Friday, November 7, 2014
Na'ima Ibrahim crossed her denim laden legs at her ankles to give her posture a sense of calm. She was listening to every word, answering them a million different ways in her head and then, scolding sweet Nai for being unlady-like with some of her remarks. She tilted her bronzed face to capture the last rays of sunlight. She loved coming to Julie's in the summer, they had the perfect location for what she called a sun-kissed evening. The decor had an artsy, 60s theme with lots of light, framed illustrations and a huge Victorian chandelier to complete the homey vibe the cafe resonated. Her favorite part of the room was easily the old skool fabric cushions, they reminded her so much of her dad's old settee.
Nai's face shone and she looked prettier than ever. As petite and fragile as she looked, her strength and grit was unmistakable. The lilac veil gave her face some color, but her eyes were a pool of conflicting emotions She was wearing a yellow maxi shirt and multi-colored ankara bangles to complete the look. The years had been good to her, despite losing her mother and moving to Canada.
The move had been tough for her at first, she would sit for hours in the consolidated darkness that was her studio apartment thinking of her mum and how her family had been devastated from the aftermath of her diagnosis and eventually, her death. But nothing could compare to the depression her dad sank into, and how the family had turned their backs on them. It took them over two years to finally get a good program to help him. He recovered but it was never the same, their lives had taken a sharp turn and the accompanied bumpy somersault had left them scarred. Na'ima had shut everyone out, it seemed like the only logical thing to do. She couldn't handle the questions and the prying eyes. The scrutiny made her feel cornered and small, those were feelings she had always stood against. Work and school were all she focused on.
Her new prototype for gene mapping was gaining recognition and from her colleagues and research laboratories in Montreal. Working with an equally passionate set of scientists had done her a lot of good. She had very few friends but kept in touch with Fatty and her brothers. Their conversations were usually about TV series, research and the escalating insecurity in Nigeria. Fatty knew not to discuss certain topics that will take her back to those dark months. Fatty feared it will take a miracle to make the ice berg that used to be her heart melt, and that miracle remained top of her prayer points for Na'ima.
Slowly, scared not to push her away, Kabir reached for her shaky hands across the wooden table and covered them with his firm, sweaty ones. He was wearing one of his signature turtle-necks, A sky blue. but this time his face was slimmer with a fine trail of hair covering his chin and the outline of his cheeks. He had grown into a man even more handsome than she had ever imagined. His clear, brown eyes spoke of wisdom and grace. He still had that sweet boyish grin she loved so much, and his broad shoulders looked more inviting than ever before. His style had stayed the same but he resonated a certain level of class and charisma that charmed her even more now than he would have before.
Their eyes locked and she smiled at him. A smile that was warm, beautiful, damning. That smile he had been dreaming of, that smile made him believe there was more to life. that smile made him run across the world and abandon everything behind immediately Yaqub told him he had ran into her. In that moment he knew, he knew that there was hope, that there was going to be genuine laughter, happy tears and an amazing love story to tell their kids.
"I never left. I can't leave you." she blurted out, looking him straight in the eyes. His face softened instantly, his mouth flew open but she stopped him with more as her face became cloudy and grim.
"But what is love if happiness doesn't accompany it? why should you wreck your life in a bid to fix this wounded soul? why sacrifice your own skin for someone who won't fight for herself?" Nai continued, her voice was laced with anguish. Every word uttered felt like a dagger to her heart. As the memories flooded her mind, making her feel paralyzed. With Kabir there were no shortcuts, he saw all of her. She showed herself to him without fear. It was why she had walked away without looking back. She couldn't forgive herself if she had dragged him down with her. He was her rock and pillar when all around her crumbled and she seemed to be living in a nightmare that wouldn't end. She shifted her gaze to stop the tears, her face hung down, her heart was shattered by the product of her selfishness. She reminded herself as she did everyday for the last five years, of how cruel their love had turned out to be.
"Nai, my sweet angel, I know and I feel guilty. I have fought this, love brought me here, I deserve a fighting chance. Forgive yourself. Let me love you. Please let me be your strength. You can do this. We can do this." he responded, finally finding his voice, with a considerable amount of conviction, to his own delight. He reached for her chin, cradling it with his left palm. He looked into those eyes and he was sad at the look of defeat he saw. But he was sure, this time around there was no going back, he had suffered enough. Despite all his efforts to be happy and accept that their love was stormy and seemed impossible. Kabir knew that what he felt was beyond him. That fighting it will only cause more pain. His heart just couldn't survive more of that torture. Time had taught him a hard lesson. Five years without her had seemed like an eternity. It was time to live their dreams. Damn his pride, it had to give way for his happiness, he wouldn't live the what-ifs any longer.
She shut her eyes to think, for a moment, in that beautiful scene she had created time after time in her mind, Kabir was the love of her life. She had loved, but never with such intensity. His imprint was embedded in her soul. Their connection was undeniably strong. She flipped her eyes open, he was still sitting there. this wasn't a dream anymore. he was here, with her, and his eyes were asking, begging for a chance to live this dream with her. A chance to build, live, grow and be happy. A chance to take that journey and go where the wind takes you. A chance to stand in the rain and feel the warmth of love engulf your soul with light and magic.
"My heart wants only you. You make the world seem perfect. I need you." Kabir was saying, squeezing her hands with a reassuring smile. He was getting quite antsy but he knew that didn't work with Nai'ma, she worked better at her own time. He was silent, waiting, hoping, and in then in what seemed like an entire decade, she whispered, "my heart wants only you too. I want all of this too, and I only want it with you"