Thursday 7 February 2019

Flaming Home (Episode Four)

Anas's Point of View
Zara’s Engagement
“How is your beautiful wife and daughter?” My mother is saying on the phone.

“They are fine.” I sigh deeply, knowing what would come next.

“When should we be expecting another one? It should be a boy this time.” She remarks.

Only if she knows when last Najwa warmed my bed.

“Very soon.”

“I hope both of you are not planning on delaying till some years time? I know Najwa is very passionate about her career. You see, a woman’s body…” my mom is trailing off.

I put the phone away from my ear and stare at the wall, wondering when it will all end…the incessant talk from my mother.

“Are you there Anas? I know you’re not listening to me! I’ve said my own oo. You better get advice from an experienced mother of seven. I gave birth to all my children before I clocked 40. I wish I could attend Zara’s engagement but I have to look after Mubarak’s son…” she is saying.

My younger brother’s wife gave birth to his third son last week and since then, mom hasn’t stopped talking about it. She had travelled to Akure to stay with his wife for a month; the main reason she cannot attend Zara’s engagement.

“It’s fine, mom. We will represent you. I have to go now so that I can get to the venue on time.”

“Okay oo. Have a nice day. Greet your family for me. I’ll call Zara now.”

“Okay, bye.” I cut the call and heave a long, shuddering sigh.

“The next thing your mother will suggest is for you marry a second wife.” Najwa snarls as she is dressing up.

Dressed in a red-sparkling gown, Najwa is seated by her dressing table, putting on a gold bracelet.

I ignore her and plod to my drawer, ruminating on what to put on. I remember the conversation I had with Mahmud yesterday; Mahmud telling me to get married again.

“You look very excited Anas. Have you and Najwa ironed out your issues?”

“No.” I had tried to suppress the smile that was spreading on my face as I faced my computer.

Mahmud had pulled me towards him and stared at me intently. “It is a woman right?”

Blood had gushed to my cheeks as I grinned. “Well,…she’s just a friend. Mutmahinat, Najwa’s rival.”

“Wow! The same divorcee with two kids? The woman Najwa despises so much? That makes it perfect. Make her a second wife.”

I had burst into laughter as I shook my head. “Another woman? That will be Najwa times two. Please oo, I’m done with them.”

“But Mutmahinat isn’t Najwa na. She seems nice.”

“Najwa was nicer than that before we got married. Ahbegi, are you done with that research?” I had asked in a bid to change the topic.

“Mummy, daddy! I have worn my gown.” Sahadat yells excitedly as she enters the room.

“That’s my girl. You look gorgeous. Do you feel like going to the toilet?” Najwa holds her hands and brushes her hair.

“No, mom. Stop asking those questions. I’m no longer purging. I’m fine now.”

“Great! Let me give you these earrings I bought on my trip to New York.” She says, searching her jewelry box.

I walk up to Sahadat and give her a hug. “You look very beautiful.” I stroke her cheeks and she chuckles in delight.

“Mr. Ugly. I’m going to select what you will wear to the party. I don’t want you looking like my driver.” Najwa says as she walks towards the wardrobe.

“Whatever. We must leave in the next thirty minutes.” I reply, irritably.

“That’s not possible. Barakah is coming with us.”

“What?” I shriek in anger. This is a family celebration…and Najwa has no right in the world to invite her friend.

“Yes, Anas. Barakah always feels lonely. I just want her to be a part of something. She’ll be doing nothing at home and I don’t think it is a bad idea if she comes with us.”

This is unbelievable! But I do not have the time and strength to argue with Najwa. It’s my cousin’s engagement party and I should there on time to wish her the best.”
“I don’t know why you don’t like Barakah. She is my best friend. She cares so much about me and it is my duty to also make her happy.”

I ignore Najwa and sling my towel around my shoulder. There’s something about her so-called best friend that turns me off every time. Probably because she acts like Najwa is superior to her.
Zara is the prettiest lady in the house. She is dressed in a gold-laced blouse and skirt. Her face is fixed with a smile and I’m starting to wonder if her cheeks do not hurt. She is walking around the room, greeting everyone. I remember when Zara had just concluded her bachelor’s programme at the University of Nottingham and she returned to Nigeria. She wanted to find her soul mate and get married too…just like her mates were doing.

I wanted to advise her against getting married but what would I say when my marriage was seen as a perfect one?

“I want my marriage to be exactly like that of you and Najwa. More than perfect! Aameen.” She had prayed triumphantly, her eyes yearning for love and desire.

If only she knew that she had just cursed herself.

“Anas? Anas?” Ruqayyah is patting me on the shoulder.

I revive from being lost in thought to the present. “Yes? Ruqayyah? How are you?”

“Alhamdulillah. Najwa is looking very beautiful.” She smiles at me.

“Who?” I ask in puzzlement.

“Najwa.” Ruqayyah is furrowing her eyebrows in confusion.

“Who is Najwa?” I ask again.

“Your wife… sitting beside you. I was just complimenting her look. I said that she looks very beautiful.”

“Oh…najwa! My wife! Of course, she looks beautiful always.” I smile at Najwa and touch her hands nervously.

“Don’t mind Anas. These days, he seems to always be lost in thought. Work pressure is overbearing.” She places a kiss on my left cheek and smiles at everyone.

Everywhere is quiet and all eyes are on us. What was I thinking? Why couldn’t I remember that Najwa is my wife?

“Great. I’ll get you all a bottle of fruity wine.” Ruqayyah smiles nervously and she greets the woman seated next to Barakah.

Gosh! Trying to appear like everything is fine isn’t that easy. How could I have forgotten Najwa’s name?”

“Are you high? What was the meaning of that? Now, everyone is giving us shrewd looks. Be careful next time.” Najwa says, whispering to my ear in a fondly way.

No one would have an idea of what she said. It was like she was whispering words of love to my ear…only Barakah would know what is ensuing. Barakah; the scrawny woman dressed in a body-hug black dress. She is staring at us indignantly. In fact, Barakah had been staring at me since we arrived here.

My phone vibrates in my pocket and I bring it out. It is Dr. Effiong calling. How did I forget what I was asked to submit an article before 12 noon?

It is 11:45 and I’m in the middle of a programme. There’s no way I can meet up with the deadline. I’ll just have to explain to him…after all, it’s a Saturday.

“I have to pick this call. I’ll be back sweetheart.” I kiss Najwa on her forehead and smile at Sahadat.

Perfect family! Everyone thinks!

I hurry out of the living room and search for a spare room. A store is just beside the kitchen and it looks cramped and quiet. I enter the room and reach for the answer button.

“Hello, sir…”

It is late. The call has ended. I am attempting to call him back when I hear footsteps of someone approaching the room.

I turn towards the entrance of the room and tilt my head upwards. Barakah is standing by the doorway with her right leg hanging up and her hips swooshed to the right.

“Hi, Barakah. What are you doing here?”

“I came to see you.” Barakah smiles seductively as she enters the room and closes the door behind her. “Why do you guys pretend? Do you think you act well? You think no one suspects?” she is walking towards where I am standing.

I arch my eyebrows and wrinkle my forehead, looking flustered. What is going on here? “I don’t think it is any of your business…and if you care to know, why don’t you ask Najwa?”

“Najwa? That one?” she roars in laughter.

Now, she is by my face. She is very close to me and I can feel her warm breaths on my face. I can see her face clearly…the dark birthmark on her eyelids, the pink-coloured lipstick she is wearing on her lips, the smell of the fruity wine she drank not quite long. She is an eyesore.

“Why do you still share the same bed if you both hate yourselves? Don’t you wish those kisses were real and affectionate? Haven’t you noticed how badly I want you? Najwa isn’t a good wife. She isn’t good for you. I’ll be the best wife you can ever imagine. I’ll make you nice meals three times a day and make you happy always. I’ll wash your clothes…I’ll do anything you want. I love you, Anas. I’ve loved you since the first day I set my eyes on you…”

I shove her away and clean the beads of sweat that have formed around my forehead. “Najwa is your best friend.” I splutter. I am too shocked to find words to say.

Barakah isn’t ready to give up. She unzips her gown…but I can’t take any more of it. I lower my eyes and push her to the wall…not bothering to check if she had been hurt. Blood…broken skull…I do not care! I hear a loud shriek of pain as I jostle out of the room.

Don't miss out on the previous episodes:

Episode One

Episode Two



  1. I like the way you use dialogue to advance your plot...

  2. I like the way you use dialogue to advance your plot...there are many Barakahs, Anas's and Najwas'. Life is a stage as Shakespeare once said, hence marriage is a big drama too I guess. Good job!