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The woman was furious and agitated. No, things weren’t done this way and it wouldn’t start with her. She wouldn’t harbor a married woman in her house. Aneesah would go back to her husband’s house. Period. Aneesah’s mother had arrived from the market only to see her daughter Aneesah clutching a small bag. Upon asking her questions, she realized her daughter had no intention of going back.
“Aneesah there’s no way I would let you stay here. You’re Faisal’s wife. Did you argue with him?”
“No mama.” Aneesah was exasperated. She was tired of hearing about her mum’s bickering. It had been just two days since she came, but she regretted it already. How would she explain the concept of psychological abuse to her mother? “Mama, Faisal isn’t nice to me. This has been going on for a long time. He even tried to choke me once.”
Her mum came to sit beside her. “Aneesah don’t you dare lie to me because I’ll have to call Faisal and talk with him too. You mean he tried to choke you?’
“Yes Mama, and that’s not all. He has done more than that. He beats me and tells me what to do.”
“And how long has that been going on?. Why didn’t you say anything?”
Aneesah paused for a while before answering. “Mum I thought he would change. But he didn’t. It became worse that I couldn’t stay.”
“And you expect me to allow you stay her right. Look, young lady, Faisal is your husband and he had the right to do whatever he deems fits. Even if he beats you, marriage is about patience.”
Aneesah felt sick, with tears welling up in her eyes. Somehow, she’d hoped that her mom would understand.
“Where’s Faisal now?”. Her mum continued.
“When I left he wasn’t home, but I’m sure he’s back now.”
“I’ll have to talk to him myself.” Her mother muttered mostly to herself, bringing out her phone from the red purse beside her, at the same trying to grab her glasses.
Aneesah left her and went to her room. Thoughts of her dad filled her mind. He was the man who would have understood her, he would have held her in his bosom, and wiped her tears away. She heard her mum speaking furiously to Faisal on the phone in the other room. She hoped her mum wouldn’t insist she go back to Faisal’s, else she doesn’t know what to do.
Petra was relaxing with her husband Dave. She is now eight months gone but she still went to work. Dave had been trying to convince her to take a leave from her work but she would hear none of it.
“Have you heard from your friend?” Dave asked placing his hands on his wife’s protruded tummy and caressing it gently. The evening was quiet and soothing. They were sitting on the makeshift couch Dave had dragged from the living and threw numerous small pillows on them.
Petra sighed before replying. “Well, she’s fine. Her mum wants her to go back telling her marriage is all been patient. Baby, can you imagine that. Like who says that in the 21st century?”
“Well, her mum may not be enlightened, but that’s an archaic way of thinking. What is your friend’s next plan? She can report Faisal to her dad’s relative.”
“Baby she tried, but they all took her mum’s side. Dave, I’m worried. Aneesah is getting depressed every single time. I want her to come and stay here.”
Dave was quiet for a while. “Faisal can easily predict that she’s here. Why can’t her mum just let her stay there for a while for God’s sake?” He was exasperated.
“Baby, people are complicated. Her mum said she wouldn’t want a runaway wife in her house. That’s so sad honestly, where else does she expect her to go? I was thinking of visiting her. Babe, don’t say no please.”
“Absolutely no. My dear, you’re heavy. I’m not going to let you travel in this condition.” Dave was straightforward, without mincing any words. Petra could hear the TV from the living room.
“But I’m worried about her. The last time we spoke she didn’t sound so well. Her mum blames her for everything, says she wasn’t respectful enough to her husband, and even took birth control pills without her husband’s knowledge. But Neesah was only trying to protect herself and not bring a child into an abusive house.” Petra paused. “We have to do something Dave.”
“No we don’t. This is beyond your friendship now Petra. Aneesah is at her family’s house, I’m sure they can sort things out. Don’t bring yourself into it. And please let’s not argue about this”.
With that, Dave rose and stormed back into the house, leaving her in the foyer alone with her thoughts.
With the passing days, Aneesah grew sadder, depressed, and out of touch with herself. For days she stared at her laptop, waiting for a message from her ‘stalker’. She didn’t even have the courage for any activities on her blog. All she wanted was another puzzle, a burst of hope. Something to intrigue her and set her thinking of her mum. The woman had been a thorn in her flesh for just a week that she’d been there. Aneesah couldn’t eat, drink, comfortably without her mum chiding her about the birth control pills. Aneesah thought of what to do, she definitely had to get out of here for she feared she may die of depression. It was an exceedingly sunny morning when she opened her laptop and behold, a message from her ‘stalker’ was waiting for her.
34th Avenue street, Ridi road. 37493-65
This wasn’t a puzzle. This was an address that didn’t mean anything to her. But somehow, Aneesah was sure she had seen that address somewhere, but right now it didn’t ring a bell. Was her ‘stalker’ trying to lead her somewhere? Was this really an address or was it a puzzle she couldn’t fathom at the moment? She tried to think of Ridi Street, 36th avenue, and nothing came up.
Deeply within her, she had the conviction that it seemed familiar. Deciding to ask her friend, she got hold of her phone and placed a call across to Petra.
“Neesah, how are you?” Petra’s excited voice sounded from the other side. Aneesah desperately wished she could have a less complicated life like her friend.
“I’m good Petra. I just want to ask if this address means anything to you”. Aneesah replied as she reeled out the numbers to her.
“Well, no I don’t know any place like that. What’s wrong? Is everything fine?”
“Yeah. All is well. Just needed to confirm something.”
“Neesah, you know you can tell me everything right? Whatever you need just say it”.
“I know Petra. I appreciate it. Thanks”. She quickly caught the call so Petra couldn’t hear her voice breaking. Her friend’s love and concern for her left her stunned every time. Despite their difference, Petra had shown her the true definition of friendship.
Aneesah once again turned to her laptop screen and stared at the address, it wasn’t a hunch, she was deeply persuaded she’d seen those addresses somewhere.
Her mum barged into the room without knocking. Lately, she’d been fond of that. It was just another means of reminding Aneesah she had no right to be here. Right now, her mum looked like an offended bear.
“Neesah have you decided what to do with your life?” She started standing right there by the door with her hands folded around her bosom. Sometimes, Aneesah wondered how her dad had put up with this woman.
“Yes, Mama. I have decided. I want Faisal to give me a divorce and then I can run a master’s degree in…”
“Then I guess you must be really crazy. Listen to me young lady, I just got off the phone with Faisal and he’s coming tomorrow to pick you up. I can’t have a runaway wife in my house. It’s a disgrace to me in this neighborhood. And when you get back to your husband’s house, learn to be patient. That’s all marriage demands. If you dare attempt to take birth control pills without your husband’s knowledge, then I’ll give Faisal the right to deal with you as much as he wants.” Her mum finished, her eyes fixed on Aneesah waiting for her to say something.
Aneesah knew that her mom meant what she said and there was no point arguing with her, so she told her mum she understood and will do as she said. Turning back, she stared at those numbers and desperately wished she could remember.
If Faisal was coming tomorrow, then she wouldn’t still be in this house by then.
Faisal was pleased and amused. He had gotten through the woman easily. Apparently, she wasn’t as intelligent as she looked. For the past few days, Faisal had been feeling so out of touch with himself. He felt empty, powerless, and desperately sought something or someone to control. Last night, he’d broken all the glasses in the house hoping it would give him relief but it didn’t. Even the woman at the restaurant had reminded him of his wife. She’d been wearing the ridiculous red lipstick his wife liked to wear. He couldn’t hold the temptation of wiping it off her, so he left without eating his meal.
Today, however, he smiled at the ceiling. Aneesah’s mother had assured him that Aneesah was sorry and he could come to pick her tomorrow morning. Finally, his pawn was coming, oh how he missed her, her fear, her screams, and squeals that excited him and rejuvenated his spirits.
His attention turned to the TV and watched the red-haired reporter on the screen. Why would she pick red of every color for her hair? A lot of people were crazy in this world. He focused on Aneesah and all the things he would do to her when she returned.
He smiled as his body filled with lust.
The last thing she did was pay for the room online. It was a small and quiet hotel that was new in town. Aneesah was sure that no one would find her there. She packed the few clothes she had and put them in a little box that was big enough to contain them. She waited till 7:30 pm, that way she was sure her mom would be in her room praying.
When it was exactly time, Aneesah picked her bag and walked out of the house. It took no small courage, and it felt like she was leaving everything she’d known and everything she was used to. Already the memories of her father began to run through her mind.
Surprisingly, she was beginning to miss her mother, but she knew this time she had to be selfish. She would think of herself and what was good for her. Aneesah drove out speedily before she could change her mind. Driving steadily across the streets of Kano to the hotel took her roughly thirty minutes. The blares and horns of the vehicles took the mind of her present predicament. Arriving at the hotel, she showed her online receipt and checked into her room. To say she was impressed was an understatement.
The rooms were painted light yellow with brown stripes that beautifully decorated the decor. The bedspread was fresh and clean with a huge blanket carefully folded on the right side of the bed. Aneesah kicked off her shoes and sat on the bed. The red Oriental rug caressed her sore soles. Her room at Faisal’s house was far more exclusive than this but it didn’t take long for her to realize that a beautiful house doesn’t make a happy home. She switched off her phone and went to sleep. Right now, only her rest of mind was her topmost priority.
Petra was worried about her friend. Aneesah’s mum had just told her she was nowhere to be found. She’d tried to call Aneesah several times but her numbers weren’t connecting. Even when she checked her activities on the blog, it had been over two weeks since Aneesah had last said anything.
Where was Aneesah?
Petra was currently at the hospital, it was a sunny Friday and she was finding it hard to concentrate on her work.
Today was her last day for a while. Her leave was starting on Monday. Dave’s insistent demands had finally paid off. Maybe she would cajole him to drive her to Kano to look for her friend. She thought of all the places where Aneesah would go to but nothing came to her mind. She had always been anti-social, allergic to the crowd. Even at school Aneesah’s only close friend was Petra. So where would she go? The thought raked through her mind as she checked her last patient and picked her bag to leave the hospital.
Dave was already waiting for her. Since she entered her last trimester, he never allowed her behind the wheels. Petra couldn’t complain, she enjoyed the attention and the way he spoiled her.
But right now, her mind was occupied.
“Baby what’s wrong?” Dave her ever attentive husband asked the moment she got into the car. He could always pick on her bad mood like a radar. If she’d asked, he would comment that he studied psychology for many years.
“Well, it’s Aneesah. I don’t even want to tell you because you’ll just tell me that I worry for nothing.” She pouted faking an extremely sad mood.
“Look look, I’m sorry if I ever made you feel that way. You just worry too much that I get concerned for the baby.” He shrugged. “But I’m sorry okay? Now don’t give me that face and tell me what happened to your friend this time again?”
“Her mum can’t find her. She didn’t check on her last night before they slept, but this morning she can’t find her. She wasn’t in her room and all her numbers were switched off”.
Dave sighed. “She finally succeeded in chasing her out the house, wasn’t that what she wanted all along? So why is she worried now? Anyway, why did she call you, she thinks you might have an idea where she is?”
“Yes, but the thing is Aneesah hadn’t been picking her calls lately. Honestly, I think she was depressed.”
“Well then, I guess her mum has to look for her then,” Dave concluded looking back as he drove out of the parking garage.
He knew his wife would insist that she wanted to help. He didn’t think it was a good idea. The pregnancy had few complications, he didn’t want to risk his wife’s health.
Petra looked at him until he turned. “What? It’s final Petra, there’s nothing to be done. Aneesah ran away, she’s an adult and can take care of herself. She’ll resurface after a while.”
Petra was dismayed at Dave’s staunch attitude. “So we’re honestly not going to do anything? What if Faisal finds her first? He’s going to hurt her”.
“Chances are if her mum doesn’t know where she is, then Faisal doesn’t know. She wants to stay low, give her that privilege please?”
Petra didn’t want to agree but she knew that Dave was right. Aneesah was in a hideout for a reason and didn’t want to be found. Searching for her was going to make things complicated for her friend. She had to heed Dave’s advice.
Instantly, her phone rang. The number seemed familiar as she pick it up.
“We need to talk”
Who do you think is calling Petra? Do you think Faisal found Aneesah? Find out on the next episode!