Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Her Last Breath (Episode Twenty-Five)



Taofeek
I opened my sleepy eyes to catch sight of Khayrah smiling at me with a trail of amusement passed across her face. I smiled in return and gazed at her, willing for such a moment to last forever.

That was our daily routine. Returning to sleep after praying subh and supplicating, then waking up to stare at each other’s faces for almost an hour. As Khayrah counted her last breath, I was starting to appreciate several qualities about my wife…qualities I had ignored in the past.

They say you know the importance of a thing after losing it. I appreciated Khayrah more than ever. I wished that I had spent every second of my time with her, showing how much I love and care about her. I wished that I had performed better in the past. But it wasn’t too late.  Upon receiving the news of Khayrah’s limited time on earth, I resigned from my place of work and decided to be by Khayrah’s side until she breathes her last.

“Are we going to keep doing this every day?” Khayrah chuckled as she trailed a finger across my chest.

“Every single day, my love,” I said as I sat down and sighed deeply.

Khayrah followed the same course. She rested her head on my chest and held my hand. “What are you thinking about? The time you would wake up to notice my absence?”


“No. I’m just bothered about the way I had treated you in the past. I remembered the day I watched you walk out of my office in despair. I wished I had run after you and professed my love for you,” I said with misty eyes.

Khayrah’s chuckle sent warm tickles to my bare chest. “You shouldn’t. Afterwards, you sent me a message and professed your love for me…”

“But that was after I had watched you leave the office with a tear-filled face. I was scared of losing you. I believed getting married to you and watching you die will break my heart. And you are the first woman that I’ve loved sincerely. I had broken hearts. I was scared that mine would also be shattered into pieces when you die…” I was saying in tears when Khayrah put her arms around me.

Shh. Don’t say that. I should be the one to blame. I made you fall in love with me. I lied to you. I didn’t disclose my health condition before the start of our relationship.”

“You know, Khayrah. I feel your condition is a punishment for the atrocities I had committed in the past...” I was saying when she continued.

“I’m also at fault for walking out on you that day. When you revealed your past, I felt we couldn’t continue with the relationship. I walked out on you and told you we couldn’t get married. I had forgotten that my case was worse. That I had cancer.”

My forehead creased with a frown as I stared around the room- the milk-coloured wardrobe, a white sofa that rested by the wall, the lilac curtains that billowed in the breeze. Khayrah, who was a fan of white colour, had carefully selected the theme for our room. I gazed at the room Khayrah and I had shared and wondered if I could remain there after everything becomes over- after she leaves the world.

“Let’s stop blaming ourselves with events that happened in the past. We should dwell on the present. Speaking of the present, are you prepared for our trip to the beach resort?”

Khayrah’s face beamed in excitement as she sprang up from the bed. “We’ve packed our bags and informed the cab driver to pick us up before 5:00 pm. Anything else?” she asked, staring at our luggage was that stationed beside the wardrobe.

I laughed loudly. “I mean, are you mentally prepared?”

“Why wouldn’t I be? I am mentally prepared. It would be fun, my love.” Khayrah yelled as she hurried to the wardrobe.

Since we decided to spend our days together, we wrote down daily plans about fruitful things to engage in before the end of the day- such as making noodles and egg for breakfast, watching romantic comedies until late at night, binge-watching our favourite series along with a bowl of popcorn and soda drinks. We had also decided to visit a beach resort and spend some intimate time together.

Khayrah had suggested that we travel to Zanzibar, Tanzania, but the doctor was insistent that we remained closer. We opted for a lovely adventurous place in Lagos- Le Champagne Tropicanna.

“What are you looking for?”

Khayrah frowned as she searched her closet furiously. “Sexier pieces of clothing. I doubt the ones I have in the luggage.”

I gave a staccato of laughter. “We can always stop by a shop on our way there to purchase sexier outfits. And who says those clothes in the luggage isn’t hot?”

I was saying when a honk was heard outside the gate. “We aren’t expecting anyone.”

Khayrah gave a sly grin. “Well, I am. It’s a surprise!”

“What kind of surprise?”

“A surprise breakfast. Love is strengthened when couples surprise each other. Someone would deliver breakfast we would never forget. One minute!” Khayrah said in excitement as she grabbed her hijab. “I’ll be back.”

I smiled as I watched her leave and imagined how wonderful our stay at the beach resort would turn out. My phone chimed with new notification and I grabbed it from the bed stand. The notification was from Facebook.

‘You and Khayrah Raqeeb became friends 1 year ago….’

I grinned widely as I stared at the screen and recalled how I had met my soulmate through Facebook. Who could have thought that I would meet my future wife on such a platform?

“Come over to the living room, my love. There’s a surprise here!” Khayrah yelled from the living room.

“Okay,” I sprang up from the bed and was walking towards the door when a white sheet paper caught my eyes. Some words had been scribbled and it was obvious that it was Khayrah’s handwriting.

Taking hold of the paper, I sighed deeply and started to read.

‘I’m not a fan of diaries…will never be one. But I have to write this down. My greatest accomplishment. You see, when I was healthy, I thought I would find love and get admirers like my sister. I thought my prince charming would sweep me off my feet and shower me with a bouquet of red roses. But it didn’t happen. Guess what? It happened when I had cancer! Yes, when I became terminally ill, I found my prince charming. Tall, dark, crazily handsome, religious, intelligent…I found my prince charming when I became sick. Wow! That’s my greatest accomplishment.’

“When are you coming? The food will get cold oo!” She called from the living room.

“Give me a second,” I yelled in return as I carefully placed the sheet where I had met it and walked out of the room.
***
The surprise breakfast was a delight. Khayrah had placed a large tray on the rug and in it contained several delicacies of food. Coconut rice, spaghetti, fish sauce, fruit juice, coffee, pear, watermelon…just name it.

I stared at Khayrah and the large tray that glittered with sumptuous meals in admiration. “How did you manage to plan all these?”

A flicker of amusement passed across her face. “Don’t ask questions. Sit down and start digging.”

“Right,” I muttered as I sat at the other end of the tray and served my meal into a plate. “But we can’t even finish half of this.”

Shh.” She placed a finger across her lips and I smiled in return, eating silently and savouring the taste of the meal.

Khayrah and I ate in silence and I wished that it would last forever. We, sitting side by side and eating together. I wished that we could live together…but that was impossible.

A bang on our gate drifted me back to reality. Khayrah and I exchanged looks as we wondered who would be knocking.

“I’m guessing it would be the estate’s women,” Khayrah said as she stood up.

“Did they inform you about visiting?”

“No, but I guessed right. I knew we’d have someone to complete our breakfast,” she laughed and I joined.

“I’ll go and take my bath. We never can tell when they’ll leave,” I stated.

“I’ll explain to them that we have to leave soon,” Khayrah replied as she opened the entrance door.
***
“Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Adewale,” the petite receptionist smiled at us as we entered the building.

“Thank you,” we grinned cheerfully as we approached the counter hand in hand.

“John will show you to your room. Have a nice honeymoon,” the lady smiled at us.

Khayrah stifled a snort of laughter. “Honeymoon? Anyway, thank you.” She said as we tailed the tall man that led to our house.

Thanking him and surveying the 5-star room that looked exquisite, Khayrah jumped on the bed and grinned in excitement. “This is so lovely. This will be fun.”

I placed the luggage beside the bed and pulled off my shirt. “More fun than you can ever imagine. You and I alone,” I winked at her as I opened the luggage. “Maybe we should switch off our phones during this period. We don’t want anything to distract us. What do you think?” I asked as I selected a simple t-shirt to wear.

Whipping my head to check why Khayrah hadn’t responded to my question, I was shocked to see her looking dazedly up at my face with my phone in her hand. “Who is Funke?”

“I...” I was saying when she cut me off.

“Who is she and what is this I’m reading?” Khayrah’s face flamed as she read the message that popped up on my screen.

‘I heard your wife will be dying soon. I know you’ll want to get married again. I’m still single and available.’ –Funke.

I cleared my throat and walked over to the bed to sit beside her. Tears stung her eyes as she tried to avoid my gaze.

“Do you trust me?” I asked, pulling her face to mine and watching as the tears started to flow freely down her cheeks. “My love, do you trust me?”

“I do,” she replied as she hugged me and cried in my arms.

We remained in the same position for minutes, wondering what life had in store for us and when our marriage will end. I wished our moment together could last forever…but it wouldn’t.

Khayrah blew her nose as she pulled away from me. Surprisingly, her face flickered with a smile. “Let’s go shower.”

“Okay,” I stated as I grabbed the towels on the bed and handed one to her.

A/N: One episode to go!☺❤


 




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