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That night in her room given to her, she sat on the huge bed and wrote in her diary. The moon was bright and its light radiated through the windows, giving the room an eerie look. Aneesah liked the contrast it gave and didn’t bother turning on the lights.
It’s been months since she last wrote in her diary. Heck! It’d been years since she did something for herself. She was always working, taking care of other people, and putting everyone before herself. As she wrote in her diary tonight, she resolved and vowed to invest in her personal development and to take care of her baby.
She would go back to her job in Zaria and if Faisal tried to hurt her, she would promptly report him to the police. She wasn’t settling for less this time. Life was too short to live it in fear. Aneesah’s thoughts abruptly went to her mum and like instincts, she hissed. She was glad of her mum’s attitude, at the most, it will help her raise her child better. Parents were supposed to love and encourage their wards to make the best decisions and not push them into a life they didn’t want and that was all her mother had ever done. Aneesah missed her father. He was the one who truly ever understood her. She picked up her phone and inserted the new sim she bought earlier. Her mind wouldn’t be completely at ease if she didn’t call someone. After a few rings, the caller responded.
“Hello”. A tired version of Petra’s voice called out.
“Petra, how are you? Are you okay?” Aneesah asked reluctantly. She hoped this was a good move. She initially had not wanted to call anyone that might connect her to Faisal, but now she didn’t want him to control her call log too.
“Aneesah, oh my God, where have you been?” Her voice was now sharp, it seemed like she had been sleeping. It was just 9 pm but Aneesah knew her friend was an early sleeper.
“I’m fine Petra. I’m really fine.”
“Aneesah you didn’t reach out to me, you just ran away without telling me any of your plans. Friends don’t do that to each other, or maybe you thought I might tell someone of your plight or give up your location?” She sounded angry.
“Petra, I know you would never do any of that to me. I was just tired of been a burden to you and I decided to make my own way. I’m sorry I couldn’t confide in you, but I’m really fine where I am now”.
There was silence on the other end of the line. “I understand Aneesah. Have you reached out to your mum yet? She’s really worried, I’m scared she might hurt herself.”
“I don’t want to talk about her now Petra. How are you doing? How’s Dave?”
“Oh he’s fine. Aneesah I gave birth yesterday. I was so angry you weren’t at my side. I have a baby boy now. He’s so handsome. I wish you could see him”.
Tears dripped from Aneesah’s eye. She could hear the joy and excitement in her friend’s voice. Instinctively, she clutched her stomach. Was that what she was going to experience too?
“I’m happy for you Petra. I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there. I’ll make it up to you I promise. I have to go now.”
“Wait Aneesah. I’m not going to ask you where you are now, but I want you to know that if you ever need anything please call me, whatever it is. And please call your mum. She’s really worried and sorry.”
More tears rolled from her eyes, she was moved by her friend’s kindness. How could someone love you this much?. Petra gave a new definition to the word friendship. She cut the call and laid on her bed holding her middle. Life was just starting for her.
This was something Faisal had never done but the craving for power overshadowed all the fear. You never knew what you could do till you were pushed and forced to step out of your comfort zone. Faisal looked at the address and followed it meticulously. He didn’t want to end up at the wrong clinic.
It’s been three weeks since Aneesah left, he’d been waiting for her to come back to him desperate and weak but it had not happened. He had a feeling that his malicious housekeeper was keeping her somewhere, fueling her strength and putting crazy ideas in her head.
What Aneesah didn’t know was that he was ready to fight tooth and nail for his wife. Whatever happened he would get his wife back. She belonged to him and him alone. He maneuvered the car and entered into a hideous neighborhood. Without being told he knew this was a notorious area. The kids looked rough, torn, and baggy jeans with black T-shirts gathered around his car as he packed close to an old-looking shop.
“Nice ride”. One of the boys commented, he couldn’t be more than twelve but his eyes looked like they’d seen a lot of years.
“Be sure it’s here when I get back, I’ll have something for you”. Faisal replied as he got into the shop. He was surprised there was a neighborhood that existed like this in Zaria.
“Who’s there?” An old cranky voice called out from behind the entrance. It looked like there was an apartment adjoined to the house.
“It’s Faisal. The person who called earlier. I’m here to talk about what we agreed on.”
A man came forward and peered. When he saw it was safe he came out fully. He was wearing black trousers with polka dots along with a black shirt and a matching beret. Faisal didn’t know what to expect when he’d talk to him earlier, but this man looked very intelligent.
“Do you have my money?” Only his voice indicated that he was old.
“Yes, I do”. Faisal brought out a bunch of money and threw it at him. The old man counted it and gave a smile that didn’t reach his eyes.
“I’ll be back”. He reappeared much later with a jar that contained a colorless liquid. He treated it with care and handed it over gingerly to Faisal.
“Be careful who you use it on. It burns”. He advised.
Faisal didn’t need the advice, he held the jar and walked out of the shop, and threw two one thousand notes at the boy. If he couldn’t get Aneesah, he would ensure that no one else did.
For the first time in weeks, Aneesah logged in to her blog to saw countless messages from her online followers, inquiring about her health and wondering if she was doing fine. Aneesah was so moved by the show of love that it brought tears to her eyes.
And why was she always crying these days? Pregnancy was something else. It amazed her that she went on the internet and researched about pregnancy and babies. Despite the circumstances she was in, Aneesah couldn’t wait to have her baby. She longed to see her friend Petra, she longed to hold her baby. Aneesah knew that it wouldn’t be long now. She was already making plans to book an apartment close to her place of work in Zaria. She hoped to get her marriage dissolved, she had nothing to do with Faisal anymore.
Starting from today, she was going to be actively posting on her blog, she wouldn’t stop her act of goodwill because of Faisal. He didn’t have the right to take away her happiness. It had been two days since she came to Mrs. Ladi and she couldn’t be more thankful for the wealth of experience she had gathered. It was exhilarating to meet someone who had experienced what she was going through. Talking about it was easy and refreshing.
Right now, Mrs. Ladi with the help of Querah had organized a luncheon for their NGO partners. A luncheon meant for them to socialize and network. Some women were invited to speak on their experiences. Aneesah was dressed in a white gown with touches of purple on it, she had generously applied her bright red lipstick and laughed with joyous abandon. There were a lot of women to meet and beautiful stories to hear.
She would get one of these women to talk on her blog. No, she would tell her own story on her blog; Pride.
“Come Aneesah”. Miss Querah dragged Aneesah by the hand. “I want you to meet someone.”
The luncheon was taking place in the garden adjacent to the flower beds. There were few women roughly ten in number. Miss Querah dragged her to meet a tall fair young lady. She had beautiful bulgy eyes that sparkled. Her purple gown stopped in her knees showing off her beautiful straight legs.
“Oh my God. You’re the woman from pride. I’ve seen a lot of your videos. I’m glad to finally meet you”. The young woman exclaimed bringing out a hand for a shake. “My name’s Eva. I’m a fitness instructor.”
That certainly explained the body looks. “It’s nice to meet you, Eva. I’m glad you enjoy the blog.”
“I do. Your videos have really helped me. I was in an abusive relationship for four years. Your videos gave me the strength to quit. Initially, I didn’t believe I could do anything on my own. I thought I needed a man to succeed. But now, it’s a different story. I run a business, I have my brand and happily married”.
Stories like these gave Aneesah goosebumps, especially to hear that her videos inspired women across the country. “Wow, I’m honored. How did you meet your husband”?
Eva chuckled before she replied. “You see after I left my boyfriend, I didn’t have anything. My parents were both Late and I didn’t have anything or anyone I could call my own. I had to begin and plan my business from the scratch. He was one of my first customers. The doctors feared he was going to be obese so they placed him on a weight loss exercise. He saw my ad online and decided to contact me. I’m sure you know the rest of the story”. She ended off with a laugh. This was a clearly happy woman.
Throughout the luncheon, there were tears in Aneesah’s eyes as she listened to the women recount their personal experiences. Right there Aneesah took the solemn decision to share her story on her blog. Excusing herself from the little crowd, she went into the room to savor her little gift. She intertwined the purple ribbon around her hands, at the same time thinking of her baby. This was the right time to act but first things first, she was going to call her mother. From what she heard from all the women, the blame game didn’t pay. Forgiveness was the key. The call was answered on the first ring.
“Mama”. Aneesah called out.
“Aneesah…” Her mother cried loudly, her voice hoarse. “Aneesah kiyi hakuri. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for pushing you to marry Faisal. Please forgive me Aneesah”. She now cried heavily.
Aneesah’s defenses were broken immediately, she didn’t know exactly when she began to cry. “It’s okay Mama. I’m fine now. I can’t tell where I am. I don’t want Faisal to find me. But I’ll soon be back Mama. “
Her mother seemed to calm down a bit. She felt her sniffing profusely. “I’m glad you’re fine Neesah. I’ve been so worried.”
“I know Mama. I know, I’m sorry. I’ll be home soon.” She contemplated if to tell her mother about the baby.
“Faisal came around the house. He threatened to hurt me if you don’t show up. Aneesah I’ve finally understood all you said about Faisal, he’s a monster. I’m so sorry for forcing you to marry him”. She renewed her crying.
Aneesah was glad that her mother finally understood. “It’s okay Mama. I have to go now. I’ll come home soon”.
“It’s alright. I’ll be expecting you, just take care of yourself”.
Aneesah cut the call. Faisal had the effrontery to threaten her mother. When did he become so daring? She needed to put him in his place. Aneesah put the purple ribbon back into her bag, began to tidy her room, and pack her belongings.
“Hello everyone. I know it’s been a while. I’m so sorry for the absence and hope you all forgive me. I’ve got something big coming for us and it’s all going to be worth the wait. It’s about me and I’ll reveal something that will inspire us all to follow our dreams and fulfill our purpose as women. Please anticipate, it will be worth the wait. Thanks”.
Aneesah waved goodbye as she clicked send on her laptop. It was the video she was making in months. No more hiding, everything was going to be clear now. She was in the car with Miss Querah driving back to Zaria. Already she missed Mrs. Ladis’s company and wished she could spend more time with her, but it felt like she was stalling and Aneesah wanted to believe she could face her fears. However, she was grateful for all she’d learned. The car sped smoothly across the tarred road working up the misty brown dust. Aneesah had already rented a two-bedroom apartment close to the hospital she worked. It was a Friday and she was expected to resume on Monday. There was no way she would lose her job because of Faisal.
“I hope you’ll be safe Aneesah. I’m worried about what Faisal could do.” Miss Querah spoke up her eyes focusing on the wheels.
“Miss Querah it will be fine. Let me tell you something I realized. The only reason why Faisal was able to get away with all he did to me was that I wasn’t able to stand up to him. Do you remember what happened in the hotel room? He stopped short and couldn’t move a finger when you asked him not to touch me. Believe me, he was frightened. I could see the fear in his eyes. I’m going to show him a new Aneesah and he’ll be powerless.”
Miss Querah smiled. “This is definitely a new Aneesah. I’m proud of you. You have amazing zeal and passion.”
“I’m grateful for everything Miss Querah. I’m still stunned at the knowledge that you’re behind the puzzles. That’s amazing.”
“We all have talents we’re not aware of. Sometimes all we need is to find a push.”
Aneesah strongly believed Miss Querahs statement. The first thing she planned to do after settling down was to see her friend. Aneesah desperately longed to hold Petra’s child and hug her friend. She missed her company greatly, and then she would travel to Kano to see her mother. Faisal wouldn’t take away her right to freedom of movement.
Ms. Querah helped Aneesah to settle into her simple yet beautiful apartment. Aneesah initially had second thoughts about renting an apartment online without really seeing what it looked like, after multiple consultations, however, she decided to follow her instincts. She was pleased that she had. The apartment was painted light peach that had white strips, the two doors were bright painted with ash colors. There was a small adjoining bathroom that also doubled up as a toilet. The apartment might not be like what she was previously used to, but her happiness was paramount. It took her roughly the entire weekend to settle down, she dusted the entire room, swept and mopped them thoroughly. Aneesah arranged the room just like she would want it. A table and chair beside her bed, that way she could work immediately she woke up from sleep. She went shopping on Saturday night and got the little things she would need including food and toiletries.
After a hard day’s work on Sunday, she felt proud of herself. On Sunday evening, dressed in a white porcelain dress, blue veil, and heels, Aneesah got behind her car and drove off to her former estate.
It was a nostalgic feeling as she stood on the porch of Petra’s house and knocked. Dave’s car wasn’t in the garage, so she figured he might be out. Knocking harder again, she had footsteps coming to answer the door. Aneesah braced herself, she saw Petra would throw her off with a hug. Instead, a woman who looked like a photocopy of Petra only that she was an older version of her opened the door.
“Hello, how can I help you?” Her voice was deep and hoarse. She squinted her eyes as she looked at Aneesah recognition suddenly dawning on her. “Aneesah. It’s you. Chineke! You’ve grown so big”. The woman came forward and hugged her. She had the same warmth as her daughter.
Aneesah had met Petra’s mother when she travels from the East to attend Petra’s induction. “How’s the new mum?”
“She’s inside. Come in”.
Aneesah went into the familiar house following Petra’s mum. And there she was on the sofa, looking utterly relaxed and beautiful. Her skin glowed under the yellow light. One look at Aneesah made her gasp. She quickly ran to give Aneesah a tight hug.
“I’ve missed you Neesah. I’ve missed you so much”. Petra muttered continually refusing to let go of her friend.
It was a while later when after all the pleasantries and Petra’s mom had retired when the women began to talk.
“Neesah, what do you intend to do about Faisal?” Petra began visibly worried.
Aneesah’s attention was focused on the little child in her arms. He looked just like his dad; Dave.
“Neesah”. Petra called out again this time a bit louder. She took the baby and kept him in the creche.
“You’ll have plenty of time to spend with him. Right now, I need to know about your plans with regards to Faisal. You know he’s not going to let you go right”.
“Well, he has to,” Aneesah replied nonchalantly.
“What do you mean he has to? Don’t you think we have to report him to the relevant authorities?” When Petra sensed Aneesah was reluctant, she tried another line. “Hope you’re not planning to hurt him?”
“Not if he tries to hurt me first”. Aneesah retorted.
Petra was surprised at her friend’s response. Aneesah had always been timid and quiet. This however was a new Aneesah. Even the heels said it all. Petra wasn’t convinced though.
“Look, my friend”. Petra came to sit closer to Aneesah. “The proper thing to do is to report Faisal to the police. That way he would be scared to try anything. They can even give him a restraining order if we make a good case.”
“I know, I understand your point. But on what grounds do we report Faisal? It’s been a long time ago and may not count. I will just work on getting our marriage dissolved soon. I want to be on my own”.
“Alright”. Was the only thing Petra said. “Who helped you escape from the hotel?”
Aneesah smiled. “You’d be surprised. It was Miss Querah. My housekeeper. “
Petra gasped. “How did she find you?”
Aneesah went on to recount what transpired the whole time, about her trip to Abuja, Mrs. Ladi, and the rest.
“Do you think putting your story in your blog is a good idea?” Petra asked after Aneesah had told her of her plans.
“Why not? Other women have agreed for their stories to be there, why should mine be different?”
Petra reasoned for awhile. “I understand you. Anyways Aneesah you have to be careful in your new place. Always ensure you close the door and do not open the door to anyone. Don’t park your car outside..”
“Yes, mum”. Aneesah replied making Petra laugh.
“I know right, I’m just worried about you.”
Aneesah stared at Petra for awhile. “Thank you so much Petra for all you did. I can’t ever forget you”.
“Oh come on Neesah. What are friends for”. Petra came closer and hugged her friend.
And with that life returned to normalcy for Aneesah. She resumed work and all her colleagues were pleased to see her. Her focus was shared between her work, friend and blog. She continued to work fervently on her story, fine-tuning it to inspire, not only women but everyone as well. Occasionally Faisal would pop up in her mind for a while, but she’d learn to push his thoughts away.
Since she’d returned, she saw him once at the estate trying to drive his car in. Their eyes had met for a second and everyone both looked ahead. Aneesah had laughed in her mind, “Good riddance to bad rubbish”. Her life was what she called perfect, she’d even gone down to Kano and smoothened things with her mother. Life couldn’t be any greater for Aneesah, till one cold night…
What do you think about this Episode? What do you think Faisal has planned? Tell us in the comments section below.