Part 5. The end!
>>>sorry for the suspense! It ends today… Hopefully :-p
No it truly does. InshaAllah (Godwilling)
She was torn into 3- between rage (I’m gonna kill this girl!), embarrassment (this is not right!), and her grimed vanity (height of self-consciousness and scrutiny)
"I’m not alright of course!"
(in her mind- "was I supposed to say that? He was only trying to help")
"Ha ah! See me see trouble… I was just trying to help. Anyway you look really good on the floor...!"
He shook his head and backed away.
"Is that it?!"
"Is that what?"
"You came all the way from …. Just to have me fall at your feet and you walk away?"
He blushes. (Again)
"Don’t flatter yourself missy. I’m here to see your mom."
She gets up and checks for bruises, if any.
It was then he noticed her voluptuousness.
"DANG!" He thought.
"What are you looking at?"
"Well... YOU of course! You look as if you’ve through a slave ship with a flare for constant redecorating."
He was making mockery of her dashiki that’s got all sorts of smudges, globules, and stains of various colors.
"Ha ha!" she spouts half-heartedly. "This is an artist at work!" She said as she points to her chest.
"Artist? So is my nephew. He does wonders with Poster Colors® .
They both laugh.
ALAS! The ice has finally been broken.
None of them knew when they both leaned backwards for support.
Getting comfy. So they continue the bouts of 'tough love'.
He- the chair.
Her- the dining table.
"But really… you paint?"
"Yup it’s a hobby I picked up from my Momma." Momma- her maternal grandmother.
"Hmmm. That’s engaging." says Umar as he tries to quickly conjure up an impressive hobby for himself.
Before his RAM could processes anything…
"So Mr.Toronto what hobbies do you have?"
"Uhhh!" he must have thought.
"Me…? *points to self* I have a lot of hobbies."
"Really? Impress me!"
In that second, his eye caught a glimpse of vase on the dining table behind her.
"Amongst others- gardening!" He said that with a smirk and a slight wink in his eye.
He was flirting with her. And she knew it.
This time she blushed.
"Ba wani! (No way!) You’re just saying it... Ok. Say I believe you. What and what do you need to start up a functional garden on a 15 x 10ft patch of land?"
"The girl serious woh! That one na JAMB question. Before I could muster up an uninformed answer… my darling Cupid came to the rescue again- Yasmeen."
"Lafiya kuwa? (Is everything alright?) I heard you scream earlier. *wink wink*"
"She just stared at her like the Tasmanian Devil on the prowl. Yasmeen saw the intent to kill, and did what Road Runner would do- ZAP!"
I was smiling all through and grateful for the interruption.
Before I realized it, only 3 mins remaining before Dr.Saeeda would blare her horn.
I had to round up I thought.
"I want to see you again!"
The sentence obviously caught her unawares. Her eyes widened.
"Don’t flatter yourself Mrs.Picasso. I just need you to help with my 7th hobby."
She raised her right eyebrow- "which is....?"
"Learning new languages!"
"How much are you gonna pay?! As you can see. I am a very very very busy and eccentric personality."
"Why must it be how much? And not how am I gonna pay?"
How are you gonna pay?"
"Simple- Through gardening!"
He loved the smile and resonance that came from her in that moment.
For the first time she looked away from his direction with the smile that was now growing, and simply shook her head 6 times.
HOUSTON! WE HAVE LANDING!!
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEEEEP
"Oh oh! That must be her..." He thought.
"Why do you look surprised or is it disappointed?"
"I’m late!" That was the best he could come up with.
"Late?! For? I thought you were waiting for mommy."
"Yeah lemme meet her outside. Have to buy something before they close."
"What? A spade?" She says with a smug smile
"No! A notepad and Spanish dictionary."
"See youuuuuuu……. Soon?"
He intentionally dragged/stretched out the you to make her anticipate the end. It worked. Cuz he got affirmation of her keenness towards the next meeting.
"But how did you talk your way out the doctor?" I asked.
"I can't remember clearly. Must’ve come up with something really cheesy and medically related. In lines with I was just passing by and Engineer told me this your house so I decided to stop over and….”
I shook my head and said "YOU LIED BASICALLY."
"Me? Nah manh!! At all at all."
"Seriously I wouldn’t. Wanna know why?"
"Because if it were me….*long silence* There wouldn’t have been a meeting to start."
He burst out laughing.
"Yeah yeah. The girl's dad is a General in the Army in case you forgot. Mine is a civil servant in the aviation sector. You figure!"
I swallow the last morsel of grub then ask him-
"Do you guys have water in this room?"
"Check. And cross your fingers… because Bunz spent some time behind those curtains before you came in."
It was late. And we had no drinking water in my room. I had been procrastinating about getting some since the afternoon. I crossed my fingers and said a prayer
Found half a bottle. And a full sachet.
If you’ve ever had custard and some pastry at night, you’d know how parched i was feeling then.
"....that was how it started. Over a period of time we stopped pretending to be passing by each others houses and decided to pop in.
It was tiring. Not to mention self deceitful."
"We would later find out our own parents have discussed US as a topic."
"Which was frightfully enlightening.
But surely welcome."
Whenever I went to her house we would hang out by a place towards the generator house. It was a patch of land. Measuring exactly 15 x 10ft. Yup! You guess it. It was set out for gardening purposes.
Good thing I didn’t lie my ass off during our 1st meet I thought. But she didn’t let me rest. Hell. I didn’t let me rest.
I actually went to through the ‘trouble’ of studying, buying, and researching gardening!!
Shege love!!! I shout.
*We both laugh*
I would always dodge her questions on gardening whenever she brought them up and interject with my language-learning ones- "what is water in Spanish?"
"Want me to tell what it means- watering blood red roses in a spring afternoon”
"Nope! That one is for advanced learners."
'See dodging' I thought!
"I would later find out that it was her mom’s intention to pick up gardening as hobby."
"Before you knew it, my research (local/indigenous and otherwise) and books paid off. I would speak about flowers and plants like verses in a poem. My head up high. And ego up in the sky.
She loved that about me. She would tell me.
The I-will-not-carry-last attitude.
Did everything to impress her.
"She also held up to her part of the deal. I was picking up Spanish really nicely."
"You should’ve really heard her speak man.
Pretty mesmerizing and immersing.
It was like she was a whole new person when she switched tongues."
"You would’ve loved her man.
She was very kindered spirit.
Never too serious.
But knew what’s right.
But had this air of nonchalance that beckons.
Loved to laugh.
And did a pretty good job of making ME, of all people, laugh. And boy did i laugh hard with her."
In my left eye- I was far off visualizing his words, and feeling something in the pit of my stomach. Pity. Remorse.
The right eye however had other plans. It was asking "where is Yasmeen?"
At this point I wanted to say a prayer for her. But I didn’t want to ruin the atmosphere.
So I said it in silence- اللهم اغفر له وارحمه واجمعنا معه في الجنة
Two weeks earlier I had taken a small orange colored Oxford English-Spanish Pocket dictionary along with the Soluna album from Umar's room.
In my spare time, which was every other time, I would listen to the songs and translate them. Everybody thought I was crazy. Except him. I’m sure a part of him wanted to tell me this story even then.
"...things went downhill from there. Whenever I was out and they needed the car at home. They knew where to find me."
"Whenever her mom wanted some groceries or so- she would just ring our house and Aisha would surely be there. (No cellphones then remember)
I forgot to even mention the phonecalls.
We had what we called- breakfast, snacking, and dinner calls.
1st thing in the morning you’d hear us exchange- Buenos dias. Mi querido/querida
Snacking- ¿Como estas? ¿Que tal?
Dinner- instead of Buenas noches we would say Nos vemos?
She of course did a lil improvising. Saying that three ‘meals’ a day wasn’t enough.
She invented brunch. The very first time I had heard of that word.
This is where she would say random romantic stuff and have me do ‘homework’.
He shakes his head in reminiscences.
Leaving already---- Te vas ya?
Voy a echar de menos --- I’m going to miss you
¿Cuándo voy a verte?---- When am i going to see
|This is the software and books he gave me in addition to the Soluna CD for my birthday|
As rosy and surreal as things were, they would fight some times.
Whenever they fought, which he confessed was almost always his fault, she would keep mute.
Let him finish.
Then in not so many ways emotionally blackmail him till he comes clean and, in his words, “sees the light”.
She always took the time to see things as they were. She was very young from what I gathered. But she was a very deep soul, with lots of foresight, and could perservere through any storm.
The ideal friend, lover, and wifey.
Apart from the fights things, weren’t always interesting as with any meaningful and real relationship. They tend to get mundane and a tad bit boring. But, trust those two to keep it fresh.
She would bring out her palette, boards, brushes and canvases to their spot. And command him to sit still as they jest.
He would patiently wait like a statue, eager to see how much of an Adonis she'd potrayed him, only to discover it was a caricature!?
He would chase at half speed her with all the oil paint he can carry. Wouldn't want the General or doctor coming in and seeing/hearing Tom and Jerry’s shenanigans.
Keeping it fresh.
He would use the past to make things lively.
His pictures from before. Before he mimicked a cadaver. And got diagnosed with cirrhosis.
He would explain further that that’s the effect of Cachexia. He’d been wrongly diagnosed in two hospitals before seeking consult at the Military Hospital courtesy of Chairman’s doctor friend there. The man was gracious enough to use his connections and arrange for their first trip. Which was when he had the biopsy and was put on medication to stunt the growth so he be operated upon.
He brag to her – “unlike you… it's even now that I’m outta form. See this *points to a picture*. How do you like them biceps?”
"What do you mean unlike me?"
"Well madam... from your pictures… all one can say is thank god you finally budded."
They would often use flowering and gardening vocabulary to pass sarcastic remarks. After all… this is all happening because of a white rose.
But in the true sense, present Umar was nothing like the past Umar. We are all just grateful he’s still alive.
He would go on to tell me that. He had the option of resuming school and getting on with 2nd semester. But he declined.
Not cuz of his health.
But rather his (newly found) wealth.
I couldn’t bring myself to ask him specifics.
Like how long did they date? When did they plan to get hitched?
Which university was she settled on going.
Both voices in my head were in agreement for once- there was no need. Somethings are better left unheard. Unknown.
He had free time. Her time. The only other thing he did was inspect works at their dad’s ginnery once a week.
She was on break. Fresh outta secondary school and as undecided as a bumble bee.
One minute she wants to be a doctor. Next an interior decorator. Architect. Human rights activist. Before she reads another book or see a documentary and hits you with the weirdest of professions you’ve ever heard.
Good thing Umar was there to help her tick off some of them.
But most importantly he had always reminded her to pray about every and all.
Whenever they were not painting, staring into each others eyes, gardening, something random act unique to them, or reminiscing of how they came to be; they would take long walks around the neighborhood.
Those walks were long yet short.
Short yet meaningful.
They would reach out for each others hands only to quickly let go at the slightest sign of being discovered.
(Of course I was in my own reverie as he told this part too)
It was after coming back from one those strolls that she held his hand tightly and made he uneasy.
He couldn’t help but look at her. He gave her the look that these in a glance-
why are you holding my hand here.
in front of your house.
She started talking-
"Can you promise me one thing?!"
He swallows. (Every guy I know would have the same reaction.)
Before the glob of saliva could hit base, he noticed, or rather, felt her hand.
It was different.
It was cold.
"What is it Mi Querida?" (My darling in Spanish)
"Promise you will be happy person forever and ever."
"I am happy. Happy with you."
"No! Let me finish!
Promise me you will remain a good person. A good Muslim.
A happy one. Whether I am in the picture or not...."
He gives her this cold look that said- where is this coming from?
She gave him one right back which said- let me finish!
He slowly eases his hand out of hers.
"You are great person. Even though I don’t know all men. I know you. And suffice to say you can greater. Let the world know that. Don’t let little nuances of daily life halt or impede your overall well being happiness…”
At this point in time…. I held my breath as tight as I held the cold metal cup I had earlier poured water into… it was coming! I personally didn't like where this was going.
The eyes in my heart welled up as I hear him continue-
"She went on for the next minute or two with the keywords being happy, happiness, you, greatness, bla bla…"
"I kept wondering afterwards what zipped my mouth so that I didn’t interject. I just stood there.
I would later analyse it was her look. The she gave me…. *sighs*"
"I called her when I got home but was told she had already went to bed. I thought it was one of those things. Prolly she had a period, watched or read something deepish as always, or maybe because this particular day was the longest I had ever spent with her. So I let it be and tried not to think about it."
The next morning was when all hell broke lose.
Yassir, who was the heaviest sleeper in the house, was wide awake and hitting my shoulder telling me to wake up wake up!
"What is it?"
" 'Mommy' wants to speak you! Hurry up!"
"I ran out in my boxers and answered the phone in Chairman’s parlor.
She sounded very distraught and was lightly sobbing.
"Mommy what is it?"
I knew the answer but still…
"Aisha has been rushed to the hospital meet us in room……………………………………."
By the time I got there they had already pulled the covers on her face.
Stained with her own blood.
Nosebleeds. That had started around 3.00 am.
And didn’t stop till she took her last breath.
Acute myelocytic leukemia.
"For the first time in my life- I FAINTED!"
Regrets- why didn’t I hold her longer
Resentment- why didn’t they call me when it started
Denial- that can’t be her. She was just fine yesterday.
Acceptance- *deep sigh*
There you have it readers...!
The story about A window seat. A white rose. And a dreadful disease(s).
Lesson- Be thankful!
The main character was and is.
Happily married to Aaysha.
Three wonderful boys.
And in case you're wondering...
He did keep his promise!