BISI – THE OTHER WOMAN EPISODE 18
By Jon Doe
In the visor mirror Zainab saw features that had been long without the blemish of a touch. Custom fitted, the mirror was much larger than what regular cars came with. Her cheeks gave a natural shine, lips a dull pink. Today no lashes rode her lids, no concealer graced her cheeks. Namdi had said more than once she did not need it. She would always laugh at that. Ignorant man, she thought. In her hands she held a business card. With a sigh she checked the address again, fingers drumming an even floating sound on the wheel of the car. More than ten minutes had gone by since she parked, her target a couple buildings away. Twice she’d driven past the nondescript building unsure if it was the place. It seemed they truly valued anonymity.
Faster, her fingers drummed against the steering wheel, her eyes scanning the business card again. It had been on the dinning table, right beside a near empty decanter of wine and a single glass. Even though she had just woken up, it did not take much to put the clues together.
“He really wants children.”
Out loud to none but herself she said these words, convinced this was a singular need from her husband. The clues pointing solely to this one conclusion. That he would play it off as nothing for so long caused her hand to rub an itch at the corner of her eye. Her stay in the vehicle could not last forever. Her fingers stopped drumming, the last note fading away, her mind steeled and made.
A thumb ran across her lips noting the way they bounced back from the gentle pressure. A bag, large sun hat and dark sunglasses soon found their way into her hands. The wide brim of the hat covered much of her as it rested on her hair. It’s darkness was in stark contrast to the white knee length dress she wore. Determined brown eyes went into hiding from the world behind large Cartier sunglasses. With one last check, she stepped out of the car.
Firmly she walked her chosen path, much of her facial features hidden. Her gait remained steady as the blackened doors of her destination loomed before her. Looking up her lips curled, body reaching a state of tension she did not like. Her stay in front of the door could not go on in perpetuity. At some point, she intrinsically understood, there would be a need to move forward into the jaws of the unknown. Her hand reached for the door.
Stepping through the blackened doors, what hit her first was the smell. Having subconsciously pictured a grey world, she was thrown off by the colorful sights, cool and pleasant fragrance.
“Welcome to Ala Alusi, how may I be of service?”
Zainab turned to the sing song voice of a short robust woman seated at a transparent waist high table, a flyer in an outstretched hand. On her face was a welcoming smile that melted away the unease Zainab felt when her expectations were flipped upside down. She studied the woman who was more round than straight and full of million Naira smiles. A bubbling brook in human form. Her glasses and hat still remained on. It did not phase the woman behind the table, such sights not being an uncommon occurrence walking through those darkened doors. She waited patiently as Zainab stood near the door and came to terms with what surrounded her.
“I’m here to see Doctor… em… hold on one second.”
“No rush, take your time.”
Through her bag she rooted, head down, fingers pushing aside lip stick shades, compact, and a host of odds and ends. Between her thumb and forefinger she held a card, the harvest of her fishing expedition. Bringing it out, it slipped from her fingers floating into the air behind her on a gust of artificial wind. She turned to catch it, her path sending her into a small scale collision with another woman heading to the door. The slight bump was nothing more than a cushioned impact of chests, both parties not hurt in the slightest. An apology was already at the tip of Zainabs tongue as she she looked up to face the woman she had slightly wronged. Zainab’s apology did not see the light of day when she saw the woman’s appearance. Within eyes hidden behind Cartier sunglasses a hint of recognition found life.
In a single moment, two women felt an inexplicable connection to each other. It was not voiced, neither was it physical. Nothing but the power of a woman’s intuition. The moment was not long, most moments aren’t. What transpired between the two could not be constrained by the laws that govern us mortals, neither could it be explained by the normality we experience each day. Of all that occurred in that moment, one clear emotion pushed all others aside and rode to the surface of both women; hate.
Zainab’s eyes bore into the woman beside her, the smile still on her face in complete odds with the chemicals stimulating the right side of her brain. Much like her, the woman wore large shades and a hat covering much of her features. It could not hide her full lips and caramel skin, a direct contrast to Zainab’s thin lips and ebony complexion. Pretty, Zainab thought, giving credit where it was due. Still she was not intimidated, confident she would be crowned Queen if they both participated in Miss Nigeria. All this occurred in less than a few seconds, the card still floating in the air. The woman barely broke her stride as she made her way to the door with little interest in an apology.
Noting the woman had no intent on spending a second more Zainab reached out to grab her, hoping to make sense of the feelings she felt towards this woman. Her fingers grasped nothing but air, the woman disappearing through the blackened doors. Thoughts of chasing after her were considered and summarily discarded. Taking the time to collect herself, Zainab turned to the robust woman behind the transparent desk, a welcoming smile still on her face.
“Who was that woman?”
Zainab wasted no time pumping her for information, ignoring the pamphlet that remained in the smiling woman’s outstretched hand.
“I’m sorry mam but we cannot divulge our clients information.”
Zainab smirked, reaching for the pamphlet in the woman’s hand. With a practiced hand, ten notes of thousand naira bills disappeared into the pamphlet and returned into the hands of the smiling woman. Her smile did not change.
“Here at Ala Alusi, we value our clients to the utmost, our goal to provide them with the services and care they expect.”
“How laudable of you.”
“Thank you mam, it is what our business is built on, Trust.”
Forty more notes of the same value soon joined the initial ten in the pamphlet. The eyes of the robust woman lit up at the now bulky package, but her hands still did not reach out to accept it. Seeing the glint in the woman’s eyes, Zainab reached into her purse for a pen, scribbling a few words onto the pamphlet before handing it back to the lady behind the desk. When she read the note, there was a sharp intake of breath as she began to punch away at a computer beside her. Ten minutes later the robust woman’s phone beeped, a text message from her bank. She could barely contain her excitement as she handed a folder to Zainab after reading the message. The envelope disappeared into her purse, her interest in the robust woman waning. Her initial intent coming here forgotten, she made her way to the blackened door the card forgotten on the floor.
Within the safe cocoon of her white Mercedes Zainab held the brown folder in her hand. Silently the air conditioning regulated her world, or at least the temperature of it. A little part of her dreaded what she may find. Ignorance is bliss Zainab thought, her mind wondering if it was worth it to allow her suspicions gain ground. Dropping the folder on the passenger seat, her palms reached up and slapped her cheeks. Heat and pain quickly spread, clearing her mind of its complicated mess. In that moment of serene thought she made a decision.
Grabbing the folder she opened it. In front of her was the picture of a woman she had, without a doubt, seen before today. To the side, among other information, a name held her. A name Zainab would come to hate with a passion so thick, her fists would clench till she drew blood. Her finger traced each letter, her lips moving as she committed it to memory. Over and over she mouthed the name, her mind not registering when she began saying it aloud. At first softly, but which each recital, her voice rose in volume dripping with the penchant for murder. It resounded out, filling the confines of the car, her sanity stretched to breaking. Colliding, echoing, till it rung from her throat in a death knell that contained all of her.
To be continued