February 28, 2024

“Manal, can I send you to Idris?” Ya Salim said as soon as I appeared before him. He had interrupted my conference call with Hilwah, Zulaiha and Na’imah. I wasn’t happy but by the mentioning of Idris, I smiled. “This one that you’re smiling, I hope everything is okey?”

“Yes!” I winked at him.
“Okey,” He cleared his throat and continued. “Tell Idris to give you what he promised me”
“Huh?” I wrinkled a brow.

“Yes, just tell him that” He said.
“Okey” I said about turning when he halted me.

“Use my car, the key is on the bedside table and please don’t drive recklessly, okey?” He uttered.

“Okey” I said with a gritted teeth and left to the room he shared with Ya Hauwa. After getting the key, I headed to the car and sped away.

Immediately I parked in front of Idris’ house, I called him to come and open the gate for me. Yes, that was far better than knocking his hard gate. I wondered what he was securing in his house with such an armoured gate he had.

“Good Morning, Manal” His voice intercepted my thought. He was in a shorts and singlet.
“Morning” I glanced at him from head to toe.
“Why that look?” He asked smiling.
“Is your body also armoured that you are not feeling the harshness of the weather?” I asked.

“Hahaha, I am about to wash my clothes that’s why you see me this way. Come in” He uttered.

“Okey” I hummed and trailed him inside.
“Salim sent you, right?” He said as soon as we stepped into his sitting room. It was so warm.
“Yeah, he said I should…” I said as he cut in.
“I know already” He winked and huffed.

I’m sorry to say but his wink made me to feel a prickling sensation in my spine. I didn’t even know when I turned my face away from him and sat in an armchair. “Okey, go and bring it”
“Alright” I heard him said.

Thus, I turned and looked at him as he walked towards a room, probably his and stormed in. He was a tall beard guy and I liked how he used to smile every now and then. Like, you hardly see him wearing a sad or angry face.
In a minute or so, just as I was chatting with some of my friends on WhatsApp, Idris came back with something in a black leather and handed it to me. “Don’t open it!” He warned.
“Alright” I gave him a – don’t trust me – look.
“So, when will we be seeing each other again?” He queried as soon as I withdrew to my feet.

“Can you come for dinner tomorrow?” I said.
“Well,” He cleared his throat. “Since tomorrow is Saturday and I would be free, I think I could”
“Okey then” I gave him a smile.
He escorted me to the car outside and thus I drove away in speed. Just as I reached home, I opened the black leather and saw some tablets in it. I couldn’t even pronounce their names.

“The cure is hard but use these and see” Says a paper I found together with the hard tablets.

My mind began beating fast. What cure was Ya Salim looking for? Was something wrong with him or something? I mulled over breaking a sweat. Just then, Ya Salim came out of the house walking towards me in haste. I quickly sealed the leather and stormed out of the car with a gritted teeth. “I am back” I said to him.

“Yes, I know you are back – I can see you, right?” He said frowning his beard face.
“Ye…es” I stuttered handing over the leather to him. Perhaps he knew I was going through it.

“Nonsense!” He hissed and left.
He didn’t even allow me to implore him. Well, I shouldn’t have went through his thing, I really shouldn’t have done that. I mulled over trailing him to the flat. Thus, I went to the parlor and began watching an ongoing TV series on air.

Later in the afternoon, I was cooking lunch in the kitchen when Ya Salim came in with a Salaam. We greeted and he told me he was sorry for acting coldly towards me earlier.
“No, it was my fault. I shouldn’t have went through your stuffs, Ya Salim…” I uttered.
“Yes, but that didn’t give me the right to shout at you. And by the way, it’s not for me” He said.

“Whose is it?” I asked.
“You don’t have to know” He said and left.
That moment, the thought of the paper I saw in the leather together with the tablets shocked me. It meant that whoever the drugs belonged to might be suffering from something but who could that be? Ya Hauwa was the only person I could suspect because she was very pregnant.

After cooking lunch, we ate and thus I cleared the dining table and washed the dishes. After having done that, I went to my room to rest.
“The cure is hard but use these and see”
I kept remembering the words I read in that paper. What cure was it talking about and for who? I really didn’t know. Thus, I quickly dialed Idris’ number to confirm from him. He was the one that prescribed the drugs, right?

Then he must be acquainted with everything!
“Hello” I said as soon as he picked the call.

“Hi” He responded through the phone. “Hope you arrived back safe and sound, Manal?”
“Yes, Idris” I gulped and continued. “The drugs, please what is it for and who does it belongs…”
“I can’t tell you this, Manal” He cut in.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because Salim wants it to be confidential. And by the way, didn’t I warned you not to open the leather? Why would you do that?” He queried.

“I am so sorry but please just tell me who it belongs to and what is it for” I implored him.
“Manal, please…”
“Just tell me!” I thundered.

He remained silent for a moment before saying, “Okey lets make a deal, can we?”
“What deal?” I queried.
“You would escort me to my mother to get my daughter back tomorrow, are you in?” He said.
“Will you tell me everything after that?” I said.
“Yes” He uttered.
“Deal!” I exclaimed.

“Shit!” I muttered a curse under my breath as soon as I slightly cut my hand with a knife. I was slicing an onion into the macaroni I was cooking when it happened. If only Rumaisah was around, such wouldn’t had happened to me.

I hissed as I gently began washing the hand in the sink, and as soon as the blood stopped coming out I applied a rub and thus continued with what I was doing. I really hated onions!

My mother had sometime ago made it clear to me that if I want my sister and my daughter back then I should come pick them up myself, and I shouldn’t come alone but with a woman to present to her. Like, she was trying to force me into bringing out someone for marriage. I thought she was only joking until she refused to let them return nor talk to me on phone.

It pained me yesterday when I tried talking to my daughter only for my mother to chime in and warn me never to try that again. Like seriously? She did not know I was also trying my best to see that I had married again, to see that Amani had someone to call her mother!

Marriage isn’t something we should rush into, especially in a situation like mine. What if I ended up marrying a malevolent woman? Someone that would ruin my daughter’s life? Someone that might likely treat my daughter differently? Nay, I had to be very meticulous!
Indeed Pharmacist Aisha had proved to me that she was capable of taking care of Amani if I give her the chance to but you know I didn’t just feel her in my heart.

After all, she was only a friend and a colleague. We had been together for so long, I looked at her like my very sister and not someone I could ever marry in my life.

But when I met Manal, it was love at first sight. I felt like I had found another puzzle piece of mine. My heart fell for her and my conscience told me she was the right woman for me and the one that could take care of my daughter, Amani. I so much wanted to propose to her but not that early, right? After all, things had been happening between us that I didn’t really like.

After cooking my half done breakfast, I ate and threw some away. You know, I practically wasn’t good at cooking. Even in the university, I was only a supplier while my friends do the cooking. Bashir Santali was a Grade A cook.

Immediately I was done clearing the table and was about laundrying my clothes my phone began ringing. It was strange, I wasn’t expecting Manal’s call you know. I picked up and she told me she was standing by my gate. Thus, I happily went out and opened the gate for her.

Manal and I walked into my house and she told me Salim sent her to me, it was about the drugs he asked me to get him. So I went inside, packaged the drugs for her with a written message for Salim in a paper and strongly warned her not to open the leather but later during the day, she called demanding to know about the owner of the drugs and so on. I knew she had went through the leather and read the message I wrote for Salim so I asked her why she did that and she told me she was sorry.

Manal insisted in knowing almost every thing about the drugs and its owner thus an idea popped into my head. I decided to make a deal with her. I would tell her what I knew about the drugs but only if she help me bring back my sister and daughter home.

She accepted the deal not knowing the fact that what she signed in for was just like introducing her to my family.

My mother wanted me to bring a woman out for marriage If I wanted my daughter back and Manal cluelessly signed in for it. I was so happy, but what if she later discovered the verity? Would she end what was between us?
The following day, Manal met me in my house around three in the afternoon and thus I drove us to our family house. She was welcomed warmly and was treated like a bride. Infact, my mother began calling her oya wa which means our wife in English. Happiness was written in everyone’s face, even my father’s!
Thank you for reading #InsideArewa
This chapter was the hardest chapter I had written so far in this story. I really suffered!

To be continued…

Thank you for reading #Insidearewa

Written by Mohammed Abubakar KingMoha, Inside Arewa

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