Flash fiction: First Night ~ Mujahid Ameen Lilo

 


The first night of lockdown, Aliyu and Hafsat sat together and talked, for the first time like husband and wife. Since their arranged, brief wedding in January, they had been living in their 3-bedroom flat, like tenants from different ethnic groups, avoiding each other, saying only salam with stoic faces whenever they ran into each other. Until today. Usually, she stayed in her bedroom when he was in the living room, watching TV or relaxing and he did the same. But this night, the brief power cut forced her out of her room when the heat of March became unbearable.

She found him sitting on the couch, pressing his phone and fanning himself with a book. She wanted to turn back but she decided she wasn't ready to be suffocated by the heat because of a husband that was forced on her. She said salam, sat on the sofa across from him. From the glow of his phone, she could see that he wore only a singlet and sweatpants.

She stood up, adjusted the curtains to let in more breeze and got an extra gift, that of the songs of crickets. She returned to her seat.

They sat in silence for half an hour, he checking his phone, she lost in her thoughts. From time to time, she checked the time for Isha prayers on her phone. Today, there will be no adhaan blaring from the minarets calling her to prayer. Today, her clock would tell her the time. Today, schools had been closed, halting the progress of her degree in Botany. Today, she was locked in this house with the spouse she had been avoiding.

Hafsat sometimes craved for some sort of intimacy with him; he was her husband after all. But she didn't like him. He didn't like her either. The first time he came to see her, when their parents had arranged the marriage, they made it clear. He told her he was in a relationship, wasn't ready for marriage but would obey his parents nonetheless. She wasn't dating anyone then, she had broken up with her toxic boyfriend since three hundred level. She still liked her ex. Still bitter from the breakup. She felt that Aliyu blamed her for their parents arranging the marriage. Hafsat told him she didn't like him. She could remember how he sipped his chapman, rolled his eyes and said, 'Perfect'. 'Fair enough, we don't have anything for each other. So we owe no one nothing, you understand? To people we're husband and wife, but to each other, we're as best as strangers. '

Now, she checked the time again. Few minutes and she would get up and pray. Just then, Aliyu's phone rang. She followed his responses, it was his mum. Yes, mama. Wallahi, mama. Amin amin. Yes, mama. She is here of course. He handed the phone to her, saying 'my mum.'

Hafsa pressed the phone to her ears. They exchanged pleasantries. They lamented at the turn of events since the coming of the pandemic.

'They are exaggerating the whole thing ' her mother-in-law said. 'But make sure you wash your hands, stay at home'

'Yes mama. Stay safe too'.

She walked over and handed him the phone. He stared into her eyes, before he accepted the phone. She turned back but he called her name. Stunned, she paused. He hardly called her name. She was always 'ke'. You.

'I'm sorry.' She heard him whispered. Men are unpredictable, she said in her mind. She smiled. He was apologizing for what he did to her just a week after their marriage. But still she feigned ignorance.

'What for', she asked without turning.

'For... All that I told you... I was not myself that day'

Yes, Hafsat knew he wasn't himself that day. He was melancholic since the marriage but it got worst after the first week. Throughout that week, he didn't enter her room as a husband would, had responded to her greetings coldly, didn't eat her food. She decided to let him be. One day, in the second week, she came back from school and found him in the parlor in a sorrowful state. He was wearing a singlet, sitting on the floor, resting his head on the cushion, arms raised over his face. There was sadness in his face, traces of tears in his closed eyes. His phone was ringing and he wasn't picking. Later, he left the house, banging doors, kicking things in his way. Something was wrong. Hafsat decided to play the good wife. The sermons of her parents of being a good wife still echoed in her head after all.

She confronted him when he returned that night. Slipped into his room. Told him his food was on the dining table. He said no, without turning from the window. Please, she pleaded. Silence. She moved towards him. What's wrong....? He turned around and threw a tantrum. He flung the cup of tea at her. 'You caused it', he shouted. You are what's wrong with me!  You separated me from my lover! She's broken up with me! She's not marrying me! I hate you! Leave me alone. Don't talk to me again! Leave. I hate you.

That has been the final straw for her. So began their hide without seek. She avoided him. She worked on her project while he was at the bank where he worked.

Now she felt his hand on her shoulders, their first touch since after their wedding pictures which they both didn't post on their social media accounts. Only their relatives had posted with 'Congratulations' caption. She cringed at his touch. It was a crazy night for her. All day, her nipples had been hard.

He whirled her around, hugged her.

'I'm sorry. I know it's not your fault. Please understand… '

She shuhhed him. Told him she understood. She had experienced heartbreak after all. She knew what it felt to lose love.

And so there they stood, locked in an embrace. It was now dark except for the faint moonlight seeping into the room. She relaxed in his arms and started weeping. She had wanted this for a while. A deep hug. A shoulder to pour it all on. Perhaps that was what Aliyu wanted too, because he held her tight and wept in her hair. They wept for things they now knew held them together.

However, it wasn't long before, she felt his erection on her body, before she realized how tighter they now clung onto each other, long before their tears dried and found their tongues tangled. The heat in them must have burnt off their clothes; they now stood naked. Immersed in the warmth of each other’s bodies, his truth overlapping hers. They moaned.

The husband and wife would both remember it not only as the first night of lockdown but the night they first made love. The night they rekindled something within them.  As she lay in his arms, after he has climaxed and collapsed upon her, Hafsat saw hope for them and the suddenly fragile world.

 

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Mujahid Ameen Lilo, a Nigerian teen author, studies English and Literature at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. His works have appeared in The Nigeria Review, The Lagos Review, Daily Trust, Blueprint, Praxis, Libretto, Tuck and others. He was Artist of the Month with Yasmin Elrufai Foundation, September 2019. Lilo was the Arts Editor of Daily Chronicle. He participated in the Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange Program and UI Poetry Masterclass 2019. He was shortlisted for The Nigeria Prize for Teen Authors, won The Wole Soyinka Essay Competition and the BUK Creative Writers’ Poetry Contest. He was also longlisted for the Aminiya Trust Hausa Short Story Competition 2020. A member of the Hill-Top Creative Art Foundation, he loves butterflies and bananas.

Comments

  1. Nice write up buddy, higher you I pray for.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. This is an amazing write-up. Keep it up.

    ReplyDelete

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