Immediately after Subh, I headed out of the house, not bothering to check on my mum. No use starting another argument or shouting match. As I backed my car out of the house I thought I glimpsed a silhouette of Mama staring down at me from her bedroom window. She was waving and it seemed like she was trying to tell me something but I ignored her. I was determined that nothing would derail me from my real quest; finding A’isha.
Thinking about A’isha irked me a little though. Why had she decided to leave home just like that? And without telling me where she’d gone? Of course, all my problems would’ve been solved if I hadn’t taken out the tracker I put in her car. Never have I regretted doing something more in my life. It would have solved all my problems. This and concern about her well-being kept me up all night and it had taken every iota of self-will I possessed not to pick up my phone and start badgering her friends right then. I’d abstained, however, deciding to wait until daybreak, and praying for her safety.
My first port of call was, of course, Hadiza’s. She and Basheer were surprised to see me but received me nonetheless. Something told me that they were in the dark about A’isha’s whereabouts as well. You won’t know until you find out, Gaffar. Just ask.
I declined their offer to come inside the house, choosing to remain outside.
“Apologies for intruding, Basheer, Hadiza. But I’m afraid it’s a matter of urgency. Have you seen A’isha? Is she here?”
Hadiza and Basheer shared worried glances. Hadiza turned her attention back to me and shook her head. “I’m sorry Gaffar, but I haven’t heard from or seen A’isha since she left the hospital.”
“Oh,” I said disappointed. I’d been hoping my initial instinct was wrong.
“Gaffar what’s the matter? Did something happen?” Hadiza asked, her voice laced with worry.
“Yes, tell us what the matter is Gaffar and how we can be of help” Basheer added.
“A’isha left the house a few hours ago. There was a-” I paused. How do you tell your friends that your wife left because your mother all but sent her packing? You don’t. You say something else. Something close enough to the truth to not be considered a lie.
“We had an argument and she left. Her phones are here with me- she left without them. I have no idea where she went.”
“Subhanallah!” Hadiza gasped.
Basheer narrowed his eyes. “You said she left a few hours ago? How come you’re only just coming here now?”
“He probably thought she’d return and when she didn’t, he decided to come looking. Right, Gaffar?”
“Yes, that’s right.” I nodded at Hadiza, a form of thanks for coming to my rescue. She did the same. I had a feeling Hadiza knew there was more to my story. After all, she and A’isha were the closest of the bunch.
“Don’t worry Gaffar. I know my friend. A’isha would never do anything rash. She’s probably holed up at Muslimah’s. In fact, I’ll call Muslimah right now to check.”
“I’d appreciate that, thank you.”
Hadiza disappeared into the house and came back seconds later, cell phone in hand. She called and spoke with Muslimah, but the response was the same.
“Muslimah hasn’t seen A’isha either. I’ll call Jemima.”
Jemima’s response was the same. Nothing.
Now, my heart was threatening to explode within my chest. I’ve failed A’isha. Something has happened to her and I couldn’t be there for her. I should have never listened to Mama. I should’ve gone after her when I intended to and damn the consequences…
“Ah! I know! Hadiza’s worried frown was replaced by a smile. “There’s only one other place I know, that she could’ve gone to.”
She gave me the address, although I knew the way already.
Moments later, hope and fear surging through my veins, I sped down the highway towards Papa Baasit’s house.
P.s Have you heard? I’ll be launching my debut novel To Err is Human in a bit! Exciting stuff, I know!