Wednesday 27 March 2019

Flaming Home! (Episode Ten)

Anas’s Point of View
I Will Find my Wife!
Oko mi, you should always consider Sahadat in this situation. If you don’t act strong, how will she have hope that her mother will return home?” my mom is saying over the phone.

I am sitting on the bed- the very corner that Najwa usually sleeps every night- holding her clothes and pressing them to my nose, perceiving the smell of her usual cologne (the one that has the strawberry flavour).

Tears are streaking down my face and I am crying in between sobs. I can tell my mom is crying too. Her voice sounds low and cracked, and it is obvious that she is as sad as I am. “This is different. Your loved one getting missing is one of the worst thing that can ever happen to you. Now, I can’t even tell if she is dead or alive…I can’t tell if I’m to mourn her and move on with my life or wait for her for as long as it will take till she returns. I’m confused…I want my wife…I just want her back.” I cry loudly, hardly believing myself.

Just a week ago, I was definite that I hated Najwa so much that I wanted her out of my life. I hated her more than anything in the world and living under the same roof with her felt like living in a burning house…a flaming home! But right now, I can see how unbelievable it is to be without Najwa. I can see how much I love and cherish her more than anything in the world!

Eiii! I’m scared oo. Should I come over today? I’ll tell your brother to book the latest flight to Lagos and I’ll be there before dusk. I’m scared something might happen to you. I’m scared you might not be able to go through this alone.” My mom is crying on the phone.

I hate to see her panic. I hate to see her cry because of me. I clean my moistened face and blow my nose. “I will be fine. I promise you, I will.”

“Okay, Anas. Please, take good care of Sahadat. Jo, toju omo mi oo. Please, don’t make her feel hopeless…her mother will return home and we all know that. In sha Allah, she will return home alive and healthy.”

“Ameen ma. Please, I have to go now. I want to check on Sahadat.”

“Okay oo. Take care of yourself oo. Bye.” Mom says as the call ends.

I stand up from the bed and pace around the room, angry with myself for making Najwa leave the house on that unfortunate day. Angry with myself for not being man enough to settle our differences when we were still together. Angry with myself for not telling her the truth about her friend from the onset!

But would she have believed me?

I pound my hand into a fist and thrust it on the wall, squealing in pain and angry at myself. Blood oozes from my wounded palm as I cry in anger and frustration. I am not angry at the pain I am feeling. I am angry for being foolish all these while. I am angry for not being brave enough to find my wife and bring her home.

My phone rings. I jostle to the bed where it lays. It might be the police. Maybe they’ve found Najwa! I check the caller ID. It is Mahmud calling.

Mutmahinat and Mahmud have been calling since last night. The fact is that I don’t want to speak to any of them. No one knows how I feel and no ‘sorry’ will bring back Najwa.

I remember when I had first proposed to Najwa and she gave reasons why she wouldn’t be the best wife for me.

“Give me reasons beautiful lady. Give me baseless reasons why I shouldn’t spend the rest of my life with you.” I grin at her, watching as her rosy lips broke into a smile, revealing her neatly arranged white set of teeth.

“I’m not a good cook. I didn’t cook when I was in boarding school and Yasmin was always trying to prove that she was the best cook and most hard-working child in the house. I didn’t stay with my parents. My aunt treated us better than her children, just to fulfill her sister’s wish before her death…” Najwa was saying.

“Is that all?”

“No. I get angry easily. I can act irrationally sometimes and may be difficult to understand. I’m very ambitious and…”

“Shhh…I will love and respect you. I will embrace your flaws and imperfections and still love you for the rest of my life.” I had assured her.

The day I had visited Najwa’s family house and met Yasmin for the first time, all stories about her jealous sister that Najwa had narrated filled my head.

‘She is jealous of me…always trying to prove that she is better…” Najwa had said so much about her sister that meeting her replayed all those memories.

“I want to take Najwa on a date and I’m thinking of buying her flowers. What do you think?” I had asked Yasmin, who laughed mockingly and eyed me in amusement. “Flowers ke? Najwa is not oyinbo oo! If you want to make her happy, buy a silver bracelet or gold earrings.”

She might be jealous but she was right. Even when I had bought the silver bracelet for Najwa, she rejected it because it wasn’t very expensive.

The sound of a knock on the living room door distracts me from my thoughts. I saunter to the living room to check who it is. Maybe it is the police. I have lost all faith and hope in them. They haven’t made any significant contribution in trying to rescue Najwa.

“Who is it?”

“Mutmahinat. Please open the door.”
Mutmahinat is sitting on the sofa directly opposite me. She wears a black gown and veil. She is dressed in a simple way but still looks breathtaking. Somehow, I see Najwa in her. They have the same confident and relaxed look that can be intimidating. “You haven’t been picking my calls.”

I lower my head and sigh deeply. “Mutmahinat…”

“I understand why…I really do. I’m certain that Najwa didn’t plant that mail on my computer.”

I widen my eyes in surprise, eyebrows puckered in concentration. “You do?”

“Of course. It is obvious that the person is trying to frame her…through me, because everyone knows that she detests me. Who would record his or her conversation and mistakenly send it to a public group? This seems all planned out Anas.”

“Do you think Barakah is the culprit? Do you think she did all these?” I ask her.

“I don’t think so, I know so. Anas, it’s high time you left the house and find your wife. You must find Najwa before things get worse.”

Mutmahinat is right. I should do what it takes to find Najwa. I shouldn’t rely solely on the police for support. I should play my own part. “Thank you, Mutmahinat. I will do that…I will find my wife!”

“I pray you find her. I need to get going…I decided to pay you a visit during my lunch break….and Anas, what I told you about not getting married again? I’ve changed my mind. I’ve found a good man who is a widower with three children. I will be getting married again.” She smiles excitedly.

“I’m very happy for you. Congratulations Mutmahinat.”

“Thank you and good luck.” She says as she leaves the house.

“Do you believe her?” a voice calls immediately Mutmahinat steps out of the house.

Sahadat is sitting on the sofa, staring at me with sad eyes.
“Yes, I do. Sahadat…” I walk up to her and pull her into a tight embrace. “Your mother and I love ourselves so much. I will go in search of your mother…I will make sure I find Najwa.” I stare at her with sad eyes.

“Should I come with you?”

“You’ll stay in Yasmin’s place till we return. Please, you have to resume school and stop brooding over your mom’s disappearance. In sha ALlaah, she will return with me.”

“Okay,” Sahadat mutters, hugging me briefly and standing up. “I’ll go pack my bag.”
It’s a new day and I am staring out of the window, hardly believing myself. It is over two hours that I have been sitting in my car, at the front of XYZ’s building. I’m unsure about what I am doing but I know that I have to make something work.

Sahadat didn’t enter Yasmin’s house without hugging me tightly and praying that nothing bad happens to Najwa. I want both of us to be alive to raise our child and if possible, bear more children. I want us to live happily ever after, re-igniting our love for each other every blessed day and striving towards being together in Al-Jannah.

Yasmin had smiled encouragingly and prayed that Najwa returns home. “You know I love my sister very much? Even though she doesn’t know this, I care about her and I want us to grow old together,” she had said, sobbing into her hijab.

It is after thirty minutes that Barakah walks out of the building to observe her lunch break. She is hopping on the street and smiling complacently. She is dressed like Najwa; maxi skirt, chiffon blouse and stiletto heels; only that her scrawny physique doesn’t match with that of Najwa. It looks like she has visited Najwa’s wardrobe to claim her possession. Is she trying to become Najwa?

Barakah walks into the usual restaurant where they usually have lunch and I trail her with my eyes. About twenty minutes later, she walks out with a bag of food and returns into the building. The atmosphere is sweltering and the scorching sun lights up the surrounding. I wear my dark sunglasses and watch the roadside traders, street hawkers, passersby, cars and bus grinding and hooting…watching the same street for hours!

Barakah comes out the exact minute they closed for the day. She hops into a car parked outside of the gate (probably a cab she chartered) and I start my engine, following them as they drive down the road.

They park by the roadside and Barakah enters the market. Staring at her from a distance, I can spot her buying vegetables, red meat, balls of pepper and tomatoes. Shockingly, Barakah also buys ropes, nails, and chisels!

“Maybe she needs a carpenter to work in her house.” I wonder with a queer feeling, watching her hold the big bag as she returns to the car.

The driver starts off to her house and I gingerly follow the red-coloured car. About twenty minutes later, Barakah alights from the car and waves at the man, opening the gate and entering the compound of her house.

I wait for another ten minutes before opening the gate and entering the compound. I can feel the thumping in my chest as I take each step towards the door. My hands tremble in fright as I knock on the door. Barakah opens just immediately.

I can see the look of shock and surprise in her face as she quirks her eyebrows. “What are doing here?”

“I came to seek your forgiveness. I’m sorry for blaming you to have a hand in Najwa’s disappearance. Maybe we should get married and start a new life… I love you.”

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  1. Hoping Anas plans work out effectively.
    My heart is thumping for Najwa.
    Poor her.

    Next episode soonest.