It was that time of the month Suliya dreaded. During these days, she did not like for people to visit her. She would rather be alone by herself and engage in some house chores. She would mop the floor, wash the dishes, clean the bathroom – do anything to keep her mind away from the emotions cruising through her. The days following her menstrual period was particularly marked with a heightened level of arousal and desire for sex. Sitting down reminded of sex, laying on her side with her eyes closed made her long for a man’s touch, and even when she tried to distract herself with social media, she ended up lusting over fine guys on the internet. The romantic life of a divorcee is normally dry, but for Suliya the days following her cycle are especially shriveled.
This afternoon, however, Suliya’s resort would be tested because as she began to do her chores, someone knocked the door.
“Who is it?” She asked, hands akimbo.
“Sister Khadija’s brother. She sent me…”
Remembering that Khadija had told her he was coming the day before, she snapped off from her reverie, and proceeded to unbolt the door. “Oh. I am coming.”
So, after a few minutes with him in the living room, this young woman was having a mix of anxiety and excitement, doubts and curiosity, attraction and repulsion as she stood in the kitchen of her self-contained apartment that afternoon in a Lagos neighborhood. She pressed her hand on her chest as if to stop the pounding of her heart. Right there, she wished she was not alone in the house with the fine young man, her friend’s brother, on an errand to get some bottles of shea butter and coconut oil she had promised to get for the young man’s sister at the weekly sisters’ circle at Lekki Masjid last week Friday. The young man, who by the way, bears the name Yusuf was of moderate height, scanty beard; a shy man whose gentle moving pink lips kept sending Suliya – you can’t make this stuff up – into reveries.
Still catching her breath in the kitchen, Suliya untied her hijab, headscarf, and straightened up her looks before reaching into the freezer and taking out two plastic containers of shea butter. Then she opened a cabinet and brought out a jar of coconut oil. Now, she looked around and tried to compose herself before going out to the sitting room and be alone again with Yusuf. Minutes before rushing out of the sitting room into the kitchen on an excuse that she had a kettle on the stove, she had felt herself hot, turned on by the sight of Yusuf. It seemed the air in the room was being sucked up and she felt like jumping on Yusuf and kissing him with passion right there. She could feel herself becoming aroused, and the only thing that stopped her from moving closer to Yusuf in that little sitting room of hers, with the sitters closely parked together was not the thought that Yusuf may push her away, for she had, in a way known to women, seen in Yusuf’s shy but revealing face that he was crushing on her, but it was the fear of the consequences for sexual encounters outside marriage that kept her in check.
Suliya was returning to the sitting room, but she wasn’t sure she could control herself. Two or three years ago, she was not this apprehensive about sitting alone with a man, at all. She would not even entertain the thought of lusting after a man, although she used to occasionally get fascinated by appearances or auras of some men in the past, a quick lowering of gaze and silent adhkar usually did the trick of getting her focused. But for the last five months now, keeping the gaze lowered was now becoming more and more difficult. When she got to the sitting room, Yusuf’s head was slugged on his phone, chatting on WhatsApp. This gave her an edge and temporarily relieved her. At least she would not be tortured by her piercing eyelashes and dimples which revealed themselves every time he smiled, which he did quite often at every chance. Suliya wrapped the container and jars in transparent plastic bags and set it in front of him on the center table. Yusuf raised his head instinctively at the sound of this, and this made Suliya heart jump, and she flinched.
Her reaction occurred to her as odd only when Yusuf asked if everything was okay. At first, she stammered, then she lied that she had remembered something that scared her. “Oh okay” was Yusuf’s reply, and without further ado, he stood up and thanked Suliya. He asked after Basit, her son, and she told him he was spending the weekend with her parents. And then he left.
As the door slammed behind Yusuf, Suliya exhaled in relief and fell on her back on the three-sitter. The entire visit seemed like a thousand years of adrenaline-inducing experience, and she was, understandably, glad, yet strangely, sad, that it was now over. In a second, she began to wonder what would have happened if she had followed her urges and planted a wet kiss on the fine young man. No doubt, he would have kissed her back, and things would have escalated, and he might have, like his predecessor in the land of Egypt, stood to leave, although deep down he wanted to stay, and she might have tried to grab him.
This scene she’s creating in her mind cracked her up and she burst into laughter. She laughed for a few seconds and then tears began rolling down her face, and this is when the quietness of the afternoon fell in, and her reality came rushing. Her sobs were silent; gentle flowing streams from the grey, dark and gloomy places in her. And no one saw her right there on the couch as her face remain damp and sore, and a half an hour later no one among the billions of people on the earth’s surface thought of her when she fell asleep and dreamt of a bright, sunny day on a beach not far from where she was.
That same weekend in a posh Lekki estate, a tax and fixed asset accountant of an oil company was burning steam, playing a video-game football match online with his childhood friend who left for Canada a year ago. It was ten minutes past ten in the morning that Sunday; he had just dropped off the children at the Lekki Masjid where they attend Arabic school in the weekends, and so he and his wife had their five-bedroom duplex house to themselves that morning. Currently, he was trailing two goals to nothing, and from his firm grip of the controller, his wife, who had come out of the laundry room with the intention to start up a small talk, deduced that this wasn’t the time for distraction, went upstairs and traded her abaya for her exercise wear.
By the time she returned downstairs, Sharaf was playing a new match now, and he was winning. She started on the treadmill which overlooked the TV from the side of the living room, adjacent to the dining area. Sharaf from time to time glanced over her and enjoyed what he saw. He kept on playing video-game, however, pausing to throw a comment or two at Amina’s exercising every now and then. When his friend in Canada scored a goal, he looked at Amina again and commented, or more appropriately, teased Amina for using a face-cap. “It’s not like there’s sun in the house, our Serena Williams!”
In response, Amina said, “You just want to distract me, and I won’t allow it.” And then she put on her earphones and increased her speed.
When the match finished, the friend said he was going to work, so they both signed out, and Sharaf shut the game off. Then he turned his full attention on his wife, who by now was so much into the treadmill and the dashing sounds of Fatoumatta Diawara’s music, and just sat there and watched her. What he saw filled him up with love and attraction for Amina all over again.
Even after three children, she looked incredibly fine and she wasn’t relenting. She wore nice clothes, adorn herself in beautiful, expensive jewelries and she took care of her body and watched her weight. Sharaf, observing the beads of sweat on Amina’s dark, glowing face, started to feel the hots for her right there so he decided to join in on the exercise by pedaling next to her. Amina watched in pleasure as her husband took his place by her side, pedaling, and she flashed him a wink. Right there and then, they became unified in their love and goals, in their journey and interest, and the world seems to be no match for their devotion to each other. They made love after the exercise in the living-room on the loveseat while their children were learning to read Qur’an at the madrasa. And they made love one more time later upstairs in the master bathroom, hot water pouring on them, as they cuddle up in the Jacuzzi, the glass door blurred from steam.
Thank you for reading. Please drop a comment if you’d like to read the coming episodes on a weekly basis. If we get enough people that are interested, we may proceed to a full online-series. With some terms and conditions. 😊
As the door slammed behind Yusuf, Suliya exhaled in relief and fell on her back on the three-sitter. The entire visit seemed like a thousand years of adrenaline-inducing experience, and she was, understandably, glad, yet strangely, sad, that it was now over. In a second, she began to wonder what would have happened if she had followed her urges and planted a wet kiss on the fine, young man. No doubt, he would have kissed her back, and things would have escalated, and he might have, like his predecessor in the land of Egypt, stood to leave, although deep down he wanted to stay, and she might have tried to grab him. This scene she’s creating in her mind cracked her up and she burst into laughter. She laughed for a few seconds and then tears began rolling down her face, and this is when the quietness of the afternoon fell in, and her reality came rushing. Her sobs were silent; gentle flowing streams from the grey, dark and gloomy places in her. And no one saw her right there on the couch as her face remain damp and sore, and a half an hour later no one among the billions of people on the earth’s surface thought of her when she fell asleep and dreamt of a bright, sunny day on a beach not far from where she was.