Wednesday, 5 December 2018

The Precious Figure (Chapter Fourteen)



The examination period was filled with incessant and frantic activities. I had spent the last two weeks, reading effortlessly and writing my exams with the determination to get the best grades.

Okay. Confession time: I couldn’t do without listening to Najib’s voice. There were periods that I would read for ten minutes and spend the next two hours talking and laughing on the phone with him. However, for the past three days, our call hadn’t lasted long and there had been no chats or text messages. At first, I thought that he wanted to give me a break so that I would study well, but he confessed some few days after that he had his daily workload in his office had been overwhelming.

Yesterday, we spoke for barely three minutes and he hung up the call without calling back. Exams were over and I was eager to spend more time with him. An idea struck my mind when I opened a novel to read after breakfast. I had never gotten the opportunity to visit Najib in his office. Even when I suggested to him, he waved his hands nonchalantly and muttered a reply that said it wasn’t necessary.

‘What if I make his favourite food and pay him a surprise visit?’ I grinned at myself as I stood up and headed for the kitchen.

I was walking with a doleful look, wondering why Najib would be engrossed with work in the same period when I had just completed my exams. We would have had a swell time together!

I hummed the lyrics of Bruno Mars’ When I Was Your Man; the music that I had listened to a countless number of times in Najib’s car. My lips twitched into a smile as I imagined the triumphant look on Najib’s face when I show up with a large cooler, filled with amala and efo riro; his favourite. I knew that it would lessen the work tension and revive our spark again. Our great love that was scarce to see. I had once suggested to Najib that we should share a YouTube video with the caption ‘The best love story in Nigeria.’ I was lying on his laps and laughing between mouthfuls of suya. A large collection of suya laid in the newspaper wrap and we munched the peppery grilled meat one after the other.

“You’re a dreamer chocolate,” Najib had said, laughing uncontrollably and tickling my hands till I spilled the meat in my mouth without control.

I grinned like a Cheshire cat, picturing Najib’s face and the way the corner of his lips creased whenever he smiled. It was a lovely sight to stare at. I would always fantasize spending all day, staring at Najib’s face. He was the most handsome man I’d ever set my eyes on. His twinkling eyes were beautiful and magnificent. His soft-luscious lips could be tempting to stare at. You would almost run the risk of brushing your lips against it...

“Fareedah...concentrate,” I soliloquized, reaching for my phone and playing Bruno Mars’ Marry You. It was one of Najib’s favourite songs. He would sing it while driving, stealing lovely glances at me and pointing a finger at me when it got to ‘I think I wanna marry you’ part. We could just get married immediately and start a new family...and I’d become Najib’s wife...then we’d tell the world how we met and fell in love...

“Fareedah, concentrate!” I said to myself again as I reached for seasoning cubes and salt in the shelf. Minutes later, I was engrossed in cooking but I still couldn’t fight the picture of Najib’s face that clogged my thought.

After making the meal, I packed a large quantity (I knew Najib wouldn’t be able to complete half of it) in a cooler and returned to my room to change into a nice outfit.

I was wearing my silver earrings when Raqibah barged into my room, squealing in delight and sweating; her body reeking of a slight bad perspiration and the mixture of light cologne. It smelt like stale urine. I had no idea that someone had entered the house. Mom would be very exasperated if she found out that I had left front door unlocked again.

My body shivered in fear and anxiety, but I re-gained my composure when I discovered that it wasn’t a thief...but my best friend.  

What is it oo? You just commot from zoo? Why you dey pant like this na?” I inquired in a mocking tone.

Raqibah was always full of wonders. I wondered what could have happened; Did she just get access to a book she had been striving to possess?

“Someone just proposed to me!” she screamed with a frisson of excitement.

My special earrings dropped to the floor in shock and bewilderment. ‘It can’t be possible...probably one of her pranks.’

“Stop all this yeye play jhoor. Be serious oo.” I chortled in amusement.

“I’m serious oo. Someone just proposed....like proposed...I love you...will you marry me...” She was saying out of breath and her face was dripping sweat to my carpeted floor.

It was real...Raqibah was serious...I could see the seriousness in her eyes. Raqibah couldn’t hold a joke for long without bursting out in laughter.

“Really? Who? Who’s the lucky man???” I asked hesitantly.

 “Munib! He just proposed to me!!!”

The smile on my face faded instantly. I was gobsmacked. Munib? Okay...that’s fine. Really? Fine? No way! It can’t be fine. Munib was our course mate, who sat in the second row. He was also a bibliophile and the third best student in our department. Munib was very dark in complexion and was slightly shorter than Raqibah. He wore three pairs of trousers every week and had two shirts. We could predict what he would be wearing the next day and yes, we were always right (the blue shirt and faded-black trouser on Mondays and the white shirt and blue trouser on Tuesdays. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, he would repeat his outfit of Mondays and Tuesdays and wear his faded caftan and cap on Fridays). Munib wasn’t in anyway perfect and he was our course mate!

Raqibah was squealing again. “Can’t you imagine? He said that I’m the most beautiful woman he had ever set his eyes on!” she was beaming with happiness and joy.

I tried to hide my disappointment because Raqibah was obviously happy...and that was what mattered.

I feigned surprise and excitement. “Wow, and you said yes?”

“Of course! The feeling is mutual...and it has been on for some time now. We study together sometimes and discuss in the library. We couldn’t hide the deep feeling we share...so he proposed.” She grinned triumphantly.

I pulled her into a hug. “Congratulations. I’m happy for you.” My face was plastered in a terrified rictus.

“Thank you, bestie. Are you going somewhere?”

“Yes. I want to pay Najib a surprise visit at work...and I made his favourite!” I smiled wistfully.

“That’s great. You know, I wish that Munib was as perfect as Najib...”

“No relationship is perfect, Raqibah. I have to leave now.” I said, taking my bag from the bed.

“I’ll just remain here and boil rice to eat with the efo riro.” Raqibah was saying as she removed her clothes.  “My regards to Najib.”

“Okay. See ya later.” I waved at her and walked out of the house.
***
Technair building was larger than I had imagined. It was a three-storey building with transparent glasses and a huge gold-plated logo that read TECHNAIR. Courtesy to the transparent glass, I could see swarms of employees at their desk space; typing away, sipping from cups of coffee, walking and talking in a formal way...I tried to see if I could spot Najib from afar but the view was a bit blurry.

I silently prayed that no undue security protocols would arise at the gate or my surprise would be ruined. Several brands and models of cars were parked in the large compound, such that no one else could occupy another space for the smallest of cars. I could have recognised Najib’s red Mercedes-Benz car but the cars were too numerous to start studying one by one.

I entered through the glass door, the air-conditioned room giving me a grand welcome. People were walking and talking briskly in a formal way, while some people laughed and walked out of the building. It was obvious that they were leaving for lunch.

The men wore black trousers and a classy suit and the women dressed lovingly; wearing expensive weave-on, high-stiletto shoes, suede jackets, and red-bold lipstick. I grew jealous, knowing that these women would in no way or the other come in contact with Najib.

No wonder he wanted me to use a scarf!

“Hi.” I smiled at the receptionist who had just ended a call with the telecom on her desk. “I want to see someone.”

Her eyelids were thickened with eyeliner and the cornrows on her head were glittering. I imagined her applying Shea butter on it every morning before leaving for work. She smiled back sweetly. “Yes please, who do you want to see?” her voice was sweet as the nightingale and I instantly knew why they had employed her as the front-desk receptionist.

“Najib Aliyu.”

“Do you have an appointment with him?”

“No, I don’t.”

“Okay...I’ll inform him that...”

“Fareedah... Fareedah Adams.”

“Thank you...that Fareedah Adams is here to see him. Kindly have a seat while I put a call to him.”

“Thank you.” I walked to the nearest seat and scanned the areas of the large reception.

I could hear the faint sound of her voice. “A Fareedah...ok...you’re...alr...I’ll tell her...”

“Mr. Najib said that he will be with you shortly,” she smiled at me.

“Thanks,” I smiled back, wondering whether her cheeks did not hurt by over-smiling. Because my face was already hurting!

I could imagine the charming look on Najib’s face when he sees me...and when he realises that I made his favourite.

While waiting for him, I read our previous messages. I muffled laughter when I read the message where he called me a potato. I had promised to give him a knock on his head when we see again.

I lifted my eyes to see Najib sauntering towards me. He was putting on  a white-starched shirt and a tight black trousers (I could practically see the shape of his legs). I smiled at him but he didn’t return my smile. Instead, he furrowed his eyebrows as he strode towards me. “What are you doing here?” he gave me a death stare.

It was so rude. No greetings...no smiles and warm welcome. I was visiting his office for the first time and all he could say was, ‘What are you doing here?’

“I decided to pay you a surprise visit since you’ve been very busy...and I brought you lunch...efo riro and amala with ogunfe!” I winked at him, definite that hearing his favourite would make him feel better (Yes, I knew that work stress could be overwhelming).

Najib was looking daggers at me. “I’ve had lunch.” He replied brusquely.

My heart sunk instantly. “Alright. You can still...”

“What else do you want Fareedah?” he raised his voice harshly and he was staring at me in a repugnant way.

Fareedah? The same person you call chocolate? That you’ve promised to give her all of your heart?

“I thought we could...”

“Since you have nothing meaningful to say, excuse me.” He blurted, scowling and storming out of my presence. Without a goodbye!

I could hardly breathe. Tears stung my eyes as I watched him leave my presence. I was crestfallen. I held the tip of the wide chair for support. Wasn’t he the same Najib that would tell me the sweetest things and smile breathtakingly? Wasn’t he the one that captured my heart?

‘Fareedah...don’t be too quick to judge. Najib is not this way and you know that. He’s definitely stressed from work. He’ll get over it.’I thought as I turned towards to the receptionist who stared at me with pitiful eyes.

‘Don’t get all pitiful. We’re engaged and we love ourselves.’I thought, wishing I could spit that to the receptionist’s face.

But I decided that I wouldn’t transfer my aggression to an innocent soul. I tightened my hands around the cooler and walked out of the building.

Just as I left Technair building, I met Moyo at the entrance with two ladies. They were laughing and gossiping in hush whispers. I was certain that it was their method of having fun during their lunch period.

She was putting on an A-cut white and black striped trousers and a very tight black blazer that almost ripped her body off. “What are you doing here?” she glared at me.

The other ladies, wondering who I was had turned to give me black looks, just like their friend had done.

“And how is that your business?” I rolled my eyes at her.

I was downcast and furious; another irritation from Moyo or anyone would turn me to a spit-fire. I had witnessed enough drama for the day. Moyo shouldn’t add to them.

She roared with laughter and mimicked what I had said. “Who’s giving this one confidence sef? See how she dress like pepper seller.” She said wryly, glaring at me from up to down.

I was almost crying but I decided to comport myself or I’d make a mockery of myself before leaving.

Then the latest news would be, ‘Fareedah, Najib’s fiancée, disgraced herself by crying in public because his former lover made a jest of her.’

‘God forbid.’ I muttered as I started to walk away but Moyo pulled me back.

Be deceiving yourself ehn!. You don’t know that you’re so-called Najib is engaged to someone else. You better goan find one alfa to marry.” Moyo sneered at me and her friends joined in making a mockery laugh.

“Those ones with unruly beards and short trousers that dangle around their legs,” one of her friends ridiculed and they all broke into a staccato of laughter.

I hurried out of the compound with my face, filled to the brim with tears. I flagged a taxi on the road and hopped into the rickety- black faded taxi without asking the old driver with three tribal marks at both cheeks for the fare. I rested my head and watched the path that the car was passing.  A while later, I buried my face in my hijab and cried profusely.

Aa ti de junction oo,” the driver yelled at me.

I raised my head in a startling way and squeezed the hundred naira note into his scarred palm. As I got down, I could hear the driver murmuring in Yoruba, condemning the 21st-century women that would give all of their heart to a man (If only he could understand what had happened!)

I dabbed at my eyes with a handkerchief, cleaned my misty face with my hijab and wore the dark sunglasses that Najib had bought last month for me. This was to avoid stares from the people on the street.

When I returned home, I was glad that Raqibah had left and my mom had not returned from the shop. I buried my face in the pillow and soaked it with tears. I wanted to pretend that it was all a dream...that Najib didn’t glare at me with palpable disdain...that he didn’t walk out on me and stared at me like I was refuse bin...I wanted it all to be a dream but it wasn’t. It was real!

A/N: Heyy readers! I sincerely apologise for the late update (to those I promised an update yesterday). This week's workload has been overwhelming...but, we have a new episode!!!
Two significant events occurred in this episode:
1. Raqibah finally finds her heart desire...even though Fareedah is not pleased with her choice.
2. Najib turns into a monster and displays an unusual attitude.
What are your thoughts? Could the work stress cause this strange behaviour...or do you think Moyo is right?
Happy reading!!!💕💕

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5 comments:

  1. Twist.
    Allah alone should be our only Hope.
    Never give up your ideology for anything.....

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very true sis. May ALlaah guide us always.

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  3. I almost cried, well it's one of those things that happens, but the best thing is just to put one's trust on God. Waiting for the next episode.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're very correct, we should all put our trust in God.

      Thanks for reading 😘

      Delete
  4. I almost cried, well it's one of those things that happens, but the best thing is just to put one's trust on God. Waiting for the next episode.

    ReplyDelete