Thursday 4 April 2019

Flaming Home! (Episode Eleven)

Anas’s Point of View
The Bold Step
“What do you mean Anas? Is this a prank or something? Why are you just realizing this?” Barakah asks, trailing me with suspicious eyes.

Her face is dripping of sweat despite the movement of the creaky standing fan in the living room. I can perceive a faint smell of the mixture of cologne and perspiration. The red lipstick she would probably have applied in the morning appears smeared and the brown powder’s mixture with the sweat gives her face a muddy look.

“I saw something in the room this morning…a diary where Najwa pens down her daily thoughts. It was written there that she doesn’t love me and she never will. Her last words state that ‘I will trick him into thinking that I still love him…so that our fake display of public affection will look very real. He will never be my kind of man.’” I say, watching as Barakah’s lips twitch into a smile.

“So?” she rolls her eyes, appearing to have doubt in what I had just said.

“So our marriage was all a lie. I’ve just come to realize that I’ve been wrong all these while…that you’re the one I truly love. Have I been blind all through these years?” I fake a frown, placing my palm over my forehead.

“Yes, you’ve been blind not to have noticed me. I’ve always known that we were meant for each other.” She walks closer, grinning excitedly.

“Najwa fled because she knows what she did at the company. She left me and Sahadat and ran away.” I sob.

Barakah runs her fingers over my shirt. “This is the right time to get married for good. I will assume Najwa’s position and become a TV presenter. We will become the people’s couple crush and this time, our affection will be real…not like you and Najwa.” She scowls as she makes mention of the name; Najwa.

“What would people say? Najwa’s best friend getting married to her husband?” I raise my eyes.

Barakah roars in laughter and paces around me. “Who cares what people say? What matters is that we love each other. There’s nothing new under the sun, my love…when should we get married? Tomorrow? Next week? It should be as soon as possible!!!” Barakah squeals in excitement, moving closer to place a kiss on my lips.

I cringe internally and take a few steps backward. “Let’s take things one step at a time, my love. First, I’m starving… can you prepare one of your delicious meals?” I smile seductively.

“Of course! What do you want? Jollof rice? Amala and efo riro? Semo and egusi? Just name it…you know that I beat Najwa a thousand times in the kitchen.” She laughs.

I can spot the crookedness of her teeth and one of her front teeth slightly broken and forming a ‘V’ shape. I have never realized how ugly and unattractive Barakah is until today!

“I know that, my love. I’ll prefer iyan and efo riro.” I reply.

Barakah jumps in triumph. “I’ll make that. Kindly make yourself comfortable. I’ll make it specially for you, darling. I promise you, you’ll cut your tongue in pleasure.” She winks at me as she hurries out of the living room.

I let out a smug smile as I watch her leave the living room. Iyan and efo riro will keep her busier in the kitchen. This is the best time to take the bold step and execute my plan.

As soon as I hear the kitchen door close, I rise into action. Barakah’s black bag is lying at the centre of the table, half open. I jostle towards the table and furiously rummage through it.

She hasn’t emptied her bag and I can still spot the chisels and nails in it. A black nylon hides deep and it is evident that it is bell pepper. Barakah would need it for the efo riro

“I need to take the ata rodo I bought from my bag…” I hear her voice from a distant.

In the flash of a second, I carefully return the bag to its former position and return to my seat, pretending to be engrossed on my phone.

Barakah returns to the living room sweating more profusely and reeking of bad perspiration. “I want to take the ata rodo for the soup. Should I add enough pepper? Do you want your mouth to become watery and make the ‘shu shu shu’ sound?” she laughs in excitement.

I smile delightfully. “The pepper should be more than enough. I can’t wait to eat this food because I haven’t eaten anything good in a long time.

“Okay, my darling.” She says, holding the nylon of bell pepper and returning to the kitchen.

As soon as she leaves, I continue with my mission. I search her bag and bring out her bunch of keys. There are several keys in the bunch and it is hard to tell which one belongs to the main entrance. Gingerly, I take steps towards the door and try each of them. After the fifth attempt, I spot the right key for the main entrance. It is of silver colour and has a crooked bend at the edge. I remove it from the bunch and dip it into my trouser pocket.

I am certain that Najwa will be in this house…only if she’s still alive. Barakah wouldn’t want her to slip at the tip of her finger and keeping her at home would be the best decision she can make.

The question is: where would she be?

“I want to use the toilet!” I call out to Barakah, who has started to make the sauce as the whole house is wafting of fried pepper and onions.

“Enter the lobby…it’s the last door by the right.” She screams from the kitchen.

“Okay, thanks.”

It’s time to find out where Najwa can possibly be!

There are four doors; two at the right and left respectively. The first at the right is the kitchen and first at the left is Barakah’s room. It is unlocked and I can see her small-sized wardrobe and well-spread bed. The second to the left is a room. I try to open it but it is locked. The last room by the right is the toilet.

Why is this room locked?

I return to the living room in haste to grab the bunch of keys again. The sound of the sauce frying fills the whole room and I’m grateful for that. I return to the room door and try out all the keys. Surprisingly, the key isn’t part of the bunch.

“Anas, have you seen the toilet?” Barakah calls.

I run into the toilet and turn on the tap. “Yes? What did you say?”

“Don’t worry, I can see you’re in there already.”

Running water over my head, I wonder why that particular room is locked and the reason the key is nowhere to be found. Maybe that’s where Najwa was killed…or kept hostage.

I return to the living room looking disappointed and frustrated. How do I find Najwa when the door is locked?

Determined to not give up, I search the living room’s shelf for any trace of a key. I check the stack of books and collection of DVDs. Nothing is found there. Scanning around the room, I can spot the foot mat by the entrance, looking bent. Inquisitively, I open it. Behold, a small-rusted key lies underneath it.

“Anas?” a voice makes me tremble in fright.

“Yes?” I turn back. Barakah is standing behind me, giving me a shrewd look. She smells of garlic and pepper.

“What are you doing there?”

I laugh in pretence, placing the table mat in an orderly way. “Oh…the foot mat wasn’t well laid…so I decided to fix it right.”

Barakah stares at me for a long time. “Are you okay? You’ve been acting a bit weird since you got here.”

I stand up and try to act normal. “I am a hungry man who is madly in love with a beautiful woman. I am hungry for food and love.” I smile at her.

Barakah laughs in delight as she takes a seat. “I’m boiling the yam and I’ve prepared the soup. The food will be ready in no time. I want us to talk about our life together…where should we spend our honeymoon? I’m considering Paris but I heard that the Maldives is a nice place to explore and enjoy the beauty of nature… we should have three children… two boys and a girl…I want to live at Lekki…I want to drive Toyota Corolla… economical and durable…I want to give birth in India…” Barakah is trailing off but all I can think of is the key beneath the foot mat and how I lost my chance of getting it. Maybe that’s the key for the door.

I need to leave this house and devise a new plan. “Oops, Mrs. Susan just sent me a message. She’s going out. I kept Sahadat with her. I need to return home now.”

Barakah eyebrows furrow in disappointment. “Oh, okay. But all these would end when we get married. I will always be there to take care of Sahadat,” she smiles softly.

“Thanks. Let me be on my way…”

“How about the food? You’re hungry…”

“Yes, I am. But I have to get there on time because she has an appointment.”

“Okay…I’ll pack the soup in a plate for you. You can buy fufu or make eba when you get home. I’ll pack what would be enough for you and Sahadat.” She smiles proudly as she returns to the kitchen.

I use that opportunity to take the key from the foot mat. Barakah packs the plate of soup in a small bag and waves at me. “I hope to see you soon. I love you.”

“I love you more than you can ever imagine. We’ll talk later.” I smile at her as I open the gate and leave the compound.

I am sitting in my car, staring at Barakah’s gate from a distance and thinking of my next plan of action. I had thrown the soup into the nearest dust bin…who knows what she might have added to it? Love charm? Poison? I would never be another of her victim.

I check the time on my wristwatch. It is 6:30 pm. “9:00 pm, I will take the bold step,” I mutter, still staring at Barakah’s brown gate.
9:00 pm on the dot, I am in front of Barakah’s door. I had no problem getting into the compound because the gate is open as some of the occupants of the building have still not returned from their various places of work.

I unlock the door with the stolen key and peek into the house. The living room is pitch-black and everywhere is silent.

“I sleep around 8:30 pm every night. If I sleep anything later than that, I will wake up the next morning feeling groggy and sick.” I’ve heard Barakah tell Najwa this couple of times. I can only executive this mission when she is fast asleep and this is the right time.

I walk gingerly into the lobby and silently open Barakah’s room door. I am right. She is fast asleep and she would have no idea of what is going on around her.

I move to the door of the locked room; the reason I’ve returned to Barakah’s house. I try the key stolen from underneath the foot mat and surprisingly, it opens the door.

Putting on my torchlight, I enter the dust-filled room and scan through it, my heart thumping loudly and my hands trembling.

The room is bigger than I imagined. Houseflies are buzzing from around a corner and the room is wafting of an odour like that of a refuse bin. I notice pictures on the wall and flash the torchlight on them.

I squeal in fear, staring at them one after the other. “Kill Najwa…Be Najwa…Marry Anas. Najwa has to leave. Najwa is a hindrance. You have to become Najwa!” Several inscriptions of this sort are written on the wall.

There are also pictures of Najwa with the ‘X’ sign drawn across them; drawn in thick-red colour. Also, pictures of Najwa and Barakah with her head chopped off and a danger sign underneath it. It is implausible. I wish all this is a dream…that I would wake up beside Najwa on the bed and realize that it is just a nightmare…that I had watched a horror movie the previous night and it is taking effect on my sleep.

The houseflies buzz becomes louder and I hear faint moans from a distance. Cleaning the sweat streaking down my face and my moistened eyes with the tip of my shirt sleeve, I take slow steps towards the area.

I’m frightened. I’ve very scared, knowing fully well that I would see would be unimaginable. Najwa’s body soiled in blood? Najwa body filled with maggots and insects? Gosh! I want all these to become a dream.

The moans become louder as I take closer steps towards the area. Swallowing hard, I flash my torchlight and I see Najwa. Her hands and feet are tied together. Her mouth is sealed and she is sitting on a bare floor. She looks bedraggled and hunger-stricken. Her eyes are swollen and red and her cheeks are hollow. Her hair is matted and she is reeking of a foul smell.

“Najwa!” I scream, holding her in my arms and placing a kiss on her right cheek. “I’m sorry…I’m here for you…I will save you from your evil friend…we will go home and start a new life together with Sahadat…” I am saying as Najwa cries.

I take my phone from my pocket and dial the Police. I was right all along…Najwa had been in Barakah’s house.

Najwa moans loudly but I can’t tell why. Her eyes are directed behind me as she moans loudly. What could be the problem? Is that a sign? Is Barakah here…
“No so fast Anas.” Bakarah’s voice fills the room as she hits me with an iron rod. I fall to the ground with a loud thud as I watch her smash my phone. I can see blood dripping from my head.

“I just knew it…I knew you were up to something. Now we have the husband and wife.” Barakah roars in laughter as she walks out of the room, locking the door behind us.

A/N: This is me feeling like James Bond while writing this episode yesterday😛😛😛 Happy reading!!!

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  1. It's really a James bond kind of story��. Beautiful stories. Keep it up