April 13, 2024

“Hilwah, your phone has since been ringing!” Hajiyah Siyyamah said as soon as she bounced into the kitchen. We were cooking breakfast.

“Okey, thanks Hajiya” Hilwah said running out.
Just then, Hajiya walked to me. “Manal, hope everything is fine?”

She said looking worried.
“Yes, Hajiya” I feigned smiling. “It’s just that I woke up with a migraine but I’ve taken pills”
“Eyyah…” she placed her hardel on my neck. “Maybe you need to avoid stressing yourself”
“Hmm, I’m fine Hajiya” I huffed. “You are the one that needs to avoid stress at all cost…”
“Because I look old to you, right?” She said.
“No, you are not old ai” I teased. “But you can’t work while we are available, even Ya Hauwa I told her to rest.

You both need to rest, Hajiya”
“Alright then” She pecked me on my forehead. “Let me go and rest before someone gets mad” “Oh, yes!” I watched her as she left the kitchen.

Actually, I lied about the migraine and about the pills. I wasn’t sick or anything, it was about Hilwah. Could you believe she made her mind yesterday without thinking deep? She said she was going to return back to her husband’s house during the weekend. I wasn’t really happy at all, I wanted her to at least stay for a month before going back. Well, I wouldn’t blame her. It was all pharmacist Idris’ fault!

“Idris said I should greet you” Hilwah said as soon as she bounced back into the kitchen.
“And so what?” I glared at her.
“Are you also angry with him?” She asked.
“Yes, he’s the architect” I muttered.
“But why do you think this is all his fault? He only did what his brother wanted, which was to convince me and remember we made an agreement that if his brother mess up again that would be the end of…” She said as I cut in. “I am not saying you shouldn’t go back, wasn’t I the one that told you to come here and cool your heels? I just don’t want you to go yanzu, Hilwah” I uttered lowering the gas cooker. “I have to, Manal” She said.
“Do what you want!” I squealed.
“Okey then” She muttered.

That was how silence crept upon us. We served everyone in the dining room and ate silently like we had never known each other before. As soon as we were done eating, Ya Salim left for work while Ya Hauwa went straight to her room to rest. Fridays were always her resting days ever since her bump reached its month.

Hilwah and I cleared the dining table while Hajiyah Siyyamah walked to the living room and switched on the Tv. She loved watching morning news, something I totally disliked. Yes, I practically hated watching news on Tv!
I washed the dishes and swept the house while Hilwah washed the toilets in the house. She was silent and I was silent too.

After all the chores, I went back to the room and slept till noon. When I woke up, I found out Hilwah and Ya Hauwa had already cooked lunch. I ate and prayed Zhur before Ya Salim called me via phone. His car had crashed and he wanted me to bring his mechanic over to where he was.

I took Hajiya Siyyamah’s car to the mechanic and thus drove the mechanic to where Ya Salim was. To my utmost surprise he wasn’t alone, he was with Idris. I greeted them and Idris couldn’t take his eyes off me, like I was nude or something. I kept avoiding eye contact with him and kept trying my best not to sound friendly because he was the person behind the recent estrangement between Hilwah and I.

“It is not the spark plugs, it is something beyond that sir” The mechanic uttered.
“What is that?” Ya Salim asked.
“Something is blocking the fuel from entering the engine. The tank needs filtering. Sadly, the equipments are not here” The mechanic said. “Can you call any of your boys?” Ya Salim asked the mechanic forgetting that he had no phone. “Have you forgotten I lost my phone? Same reason why you were unable to reach me directly. Your sister can drive me back and…” “That’s a lot of pressure on her” Idris cut in. “No, it’s okey Idris” I glanced at him.
“Really?” Ya Salim chimed in.

“Yes, Ya Salim” I said storming into the car. “Lets go, Babatunde. I have a lot to do at home!” I added as I quickly started the car.
“Alright” The mechanic hopped in.

Hence, I gave Idris one more glance before driving off. I thought I would meet him there when we returned but guess what? He wasn’t there. Ya Salim told me he said he was sleepy.

Sleepy? Didn’t he slept in the night? I thought.
When I drove back home after returning the mechanic to Ya Salim with two of his boys and the equipments they needed, I prayed Asr because it was time. Hilwah tried picking up a conversation with me by asking if I found Idris’ card but I only shook my head and ignored her. I was bad at keeping grudges.

In fact, in order not to be further disturbed by her I walked out to the backyard with my earpieces held to my ears. I was listening to Sheik Mishary Al Afasy’s Qur’anic recitation of Suratul Khaf. Just as I sat on a bench, the recitation stopped and my phone began ringing. It was an unknown number so I declined it and replayed the recitation. In few seconds, the call came in again. Thus, I hissed and picked it.
“Who is this, please?” I queried.
“It’s me, Idris…” The caller said.
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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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