CHAPTER 1: ENSTRANGED

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22ND FEBRUARY, 2015

ABUJA, NIGERIA.

"You have to come down with me."

His voice was gruff, his eyes were an amalgamation of red and sorrow. He had always looked at her that way.

She shivered from the scorching heat of his gaze on her skin. She could almost smell her burnt skin.

Today, she resolved to look back at him the same way he looked at her. But it was never to happen because it was only a dream.

Her first dream.

She tossed and turned on her side.

She hated dreams. She hated waking up to find out that they were just that- dreams. Especially her first dream.

But today, what she saw wasn't just a dream, it was the echo of what was going on in the very much filled house she was sleeping in. Just a few feet below her.

The house was filled from room to room, with everyone trying to speak above one another, all voices seeking to be heard. Everybody wore her finest, some outfits made especially for the occasion while others wore tried and true outfits worn to many a wedding before.

The atmosphere was boisterous. Masa and taushe were served to the guests along with creamy kunun gyada in disposable cups, as it was in the Hausa-Fulani traditional weddings, in the Northern part of Nigeria. Some were nursing their delicate Nigerian Samosas. Everybody seemed happy.

She could feel their energy several feet away from them.

"Mama, come and have a look they're here." Hidaya her younger sister's voice echoed merrily along the corridors passing in front of her room. Someone had left her door opened again!

They've all been anticipating their arrival, now that they've finally arrived, the excitement was taken to the next level. The other girls ran out, humping down the stairs on heavy feet like some five-hundred kilo mammals; shouting in ecstasy to meet their guests.

Through all the commotion, traditional music being played and laughter, Sa'ima was still curled up in a ball under a blanket on her family-sized bed, in the only room where no guest was present. As much as she hated dreams, she preferred being in them than waking up to this nightmare.

Her eyes were dim and glum; they were vacant of any glint to give away the state of her mind, she turned her back to the door trying to close her now heavy eyelids, she was too drained to close the currently half-opened door; that would have to wait for her dream to be over. Sa'ima was settling with that idea when she heard a faint knock on the door.

She groaned internally; she didn't turn wishing whoever it was, would just go away and leave her alone, but no. She heard soft footsteps approaching her.

"Hey, munchkin. Wake up, what are you still doing in bed? It's your sister's wedding."

Sa'ima hugged her blanket tighter and mumbled, "Please go away, I'm sick."

"This is not done, you can't be sick today. You either wake up, or I'm calling Mama."

"Usman! I told you I'm sick will you please just go away! You're not supposed to be in here by the way."

Usman saw the fire in her eyes when she sat on the bed abruptly, "Whoa, easy there. I was worried that's why I decided to check on you. What is wrong with you? Your eyes are red, have you been crying?"

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