BISI – THE OTHER WOMAN EPISODE 13
By Jon Doe
Patiently Zainab waited for Namdi’s response, one hand on the wheel and her eyes glued to the road. Houses came and went, the road pleasantly free of the usual noon day traffic. Namdi wet his lips, his left hand reaching for Zainab. He took her free hand in his. So small, so delicate he thought, her hand like a child in his.
“I’ll say the same thing I have always said. It doesn’t matter to me.”
“But Namdi, they still think you are the problem…”
“Doesn’t matter, it’s not like I’m so weak I can’t handle the pressure.”
A sigh escaped Zainab’s lips. She could not look at Namdi, a rare expression of guilt appearing on her face.
“Maybe we should just tell them the truth?”
“What would that accomplish Zainab?”
“I… I… I don’t know. If only that b**** of a mother would just die of…”
Zainab stopped herself at the same time Namdi’s hand left hers.
“I’m sorry, I forgot for a moment. I didn’t mean to say that Namdi.”
“It’s fine, don’t worry about it.”
Looking at him Zainab could see it wasn’t fine. He once again looked out the window watching the scenery go by. Like that they drove in silence, the clock on the dashboard marking the minutes go by. Wanting to break the deadlock, Zainab’s right hand reached out, landing on Namdi’s thigh. Getting no reaction from him she began to work her way up, her eyes leaving the road to ensure she was on the right path.
“Hey hey, focus on the road!”
A broken down trailer blocked their way, two men frantically waving tree branches desperate for the car barreling towards them to change lane. With no time to spare, Zainab quickly swung the wheel, safely speeding past but sending the two men diving for cover.
Both hearts jack hammered an inconsistent tempo, struggling to break free of their enclosure. They looked at each other and began to laugh, the grim reapers sickle safely left behind. The tension in the car eased. Fiddling with the knobs, Namdi got the radio working switching stations till he reached one playing soft tunes.
“You really do like copying me.”
“Pray tell what do you mean?”
“Because I crashed my car you too want to join the crashers club.”
“Oh so now you are proud about being in an accident.”
Balling her hand into a fist, Zainab lightly punched Namdi in the ribs. Namdi howled in pain, his face a carbon copy of a wounded puppy.
“Stop exaggerating, we both know it doesn’t hurt that much.”
“Woman you are too cruel. Is this how you treat your husband?”
“Yes, and it will be how I treat my next husband.”
“Next husband? Which next husband?”
“If I can change clothes why can’t I change husband.”
“Zainab, I’m not going anywhere.”
Each word was laced with emotion, his hand holding onto hers once again. The second soon joining to create a protective cocoon.
“Even when i’m old and grey and no longer as sexy as I am now.”
“You’ll always be sexy Zainab.”
“Please don’t come with these cheesy lines again. Beauty fades with time”
“Okay, okay. By the way did you find the ring?”
“No. Checked at the forgotten items and the front desk. Probably someone took it at the crash site.”
“Maybe we can go there and check if…”
“Forget it Namdi, it’s just gold in a circle with an inscription. We can get a new one.”
Zainab did not notice the relief that flooded Namdi’s face.
“Did you have the doctor check the burn on your fingers?”
The car slowed down, Zainabs foot easing off the accelerator with a slight tremble. Namdi saw nothing amiss, the turning to their home approaching.
“Can’t be disturbing the doctors over a little stove burn. I was too busy worrying about you!”
“What would I do without you Zainab?”
Turning into their drive way, Zainab parked the car before swiveling to Namdi. With both hands she cupped his chin, enjoying the strong jawline and the feel of his rough prickly day old beard against her palms. Around them soft music joined the scent of violet, enveloping them in. Leaning over the divide she kissed him. Short and sweet, pulling away before he could get more than a taste.
“You’ll never get the chance to find out Namdi.”
With that she opened the car door and began to walk towards the entrance to their home, bag in hand. Reaching the simple door made of cheap metal she frowned. Zainab said nothing, merely rooting in her bag for the keys. With a twist she dealt with the lock, expending some effort for the door to swing open. Before she could take a step into the dimly lit hall, two strong arms wrapped around her waist, embracing her from behind.
In the entrance of their home Zainab let herself sink into Namdi’s embrace. Faintly her senses picked up the last traces of the hospital on him. Like that they remained, saying nothing, merely enjoying the calm they both knew would be shattered at this very door hours from now.
“We have to go in at some point.”
“There has to be food for a dinner to happen.”
“Can’t the cook do it?”
“Silly, you’ve already forgotten cook’s on vacation.”
“If I help can we stay like this for a little longer?”
“Maybe if I want to burn down our kitchen you can help.”
She shrieked, Namdi having pinched her bottom in revenge. He had no other way to reply her nod to the past. It had been the first time she had come to his apartment. Wanting to impress her he had taken advice from a supposed friend to cook her a meal. They both knew he couldn’t cook. Namdi could vividly remember how his friend had gushed about how she would love it, completely glossing over the difficulty of it. To think it would end up with Zainab having to help him put out a fire. As he watched all his meager efforts go up in smoke, kitchen walls dark with soot, his will still remained strong until he heard his front door closing. She had left. Only then did he sink to the kitchen floor, his dreams of how this day would play out now smoke in the wind; on the walls. Namdi did not know how long he lay on the kitchen floor before he felt a foot prodding his thigh. Opening his eyes he saw Zainab with a smile on her face, in her hands two bags of Chinese food.
Her elbow dug into his still bruised ribs. The pain knocked away his thoughts of the past. His hold on Zainab weakened and she took the opportunity to nimbly slip away. Dashing into the house she left behind the giggles of a school girl. Pain subsiding Namdi chased her following the giggles to their source.
“Don’t take a single step into this kitchen Namdi.”
He stopped one foot in the air just before the kitchen door.
“We’ve got a few hours before they get here.”
“I know, that’s plenty of time for us to savor our sweet flavors.”
“Stupid man, the only thing you’ll be savoring is the aroma of my cooking. Go make yourself useful elsewhere.”
“Haba, You are such a general when your parents are coming.”
“I can’t give my mom any excuse to start judging me.”
“Your mom loves you Zainab. I’ve seen how she is”
“Namdi you truly are blind when it comes to my mom. The woman is a snake.”
“I would think it would be your dad that one would call a…”
A cup flew out of the kitchen aimed at Namdi’s head. He knew it would be coming already ducking out of the way.
“You truly are daddy’s little girl” he said smiling.
“Namdi you want to try to say something about my dad again?”
In her hand was another cup.
“I wouldn’t dare. But then a few nights ago, in the bedroom weren’t you calling me…”
A second cup flew out the kitchen, barely missing and smashing against the wall behind Namdi. With a wide grin on his face Namdi backed away.
“Why don’t you stand still.”
“Because you don’t throw like a babe.”
She too was smiling, a third cup in her hand. When Namdi saw the cup she was nonchalantly tossing in the air and catching, his wide grin was no longer so wide.
“You win. Do you mind not breaking that one?”
“So you finally noticed. Alright, now get your tone butt up those stairs and go get ready.”
With a sharp salute Namdi turned around heading for the rooms above. Now alone in the kitchen Zainab looked at the cup in her hand, her thumb running along the image of a bright eyed baby whale. She sighed, grabbing a kitchen cloth to wipe away non-existent smudges, the cloth soon slightly damp. Only then did she carefully return it to the back of the cupboard from whence it came. Walking to her bag she brought out her phone, a notification of downloaded files glanced at but set aside as she noted the time. Behind schedule she thought quickly grabbing an apron before she began to cook. Time marched on, the sweet aroma from the kitchen soon dominating the whole house. The sun slowly set, the disappearance of the last of its rays announced with the ringing of the doorbell.
The sound pierced through the silence, passing through the house unhindered. From the kitchen and from the rooms above, Namdi and Zainab turned towards the origin of the resonance. Mentally they prepared for what was to come. Knowing he could not dally, Namdi made his way to the front door. Taking a second to calm his nerves, he reached for the handle pulling it open.
“Mr. and Mrs. Shagari, welcome.”
To be continued