TURMOIL- CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE
I watched as Hadiza sprinted towards Big Mummy’s room to break the good news to her: Mas’ud was safe. Jemima too. Zulay had been apprehended. Everything was right with the world again. At least with Hadiza’s world. I couldn’t say the same about mine.
The shout reverberated through the walls of the house. I jumped. Muslimah glanced at me. Without a word, we both flew out of the sitting room in the direction of Big Mummy’s room, where the shout had originated.
Muslimah and I entered her bedroom and found a smiling Hadiza standing over Big Mummy, who had fallen on her face in prostration.
“Alhamdulillah! I was scared for a moment.” Muslimah said, clutching her chest. She was breathing hard. I just stood there, smiling. Hadiza put her arms around Muslimah’s shoulder.
“You are such a softie, Muslimah. Big Mummy was just expressing her joy…”
“Ah, beeni omo mi. Hadiza is very correct.” Big Mummy rose from her position on the floor and turned our attention to us. “Wallahi, I am very happy that my grandson is safe and sound. As for that girl, Zuliya or whatever her name is, just wait till I get my hands on her.”Big Mummy scrunched up her face, clenched her fists and squeezed.
We all burst into laughter. Big Mummy could be very funny sometimes, without meaning to be.
“Big Mummy, the police won’t allow you to do that o” Hadiza said
“I know, but still…” Big Mummy shrugged then grew serious. “My daughters, I want to thank you for standing by your friend during this trying time. Ese, eku aduroti, may you all remain friends forever.”
“Aamen.” Hadiza, Muslimah and I chorused.
The conversation veered to other topics, mainly centred around how crazy the night had been for us all. I barely contributed though. My thoughts were elsewhere. On Gaffar. And Maalik.
Gaffar had been acting strange lately. He only spoke when spoken to, and whenever he did, it was in short, clipped sentences. Monosyllables. Grunts. Nods. Shrugs.
Most times, I’d catch him staring at me, with the strangest look on his face. Like he was just seeing me for the first time. That look gave me the creeps and I couldn’t help but wonder what was going on in his mind. Till today, I hadn’t yet summoned the nerve to confront Gaffar. I was scared… of what asking would reveal.
Had he somehow uncovered my dirty little secret? Although that was unlikely because Maalik or Papa Baasit would have mentioned it.
The other suspicion I had was whether our childlessness was starting to get to him. Gaffar was always so positive about the whole situation. Allah’s plan is always the best, he loved to say. Gaffar was a complete gentleman and never blamed me for the predicament, even when the medical diagnosis proved otherwise.
His mother on the other hand…
“Subhanallah! My God!”
Hadiza’s shriek shocked me out of my thoughts. She was scrolling through her phone, hand over her mouth, tears spilling down her cheeks.
“What happened, Kilosele?!” Big Mummy asked, panic in her voice.
“Basheer just texted me. Abdul was involved in an accident and is in very critical condition. And-and when Jemima found out, she slumped…”
“Ya, Allah! Not again!” I held my head in my hands. Muslimah just slid to the floor, eyes staring straight ahead into space.
“Ah, Mo gbe! I’m ruined! Is Jemima not your other friend that helped us get Mas’ud back?” Big Mummy was already fumbling with her wrapper. Loosening and re-tying, then loosening it again.
“Yes, she is,” Hadiza spoke through her tears. “Basheer wants me to stay put, but he’s gone with Jemima to the hospital. He also said he’ll make sure he finds out what hospital Abdul was taken before coming home.”
I exhaled a shaky sigh. “This is not good AT ALL. I hope nothing happens to Jemima or the baby”
“Someone has to go be with her,” Muslimah spoke finally, in a very quiet voice. “I’ll go. Has Basheer sent the address?”
Hadiza checked her phone and nodded. “Yes, he has. I’ll forward it to you right away.”
Muslimah’s phone beeped seconds later. “Seen.” She got up from the floor and adjusted her hijab “Girls, I’m ready to leave.”
I stepped forward as well. “It’s past 10 pm already and you might not get a cab on time, so I’ll drive you down there. Tomorrow I’ll come to check on her.”
Muslimah hugged Big Mummy and Hadiza. I did the same too.
“We’ll also come tomorrow in shaa Allah,” Hadiza promised. “Thank you both… for everything. Jazaakumullahu khayran.”
My phone beeped just as Muslimah and I stepped out of the house. I didn’t bother to check. Most likely it was Gaffar, replying my earlier text about Mas’ud’s rescue. I’ll check after dropping Muslimah off.
The drive down to the hospital was quick and hitch-free. Traffic was light and we cruised through otherwise busy highways. Muslimah and I spoke little. She looked out the window throughout the ride, and I… well I just drove. There wasn’t much to be said really. Except to hope and pray that our friend and her family would be okay.
We arrived at the hospital twenty minutes later. The entrance was already packed with vehicles: police cars, an ambulance, and several other cars. Jemima’s car was one of these two.
“Muslimah, look over there.” I tapped her and pointed ahead. “It’s Jemima’s car. And I think that’s Basheer standing by the ambulance.” His back was to us, but I was 100percent sure it was him. I parked, and we sprinted towards Basheer. I didn’t even lock the car.
“How is she? Abdul? Do you know where he was taken?” Muslimah fired at Basheer.
“Yes, tell us. Is she still in there?” I pointed at the ambulance.
Basheer spun around, obviously surprised. “Wait, how are you guys here?”
“Hadiza said she’d text you, didn’t you get it? Muslimah is going to stay with her tonight”
He shook his head. “Haven’t checked my phone since I sent the last text.” He tipped his head at the hospital building. “Jemima’s been wheeled inside. She’s still unconscious, but the doctors tell me she’s stable. I’m still trying to get Abdul’s location from my good friend here.” He pointed at the man standing beside him, whom I hadn’t even noticed was there.
The man acknowledged us with a nod and continued speaking into his phone.
“Mas’ud? How’s he?” I asked.
Basheer face lit up with a smile. “He’s fine. Asleep at the back of my car. Want to see him?”
We followed Basheer back to his car. He reached in through the window and switched the light on, to reveal a sleeping Mas’ud, oblivious to all the chaos going on around him. He looked so beautiful and at peace. Hot tears stung the back of my eyes. To think that this baby was almost to his parents forever.
“Where’s Zulay?” Muslimah asked, a trace of anger in her voice.
Basheer’s face clouded over and his smile disappeared. “She’s been taken to the police station. I’ll take care of her tomorrow, in shaa Allah.”
My phone beeped again. I checked and it was another message from Gaffar. I touched Muslimah’s arm. “I have to go now. Gaffar must be worried. See you tomorrow?”
Muslimah pulled me into a hug. “Yes, go on. Jemima and I will see you tomorrow.”
I said goodbye to Basheer as well and hurried to my car. I got in and checked the messages before starting the ignition. The first one was Gaffar congratulating us on Mas’ud’s rescue and promising to call Basheer. I thought as much. I opened the second one and my blood turned to ice the moment I read the text:
Wanted to let you know that my mum is coming over tomorrow to spend the weekend with us. She called. Expecting you soon. Drive safe. Gaffar.
My own version of a nightmare was officially about to begin.