After Mariam had finished praying, she had waited for lectures and when it seemed it wasn’t going to come to an end so soon, she had to finally stand up from her mat and walked out of the premises that was filled with footwears of difference kinds.
There littered about the tap, rubber kettles they had used for their ablutions; close to the teachers quarters also was a well, someone fetching water inside a green bucket.
She took her left turn and approached her class as she pass through the mango tree. Soon as she entered the door of her class, she removed her hijab, zip-opened her bag and kept the hijab inside it. When she had zipped it back in place, she lifted it up to her back and wore it, heading for Melvin whom she had planned to meet at the close of school today.
The sun and the rain at about 2:30pm that day had not really turned up, they left the earth unattended to and everywhere was just lukewarm.
“What’s up dear,” Melvin greeted as he removed his hands from his side pockets.
He gave her a slight hug with the touch of his side and they continued walking towards the IPS.
As they approached the IPS gate, they waited to sit on some blocks attached to the wall but Melvin objected. The noise of those primary school students could be heard across the wall as they were engaged in a football match.
“Why don’t you let us go find somewhere private on the pitch,” he suggested.
“Oh, that would be nice,” she smiled, her dimples showing.
Her beauty seemed to have taken a new turn after the prayers as though she had beheld Allah’s face. Her hair which was plaited `shuku’ still stood on her head, neat and shiny, it felt she had just plaited it.
He held her right hand as they walked to the field.
“So tell me, how did class go today?”
“Wasn’t that bad you know, just some tough physics; biology was interesting and english was way better than them both. I think you should guess what summed up my day anyway.”
She was happy, one could read it in her face. Her face was very bright and cheerful, it didn’t appear she had lost two friends today.
“Oh yeah! Say you were just fulfilled throughout?”
“Somewhat dear! Seeing you at break was something I couldn’t have imagined to have done. I was happy nonetheless.”
She looked to his face to see may be he was pleased with what she said but his face was focused forward. He savoured in his heart the change he was having on her. Hadn’t she been really dodgy the first time they met, saying she didn’t want a boyfriend? It seemed everything was working according to his plans. Thank God he wrote her that letter.
“Yea Mariam!” He paused and halted but didn’t turn to face her. She in place took the turn and faced him, she stopped walking.
“You called my name?” She broke in when it seemed he didn’t, couldn’t find courage to proceed with his speech.
“Oh yeah, I did!” He gathered himself together “I was the happiest guy on earth to have seen an angel like you during break. My experiment in the Lab went smoothly after you left. I was able to arrive at every conclusion without much thoughts when you left,…………………..wow!!!“ He exclaimed.
His demeanour were picking strength, he managed to laugh while she blushed at all he had said. They held hands and started walking again.
They both maintained silence, different thoughts running through their minds.
“Why don’t you let us sit here?” He suggested an empty kiosk he had sighted. It had been built for a new trader who hadn’t resumed yet.
The kiosk was a wooden one with benches attached to the walls of it to accommodate customers. This was different from other kiosks and canteens on the field and one would imagine what the seller might be intending to sell there.
Melvin sat down at the east side of the koisk while Mariam on the west. What were they doing sitting away from each other? The distance was uncalled for but it seemed they didn’t want it to look too fast to start getting close to each other on their supposed first private discussion – moreover they were still friends.
Mariam raised her head that had been bowed before and looked at Melvin. She wanted to smile at him but she grinned cautiously.
Melvin had suddenly develop the disease called Shifty Eyes, he couldn’t maintain a gaze, couldn’t stare into her eyes. She had been the shy one on their first encounter but it seemed baton had been exchanged. Or may be he was just acting reserved.
“Ermm!!!” He managed to utter.
He ran his right hand against his hair that was on a low cut, his head the shape of drakes’ – nose pointing forward.
“You want to say something?” She asked, her brow moved up on the right as if it were a question mark.
“Not really. Ermm!! Mariam!” He was dumb again.
What foolishness was the dummy performing? Saying “not really” and then starting a sentence again. Why hadn’t he done a dress rehearsal before coming along with her?
Mariam on her part had rehearsed every line she thought she might be making use of in his presence. She had repeated many lines to herself; rebuked some; said no – it won’t make sense that way; oh, it would be nice putting it this way and all.
She had wanted the periods after the break to run very fast so she could offload all she had crammed, all she had rehearsed.
“But you just called my name?”
Melvin was making a young Mariam to dictate invent when he who was matured both in age and experience, and should have been the one making everything flow.
He stood up with a mad courage; hands tucked in his pocket and approached where she sat. He hesitated in his mind may be he was doing the wrong thing but he refuted and sat beside her.
He had wanted to lift her up, holding her shoulders for some minutes so he could engage her in a long talk where lovers swam in the euphoria of sweet words.
“Did you receive the letter I sent to you?”
“Yep, I did!!” She smiled “I read everything and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone through it today.” She paused, looked into space. “I can even read it out words for words without looking at the letter.” She was going too fast.
She remembered her friend Fatimah at that point and thought about given her in but decided against it. She didn’t want to tarnish the image of her friend in his presence. She rather evaded mentioning anything about the delay it had taken to get the letter.
She was grateful to God that at least she had managed to give her the letter. And what if she had decided not to? She thought about what possibility it might have been to be sitting beside Melvin today.
“Hope you weren’t offended by its content?” He teased her.
He already heard what she said about the letter. No lady would tell you she knew every words of a letter you sent to her if it offended her pride.
She laughed out loud, one would see the joy in her laughter; her throat vibrated.
“Nah, I wasn’t! And why should I be?”
They looked at each other with smiles. Their gazes interlocked and roses seemed to be descending as if it were their wedding day.
Gradually the environment was changing. Very bright was the atmosphere but it turned out snow was falling at only the point they were rooted to. Stars sparkled in each eyes and the colours of the rainbow surrounded them.
Everywhere assuden became silent, one would hear a pin drop. Then it took one to The Tempest by William Shakepeare when he had to invoke his agent spirits, Ceres, Nymph, Iris, Juno and the likes to come set up a banquet for Miranda and Ferdinand, Mariam and Melvin.
Stars started sparkling at every corner, spirits of love performing magic around them. The bliss was much as it stood on their dry lips, unable to utter a word. They were struck dumb by an unknown force, maybe the forces of love that were so much a feeling beyond human control.
Melvin seemed to have been released a little by Ariel the head of the spirits as he stood up and lifted her up too. He was going to make use of the opportunity. He removed his hands from his pocket and held her hands, interlocked.
She longed for his warmth with the way she continued to stare into his eyes. It felt he had used charm on her, she didn’t know anything about the environment.
He grasped for breath as he continually looked into her eyes. His plans were drafted in his mind. He was struck out of sanity with the way her eyeballs lit fire forthwith. Some certain layer formed at her eyeballs, they were like a canopy; pure white in colour, they were water, tears.
His lips managed to open a little with the `gummy’ stick appearing as they went apart.
Without a calculated effort, their heads were starting to close up, coming together bit by bit.
“I love you Mariam,” his lips moved slightly with the sentence incoherent but Mariam heard him.
The distance between their heads and lips were not much any longer yet they stared into each others’ eyes clueless. He bent his head to engage his lips with hers when the lady that had not been expected scampered in.
“If you dare! I’m going to kill you with my bare hands,” she threatened.
To Be Continued…