Friday, 21 June 2019

Her Last Breath (Episode One)


Khayrah
I had stared at his profile for over a million times…more than that if I had the time to count every single minute I logged into my Facebook account to read his bio over and over again.

Proud Muslim…Art lover…Artist…Poet…Skilled Architect…Ambivert…Sapiosexual… the list went on.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed reading his bio…in fact, I never got tired of scanning through the words. Reading through over and over again made me more eager to meet him.

Taofeek Adewale. His display picture portrayed the smiling face of a young man, who would be in his late twenties; dark-complexioned with small bright eyes and glowing face.

Taofeek had lots in common with me; we both liked rice in all delicacies (we could eat rice consecutively, three times in a day and for a whole month!). He loved art, which explained why he is an artist. He is also a writer. I’d always loved creative people. He also had the dream of exploring places around the world and meeting with people of different tribes and cultures…we really had lots in common. Sometimes when we chatted, I would think that he was my twin brother from another mother.

‘Asalamu ‘alaykum, Khayrah. Finally, we’re going to meet and I feel so ecstatic. Butterflies are in my stomach, Khayrah. I can’t wait to see you in person.’
-          Taofeek Adewale.

He had sent the message last week Friday and after reading through, my stomach churned in nervousness. I would finally meet Taofeek, the man I had started to chat with since the beginning of last month.

It was too good to be true. I was falling every day for a man I’d never seen. Intelligent, handsome, witty and religious, Taofeek was everything I was looking for in a man I would spend the rest of my life with.

“Madam oo, can you stop playing this Mohammed Hoblos interview with Ali Banat? This room is starting to make me feel frightened.” Fadilah whined, entering the room with her headset around her neck, and disrupting my thoughts. She was putting on a pink-coloured tank top and bum-short, dancing and humming the lyrics of Coldplay’s Yellow.

Fadilah, the short and plump fair-complexioned girl who was staring at me with a mocking expression is my younger sister and the only sibling I’ve got. Mom had concluded that we share the same room since my unforeseen condition began. Fadilah could be annoying- she was usually annoying most of the time- but she never made me feel any sense of loneliness or distraught.

“Don’t disturb me jare! If it’s disturbing you, then stay in the living room.”

“This is also my room, remember?” she smirked mockingly, flopping on the bed and laying beside me.

“Seriously, Ali Banat, May ALlaah have mercy on his soul, inspires me a lot. Look at what he had said about having cancer. He said that…”

“…It is a gift …that ALlaah blessed him with cancer,” Fadilah replied with a frown. “You’ve said this several times and you have memorised every word of this video. You have made us memorise it too. Why are you doing this, Khayrah?”

I struggled to fight the tears that were stinging my eyes. “Maybe, I’m just trying to console myself.” I cleared my throat in a bid to change the discussion. “So, what’s popping between you and Rasheed? What date are we fixing for your wedding?” I laughed as Fadilah’s eyes lit up in pleasure.

Her face flushed in excitement as she played with the tip of her iPhone. Well, he was thinking of meeting my family next month. I’ve been scared…wondering if this is what I truly want…if Rasheed is someone I’ll love to get married to. I think I’m certain now. He will pay us a visit soon,” she smiled shyly.

I’d always been jealous of Fadilah. She had everything…beauty, brain, good health, men…just name it! Her hair was black, long and silky. She had the perfect curvy-figure eight body that every woman dreamt of having. She was in love with an amazing man; Rasheed. I didn’t have any of this.

“So…what about this mysterious man that has made you different? When are you meeting him?”

“This afternoon,” I replied, staring at his picture again. I zoomed in on my laptop, noticing a dark birthmark at the side of his forehead for the first time. Fadilah joined me to stare at the picture as if we would be rewarded with millions of dollars if any flaw would be spotted.

“Oooh, he’s handsome. What are you putting on? Don’t tell me you’re going to wear one of those maxi gowns that make you look like my grandmother. You ought to look glamorous, sister. You’re going on a date!”

“So what should I put on, my fashion designer?”

She sprang up from the bed, jostling towards the wardrobe to ransack through my pile of clothes. I could spot her bringing out my favourite pink gown; the pink gown that used to be my favourite.
“You should wear this.”

“No! no! no! I’m not putting that on, Fadilah. I’m going to wear something else…maybe the black jalamiyah dad had bought from Umrah will be perfect. Something simple and sophisticated.” I wrinkled my nostrils, watching her with a look of disgust.

“I’m your fashion designer remember? No go fall my hand abeg. You need to make Taofeek’s jaw drop in astonishment when he sees you. I’ll go get the makeup kit.” She said excitedly, leaving the room in haste.

I sighed deeply as I watched the pink gown lay on the room’s couch. It was what I had worn on my first date with Abdul Lateef. How could she have forgotten?
***
“So, you haven’t met this man before?” Mom asked again as we were having breakfast. Curry rice, fried-scrambled eggs, fried plantain all lay in big bowls, on the dining table. Hafsah- our maid- would have started making the dishes as early as 6:00 am. Mom put a spoonful of scrambled eggs into her mouth, staring at me with scrutinizing eyes.
  
I could see her forehead furrow in concern, the way she looked whenever she was worried. Yeah, I understood why she felt that way. She didn’t want the same incident that happened with Abdul Lateef to repeat itself; worse for someone I hadn’t set my eyes on before.

“Let’s call it a blind date, mom. This guy is soooo handsome ehn!” Fadilah stressed, beaming with pleasure.

“Okay oo. I’m glad you’re going out and having fun. It’s way better than sitting in your room all day.”  Mom said, rolling her eyes and pouring the lemon-ginger juice into my empty cup.

Since my condition was discovered, she had taken the responsibility of watching what I eat, drink and the places I go to. She had, in fact, worked as my nurse.

My phone beeped on the dining table, causing the ceramic plate to cackle. I unlocked my phone, knowing it would be a message from Taofeek.

‘I can hardly do a thing, Khayrah. Can we just meet now???’
-          Taofeek Adewale.

My lips spread into a smile as I replied.
‘I feel the same way too. We’re to meet at 12 noon. You should be on your way now…wait! What if you don’t like me?”
-          Khayrah Roqeeb.

‘I have liked you right from the moment you accepted my friend request. Wait! What if you don’t like me too?’
-          Taofeek Adewale.

‘Lol, I’m certain I’ll like you. Now go and have your bath, and start coming. I can perceive the stench of bad perspiration oozing from your armpit.’
-          Khayrah Roqeeb.

‘Hahahahaha! I’ll punch your face.’
-          Taofeek Adewale.

“Khayrah?” mom startled me from my phone I concentrated on. It was then I realized that I had been laughing out loud.

“You need to eat so that you can take your drugs.”

“Seriously, I do not have an appetite. I’ll just take this juice and go and dress up.” I stated, gulping my juice Fadilah had nicknamed ‘concoction’ and standing up from the seat. I grabbed my phone from the table and strode to the room.

“I’m right behind you, sis. Let’s shake Lagos this afternoon.” Fadilah yelled, running swiftly behind me to perform her duty as my fashion designer.

We spent over forty-five minutes dressing up when on a normal day, I would spend not less than ten minutes to wear a hijab and gown. Fadilah planned on making me look spectacular and I did not blame her, it was long she saw her big sister go on a date. My frequent visit was to the hospital. I had once assumed that I would find a potential husband at the hospital because I literally lived there.

“You’re good to go! Have fun sis!” she gave me my bag, waving as I walked out of the room.

I was glad that mom had gone to her boutique; at least I would be free from the occasional questions and scrutinizing looks. I marched out of the house, watching as Mr. Lolu, my personal driver, sat at the driver’s seat, bobbing his head to a song on the radio as he waited for me. He had washed the black Toyota Corolla in the morning, just as I had instructed.

Just then did Abdul Lateef step into the compound with his fiancée!  Getting engaged to one’s neighbour would be something I would never consider. When Abdul Lateef had called off our engagement, I had dread walking out of the house to see the tall and handsome man I had fallen in love with. That was one of the main reasons I preferred to remain indoors, staring out of the window as I would watch him smile lovingly at his fiancée and hold her bag as they walked down the road.

Seeing Abdul Lateef every day…especially with the fact that his fiancée always visited, was one thing I dreaded every single day.  And knowing that Abdul Lateef had once been with me, the tall slender lady always found ways to spite me.

I regretted walking out of the house that very minute. I could have waited to have a cup of warm water, just as mom had instructed. It was too late. They had seen me and I could not turn back.

“Khayrah! Asalamu ‘alaykum.” Abdul Lateef greeted cheerfully, staring at my pink gown.

He would remember that I wore this when we went on our first outing. He would know that I was going on a date.

“Wa’alaykumu salam. How are you, Aisha?” I feigned a smile as I turned to her.

“I can never be happier with Abdul Lateef. He makes me happy always. That’s why I love him.” She turned to smile at him. Abdul Lateef’s face softened as he stared back.

He was putting on a red T-shirt and a pair of jean trousers; just the same way I had liked him to dress. It was unfair of him to keep dressing that way even when we weren’t together.

“Okay, Khayrah. We need to go. I plan on making catfish pepper soup for him. Bye!” she tugged her hands in his as they walked away.

I sighed deeply, willing myself to remain composed as I walked towards where the car was parked. Abdul Lateef would not spoil my name nor would his fiancée do so. I would never give them the chance to ruin the perfect date I would be having with Taofeek. Mr. Lolu started the car engine and he drove out of the building.
***     
As we drove towards Toyin Street, Ikeja, my mind was whirled with thoughts of Taofeek. I wasn’t certain I would be his ideal woman. Of course, he had seen a picture of me but pictures could be deceptive. More so, the picture only displayed my face.

I was scared because blind dates had never been my thing. I hated the fact that men looked for specific physical qualities- such as big breasts and buttocks. And I didn’t have any of them. My terminal illness had eaten my healthy look and now, I appeared lean and frail.

I stared at the mirror to take a view of my face one more time. Maybe I didn’t look that bad.

“Madam Khayrah, you fine wella. No worry!” Mr. Lolu smiled as he watched me through the front mirror as if reading my thoughts.

Ogaa, face the road. Don’t compliment me abeg.”

I don say my own oo. You dey beautiful,” he continued.

I tried to feign a frown but I burst out laughing. He joined too. Somehow, his compliment made me confident to meet Taofeek, the man that had appeared in my dream every night, consecutively for a month.



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8 comments:

  1. Eskish me! How many episodes are we looking at and can we finish everything at a go,*winks* this is intriguing...

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    1. Hahaha!😁🤣 I don't know how many episodes this story will be. Lol, we can't finish at a go😆😆

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  2. Nice story sis,Lateef n khayrah on point,let c wat happen.

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    1. Thank you and thanks for reading!

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    2. Sis mariam ,u hv nt started uploading " love by fate " story . u said u will b posting it together with "her last breath"

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    3. I'm sorry. I felt that readers might prefer to read one story at a time...especially with the fact that Love by Fate has already been written before.

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