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TURMOIL CHAPTER EIGHTEEN
I could see the bus now, although two cars ahead. Thank God. I swerved left, and accelerated, overtaking both cars, until my car was bumper to bumper with the bus. I thought about what to do now. Zulay was within reach now and I had to think fast about what to do. Making mistakes was a luxury I couldn’t afford either.
Momentarily taking my eyes from the road, I picked up my phone and started to text the bus’ license plate number to the group chat. If Hadiza didn’t get to read it on time, then maybe A’isha or Muslimah would. I even texted the colour and make of the bus, the name of the transport company and our exact location.
We were nearing the outskirts of the city now, and I knew that if something didn’t happen soon, I’d lose sight of the bus for good. I decided not to rely on the text alone and picked up my phone again. This time I didn’t bother to call Hadiza or Basheer. I called A’isha. I figured she’d be at Hadiza’s anyway, given the situation at hand. I would’ve been there too if I hadn’t left home. But I had left home, and look at me now. I smiled ruefully. Perhaps this was what I was meant to do all along. Save Hadiza’s baby.
A’ishah picked the call on the fourth ring.
Alhamdulillah. I heaved a sigh of relief.
“Hello, A’isha. Please, I want you to listen to me carefully…”
I paced the bedroom, up and down feeling helpless. Angry. Defeated. My son had been taken by someone we trusted, right from under our noses, and there was nothing I could do about it. I had no idea what Zulay wanted with him, but my guess was: nothing good. Tears welled up in my eyes just thinking about the possibilities. What if the police were too late? What if Zualy had already carried out whatever ugly deed she intended? If only Hadiza hadn’t….
I shook my head to get rid of such thoughts. Casting blame would do nothing to bring Mas’ud back. The deed had already been done and what remained for us now was to hope for the best. This, all this had already been ordained by Allah. ‘What ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ were from Shaytaan. I thought about the accusations I flung at Hadiza earlier and a pang of guilt washed over me. My anger had made me reckless. Losing her son was hard enough already, I didn’t have to add to the guilt I knew was already weighing her down.
I stopped pacing and sat on the bed. I tried to make it up to her afterwards by being the husband she always wanted. Maybe that was all she wanted all this while. For me to just be there for her. The shoulder for her to lean on. A layer of shame added to the guilt I felt. Why did it have to take the loss of our son for me to realise this? Was I that… daft?
The rhythmic buzz of my phone snapped me out of my thoughts. I picked it up from the bedside table and took the call.
Hello sir. I read your message about your son and I just wanted to know how you were holding up.
I completely forgot that I sent out a broadcast message out to all my contacts, in hopes that someone would reply with info on Mas’ud.
“Oh. That’s very thoughtful of you. Thank you Shaakirah.”
You are welcome, sir. So how is your wife? She must be devastated.
“She’s alright. We are hopeful and waiting for Allah’s intervention.”
That’s good. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.
“You are very kind, Shaakirah. I’ll let you know…”
“I knew it!” Hadiza burst into the room, hands on her hips, eyes burning with anger. “It’s her on the phone isn’t it?”
“Let me call you back, Shaakirah. I’ll keep you posted.” I disconnected the call and turned my attention to my wife. “Hadiza please keep your voice down.”
“So this is what you came up here to do. Did you leave me downstairs because you wanted to speak with Shaakirah? What exactly is the hold that girl has on you hmm? Tell me!
“Hadiza, please. It’s not what you think. She just called to…”
“I don’t care. How can you be so blind to that girl’s true nature? I wouldn’t be surprised if she had something to do with all this.”
I opened my mouth to reply, just as I heard a loud shriek come from downstairs.
“Hadiza! Get down here now!”
“That was Muslimah,” Hadiza said. Her eyes were wide with fear.
We both sprinted out of the bedroom and bounded the stairs.
All thoughts of Shaakirah evaporated from my head as soon as I heard Muslimah scream. Basheer and I flew downstairs where we met A’isha and Muslimah standing just by the foot of the staircase. They looked very worried. Heart thumping against my ribs I gripped Muslimah’s arm.
“It’s Jemima. She-she called A’isha just now, saying she has information about Mas’ud but- but the connection died… before she could tell her anything.”
I rushed to A’isha’s side. “Well, call her back!”
“I’m trying!” A’isha shouted. She fumbled with her phone, but her hands were shaking so badly, it fell out of her hands. Basheer stepped in just then. He picked the phone from the floor.
“I’ll do it.” He said and proceeded to dial her number. After a few seconds, he pronounced. “It’s ringing”
My mind raced with so many questions. How come Jemima possessed information about Mas’ud? Where was she? Had she seen him? Or Zulay?
I turned to A’isha again, frustration and anxiety gnawing at my insides. I wished I could transport myself somehow to wherever Jemima was at the moment.
“Tell me what Jemima said exactly.”
“She didn’t say much. She just asked me to listen carefully and then the connection was interrupted.”
“Hello, Jemima,” Basheer said. He put the phone in front of him and put it on speaker. “It’s Basheer. What’s going on?”
Jemima’s voice came over the line. She sounded breathless. Like she had been running a long distance.
Oh Alhamdulillah. Listen carefully. I am on the outskirts of the city and the connection is bad. I saw Zulay with Mas’ud and right now I am tailing the bus she is currently in. It’s a long story, but please get the police notified ASAP. The bus is on its way to Lagos.
“Where EXACTLY are you?” Basheer asked urgently.
I already sent all the information you need via WhatsApp. Hurry…
The line went dead. I tried to digest the information I’d just heard. Zulay was taking my son to Lagos? For what? And how had Jemima found her?
Basheer’s spoke up again.
“I checked your WhatsApp A’isha. I think I’ve found the message. I’m going after them. I’ll inform the police on the way.”
Before I could say anything, he dropped A’isha’s phone, picked up his car keys and rushed out of the house. I collapsed to the ground, arms outstretched and tears streaming down my cheeks.
Oh, God. Please keep my husband and son safe. Please, please, please. I can’t lose them both.
What happens next? I wonder…
Don’t miss episode 17
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