Swahilific : Diary of Campus girl ~ pt 63

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On Friday afternoon, Mimih went to have lunch with George. It was the second time they were meeting in one week since the revelation about his fiancé’s evil ways. She had texted Zuhura, with an LOL at the end, that she might not come back until Saturday afternoon. Battered and bruised, she had added with a wink.

Zuhura would spend the night alone, though she really preferred it this way because she could at least bury herself in a book. With Mimih around, reading was chaotic since she kept talking, and everything Mimih said was both interesting and intriguing.

She also wanted to catch up with Blacklist. While alone, she could watch it more intently just the way she wanted. Her friends always marveled at her for getting so engrossed in a movie that she forgot everything else existed, and she always told them that there was always a story behind the story, a more interesting narrative in the subtle dialogues and character’s facial expressions.

Uncle Hassan called her at around five in the evening enquiring whether she was free. He wanted to meet her.

“What about, Uncle? Ama auntie amekufukuza?” she asked, laughing.

Aah, nani? Am the man of the house and she knows that,” he said.

“Yes, I’m free. You want to buy me pizza?”

“Pizza nini? All you think about is eating, nothing else!”

“Blame it on Mamake Mody; she brought me up in her eatery so eating for me is a hobby,” she said. “By the way what have you brought me from Kampala?”

“Nothing,” he said.

“Subhanallah! Uncle wewe mchoyo!”

“What I mean is that I looked and looked for something befitting of my favorite niece and I couldn’t.”

“Fair enough then,” she said. “So, what do you want us to talk about?”

“Things that are important for an Uncle to speak to his niece about,” he said.

“Okay then. Should I come over to your place?”

“No,” he said too quickly, “your aunt’s cousin is around. I can barely stand that lady!”

“Which one? Maimuna?”

“Yes. That one. They call her Mumu. Now what is Mumu?”

“What did she ever do to you?”

Aah, wacha tu. Wallahi I don’t like her, especially after that time she almost made my wife to leave me.”

“Forgive and forget, Uncle. That’s the secret of living happily.”

“Okay. If you say so. I am at Jamia mosque. Can you come over? I’ll drop you back home later,”

“Insha-Allah. Give me an hour then.”

“One hour? Ya nini hio yote? Just put on an Abaya and come, it’s not like you’re coming for an interview. Aih, women!”

“Yes, Uncle Hassan, women. An hour tops. See you!”

Almost two hours later, Zuhura slid into a booth and smiled at a fuming Uncle Hassan.

“Two hours?” he asked, glancing at his watch and wall clock.

“As-salaamu alykum. I am sorry. Am here now!”

“I’ll never understand women,” he clicked.

“I missed you Uncle,” she smiled.

“How are your studies?”

“Hard. Wallahi I wish I was in my final year,”

“Hang in there. Soon utamaliza, and you won’t even know what to do with your life,” he said. “Am sure you are hungry as usual. I love their chicken and grilled cheese. Try it.”

“Uncle, I chose this joint, not you. And yes, I totally love their chicken and grilled cheese. Sasa what will you eat and they don’t cook ugali and matumbo?”

“I don’t even know what to tell you!” he said, shaking his head.

“So what was so serious that it couldn’t wait?” she asked.

“How’s your mother?”

“She’s fine. I talked to her this morning,” she said. “I miss home so much, especially Yasmin. Can’t wait for the year to end.”

Festus, one of the waiters came to take their order. He smiled knowingly at Zuhura, nodded at Uncle Hassan and enquired what they wanted to order.

“Umm, the usual chicken for me and passion juice,” she said. “And my uncle will have the same I believe.”

“Cool. This is your uncle?” Festus asked.

“That’s what she said, yes!”

“He’s my favorite uncle,” she added. “Uncle this is Festus, our friend.”

Uncle Hassan looked him up and down and said nothing.

Our friend?” he whispered as soon as Festus left.

“Our, as in Mimih and I,”

“Now you have non-Muslim male friends?” he hissed.

“Uncle, it’s not a big deal,” she said calmly. “Okay, if it will make you any happier, he is more of Mimih’s friend than mine and he only talks to me because I come here with Mimih.”

“You should be thinking of how you’ll get married,”

Ya Rabbi, this marriage conversation gets into my nerves like nothing else. Why do you all think that I should be thinking of marriage right now? I’m barely through with University!”

“Well, ultimately you’ll get married,”

“Insha-Allah, ultimately,” she sighed. “But I wish everyone would leave me in peace until I tell you when I am ready.”

“Don’t let it get to you,” Uncle Hassan said softly. “Take your time. It’s your life, you know. No one should rush you.”

“Do you mean it? Ama you’re just being sarcastic?”

“I mean it,” he said. “Actually, that’s what I wanted to speak to you about.”

“Oh!”

“Zuhura, don’t take this in the wrong way. I am on your side and will support you as much as I can. Your uncle Jaffar has been calling me.”

“Eih, Uncle Jaffar naye?”

“I know,” Uncle Hassan laughed. “He’s been calling me so many times that I almost blocked his number. The only thing that kept me from doing that was because we are family.”

“Let me guess,” she said, tapping her chin. “He is still insisting I get married to that son of his, Abdallah?”

“True, he still insists, but this time not to Abdallah,”

 

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Abu Amirah

Abu-Amirah is a Mombasa-based writer whose story “The swahilification of Mutembei” was shortlisted for the Writivism 2016 short story prize. He is currently working on getting his first short-story anthology published.