When I had started talking to Fareedah, I didn't have the thought of what was next or going to be next. But along the line, I thought I was going to need to put in a lot of effort and always have to prove that I actually care about her. But then, things turned out easier than I had expected. She actually had this cold yet calm look, when you looked at her from afar and then when you get to know her, she is the most caring person ever. On days I didn't check up on her or go to her faculty, she either called or sent a text. She showed me that I wasn't the only one who needed to put effort in the friendship, but that she also was interested in putting effort also.
Days had passed and our exams were over. Though we weren't able to see each other so often during the exam period, we still made time for her cooking classes. She had gone a bit in. She could make white rice well, was trying with her stew, and could successfully make noodles. From the bit she learnt from white rice, she used to make white spaghetti. I was proud of her, honestly.
I was parking my braids into a ponytail as I considered cutting my hair and dying it. It was in style, and I really liked the idea. I was probably going to do it when I got home, I knew life was going to feel better for me after that. Hair hadn't always been a thing of interest for me. I picked my phone that was on the bed, trying to quicken up when I saw Fareedah's message that she had arrived at the front of my hostel. I quickly applied some perfume, adjusting my black joggers. "See you tomorrow," I had told Inoma as I left, causing her to nod.
I tapped at her window when I got there, causing her to unlock her car door so I could get in. "How was your last paper?" I had asked her the moment I got into her car.
She nodded as she replied, "It was practical, so it was easy and fun to an extent."
I nodded in reply, smiling.
"How was yours?"
"I have been done with exams since last weekend," I told her.
"Really? You guys are on the better side of life then."
I chuckled. "Not really, because we are kind of pushed and rushed, so..."
She smiled. "Still though. It is better to do and finish quickly, than to be having spaced anxiety."
I laughed. "True true."
She nodded in reply as she started the engine of her car. "Have you had lunch?" she had asked as she pulled away from where she was parked, so she could reverse and drive out of the hostel compound.
"Yes," I replied her as I looked out of the window, watching some students already moving their loads so they could go back home. Some were only returning from their exams, their exam docket folded in their hands. "What about you?" I asked her when she had pulled out and drove past the people selling close to the hostel compound.
She shook her head in response, before she replied, "No."
"So, you will branch to get food?' I had asked, turning to look at her. It was the first time I was really taking a look at her. She looked really tired and stressed, but was still maintaining beauty. I could never. Whenever I was stressed, my face would break out so bad, and I would look rough all the time.
"No, I am too tired for that," she said as she drove towards the school gate. "I would probably simply order in."
I nodded in reply, not saying a word.
The ride was quiet as we both listened to Afropop. I spent the ride watching the road. It was busy as usual. Students were everywhere, and where also a lot at the gate. At that point in time, it was usually hard to find keke (tricycle) that was going to Bariga, so that usually made the gate area a little crowded. Tired students were still trying to fight for a space, whenever a keke arrived. The next thing or scenario in my line of view, were the motorcycle men, who stayed at the other side of the road patiently waiting for costumers to come. Beside them was a woman who sold waist-bead, wrist-beads and handmade beads in general, alongside some young men who sold cheap sunglasses. I smiled when I saw two girls stop by the waist-beads woman, smiling happily as they priced it. They reminded me of Inoma and the time she really enjoyed buying them and wearing them. She liked the ones that glowed in the dark, and will often say 'Come and see, come and see', whenever there wasn't light. 'I stand out in the dark', she would say.
Soon, we had gotten to Fareedah's place. "Good evening," I greeted her gateman.
"Tace barka de yamma (she said good evening)," Fareedah said out to him, causing him to nod and wave. "He isn't every fluent in English and sometimes mix common words," she told me, helping me understand what she was probably saying in Hausa.
I nodded as I hmm-ed.
She didn't even wait to take off anything she was wearing, before she began to order. She had only dropped her handbag on her couch. "What would you like for Dinner?" She had asked as I sat down, only then realizing how really beautiful her ankle length bodycon gown was. It was wine, and it really suited her skin tone. Glued to her body, it showed off her delicate features. Her slim waist, her curves, and her round buttocks. She looked angelic. "What would you like to have for dinner?" She asked again, looking at me in confusion.
"Anything," I had replied, hoping she didn't notice me looking at her so intensely.
She chuckled. "Anything is nothing," she said. "Do you want to just pizza and relax?"
It was like her request unlocked a pizza craving that had been locked inside of me. "Oh my, yes. Let's do that," I said excitedly. "It suddenly feels like I have been craving pizza for a while now."
Fareedah chuckled as she began to operate her phone.
As I slouched on her couch and picked up the remote, I realized how comfortable I have also really gotten around her. I didn't find her treating me well, so weird anymore. I had gotten used to her using her money whenever both our bellies were involved.
Fareedah dropped on her couch, close to me. "I haven't had anything good to eat since morning," she said with a sigh as she slouched, shutting her eyes.
I frowned a bit. "Because of exam?"
She nodded, not opening her eyes. "These past two to three weeks have been really stressful for me, I just want to relax and rest for a while."
I smiled, watching as her long eye lashes almost touched her cheekbone. People with naturally long eye lashes are so lucky, I had always been so envious of them. "Well, now you can go home and rest, so nothing but sleep," I told her, already imagining how stressful my holiday was going to be when I got home.
Fareedah chuckled. "I am home," she said.
I frowned in a bit of confusion as I finally put on the television. "Aren't you going to greet your parents during this time?" I asked, turning to look at her.
She had no expression on her face as she kept her eyes closed. "I am home," she said again, causing me to remember the one time we had a related topic, she also didn't want to talk about it. I took her reply as her saying she didn't want to talk about it. So, I left the topic, changing the station to where a movie was showing.
It took around nineteen minutes for our pizza to finally arrive. The aroma filled everywhere, making me salivate. The two packs of pizza were placed on the centre table, when her gateman brought it in. She quickly fetched two glass cups, alongside a bottle of fruit wine. We didn't say much before we dived in, watching the movie that we had been watching.
We ate in silence, occasionally laughing whenever something funny happened, and commenting when we were triggered by an action.
We soon finished eating and drinking, and were both simply sitting and enjoying the movie. It was not really a sudden action, but I couldn't help freezing up when Fareedah casually laid down with her head on my lap. It was like I had a pet on my lap, and any sudden action could chase it away. I stayed firm, trying not to move at all. My mind became busy, causing me to be half in the movie and half on not trying to move.
After a while, the movie came to an end, and the main lead ended up with a woman. Silence reigned between us, while the credits rolled. I began to think Fareedah had maybe slept off when things go emotional, until she suddenly asked, "What do you think about the end?"
I wasn't sure if she was asking about the character ending up with a woman, so I talked about the ending of the movie in general. "It was emotional actually. I love a movie that gives me a good reason to cry. There is this certain type of reminder that come with this type of movies that, maybe one day we are all going to find love. Sappy right?" I chuckled.
Fareedah was silent again before she said, "No, I was talking about the main character ending up with a person of the same gender." She turned on my lap, to look at my face as she further explained, "I know it is a common thing now, and a lot more people are being open about it. But I want to know your thoughts about it."
The room became hot all of a sudden, and my clothes felt like they were choking me. I adjusted uncomfortably, forgetting that I was trying not to move so she didn't get up. But Fareedah didn't get up, and kept on looking at my face. I didn't know if to lie about it and follow the usual mentality of the society we were in, or tell her how I really saw things. "Err..." I had begun, but then ran out of what to say. She didn't interrupt me and let me go through it all, until I decided on how to reply her. "We have no right to decide who a person loves," I finally replied her, "Even a person don't have a decision on who they love. The heart wants what it wants." It was like a certain type of burden was lifted off my shoulder. "Love is love," I concluded.
She didn't say anything and simply turned back to the television, making me feel really nervous.
"What about you?" I had asked.
Fareedah cleared her throat. "Can you change the station please?" she replied, "Let's check for another movie, or do you want to sleep?"
I felt my throat go dry. She was doing what she usually did whenever she didn't want to talk about something. My hands immediately felt so cold and my heart wouldn't stop racing. I began to feel gratitude that I was going home the next day, and we weren't going to see each other for a while. I couldn't help thinking...
I think she knows I'm queer.
If you have noticed, the chapters of this book have gotten longer and will probably get longer in the nearest future. This is because at first, I was planning to simply make it a Short Story or Novella, but then happen to fall in love with the story and will be making it novel (hopefully this lasts).