In his room, Sameer listened attentively to the unidentified noises of the night. He had never been sad and unhappy like this. How was it possible to forget a dear lover who had been so nice to him? A girl he dreamed of marrying, a lady’s smile that seemed capable of igniting fires in him. He groaned to himself when he remembered how he had been attracted by Husna’s beautiful body, which might be lying beside the long muscular ugly arms of another person at this time. For him, it will be the busiest night in his lifetime; for Sameer, it must be the lonely night filled with nightmare.
“I could never possibly love any girl else,” Sameer told his friend when they discussed the issue.
Bashir had smiled a little, but sadly. “You can’t be serious, was it because you lost the battle now? I am sure when it’s a little farther away; you could change your mind.”
“There could never be another Husna.” Sameer added.
Later, Sameer sat down at the writing table and opened a notebook. He had kept the notebook for five years, since the beginning of relationship with Husna. In the book he had described some qualities of Husna, and his feeling towards her which he referred to as unusual. To him, no one could be more beautiful in his or her dress than Husna. She walked gently in her unique style. When she smiled she looked like a jewel throwing back the ray of the sun. She was actually calm and gentle. When she talked to him, her voice had slurred, sensual tones.
Saturday morning, Sameer planned to participate in the monthly creative writers’ forum normally organized by the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Abuja chapter. He had been a member of ANA Kano, but never bothered to attend the forum of Abuja chapter since he was posted to Abuja as a National Youth Service Corp. The agony of losing his beloved encouraged him to attend, where he could share ideas with writers and enjoy the excitement of writing. He arrived the venue at about 10:30am, and entered through the rear entrance leading directly to a hall. The hall was decorated with flowers and balloons. At one end of the room was a high table, behind it five people were seated. Plastic chairs had been arranged for the participants. Sameer quietly got a seat, he wondered how late he was. A series of poems and short stories were presented, but none of them drew his attention like a poem titled IN LOVE presented by a young lady Nabila Muhammed-a slim good looking girl, with her fine eyes and beautiful teeth. A wave of depression came over him, when her words entered his head. The poem thrust a new knife into Sameer’s heart and opened the old wounds afresh. At the other end of his heart, the poem served as an amour pierced that can make him recover possession and courage. When the forum was over, Sameer met Nabila to collect a copy of her presentation. His voice shook a little as he said. “Hello. My name is Sameer Ahmad, a youth corps serving here in Abuja. I’m impressed by your poem, it may cure my emotion.”
Nabila smiled; she looked so young and untouched in her mid twenties.
“I’m glad you appreciated it.”
“I certainly do, may I have a copy?”
“I’m afraid its finished,” She said softly, “but I will write you down the words now.” She brought out a writing block and a pen from her handbag, and wrote the words down.
In love we laughed and cried
I will sing no sad songs
For being smashed by emotion
As love is life
It could be cloaked in hypnotic slumber
I shall dismiss it mysterious
Time is the great healer
As the sun rise and set
With my golden arrow at hand
Sadly I may be in loneliness
But haply may forget.
When she finished writing it, she handed the paper to him. Sameer collected it. “Thank you very much.”
She looked up with an infectious smile. “You’re welcome.”
Sameer looked at her closely. “Haven’t we met before?”, he asked.
“Not that I’m aware of,” She replied.
“I have a feeling I have seen you somewhere, were you at ANA Kano convention?”
She nodded. “Yes, I was.”
“That’s where I saw you! He exclaimed. “I’m a member of ANA Kano.”
She gave a little laugh. “Oh! I’m from Kano too, I know some of your members. I knew Dr. Yusuf Adamu, Zaharaddeen Kallah, Aisha Zakari, Ismail Bala Garba, Badsha (badshonian motion) and many of them.”
Nabila speaks Hausa fluently, he noticed that from her accent and she was raised in the walled city of Kano.
“Where are you serving here in Abuja?” She asked
“Ministry of Information.” He answered.
“I’m leaving in Asokoro with uncle; feel free to visit me whenever you wish. I can hear more about Kano literature”
“Do you mind giving me your number please, I think I better call you at least to know if you are at home before taking my bath as a steppingstone for the preparation of seeing you for the second time.”
She burst into laughter while collecting the paper she wrote her poem on and wrote down her number on the remaining space.
“You don’t have to bathe anymore, you smell good and fresh. Here is the number. She handed the paper back to him, smiling.
Two days later, Sameer called Nabila’s mobile phone. He had planned a speech of introduction in case she didn’t remember him, or wasn’t able to place his name.
“Hello. I don’t know if you remember me. I’m Sameer, the youth corps you met at ANA Abuja forum.”
Nabila answered delightedly as though they were old friends.
“Sameer, is that you? It wasn’t long enough to forget you.”
Strange, sweet madness seized him at the sound of her voice.
“I called to hear from somebody I know in Abuja, because the day is boring to me.”
Nabila’s voice came again. “Are you all alone today?”
“Yes,” Sameer answered.
“You will come and lunch with me, won’t you?”
Something echoed desolately through his heart. “It’s awfully nice of you, Nabila. I will.”
Sameer dated a number of ladies, but he was surprised to have a new feeling. The combination of distance and closeness, fear and confidence that comes at the same time one shaking hand with other.
When Sameer arrived, he called Nabila from his mobile phone. He looked young and charming in a white shirt with blue jeans. Sameer’s heart went out to her in a great rush when she met him at the gates. She appeared in a brown lace and tied a black scarf over her shining head.
“Sameer, you are highly welcome.” She said with a smile.
She led him into a sitting room, and brought him some drinks. They talked about poetry and creative writers’ forum in Kano. Nabila was comforted by the unexpected sweetness of the story of Kano writers he told her.
At about 2:30pm a house girl came to tell them lunch was ready. Two places had been set at the end of the table. The house girl brought in dishes of Fankaso and Taushe soup. There was also a dish fish soup.
She was fully conscious of his steady gaze while she was serving herself. She asked gently. “Are you enjoying service in Abuja?”
“Yes, I am, but life here is too expensive, and the environment is married with loneliness. But, apart from these, the environment is nice.”
She sighed and said. “You will enjoy it, when I first came here, it was same story as yours.”
Sameer said. “For how long have you been in Abuja.”
“Three years, since I got admission into University of Abuja.”
“What are you studying?”
“A journalist to be.”
Sameer found himself listening to her, talking, and when she questioned, he was happy to reply with a care of what to say. After the lunch, they walked out on to the veranda, took seats on plastic chairs.
“I want to make you happy today,” Said Nabila. “I’m going to make you laugh. I’m going to banish your agony and cure your emotion as you said my poem could do. I’m going to make the day comfortable not boring, that’s going to be my assignment.”
Sameer smiled. He said. “I think you had also experienced mysterious emotion, your poem indicated that.”
She nodded. “Yes, I’ve suffered so much; I’ve been lonely like an orphan bird. But, I learned how to dismiss those memories.”
“Yes, you still have your golden arrow at hand.”
“Yes,” she said breathlessly. “I can shoot a new target, a chance to mould men the way I like.”
Sameer laughed aloud for the first time since Husna’s marriage. “You will take a revenge on innocent men.”
Nabila’s dark eyes lit up with seriousness as she said. “They are not good.”
“You mustn’t talk in this way. I too experienced such tragedy.” He mumbled out the story of his relationship with Husna.
Nabila felt sorry for him, how much he must have loved his lover!” Your own case is different. How, will I help you to forget the past; everything will be okay for you In-Sha-Allah. It is part of the struggle in life. According to Anthony Troshope, “those who have courage to love should have courage to suffer.” And Alfred Lord Tennyson argued that, “Is better to have loved and lose than never to have loved at all.”
Sameer nodded, feeling encouraged. But he wondered what Nabila means when she said. “I will help you to forget the past.” What could she do to bring him back to the reality he had lost?
Gradually the pattern of Sameer’s relationship with Nabila had evolved into a twist a week visit and date. Sometime he would even visit her in school. He found Nabila warm, funny and tremendously vital. He felt more at home and more comfortable in her presence than he had with any woman he had ever known. He wondered how fast the story and agonies of Husna’s relationship has disappeared from his heart. With Nabila, now everything was settled except for what basis their relationship is. He wondered what makes him more comfortable in Nabila’s presence than any woman. But Nabila Mohammed, the poet, lover of books, caring, and understands human nature very well. He understood that they shared a lot more particularly in common with her. He was sure he loves her. What seemed funny to Sameer was that Nabila said nothing about love, except in a joshing way. But they did have a talk about it one afternoon when he visited her in school.
Sameer and Nabila were shown to a table in the school’s cafeteria. Sameer ordered snacks and ice creams for them.
“Nabila, you’re too nice to me. And it means something to me, it means a lot and could mean so much if I …. if I have you,” Said Sameer, he was frank and unashamed in his voice.
His words went to the very depths of her heart, and made it to beat madly. She was in loss of word; this is the moment she had been waiting. There was a warm, glowing silence between them. Sameer breathing quickly, it is ridiculous to him. His gaze still on her, drinking in the beauty of her with his soul in his eyes.
His voice came again.
“Nabila, I’ve been through hell before, but you brought me back into life. You’re the source of my courage, I adore you, and I love you even if I’ve fallen hopelessly.”
Nabila felt her whole body trembling and all the blood in her body rushing violently to her head. She mirrored her gaze down the eyes of the man close to her. She knew even from the bottom of her heart she loves him. She loves him with every drop of blood in her body.
“You won’t fall hopelessly,” she said it coolly with her eyes portraying nothing but truth. “Can’t you see the reality; I don’t need to say I love you. Because you have that power to make women love you forever. But I love you, and I want to be with you for the rest of my life.”
Sameer smiled at her. “I don’t want to make another mistake, the way it happened to me before.”
She gave a twisted smile that barely showed her white teeth sparkling like snow. “So do I, anyway! Don’t bother I understand.”
Zaharaddeen Ibrahim Kallah