Tuesday 1 June 2021

Life and Everything in Between (Episode Nine)


Mom silently stirred the pot of ogbono soup as the smell of beef stock whiffed the air. She tasted the soup and crushed another seasoning cube.


“What? Are you here to stare or assist me?” she asked with a frown, noting the way I had been studying her since I joined her in the kitchen.


It was a Saturday and two days after Dad decided to call off the wedding. Khalid’s parents had promised to return to Nigeria to explain why they had to postpone the wedding. The house had suddenly turned quiet. Mom no longer spends the day talking about hiring the best caterer for the wedding or ensuring that she sends the invitation to every family member. Instead, she would spend most of her time in the living room, looking deep in thought as she stares at the TV.


“Mom, you can’t continue like this. It’s obvious you’ve not been yourself since Dad called off the wedding,” I stared at her with pitiful eyes.


She swallowed hard and turned off the cooker, walking towards the shelf and grabbing the bag of semo. “What do you expect me to do? Dance around after learning that all my efforts have been wasted? Rafiah, I’ve spent months planning this wedding. Finally, I’ve told my family and friends. Everyone knows that my daughter will be getting married grandly. What will I tell them now?” Mom said with a shaky voice.


I could see her eyes swell with tears as she leaned on the wall. “They’ll laugh at me, Rafiah,” she said with a scrunched-up face.

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I reached over to her and pulled her into a hug. “We’ll get through this, in sha ALlaah. Let’s wait for Khalid’s parents to visit. I believe what they say will determine the success of this wedding. Please, Mom, try not to think about this. I know it’s hard for all of us…but we have to try to remain calm. Troubling over what people say will solve no problem,” I said as she cried in my arms.


“Thank you, my daughter,” she pulled away and cleaned her eyes. “Will you help me prepare this semo? I want to rest in the room.”


“Of course,” I responded, turning on the tap and filling the pot with water. “Have some rest, Mom.”


Her steps faded away as I placed the pot on the fire. I was walking out of the kitchen when someone bumped into me.


“Oooh!” Rasheedah chuckled as she regained composure. She surreptitiously whipped up her head to check behind her and returned her gaze, grinning from ear to ear. “I didn’t want Mom to notice that I’m going out.”


I stared at her incredulously, wondering how the lady, who had bawled her eyes out when Dad broke the news, was smiling affectionately. Rasheedah was putting on a red pleated gown and black veil. She toyed with the hand of her new leather tiger-skin bag with her lower lips curved in a smile. “What?” she laughed.


“What is going on? Where are you headed?”


She moved closer to where I was standing and whispered. “I’m going to meet Khalid.”


“Khalid?” I glared at her. “Does Dad or Mom know about this?”


“Nope, they don’t. So, Rafiah, you think it’s easy to let go just like that? To accept that you’re not getting married to the love of your life?”


“Have Khalid explained the meaning of that matter-of-life-and-death statement? I hope you understand why Dad made that decision?”


Rasheedah tapped her legs impatiently. “Look, Rafiah, I’ll get married to Khalid. I know that for sure. His parents are coming next week. They will see Dad, and all issues will be resolved. Just like it used to be,” she adjusted her veil and gave me a warning look. “Please, don’t tell Mom I went to see Khalid. I believe you’ll keep this as a secret.”


“Yes, whatever. Just be safe,” I stated as I returned to the kitchen to open the pot of boiling water.


I had just gotten to the company’s premises when I caught sight of Asmau and Jamal seated in the car. I could see Jamal placing a kiss on Asmau’s forehead and saying words I could not hear from a distance. Asmau laughed in response, grabbed her bag and alighted from the car.


As she strode towards the company’s building, she spotted me standing by the gate and waved her hands with her smile. “See my bestie!” she exclaimed.


Before Jamal drove out of the building, I greeted him with a wave. Then, I walked towards where she was standing and pulled her into a hug. “My pregnant bestie, Asalamu ‘alaykum.”


“Wa’alaykumu salam. You look beautiful, Rafiah. I love your blue skirt,” she trailed my outfit with a smirk. “Munir’s doing.”


I rolled my eyes. “Oh, please. Munir is just a friend and nothing more. By the way, I saw you and your husband doing mushy-mushy in the car. Well done.”


“That’s one percent of our mushy-mushy. You haven’t seen us act romantic,” Asmau laughed as she resumed walking. “What’s up with you? You look unhappy.”


“Ah, nothing really,” I cleaned the beads of sweat that had formed around my forehead with my handkerchief. “Rasheedah is still seeing Khalid. You wouldn’t believe it.”


Asmau shrugged. “I’m not surprised. How are your parents doing?”


We stepped into the building and hurried towards the counter to fill in our names. “They are trying to be fine. Should I feel guilty for feeling somewhat relieved that the wedding plans have been halted? I’m not pleased that the wedding might not hold. I’m just glad that there is no pressure anymore. Mom doesn’t bug me about finding someone real quick, and relatives do not visit anymore to lecture me about making marriage my top goal. No one wants me to stop by Oregun to meet a caterer or pick flowers from Ojota.”


Asmau stared at me with furrowed brows. “You should feel guilty.”


“Oh, astaghfirLlaah!” I muttered as we entered the office.


Munir was standing by the window with a phone pressed to his left ear. My heart flipped in excitement as I caught sight of him. How could someone be so handsome, cute, kind, and intelligent at the same time? If there was a perfect man somewhere, Munir had to be the one.


I never imagined that I could look forward to resuming work every single day. The thought of seeing Munir dressed in one of his crisp shirts would make my heart race faster. Asmau settled on her seat, and I walked towards mine, placing my bag on the table and trying hard to keep my shivering hands steady. I knew Munir would spot me and walk up to me. As I turned on my computer and noticed a familiar figure approaching my desk, I knew that I was right.


“Asalamu ‘alaykum, Rafiah. How are you today?” Munir greeted with a bright smile.


He was dressed in a black shirt and a grey pair of trousers. I smiled in return, trying hard to ensure that it didn’t come out too wide. “Wa’alaykumu salam. I’m fine, AlhamduliLlaah. How are you, too?”


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“AlhamduliLlaah. So, I spoke with my brother yesterday. He was shocked when he read those emails. But he didn’t send them. Farouk might be a snob sometimes, but he would never ridicule anyone.”


“Who sent it, then?” I asked.


Munir tried to hide a smile. “My younger brother, Adam.”


My face blanched in shock. “Your younger brother?”


“Yes. Farouk kept his phone on the table in the living room…and guess what?  Adam decided to play a prank by replying to your emails. We’re so sorry. Adam has apologized. Farouk was so furious. I mean, what if it was a business client?”


“Wow. So, it wasn’t Farouk. Okay. Apologies accepted.”


“He wants to make it up to you. Would you be chanced this weekend? Farouk would like you guys to meet up and talk about writing.”


“That’s great. I can always adjust my weekend tasks. So it’s a yes.”


“Okay. See you during lunch, Rafiah,” he smiled and walked away.


I smiled in excitement as I prepared to start the day’s task.

Don't miss out on the previous episodes:

Episode One

Episode Two

Episodes Three & Four

Episode Five

Episodes Six & Seven

Episode Eight



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