Chapter 19

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"What do you think?"

Adnan narrowed his eyes as he stared around the tiny living room with the hideous wallpaper and the faded tiles. His eyes shifted momentarily to the abstract painting which he had no doubt had been hung up in order to make the room a little bit more cultured.

What did he think?

He hated it.

He hated every single house he had seen so far, but even more so he hated this particular one. For the sole reason that it was only a stone-throw away from Sa'ada's home.

His heart had skipped a beat the very moment he and the realtor had turned into the street. Although he had never actually visited the street, Sa'ada had mentioned it so many times that it was ingrained in his memory forever. Involuntarily, he found himself looking at each of the houses in turn, counting them down as they went along. When he saw the number 8 shining mutely on its plaque, a cold feeling settled in his chest. A part of him had wondered whether she was in the house at that very moment, and what exactly she was doing. If he knew her well, - which he did -, then Sa'ada would still be asleep right now. Adnan couldn't count the multiple times he'd teased her about oversleeping each and every night. She never changed though.

"Sir?" the agent cocked his head, puzzled by the blank expression on his client's face. Adnan immediately shook his head, casting about for something to say.

"I'm not sure I like this one," he said. "It feels too small."

"You said the exact same thing about the last two houses we've been to," he said with a slight frown. "And the first house we went to was much too big for you to like. Pardon me sir, but I don't think you've properly communicated what you're looking for during the briefing we had."

"The houses you've shown me so far are quite unappealing," Adnan said testily. "I was very thorough in the email I sent you; I don't want a house that's too big, neither do I want a house that's too small."

"I understand that," the man sighed. "But we've already seen some amazing houses already, which I'm sure would have appealed to anyone else."

"Well I'm not anyone else, am I?" Adnan raised an eyebrow as he spied a beetle in the corner of the room. Just then, his phone began to ring. Even before pulling it out of his pocket, he already knew who it was.

He excused himself from the room however before he answered the call, stepping out into the blinding sunlight.

"Assalamu alaikum," he greeted his mother in a tired tone.

"Wa alaikum as salam," the reply came immediately. "How's the house hunt going?"

"It's exhausting," Adnan replied, turning his gaze to the east. Three houses away, he could just make out the top of Sa'ada's home, towering above the nearby houses. The corner of his lips began to twitch.

"That's how it always is," she laughed. "But you'll know the right house when you see it."

"How did you and Abba know that you wanted that house all those years ago?" he asked, realizing that he had never actually asked that question before. To him, the house had always been his home, even though most of his life had been far away from it. His entire childhood was tied to the walls of the house, and he still felt like part of him would always remain there, the boy that never grew up.

"Well, your father and I came here with a friend of his, and he allowed us to explore every corner of the house for several hours," she replied. "I went to the living room and sat down on the floor for several minutes, allowing myself to feel every inch of the house. I asked myself if I would want to live here forever, and if I would be comfortable raising a family here. I'm sure you can guess what my answer was."

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