Sunday 28 March 2021

Life and Everything In Between (Six & Seven)


Episode Six

As I hurried to the living room to know what was transpiring, I hit my right feet on the lower end of the rusty door. Streaks of blood dripped from the second finger as I walked in increased pace, withholding the pain and uncertainty that gripped me.


As I walked into the living room, I caught sight of Khalid sitting on the sofa with lowered eyes. Mom and Dad wore a solemn expression and it looked like Mom would cry any moment. Rasheedah sat on the floor as she cried loudly.


“What happened?” I asked in concern and confusion.


Dad whipped his head up and stared at me with sad eyes. “Khalid is postponing the wedding.”


I gasped in shock as I walked towards where he was sitting. “Why? Why would you…why now?” I prattled in shock and dismay.


“Look, I can’t explain this now, but it’s all for the good. Know that I love Rasheedah and I’m not calling off the wedding. We just have to move the date for urgent reasons.”


“Like what?” I asked in shock.


“I cannot explain this now. It’s just…it’s a matter of life and death,” Khalid said as we all squealed in shock.


“I have to go,” he muttered as he rose to his feet and stormed out of the house.


“Khalid has disgraced me,” Rasheedah bawled her eyes out.


“He talked about life and death. Who could be in danger? Are we safe?” Dad wondered as I took a seat to save my wobbly legs from pulling me down.


“I believe it’s for a reason. But I’m scared. Life and death?” I said in confusion.


“He said he loved me…”


“He does love you. I believe he’s protecting us for a reason. You should talk to him later and try and find out some truths,” I said to Rasheedah.


“You’re right, Rafiah. There is a reason to this,” Dad agreed.


“Reason wo? What will happen to the arrangements that have been made? Do you know how much we’ve spent?” Mom yelled in annoyance. “I’ll call his parents and ask them the meaning of all these. Do you know the sweat and effort I’ve put into the marriage?” Mom cried.


“I’m sorry, Mom. I understand. I trust Khalid has a good reason for this. The wedding will hold in sha ALlaah,” I said as I hugged my mother.


Hours later, Rasheedah and I sat at the balcony, staring at the stars up in the sky. Dad had managed to convince Mom to get a sleep and for the first time in hours, the house fell silent.


The cool breeze tickled my skin as I remembered how bubbly the house had been before Khalid visited and broke the news. Wedding preparations rented the air. Food here and cakes there.


Discussions about aso ebi ...and so much more. Now, everywhere had turned gloomy and we were uncertain if the wedding will hold.


“There is no right man, Rafiah. Only manageable ones,” Rasheedah muttered as tears glistened her face.


I patted her hand. “I believe Khalid made this decision for a cogent reason. You should give him time, then hear him out,” I advised.


Rasheedah shook her head. “What if it is just an excuse to end this? What if this wedding will never hold?” she said as her phone chimed on the table.


Rasheedah stared at her phone for minutes before passing it on to me. “Look at what he sent,” she said as she gave me her phone.


Rasheedah, you’re the love of my life. I cannot think of spending my life with anyone else asides you. I am also ready to walk you down the aisle. To start a future with you and watch as we raise beautiful children. Masha ALlaah.


I am not ending this marriage. I cannot bring myself to do that…I’ll not be the same if I make such a terrible decision. As I sat in your living room, watching as you all gazed at me with disappointed eyes, I wished that I had brought better news. I hate to see your parents looking sad and angry…I hate to bring sadness upon your family.


You see, life is so unpredictable. This minute, you’re excited you can’t think of any worries. You believe you have everything you could ever want. The next, you’re sad and confused. You don’t know how you would get of every trouble in your life. You’re confused as hell. And you make decisions; some costly ones to save your loved ones.


Rasheedah, you’re the love of my life and I cannot bear to watch anything bad happen to you. I prefer to postpone this wedding than watch you get into danger. Believe me, this was for our good. And I’m sure that years later, we would tell our children about this with loud laughter. This will be part of our story.


Please, forgive me for breaking your heart. I didn’t mean to. I’m only trying to protect you. I promise you, our glamorous wedding- that will surely be the talk of town- will be held soon. And we will become husband and wife. And we will spend the rest of our lives together.

-          Khalid.


“Wow!” I exclaimed in tears as I handed the phone over to Rasheedah. “I hope you now believe that he had a reason for making this decision and he loves you like always. I’m scared though. Are you safe? Are we safe?”


“I’d give him a call,” Rasheedah said. “Thank you,” she smiled at me before leaving.


As I recalled all I’d read and gushed over my sister’s love story, my phone beeped. I shrieked in surprise as I unlocked the phone and checked the message. My heart beat faster as I read the name of the person that had sent the message.


Munir! It was from Munir! My future husband! The next Khalid!
I beamed in excitement as I clicked on WhatsApp.


Asalamu ‘alaykum, Rafiah. How are you doing?

-          Munir.


I grinned as I started to type.


Wa’alaykumu salam. AlhamduliLlaah, I’m fine. You?

-          Rafiah.


Splendid!  My stomach is full and round. Just had dinner with my brother and he left a few minutes ago…

-          Munir.


Oh, nice!

-          Rafiah.


which brings me to the question. Did you send a mail to my brother?

-          Munir.


Yes, I did. But he hasn’t responded.

-          Rafiah.


I told him about you some minutes ago and he promised to skim through his unread messages…which I doubt he’d do. Can you, please send a follow-up, so, he’ll see that and respond?

-          Munir.


No problem. I’ll do that. Thanks!

-          Rafiah.


How is Asmau’s health? Hope she’s getting better?

-          Munir.


Yes, she’ll be at work next tomorrow, in sha ALlaah.

-          Rafiah.


Next tomorrow?

-          Munir.


LOL. Tomorrow’s workers’ day. So…no work!

-          Rafiah.


Gosh! Totally forgotten. Thanks for the information. So…how would you be spending workers’ day?

-          Munir.


I’ll pay Asmau a visit, read some books and have quality sleep. What about you?

-          Rafiah.


Nice choice! Well, I’ll keep myself busy with activities. Need to study hard for an exam I’d write next month.

-          Munir.


BarakaLlaahu fee. May ALlaah make it a success.

-          Rafiah.


Aameen. So, I wanted to tell you about a restaurant I found out before leaving for work today. A certified jollof rice lover like you would love this place.

-          Munir.


Lol. Their jollof rice is that delicious?

-          Rafiah.


More than delicious. I could take you there next tomorrow…if you want.

-          Munir.


It would be an honour. Thanks for everything, Munir.

-          Rafiah.


Ha-ha. What I have done? Anyway, I need to sleep now. My eyes are dancing right now. Bye, Rafiah.

-          Munir.


Bye, Munir.

-          Rafiah.


I clicked the ‘send’ button and dropped my phone, smiling sheepishly. Yes, I’d be going on a date with Munir!


Episode Seven

Asmau laughed loudly as I related what had happened a day before- how Munir and I had eaten lunch together and talked about anything and everything. She rubbed her belly and made the ‘aww’ sound when I also revealed that we chatted overnight.


It was workers’ day and I had decided to spend a major part of the day with Asmau. Her husband- who worked in shifts at his place of work- had to leave for work this morning. So, this was me and Asmau all alone in her cream-coloured apartment, eating boiled yam and fried eggs, and catching up with the latest gist.


“Ah, it has happened oo! What colour we will use as aso ebi? When are we holding the long-anticipated wedding? This year or next year?”


I gave a staccato of laughter as I stared at Asmau, still dressed in her nighties and looking puffy. “This guy hasn’t asked me out. I’m not sure he would…”


“But there are clear signs. If you can’t see them, I can see them,” she chuckled. “I’ll start ironing my gele for the glamorous wedding. And imagine, he is from a wealthy home. That makes you even with your sister.”


“I’m not competing with my sister,” I frowned at her. “By the way, the wedding has been postponed. Khalid said it’s a matter of life and death,” I said as Asmau dropped her cup in shock.


“Matter of life and death? What happened?”


“I don’t know and Khalid will not explain in detail. My parents are livid right now. Dad hardly says a word. It looks like he is deep in thought. I think he is more bothered about the ‘life and death’ part. I mean, who wouldn’t be? I’m also curious and scared. Mom keeps lamenting and complaining over what Khalid said. She is also furious his parents haven’t come over to explain exactly what went wrong. According to Rasheedah, they are currently not in Nigeria.”


Asmau gasped in surprise. “Wow. I’m so sorry. May ALlaah protect all of you and make the marriage a success,” she picked up her cup and filled it with water. “I hope this is not politics-related. You know his dad is a politician?”


I played with the tip of my veil as I adjusted the pillow on the sofa. “Who knows? I also thought about that. We all know politics in Nigeria is a dirty game.”


“How is Rasheedah faring? I hope she’s fine?”


“She’s faring well. Khalid sent a lengthy and heart-warming message to her last night. I’m sure she has fallen in love with him over again with that message,” I was saying when my phone started to ring.


I shrieked in surprise and alarm as I checked the caller ID. My eyes widened in shock when I realized that it was from Munir. I could catch sight of Asmau peering at me as I took hold of my phone.


“Who’s that?”


I smiled shyly. “Munir. Excuse me,” I said as beads of sweat formed around my forehead. My legs felt wobbly as I hurried to the balcony to pick his call.


Asalamu ‘alaykum, Rafiah!” Munir greeted excitedly.


My stomach flipped in excitement as his sound of his voice rang over my head. I loved the way he pronounced my name with emphasis on the ‘ain. Totally loved it!


Wa’alaykumu salam. How are you?”


“Lazy as heck. Remember I told you I’d spend today reading? Well, I’ve been in bed all day, scrolling through my social media feed. I’ve practically spent two hours on Instagram. Gosh! That space is crazy. You’d visit a profile and end up clicking on the profile of an account and another account tagged by the person they’ve tagged…and they cycle continues!” he laughed and I did so in return.


“I can relate to that. I try to avoid that space as much as possible. So yeah, try getting up from bed and drop that distraction called phone.”


“Thanks, Rafiah. I’ll do just that. Have you sent the mail to my brother?”


I gnashed my teeth as I recalled our last night’s conversation. SubhanaLlaah! I’d totally forgotten. “I totally forgot. I’m so sorry!” I’d spent the night and this morning, reminiscing over Munir and picturing our lives together.


“You shouldn’t be sorry. It’s not about me. It’s about you, Rafiah. Have you discussed with your dad?”


“My home is currently tensed. Some unexpected events happened. So, I don’t think this is the ideal time to tell him about it.”


“Hope everyone’s fine?”


“Yes, we are. AlhamduliLlaah,” I said, recalling Khalid’s statement and wishing one of us had a flick of an idea about what was happening.


I cannot explain this now. It’s just…it’s a matter of life and death,” Khalid had said.


I couldn’t tell Munir what was really happening at home. At least, not now.


“I’m glad to hear that. Erm…are you already at Asmau’s place?”


I laughed. “Yes. We’ve been eating and talking nonstop.” I said, leaving out the part that we’d mostly talked about him and our imaginary wedding.


“I guessed as much. My regards to her. Let me get out of bed and get something doing…and please, send that mail.”


“Thanks. Bye,” I said as I ended the call and walked over to where we were once sitting.


Asmau had left for the kitchen. She winked at me as she returned with a glass of cold juice. “You’ve been eating and drinking everything. You’ll get fatter, Asmau!” I yelled at her as I settled on the couch.


“Leave me alone, jare. Me and my baby are eating,” she shrugged as she sat on the floor. “What were you two lovebirds discussing?”


“Mostly about my career. He wants me to send a mail to his brother. His brother is a successful author. Faruk Zubair,” I said as Asmau widened her eyes in shock.


“The cute and popular author? Ah, Rafiah. You’re one lucky person. You get to get married to the brother of Faruk Zubair!”


I rolled my eyes. “Can you stop with all these marriage talks? Nothing has been official okay?” I frowned at her and she gave a pretense nod. “Good. So, as I was saying, he wants me to follow my passion. So, he wants me to talk at length with my dad. But…I don’t think this is the right moment to do so.”


“Talking to your dad about pursuing a career in writing can actually distract him from the whole matter-of-life-and-death saga. Or…what do you think?”


“I think it would worsen it. Imagine telling my dad, now, that I want to do away with my accounting degree and become a professional writer. Believe me, he will flare up.”


“Okay, that’s true,” Asmau said as she suddenly grew quiet. She stood up and started to pace around the room. “Jamal wants me to stop working for Fulaan. He told me to tender my resignation letter next week,” she said with wet eyes.


“Wow! He has always wanted you to stop working. What will you do now?”


“I’m still trying to convince him…even though I’m certain he would not accept. Now that I’m pregnant, he has made a solid decision that I stop working.”


“I’m so sorry,” I said.


“It’s fine. I’ll be back shortly,” she picked her hijab from the chair. “I need to get sardine from downstairs.”


I laughed unbelievably. “What for?”


“Bread and sardine.”


“You still want to eat? How will…” I was saying when Asmau sprinted out of the door.


I sighed deeply as I clicked on Gmail and started composing a message to send to Faruk Zubair.



Hello Mr. Zubair,

Trust this meets you well.

I’m Rafiah Hassan, an acquaintance of your brother, Munir. We were chatting on a sunny afternoon when he revealed that you are his brother. Well, it came as a great surprise and I’d never felt that excited in a while.

I am currently working as an accountant in an auditing firm. I, however, do not like my job. Right from when I was young, I’d always wanted to become a writer. I would dream of publishing great works and winning awards. I would imagine becoming a prolific author, just like you.

I do not want to work as an accountant. It brings no satisfaction at all. I want to pursue a career in writing and I need you as my guide and mentor. I want you to pull me through the ways to becoming a successful author. I need you to teach me how to start, what to do, and how long it will take to become one.

I anticipate a response from you. Thank you so much.

Best regards,

Rafiah Hassan.



When I returned home before sunset, I realized that the tension that crept up the room since yesterday had reduced. The sound coming from the TV filled the room and Mom was talking about her proposed lace business with a friend over the phone. Dad was reading the latest news on his tablet and Rasheedah had gone out to visit a friend.


I grinned widely as I greeted them and walked to my room, wondering if this would be the right time to reveal the news to Dad. Munir had sent over five writing-related job opening links to my WhatsApp and this had motivated me to start working as a professional writer.


As I reached for the door knob, I heard Dad call my name. “How is Asmau?”


“She’s fine. She sent her regards.”


“I want to see you. Let’s go inside,” he said as I entered the room and dropped my bag on the bed.


I placed the second bag containing cold Fanta and meat pie on the table and took a seat beside Dad on the bed.


“It’s about what Khalid said. I don’t want to act worried because of your mom and Rasheedah…but there’s all need to be worried, Rafiah. For Khalid to be unable to explain how dangerous it would be to hold the wedding at the specified date, I’m bothered our lives are all at risk.”


I pulled my hijab and stared at the ceiling. A cobweb had formed at the right corner. I would take a broom and dust it off immediately Dad leaves the room.


“I’m also scared. I’m wondering it might have to do with politics. The question is, what happens when a new wedding date is fixed? How can we go about that day knowing that our lives could be at risk? What if we’re also not safe even at home? What is really happening?” I prattled as I remembered the look of fright that had clouded Khalid’s eyes on the day he visited.


“These are some of the questions bogging my mind, Rafiah. I think we should demand his parents visit immediately,” he was saying when I interrupted.


“But they are currently not in Nigeria.”


“Does that matter more than our lives? We deserve a tangible explanation other than ‘It’s a matter of life and death.’ If they can’t, we might have to call off the wedding. We are not puppets who would just do anything even when our lives are on the line,” Dad said with creased forehead.


As he shared his concern with me, I suddenly realized how much I was adored by my Dad. Not just because I was the first daughter, but because I had decided to follow his instruction and become an accountant like him. He believed we had so much in common and I was someone we could confide in. Suddenly, I felt guilty for thinking of going against his wish. I also felt scared to express my dissatisfaction in being an accountant.


“I agree with you, dad.”


“Thank you, Rafiah. I’ll go give them a call,” Dad said as he stood up and started to leave.


I cleared my throat as fear gripped. “Erm…there’s something I want to discuss with you,” I said as he stopped on his tracks and swivelled towards me. “What is it about?”


“It is about my career.”


“What about your career?” he narrowed his eyes at me.

Don't miss out on the previous episodes:

Episode One

Episode Two

Episode Three & Episode Four

Episode Five