An African Sunset

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 6 (v.1) - Chapter 6

Submitted: February 08, 2018

Reads: 25

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Submitted: February 08, 2018

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The Harmattan haze hovered over the campus like a light-brown cloud of dust. Dust settled on every surface and turned groomed eyelashes, eyebrows and well combed afros grey. Black suits turned a dusty brown colour by afternoon and shiny black shoes look like they have been dug out from a grave. In all, the gentlemen, without any laxity on their parts, but due entirely to the vagaries of nature end up by afternoon looking like they have been rescued from the jaws of a hyena, Mustapha knew his grandmother would have said. She would have wanted to hold everyone, apply pomade on their lips and sit them before a charcoal fire and detain them there until the haze is gone. The sun hid clumsily behind the cloudy haze and poured down a trickling of sunlight. Mornings merged into noon and noon into night without a change in lighting. The cold breeze blew through the tree branches shaking off dried leaves. Suits became quite welcome and less of a professional burden in the cold. For the southerners who are used to a steady warm monsoon weather, 21 degrees Celsius weather is another intolerable extreme of Northern Nigeria about which the people of Northern Nigeria are somehow partly to blame.

D45 is one of the several tourist lodges on the campus now turned hostel. Two lavatories in two of the bedrooms served the eleven students. Each student has been assigned a bunk and Mustapha got the top bunk. He often came dangerously close to colliding with the opposite metal bunk when he jumped down in the morning. He squeezed out some reading space on the table adjacent to his bunk and arranged the hefty law books he bought from the bookshop. The D-Block students looked with envy at the new A-Block where early birds were housed with a lot of space for two wide wooden beds and an ample reading space.

Each of the ‘rooms’ had a peculiar reputation. Some rooms were occupied by bookworms, students who don’t like and who don’t often get visitors. They were often not around because they’re out reading in the library and Tchad hall. There were ‘I.C.T rooms’ where laptops and Ipads always seemed to surpass the number of occupants in the room three to one. Some rooms were occupied by middle aged men, family men with contented pot bellies and a cordial attitude. D45 was famous for its vulgarism and vulgarians among which Salman was the foremost. His voice rose every morning with crude obscenities and he often invited everyone to listen to his favourite song, a graphic tale of the exploits of a Hausa gurmi harpist with a prostitute and the conception of his bastard son. Edison interrupted each time and asked for translation which Salman was happy to provide. He laughed gleefully and exclaimed that he never thought the Hausa are capable of such vulgarism.

“What will you do if your girlfriend cheats on you?” Femi asked Salman.

“Na my arse they fuck? My arse go dey intact, na her arse go suffer not my own,” Salman answered with exaggerated nonchalance in Pidgin English.

Resting on his bunk, Mustapha was amused at Salman’s indifference to cuckoldry. Salman was the first to be assigned to the room, and he promptly declared himself ‘President’ of D45. Everyone called him Presido except Mustapha. Salman’s principles were libertine. He told everyone the story of the marathon sex he had with a Tiv girl and how she sent him a short text message after: ‘Thank you’.  He told it with undisguised pride and showed the text to everyone like it was the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Take Viagra if you need to, whatever you do don’t be found wanting,” he advised.

Edison looked on with admiration and cheered him on. Mustapha had laughed lightly, thinking about why Salman will say that he doesn’t care if his girlfriend sleeps around and mean it. He realised that it was an emotional fortress for his own loose sexual values. He shouldn’t demand fidelity that he can’t offer. He realised too that he will need such an emotional fortification to survive, especially now that he had found Furairah and she had dazzled him. More accurately, she found him. He was a fiery lover until Asiya and Furairah has found him now and may arouse that in him again. It was the beginning of an exciting tale and his chest pounded madly at her thought.

That morning she came walking to his seat with purpose. Her eyes locked with his and none of the thousand thoughts going on in his head was about her, the Furairah he has shaped and reshaped in his mind and that has taken a thousand shapes and forms. She stared on as if she knew that he was expecting her. She was a small and slim woman. Her face was slender and she had a nose that was slightly curved at the tip. She walked gracefully and with effortless ease. When she came closer, he noticed a mischievous smile on her lips and a flirting mockery in her eyes. Her expression was set in a smile that seemed to expect that something funny was about to be said and she is ready to be indulged. Her eyes imprisoned a dilated pupil that was so deeply black. It adorned her long eye-lashed eyes.

“Write me a poem,” She said.

He sat and watched and did not reply her.

“I want you to write me a poem,” she repeated and sat down next to him.

“Who are you?” He asked.

“My name is Furairah,” she answered.

Furairah! He repeated the name in a voice that sounded to him like a whisper.

The name hit him like a mallet to his chest. She has found him and in the brief moment he stopped to think, he knew that fate was playing with him a sudden game of chess that he wasn’t quite sure he was prepared.

“You wrote my friend a poem, didn’t you?” she continued.

“Who is your friend?” He asked her.

She crossed her legs and smiled. Her countenance was like that of a model easing into a pose to be painted. She looked at him dreamily. He studied her calmness and assessed his. If she wasn’t naturally like that, she looked like she was about to commit some premeditated mischief and he found that irresistibly arousing.

“Na’imah, you remember her?” she asked and he nodded gently, “Where are you from,” she asked.

“Kano.”

“Which part of Kano?”

“Tarauni”

“I saw you leading prayers behind Gamzaki, else I never would have thought you are a Muslim,” she said.

“I get that a lot.”

“So, will you write me a poem?” she asked tilting her shoulders close to her head coyly.

“Poetry isn’t a spontaneous art. You need inspiration, a story to tell and an emotion to let out, and then you need to beat it into shape and beauty. You are in good shape and beauty but you lack a story,” he said.

She smiled at the compliment and looked on at him. After sometime, realizing he wasn’t going to say anything else she brought out her handset and read from a text. She settled into the seat and it was obvious that she will be sitting next to him for the rest of the day. Asiya came passing by his seat dragging Hafiza along. She darted Furairah a quick glance as she walked pass to her seat.

“Musty, who was that chick I saw you with today?” Salman asked, waking him from his reverie.

“Furairah”

“Listen to me, Musty. You need to marry that girl,” Salman said to him in an earnest tone.

“You know, Salman, if I were asked before know I’d have said that the word marry is not a part of your vocabulary?”

Salman laughed.

“Is she from ABU too?”

“No. I’m not sure I know that much about her,” he replied.

“Listen Bro, there are only two types of women. You have queens and doormats and that girl…that girl Musty, is a fucking empress.”

Mustapha disliked the way Salman uses ‘fuck’ and ‘fucking’ in the wrong sentences but he got the point and he gave him a silent agreement. Salman walked away with the expression of having imparted a rare and sober piece of wisdom. He wore his favourite blue T-shirt with a bold imprint at the back: SAVE THE FUTURE, SAY NO TO UGLY GIRLS.

“Get down from that bed, Musty. Let’s go to Mamy,” he called from the door.

Mamy was the campus market. It had four restaurants. There’s a Hausa one where the Hausas and the Northerners go, an Ibo one where the Ibos and the Easterners go. Two restaurants appear to be Yoruba and one of which may be a minority tribe domain. The campus boutique was a shop made of roofing zinc. There were pool tables and several shops. There were cobblers, tailors, traders and butchers selling barbecued suya. There was a pharmacy and a laundry. A few of the students hung around in the evenings around the Mamy market. Mustapha had tried avoiding the boutique keeper, Rane whenever he was at Mamy. She always seemed to wait in ambush for him and drag him to the shop despite his protests. After buying a white shirt and a suit that he doesn’t really need, he learnt to say no to her.

Femi followed them to the Hausa restaurant (He was the one who ingeniously named the restaurants accordingly). Kamal ordered for fried rice and invited Mustapha to continue with his argument (from where he had left it off) that fried rice was just Jollof rice with a slight difference in colouring. There was so much going on in his mind about Furairah. He couldn’t stop thinking about her. She occupied his thoughts when he was silent and he ignored Kamal.

“I will have semolina and mix soup,” he said.

Kamal considered himself an expert on food so he always does the ordering while Mustapha stayed back and pay when it’s ordered.

“That’s what you ate yesterday and the day before that,” Kamal said.

“Okay, Semolina and vegetable soup then,” he said.

Kamal sighed with feigned exasperation and said: “No, there will be no semolina for you today.”

“Fine, order whatever you want to,” Mustapha told him.

Kamal knew then that there was something off with him. The what-food-to-order arguments was one of their favourite squabbles which he, Kamal, was supposed to win.

“You know, you need to stop treating women the way you treat food and your favourite songs,” Kamal said.

“How do I treat women?”

“When you like something, you obsess about it until you hate it. I’m counting the days it will take until you get sick of semolina.”

“What about women?”

“Well, when you are in love, you get hyperactive and spirited unlike you usually are and then you get all sporadic until you ruin it all. It’s almost like you enjoy ruining good things.” Kamal said with a sardonic smile.

“First of all, I never get sick of my favourite song unless Eminem didn’t sing it and in which case it’s not my favourite song. Secondly, when Musty falls in love, he loves with sincerity and focus and that’s his charm. And please, about semolina I’m just counter balancing the several thousand plates of Jollof rice I ate at ABU,” Mustapha said.

Kamal laughed and said: “You see why you hate rice now.”

“And what did you just order now, sir?” Mustapha asked.

“Rice,” he answered.

“And you will agree with me that you do that more than three quarters of the time,” Mustapha suggested.

“Mine is a special case, I never get tired of rice. Not since I was a child. We have a covenant, rice and me; you on the other hand were just abusing it.”

Femi survived that dinner of fried rice and he never entered the Hausa restaurant again.

“Musty” he called with the gravity he may have used to announce that he just swallowed fifty spoons of uncooked rice.

“Yes?”

“This food is all seasoning and no flavor,” he declared mournfully soon after they came out of the restaurant. He stopped going to Mamy with them to avoid having to skip when they go off to their favourite restaurant. He had done his bit trying to fit in with the Hausa boys he liked but he can’t handle the sloppiness of Hausa cooking, and food is one of the ways pals bond. Salman went from table to table engaging in loud hearty discussions. His accent has a falling tone on all the Hausa vowels, something that easily marks out Hausa speakers from Lafiyan-Barebari. Kamal turned to Mustapha. “Why are you quiet?”

“I’m always quiet, why?”

“Not this kind of quiet.”

“And what kind of quiet is this?”

“Usually your quiet is that calm kind of quiet. This is an agitated kind of quiet. Is it about Asiya?”

“No. We’ve met a couple of times around the campus. We just exchanged looks and walked pass by awkwardly, just normal exes stuff, you know.”

“My roommate is in love with her… you know Husain?”

“I’m happy for him. She’s a good one. Just don’t tell him about me, okay? I don’t like anyone looking at me like I slept with his mother. By the way, I met these two girls, one of them today, two friends, like characters out of a James Hadley Chase story,” Mustapha said.

“Are they Hausa?”

“Yes, Hausa Fulani, either or.”

“Are they take-out or homely?”

“They are inside the restaurant, wait and see for yourself. By the way you are in love with the tall one,” Mustapha said.

“What?”

“Here they come.”

The girls came out of the restaurant with their flasks of food. They wore traditional fabrics with lace designs on the chest and plaits on the skirt. Furairah’s lips glistened with uncoloured lipstick. Na’imah wore a brightly red lipstick.

“Na’imah, Furairah,” Mustapha called to them as they approached.

“Hi, Mustapha,” Na’imah answered and added, “it’s been a while.”

“Yes, it’s been a while. How are you?”

“I’m fine”

“This is my friend, Kamal.”

“Hi,” Kamal said.

Mustapha turned his attention to Furairah and Kamal threw his trademark compliment at Na’imah: “You look like a mermaid.”

Na’imah looked down at her skirt probably wondering if it made her look like a fish below. Mustapha noticed that she meant that as sarcasm, Kamal didn’t. They chatted in front of the shops until the hazy evening dims into night. They walked them to the girls’ hostel with Femi following them from behind. As soon as they waved goodbye, Mustapha turned to Femi.

“What was that about?”

“What?”

“Are you afraid of women or something?”

“Something I suppose, those are not any women, those are Ausa girls. They don’t talk to anyone except Ausa boys,” he said, doing violence to the ‘h’ sound in his Yoruba accent.

“We are going to Tiga Dam,” Kamal interrupted.

“You and who are going there?”

“You, me, the girls, I told them we are planning on going there sometime. They might come,” he said.

“No, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t part of that plan, you know I don’t swim,” Mustapha said.

“Now you do, and I don’t think you need to. They don’t seem like they will strip down to swim anyway. You three ladies can sit back and watch me swim,” Kamal said.

“Yes, that sounds right.”

 

The days passed by and with every moment, Mustapha and Furairah drew closer. They talked for hours on the phone and sought one another’s company early on in the mornings. Soon the class took notice and the look he received when he was alone was significantly different from the looks they got when they were together. He wondered if the curiosity comes from the mistaken assumption that he was a non-Hausa dating a Hausa girl or people find their relative young age adorable. Kamal too became quite close to Na’imah and Mustapha devoted time, each night, to listen to Kamal tell him what Na’imah said and what he said back, whether she laughed and to help decide whether what he said to her was the right thing to say.

******************************

In the span of a few weeks a lot had happened to him in the Law School. For the first time in a long time, he had a reason to believe and hope. The sadness that had clouded his thoughts since Asiya seemed to vanish and life glistened with music and colour. He listened more to Kamal’s songs and less of his. He travelled out of the campus quite often. He thought that he may now finally be at peace with himself. His father seemed like a concluded unsavory chapter of his life. He had found the love of his life two years after he swore not to date another woman again. He spent the recent weeks of his life desecrating love and marauding through the feelings of random women but he now felt settled. He had teased and suggested without committing; now he just relaxed into it and let his passion lead him away. He has left girls guessing and second guessing at times when he doesn’t believe his own act, now he believed in himself and what he was saying. By giving clues to women of feelings he didn’t truly feel he taught himself how to deal with rejection but now he feared it. Whatever they do or say he sat back and watched and sometimes laughed silently, now he dreamt and yearned and hoped. He studied naivety in some girls and hope in some others but Furairah radiated with love and he got swept in it every day. Some were intelligent enough to know that if they play along he will wither away and he always did especially with the girls who waited for him to talk to them first but now he sought out Furairah and she sought him out and they often met half way across in everything. He considered himself a monster that women had created but for Furairah and in the stare of her eyes, he was disarmed. And for those moments of triumph, life seemed perfect.

In those weeks he felt so generous and forgiving at heart that he went to confront Asiya at the Tchad Hall. She was reading in the theatre when he walked up to her. He called her and she dropped her book and looked at him. Her round face showed none of the stress it used to show during the exams. She used to read for hours on end until she turned old with fatigue at the University. She did not smile or show any surprise when he came to her. She shifted on her seat to make space for him.

“How are you?” He asked.

“I’m fine,” she said.

They sat there for a minute without talking and without any awkwardness.

“I thought you’ve given up on your intensive reading habits. I guess I was mistaken.”

“Just one last exam and it will be all over,” she replied.

She had told him that she wanted to be a housewife after her University degree and she will be a devoted one. She often told him that no one except her husband will see the pliant and placid side of her and to her, school was only a necessary and gruesome journey to marital bliss.

“He is a good person,” he said.

“Who are you talking about?” She asked.

“Husain,” he replied.

“Who is Husain?” She asked. Her face remained unsurprised, round and unabashed but he saw some alarm in her eyes.

“When will you stop been a hypocrite?” He asked her without any malice in his voice.

“You are calling me a hypocrite…”she was saying in her low voice which is her only indication of surprise, been startled or feeling hurt, then she stopped halfway in her statement and acknowledged it’s truth.

“How do you know? How do you know he is a good person?” She asked.

“I know him a little. He is close to our hostel, a friend of my friend’s. And you aren’t a saint either, he’ll do,” he said.

She nodded. They kept quiet but the conversation continued without a word between them. They would have remembered how she told him that she had a fiancé somewhere in Taraba and how she will be married to him before coming to the Law School. She might have lied to get him to be serious about her and they would have remembered how they hurt each other at the last year of their three-year relationship.

“I wish you all the best,” he said finally and stood up to go.

She raised her eyes to his face and he saw a thank you written on it. That was his closure and his heart had remained at peace since that night. She talked to him in subsequent days but he refused to be dragged into a conversation. He was happy and he did not want to ruin it. She did not ask him about Furairah but Furairah told him ‘they’ve talked’.

 

One Wednesday afternoon while coming back from Gamzaki, a middle-aged Easterner with a stolid expression and a face like a wooden mask held his hand as he walked past them, as if he had known him all his life. He spoke to him in Igbo. When he realised that he doesn’t speak the language, the man let go of his hand and turned to continue talking with his friends as if nothing important had happened.

“Why was he speaking Ibo to you?” Furairah asked from behind him lightly touching his elbow.

“I don’t know,” he answered.

“Do you know him?” She asked.

“No, I don’t. Perhaps, he mistook me for someone,” he said.

“Maybe”

He swallowed his anger with the snack and juice which seemed stuck up in his throat and made him choke. He knew why the man had spoken to him in Igbo. He had wanted to know if he was Ibo and seeing that he was not, he had crudely dismissed the conversation like it never mattered. He lacked the courtesy of lying that he had mistaken him for someone if he won’t be frank. If he was a Hausa man, he would have tried to force a conversation in the Hausa language and will not let go until some friendship has been established. A Yoruba man would have apologized profusely even if he had just insulted him in the Yoruba language. He had also seen the brief suspicion in Furairah’s eyes. She seemed to accuse him briefly of knowing the Igbo language or perhaps been remotely Ibo himself.

Sadiya came over and sat next to him. She smiled and looked at him and he understood that she was urging him to talk to her and he decided right then not to. She turned to look at him a few more times inviting him with her eyes to start a conversation. She examined his face with a last quick glance and turned away. He adjusted his tie and looked at her briefly and then over her shoulders. Her face was blank with wonder, wondering if he did not recognize her as the girl he chatted with at the tutorial class a few days ago. He knew he had led her on in a hearty conversation and her interest had developed steadily. She had returned his enthusiasm and indulged him, and a sardonic thought crossed his mind at the memory. She had good reason to be befuddled. He suspected that it was through her that he came to earn a reputation as an arrogant and mysterious person.

He had known that among men, genuine friendships prosper with genuine affection underneath the physical aggression and crudity of language. Girls, however, regard one another with suspicion and hatred underneath niceties. Friendship is cultivated according to class first before commonality. Mustapha watched the batches of ladies entering the auditorium in twos and threes and rarely a four. Any group with more than five girls had a particular girl that does not fit in. She tagged along for a lot of probable reasons. She may have had genuine affection for one of the girls that help her endure the errands she runs for them or one of the girls may have an irresistible charm of joviality or kindness that attracts her. Furairah was popular in a self-assured way. She often walked alone and stopped to shake hands with most of the girls. She lingered to make conversation with her friends that always ended in clichés. Na’imah had more male friends and preferred them to girls. Mustapha checked with Kamal to see if gets jealous but he replied that he doesn’t.

“Fury,” the girls said, complaining with feigned envy that Furairah was giving another girl more than her share of attention, more than her friend in the front rows felt was necessary. The expression on the girls’ face turned to astonishment each time it seemed she was not just giving Mustapha her attention; she appeared to be cleaning the seat with intention to sit there all day. The look on their faces turned from reproachful envy to mild curiosity. Some even let down their guard as they measured him up and let their eyes meet his while they glanced at them.

“Why are you always quiet, Musty?” She asked.

“I don’t have anything to say,” he replied.

“Don’t ever say that to a girl,” she advised sternly.

“Why? Some people derive energy from talking a few find it mentally exhausting. I’m one of those few,” he replied.

“So do I bother you by talking?”

“No. I find you quite exciting and engaging. That’s the exception.”

“Okay, since you say so. Try this for little small talk, my father named our last born Ibn-Batuta after the great fourteenth century traveller. Since Batuta learnt to walk, it seemed that the four walls of our house could not keep him. He always found a way to slip out of the house and we are constantly going after him, looking for him at the neighbors and everywhere else. As he grew older, it became impossible for any one of us to find him when he goes out or even guess where he is or where he goes all the time. Everyone will be worried but we just had to stay back at home and wait for him to come back at his own time. My father was furious all the time and he tried to blame it on my mother. It wasn’t her fault; she tried everything to keep him in the house. So one day, Batuta slipped away as usual for the third time that same day and my father began to lament of what a troublesome child he is and my mother replied him: ‘What were you thinking when you named him Ibn Batuta?’ ”

Mustapha smiled.

“You see small talk isn’t so bad. It doesn’t have to be boring,” she said.

The day’s lesson stretched into noon. Erect postures relapsed and excited voices hushed. The front sitters focused on the lesson with fatigue and the back benchers reenergized themselves with noise and laughter. Furairah took notes in an exercise book and once in a while she glanced at Mustapha as if to check if he was still there. She would smile sweetly at him if he turned to her. He tried to remember how his face looks when he is tired. His complexion becomes brown and his face will bear that expression that seems to be the early part of a transition between sadness and fatigue. On a small sheet of paper, he scribbled the last verses of a poem he wrote three years go.

Oh Plateau!

When the traveller wished he never came

When the farmers flee their fertile fields

When the mothers mourn a murdered son

When the termites flee a blackened wood

What worried thee mother haven of peace

The smoky clouds enveloping thee

And your legendary mountain peaks

Cries riding your maiden winds

Blood spilt in your sacred springs

Death astride your dainty hills

Man in riotous rage turns beast

Tends to plunder loots and kill

And relish his cruel instincts zeal

The rage in us sets the evil free

To roam the streets in murderous spree

Proclaim peace!

For though man shall live to disagree

But in peace we live by God's decree

May we strive in short memories to live

For things shall never be the same to thee

Oh plateau.

 

She took the paper and read.

“Did you write this?” She asked.

“Yes.”

 “What is it about?”

“The Jos crisis of 2001”

“I was in Plateau state in 2009. My uncle was a soldier. In the barracks, we only hear of the crises outside of course. There was this Fulani man who comes to our house every Friday. He was an old friend of my uncle. They met a very long time ago in Guinea while my uncle was there on a peace-keeping mission to Liberia. He was a young officer then. That Friday my uncle was away and he sat to wait for him outside the house. He was shy like the Fulani are and will never enter the house when my uncle was not around,” she said and continued:

“The crisis started that afternoon and we watched from the Barracks as his house was set on fire in the far off distance. He lost his wife and child and all his herd of cattle to the mob. He just sat there watching the flames over the mountains. The nomads are very reserved with their emotions; there wasn’t a tear in his eye or a sign of despair. He just watched calmly with his hands on his laps,” she gasped as she narrated the story and after a pause, continued.

“In all my life, I have never felt more sorrow for the suffering of another human being. I just stood there at a complete lost about what to do for him. You may extend your hand of sympathy and offer words of comfort to the broken but what do you do to a man that will not cry? How do you mourn for someone who doesn’t mourn,” she paused and looked for the answers in his eyes then she continued.

“He stayed in our house for some time until the crises ended and then he left and that was the last we saw of him.”

Her voice was filled with sorrow and it faded away. He listened quietly and the grim memory of the massacres came back to him vividly. He was there too and everything she said seemed graphically familiar.

Miss Rakwai took to the pulpit and started the last part of the day’s lecture before the break period. 

“Bar finals is coming sooner than you think. More than half of the students failed last year, if you want to pass you must be prepared for it.”

 

The next day, he wrote her a poem and took it to her at the back seat. She giggled and exchanged excited looks with her friends and he knew that she was probably hoping to show her friends a love letter or a love poem. She snatched the paper from him and read.

The Nomad’s Grief

He sat on a rock and stared into the horizon

Beyond the mountains and the winding paths

Over the hills and across the flowing streams

For on the grassy plains sits his thatchy hut

And in the thatchy hut sits his bewildered wife

And on her bosom rests a frightened child

And on the grassy plains graze his plenty herd

 

His shepherd stick rests beside his lanky frame

He stared into the horizon with a fixed stare

For the mob has murdered his bewildered wife

For the mob has killed his frightened child

For the mob has set ablaze his thatchy hut

For the mob has slain his white plenty herd

For the mob has set ablaze the grassy plains

 

He stared into the horizon with a fixed stare

But in his sunken eyes I do not see any fear

Nor of any gentler emotion does it bear

For to a nomad pain is to be held dear

For a nomad is born into resilience,

For a nomad must endure all pain

And only for his ruthless vengeance, forebear

 

He thought she will be disappointed. She read the poem and raised her head to look at him. She folded the paper neatly and kept it inside a book to her friends’ dismay who wanted to read whatever was in the note. She brought out a small cosmetic kit from her bag and began to make-up her face. Furairah liked to keep sadness and every antagonism to happiness at bay. She does not like gravity, sadness or anger. He knew that. After the class, she came to his seat and slipped a piece of paper into his hands. It read:

 

Meet me by the lake tomorrow at 9.

***


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