BROKEN by Meena Diasso

           *3*

An emotional bruise is much worse than  a physical one I’ve built my fences up which I know will crumple someday, till then I’m holding tight to the reigns before the inevitable blocking out whoever tries to intrude. 
           Fatima

I was overwhelmed when the Executive producer proposed the deal to me,  I’ve assisted Omolara twice in presenting the early morning show “Nigeria Today” but I mostly did the background work, just watching the others work,  but hosting a whole talk show not in a million years would I have thought that, maybe I might be exaggerating but I didn’t think it would come this early, and I know the gossip mongers would be at it again, there has been speculations I was dating the boss so I know this  sudden raise will make it worse.

*****

I hardly hit the hood of the car, it just wouldn’t start and I was running late mom called me earlier and told me dad will be arriving today, I know he already knows the time I arrive since mom tells him virtually everything,  I don’t want to run late I checked the time on my phone and it was already 5:20pm  I looked at both sides of the road and there was no car coming, my heart started thumping. I closed my eyes and started doing my breathing exercise, “I am greater than this” I kept repeating the mantra with my eyes closed.

A car screeched and I almost fell when I jumped back, my heart was pounding so hard now. I removed my stiletto and waited for the driver to come out, “Hop in” he uttered looking away when I bent to refix  my shoes. I didn’t want to go but I knew he was my slightly good bet, he might not do what he does to other girls to me and I didn’t know who I might end up with  if I continued standing there so I said a quick prayer and joined him.

He switched on  the radio as I was strapping my seatbelt and I almost laughed when “Stay with me” started playing, I thought guys were all about Hip Hop, I don’t have a particular genre in music but I don’t like schmoozy love songs, my phone rang just then and Ty Dollar Sign’s “Horses in a stable” started playing he shook his head and I knew he was amazed by my choice of song, an old classmate actually sent me the song when I refuted his proposal, I find it relatable cos that’s how guys behave exactly.

He drove directly to my house without even asking me for direction, he honked the horn when we reached the gate, “I’ll alight here no need to go in” I said when I saw his intention “I think I should reap all my blessings since I’m already here”. The gates were open and he quickly drove in,  judging from the cars at the lot dad was definitely home and I’m doomed I’ve never ever brought or hinted on ever bringing a guy home not even dropping me off, first being I hated being around guys and then this guy a “grade A casanova” happens to be the first guy I’m seen with in my house when daddy is around I sighed and rubbed my temple, this day couldn’t  be any better.

I don’t know why his car was still there he mumbled something  I couldn’t make  out as I was getting off, I opened the door of the living room and almost dropped on the floor when I saw my cousins and grandmother, I smiled widely and ran to my granny “I miss you so much my oldie” I said hugging her tightly she pushed me back a little claiming I was going to fracture her back. My two young cousins Saleem and Sameer almost knocked me off when  they rushed to hug me “And you my boo-boos” I said hugging them back and giving each of them a kiss on the cheek,  “How are Aunty Sauda and Uncle Maher?” I asked as I pulled away. “The gentleman you came with is asking to come in should I allow him in?” Jummai our house help asked,  “Yes, please show him in” I heard my mom’s voice say behind me. I turned and she was with dad, I hugged him and sat at the foot of the single sofa he sat on. “So who is this guy you came with?” “Exactly what I wanted to know Umar” my grandmom added before I could even utter a word.

*****

“I really like that boy Umar I think he’s the perfect spouse for my namesake and he comes from a reputable family, for a while I thought she was possessed by jinns when she refuted all the proposals she had” I overheard when I got to granny’s door.  “I’m still looking into it Mama, he actually wants to marry her, and I like him but I don’t want to force her into doing anything, I’ll ask for her opinion first”,  “I don’t think that’s necessary she likes him or will have never allowed him to drop her off, I don’t know what the two of you are really waiting for she’s the only granddaughter I have do you think I would have lived to see her if I had married at her age, I think you and her mom have over pampered her that’s why she refutes  all her proposals and is still single”. I ran off immediately I heard that, the deed has already been done, it’s been a week since Ahmad dropped me off and granny has never talked to me for more than a millisecond without bringing him up the twins had hinted that he visited in the afternoons but I didn’t take it to heart since dad never asked me about him after I told him there was nothing between us and he  only helped  me out.

We were yet to have dinner and I was very anxious I know I’ve refuted one too many proposals, and the one I hate the most happens  to be the very one granny likes I think I should have waited to hear dad’s reply but I have a feeling he’ll comply to her bidding not even mom could help me.

I just twirled my spoon on the plate, and the worst thing is no one seems to even notice, it seems that’s my destiny cos no one has ever noticed my pain, I’ve never been close enough to anyone to share it without any discomfort, but I want to let it out.

“Why are you not eating?” I heard granny ask, I just shook my head and forced a smile, “But you’ve been quiet lately you’ve even stopped coming to see me after you come from work” “I-uhm I’ve been quite busy lately you too much interviews and investigations” I answered shortly “and I’ve not been feeling too well lately” I added to get her off my back. I looked up and mom was giving me a weird look like she had just discovered something.

We ate the rest of the meal quietly I was very eager to leave the table but it wouldn’t be polite and mom hated that so I was stuck with them. “Go to your room Saleem and Sameer” dad said when we were done. “Mamana the guy who dropped you off the other day you said he’s your boss right?” I nodded and started playing with my fingers “He asked for your hand in marriage, I did a thorough background check on him and from what I’ve seen and heard he is a good guy, I wanted to ask him to bring forth his elders but I want to know your opinion first should I ask them to come”.

The room was so quiet the drop of a pin would have been heard everyone had their expectant eye on me, I swallowed hard my throat suddenly becoming bitter, I couldn’t talk it was like everything seized working just then, dad wasn’t asking me any question he was just giving me a chance to voice out my thoughts, so I could feel like I made the choice myself , maybe this is how God has ruled out my life to be, MY FATE is to live in fear all my life.

“I believe in whatever you choose dad” I finally uttered weakly, I heard a sigh from mom, they were all fed up with my stay home I could tell my grandmom smiled widely and pulled me in a tight hug  “I know Allah was preparing you for the best that was why you refuted your past proposals” I forced a shy smile and ran upstairs, I locked up my room and broke down I muffling my sobs with a pillow, I cried like I’ve never done then sighed and went to the washroom, freshened up and performed ablution I stayed longer in my sujood praying for the best from Allah a real smile spread across my lip as I folded my prayer mat this is the first time in a long time I’ve prayed a nafl (an optional prayer) I’ve never missed the obligatory ones. I lied gently on my bed and recited sleep supplications.

I still pondered over one thing though did dad really know Ahmad as he claimed to though the guy was nothing but an “A class manwhore” and a RAPIST I was willing to be the sacrificial lamb though I’m already BROKEN so I might just suck it up and maybe just maybe since we are all innocent until proven guilty I could investigate further into the matter, I pray Jessie (my client) gets the justice she deserves though.

Dedicated to a friend I’ve never seen but still feel close to Fatima Kaka.

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