Saturday 12 June 2021

Life and Everything in Between (Episode Ten)


The market was stifling and filled to the brim with people eager to buy wares from traders before sunset. I pushed my way through the crowd as I headed to the shop of my regular seller to purchase spaghetti and smoked fish for dinner.


The day was undoubtedly hectic. I had spent hours staring at the screen and calculating figures I wish I understood. Sometimes, I wonder how I’d been able to work at this establishment for more than a year without getting a query or sack letter. Then, when I head for work every morning, I wonder how I’d be able to tackle the day’s task.


My stomach flipped in excitement as I remembered Munir and how we had spent lunch analysing foreign celebrities and their net worth. Munir was the delight at my workplace. Now, I looked forward to rocking new outfits and going to work because of him. My face broke into a grin as I remembered how he made it possible to fix a date with his brother.


Munir ticked all boxes. He was handsome, tall, intelligent, religious, and willing to assist me in growing my career. He had a radiant face that lit up whenever he was excited about something. His eyes were charming and…


How you dey, customer?” Mama Kunle asked, drifting me back to reality.


I cleaned my sweat-filled face with my handkerchief and smiled at Mama Kunle, a petite woman with bright eyes and sparkling teeth. “Good evening, ma. How was market today?” I asked as I settled on the seat in front of the shop and sighed deeply.


Mama Kunle sold different kinds of goods- ranging from rice to beans and spaghetti. She had once told me that she was a widow who used the proceeds from the shop to fund her children’s school fees. It was surprising how she always looked contented and happy despite her situation.


Mama Kunle smiled at me. “Good evening, my sister. How work?”


“Ah, boring as always. I cannot wait to leave,” I said as I got up and picked a pack of spaghetti from the table.


After such a busy day, the best way to end the day would be to prepare a delicious plate of spicy spaghetti laced with fish.


Mama Kunle chuckled. “You don dey talk this one for more than one year. Work tire you, but you no wan leave,” she laughed hard, and I joined.


I paid for the spaghetti and smoked fish, and five minutes later, I was in front of the pepper seller, waiting for her to attend to the buyers that had arrived before me.


As I glanced through the market impatiently, I caught sight of a long-limbed man walking towards where I was standing. He held a baby to his chest as he stared at me. He was dressed in a green shirt and pair of trousers and looking at him, I was confident that I knew him from somewhere…but I couldn’t place it.


Asalamu ‘alaykum warahmatuLlaah wabarakahtuhu,” he greeted with a thick Yoruba accent.


I replied to the tesleem and cleared my throat, eager to hear him introduce himself. It was evident that he had approached me because he knew me from somewhere.


“Do you remember me?” he asked.


“No,” I responded.


“I was in the Department of Banking and Finance. We took some courses together. Do you remember me now?” he said with a laugh.


I chuckled as I realised that I had finally placed a name on the face. “Lukman, right? You were a friend to the class prefect.”


“Correct!” he grinned at me.


“How have you been? It’s been…years!” I laughed.


“AlhamduliLlaah. I currently worked at JAIZ Bank and am married. This is my child here. His name is Al-Ameen.”


“Masha ALlaah,” I caressed the cheeks of the cute-looking baby. “He looks so lovely.”


“Yes, thanks. So, what about you? Are you married?” he asked.


“No. I haven’t gotten married.”


“Why?” he asked, and I was taken aback by his question.


“Well, I haven’t found a suitable man to get married to.”


He laughed skeptically. “How is that possible? There are lots of suitable men looking for women to get married to. That can’t be the reason, Rafiah. Or…are you doing ako? You will always find one if you’re truly ready.”


I rolled my eyes in disgust. “That means I’ll try harder. Thanks for your advice. My regards to your wife,” I forced a smile and walked away, looking for another shop to purchase pepper and tomatoes from.


My face scrunched up in a frown as I remembered how he had been so inconsiderate and judging. Well, all these would be over when I get married to Munir!


Hours later, I had arrived home with exhilaration seeping inside of me. The thought of Munir distracted me from Lukman’s negative comments.


As I was dressing up after a cold shower, my phone chimed on the bed. My heart raced faster as I hurried to check the Caller ID. It was just who I was expecting; Munir.


Asalamu ‘alaykum, Munir,” I greeted as I clicked the answer button.


Wa’alaykumu salam. Arrived home?” he asked


My heart leapt in excitement as I heard his voice. “Yes yes! Currently preparing to make dinner.”


“You should become a chef so that this talent will not go to waste,” he laughed.


“Indeed. Stop flattering me,” I chuckled.


“I’m not! The breakfast you brought to work two days ago was a bomb. The aroma filled the whole room. Lest I forget, what was that?”


“Boiled yam and scrambled eggs.”


Wow wow wow! You’re living the life, Rafiah. Though, I don’t like boiled yam.”


“You wouldn’t believe what happened this evening,” I stated as I settled on the bed.


“Tell me about it.”


I narrated how I had met Lukman and the insensitive words he had said. Munir sounded angry and disappointed over the phone.


“I’m sorry about that. Some people derive joy in poking their nose into people’s affairs. What would he lose by exchanging pleasantries and going on with his business? People sha!” Munir stated.


“Thank you, Munir.”


“My brother is eager to meet you. I’ve said so many nice things about you to him,” he laughed, and I imagined his eyes twinkling in delight.


“I’m nervous, though. It’s rare to have the opportunity to sit with one of the famous writers in Nigeria,” I smiled.


“Farouk keeps getting the accolades! Well, I’m off to read the biography of the world’s richest basketballer, Michael Jordan. I don’t want fame. I want money,” he chuckled. “I’ll see you tomorrow, in sha ALlaah. Good night.”


“Good night, Munir,” I replied and hung up, lowering my head and wondering when Munir would pop the question…if he would ever pop the question.


I remembered what I had said when Asmau asked if I could propose to Munir. “He’s got all the chance to propose if he is truly interested.”


“My sweet sister!” Rasheedah sang as she stormed into the room, dressed in a red gown and black veil. She was holding a big bag, and her face was filled with an over-do of makeup.


I rolled my eyes and wore my baggy shorts. “You went out with Khalid?”


She sat beside me and placed a finger across her lips. “Reduce your voice, na. You don’t want to imagine what will happen if Dad finds out that I’m still seeing Khalid.”


“Why are you still seeing him?”


“His parents will arrive soon, and we’ll get married,” she said and brought out goodies from the bag. “Khalid bought this for you,” she handed me a bowl of ice cream.


“Compensation for keeping my mouth shut?”


She laughed. “Stop that. He just decided to buy it for you.”


I opened the bowl. “Just be careful. Dad will be unhappy if he learns about this.”


“I know. It’s just a matter of time. His parents arrive in five days.”


“Okay, oo!” I replied as I took a scoop.


“Rafiah,” Dad called as I was heading to the kitchen with the bag of foodstuff.


I placed it on the dining table and walked towards his favourite sofa, where he buried his face in a newspaper.


“I’m here, Dad.”


“Sit down,” he said as he folded the newspaper and looked at me. “How was work?”


“It was fine, Dad,” I replied, settling on a seat beside him.


Dad was putting on his gray shirt and faded denim trousers. He stared at the rug and looked up at me again. “We left off a discussion some weeks ago before Rasheedah’s dilemma came up. So let’s discuss it now,” he said. “There is no career in writing. So why do you want to let go of a reputable career like accounting?”


“I don’t have a passion for accounting. However, writing is also a viable profession. We have successful professional writers like Khaled Hosseini, Stephen King, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.”


“That’s not the point, Rafiah. You studied accounting in the higher institution. You spent four years studying this course, and you are currently working in a reputable company. Why would you let go of this because of writing?”


“Writing brings me fulfillment. I can only envision myself as a writer,” I said, wondering how I got the courage to say all of these. When I arrive at work tomorrow, I would tell Munir about all of it.


“Why are you making this decision now?”


“I wasn’t bold enough to make them years ago. I think this is the time to choose my happiness. I want to explore writing…” I was saying when Mom appeared in front of us.


Her hands were trembling, and her face was filled with tears. Our faces blanched in shock as we caught sight of the piece of paper she was holding. She handed the note to Dad, and he grabbed it instantly.


SubhanaLlaah! SubhanaLlaah! SubhanaLlaah!” Dad screamed in shock.


Perplexed, I took note to see what was written. I let out a loud gasp as I read the content.


‘You’ve been warned!’ was written in red and the tip of the paper was soaked with blood.    

Don't miss out on the previous episodes:

Episode One

Episode Two

Episodes Three & Four

Episode Five

Episodes Six & Seven

Episode Eight

Episode Nine



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