Tuesday, 4 September 2018

The Precious Figure (Episode One)


 


Dr. Oyebanji had spoken consistently for two hours and it had gotten to the stage that I could only see the movement of his lips and his brownish teeth showing from within. I studied the way he talked with so much enthusiasm; pacing back and forth and pausing to clean the beads of sweat that formed around his forehead. I stared at his gray-coloured-faded trousers and the blue shirt that he wore thrice every week. Was he really happy with his job? Had he ever imagined being in a place where he didn’t have to yell at the seas of people clearly uninterested in what he was saying?



“Now who can define arteriospasm?” he asked, darting his eyes to the thousands of eyes that peered at him.



Immediately, I lowered my head and avoided his gaze. Who would want to be disgraced in the midst of hundreds of people? It was then I realised that my black-thick veil was making me sweaty.



“No one? Let’s end the class here. I’ll ask you for the meaning in the next class,” Dr. Oyebanji said, sighing heavily as he held his pile of books.



My course mates squealed in delight as they watched him leave the hall. They had immediately started to walk out in groups, chatting and laughing excitedly.



I turned to Raqibah, who was revising yesterdays’ notes. I used to think that I was the most serious student in my department till I met Raqibah, a studious and bookish fellow who could do nothing but reading. She had joined us at our 300 level and at a first glance, I stared at her unusually. She was pudgy and her big size couldn’t be hidden under the big clothing. Her legs were as big as fat tubers of yam and her body flapped when she walked. Raqibah was as fair in complexion as the inside of a mango fruit and dark spots and pimples filled her face.



‘I do not have the time for beauty treatments. My focus now is to make good grades and become the best graduating student in Medicine,’ she would say, pouting her lips in a way that made her feel proud.



Raqibah was my only friend, and that was because she was also a bookworm. While some of our course mates went on dinner dates and watched movies, we spent our free time in the library; reading till our eyes hurt.



Apart from reading, I was also passionate about my deen. I created time to partake in the Muslimah Students’ Society activities, dressed decently and avoided a close relationship with the opposite sex.



“Professor Audu’s test is this Friday. Lets study for some time at the library,” Raqibah said, adjusting her extra-sized spectacles and peering into the sheet of paper she used in writing her daily list of activities.



She wore an extra-sized-milk-coloured chiffon gown and black veil; the same outfit that was a regular uniform for her on Tuesdays. One could predict what Raqibah would wear the next day. She was from a wealthy home but she spent her money on books and food alone.



“Oh no, I have to go home now. Mom is not feeling too well and I need to make lunch,” I said, placing a hand over my forehead. The heat was very intense and I regretted wearing a thick-black veil the second time.



Mom was the only one I had. She had told me that dad and her divorced immediately I was given birth to. He left for New York and news came later that he had died in a fatal accident. I love her so much and she is the most precious person in my life. My sole goal was to make her feel proud and happy about what her daughter was becoming.



“Okay then, we’ll meet tomorrow morning. Come to school on time so that we can read before Mrs. Olamide’s class,” she said. Raqibah also knew that I didn’t joke with my mom.



“Have you read Mr. Kola’s note? That topic is really interesting…” she trailed off, talking about a boring topic that we learnt yesterday.



Everyone who met us felt that we were really boring. That would be the reason we were close friends. No one understood us as much as we do.



“Ohhh...,” I said, cutting her off her long boring talk, “I was meant to attend the sisters’ weekly lecture today. It won’t be possible again,” I said solemnly.



“That’s okay. It isn’t deliberate. You have to take care of your mother.” Raqibah said, making me to not feel guilty about missing the sisters’ lecture for the first time.



We walked past the admin block and then I noticed a man pacing back and forth like he had lost his way. He was the kind of man that played the major role in movies; averagely-tall, dark-complexioned, cute, handsome, great stature and good poise. Gosh! Had I been staring at the stranger? No way!



Noticing that Raqibah had not noticed the handsome man who walked confusingly beside us, I started to feel guilty and stopped staring, studying the areas around; the walk-way where students sat to chat before their next lecture… the large mosque that was completed early this year… the Tantalizer eatery that rich students visited for lunch. Students took their dates to the eatery and I was rest assured that I would never step foot there. Who would ever think of taking me out on a date?



Raqibah kept talking and I could hardly hear a word. My mind was darted to the unknown man that I tried to avoid staring at.



“Hey, sisters. Please, I need your help.” Someone called and I was 100% certain that he was the one.



I turned to face the man and behold! I was in a different world. I didn’t notice Raqibah, who stood beside me, nor the mosque, the walk-way, the eatery or the people that walked past us. I was in a new world with the man; the man who unusually captivated me.



“Hi…asalamu ‘alaykum. Please, I’m looking for the Administration block,” the man said, staring at me.



I gazed at his very-smooth dark skin that was as smooth and brown like the shell of an egg. Beads of sweat formed around his forehead and they made him look more adorable. For once, I wished that I was the sweat, lying freely on his forehead. He wore dark sunglasses and I wished that I could see his eyes… how captivating they would be! He wore a tight-fitting shirt and black-jean trousers. The sleeve of his shirt was so tight that I imagined that his arms would rip out off them.

“Hello…excuse me…” the man continued and I watched the way his light-pink lips twitched when he talked. They displayed a nice set of white-sparkling teeth.



Raqibah nudged me and then, I drifted back into consciousness. I was finally in the real world with the man. “Oh…what did you say?”



“I was asking of the Administration block,” he said and I could hardly concentrate again.



His strong-masculine voice sounded like music in my ears.



“Oh…its right there,” I pointed at the large building that was just a stone-throw from where we stood.



“Alright, thanks so much. What’s your name please?”



“Um…Fareedah,” I replied, smiling awkwardly.



“Nice name. I’m Najib. Can I still meet anyone by this time?”



“No, you’ll have to come back tomorrow,” Raqibah replied.



“Okay, thank you. What is your own name?”



“Raqibah,” she smiled and I felt jealous all of a sudden.



“Thank you for your time ladies, I really appreciate,” he said, grinning from ear to ear.



Raqibah and I flashed our brightest smile and continued to walk down the path, hardly identifying our way.



We had just walked five steps away from Najib when he called. “Fareedah, do you mind if I drop both of you off?”



I smiled in return; satisfied that he had called my name first.

***

Najib drove his red-coloured Camry and I sat beside him, watching the movement of his lips as he talked earnestly as he talked about his sister. His sister, Fauziyyah, who was in her first year in the university had been missing for days now.



“She is studying political science and she has never been serious. Fauziyyah never liked school. She wants to become an artist and our parents want more for her. She hardly made a third-class last semester. I know the stress I passed through in making her study in the university,” he said and for a moment, I felt that his moistened eyes would bring out tears.



“I’m so sorry Najib. I believe she’ll change soon,” I said, comforting him.



How could I feel so comfortable talking to a stranger I had met in less than an hour?



“You don’t have to be. I’m her guardian and it’s my duty to make sure that she is safe and responsible,” he replied, facing the busy road and horning at a reckless okada rider that crossed his path.



“How about your parents?”



“They are both in Canada. My sister and I are the only in Nigeria. Now you see why I’m like a mother and father to her.”



I nodded my head and faced the road, watching as a couple stood beside each other, waiting for a taxi. Why hadn’t I thought about love before now?

“Fareedah, what is your course of study?”



“Medicine,” I said, proudly.

....to be continued.
A/N: Yay!!! We have a new novel series. Lets cheers with chilled zobo! Stay tuned, I promise, it will be fun.💗💖💕💃💓

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