December 1, 2023

Yesterday, pharmacist Aisha wasn’t happy when I told her she would be going today. It was obvious that she wanted to use my loneliness as an avenue for her to stay with me but I wasn’t a fool to allow that.

Today, just after cooking lunch for me she prepared for work, and from there she would definitely go back home. She had really tried for me.

“Idris, I’m done” She walked over to me in the living room. “Please if you need anything of all kind just call me, I will not hesitate to come”
“Okey, thank you” I nodded my head.
“Alright, bye” She bade me.

Just then, we began hearing knocks by the gate. It was definitely Hilwah, my younger brother’s wife. She was the only visitor I was expecting.
“It’s Hilwah. If you go out please tell her to come in, okey?” I said to pharmacist Aisha.
“Okey” She nodded and left.

In less than a minute, Hilwah walked in and guess what? She wasn’t alone, she was with Salim’s cousin sister, Manal. A big surprise, right? Actually, I had already lose hope of seeing her again but here she was, God had brought her to me as an act of providence.

“Idris?” She said, like she wasn’t sure of who I was. You know, it been long we saw each other.
“Manal?” I acted the same way.

“Wait, you both knew each other?” Hilwah chimed in, she was obviously astonished.

“Actually,” I cleared my throat. “We met in the hospital some time ago. Sit down, please…”
“Thank you, sir” Hilwah said as they both sat down in a couch with Manal looking so coy.

“What can I get you both?” I stood to my feet.
“Of course nothing, we are okey” Hilwah said.
“Okey, so…” I said as I sat back into the chair. “You are hiding in Manal’s house, right?”
“Hmm” Hilwah sighed. “You can call it hiding”
“Yes, it’s hiding” I said glancing at Manal every now and then. She looked so beautiful, more than when I first met her. “Isn’t it, Manal?”

“No, it isn’t” She said, and that made Hilwah to giggle at me. Paddles of the same boat kawai!

“Oh, so you’re backing your friend?” I said to Manal, trying hard to find a place in her life.

“Actually,” She gulped and continued. “It is not hiding, Hilwah is just trying to protect herself”
“Alright” I sighed and turned to Hilwah. “I’m so sorry for what my brother did or had been doing to you, he called yesterday begging me to convince you to come back for God’s sake”
“But why?” Hilwah said and continued. “Why is he always doing this to me? We got married to each other because we love each other but look what he’s doing to me please, something he would never allow someone to do to Rumaisah”
“I understand your plight but please give him this one last chance. Your marriage is barely a year old, separating isn’t the best…” I uttered.

“That is exactly what Manal said but I am just tired of enduring the pain, Ya Idris” Hilwah said and before I knew it she was in tears. “Sometimes he would come back home so drunk and beat the heck out of me for nothing, and sometimes he would rape me anally fa!”

“I’ve talked to him already, he won’t hurt you again” I assured her though I wasn’t sure too.
“And what if he turns back on his heels just like always?” She said with fear written in her face.
“Then I will escort you to court myself” I said.
“Okey then, tell him I will return back to his house but not now…” She said as I intruded.
“When?” I asked.

“Ehm, maybe…” She was saying when Manal unhesitatingly chimed into our conversation.
“Give her a day to think please” Manal said.
“Alright, no problem” I said with my eyes fixed at her. She had wide eyes and thick eyebrows, she was fair and her dimples were so deep. I wasn’t the type of guy that easily fall in love but when I do, call me Romeo or Jack…

“Who was that girl we met by the gate?” Manal asked, I wasn’t really expecting that from her.
“That was pharmacist Aisha, my colleague. She was here to treat me, I wasn’t fine” I explained.
“Oh, get well soon” Manal said.

And that was how we kept talking randomly until it was time for Asr prayer. I wanted them to do it in my house but they insisted in going home first.

That moment, I felt like I was about losing Manal again. I had to collect her contact but I was kindof coy so I escorted them outside to their car and secretly slipped my card into the back seat. She would definitely see it soon.

“Drive carefully” I said to her and she nodded.
I didn’t went back inside until they drove away and disappeared into distance. That moment, I felt like I missed a puzzle piece only that this time around I for sure knew where to find it.

“Drive carefully” Idris said to me and all I could do was to nod my head. I was so shy.

We drove back home safely and as soon as I pulled over in the compound, I spotted a card in the back seat through the rearview mirror.

It was so weird, the place was empty before. Maybe I should ask Hilwah, it might just be hers. I mulled over and just as I was about asking her whose it was, she had already alighted from the car.

So, I picked the card and found out it belonged to Idris, the pharmacist guy.

How on earth did it got into the car? I thought as I alighted from the car. “Hilwah, come o!” I said not knowing she had already stormed into the flat. I hastily followed her and showed her the card. “I found Idris’ card in the back seat…”

“So?” She rose a brow.
“Were you the one that put it there?” I asked.
“No, it was him and I saw him” She responded.
“But, why would he do that?” I was curious.

“Because he wants you to have his contact” She said as she opened her laptop and switched it on. “Just save the number and call him, okey?”

“Call him?” I pretended as if I didn’t like the idea. “How on earth do you expect me to do that, Hilwah? Kindly take back your ill idea” “Hmm, pretender!” She teased me. “Oh please, you’re no fun!” I uttered as I flung the card away in the floor and left the room.

Ya Salim and Ya Hauwa were in their room so I went there to disturb them. I so much loved interrupting their romantic moments, always!

“Hello!” I said as I bounced into the room.
“What is wrong with you?” Ya Hauwa said as she quickly withdrew from Ya Salim’s lap.
“I am sorry, but it’s not night yet” I teased.
“And what if it is not?” She snapped at me.
“Sorry o!” I said leaning by the door.
“And what even brought you here?” Ya Salim chimed in already annoyed. “Tell me, Manal!”
“Nothing, just…”
“Get out!” He squealed.
“Wayyo Allah…” I ran out of the room.

After praying Asr, I joined Hilwah in watching Five Feet Apart. It was so heart touching and before I knew it, my eyes were already teary.

The film made sense but watching Stella and Will departs pained me. They had no choice, their ailment was Cystic Fibrosis and patients with such were not supposed to fall inlove or even stay below five feet from each other…

As soon as we were done watching the film, I found myself searching for Idris’ card but I couldn’t find it. I searched the entire room but to no avail. Who could have taken it? Hilwah?

“Hey, what are you looking for?” She asked.
“Idris’ card, have you seen it?” I said.
“Absolutely not” She sounded serious. “Why?”
“Nothing” I said feeling ashamed of myself. “But Hilwah I threw it right over there fa!”
“Then why isn’t it there?” She rose a brow.
“I don’t know” I lamented.
“Really?” She scoffed.

“What was that supposed to mean?” I glared at her. She was the only one in the room after all.
“Angry?” She giggled. “Wait, I thought you were the one that threw it away, why then are you looking for it again? Change of mind?”
“If you took it, just give it to me!” I squealed.
“I wish I took it, but wallahi I didn’t” She said.
“Okey, fine!” I said about leaving the room when she called me wearing a broad smile.

“I have his digits in case you need it” She said.
Well, ofcourse I needed his contact but I was shy to admit it. Shy? Or proud? I didn’t even know. “I don’t want it!” I said and, thus, left.
Just as I walked past Hajiya Siyyamah’s room, I overheard her sobbing quietly. It was odd, what could be wrong with her? I wondered as I gently walked to her door and eavesdropped.

“Ever since you left, things hadn’t been easy for me. How I wish you had listened to me when I told you to forget about politics but you didn’t. I love you, Alhaji and I wish you were still alive. I wish you’re here with me, I wish Abidah is here too. I just don’t know how miserable my life would have ended up being if you hadn’t given me Salim, your replica…”

Her words really touched me, now I believed in the adage that says if you love something you must learn how to let it go. Not because of anything but because one way or the other, you would one day lose it against all odds.

Thank you for reading #Insidearewa

Written by Mohammed Abubakar KingMoha, Inside Arewa

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Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.

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