Wednesday, 12 December 2018

The Precious Figure (Episode Fifteen)




Worry! I felt that way since I walked out of Technair building. I’ve been on tenterhooks, wondering what would be the fate of our relationship.

I spent my days staring at my phone with niggling gropes, longing to receive a text or call from Najib. I was wishing that he would express his regret and explain that he had experienced a bad day at work, which was the reason for flaring up.

It never happened. It was a week after the unfortunate incident at his workplace and he never bothered to call. Not even for once!

I made up my mind that I wouldn’t tell anyone about it; not even Raqibah. My mom oft-times asked of Najib (she had started to like him since the visit, and after he narrated his sorrowful story).

Although she noticed that I was acting a bit unusual (Desolation cannot be hidden completely), she never bothered to ask. She would probably think that we were having a little misunderstanding; just like other couples do). But this was more than a misunderstanding. Something weird had occurred and I could never tell what it was.

We had completed our exams since two weeks ago but the school management had instructed that we re-write a paper again (Evidence had it that the paper had leaked before the examination). The exam was scheduled to hold by 8:30 am. I woke up before the crack of dawn to revise my book, dabbing at my eyes and forcing words to stick in. I would read for a minute and spend the next five minutes looking vacantly at my phone and wondering what I could have done to Najib.

 ‘I’ll never forgive Najib if I don’t perform well in my examination,’ I muttered when a hand touched my right shoulder.

“Mom,” I said with husky throat, rubbing my bleary eyes and yawning groggily.

“Are you okay? You’ve been really quiet since last week.” She stared at me with sympathetic eyes.

I tried to chuckle. “I’m fine oo. Is it not this school that will make us re-write a paper that we’ve written long ago? Imagine throwing your books away and taking them back again to study.”

“I understand you. After completing your exams, you have to re-write a course again. But don’t worry...it will all be over today, okay?”

“Okay mom,” I smiled at her.

“Go take your bath. It’s almost seven. I’ve boiled yam and made egg sauce.”

“Thanks, mom. I will take my bath now.”

An hour later, we were in school, lining up for screening into the examination hall. The exam lasted for two hours and about two and a half minutes later, we were on our way to our favourite bukato have lunch.

Munib had promised to sponsor our lunch. I couldn’t help staring at Raqibah and Munib as they were smiling at each other in a loving way. Raqibah’s voice seemed lower and sweeter than it would usually sound and she was speaking more intelligently; watching the words that came forth from her mouth like they were eggs. Munib, on the other hand, was grinning from ear to ear. I wondered if his cheeks did not hurt.

We entered the cramped room that wafted onion and boiled meat. We were sauntering to the counter, to order for our food when Munib halted abruptly.

“Raqibah, take a seat. I’ll get your food. What did you say you want again?” Munib was asking her in a fondly way.

I studied the way his eyes lit as he was talking to her. The way he called her name with so much emphasis on the qafsound in RaQIbah....gosh! Am I jealous? No of course! Isn’t he the same Munib...our coursemate who possesses not more than three clothes? Okay, fine...I’m jealous.

Fine! Yes, I was. Munib might not have the money to take us to an eatery, to take Raqibah to the most expensive boutique in Ilorin, to drive an exotic car or wear classy clothes...but he had more than that. He loved Raqibah wholeheartedly; the kind of love that no amount of money could buy.

“Anything you order, Munib. I know you’ll make the best choice.” Raqibah was smiling and I was trying to control my jealousy for them.

“Okay habeebty.” He pulled a chair and cleaned it with his handkerchief. “Sit down my lady.”

“Thank you.” Raqibah was smiling breathtakingly and I knew that at that moment for her, no one existed in the room except Munib.

Even me, her best friend! I wasn’t noticeable. I had turned to an ant and have been shoved aside...or should I say stamped on? Raqibah and Munib were in a world of their own...filled with immeasurable love and affection.  

I’d been wrong. This is what love entails.
***
I spent every second of the day, getting hold of myself and fighting the urge to call or text Najib, to know what was happening to us. But I fought the urge. I had my dignity, he needed to call first! My mom had once told me about the need to maintain one’s dignity instead of falling over heels with a man.

“Your father suffered ehnn, before he got me to say yes. He almost gave up on me. You must show a man that really wants you that you’re worth more than gold. You have to make yourself valuable.” She had said that evening while we chewed mangoes and watched the sunset from the balcony.

My phone started to ring all of a sudden. I almost broke one my legs as I jostled towards the table, where the phone was laying.

‘Let it be Najib...let it be him...I’ll forgive him instantly...’I held the phone and to my disappointment, I saw a different caller.

It was Fauziyyah. I let a loud shuddering sigh as I clicked on the answer button and pulled the phone to my ear.

“Hey... Asalamu ‘Alaykum, sister Fareedah. How have you been?” Fauziyyah said in a very cheerful tone; her British accent sounding more pleasant on the phone.

“AlhamduliLlaah. Why haven’t you called since all these while? It’s not fair oo,” I responded.

“I’m really sorry sis. I’ve been out of town since we completed our exams. I’m currently in Lagos and I won’t be back anytime soon. Though, I frequently ask of you from Najib.

My heart was juddering in my chest. Najib? I cleared my throat. I would try and get details from Fauziyyah, without her knowing that Najib and I were having a rift. “I hope you’re keeping in touch with Najib?” I pretended to sound cheerful.

She laughed delightfully. “Of course, sis. Fareedah. In fact, I just finished speaking with him, before I called you. He sounds really happy these days...happier than ever. What are you giving him, to make him this cheerful? Your over-spicy jollof rice or the peppery efo riro that turned my nostrils into a river?” She said, laughing loudly.

I replied with a rueful laugh. What should I have said? That Najib was happier because he was totally ignoring the woman he had claimed to love with all of his heart?

“You know what sis, Fareedah? I’ll talk to you later. I need to be somewhere in the next hour...and you know... Lagos traffic cannot be predicted. Have fun, see ya!” she greeted and hung up the call.

I stared blankly at my phone. A picture of Najib and I (the first picture we had taken) was still on my background cover. The smiles were so real and affectionate that I wished that I could go back to the old times...the moment when he had just proposed. I would have made him promise to never neglect me, not even for the blink of an eye.

I cleaned my misty eyes and unlocked my phone. “It’s time to make this clear. I’ll send him a text. I don’t want to remain in an inconclusive relationship. If it will be over, let me know that now.” I soliloquized, going to Najib’s contact.

Reading the four-lettered word ‘Najib’ over and over again made my head to throb. Surprisingly, I found it really difficult to send him a text.

Did you really mean it when you called me chocolate? Do you ever get tired of chocolates?

I reread, shook my head and deleted. I typed something else.

Fauziyyah says that you’re happier. Really? Happier without me? How do you explain that? Didn’t you say that I’m your happiness?

No way!I erased the message and typed again...

It’s Fareedah! Yes, Fareedah. The same lady you walked out on, last week. Are you sick? Suffering from memory loss? How dare you disgrace me at your workplace?

Too harsh. I erased and started to type something else.

You know that I love you so much.  I can’t live without you...

No way!I slung my phone to the bed and placed a hand at the lower part of my head. The throbbing in my head had increased and I felt a severe headache. I hurried to the kitchen to drink water and returned to my room with a more serious look.

I picked my phone and jabbed on the keyboard with a matter-of-fact-look.

Hi, Najib. This is Fareedah because it’s possible that you’ve deleted my number. I need to know what’s really going on. You shut me out when I visited your workplace, and now you’ve refused to call or send an SMS. Are you no longer interested in this relationship? Inform me on time instead of leaving me hanging on the fence.
Thank you.
***
I couldn’t sleep. I was tossing on my bed, checking my phone every second for a new message...or call. But none was from Najib! It seemed that my heart had shattered into pieces. I was crying uncontrollably, praying that all these were all planned out, just to test my patience.
I wanted a statement like, “Chocolate, I’m sorry for making you feel this way. It was all a charade. After Moyo broke my heart, I’ve found it really hard to trust other women. I love you so much. I just want to know how patient you can be. We’re getting married and spending the rest of our lives together.”

I wished that he would just say that. I wished it was all a test!

I remembered his sweet words...he had claimed to love and cherish me. He called me his world. He said I was like chocolate to him. He said I would make him the happiest man on earth. He said that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me...and no one else.

What then happened?

My phone blinked and I hurried to read the new notification.

My phone was now my best companion...the object I clung to, like a diamond.

‘It’s from Najib...It’s from Najib!’ I screamed in delight, clicking on the message icon.

Hey, Fareedah. Let’s meet at our usual corner in Tantalizers by 12 noon tomorrow.

A twinge of disappointment swept through me. “Just that? No chocolate? No love emojis? Well, you’re seeing him tomorrow and that’s what matters.” I said, finally gaining the strength to enter the bathroom and perform ablution. I hadn’t observed Ishai’ and it was 3:00 am.

Yes, I couldn’t observe Ishai’ early because I didn’t have the energy. Najib had made me feel really weak.

I spent the night, thinking of Najib. He entered Tantalizers and we locked eyes. He sauntered towards me and for every step he took, my heartbeat rammed faster.

“You know my life is incomplete without you. I love more than you can ever imagine. You’re my world, my heart, my everything! I love you Fareedah.”

“I love you too Naji...”

“Fareedah!” A loud slap on my face revived me to consciousness. “Uh...yes...mom...” I rubbed my eyes blearily and yawned loudly.

“I’ve been calling your name since 6:00 am. Do you know the time now? It’s 7:00 am and you’re still in bed. Is it because you’ve completed your exams?” Mom said, giving me a shrewd look.

Saliva almost drooped from my mouth as I tried to sit upright. “I’ll go and observe salat now. I just over-slept.”

Oyaa...do so now, before it gets too late.” She was saying as she left my room.

I struggled to think straight but my mind was clogged with my meeting with Najib in the afternoon. I was numb with anxiety. What would be the outcome?

A/N: What do you think about reading two web novels every week? Sounds exciting right?! The Precious Figure and Flaming House. This might start as from next week!

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