Friday 15 February 2019

Flaming Home (Episode Five)

Najwa's Point of View
Yes, I Love Him!

The month has been a stressful one…really stressful! Barakah had been hospitalized and I’d spent my days by her side, holding her hands, feeding her, muttering prayers and hoping that my friend-turned-sister heals completely.
The incident at Zara’s engagement still makes my face blanches in shock. The sight of Barakah lying trodden on the floor like a log of wood. Blood stained on the wall. Her bare chest revealed.

“I had gone to the store to adjust my gown. As I unzipped my gown, I slipped and fell.” Barakah had said when she regained consciousness at the hospital.

I was glad that it was nothing worse than a minor fracture.  How would I have lived without Barakah? She is all I have; my best friend, sister, and even husband.

Do you still call Anas a husband?

He literally ignored me throughout the period I spent at the hospital before Barakah got discharged. He never even cared to visit her for once or ask after her health.

Is that really a husband?

“You should divorce that man you call your husband. Imagine how heartless he is. If you were the one in my position, he would do the same!” Barakah had said as I fed her custard at the hospital.

She was right…but it is easier said than done. Our marriage is the foundation of my career and I just have to strive…strive to cope with that good-for-nothing man called Anas.

It’s a bright morning and I am on my way to Yasmin’s boutique. Barakah got discharged three days ago and I have taken the day off to unwind and relax from the stress of visiting the hospital.

As I inhale the fresh air that is pouring into the car, I feel glad that I am free from the smell of iodoform that reeks the fore-walls of hospitals!

I haven’t visited Yasmin in a while. Yasmin is my only sister. We have never been friends. We spent our childhood with my aunt’s family. Yasmin and I are so different; she wants a simple life. She doesn’t want fame or wealth. She is all about gaining more degrees and becoming a successful businesswoman.   We’ve never been close. We disagreed on everything…every single thing!

Well, it will be a brief visit. I will ask about her welfare and leave within the space of a few minutes. I’ve got better things to do with my time!

I drive into the parking lot and park beside Yasmin’s old-rickety car. The same car that she has been using for the past five years.
Yasmin’s boutique is a small-sized shop for the sale of Muslim wears. She wears a full-length black-coloured khimar, displaying her zero taste for fashion.

I push the faulty door which has impacted the free movement by exerting so much force. Yasmin is seated by her corner, punching the calculator and giving instructions to her salesgirl.

The boutique is an eyesore. I inhale the smell of dust wafting the whole room as I saunter towards her with a malicious smile. “Asalamu ‘Alaykum sis. Such a long time. How have you been?” I pull her into a hug.

Yasmin is pudgy and very short while I’m the tall and slender sister with the pretty face. Aunt Rasheedah had said that I looked like our father while Yasmin looked like our mother.

We never got to see our parents!

“Wa’alaykumu Salam. Alhamdulillah sweet sis. I watch you every day on TV. How is Anas and Sahadat?” she smiles at me as she wears a concerned expression.

“They are wonderful. I have the best family! What more can I ask for?” I twirl and take a seat beside her, surveying the whole boutique with a scrunched up face.

 I wonder if she gets up to a customer in a day!

“So, what’s up? Why did you decide to pay me a visit after so many centuries?” Yasmin chuckles as she reaches to her refrigerator for a bottle of Coke.

“I just decided to pay my big sister a visit since you’ve deserted me…ah, no. I don’t take carbonated drinks.” I humbly reject the dust-covered Coke that should have spent more than a month in the refrigerator.

“Oh…I see.” Yasmin looks disappointed as she places the bottle of Coke on the table.

“Excuse me. My husband will want to know that I’m here. He wants to say ‘hi’” I grin in a haughty manner as I dial Anas’s number.

He picks at the first ring. “Hi lov…”

“What is it?” Anas breaks me off with a tone of annoyance.

“My love…”

“Why are you disturbing me, eh Najwa? What do you want?”

“I’m with Yasmin. She wants to say hi.” I mutter disconcertedly, wishing I hadn’t placed the call on loudspeaker.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I’ve been having a rough day…sorry for sounding rude. Please give the phone to her.” Anas quickly corrects himself and I hand the phone over to Yasmin, who has been glaring at me with scrutinizing eyes.

As they talk on the phone, I pick the bottle of Coke I’d rejected and sip from it, walking towards the window to stare at the road.

We cannot pretend to have it all. We cannot keep pretending to be perfect because sometimes, it won’t work. Nothing I say to Yasmin will convince her that all is fine.

I wish that things were the way they used to be when we just got married. We were happy and so fond of ourselves. We used to spend the night, talking about anything we could think of. Our tongues weren’t far from each other. We would kiss longingly and gaze at ourselves with deep affection. We would snuggle up on Friday night and watch an amazing movie over a bowl of popcorn and soda drinks. Where did everything go wrong?

“Najwa,” Yasmin says silently as she prods me on the back.

I clean my moistened eyes and I turn towards her. “You’ve spoken to him? Great!” I take my phone and return to my seat, Yasmin tailing beside me with suspicious eyes.


“I know what you’re about to say but you’re wrong. We’re happy…very happy. Anas is just having a rough day and guess what? He’ll make it up to me by buying me gifts before returning home today.” I say with a fake-confident look.

“Rukayya told me what happened at Zara’s engagement. Anas forgetting the name of his lovely wife and Barakah getting injured. Speaking of Barakah, hope she is fine now?”

“Yes, she is. I took good care of her and she is perfect now. In fact, she resumed work today.” I reply proudly.

“Barakah must be a good friend…”

“She is a sister….more than a friend. She supports me all the time. And I do my best to reciprocate her favours.” I say, remembering when I tried to match-make Barakah with my cousin, Jamil.

On their first date, Jamil called me an hour later to confess that Barakah isn’t his type. I ordered him to get married to her and he called a family meeting, reporting me to everyone that I had threatened to force him into marriage with my best friend.

I cringe, remembering all that transpired that year.

“So Barakah isn’t interested in advancing her career path and getting promoted to a better position. She isn’t concerned with getting married or having her own kids. She doesn’t get jealous and she has a very good heart. She is all about making her friend happy, isn’t it?”  Yasmin is glaring at me.

“You know what this is all about? It is all about the fact that you are divorced…you are single with no child and no life. Now you’re jealous and you want mine to crumble? I have a loving husband and a best friend that is rare. Stop being envious of my life and try to work things with yours.” I yell at her.

“Najwa, I’m not jealous of…”

My phone starts to ring and I hasten to check the caller ID. “Hello, Barakah.”

“Where are you?” she replies with an eager tone.

“Yasmin’s place. How is work?”

“Really? You’re  at your sister’s place when your husband is disgracing you in public!” Barakah screams on the phone.

I re-check my phone to ensure that it isn’t on a loudspeaker. “How?” I ask incredulously.

“He is having lunch with Mutmahinat in a restaurant close to the office. Only God knows who must have seen them together. You have to get here now!”

“But…hello?” Barakah has hung up the call and my hands shiver in shock.

“Are you okay?” Yasmin inquires.

“Yes, I’m fine.”

“Do you still love your husband?”

“I have to leave now.” I retort sulkily. I grab my bag and hurry towards the door. But before I push it open; I give Yasmin a last glare. “Yes, I love him.”

Up till this moment, I never knew that the distance from Yasmin’s boutique to my workplace is this far. I’ve spent close to an hour on the road and the snarled-up traffic is not helping matters. If I don’t get there on time, I won’t be able to catch them red-handed. Cheating Anas and desperate Mutmahinat.

How can someone just appear and try to literally own your life? What you’ve been building for years!

Barakah had made it a duty to call me every five minutes to give me feedback on what is going on at the restaurant.

“Anas is smiling at her and he just poured more juice into her cup…Mutmahinat is smiling shyly and playing with the hem of her hijab…Anas just whispered something to her ear and she is laughing…” those were the kind of news Barakah has been filling me with.

My legs are wobbly and my face has turned tomato-red. I want to park by the roadside and flag an okada to the restaurant. I want to get hold of them and squeeze Mutmahinat’s thin biscuit-bones.

What if someone sees them? Doesn’t Anas know that he is tarnishing his family’s image by going on date on a bright Thursday afternoon?

I’m almost in the street but the traffic is frustrating. I can see the restaurant I usually go to buy fufu and white soup whenever I desire to have a different taste. I pulled into the compound and greet the woman, picking my bag from the car and ensuring that all doors are locked.

About five minutes later, I’m at the end of the road and Barakah is standing beside the restaurant, hands akimbo. A bandage is still tied around her head and she is putting on a white shirt, black maxi skirt, and red scarf. Her face is filled with sweat and it is evident that she is trembling.

I wonder why she is so concerned that Anas is having lunch with Mutmahinat. “Thank God you’re here. See them. Just see them!” she drags to a corner of the building and we peek inside from the transparent-glass door.

“You see why you have to deal with this stupid rat? She took what belongs to you and now, she is after your husband!” Barakah dances as she points at them, eating and discussing in a way that shows that they are having an intimate relationship.

My insides shrivel and my face jolts in shock as I watch them. Anas is putting on his red t-shirt and jeans trousers. He looks very composed and confident as he speaks with such calmness. I’m not surprised that Mutmahinat is engrossed in the discussion. Anas has his way of bringing up interesting discussions that will make your stay with him an eventful one.

I can hardly believe it! Why will Anas stoop so low to go out with Mutmahinat? Is she prettier than I am?

“Are you jealous?” Barakah turns to give me a dazed expression.

I struggle to regain my composure. “Jea…jealous? Of course, not. I’m just surprised.”

“Good. It is time to put Mutmahinat in her place. You have to take all that belongs to you. You must deal with her now or never!” Barakah whispers to me with a serious tone.

“Thank you, Barakah. What can I do without you?”

Barakah holds my hand as we walk out of the place. “This is no time for appreciation. This is what we will do…”

A/N: Hey readers! I'm sorry for the late update. I've been sick but I'm fine now. I appreciate your prayers. You all are wonderful!💕💕

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  1. How is your health now.
    Labasa tohur ma shaa Allah.
    Looking forward to a continuous episode soonest.

    1. I feel very fine now, AlhamduliLlaah.

      Aameen sis.

  2. Shukran,I hope you are now better and strong

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  4. I await episode six.very interesting.