Abdul-Kareem sat on the patio of his duplex, taking in the serenity staring at him. Boys are playing soccer on the field at the back of the mosque, and some girls are skipping rope near the recently opened shop. That image would not leave his head, either. Maymunah in that abaya and silky scarf. The doe-eyes and brown complexion… and…and… he couldn’t quite put a hand on it, but there was something about her presence that had fascinated and completely overcame him. Overnight he couldn’t stop thinking about her.
Then sitting on the patio that Sunday morning he finally realized something. That was not the first time he would see Maymunah. He remembered waking up after a dream six weeks ago around the time he and his wife and children were preparing to return to Nigeria. It was just a normal, routine dream which he paid no special attention to and couldn’t even remember the details, until now. Perhaps he should have paid attention because that was the first time he saw Maymunah.
With that remembrance, he decided to take a step. He took out his phone and texted Aisha.
Salaams, give my number to your friend, Maymunah, and tell her to please call me.
Aisha called back immediately and asked if there were no problem. None, replied Abdul-Kareem. Just have her call me.
Although confused and partly suspicious, Aisha did what his uncle asked.
“Why does he want me to call him?” Is everything alright?” Maymunah responded in shock when Aisha relayed the message.
“Well, I don’t know o. I am hoping you would know.” Aisha smirked.
“I don’t. But thanks, I will call him.” She replied casually even though she was excited to hear him speak. She knew why he wanted her to call.
“erm, wait.” Aisha said. “Can you call me back and tell me what’s all about?”
“Wa alykum salam.”
Maymunah texted Abdul-Kareem asking if it was a good time. He replied that it was. Just after asr prayer, she called him. He apologized for asking her to call and explained that he did that to not invade her privacy should she not want to speak with her. Then he told her to hang-up and that he would call her back.
He called back and the first thing he asked was if Maymunah was married. One might wonder why he couldn’t just ask his niece that. Maymunah said she wasn’t married.
“Are you engaged to someone then?” He furthered.
“Erm, well…” Maymunah couldn’t believe she was stuttering. “there’s… No. Not really.”
Back in her apartment, Monday night, Maymunah had never been so confused in her life. Abdul-Kareem had told her he would love to marry her yesterday after she had lied that she wasn’t engaged. She had not planned to lie. It had just come out because she knew he wanted her and she couldn’t bare to shut her door to him. She couldn’t, but it troubled her because she wanted to be Abdullah’s wife and did not want to hurt him. Maymunah presently hit herself on the head so hard that Kiffayah moved closer and worried that she might have injured herself.
“Hey! Mems… ki lo n se e gan? What’s going on with you?” She asked.
She shook her head. “Kiffayah, I messed up big time!”
“What did you do?”
And so, in the quietness of their apartment, she let herself be vulnerable on to the trusting arms of her friend.
She told her about Abdul-Kareem the successful investment banker who had just returned to Nigeria from America. She recounted how Aisha described his uncle as they sat over laptops later in her room that Saturday. Aisha had commented on how her aunt-in law, Umm Bilal was blessed to have her uncle, Abdul-Kareem, who when she visited Houston and stayed with them, exemplified the ideal Muslim husband. How he helped around the house, bathing children, cooking sometime and cleaning behind himself. How he revered his wife and supported and cheered her on to become a medical doctor.
She then told Kifayyah that he wants to marry her.
“Ha! Marry you? Didn’t you tell him?”
And in her response of silence, Kifayyah understood her friend.
She told her about the spark between them on that Saturday and all he said to her yesterday over the phone.
“But what about Brother Abdullah?” Kifayyah asked, patting Maymunah’s head as she was now crying.
“I don’t know. Really. I don’t know what to do.”
— To be continued.