Wednesday, 7 November 2018

The Precious Figure (Episode Nine)



Every morning, I wake up with a deep smile on my face. I smiled, knowing that I was in love with Najib as much as he was with me. I smiled, knowing that I’d have received a message from him, confessing how incomplete his life is without me and how I am the air that he breathes. I smiled knowing that every single morning I wake up is a day gone by, reducing the days left for Najib to return.

It was two weeks; two weeks after Najib and I officially started a relationship and when he travelled to Abuja for a summit. When I pulled the cover off my body this morning, I stretched my arms wide and smiled extraordinarily because Najib would finally return to Kwara.

When I had walked to the living room to pray with my mom and start making breakfast, I had noticed how she tried to pretend like she wasn’t staring at me but I knew she was. I could see her through my side view, knowing that she would be wondering why I had a plastered smile on my face.

It was a Friday and a lecture-free day (for the first time, Mrs. Lanre had missed her lecture because she had to travel to her hometown for her daughter’s wedding). It meant that I had the whole day to relax and fantasize about Najib, imagining what his surprise would be. I had decided to make a great breakfast (fried rice and chicken) since there was no hurry to get to school on time.

The aroma of the boiling chicken on the fire wafted the kitchen as I shredded onion and diced the green peas on the chopping board. I was waiting with bated breath to see Najib again...after two weeks (what’s that? 7x2 =14 days).

“Fareedah, are you with a hijab? Come and check who is knocking at the door.” My mom called from the living room.

I turned towards the entrance kitchen to notice my long khimar hanging by the door; the one I had used to pray in the morning. I hurriedly wore the khimar and left the kitchen, wondering who would visit that early.

My heart juddered in my chest at the thought of Najib but I doubted that. I knew that he wouldn’t show up at the door without pre-informing him. I trusted him that much!

My mom was sitting on a couch, reading the news headline from her iPad. She wore rimless eyeglasses that rested them on her nasal bridge.

I jostled to the door and opened with wet hands, smelling of onion and cabbage. “Hi. Good morning.” The sharp voice of young, tall man light-years older than me greeted me as I opened the door.

He was putting on a blue shirt and trousers and was carrying a bouquet of red flowers. It was at that instant that I guessed what would be ensuing.

“Mr. Najib Fawad sent these to you.” He smiled at me, holding the packet of flowers.

I was speechless. I didn’t expect it...it was one of those gestures that would make your heart throb in excitement.

“Thank you.” I smiled at him, signing in a register and returning to the living room a minute later.

My mom’s eyes were raised and she gaped at me as I entered the house, then she started to peer at the flowers that I was holding.

“Who sent those?” she adjusted her glasses and scrunched up her face.

“It’s Najib.”

“He knows where you live?”

I stared at my mom unbelievably. “He has dropped me home twice. It’s not like I have invited him into the house.”

My mom rubbed her weary eyes and stared at me blearily and guiltily. “I guess it’s not just about not liking this Najib of a man. I think it is because I’m seeing you in a relationship for the first time and it’s all strange...sharing your love for me with someone else.” My mom said sympathetically.

“Mom, I’ll not share your love with anyone else. You have a special place in my heart, a place that no one else can occupy.” I assured her.

“Okay love, I believe you. Will you assist me in the shop today? Munirah travelled to her village yesterday and I’d need a helping hand.” My mom rubbed her thumb over the screen of her iPad as she was talking.

I exhaled deeply before replying, “I need to visit Raqibah today. There’s an assignment that we need to tackle together.”

Yes, I lied. But I can never tell if Najib wanted to see me immediately he returned...or if he was just by the corner of my street, waiting to take me out.

“Okay then.” My mom replied brusquely, returning her gaze to her iPad.

I was walking to the kitchen when my mom turned again. “Don’t you think he’s been too nice?
First, you spend hours on the phone with him every day, talking and laughing. Now you’re receiving flowers from him?”

“I’ve always been a decent and modest woman. Despite seeing my peers performing all sort of illicit acts, I have decided to remain steadfast and guard my chastity. This is the reward. Don’t I deserve better than this?” I stared at my mom with knitted brows.

“You do, my daughter.”

“Okay, I’ll go check the chicken before it gets burnt,” I replied, walking briskly to the kitchen before she stopped me again.

I quietly closed the kitchen door and rummaged through the package. There was a paper folded in a flowery envelope. I opened it with a smile on my face, reading:

Hey, chocolate...I mean love...yes, chocolate love. Whatever. You’re both of them. You’re the chocolate I always dream of having and the love of my life.

Truth be told...the two weeks was a miserable one because I couldn’t see your face and smile, and your bright eyes that light up like the stars. Yes, we did a couple of video calls and talked for hours each day, but that is nothing compared to having you by my side.

I’m currently at the airport, awaiting my flight to Ilorin but I have to stop by the office to finalise some issues. That means we’ll be seeing tomorrow and we can have the whole day together!

Can’t wait to see you chocolate love. I love you way more than you can ever imagine!

Your love,
Najib💕💕
I yelled in delight as I finished reading the content of the letter. There was also a large packet of chocolate beside the flowers. When the noise had aroused suspicion and my mom asked what had happened, I told her that everything was fine.

But everything wasn’t fine. I was in love with the best man on the planet earth and my life has never been this perfect till today. Okay, I may be very insincere to my mom and may be losing my best friend because of Najib, but gosh...I was in love with the man that made me feel like a diamond...like the most beautiful woman. What more was there to ask?
***

While having breakfast, I thought of Raqibah and the need to confront her for ignoring me for two good weeks. I had called her the day after Najib’s proposal and told her what had happened the day before. Raqibah replied with a gruff ‘hmm...okay’ and hung up the call. She had avoided me since then...avoiding my calls and going to the library alone.

‘Why not use this opportunity to visit her and know what’s wrong?’ I thought, biting a huge lump of flesh from my chicken drumstick.

Twenty minutes later, I had dressed up to pay Raqibah a surprise visit. I prayed that she wouldn’t have gone to the library because Raqibah hardly spends time at home. Her real home was the library.

My mom was still having her bath when I was leaving and so I surreptitiously slipped from the house and walked downstairs to enter an okada to Raqibah’s house. Raqibah’s house was thirty minutes by car and will take fifteen minutes with an okada.

So within fifteen minutes, I was standing under the scorching-Ilorin sun that made me imagine that my brain was frying like the chicken in the sizzling oil this morning. I knocked the black gate several times before the childish voice of ‘Who’s there?’ resounded from the compound.
I grinned, knowing fully well that it was Raqibah’s younger brother, Jamal running towards the gate.

“Who is it?” he asked again as he leaned closer to the gate.

I chuckled and replied, “Sister Fareedah,” mimicking him with a squeaky voice.

“Yayyy,” he cheered, opening the gate with a hurry and pulling me into a big hug.

Jamal is a lovely young boy of five years; the only sane person in Raqibah’s family (you’ll soon understand why I say so).

“How are you, my love?” I caressed his curly dark hair.

“I’m fine. Aunty Fareedah, it’s been long you visited. Aunty Raqibah doesn’t like to play with me,” he pouted his lips.

“Don’t mind her ehnn...I’ll talk to her okay?”

“Okay, aunty.” He held my hand and we walked to the veranda, where Raqibah’s father was buried in a book.

Raqibah’s father is a professor and a retired lecturer of Biochemistry from the University of Ilorin. There was hardly a day I visited, without seeing him reading a book. Raqibah had once confessed that she had desired to read nursing but her father had convinced her to study medicine.

“Fareedah, how are you? How is studies?” Raqibah’s father grinned at me, displaying his yellow-stained-crooked teeth. He looked very dark and old and his body was skinny and frail. Silver hair had filled his head and there were times that I would wonder exactly what age he was.

“Fine, father. Good afternoo...”

“How is reading? How many textbooks have you read this semester?” he asked with vivid eyes.

Like I said earlier, Raqibah’s family is very strange and my only prayer is that the only exception in their family (Jamal) does not turn out like them when he grows older.

“Well...” I licked my lips and passed time by staring at the sandy floor, composed of turfs and old-rusty metal pieces of equipment that should be trashed away.

“Fareedah! What are you doing here?” Raqibah came out looking morose, worn and weary. She was putting on a short singlet and shorts, and I noticed that her face had more pimples and dark spot.

“Really? You’re asking me that question?” I glared at her with arched brows.

“Raqibah has been acting weird for some time now. It’s affecting her reading hours. I hope you’ll be able to effect solutions to what is wrong with her.” Her father said and I nodded in return.

“Let’s go inside. I need to drink cold water.” I said nonchalantly, pretending like I didn’t notice Raqibah odd look.

“I’ll get you water that will make your teeth shiver.” Jamal was laughing and I joined, giving him the freedom to tug me away.

Jamal and I were in the kitchen and I sipped from the glass cup while sitting on a chair and I was narrating a fictional children story that I had formulated in my head.

Raqibah appeared by the door with her hands crossed around her chest. “Seriously Fareedah, what are you doing here? You didn’t tell me that you would be coming.”

I dropped the cup on the cupboard and glared at her. “When did you become like this?”

I could see Raqibah’s eyes moisten but she tried to cover them with her hands. “Let’s go to my room.”

A few seconds later, we were walking to her room and I was trailing behind her. “How is your mom?” I tried to initiate a conversation.

“She travelled to Ghana to meet with a marketer. She would be back before the end of the week,” she replied.

Another strange aspect of Raqibah’s family was that her mother was a herbalist (I mean a dealer in medicinal herbs).
The living room’s wall was filled with pictures of quotes of famous and prolific writers. There were two large-sized rooms composed of shelves, arranged with books of different colours and sizes. Raqibah opened the door and we entered her stuffy room that had unfolded clothes littered at different corners.

She slumped on her bed and lowered her head. “I know you’ll start with this ‘how are you friend’ approach but I’m really fine. Don’t mind what my father said.” Raqibah waved her hand nonchalantly.

“No, you aren’t. I didn’t have to hear that from your father to know that you’re not fine. You are apparently not fine.” I retorted sulkily.

“Okay...I’m not fine, but I will be fine,” Raqibah muttered.

“When?” I asked, staring at her.

Suddenly, tears began to stream down her face and I hurried to sit beside her. It was really shocking. Raqibah had always been the strong woman without any show of emotion.

When I cried after failing Dr. Paul’s test, Raqibah didn’t cry even though she did fail too. She, in fact, gave me hope of how I can still struggle to make an A in the course. When I cried after almost missing an exam on a rainy day (we were together), Raqibah was the one encouraging me to not lose hope in making it to the examination hall on time. When did she suddenly change?

“I don’t know.” She muttered, pulling away from me and staring at the ceilings as if they fascinated her.

“How can I be of help?”

“You can’t...you just wouldn’t understand. I want to be alone, Fareedah. I need some time alone to clear my thoughts and focus on my studies.” She said as she faltered to her wardrobe corner, just to avoid my gaze.

“I know why you’re not fine,” I blurted, giving her a shrewd look.

Raqibah turned immediately to give me a mistrustful look. “You do?”

“We were together and Najib chose me. You are jealous, Raqibah.”

Raqibah fell to the ground and broke down into tears. It took me to five minutes to make her calm down. “I’ve never felt loved before...even from my family,” she said in a galloping way, caused by consistent sobbing.

“Don’t say that,” I tried to mollify her.

“No, Fareedah. It’s the truth. I’m not just jealous because you got Najib and I didn’t. I’m jealous because you’re beautiful...and you have a loving mother. Najib likes you and Mustapha does too.”

“Mustapha?”

“Yes, Mustapha. He has always liked you... since two years ago.”

I quirked my eyebrows in confusion. “How come I’m just knowing that?” I stared at her, completely agog.

Mustapha only approached me three weeks ago and it was the first time that I was seeing him. I wouldn’t have an idea that we lived on the same street if he hadn’t told me. How come Raqibah had known that he liked me since two years ago?”

Raqibah walked slowly and squatted in front of me. I stared at her wide eyes that had turned red due to her persistent crying. Her face was now very clear and evident; there were big bags around her eyes and they had grown black and puffy. The dark spots that surrounded her face had started to bore holes and they looked quite scary. Some of the pimples had burst open through a forceful means and they had patches of yellow pus and red blood on them. I stared deep at the rotund lady crouching in front of me and for a moment, I wondered if I had known her at all...if I had really called her my best friend.

“I really liked Mustapha and those times you see me visiting you often, I was trying to seek his attention. It was evident that he never looked my way and so I decided to approach him. When I talked to him for the first time, Mustapha looked at me in this repugnant way, like I was from a refuse bin. He blatantly rejected my offer, saying that he loves you. It was the most embarrassing moment of my life. I cried all through the week and struggled to concentrate when reading. Well, with time...I got over him and moved on.”

My ears became hot all of a sudden. How could she have hidden that from me? “How come you never told me?”

“I was jealous...and you seemed to be more concentrated on your studies than involving in anything of the sort.” She cleaned her eyes with the hem of her blouse and returned to the bed. “Najib now appeared from nowhere and proposed to you. The handsome, loving and rich man that I’ve always dreamt of having; you have it now. You are beautiful and I’m just one shapeless lady that will never appeal to the eyes of any man. I’ve tried to starve myself just to lose weight, but it’s still the same. My father would laugh at me mockingly, saying that I’d never decrease in size because that is how my mom looks. I’m just fed up.” Raqibah covered her tear-filled face.

“Raqibah, you are beautiful. You do not have to reduce your weight to look more beautiful.” I encouraged her.

“Don’t try to make me feel better. Just take at a good look at me. Can you advise a man to take me as a wife?” she asked, standing up and twirling around. “Look at my rough face. No one would dare to stare at it.”

I stood up and held her hands. “Okay, Raqibah...you only need to take care of your body...wear nice clothes, treat your face and use deodorant,” I said matter-of-factly.

Raqibah gave a doleful look as she smelt her armpit. “I smell too?”

I tried to suppress laughter. “Sometimes.”

Raqibah’s face swelled up in frustration. “Oh no!”

“You ought to change your wardrobe. Look at last week when you wore a tattered black skirt that was roughly-sewed with yellow thread and a pair of bathroom slippers to class! You must improve on your overall look.”

“Thanks for everything, Fareedah. I’ll work on that. I’m sorry for being jealous and also hiding things from you. I promise to appreciate myself the way I am.” She pulled me into a bear hug.

“It’s okay. What are friends for?”

Raqibah suddenly pulled away from me with a dazzling and eager look on her face. “How is Najib? What have you guys been up to? Tell me everything!” she hauled me excitedly to the bed.

“Well,” I grinned broadly, remembering how elated I felt when reading the letter. “We’ve been exchanging this ‘I love you, I love you too’ message and he sends me a love message every morning. We talk for hours every day and this morning...he sent a package to my doorstep.” I smiled shyly and Raqibah was grinning with excitement.

“What?!” she said with hysteria in her voice.

“A bouquet of flowers, chocolates, and a heart-warming letter, reminding me of how special I am to him and inviting me for an outing with him tomorrow,” I said delightfully.

“Wow...that’s great. We need to effectively choose what you’ll be wearing tomorrow. I also want to shop for new clothes and cosmetics. Can we go now?”

“Yes!” I replied, watching as Raqibah hurried to her wardrobe to change into a long outfit.

When I thought Raqibah was only after performing excellently and leading the class, I had just seen a different side of her...a part that was yearning for love and attention.

A/N: Readers, do you think Fareedah has done the right thing by forgiving Raqibah and letting her into her life again? What do you think of Fareedah and Najib's relationship, does it seem too perfect?
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
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5 comments:

  1. It's good to give one another chance.Raqiban has not giving us a hint to doubt her friendship with fareedan

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  2. I think she is not really jealous but wish to be treated nice to but fareeda has a good heart towards her for giving a chance again but not revealling every thing to her and at least give her mum a hint on what's happening in her life

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  3. You're very correct. Thanks for your comment!!!

    ReplyDelete