Blink and an eternity may go by. Namdi dared not, his wife filling his vision, radiant in the porch light. A rare blooming flower whose thorns he blissfully grasped, the reward of a divine fragrance more than worth its weight in blood.
Around them the world continued, nature finding no weight behind their mortal battle. In the distance, the storm had begun its fall, lazily working its way to where Zainab and Namdi stood. He took a step forward. The glint in her eyes grew fierce, forcing him to a halt. In her hand he could see a brown folder. What it contained, he could only guess. It did not matter, he knew she knew, what remained was how much.
"Does your father know?"
Zainab felt her heart bleed. Of all the words she thought Namdi would utter; beg, lie, flatter, never would she have expected her father being his first thought. Among the emotions of pain, doubt, betrayal, another began to throb; Fury.
"Does it matter?"
Namdi watched her, hoping he would be able to find an answer within the lie of her lips. The pair told him nothing, leaving him further in the dark.
"Zainab, you know I lo..."
"Don't say it Namdi. Don't you dare say it!"
Her chest heaved as she shouted the words, thunder crashing to earth, lending credence to her outburst. Shaken to his core, Namdi took an involuntary step back, putting him back beneath the cloudy night sky. His gaze on Zainab now wavering, more chains of guilt wrapped around his mind.
"For months, Uwata na kai na would say you were cheating and I would be there emphatically defending you."
"It only happened once."
Weakly, Namdi spoke the words, each grinding out like ofada rice with more stone than grains.
"And that makes it alright!? Only fools love blindly, not till now do I truly understand."
Her chin tilted up, hiding the fleeting hopelessness from Namdi whose head hung low.
"What is her name!"
"Zainab, it doesn't matter what..."
"You lost the right to tell me what matters. I want to hear it from your lips."
Namdi struggled to find a reason not to utter those four letters which alone are innocent but combined brought a catastrophe to his world. He failed, his mind bearing a strain he could barely withstand. Weak from the emotional onslaught, it came out in little more than a whisper.
"Does she too love the way you call her name?"
He lacked the courage to answer.
"Zainab, please, I didn't intend for it to happen."
"So what, you tripped and fell into her? The astronomical odds you had to beat..."
"Just give me a chance to explain."
"Namdi, why should I? What have you done to deserve such a heaven defying chance?"
"If you heard it, you'd know she meant nothing to me."
"Can you say that? Can you stare at the pain within my eyes and say that, Namdi?"
It was then Namdi openly looked into Zainabs deep brown eyes. What he saw broke him, rendering him speechless. Whatever words he thought to soothe her, win her back and ease her woe, died a miserable death. It wrung him, ripping his insides to shreds. A pain so raw ravaged him, sucking his will, forcefully plunging him into a flood of empathy he had no way to defend. Not till that moment did he know how desperately she loved him, how completely she held him in her heart. His breath came out in a ragged mess, his brow peppered with beads of sweat.
"Why Namdi, just why..."
Tears rained down from her almond eyes. As they fell, the edges of the storm reached where Namdi stood, its tears drizzling on his sunken shoulders, the heavens joining in her sorrow.
Continued on next page...
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