Friday, 16 November 2018

The Precious Figure (Episode Eleven)





Moyo looked up distractedly and a shocked expression engulfed her face. She stared at Najib and then goggled resentfully at me with utter disbelief. She leered at me in a repugnant way from head to toe.

My mortified face was sweat-filled and I could feel the dripping of sweat from my armpit. My legs felt wobbly and my feet hurt badly. Despite the odd situation that I was in, what I really wanted was to remove the heels and pull off tight jumpsuit. I was still wondering what Najib stood to gain when he cleared his throat.

“Moyo, this is Fareedah, the love of my life.” Najib smirked.

It took a minute for Moyo to process what he had just said. She gaped at me, and then stifled laughter.

“You don’t mean it, Najib. She is the love of your life?” she rolled at her eyes and stared at my wobbly legs.

Truth was, I still wasn’t used to wearing high-heeled shoes and the over-tight jumpsuit had made me pull my hands down my legs repeatedly, to reduce the way I felt choked.

“Yes, what’s wrong with her?” Najib too gawked at me like I was someone that needed re-assessment.

“She’s definitely not your type. How can there be a spark in your relationship? She will definitely not fondle you the way I do. I’m sure you’re restricted from touching her.” She laughed and then scowled at us. “You just entered a boring relationship Najib. Congratulations.” She rolled her eyes and walked out on us, her pointed heels clacking on the tiled floor.

I could hardly believe it! Was this the surprise? Najib had brought me here to spite his ex-lover?

“I’m leaving this second!” I yelled, walking furiously to the changing room. I pulled the jumpsuit away, almost ripping it off.

I changed into my former dress, wore a flat camisole and heaved a euphoric sigh of relief as I walked out of the room. I could feel a wave of fresh air touching my skin. Najib was standing beside the room, his hands over his face. The bags of dresses and shoes were lying on the floor and his face clearly depicted that he was worried.

“Let’s check that section...”

I walked out on him before he could complete his statement. I stormed out of the building and stood by the roadside, waving my hands to flag a taxi. The sun was searing and I was not willing to enter a creaky-rickety taxi that was filled with the hot air. I really wanted to be seated in Najib’s air-conditioned car but I had to make him beg me.

“Please chocolate, let me drop you at home.” Najib had worn his dark-glasses and he was almost kneeling on the blistering floor.

“No,” I said, keeping a straight face and facing the road.

“I know you’re angry, but let me drop you at home till we sort out our issues. I wouldn’t want you to face the stress of transporting yourself home under this scorching sun. I was the one that brought you here...it’s my responsibility to take you back home. Please, Fareedah...let’s go.” The bags filled his hands and he staggered to prevent them from falling to the ground.

“Okay.” I walked briskly to the car and entered without waiting for his usual act of chivalry.

I waited for him to start the car and started to process how to confront him. It was time to hear the truth from him.

“You brought me here to spite your ex right? It was intentional, wasn’t it?”

“Yes,” Najib replied in affirmative.

My heart plummeted. I could feel the throbbing in my chest. I knew that would be the case but a part of me wanted to get it all wrong.

Maybe Najib had coincidentally seen his ex, then decided to show off his new lover? I really wanted it to be the case but he had just proven that it was actually deliberate.

He continued, “You know how hurt I felt when I realized that she had been cheating on me? I wanted to show her that I’ve moved on...and met someone better...and fallen in love.” He was grinding his teeth furiously and I stared at him in bewilderment.

I was glad to see another part of Najib. It was finally clear that he wasn’t cheerful and happy all the time. He wasn’t as perfect as I had imagined.

“Our relationship...is it all for revenge? Do you really love me as you claim?”

Najib turned his gaze from the road and stared at me beadily. “I love you, Fareedah.”

“Why did you grab my hands without my consent?” I retorted sulkily.

“I’m sorry,” he muttered. “But why can’t I touch you? I just held your hands,” he deadpanned.

“It is not right to come in contact with me. Seriously Najib, I can’t believe that you’ll disgrace me this way in public.” I frowned, recalling the way that Moyo had stared at me and said those hurting words.

“I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have done this in the first place. Now, I regret all of it.”

I didn’t respond to his plea. I turned sideways and looked out of the window, watching as passersby walked on various paths.

I couldn’t think. I didn’t even want to think of anything. All I wanted was to get to my room and reach for a cold shower. The day I had thought would turn out perfect, started great but ended in the wrong way.

Najib pulled into our street. I arranged my belongings as he was parking in front of our gate. I opened the door and took the bags at the backseat.

If that would be the last of our relationship, I would at least take them as the reward from the relationship (more so, the clothes, bags, and shoes were very beautiful and expensive).

“Chocolate?” Najib called.

I did not respond. I was walking into the compound with full hands. I didn’t turn back but I could hear the sound of the zoom of the car as I was entering the compound.

I made a loud shuddering sigh as I entered the house. My mom was, as usual, seated on the couch, reading one of Yasmin Mogahed’s books (she read a lot!). I greeted her briskly and hurried to my room before she got the chance to ask me how my day went (she had the special gift of spotting my mood in an instant).

“Ahhh!” A sudden sound in my room startled me. I widened my eyes, noticing the room’s untidiness. Raqibah was on my bed, chewing on my bar of chocolate and gulping from a cup of fruit juice. She was putting on my red robe and my bed that I had left well-spread this morning had turned rumpled and was looking like an area in Oja-oba market. Clothes and books were littered on the floor. I widened my eyes in shock, wondering why I had chosen to give Raqibah the key to my room.

“You’re back! How did it go?” she grinned at me with chocolate-stained teeth. “I didn’t expect you so soon. I thought you’ll be spending the whole day with him.”

I flopped on the bed. My mind started to recall all that had occurred and my eyes turned misty.

“What happened? Tell me everything.”

I was crying as I narrated all that had transpired at the boutique. I completed my story, expecting Raqibah to become furious and blame Najib. Instead, she poured more fruit juice into the glass cup and sipped from it. “Didn’t he apologise?” she asked wryly.

“So?” I furrowed my eyebrows in anger.

“Why don’t you see it from a different perspective? He wanted to show his former lover that he has found someone better; which is you. He truly loves you and has been apologising. What else do you want...whoa! Did he buy you all these? Oh my gosh!” Raqibah was squealing in delight as she reached for the bags and started to pull out the contents one by one.

Maybe she wasn’t the right person to talk to...but who else? Oh, my mom had never liked Najib. She would be glad if I tell her what had happened.

I left the triumphant Raqibah who was busy making the ‘awww...wow...gosh’ sounds as she was rummaging through the bags. I entered the bathroom to have a cold shower; maybe that would make me see what happened today in a different perspective...just like Raqibah had said.
***
It was 4:30 am in the morning. I was at the corner of my room; on my praying mat, bowing my head in prayers and reaching for the tranquillity that I had lost...praying to Allah at the early part of the morning, praising His name, appreciating the countless bounties He has showered upon me and requesting for the fulfillment of my needs.

If it was to be on a normal morning, I would be in a deep conversation with Najib, talking earnestly and laughing at the sweet words that he would sing to my ears. I had turned off my phone and there I was, finding peace and solace again.

Maybe my mom was right. Several things in my life had changed since I met Najib. He had made me see myself as being too religious. I had reduced my supererogatory acts and even reduced the length of my hijab! I wasn’t reading like I used to and grades were diminishing simultaneously.

I reached for the Qur’an and read some verses aloud:
"Say thou "O Our Apostle Muhammad!" unto the believing men that they cast down their gaze and guard their private parts; that is pure for them; Verily God is All­ Aware of what "all" ye do. And say unto the believing women that they lower their gaze and guard their private parts..." (Qur’an, 24:30, 31).
"... and display not your finery like the display of the ignorance of yore..." (Qur’an, 33:33). "... and they display not their adornment save what is apparent of it; and to draw their veils over their bosoms..." (Qur’an, 24:31).
"O "Our" Prophet "Muhammad"! say thou unto thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers that they let down upon them their cover garments..." (Qur’an, 33:59).
***

“You better be careful.” My mom muttered as I was leaving for lectures in the morning. I was putting on one of the gowns that Najib had bought (a glistening emerald gown). My mom was shredding pumpkin leaves as she was watching the news headline on the TV.

“Careful?”

“I overheard your conversation with Raqibah yesterday. I want you to sit down and reflect. What have you gained from this relationship? What have you lost?”

I placed with the hands of my bag guiltily. “I will, mom. JazakaLlahu khayrah for your care.”

“Waiyyakum...and we’re not poor. We can afford all he’s buying for you. Don’t feel too priviledged to receive all these from him.” My mom advised.

“Thanks, mom. I should be on your way. Bye...have a nice day!”

“You too, my love.” She waved at me.

I walked to the street and reached for my bag, to check my phone that had been buzzing since I switched it on thirty minutes earlier. I had 50 unread messages and 6 missed calls...all from Najib!

“Fareedah!” Mustapha was running towards me.

He was putting on an over-sized white shirt and black trousers. His backpack was, as usual, slung across his right shoulder. ‘Asalamu ‘Alaykum.” He smiled at me as he greeted.

“Wa’Alaykumu Salam. How are you?”

“I’m fine. You’re on your way to school?”

“Yes, I am. Can we walk together?” he requested with gleeful eyes.

“Of course.” I turned my phone to silent mode and returned it to the bag.

I later discovered that Mustapha was studying chemical engineering.  He discussed his life to me, in a way that I felt that we had known each other for long.

When we got to the usual spot where Raqibah usually waited for me, I waved at him and walked towards the tree shade, where she was standing. Raqibah almost turned blue as she watched us together. I observed how she managed to comport herself when I reached where she was. “Are we good to go?”

“Yes, we are.” I cheered and she smiled in return.

I had slightly thought of leaving Najib for Mustapha, but I would never do so because of my best friend. What if she hasn’t really gotten over him?

“Have you read Paulo Coelho’s The Spy?” Raqibah asked, and immediately followed up with a review of the book.

I knew that she was trying to release the tension that she had felt when she saw Mustapha. She asked of Najib and I told her how I had been ignoring his calls and messages since in the morning.

We arrived at our lecture room five minutes later and occupied our usual seat. Dr. Chinonso arrived some few minutes later and started his expected boring lecture.

I was yawning loudly and jotting down the points that he was saying when Raqibah nudged my right arm.

“Huh?” I said absent-mindedly.

“Look.” I raised my head and shock gripped me when I saw the person standing just at the front of the lecture room, holding a bouquet of pink flowers.

A/N: What are your thoughts on this episode? xoxo💞

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