“Basheer! Alhamdulillah! Oh, thank God you’re back.”
I couldn’t help but smile as I watched Hadiza fly down the front steps and run towards me, arms outstretched. I welcomed her embrace. The feel of her body melting into mine soothed me more than I expected. I pulled her in tighter, inhaling deeply the familiar scent of her lavender perfume. Subhanallah! How I’ve missed this woman. The hugs we’d shared recently were short and rigid, instead of long and soft. A mere perfunctory gesture. This, however, … was pure bliss. After all the stress and anxiety of the day, I just wanted to forget everything and everyone, to freeze this moment in time and remain in her arms forever.
“I’ve missed you Hadiza,” I whispered against her head. “So much.”
“I’ve missed you too, Basheer.”
Her voice was muffled against my chest, but I could still hear the tears in it. I knew those weren’t happy tears for Mas’ud’s return home. She was crying because of me. Because of my careless attitude. I could see that now. The terrible tragedy that had befallen Abdul and Jemima was a wake-up call for me. All the arguments, rows, and misunderstanding all seemed inconsequential. Life was fleeting. No one was promised the next minute. I didn’t want to leave this world with malice in my heart, – and especially not towards my wife. An overwhelming urge to make things right between us came over me.
“I’m sorry. For everything.”
She looked up at me then, eyes searching mine. I bared my soul to her, held nothing back. With my eyes, I told her everything I couldn’t find the words to say.
“Basheer? Are you…”
“Omo mi da? Where’s my baby?”
Big Mummy’s voice broke the spell. Reluctantly I allowed Hadiza to pull herself out of the embrace. The cool night wind replaced the warmth I felt earlier. Hadiza turned to face Big Mummy.
“He’s sleeping in the car ma.”
She made to leave, and I held on to her hand. Not yet. I still wanted to feel her skin on mine. Smiling, she reached out and cupped my cheek.
“Later” She whispered.
I nodded. I’d hold her to that for sure.
Hadiza opened the car door and lifted Mas’ud off the car seat. She squeezed him so tightly, I was afraid the poor boy would break.
“My baby” she was saying in between tears. She was kissing him all over his face. “My sweet, darling son. What would I have done if I’d lost you?”
Mas’ud’s eyes fluttered open and he squirmed in his eyes. I would never forget the look of relief and delight that crossed his face when he saw his mum.
“Yes, oko mi. My beloved boy, you’re home now.” Big Mummy was crying too, rubbing his head.
Hadiza looked at me over Mas’ud’s head. “Let’s go inside so you can tell us everything that happened.”
An hour later, I had managed to fill Hadiza and Big Mummy in on all that occurred.
“Omo oshi yen nko?” Big Mummy asked, frowning.
“She’s under lock and key at the police station.” I yawned, struggling to keep my eyes open.
“What about Jemima’s husband, did you find out what hospital he was taken to? And Jemima too, is she alright?”
I answered yes to both.
“Oh, that poor girl. Hadiza we must go there first thing tomorrow o.”
“Yes, of course in shaa Allah. In fact, I just got off from texting Muslimah. We’ve concluded on arrangements for tomorrow.”
“That’s good.” Big Mummy also yawned. She was still carrying Mas’ud, who had fallen asleep again. “It’s been a long night. You want him to sleep in my room?.”
Hadiza nodded. I looked at her surprised. I thought she’d want to keep Mas’ud with her.
“Alright then. Goodnight. Basheer, Ko sinmi daada o”
“I’ll rest well ma. Have a good night too”
As soon as the door to Big Mummy’s room clicked shut, Hadiza walked up to me and held out her hand. “Come on. Let’s go upstairs.”
“Alright.” I stood up and bent to pick my phone from the coffee table. Before I could reach it, Hadiza covered my hand with hers.
“No, leave it. You won’t be needing it.”
Slowly, I raised my head. Hadiza’s face was only inches from mine. The look in her eyes drove any and all thoughts of rest from my mind. Who needed rest anyway? I didn’t remember how, but before long I was stumbling after Hadiza up the stairs, down the hallway and finally into our bedroom.
My eyes refused to close. My brain refused to shut down. Sleep refused to come.
Worry ate me raw from inside out. Basheer had abruptly left me hanging mid-sentence during our chat since last night. Quite unlike him. What worried me most was that I had sent over a dozen messages back, and he hadn’t replied to any of them.
I picked up my phone and sat up in bed. Tossing and turning would get me nowhere. Perhaps I should call him. I had to know if his son was alright… if he was alright. I dialled his number. Once. Twice. Three times.
All three calls went unanswered.
How did you find this chapter? Let me know in the comments. Remember to like and share too.
Read Chapter 21