragement afterwards.

“Anymore stories to hear before we call it a day?” Paul asked, staring around the room.

“This lady here hasn’t shared her story.” The young man, who had been staring at me since we arrived there, stated as he fixed his gaze on me with a sly grin.

Ermm…not today. I’ll share my story in the next meeting.” I said softly, staring at my phone and noting the unread messages from Taofeek and missed calls from Aliyah.

Aliyah had been calling since we started the programme but I couldn’t step out because there were rules that prohibited the use of phones.
“Let’s call it a day then. Ensure you grab your cups of orange juice before leaving. Bye!” Paul remarked as we all got up from our seats and headed towards the door.

I was heading out of the room when I heard someone call my name. “How are you?” A slender and pretty lady with a lithe body figure grinned at me. She didn’t look in a way like someone who was inflicted with a terminal disease. She was putting on a red skimpy gown and wore a blue and red weave-on. Her face was also filled with an over-do of makeup.

“I’m Janet. Nice to meet you.’’ She extended her hand for a handshake, smiling broadly and revealing the extent of her red-blood lips.

“Nice to meet you too…You’re also new here?”

“Oh, I joined last week. Can I have your number? I hope we can hang out soon?’’

“Sure!” I replied, pulling away my phone and exchanging contacts with her.

Janet sashayed out of the room with hurried steps as her heeled sandals made squeaky sounds on the tiled floor. I hurried out of the building as I tried to redial Aliyah’s number. It didn’t go through. I crossed to the other path of the road and cleaned the beads of sweat that covered my forehead with the hem of my hijab. It was one of those moments when I missed Mr. Lolu.

Ojota!” I tried to flag down keke marwa that drove along the road but they insisted that Oregun would be their final stop.  

I squinted my eyes as I covered it with my palm, going to my Bolt app. to order for an uber. It was just then that a car parked beside me. A black Hyundai Creta that was spotlessly clean.

“Do you mind I give you a lift?” Came a voice. Looking closer, I discovered that it was the man who was staring at me back in the hall.
“Emmm…thanks. I’ll just order an uber…”

“I insist. Trust me, I’m not a kidnapper. Where are you heading?”

Ojota.”

“You stay at Ojota?”

“Magodo actually.” I raked my head shyly, remembering that I would have been melting in pleasure if I hadn’t gotten married.

The man was a tall and handsome with chocolate skin and bright eyes. He was putting on a blue t-shirt and a red cap and he had been staring at me since I arrived at the venue.

‘No…Khayrah, lower your gaze. You are married to the handsome and wonderful man on earth.’ I soliloquized as I opened the car door and sat beside him.

He reduced the volume of the music he was playing as he started the engine. It was Ed Sheeran’s Happier, one of those songs that Fadilah would listen to while she was studying in the room.


“So…” he turned towards me with a smile and faced the road again. “Have you made any friend here?”

“Yes, her name’s Janet. She looks pretty healthy and very beautiful.”

“She approached you or you walked up to her?”

I whipped my head up and glared at him. “She walked up to me. Is there any issue in who approaches another first?”

He laughed softly. “You don’t look like someone who wants to make friends…but it’s fine. I’m Tijani.’’

“You’re a Muslim?’’ I gasped in shock.

“No, an atheist.”

I wrinkled my brows in confusion. Why would someone who bore a Muslim name decide to become an atheist?

“Why would you be an agnostic in a world filled with several wonders?”

“Look Khayrah, I just want to complete my time on earth and leave. I’m not interested in all these beliefs and the sort.’’

“How did you know my name?’’

‘’I checked the register and also asked Paul to confirm. I told him, ‘I need the name of that lovely shy woman who has been peaking at her phone since the beginning of the programme.”’ He stated and I laughed in return.

I wondered who else had noticed that I spent most of my time there, using my phone secretly.
I laughed loudly. “Oh my gosh! I feel guilty right now!”

Haha! Don’t be. What’s your main essence of joining here? Do you really want to be a part of this?”

“My husband advised me to go out and socialize…”

“You’re married?”

“Yes, I am.” I replied, brandishing my fingers and displaying my wedding band.

Surprise stole over his face but he got over the shock instantly and faced the road.

“Was it before you were diagnosed with this?”

“Afterwards.’’

“Why would you decide to put him through this pain? Do you know how it would feel when you finally leave?’’

“I just want to love and get married. It’s one of my lifetime goals and I don’t think my sickness should prevent me from ticking that off my list.”

“It’s all about your goal but what have you thought about him? Or you think he isn’t making plans to be with someone else when you leave?’’

“No. I trust my husband. He would never try such.’’ I stated convincingly, hardly believing myself as I remembered Zainab.

“Khayrah, do not trust anyone completely. We’re all humans. We’re not perfect.’’

“What happened to you? Why did you decided to become an atheist?”

Tijani ruffled his hair and I could see sadness in his eyes. “I lost my parents on the same day, in a fatal accident. I was the only child. My relatives deserted me so I struggled all alone. I fell in love with this beautiful and amazing lady and we were set to get married. She was the best things that happened to me and I felt she became my everything; my family. Shortly afterwards, I fell sick and we realized that it was terminal. Well, she left when I needed her the most. I felt a greater pain than when I lost my parents because I was very young then. I swore I would never forgive her for what she did. But later, I realized that she was meant to leave because she would get hurt watching me withering away. So, yes. I was all alone…all by myself again. I accepted my fate that I was alone in this world. I saw life as a meaningless place.”

“I’m so sorry, Tijani. I want you to know that life is a test and your predicament shouldn’t prevent you from having faith in Allah. Allah says that He would try us with somewhat of fear and hunger and reduction in live, property and fruits. Who are we to question the Giver and taker of lives?”*

“Look Khayrah, can we talk about something else? I’ve heard this your tale a million times and I won’t change my mind today.” He said with a frown.

“Okay.’’ I muttered, trying Aliyah’s number again but it didn’t go through.

I went through my unread messages that Taofeek had flooded my phone with.

Abeg, come home oo! What are you guys even doing in that programme? I’m missing you jare.
Should I come and pick you?
-          Taofeek.

Don’t worry, darling. A friend is driving me home.
-          Khayrah.

My regards to her. I’m so relieved she’s taking you home. I wonder what you’d have faced getting down here in this scorching sun. I need to get you a car and a driver. Cannot afford to watch you walk along Lagos busy roads.
-          Taofeek.

It’s a male. His name is Tijani. We’re almost at Ketu. I have loads of gist for you!
-          Khayrah.

Why would you agree to go with him? You could have just called for an uber to pick you up…
-          Taofeek.

I’ll be home soon, my love. There’s no cause to worry.
-          Khayrah.

I clicked ‘send’ and put my phone in my bag, working out ways to change the man that was sitting beside me from being atheist to a Muslim.


 *Qur'an 2 vs 55 (And We will most certainly try you with somewhat of fear and hunger and loss of property and lives and fruits; and give good news to the patient,)


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Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Best Natural Snack and Herb Teas Energizing You All-day


There are 24 hours round the clock for each day. A lot of people are equally occupied as the clock throughout the whole day; others might get to rest for a few hours before starting their work for another day. The baseline is that we all get to work throughout the day. Work means energy, continuous work means stress. A lot of people want to go through the day feeling energized and all pumped up, not the other way round. This is why a lot of people settle for coffee. According to the International CoffeeOrganization (ICO), about 1.4 billion cups of coffee are consumed every day globally, with about 45% of it (400 million cups daily) consumed by the US only. 

Have you ever considered some of the side effects of taking too much coffee? They include anxiety, fatigue, rapid heart rate, and addiction, amongst others. Some natural snacks contain the sweetness and nutrients you need to keep you on top of your game all day long. According to the Tea Association of the U.S.A., about 80% of American households have some form of tea in storage, and more than 159 million Americans drink tea daily. It has also been reported that well over 165 million cups of black tea are consumed each day in the UK. Tea is made out of natural ingredients, with medicinal benefits. We would give you a rundown of natural snacks and tea that can preserve your energy all day long without little or no side effects. 


TOP 5 NATURAL SNACKS

  • DARK CHOCOLATE

This is the best pick for those with a sweet tooth. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidant which provides the required energy. It serves as a natural energy booster. The dark chocolate is also highly rich in flavanols, a substance that has a tendency to lower blood pressure and reduce heart disease risk, as long as the chocolate contains at least 70% cocoa solids. It is however advised to avoid excessive consumption.


  • FRUIT SLICES

A lot of times, we often overlook the wonder working abilities of basic fruits. These fruits are rich in substances that keep the body naturally healthy and energized. 
Take apples for example. Apples are very good for sustaining energy. It releases nutrients to the body which would later be converted to adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, and this acts as a boost to your system. This gives you the energy you need to see through the day’s hurdle in one piece. 
Let’s also consider oranges. Rich in vitamin C, folate and potassium, oranges steadily releases energy into the body, leaving you refreshed and energized all day long. 
Pineapples do a great deal in helping you maintain hydration and prevent fatigue. This is because it is mostly made up of water. It is also rich in manganese which is an energy booster. 


  • PEANUT BUTTER 

The protein goodness of peanut butter goes a long way in providing you with the lasting boost you need. It can be consumed with banana slices, apple slices, etc.


  • NUTS AND SEEDS

This combo has the required quantity of antioxidants to provide you with that energy boost to get through the day. Nuts are simply ideal and nutritious snacks. Seeds such as flax seeds should be your go to for an all day long energy boost.


  • CUCUMBER


Vitamin B5 is known to be a great energy booster. Cucumber is highly rich in this vitamin, making it a great pick for all day freshness. Also, cucumber possesses calories which are not rapidly released into the body. This allows the cucumber to provide you with continuous energy throughout the day. 


TOP 3 NATURAL TEAS

  • CHAGA TEA
Nothing beats the medicinal benefits of Chaga tea. Chaga mushroom tea is endowed with large quantity of antioxidant which provides non-stop energy boost all day long. Chaga extract is rich in polysaccharides which may reduce blood lactate levels; hence, reducing body fatigue.  It also decreases blood urea nitrogen levels, another factor that can contribute to bodily fatigue. The extracts in Chaga tea can release positive energy metabolism into the body. This will rapidly promote physical endurance and energy. Still having any doubt about Chaga tea wonder?


  • GREEN TEA


With very little quantity of caffeine, green tea provides the required energy and alertness needed for the day. The green tea has L-theanine, an amino acid that contributes to energy boost and preservation. The amino acid provides reduces the rate at which caffeine is absorbed into the body. This extends the result of the caffeine, allowing for long lasting energy boost. 
Green tea is also rich in vitamin C.


  • BLACK TEA

The black tea, like green tea, also possesses a minute rate of caffeine and L-theanine which produces a similar result in the delayed absorption of caffeine into the body.


CONCLUSION
In order to prevent the mid-day crash, or sluggishness, we recommend consumption of natural snacks and teas with energy boosting materials to keep your day alive 24 hours round the clock.


Monday, 28 October 2019

Her Last Breath (Episode Thirteen & Fourteen)



Taofeek
“Your pap is horrible. It’s too thick and…and…”

“And what?” I quipped my brows in amusement as I watched her prattle.

Khayrah pulled into her defensive mode as she feigned confidence and swung her arms in a demonstration. “Okay. Frankly speaking, it is bland. It tastes like starch and doesn’t go well with moin moin and akara.”

I gave a paroxysm of laughter as I watched her in the dark, her eyes bright and her face glowing under the full moon. “My pap is bland? Egbami! What of the custard you made yesterday that was filled with koko? Or it because I didn’t say a word?”

Ha-ha. And you took it like it was the best meal in the world. You are something else!” Khayrah clasped her fingers tighter in mine as we walked down the path.

We had just left the mosque after completing our ishai’ prayers and we were returning home in the dark, enjoying the ticking feeling the cool breeze gave our skin and having the freedom to hold hands and display our affection without the world peering at us.

Khayrah would always want to tag along whenever I was going to the mosque at night. We would hold hands and talk about random things. And it was always fun.

“You see, I’m a nice person. Taofeek is a nice man. He’s the best husband in the whole wide world!” I sang loudly as Khayrah beat me playfully.

Shhh. Don’t you know the wall has ears? And do not praise yourself too much or your head will burst…”

“Asalamu ‘alaykum Mr. and Mrs. Adewale.” A high-pitched female voice startled us. We trailed the voice and spotted a large-sized figure approaching us.

It was dark but I knew Khayrah could also tell that it was Hajia Balkis. She was the pudgy woman who was usually dressed in a long gown and medium-sized, cottoned hijab. She was the one that had visited us on our arrival at our new house, presenting a flyer and advertising her business of baking cakes and pastries for events. She was also the one who would distribute snacks for free at the monthly estate meeting.

“Hajia Balkis. Wa’alaykumu salam. How could you recognize us?”

“Ah, who wouldn’t recognize the new couple in our estate that hold hands everywhere and give us nostalgic feelings of when we had recently gotten married too.”

We all burst into laughter, Hajia Balkis explaining further on ways we behaved like teenage lovers.

“But isn’t that how it should be? Couples should keep showering themselves with love even after several years of being together.” Khayrah stated and I nodded in agreement, even though no one could see my reaction because it was pitch-black.

Eh, remain like that ke? It’s only the first three years of marriage. How can we remain that way when children would arrive with their distractions and jobs would come with its engagement? See my husband now…the last time he was around was two months ago. He currently in Benin and he has to work or else the family would suffer from pangs of hunger. I’m not scaring you oo! Keep enjoying yourself and continue to cherish this moment.”

“Thank you, ma. How is business going?” I enquired.

“AlhamduliLlaah. I’m getting steady supplies from those who are in need of wedding vendors. Why don’t you encourage your wife to hang out with us one of these days? I’ve told her about this several times but she keeps saying that she would think about it.”

“With who?”

“The estate wives of course. We’re a clique. We do things together. We keep ourselves entertained since most of us are housewives.”

“I’ll think about it, ma. We need to start heading home because my husband has to prepare for work tomorrow.” Khayrah held the tight grip of my right hand and increased her walking pace.

Hajia Balkis’s ‘bye bye’ faded in the distance as we walked in hurried steps. I smiled mockingly as I imagined Khayrah amid of the estate women as they gossip and talk about the trending styles to sew or the fabric that has been chosen for one of their daughter’s wedding ceremony. I imagined Khayrah staring at them with a scrunched-up face, willing time to run faster so that she could escape from their midst. Most of them were within the age group of 30- 45 and a majority of them had at least a child in secondary school. For example, Hajia Balkis had two children in a boarding school and her last child, Ibrahim, was in primary two.

“We’re home!” Khayrah squealed in relief as she pushed the gate open and sauntered into the compound. It was then I realized that we hadn’t said a word since we left Hajia Balkis’s presence.

Unlocking the door, Khayrah dragged me into the living room with teasing eyes and led me to the sofa. She placed her lips on mine and kissed me hungrily. “It’s a pity we can’t kiss in public.” She mumbled passionately.

I pulled away and smiled at her. “Aren’t you hungry? We should make noodles before going to bed.”

“Okay. I’ll make noodles filled with smoked fish. The best you’ve ever tasted.” Khayrah smiled proudly as she pulled her hijab and long gown, and placed them on the sofa. She winked at me before sauntering into the kitchen.

Hi handsome. Zulaikha told me she saw you and your wife. How have you been? It’s a shame I wasn’t around when you visited. I’ve missed you.
-          Zainab.

I cringed internally as I peered at the kitchen door. Luckily, Khayrah was engrossed in her cooking and she was humming a poem.

Why are you pestering me, Zainab? You can see that I’m happily married.
-          Taofeek.

So what? Is it halal to marry more than one?
-          Zainab.

And it isn’t compulsory to marry more than one. If I want to, I’ll decide that myself. If you disturb me again, I promise you to block your number. I don’t know you as a homewrecker so don’t become one.
-          Taofeek.

I angrily put away my phone and turned on the TV. I rested on the sofa and watched the news on TVC, wondering how to tell Khayrah what was on my mind without getting on her nerves.

“Can you perceive the aroma?” Khayrah grinned excitedly as she walked out of the kitchen with a sweaty face. “You’re about to get your tongue melted.”

“I can’t wait to get my tongue melted.” I chuckled, sniffing the air and giving her a thumbs up.

“A minute more.” Khayrah laughed in exhilaration as she walked towards the kitchen door and came out some minutes with a tray of steaming noodles.

“This will be delicious.” I muttered as I took hold of the tray and placed it on the rug.
***
“I have something to tell you.” I whispered, playing with a strand of her hair as she rested her head on my chest.

“What is that?”

“You are smart and intelligent and witty and nice. But you are living in a world of your own. I want you to go out there and have fun. I want you to make friends and start work. Being in isolation of yourself won’t help. We are all going to die one day. Yes, we all are. There’s no definite time for us on earth and we have no idea if we’ll be breathing our last this minute or the next. But that shouldn’t make us live like we’re already dead….” I pulled her head away and sat upright, gazing deeply at her face. “Khayrah, I want you to become the woman you were before being diagnosed with cancer. I want you to be happy. I want you to make a mark on earth and meet more people.”

“But I have you and my family,” she said, tears coursing down her face.

“We’re not enough. You need more people in your life. Please, my love, think about all I said. I want you to stare at yourself in the mirror and smile proudly. I want you to appreciate your bright eyes and pretty face. You are alive. We are alive. That’s what matters now, okay?” I pulled her into a hug.

“Okay.”

We sat on the bed in each other’s arms for minutes, tears dripping down our faces as we thought about our future and what it holds.

“So…you need to prepare for work.” Khayrah stood up and cleared her throat, her face flashing a bright smile. “What would you want for breakfast?”

“I’m late already…I should just…”

“No. I’ll prepare something really quick. You can’t go to work with an empty stomach.” Khayrah said as she walked out of the room.

“Hey! Don’t wear a red shirt. It’s hideous.” She called from the living room.

I cackled in amusement. “The brown shirt then?”

“Yes, the brown shirt.”

I laughed loudly as I reached for my wardrobe, picking the clothing items that I would wear to work.

In less than thirty minutes, I had kissed Khayrah goodbye and was on my way to work. While stuck in traffic, I stared at my phone’s background picture with a smile plastered on my face. It was a picture of the two of us, grinning excitedly as we held each other’s arms. We took the picture on our first outing and we had visited Lekki Conservative Centre. The thought of that day made my heart flutter in excitement. Khayrah was more than I had ever expected and I had no regret making her my wife.



Episode Fourteen
Taofeek
“Here comes the latest married man!” Daniel squealed in excitement as he barged into my office.

I squinted my eyes and forced a smile. My colleagues at work had spent most of the day congratulating me on getting married. I was tired and exhausted…and all I wanted was to complete my outstanding tasks and return home to my wife.

Na we be that.” I replied, returning a file of March’s financial statement to the table. I had thought that my first day of resumption would be comprised of lesser activities but I was wrong. It looked like they had piled up all outstanding works throughout the weeks that I had not been around.

“How are you na? How is your wife? How was the honeymoon?”

I rubbed my eyes wearily and glared at Daniel. “Not now, abeg. The work I have on my table is overwhelming.”

Daniel guffawed. “Are you sure it’s the work that’s making you moody or you’re just missing someone.”

“Ah, not today Daniel. I’m really not in the mood…” I was saying when my phone started to ring.

I hurriedly grabbed and checked the caller ID. To my delight, it was Khayrah calling. A smile spread across my face as I answered the call. “Hey, sweetie. Asalamu ‘alaykum.”

“Wa’alaykumu salam, my darling. How’s work been? Hope you could concentrate?”

“How will I when my colleagues have dedicated today to congratulate me and one yeye friend is here, arguing that I’m thinking of you instead of working. And he’s actually right.” I stated, rolling my eyes at Daniel who was giggling.

“Oops. Sorry about that. Well, guess what?”

My forehead crinkled in confusion. “The last thing I want to do right now is to think.”

“Okay…okay. I’m at your workplace, at the reception. I brought you a surprise lunch.” Khayrah said excitedly.

“It’s a lie. Come over. I’m waiting!” My eyes widened in excitement as I dropped the phone and grinned at Daniel.

“Wait! Your wife is here?”

“Yes, she is. If you would excuse me.” I stifled laughter as I watched Daniel rise from the chair and roar in laughter.

“I said it. I was so right,” he laughed loudly.

“Yes. You were so right.” I was saying when I heard a knock on the door.

“Hello. Here I am!” Khayrah squealed in delight as she ran towards the table and pulled me into a tight hug. As if she just noticed Daniel, she pulled away and smiled at him shyly.

“Hi. Good afternoon. You’re Daniel?”

“Yes, I am. Taofeek must have said lots of nasty things about me. But don’t mind him. I’m a good guy. I’ll see you later.” He smiled and sauntered out of the office.

As he became clearly out of sight, Khayrah pulled the napkin away from the basket and grinned excitedly. “We have boiled rice and efo riro right here. It’s so delicious. Would you like to have some?”

“You’re still asking me? Of course, I do.” I said in a frisson as Khayrah scooped a spoon of steaming white rice and poured the delicious soup with the nice smell on a ceramic plate.

“How’s work?”

“I hope you haven’t been thinking about home?” Khayrah asked, winking at me.

It was then I noticed that she was putting on a green gown and brown hijab, and her eyes were covered in kohl.
“To be sincere, I’ve been thinking about home. You know what? Why don’t we go on a dinner date tonight? I’ll pick you up once I arrive home and we’ll go out.” I said, my eyes sparkling in delight as I put a spoonful of rice into my mouth.

“Ah, that won’t be possible. I registered for a cancer support group on Instagram. We have a meeting this afternoon at Gbagada. I actually decided to stop by and give you a surprise lunch before heading there.”

I spilled grains of rice in shock. “Cancer support group? Why?”

“You advised me to socialize. That is exactly what I’m doing. I also visited Hajia Balkis this morning. We’ll be going to the market to buy baking ingredients and attend the estate women’s meeting this evening.”

“Estate women’s meeting?” I asked in surprise.

“Yes. So, that means you might not be seeing me till late at night. Take care of yourself and don’t miss me too much. See ya!” Khayrah pecked my forehead and walked out of the office.

I glared at the door in shock. Khayrah had taken to my advice but this would cost me a lot. She would go out and make friends and I would be alone…missing her!
***
Entering the living room, I was shocked to see Khayrah arranging meat pies on a tray. She was putting on an apron and her eyes were gleaming in excitement. It was long since I’d seen her that happy.

“Asalamu ‘alaykum, my darling. You’re welcome home.” She hugged me briefly and headed into the kitchen to bring a tray containing baked cake.

The room wafted of a nice aroma and I couldn’t help but walk towards the dining room as I pulled away my blazer and tie. “What ceremony are we having here?”

“Hahaha. Hajia Balkis encouraged me to make this. It’s actually for the estate women’s meeting.” She smiled broadly. “You didn’t ask about how the cancer support group went.” She frowned at me.

I scratched my head as I blinked painfully. “Oh…the cancer support group, right? How was it?”

“It went well. It was great! You were right, my darling, I really should go out and make friends.”

Yes, she should…but I really wanted to spend time with her. I reached towards her and placed my hands around her waist, pulling my face closer to hers and feeling her warm breath as they tickled my skin. “It’s barely a day and I miss you…”

“Madam Khayrah oo!” Hajia Balkis’s voice resounded from the compound.

Khayrah pulled away and ran towards the door. “Asalamu ‘alaykum, ma. Please give me a minute. I’ll soon join you.”

“Khayrah…” I was saying but she walked faster towards the room door.

“I’m so sorry, love. Fix yourself with something. I’ll be back before maghrib. Insha ALlaah.”

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