Seedy and Haddy are newlyweds who were living in bliss until a sudden adversity rocked their world. Seedy would be forced to make a bargain that would drive a wedge between them and worst, could lead to the destructions of not only their marriage but their lives as well.
“Has anything unusual happened lately?” Agie Fatou said into the phone. She was sprawled in the middle of her bed, going through the assignment she had just completed doing and talking to Haddy on the phone. Multi-tasking is what she does best.
“Not really,” her elder sister replied and Agie detected a note of dejection in her voice.
“What’s going on?”
“Oh, nothing out of the ordinary. Seedy and Mariatou have travelled to Paris for the weekend. Apparently she’s taking part in a fashion show happening there. Did you know she’s a designer? Last month, it was Madrid and the month before that, they went to London. So like I said, it’s nothing out of the ordinary.”
“All the time they spend travelling together doesn’t bother you at all?” Agie pressed for the truth.
“Why should it? We spend as much time together when he returns.”
Agie closed her textbooks and moved them aside so that she could stretch her legs. “Still, the fact that he’s going to all these exotic and glamorous places always with her must rankle even a bit. They are in Paris for God’s sake. It’s the freaking city of love!”
She could hear her sister’s sigh of irritation on the other end of the line. “Agie, this is Seedy’s life now. He married a wealthy heiress who was already travelling the world long before she had a husband. It’s only natural that she would travel with him now.”
“How can you be so calm about this?”
Haddy’s voice turned soft. “Just because I’m not throwing a tantrum doesn’t mean this is easy for me but I’ve already told you that I won’t let that woman get to me in anyway whatsoever. So can we please change the subject? Tell me about school. Is it going well?” she added, injecting a note of enthusiasm in her voice.
Agie nodded even though Haddy couldn’t see her. “School’s fine. My grades are good and I’m not lacking anything I need thanks to our generous cousin.”
“Speaking of Mustapha, did you talk to him about your worries?”
Agie suddenly tensed. “I haven’t had the chance. Between the kids and my studies, I’ve been very busy,” she hedged. The truth was that she has been doing her best to avoid that man since the night her sister visited. It was cowardly she knew but for now she would rather take the easy way out. She wasn’t ready to confront the emotions that took over her that night.
“Agie, is there something I should know about?” Haddy prodded, “because I am pretty sure you can’t be so busy that you won’t have time to carry out a conversation with someone you’re living with.”
Why did her sister have to be so perceptive? She might as well tell her something to get her off her back. “There is something but the truth is I’m not ready to talk about it okay,” she said to her honestly. “I promise you’ll be the first to know when I figure it out.”
“Alright, have a good night then.”
Agie was glad her sister couldn’t see the expression of relief on her face then. She had been afraid Haddy will keep pushing. “Have a good night as well.”
There was a knock on her bedroom door. She hung up the phone and rushed to open it, assuming that it was one of the twins or both of them. She turned the lock and the door swung open. Mustapha stood at the other end of the door, wearing a navy blue shirt and a pair of black jeans. Agie’s heart leapt to her throat as her eyes travelled the length of his body and then came back to his face. His expression gave nothing away. Agie couldn’t even fathom a guess as to why he was at her bedroom door.
“Is something wrong with the kids?” she managed to croak out.
“No, they are asleep,’ he told her. “I wanted to talk to you about something else.”
Agie’s heartbeat was galloping at an incredibly abnormal pace. She needed to get away from this man as soon as possible. “I am actually busy with an assignment right now,” she lied, avoiding eye contact.
“It won’t take long,” he assured her. “Would you follow me to the balcony?”
Unable to do anything else but agree, she nodded and they walked the entire length of the corridor in silence. There were two high-backed chairs on the balcony and the place was brightened by the lamp fixed to the wall high above the door.
Agie nervously sat on one of the chairs and faced Mustapha, her mind running over the possibilities of what this conversation was going to be about. She didn’t expect the next words that came out of his mouth.
“Agie, have I done something to offend you?” he asked, leaning forward. His hands were planted on his thighs and the look he fixed her was intense, unwavering. She grew very uncomfortable under its scrutiny.
“No, of course not,” she hastened to reply and was proud of the fact that her voice didn’t shake. Even though she knew exactly why he was asking that question, she enquired anyway. “Why would you think that?”
“I’ve noticed that you’ve been avoiding me for the past two months. You send the twins to me whenever you need something instead of coming yourself. You come up with all kinds of excuses not to share a meal with me. You practically run the other way when you see me coming. Why’s that?” he asked her. “Are you unhappy in this house? Is that it?”
She held up her hand in objection to his words. “I love living here in every way,” she told him and hoped the expression in her eyes reflected her sincerity. “It is true that I miss living with my parents sometimes which is totally normal but I wouldn’t trade the time I spend with the twins for anything else. They mean the world to me.”
“And as their father, I can’t tell you how pleased I am to hear that,” he said to her, “however, you still haven’t answered my question.”
Agie looked out on the view and contemplated what to say to him. It was a serene night and the March wind was pleasantly cool. She couldn’t tell him the whole truth but she didn’t have to lie to him either. Plus, this was her opportunity to have the conversation she had wanted to have with him for months now. “I’ve been staying out of your way because I assumed it was what you wanted.”
The expression on his face was one of amazement. “What made you assume such a thing?”
“Except for the time you spend with your daughters, you walk around this house looking like someone who wants nothing to do with this world. The first thing anyone notices when they see you is how closed off you are, how much grief you carry in your heart and how desperately you cling to the ghost of your late wife as if without it life will completely lose its meaning.”
“You’ve crossed a line, Agie,” he growled out, his gaze turning furious.
“Yes, I believe I have,” she agreed without hesitation. She wasn’t going to be intimidated by his anger though, not if she truly wanted to get through to him. “But someone has to pull you out of the deep hole of depression you’ve sunk into for the past five years. Just because you put on a good face in front of the twins doesn’t mean they can’t sense how miserable their father is. You and I both know how that would affect them.”
That seemed to give him pause for thought. He slumped against his seat. The expression on his face was one of a man drowning in despair. Agie tightened her hands into fists to prevent herself from reaching out. She hated seeing him like this and wished she could take away his pain.
“The grief has been all I have left,” he murmured brokenly, gaze downcast. “I don’t know what I would do without it. I know what you’re thinking. I have two wonderful daughters and they should be enough to make any man happy and they do make me happy but it isn’t as simple as that.”
“Why not?” she whispered.
“I can’t look at them without thinking about their mother, thinking about how much she would have loved and cherished them, the kind of family we would have been. The kind of family I envisioned she and I would build together.”
“That’s no way to live, Mustapha,” she told him gently. “You can’t live your life wondering what would have been had Sira been alive. You’ve got to move on.”
He closed his eyes as if to block out the words she was saying. “I just miss her so much.”
Agie could no longer resist reaching out to him. She knelt on the floor and covered his hands with hers. “I know you do,” she said to him, her voice catching. “Right now, it must feel as if the pain will never go away but it will. It will get better and one day, you might even fall in love again.”
His gaze landed on her. “I have absolutely no intention of letting that happen.”
Agie felt her heart disintegrating into a million pieces at the sound of those words spoken with such conviction because she was absolutely sure that she was falling in love with him now.
by Adam Nyang