Sunday 26 September 2021

Life and Everything in Between (Episode Fourteen)


Rasheedah grinned at me with sleepy eyes as I adjusted my red gown- the dress I had ordered from Jumia specifically for Tolu’s wedding.


“You look amazing, Rafiah!” Rasheedah said as she stared at the red gown over and over again.


It was a sparkling gown with flowery patterns at the tip. I smiled in appreciation as I grabbed my black bag from the wardrobe.


“You don’t have to attend Tolu’s wedding. It will be perfectly fine if you just sit at home and read a book…or watch a movie,” Rasheedah stated as she looked at me with pitiful eyes.


“I am okay attending this wedding, believe me,” I said as I settled on the bed and wore my leather wristwatch. “No one will look at me with pity. My plus-one will be someone hot and famous,” I chuckled, and Rasheedah widened her eyes in surprise.


She jumped up from the bed and hurried to stand in front of me. “Who is that? Gosh! I knew you’ve been up to a lot of things, Rafiah. Those calls and chats you’ve been so preoccupied with,” she laughed. “Tell me. Who is it?”


“Farouk Zubair. The same popular writer,” I tried to stop myself from grinning, but I couldn’t help it. The thought of seeing Farouk again and spending time with him made my heart leap in joy.


“SubhanaLlaah! How is that possible? How can Farouk Zubair be your date?” she stared at me in shock.


“It feels like a dream, but it’s the truth. Just yesterday, I spent a major part of my day with him. And now, he’ll be attending my ex’s wedding as my plus one,” I smiled in excitement.


Rasheedah picked up the pearl earrings from the jewelry box and helped me put them on. “Show me the way, nah!” she laughed.


“You’re the one that should show me the way. You’re getting married to Khalid, the son of a famous politician,” I said.


Rasheedah continued smiling. “I cannot believe that, by this time next year, I would have become a married woman. How is that possible?” she sighed deeply.


I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, but don’t forget to brush your teeth as you rise from sleep. Your mouth stinks, Rasheedah!” I said as we both fell on the bed, laughing hysterically.


“I need to leave on time. I wouldn’t want to keep Farouk waiting,” I was saying when Mom barged into the room.


“Where are you going to, Rafiah?” Mom asked as she stood hands akimbo, her dress smelling of onion and curry.


“I’m attending Tolu’s wedding,” I said, but Mom scrunched up her face in anger and disappointment.


“That Tolu? I thought I’d never heard that name in this house again. You do not have to attend. Or did your boss make it mandatory for every staff to attend?”


“No, she didn’t. Asmau isn’t even attending the wedding. She has an appointment with her doctor.”


“You see?” Mom said, staring at Rasheedah to get her approval. “You shouldn’t attend that wedding. Or don’t you know the gravity of what that Tolu did?”


“She is not going there alone. A famous writer will be her plus one,” Rasheedah said as she smiled at me.


Mom sat on the bed and stared at me with eager eyes. “I’ve missed so much from your life, Rafiah. Rasheedah’s wedding preparation has taken all of my time. So, you’ve met someone else?”


“No, Mom. We’re just going as friends. I’ll explain everything to you later. But first, I have to leave.”


“Ah, no. You have to eat before leaving. I just finished preparing a pot of porridge.”


I stood up and protested, shaking my head. “I’ll eat at the wedding.”


“What if you don’t get served? Last month, I went to Iya Jelil’s son’s wedding with an empty stomach, with the hope of eating amala and efo riro till my stomach bulges. Instead, I didn’t get anything to eat…” Mom was saying when my phone started to ring.


It was the cab driver calling. “I think my cab is outside. I need to leave now. Bye. Asalamu ‘alaykum,” I said as I grabbed my bag and walked out of the room.


I arrived at the wedding venue about an hour later, struggling to fight the nervous thoughts that engulfed me. How could I possibly walk into the wedding hall with Farouk by my side? How could I possibly do so?


You will do this,” I muttered between breaths as I picked up my phone and dialed Farouk’s number.


“I’m in front of the hall,” I said.


“Okay. I’ll hop out of the car then,” he said, and I looked around the sea of cars parked, hoping to spot the car he was seated in.


Farouk descended from a black Mercedes, and he walked towards where I was standing, dressed in a kaftan and black kufi cap. “Asalamu ‘alaykum, Rafiah,” he greeted with a smile.


Wa’alaykumu salam. How long have you been here?”


“Thirty minutes. I didn’t want to step into the hall without you.”


“Thank you,” I said in appreciation. “And I’m sorry for keeping you waiting.”


“It’s fine. I left home earlier to beat the traffic,” Farouk said as he glanced at me. “You look nervous, Rafiah. Do you want to do this? We can always turn back…”


“It’s fine,” I said with a sigh. “Let’s get in.”


“Okay!” Farouk said in a frisson as we stepped into the wedding hall, filled to the brim with guests.


Maher Zain’s Paradise rented the air, and from a distance, I could spot the bride and groom, looking dashing and flashing their brightest smiles.


“Look! That’s Rafiah!” I heard someone say, and soon, a hundred pairs of eyes were fixated on Farouk and me.


I grinned from ear to ear as Farouk and I settled on our seats. “We should take a picture. Out first outing together,” he said, and my heart leapt in excitement again.


Could there be a possibility of Farouk and me becoming a couple?


“Hi, there! Rafiah!” Janet hurried to where we were sitting as I posed for the camera. “Is this not Farouk Zubair? Oh yes, he is. Oh my God. Good morning…good afternoon, sir. You’re here with Rafiah?”


“Yes, I am,” Farouk was saying, but several people had gathered at our table, literally begging for pictures.


It took more than an hour for me to get used to the fact that people would keep staring at us until the wedding ceremony ended. After that, I tried to drift my mind to something else, like eating from the tray of small chops and going through my Instagram feed.


Farouk seemed more composed than ever. He was probably used to people gushing over him as a public figure. But my face was literally filled with sweat, knowing full well that people were staring at Farouk and me.


“May I ask what happened?” Farouk drifted me back to reality.


“What?” I asked in confusion.


“You and Tolu. I know it must be so hard. I cannot imagine how challenging it must be, seeing your ex at work every day and learning that he is engaged to another colleague.”


“It is very hard, Farouk. One evening, I received a WhatsApp message from Tolu, explaining why we should end our relationship. I spent the night drowning in my tears and wishing that I could erase every memory of him. Everything suddenly didn’t make sense. I even saw a therapist. I still don’t understand how I managed to get through that dreadful experience,” I said.


“We all get through the experience. At one point or the other, we get through it. Not because we did something spectacular to get through it or grew strong. We get through it because ALlaah created us as forgetful beings. We do not remember things exactly how they happened years ago, and we don’t spend all of our time thinking of these events.


“I’ve also been heartbroken. Jamila. Smart and outspoken. She walked up to me at an event, and we connected. We would spend our Saturdays talking about writing and foreign authors. So it came as a shock when she ended our engagement and travelled to Canada. Jamila wasn’t the committed type. She wanted to write and visit countries. She couldn’t bear to be limited by love,” Farouk concluded.


“I’m sorry about what happened to you,” I said.


“And I’m sorry you have to go through this. No one else attends their ex’s wedding. No one!” Farouk shook his head, and I laughed in response. “Well, food is here!” he exclaimed as the usher placed two plates of jollof rice and garnished goat meat in front of us.


I stepped into the office on Monday morning, feeling confident and beautiful. I’d never felt that way in a long time.


My colleagues greeted me with smiles as I walked graciously in my new black pointy heels. Tolu and Najeebah had been granted two weeks leave to travel for their honeymoon. Tolu had always talked about spending our honeymoon in Kano, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he took Najeebah there.


News had been spreading that I was in a relationship with Farouk. Some bold colleagues had approached me to confirm it was true, but I only responded with a grin.


As I turned on my computer, my phone chimed with a new notification. My heart raced faster as I picked up my phone and realised that it was from Farouk.


Gosh! I had fun yesterday! It’s been a long time since a boring writer like me had fun. All thanks to you.

PS- Don’t forget to do that task I told you.

-          Farouk Zubair.


My face lingered with a smile as I reread the message over and over again. It took Mrs. Bola tapping my right arm to realise that she was standing in front of me.


“Good morning, Rafiah. How are you?” Mrs. Bola was staring at me with a big smile.


‘Good morning, ma.”


“Can you invite Farouk Zubair to our upcoming seminar? It will be a delight if he attends,” she said.


“I’ll see what I can do,” I replied.


“Thank you,” she smiled at me and walked to another table.


Asmau, who was trying hard not to laugh, ran towards my table immediately after Mrs. Bola left the office. “Was it not Mrs. Bola shining her teeth at you? Wow! I cannot believe a day like this would occur,” she laughed. “It’s obvious your outing with Munir’s brother went well.”


“He sent me this,” I said, handing over my phone to Asmau.


Asmau settled on a seat after reading the message and whispered in my ears. “Who do you really like? Munir or Farouk? Well, I know it is Farouk. What will happen to Munir?”


“Munir probably doesn’t like me. He sees me as a friend,” I quipped.


“Have you seen him today? He looks like someone who woke up on the wrong side of the bed,” Asmau said as she stood up. “Start practicing how you will face Munir during lunch,” she concluded and returned to her desk.


Before starting the day’s work, I decided to create the long-awaited list before lunch break. So I took a pen and paper and started to write:


Career Decisions

Why I Should Choose Accounting

1.      I spent 4 years studying accounting.

2.      I make quite a deal of money from accounting.

3.      Accounting is a professional course.

4.      People will look at me with admiration when they learn that I am an accountant.

5.      I will become one of the responsible Nigerian youth.


Why I Should Become a Writer

1.      I will become happy.

2.      I will be gain fulfillment.

3.      I will be actualising my dream.

4.      I will create my brand and better connect with other creatives.

5.      I will become a renowned writer.

6.      I will be able to share my works with a large audience.

7.      More opportunity to spend time with Farouk.

8.      More opportunity to connect with Farouk.

9.      I reallyyyy like Farouk.

       Don't miss out on the previous episodes:

Episode One

Episode Two

Episodes Three & Four

Episode Five

Episodes Six & Seven

Episode Eight

Episode Nine

Episode Ten

Episode Eleven






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