Saturday, April 16, 2016

Have You Read My Book? (Excerpt!)

Hey there!

Remember when I told you that I had started writing a book? Well, I've been a good girl with updating and I have just uploaded the 20th Chapter!

I'm also celebrating 2000 views, 300 likes and 236 comments!!!

*standing ovation*

Thank you, Thank you!

I really didn't think it would get such a response and I'm so grateful for all the love and support over at WattPad, where I'm sharing it at the moment. Click here to Start Reading it on WattPad.

To celebrate all this,  Here's an excerpt from Chapter 15, one of the most popular chapters.

Who is Anisa Haque
Anisa is young woman in her 20s with an insatiable love for cheesy popcorn, George Clooney and solving mysteries. When her best friend Maryam gets engaged to be married, Anisa finds her perfect world falling apart. Before she can fix it, she has to help a dysfunctional family survive through an earth shattering crisis. But how can she cover up their dirty secrets without hers coming to light?
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Two things woke me up.
Hunger and noise! 
Very loud noise! 
Like the sound of witches cackling and hands clapping and voices! 
Oh, the voices!
'Subhanallah!' I exclaimed when I saw the time on my phone. 'It was already morning!' 
I had fallen asleep while scrolling through Instagram and now it was already almost 10am! I must've been exhausted.
I whacked a pillow over my head and tried to drown out the noises. Maybe I could get another hour or two of sleep, but no, They were just too loud. 
When I realised I hadn't prayed subhi! Astagfirullah! I sprang out of bed to pray and get ready for the day, which judging by my rude awakening was already off to a rocky start. 
By the time I went downstairs the noise had abated greatly, though they were still chatting loudly and high-fiving themselves regularly. I didn't even hear who it was and what they were talking about but I knew I didn't want to be a part of it. I caught a glimpse of their backs as I snuck into the kitchen to get some breakfast. 
Leftover lentil soup. 
I placed it in the microwave and opened the fridge to look for some garlic bread. 
'Anisa?' I heard Mama's voice. 'Anisa is that you?' I guess the smell of the soup must've alerted them. Or the hum of the microwave. 
'Come and greet our guests.'
I dragged my feet to the living room and inadvertently rolled my eyes when I saw who they were from the back. 
Aunty Lami: Mama's nosy friend and Lord Commander of the superwax crowd. And her three daughters.
Have I told you about the Super Wax Crowd? It's not actually a real group of people since the members aren't even aware that they're members. It's a term Maryam and I use to refer to people, mostly Abuja women who are so shallow and materialistic, the first thing they do whenever they see you is read the selvage end at the bottom of your wax print (Ankara, atamfa). What are they looking for? Well, printed words like Vlisco, Hollandaise, England, Classic and Super wax show that your wax was made in Europe; England or the Netherlands and not China, meaning you spent between 16,000 to 27,000 naira to purchase the fabric, not including sewing. This makes you desirable to them. You're only worthy of their friendship and admiration of you appear rich, affluent or exposed.
'Ina kwananku,' I greeted, descending to my knees. 
Aunty Lami and Mama were sitting together on the three seater couch while the three daughters sat cross legged diagonally on the two seater couch. I stood up and sat on Baba's throne, which was unoccupied. I could feel them looking at me from head to toe and saw one of them smile. Or was it a smirk? 
I dunno. 
I don't care, 
I'm hungry!
Mama had served them some drinks and two plates of samosas. The mum had eaten half of one plate but none of the girls touched any of it. Their glasses were dry, the bottles unopened and the untouched plate of samosas was calling me, making my stomach growl loudly.
'Anisa manya,' said Aunty Lami, her lips outlined with the darkest black liner known to man and then filled in with red lipstick. Her brows seemed to have been shaved off and then drawn on with a black liner as well. 'It's like you're getting taller everyday!'
'Thank you,' I smiled, even though I have been a steady 5 ft 9.5 for the past 8 years. 
'When was the last time you saw each other?' Mama asked.
'I think I-'
'Oh she's never at home when I come around,' Aunty Lami interrupted me. 'And you never bring her along when you come to my house.'
'Don't worry she'll be coming around often. Especially now that your beautiful daughters are around.'
No I wouldn't! I screamed in my head. Mama and Aunty Lami have been trying to make me friends with her daughters for nearly six years now but it just won't work out! We are totally different, there's no chemistry there! One day, Mama tricked me into staying at their house for nearly six hours and I tell you, I nearly gouged my brain out. I don't even want to think about it.
'Thank you,' all three girls chorused together like primary school kids.
'We are on our way to see your daughter Maryam's Kayan lefe,' said Aunty Lami.
'That's nice,' said Mama. 'Get ready to feast your eyes, the gifts are beautiful.'
'So I heard,' Aunty Lami nodded. 'So I heard. Aisha is friends with one of Maryam's friends, how many boxes did they say they brought, Aisha?
'Nearly 20!' Aisha exaggerated. She's the middle girl who is around my age. She was really skinny and she wore an outfit that was so tight, I could almost see the grooves of her rib cage. 'And none of them empty.'
'How can any of them be empty,' said their Mum. 'Do you know what family the groom is from?' She asked rhetorically. 
'Garba Hadejia' said Mama. 'So they're well known?'
'Very well known,' said Aisha. 'Who doesn't know the family of the Wazirin Hadejia? It's a very big family, they own nearly half of Hadejia. He was once a Perm. Sec at your ministry, right  Hauwa?'
'Yes,' said the eldest, haughtily. 'He was the permanent secretary before this new government. I worked in his office for a few months. Very strict man.'
'Forget the man,' their mum waved. 'Have you met his wife? Hmmm.'
'No,' Mama seemed lost. 'What about her??'
'You know she was my neighbor when we lived in Maiduguri in the 90s.' Aunty Lami announced, proudly shaking her head and pursing her lips like it was a huge accomplishment. 
'She's known as Hajiya Yabalu,' Aisha narrated. 'She's mixed, Kanuri and Shuwa.'
'That woman is so neat,' said Aunty Lami. 'Her home always looks like a palace. And her beauty, Ya Allah! When she walks by everybody stops and stares. You'll never catch her wearing any atamfa cheaper than a Hollandaise. Or a Lafayya that's not from Austria. When she's getting ready in the morning it takes her three hours before she comes out. She starts with a scrub all over her body, then she bathes in very hot water. Then she does another bath with incense and she smokes her whole body with turaren wuta and then applies all sorts of oils and oil perfumes, you can smell her from a mile away. Her skin is very soft and supple, it's amazing! People in our estate used to line up to peep into her house just to get a glimpse of her fabulous lifestyle. Her nickname back then was *mai wankan zinari* because she was so pretty and put together, she must bathe in gold.'
'Wow,' Mama listened, glass eyed. These were the kind of stories she liked. Stories of kept women that lived a life of luxury. 'Maryam is lucky then.'
'Very lucky, that poor orphan girl is,' said Aunty Lami. 'From having no mother to having a beautiful, talented mother in law. I hope she can cook well.'
They all looked at me and I felt offended for Maryam. There's more to love and life than being able to cook! Are we still in the stone ages that a girl must be able cook before she is considered wife material? What of the other great qualities Maryam brings to the table? And the joy she's going to add to their lives because she is a bundle of happy,cheerful, glittery energy? What about that?
'She's asking you, Anisa,' Mum said, a little annoyed. 'Can Maryam cook?'
'Yes, she can,' I replied plainly. Which was true. Maryam had to step up and take care of her younger ones after her mum passed away. She was forced to grow up and so learnt a lot of domestic stuff. 
'Are you sure? Because Hajiya Yabalu is an amazing cook. From our house you could smell all sorts of Arabian food. They say she's used her food, beauty and bedroom skills to make her husband so obsessed with her that he can't even look at another woman. When he looks at other women they appear ugly and bald because he's blinded by his Yabalu.'
I was mortified. Why would I want to know that Maryam's mother in law has good bedroom skills? That's just too much information! And none of our business! This is exactly the reason why I dislike Aunty Lami's visits. She is too nosy!
'Yabalu is the best kawai. And her husband showers her with money. Think Naira, Dollar, Dirham, Euro, Pounds, she swims in all if them. You people have to make sure we don't get embarrassed at this wedding, because trust me the groom's side? They are gong to bring on the best of the best.
'Subhanallah,' I heard panic in Mama's voice. 'We have to buckle up and start preparing. There's so much to consider now.'
'Yes,'Aunty Lami sounded satisfied. 'No time to lose, start now. We will not be embarrassed o.' That was her mission all along. To come here and spread this information that'll scare us, the bride's family into thinking we aren't good enough for the groom's family. That's her personal opinion, and instead of owning up to it and saying it out loud, she's projecting it unto us and playing on our insecurities. I could see right through her, I wonder why Mama couldn't. 
The last thing we need right now is Mama putting pressure on Uncle Abbati, Maryam's dad. He is a very simple man, a humble civil servant who works as an administrative staff and deputy director at the Ministry of Environment. He also has a very demanding wife (Maryam's step mum), 7 children to cater to and a 26 year old daughter to marry off. He's going to feed hundreds of people and also prepare her Gara and Kayan Daki. The last thing he needs to do right now is to compete with the family of a retired perm. sec. and well known member of a large family of royals, politicians and businessmen. Let's stay in our lane. He had already promised Maryam 4 million Naira for her Wuni and Kamu needs. That's more than enough. Let's be thankful and move on.
'You see me,' she patted her chest and spoke proudly. 'I've been saving money and training my girls for years. These three are absolutely ready for marriage even this minute.'
'Thank you,' they chorused again like robots, flashing their Teeth.
'I've been training them since they were twelve. You see Hauwa?' The eldest one turned. 'she cooks breakfast for the whole family every morning at 7 before she leaves for work and she's never late. Then Aisha,' the middle one turned. 'She makes lunch, which is always very delicious. Then my baby Tima,' the youngest girl gave a shy smile. 'Tima cooks dinner and she's even started her a cupcake business now. Women keep booking them for their boys. Every woman wants her son to marry one of them because they have skills and poise.'
Then why were they still single, I wondered. The eldest looked like she was already over thirty, but what's my business? 
'Wow, I can see that' Mum said. 'MashaAllah, what lovely girls you've got.' I could tell she was a little jealous. These girls were everything Mum wanted in a daughter. Yet here she is, stuck with Anisa.
'By 8am everyone is bathed and dressed, the house is spotless and there's incense wafting through the entire building. That's what they'd be doing in their husbands'  houses: wake up at least two hours before him, beautify themselves and then make him breakfast. You would never see them with their hair unplaited and they would never come downstairs at 10am in a bath robe.'
I felt my brows furrow. That's exactly what I was wearing and my hair has been unplaited since February, three months ago. 
I could feel Mama shoot me a dirty look. I was embarrassing her in front of her friend, something I'm quite adept to. 
Aunty Lami gave an evil smile, she was winning! In her eyes, her daughters were better than me and everyone in this room knew it. Well, nearly everyone. I couldn't care less about being "marriage material."
'Ah, look at me, I'm getting old!' Said Aunty Lami. 'I almost forgot what I came here for!'
Really? That's hard to believe.  Rolled my eyes.
'*Albishirinki*, my dear sister,' she said to Mama. 'Guess who I saw on my trip last month?'
'You mean when you went to Dubai? Who?'
'Yes, this last trip to Dubayy,' she spoke with emphasis as though we that referred to it as Dubai and not Dubayy were uncivilised barbarians. 'I was shopping at the gold souk in Deira when I saw your in law to be.'
'You mean Maryam's in law? Hajiya Yabalu?' Asked Mama. She wasn't going to be forgetting that name anytime soon I guess.
'No, Anisa's in law, Hajiya Sarriya.'
My stomach did a giant flip. What the hell? Ibrahim's mum? She's not my in law and would never be in a thousand years. Over my dead body.
'But she's not-'
'Anisa go and get dressed,' Mama shot me an icy look, warning me not to mention that Ibrahim and I had broken up. I stared back at her stubbornly. I hate being treated like a child, I'm nearly 28! I stood up reluctantly and went to the kitchen, all eyes on me. 
I'm still so hungry! 
I left the door open to hear the rest of that conversation. 
'I saw Hajiya Sarriya and Ibrahim shopping. You know we went to Hajj together in 2010 so I know her quite well. They were buying lots of things, it looks like they are planning a Kayan Lefe. Just thought you should know, you might be getting good news soon.'   
'Ya Allah, Amin to that prayer!' Mama raised her hands dramatically. 'We've been waiting so long for this good news!'
'InshaAllah. They were in Dubayy for two weeks, shopping nearly everyday. I'm sure they'll bring an amazing set. Just don't forget to invite me the day they bring it o!
'Haba, how can I forget,' her mood was brightened. 'You're pretty much the brides mum. You're the one that'll do all the talking. I'll be hiding in the room, no need for me to come out, I'm also an Amarya.'
'Ayiriyiri,' Aunty Lami yodelled and they high fived each other. 'May we all live to see the day. Ibrahim looks responsible kam, I only have one issue.
'What?'
'Anisa's height. Hope she's not taller than him. We don't want her to marry a dwarf so people won't think she's older than him.
'Ah, that's not a problem,' Mama laughed. 'He's slightly taller than Anisa by 2 inches.'
'What about high heels?' She asked
And I'd just about had enough. I had to get on with my day. 
I wolfed down my soup and garlic bread, which by the way tasted amazing, hats off to Daddy the chef, then went upstairs and got dressed in my usual work ensemble.  A long black abaya with its matching shayla, nothing fancy. I lined my upper and lower eyelids with kohl and liquid liner (I think it makes me look very in charge) then used red matte lipstick on my lips and my trusty studio fix powder on my face. A few spritz of my favourite  eau de toilette and That's it! Simple, comfortable and still a little chic, I'm ready to face the day!
They'd all stopped when I got downstairs. I could tell they'd been talking about me, but I really didn't care, I had a business to run! They could all sit there looking pretty, waiting for a man to validate their existence and give them money, but me? I choose to validate myself and make my own! 
'I'm heading out,' I announced as I swung my satchel and walked past the living room without stopping. I didn't even wait for answer before stepping out of the door. 
I was angry with all of them, especially Mama. Why would she speak to me this way? Especially in front of guests, it was hurtful.
Nothing good ever comes out of a visit from the super wax crowd, nothing! I'm always left feeling angry at their shallowness and mad at Mama for constantly throwing me under the bus while trying to please them. 
I hated Ibrahim and his Mum, they'd caused me so much pain! The idea of marrying him repulses me more than any horrible thing you could ever think of.
Hearing about him buying Kayan lefe is actually good news. I know his mum would never buy even a toothpick for me. It means he has finally moved on and found another girl whose life to make miserable. Or, if there's any justice in this world, karma would have caught up with him and the girl would make his life miserable. 
Either way, I'm glad to be left out of it. 
Hearing about marriage from these people has been quite the eye opener. Are we falling in love or training for a military assignment!
Must get up two hours early; don't I need sleep too?
Must clean the house before he gets up; really?
Must cook great food; what if I'm not into it? 
Must get dressed early; what happened to lazy mornings cuddling in bed?
Must look good at all times; fake!
Must have great 'bedroom skills'; aren't we supposed to develop that after marriage?
Must have hair plaited at all times; what if that's not my style?
Must put on incense.
Must
Must
Must
What happened to adventure and spontaneity? Falling in love with the person's character and putting up with their flaws because you know they're human too. Women aren't robots, we have feelings. We want to be loved and respected, not as domestic staff but as human beings too! 
If all you want is great food and a clean home, hire yourself a house boy and a cook!
Because really, if this is all there is to look forward to in the fabulous married life, then I couldn't be more convinced that it isn't for me.
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Love
Ummi

5 comments:

  1. Hello Ummi, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and was sad when I got to end of the available chapters! You are a beautiful writer! Well done and I really hope we would get to read more of your work! Cheers!

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    1. Thank you so much Miz Affable! I'm so glad you'real a reader! Thank you so much for the encouragement too, I will try my best. Sorry about the delay in chapter 21! I'm trying to tie the story together so I have plan the next 5 chapters very carefully so the story makes sense. Please do check back regularly.. Xoxoxo

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  2. Amazing! I really enjoyed every bit of it a story in our own setting for a change not having to imagine d scenario. U r indeed a super woman having to deal with work, baby R, chores n now dis, i really admire ur talent. Keep up d good work.

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    1. Allo Umm Mufeeda!

      I'm blushing here! I'm so so so happy you enjoyed it! I hope I can keep you glued as the story heats up in the next few chapters.

      Thanks for the compliments! Though I think I'm far from super woman! I just like to suffer myself maybe. It's like if I don't have a million projects going on at the same time I won't be comfortable.

      Your comment has totally made my day! Please receive a giant eHug! ❤️❤️

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  3. Awesome,i need to read this amazing story.

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