Love In Embryo
The next day, he had woken up to tons of euphoria in the air. After fajr solat, he sauntered home with the recitation of the Qur’an playing in his ears as he quivered, wrapping his arms around his body – it was the first day revealing the arrival of harmattan season, the cold wind was dry and foggy. Had he known, he wouldn’t have left his house to the masjid without putting on a cardigan. He gnashed his teeth, murmured the recitation in-between till he got home. Entering the gate he saw everyone standing with their buckets by the well water. He became confused and walked closer to them saying tasleem and “good morning”. A few responded his tasleem while others responded to the later form of greetings. Then he moved closer to one of the males and asked why they had to draw water from the well
“It seems you didn’t notice. I also didn’t notice until this morning when I wanted to have my bath. Something has been wrong with the pumping machine since yesterday morning so it isn’t working. We exhausted the water yesterday night and there’s nothing to pump it. We had to call the landlady to send us the key to the well water this morning. Now there’s the key and no drawer. Someone has gone to borrow one for us anyway. So Alfa, if you ever need water this morning, you should bring out your buckets now because the key will soon be returned.”
The residence consisting of two buildings, painted wine and yellow colour, facing each other with ample compound was enclosed in a fence. Each building had six self-contained apartments were all occupied by students of various higher learning institutions – the College of Education, Polytechnic and University – situated in the area in almost equal ratio. Which was why it was given the name CPU palace.
Sulaiman quickly moved to his room and got his buckets. He could discern silence from his new neighbour’s room which could only mean they hadn’t woken up or went back to sleep after praying fajr solat. Contemplating on whether to knock on their door or not, he felt uneasiness sprang within him at the thought. Just as everyone, they would also need water and he would be a bad neighbour and Muslim for not informing them about the abrupt predicament – he thought to himself and resolved. So he brought out his buckets and went to their door. He lifted his fist for a soft knock but hesitantly withdrew. Then he saw the water drawer arriving and people had started queuing with their buckets. He raised his fist again and his heart raised faster with it for an unknown reason, he knocked softly but there was no response. Then he knocked hard and harder as a final attempt when the door opened. His gaze was quickly lowered as Mutmainah came to view in her full black hijab, squinting her eyes to adjust to the early morning illumination.
“As-salaamu’alykum.” He managed to greet as he stood back.
“Subhanallah!” She abruptly shut back the door, which left Sulaiman confused and embarrassed at the moment until she opened it again a moment later, “oh I’m very sorry akhy! We just aren’t early birds and the weather also isn’t favourable. As-salaamu’alykum. Are you here for your broom?”
“No…no…” he quickly replied before she could turn back in, “I just want to…”
From inside the room, Maymunah’s voice was heard, “Mutmainah! The water isn’t running, what’s wrong?”
Her eyebrows squeezed as she attempted to return inside to attend to her friend but was stopped by Sulaiman’s response.
“That’s why I dared disturb you at this early hour of the day. We are presently having a problem with the pumping machine so we will have to draw the water manually this morning.”
She stepped out and saw people queuing for their turn to draw water. “Subhanallah! Maymunah won’t like to witness this scene because we were assured that we won’t have any problem regarding water in this house…”
“Who are you talking to?” Still, inside the room, Maymunah asked.
“Our neighbour.” She stepped back in and replied, “the brother who borrowed us his broom yesternight.”
“My regards to him. Jazaakallahu khairan brother…” She shouted at the top of her voice. “What’s happening to the water? This is some minutes to seven and we haven’t prayed fajr solat. Aunt shouldn’t hear about this…”
“Aunt’s concern here is minor, we should fear Allah? Not praying fajr solat at his prescribed time is surely an act of hypocrites…” They conversed in low voice, trying not to engage Sulaiman’s ears but he couldn’t help but listen.
Maymunah knowing what was going on with the water became devastated. A lot was going on with them which made them unable to pack all their needs from home. It was abrupt, they weren’t permitted, they were exactly like runaway teenagers… There was no bucket in their room and they were only planning to buy one for the kitchen. Now knowing the state of the water in their apartment, it dawned on them that they would need more than one bucket and more than all they’ve budgeted but they were with limited cash. Who would come to their rescue?
They both stepped outside to witness the water struggle among the students as it had turned to chaos when some students with more buckets insisted on fetching all at once while those with one bucket were waiting impatiently on the queue – lecture time would soon commence so everyone had got agitated. Maymunah and Mutmainah were both carried away by the scene and Sulaiman felt ignored but not offended because from the little he overheard, he understood how overwhelmed they could be. Summoning enough courage, he interfered.
“If you don’t mind, I still have some water you can use for ablution and some buckets too… I don’t know. If you won’t mind…” His voice faltered.
The two girls exchanged a bewildered happy look, held themselves and smiled at him.
“Jazaakallahu khairan akhy. Only Allah can reward you.” Prayed Mutmainah fervently.
“Wa antum fajazaakumullah khairan.” He shyly replied.
For the first time, he stared at them intently and like photography, he captured the face of Maymunah until her smile started sending electrons down his nerves. Then he lowered his gaze and scrambled away from their view. As promised, he got them some water to perform ablution and excitedly, he hurried to the well water with all his buckets including his ten litres bucket. Fortunately, the chaos had subdued with the involvement of some postgraduate students. Before the sisters could finish their adhkar, he had announced to them about the buckets of water waiting for them by the door. He vanished into his room before they could respond and euphorically, he jumped in his bed, mentally congratulating himself for moving a step forward.
He relaxed for a while, then stood up for class preparation. He stared at his ten litres bucket of water and smiled at himself, wondering how it would be sufficient for his bath when he remembered he still had four sachets of drinking water left. He grinned as he was filled with self-satisfaction. After bathing, he was already late and had no water, so he abandoned the thought of cooking breakfast but had to sweep the floor. The broom was nowhere to be found when he remembered he had borrowed his new neighbour. He searched for one of his old clothes and swept the floor with it. After sweeping, he stood at the entrance of his bathroom and felt satisfied again. Then he burst into a peal of great laughter as he asked himself if he was being generous or foolish by giving out all his buckets except a 10 litres and his only broom…
Maymunah’s look won’t stop popping in his mind and smile evaded his face every time it did, which made Toohir became suspicious and wouldn’t stop asking him about the reason behind the happiness.
“And you said there’s nothing wrong with you. Do you know, you smiled just now again?”
“Maybe… Isn’t it good to be happy?” He bluntly replied while busied himself with the circuit simulation given to them as an assignment on his laptop computer system.
He sniggered and nodded, “really! You don’t know how to lie but you surely know how to give a deceptive answer. But you should remember I won’t leave you alone until you tell me.” He returned his attention to his laptop.
Sulaiman smiled again. Hours ago, he was willing to share his new joyful discovery and foolishness with his friend but as he recalled who his friend was – like the adrenaline from the adrenal gland which push-forward an action without thorough thinking. – he just wouldn’t dare because he needed a lot of time and wanted things to move at its own pace. Moments passed silently between them as the deadline for submission remains a few minutes. But unannounced, a thought started troubling Sulaiman’s mind which he thought of pouring out.
“Toohir, I have a question. This is just out of curiosity and I don’t want you to give it an extensive meaning.”
He paused his work as he was about to put it in test mode to listen to his friend.
“How often does one’s feelings of love fade? Especially when one gets to see the person every day.”
“Good question!” He adjusted on his seat, seeming to appear serious and professional. “I don’t know what you meant by seeing each other every day but I’ll assume it’s marriage. If it fades just like that, then every marriage shouldn’t have lasted a day. In the first few days, couples usually go gaga over each other. Their chemistry is always full of catalyst in every reaction so things are usually okay no matter what their reason for getting married is – love, infatuation or lust. However, if what’s between them is love, according to our friend’s brief yesterday’s lecture, it builds up every day with every either good or bad. So it doesn’t just fade because each spouse would be complementing the goodness in each other with the evil.”
“Okay, thanks.” That was all his answer.
He returned to his laptop, submitted his assignment and switched off the laptop. He wasn’t asking about married couples but himself and the girl he believed he loved. He was just afraid he would grow tired one day and lose interest completely. He only dreaded the impossibility of his desire…
Toohir also submitted his assignment and they both got ready for their respective home. Together, they walked down the common lane and at a certain junction, Sulaiman turned to the road leading to his house while Toohir attempted to follow him. He turned back at him,
“Why following me? Won’t you go to your own house?”
“My house would be so boring man! I just wanna spend a few hours in yours. I will go home when it’s night.”
“But we didn’t discuss this before. There’s no chance! You aren’t following me. Go to your house.” He nudged him and went his way.
Toohir shouted, “this isn’t fair man! It isn’t fair! I think we are friends.”
Not looking back, he waved his hands in the air, feeling like a conquerer – Toohir was very keen to know what had been going on with him and he wasn’t ready to reveal that. He stopped by a small market near his residence and bought another broom, packer and two buckets. He felt so enthusiastic that he almost ran home but he had to compose himself and walked at a calm pace. A female voice called him from behind,
He turned back and saw an uncovered girl in a pink bum-short and armless chest-revealing white top. Her eyelashes were long and thick like an eagle beak. His instinctive reaction was to stare at her in contempt but cautiously, he grimaced though confused – found himself in the middle of answering or not answering her tasleem. He wasn’t even sure if she was a Muslim.
“Wahlykum salam,” he finally replied, staring beyond her. “What can I do for you?”
“Please, how much did you buy those buckets?” She asked.
“One thousand two hundred naira each.”
“Okay, thank you… Hope you know me?”
He shook his head.
“You must have seen me in the compound this morning. I’m attending the College of Education, first year. I’m Mar’yam.”
Subhanallah! – was what sounded in his mind but he nodded his head and said “okay.”
“Subhanallah! She’s a Muslim! Subhanallah! She’s a Muslim!…” He kept murmuring till he got home, feeling very devastated.
Then he remembered his mum’s words, “you can’t always carry the guilt for every derailed Muslim. Most of them were guided and sent guidance but willingly chose that destructive path. Hellfire wasn’t created just to occupy space. Surely, its fuel will be the wrongdoers among the humans and the jinns. May Allah not misguide us and increase us in steadfastness.”
“Aameen!” He murmured as he fell on his bed.
His neighbours hadn’t arrived and he wondered when they would. The time was past five so he lied down to rest before maghrib would arrive. Not sleeping for an hour yet, he heard a knock on his door. He sprang up and hastened to the door thinking it would be one of the girls but opening the door, he was disappointed. It was neither Maymunah nor Mutmainah but his friend, Toohir.
“Why that face man? Are you expecting someone else?”
“What is it again Toohir?”
“I thought we are friends Sulaiman. Can’t you just allow me to have a comfortable moment by passing tonight here?”
“What happened to your apartment?” He asked, still standing with him by the door.
“We are six living in a room – congestion! Also, two people among us always snore that most times, I have to stay awake till dawn… I’m not asking to live with you, my friend. Just for tonight, I plead.”
He withdrew his hand from the door and allowed his friend in. Toohir barely sat and settled when a female voiced tasleem by the door.
Jayeoba Kafayat Modupeoluwa, mostly known as Ummu Abdillah is a Technologist in Electronics and Telecommunication engineering but presently only active as an Islamic writer – so do not bother to ask her about diodes and electromagnetic waves 🤗. Happily married and recently gifted a princess.
She is a lover of teenagers and marriage and does make it her occupation to study them.
Also, she’s a knowledge seeker who loves to learn new things every second and teaches them as well to whoever cares to learn.