At the entrance of their home, Zainab let herself sink into Namdi's embrace. Faintly, her senses picked up the last traces of the hospital on him. Like that they remained, saying nothing, merely enjoying the calm they both knew would be shattered at this very door hours from now.
"We have to go in at some point."
"There has to be food for dinner to happen."
"Can't the cook do it?"
"Silly, you've already forgotten the cook is on vacation."
"If I help, can we stay like this for a little longer?"
"Maybe, if I want to burn down our kitchen you can help."
She shrieked, Namdi having pinched her bottom in revenge. He had no other way to reply her nod to the past. It had been the first time she had come to his apartment. Wanting to impress her, he had taken advice from a supposed friend to cook her a meal. They both knew he couldn't cook. Namdi could vividly remember how his friend had gushed about how she would love it, completely glossing over the difficulty of it. To think it would end up with Zainab having to help him put out a fire. As he watched all his meager efforts go up in smoke, kitchen walls dark with soot, his will still remained strong until he heard his front door closing. She had left. Only then did he sink to the kitchen floor, his dreams of how this day would play out now smoke in the wind; on the walls. Namdi did not know how long he lay on the kitchen floor before he felt a foot prodding his thigh. Opening his eyes, he saw Zainab with a smile on her face, in her hands two bags of Chinese food.
Her elbow dug into his still bruised ribs. The pain knocked away his thoughts of the past. His hold on Zainab weakened and she took the opportunity to nimbly slip away. Dashing into the house she left behind the giggles of a school girl. Pain subsiding, Namdi chased her, following the giggles to their source.
"Don't take a single step into this kitchen, Namdi."
He stopped one foot in the air just before the kitchen door.
"We've got a few hours before they get here."
"I know, that's plenty of time for us to savour our sweet flavours."
"Stupid man, the only thing you'll be savouring is the aroma of my cooking. Go make yourself useful elsewhere."
"Haba, you are such a general when your parents are coming."
"I can't give my mum any excuse to start judging me."
"Your mum loves you, Zainab. I've seen how she..."
"Namdi, you truly are blind when it comes to my mum. That woman is a snake."
"I would have thought your dad would be the one someone would call a..."
A cup flew out of the kitchen aimed at Namdi's head. He knew it would be coming already, ducking out of the way.
"You truly are daddy's little girl," he said smiling.
"Namdi, don’t you ever try to say something about my dad again!"
In her hand was another cup.
"I wouldn't dare. But then a few nights ago, in the bedroom, weren't you calling me..."
A second cup flew out of the kitchen, barely missing and smashing against the wall behind Namdi. With a wide grin on his face, Namdi backed away.
"Why don't you stand still."
"Because you don't throw like a babe."
She too was smiling, a third cup in her hand. When Namdi saw the cup she was nonchalantly tossing in the air and catching, his wide grin was no longer so wide.
"You win. Do you mind not breaking that one?"
"So you finally noticed. Alright, now get your tone butt up those stairs and go get ready."
With a sharp salute, Namdi turned around, heading for the rooms above. Now, alone in the kitchen, Zainab looked at the cup in her hand, her thumb running along the image of a bright eyed baby whale. She sighed, grabbing a kitchen cloth to wipe away non-existent smudges, the cloth soon slightly damp. Only then did she carefully return it to the back of the cupboard from whence it came. Walking to her bag, she brought out her phone, a notification of downloaded files glanced at her, but set aside as she noted the time. Behind schedule. she thought quickly, grabbing an apron before she began to cook. Time marched on, the sweet aroma from the kitchen soon dominating the whole house. The sun slowly set, the disappearance of the last of its rays announced with the ringing of the doorbell.
The sound pierced through the silence, passing through the house unhindered. From the kitchen and from the rooms above, Namdi and Zainab turned towards the origin of the resonance. Mentally they prepared for what was to come. Knowing he could not dally, Namdi made his way to the front door. Taking a second to calm his nerves, he reached for the handle, pulling it open.
"Mr. and Mrs. Shagari, welcome."
Continued on next page...
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