TURMOIL- Chapter Seven
He was already in love with me.
I could see it in his eyes, and in that lopsided smile that he’s reserved only for me.
I could tell from his actions; the way he favours me over all the other interns and the number of hours we spend talking daily.
I could feel it in my bones, in the blood coursing through my veins.
I could also feel that something, no, someone was holding him back. Preventing him from taking the plunge.
She’s ever-present. Like a lingering shadow that refuses to melt away into the darkness. I feel her aura; her very essence whenever Basheer and I are together. Her name popped up in almost every one of our conversations. Hadiza this. Hadiza that. He always found a way to make everything about her. It was almost as if she had cast a spell on him; woven an intricate web around his heart that he couldn’t break free of.
No matter what I did, how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to make him think about her less. It wasn’t that I wanted him to forget her; she’s his first wife after all, and the mother of his first child. It was only natural that he should care about her. What I craved was his undivided attention whenever he was with me. To be his sole focus, the centre of his universe. I wanted to be indispensable to him. I wanted Basheer’s mind, body and soul to belong to me. To wrap him around my fingers and bend him to my will.
I would have achieved this if only Hadiza wasn’t being such a pain.
I knew what I had to do. It was a pity that things had to come to this, I merely wanted to be an addition to their family, but Haadiza has forced my hand.
She had to go.
I used to have two ‘selves’. One for work, one for play. Lately, they had been blending in a way I knew won’t end well. When work was just eight to four, I would keep the other ‘me’ in my briefcase until closing time, but with all the recent over time I had been logging in, coaxing ‘him’ out was becoming a struggle. My brain just wouldn’t switch from work mode to play mode. I wanted so badly to be there for my family, but I was falling short. The situation weighed me down heavily and gave me migraines. And of course, there was Hadiza.
My wife- who had subtly implied that I was being unfaithful to her. And that I was about to abandon my family. The latter part I could excuse because I realised my own shortcomings in that area. But I couldn’t fathom why Hadiza would believe that I, Basheer would be involved in an illicit affair. Perhaps I had been mistaken to think she knew me well enough. We used to be really close, now I wasn’t so sure. I was no saint, neither was I a Sheikh nor a scholar. I only strived to follow the injunctions of Allah and the Rasul to the best of my ability. One of those injunctions included steering clear of Zina. I thought Hadiza understood that.
I was jolted out of my thoughts by fingers snapping before my eyes. I looked up. The fingers belonged to Shaakirah.
“Mr CEO wants you to update him later today about the FGR case. I’m just coming from his office. He wanted to ring you himself, but I offered to pass the information to you.”
The FGR case was something we’d been working on for months and the company was close to signing a deal with them. Since Mr CEO wanted me on top of it, that meant my to-do list for the day just got longer. My head throbbed, signalling the beginning of a headache. I rubbed my temples. “Thank you, I’ll get to it”.
Shaakirah started to leave but paused midway. “If I may, you don’t look good. Is anything the matter?”
“I am fine. Just a headache.” I said dismissively
She pulled out the chair across from me and sat, shaking her head while she did so. “With all due respect, I don’t believe you. You have been such a good boss and friend to me these past few weeks; giving me sincere advice and helping me out of sticky situations. I would like to return the favour.” She inclined her head and smiled a little. “Who knows, I may be of help.”
I regarded her for a moment. She WAS right, our relationship had evolved greatly, and she often trusted me with some of her personal problems. Maybe I needed to do the same too. Besides she shared the same gender with my wife and could provide valuable insight into my dilemma.
I sighed. “It’s my wife. She thinks I am having an affair.”
Shaakirah gasped. “Really? Why would she think that? You are one of the most pious people I know”.
I rolled my eyes. “You are very kind, Shaakirah, but I am afraid that observation is lost on Hadiza. She believes all my late nights and busy days are tied to a woman.” I refrained from revealing the identity of the said woman. No use stirring up trouble.
“Yes, I thought so too. I don’t know why she won’t trust me.!” I threw my hands in the air.
“It’s funny that…”
Her voice trailed off midsentence. Why did she pause? “Go on…” I urged. “… you may speak plainly.”
She leaned forward in her seat. “We women always pray for men who would love us and treat us right, but when we eventually find such men, we tend to take them for granted.”
Her words made sense. If Hadiza weren’t taking my love for granted she wouldn’t have come up with such a ludicrous assertion. Shaakirah had my full attention now, so it was with rapt attention that I listened when she continued:
“If you don’t mind, I could give you a few tips to remedy the situation, you know, set her straight. She’ll soon realise her mistake and come crawling back to you for forgiveness. Trust me.”
Ever since I was a child, I had always dreamed about the kind of life I wanted. Just the slightest nudge from my imagination and I would be soaring in the clouds, off to a world of my own making. I would lock myself up in my room and daydream for hours on end- until Big Mummy returned home- then her knock would bring me crashing back to the real world.
My dreams were mostly about love. Finding a man who would adore and cherish me. He would sweep me off my feet, we’d get married, have a wonderful family, and live happily, ever after. So far, the first part of my dream had come true. But the second part was shaping up to be an unhappily ever after kind of tale.
Basheer and I had grown even more distant. To be fair, since my outburst he began spending more time with Mas’ud, playing with him more and even taking him out sometimes. However, I wasn’t invited to play or to go on these outings. Whenever I tried to join in or even suggest coming with them, Basheer clamped up. A cold mask would settle on his features and he’d find an excuse to exclude me in their activities. His actions hurt me so much and made me feel like an intruder. Anybody could tell that the grievance he had was with me and only me.
I so badly wanted to make things right between us. I wanted to stop feeling like a stranger in my own home. I wanted to have real conversations with my husband. This Baheer I couldn’t recognise, and I wanted the old one back.
All my efforts to mend our relationship proved abortive though. Whenever I tried to start a conversation, he found an excuse to leave or interrupt me. It was either he was too tired, or he had an important call; anything at all. When he wasn’t at work, he was locked up in his study or reclining in his favourite cushion upstairs, phone in hand chatting with HER.
Her name plagued my thoughts every single moment of every day. I even had dreams about her. My very being craved to find out everything about her- what she looked like, where she lived, what she did, so I began searching. Social media was my first port of call, but since I didn’t have much to go by, nothing came up. The only other plausible option I had was to get information from the person who brought her into our house- Basheer.
Spying on my husband wasn’t something I had done before. I simply never had any reason to. His life was an open book to me as was mine to him. We had access to each other’s phones, email and social media passwords. We knew each other inside out. But doing so now would probably prove to be a game-changer. I didn’t know what I intended to do with the information once I had it, I just knew I had to get it.
This Thursday morning seemed like a perfect time for my covert operation. Basheer was currently taking a shower and his phone was lying on the bedside table. I tiptoed gingerly into our bedroom and picked up the phone. My heart thudded against my ribs and my mouth was dry. I didn’t know why but I felt so guilty. If our relationship had been ok, Basheer wouldn’t have had any bones finding me with his phone. I surely wouldn’t feel so rotten about touching it either.
I stole a quick glance at the bathroom door before I punched in the password and closed my eyes in relief when I was granted access. I went into his phone book immediately and scrolled through to find her name card.
Come on, come on, come on.
Once I found it, I sent it to my phone via Bluetooth. One down, one to go.
The sound of running water from the bathroom had ceased, and I could hear Basheer moving about, no doubt preparing to exit. My heart leapt into my throat and the phone almost slipped out of my sweaty palms. Nevertheless, I was determined to complete my mission. With another quick glance over my shoulder, I went through his WhatsApp chats. I was looking for anything that could lead me to her. Maybe an address or something from their chats. As I scrolled through their correspondence, a feeling of jealousy so intense coursed through me. Basheer and her, smiling, talking and laughing, albeit virtually, wounded me deeply. It didn’t help that I knew he worked close to her, in the flesh, every single day of the week.
Miraculously, I did and my sleuthing was rewarded a few seconds later. An address close to the University. Had Basheer been visiting her house? I didn’t give myself time to mull over that but sent the message straight to my own WhatsApp making sure to delete it after. I placed Basheer’s phone back on the dresser just as the bathroom door opened and he stepped out.
Alhamdulillah, I had the intel in my possession.
Assalamu alaykum! What are your thoughts on this new development?