CHAPTER ONE: THE MESSAGE

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THEMESSAGE


KANO,NIGERIA

OCTOBER,2014.


Scrollingdown her phone, Zeenah was going through her message log, when shestopped on one. The words she read sent shivers down her spine. Shetightened her grip on the phone to stop it from slipping off herhand.

Beinga medical doctor, bizarre things were not new to her but this, thisbrought her world crashing. She'd never seen this message before, howcould she then have sent it? How could she not remember ever writingthis message? The words, the contents all didn't make sense. Her headspun, she felt light-headed, her knees were the consistency of meltedrubber. The cafe became blurry, the man sitting in front of her asmoky shadow. The sound of the utensils in the backroom, a distantecho. All went still as she slipped into oblivion.

WhenZeenah opened her eyes again, she was in her bed, how did she comehome? She wondered, closing her eyes shut, she saw the last face thatloomed over her before she lost her consciousness.

"Innalillahi wa inna ilaihirraji'un," she muttered.

Shejerked from her position in bed when her mother, Ammie said thesalam.

"Liedown Zeenah, you are not strong enough."

Zeenahopened her mouth to speak but couldn't find her voice, so sheremained stuck to the bed. It was only moments before she blacked outagain. She woke up around 6 pm, reading in her surrounding.

Therewas a bottle of Nestle water and a white warmer of food on hernightstand, her lunch, still uneaten. Zeenah grabbed the water bottleand drank from it in large gulps.

Shebraced her closed fists on the mattress and rose gently- careful notto fall again. The went to the bathroom and took a shower to ease thetension and loosen the knots on her muscles. The last drop of hotwater pelted her sore skin before it cascaded down her back. Shestepped out of the shower and performed a sound ablution to say hermissing salaat.

Zeenahwas still in the state of making Du'aa when Ammie came in for thesecond time "You should round up and have some food so that youcan take your medicines on time. And you have a visitor waiting inAbbie's living room."

Zeenah'sheartbeat accelerated, "Whom could my visitor be? Did Hishamknow something? Is he here to make me pay for it?" The merethought of that sent shivers down her spine, she immediatelydismissed that thought. She rose to eat her late lunch but nothingwas going down her throat willingly. Still dizzy from her weak state,she trod down the stairs mixing her steps.

Atthe sight of the man sitting in Abbie's living room in his bluebutton-down shirt and tan coloured chinos, Zeenah's breath hitchedin her throat. Her saucered eyes shut down from the sudden rush ofblood to her head, her visitor rushed to her rescue steadying her onher feet. Sa'eed Abdallah!

Sa'eedplaced her down on the nearest sofa, a single wing-backed next toher.

"Subhanallah,Zee you shouldn't have come down when you are this weak. I'm hereto see how you are doing, Ya Allah! you scared the daylights out ofme." Sa'eed said.

Zeenahhad to gather all her courage to face him. When she spoke, her voiceshook like a fever struck patient. "Sa'eed, I beg of you in thename of Allah... leave me alone. Whatever you think I told you, Ididn't. Actually, I was only aware of it today."

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