Big Mummy hit the tiny brass knocker once, twice, thrice. I looked at her and mouthed: ‘I’m nervous’. She looked at me and told me to stay calm.
We waited. Every second seemed like aeons. The entire corridor was silent, which was a good thing. No use having witnesses. My mind wandered. What did she look like? Would she invite us in or throw a fit? Was Basheer inside with her right now?
Basheer is not that kind of man. He’d go the halaal way, you know that, so get a grip, Hadiza.
I took a deep breath and focused my thoughts on something else. Mas’ud.
Big Mummy knocked again. Harder this time. We heard movement, and a muffled: ‘Coming!’ from behind the door.
Another shared look between Big Mummy and I. Finally. It’s showtime.
The lock clicked. The handle turned. The door opened.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
The sound penetrated through the layers of fog in my mind, interrupting my sweet dream. I burrowed deeper under my blankets. Perhaps if I remained silent, the person (s) at the door would leave.
Now, where did I stop before the rude interruption? Ah! Basheer was about to propose.
TAP. TAP. TAP. TAP. TAP
Allahu akbar! Whoever’s out there has no intention of giving up, do they? I didn’t know who was out there, but I disliked them already.
Still a little drowsy, I got out of bed and staggered into the bathroom so I could splash some water on my face.
I donned one of my hijabs and prepared to send whoever it was on their way ASAP. I stumbled back in shock when I saw who was at the door. My worst nightmare. It made sense that she’d be the one to interrupt the dream I was having about Basheer.
I recognised her because Basheer had a passport photograph of her and their son at the office. He had applied for some allowance- I can’t remember which one now- and had asked me to file it. Yours truly had seized the opportunity and made a coloured photocopy of Hadiza’s picture. I went on to memorise every line, every contour on her face.
Nothing prepared me, however, for the vision in hijab that standing right before my eyes.
She was slim and tall. Very tall. She had glowing dark skin, heart-shaped lips and a pointed nose. Her smile revealed her dimples, one on both cheeks. Sharp pangs of jealousy stabbed at my heart. Surely it was a sin for someone to be so beautiful? I could see why Basheer was so in love with her. How could I hope to compete with her; with my petite frame, drab skin and flat nose? Setting eyes on Hadiza only reinforced my conviction that she HAD to go if I was to ever get Basheer.
The sound of a throat being cleared reminded me that I was staring. I hadn’t even noticed the other person standing beside her. I turned my attention to her now. She was older, wore makeup. Tall too, but plump. This woman and Hadiza bore no physical resemblance to each other so it was hard to guess who she was. Or more importantly to guess what they were doing at my humble abode.
“Assalamu alaykum, sister. I am…”
“Hadiza. I know who you are.” I blurted out. I didn’t know what was doing…yet. But I’d go with the flow. Attack from higher ground. Utilise the element of surprise.
The stunned looks on their faces told me they weren’t expecting for me to recognise them. I’d use that to my advantage somehow. Lay waste to whatever plans they had hoped to execute.
Hadiza glanced at the older woman, who shrugged. She turned her attention back to me.
“How do you…”
I interrupted her again. “Basheer speaks of you all the time. He’s told me a lot about you.”
Only in my dreams did I ever dare call him by name, but Hadiza did not need to know that. I stretched my lips into what I hoped would pass for a smile.
“Oh.” Hadiza’s mouth formed an ‘O’. My battle strategy was working. I had managed to ruffle her feathers.
“Young woman, it is rude to keep visitors standing in the doorway without inviting them in. I’m sure you are aware of that.” said the older woman whom I’ll call ‘Old Crone’ henceforth.
“Please forgive me. Do come in, won’t you?” I opened the door wider. They stepped inside. I shut the door.
Old Crone was already looking around, nose in the air, a disgruntled look on her face. Hadiza just stood in the centre of the room, fumbling with her car keys.
“Have a seat please.” I pulled out chairs. Kill them with niceties. Remove the rug from underneath their feet by doing the unexpected. They’d fall flat on their faces, with no inkling how it happened.
I smiled at Old Crone “What do I offer you, ma’am? I know Hadiza would like a bottle of Amstel Malta, right?”
Hadiza turned to me now, disbelief written all over her face.
“Cut the crap, will you?” That was Old Crone. She was gesturing wildly with her arms. “I see through your act. Dear girl, I know your kind- plotting and scheming to get what you want. I won’t work this time.”
They were here to warn me, scare me off perhaps? I feigned surprise. Shifted my gaze from one to the other. “I’m afraid I don’t know what you are talking about ma’am.”
“How do you know so much about me?” Hadiza asked.
I giggled. Injected a trace of coyness I knew they wouldn’t miss. “As I said before, Basheer tells me a lot of stuff about you and Mas’ud. I’m afraid he neglected to mention you, ma’am.” The last part I said while facing Old Crone.
“You know my son?”
“Yes, of course, I know Mas’ud. He’s my future step-son after all. I am really looking forward to meeting him.”
Old Crone exploded. “Oh shut your trap you low-life scum. You are a disgrace to Muslim women. I am sure if my son-in-law wanted a second wife, he’d do better than… this. Now listen to me very carefully. Henceforth you will stop throwing yourself at my son-in-law. He doesn’t want you. Whatever schemes you’ve conceived of in your mind…”
“And why would I do that ma’am?” I asked sweetly.
“Because I asked you to,” Hadiza answered. “And you will if you have any atom of pride or even Eeman in your heart. Basheer doesn’t want you. Leave him alone please.”
“I beg to differ, Hadiza. Basheer does want me, he said so himself. I am afraid your trip here was a waste. Your husband’s tired of you, and you can’t stop him from replacing you. Whether you like it or not, it will happen. So, you’d better get used to it.”
“How dare you speak about my…?”
I didn’t allow Old Crone to finish. “I wouldn’t want to disrespect you, old woman, so please stay out of this. Now, I’d like both of you to leave. You have overstayed your welcome. Basheer won’t be happy when I tell him about this visit, I assure you.”
I walked to the door and opened it wide. They walked out, Old Crone’s eyes shooting daggers at me. “This isn’t over, young lady.”
“No, it isn’t. Goodbye.”
I slammed the door shut. Good riddance. Coming here to warn me off Basheer. Never in their wildest dreams would that ever happen.
I beat them at their own game. But what Hadiza didn’t realise is she made my work easier by coming here. Dug her grave with her own hands if you will. I prepared to strike the final blow.
I picked up my phone. Dialled Basheer’s number. He took the call at the fifth ring.
Assalamu alaykum, Shaakirah.
I cleared my throat and began to cry…
Assalamu alaykum people!
So what do you think.? Should Hadiza have gone to Shaakirah’s?
And Basheer… What do you think he’s going to do?
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