There was no power through the night. Thankfully it wasn’t hot. He would have had to deal with her irritation at the sweltering heat that sometimes ravaged the room. He couldn’t remember a deliberate attempt to cuddle, but they seemed to be in that position, his right arm feeling numb under her, her naked buttocks facing him. The cover cloth was strewn carelessly half over them, he pulled it up and covered her and then gently retrieved his aching arm from under her.
“Whatever you do please don’t wake me, you promised I can sleep all I want.” She said faintly, half awake.
“Yes, you can. But you are at least going to eat breakfast.”
“Leave me alone.”
Sleep still hung over his eyes like cobwebs. He grabbed his boxers and put it on, and sauntered to the couch. He wondered where his phone was. Probably dead. Every other morning he would have been miffed at a dead phone when he needed to talk to her first thing when he woke up. And asked her how her night was, and when her classes today would hold, and what she would have for breakfast, and if she had completed her assignment before she went to bed last night. This morning she was in his bed. Her gentle head nestled on the pillow, mouth open in a slight drool. She was as cute as a baby.
It took him 30 minutes to convince her to take a walk with him. The market wasn’t far, and he didn’t want to get things for breakfast she wouldn’t exactly want. They’ll make up their mind on the way. She won’t see anyone she knows. Yes, he promised her pancakes. Fine, they’ll get flour. Yes. They’ll have Twinnings. Wait, what was Twinnings.
“You don’t know Twinnings? How can you not know Twinnings?” She was exasperated.
“What’s Twinnings and why am I supposed to know it?”
“How exactly have you been living if you don’t know Twinnings?”
“Is it like a life support system or something?”
She rolled her eyes.
“Do you know Laceal?”
“Good. So you see, whatever your Twinnings is it isn’t the end in end.”
“Ok, wait so didn’t you read 50 Shades of Grey?”
“Naah. It was tedious.” And he made a face like it brought unpleasant memories.
“Ok, no need.” She fell silent.
Minutes later shopping for breakfast was done. And he had gotten Twinnings. Strawberry and Echinacea flavoured Twinnings tea.
She stirred her cup and watched him break eggs into a bowl. She wasn’t sure how exactly she had willed herself to be here, skipping school was a risk with consequences she was still going to face, to be here all weekend long. He promised serenity, and cuddles, and pancakes. In return she had offered fried plantain, and to stay nude for him. What were they thinking? But she was here now. And he was happy. She wasn’t sure if she was. She was just a rolling stone, and he, was just a mushy soul.
She said she’ll be fine alone. Besides she needed to sleep. He said he won’t be long. She moved her mouth away when he tried to kiss her. He was going to lock her in, was she ok, she wouldn’t feel like a locked in pet? She told him to go away. He dialled the number as soon as he locked the padlock. He spoke quickly into the phone. He apologised for not calling earlier, he couldn’t get away from her. Yes they were still on course, everything was to go on as planned. He would be there in 30 minutes. Jumaat service was in 45 minutes.
Friday afternoons in Zaria meant among other things that traffic was a chaos. Once a bus stopped him and other passengers midway to their destination, the driver and conductor abandoning their vehicle, they were going to pray. He expected a refund. He didn’t get it. They mouthed something in hausa, he didn’t get that too. Today, like every friday was, faithfuls trooped to the mosque for prayers, mats under their armpits, jalabia flowing in the arid wind of the north. An old 504 horned in the distance, he hurried, it was for him. Soon he was in the front seat. The driver drove. Silence.
“Park here.” The driver obeyed.
“Take this money and don’t come back here.” The driver nodded.
“Thank you. You’ve been very good to me.”
“Thank God. Now go. I have work to do.”
“Be careful.” He said and waved, then turned and went on his way.
Khalib, opened the trunk of the car. A criss cross of wires ran across through it. He inspected it carefully, this was the easy part, the most part of the job was done already. He closed the trunk of the car, carefully, nothing could go wrong from here on.
The explosion reverberated through the town. People said they felt the walls shake as far away as across the rail line. All was calm now from the initial chaos that erupted at the wake of the blast. Nobody died. Ahlamdulilai. This Boko Haram people, what do they want? There were rumours flying around. They were targeting the Imam of the market mosque. No, university students. You know they sent letter of warning one time like that. No, that was BUK they sent letter to. The government needed to do something. This country wasn’t safe anymore.
He walked dazed into the compound. He had managed to dodge the maze of people gathered in front of the house. No one knew what happened. People were making calls. Was he there? Did anyone die? He ignored the questions. One silly neighbour was screaming hysterically. She came to Zaria to school oh, not to die in the hands of Boko Haram. She was going home. Why didn’t UNILAG give her admission? What sort of life is this?
She sat up, when he opened the door.
“Oh my God, what happened to you? What happened, talk to me? Where were you?”
He collapsed into her arms. Her weight could barely hold him. She let him lie on the bed. His ashen face staring blankly at her.
“I’m thirsty. I need water.”
She panicked just a little bit. But she brought a sachet of ‘pure water’ to his trembling lips. He sipped a little. Said he was fine. He wanted to sleep. He’ll be fine. He was in shock she told herself. Don’t let him sleep, he’ll never wake up.
“No! Sit up. Talk to me, tell me what happened. I heard the explosion.” Her face was stricken with fear.
He read somewhere that a couple were likely to fall in love with each other more deeply when in the face of danger. He honestly hoped @Uberfacts was right. He had taken too much risk.
Living, Loving, Dying.