Uthman suddenly felt weightless and cooled by a light freeze when he first saw her. Not that he was big anyways. He felt like a slender bird levitating for a bit. She seemed to be gliding toward him with a stroller when he turned around as he talked with his device. His instructions were cut off half-way through and his mouth hang opened. The air seemed to have left his lungs for a few moments that felt like an eternity of seconds. Mouth dry and parched, he gnawed at his lips with a strong and warm urge spreading to his body. This is the woman of my dreams, he said to himself decidedly. A beacon of light indeed and I’m the hopeless fly that will get burned or swatted for sure. I’ll be damned if I don’t try to get her attention. Here we go, he added and took a deep breath before saying, “Can I help you sister catch a ride?” His doe eyes growing by the minute, he unloaded his cuteness factor on her. He saw how shy she played it. How cool she pretended to be but he had impeccably studied her and he spotted a little discomfort in her demeanor. When she told him that her uncle would be there to pick her and she quickly dismissed him, he scolded himself. Dang! That’s it? I knew I was stupid to think she would give me the light of day. A hijabi like her has no time to be aimlessly socializing with non-mahrams. As he was accepting defeat, another voice in him urged him to try again from another angle so he mustered up all his courage left and approached her again. To hell with it! What’s the worse that can happen? A slap, silence, or a complaint. I can fend off a complaint by saying I was doing my job. Liar, a voice said but he ignored it. It’s a half truth and Uthman was okay with his reasoning. So he let out the next words, “Where are you from sister?” He was confident that she would bite. It was just a hunch. When she told him to guess, he thought, “See, we’re getting somewhere.” to himself. Her facial features were broader, a gorgeous Nubian nose and she was very petite with a lovely ebony face. He didn’t know if he was in love with her but he was definitely attracted to her and whether she had a baby or not wasn’t an issue. Please God, let her be single. He knew seldom Muslim women wore jewelry outside buy she wasn’t wearing a ring and in the West, this was a major giveaway. Besides, she looks too serious to be involved with someone. She seemed too guarded in his opinion. He guessed Nigeria because she was dressed modestly and from his experience, the West Africans for the majority of time that didn’t care which country they were in and still donned the hijab regardless of what society thought of them were mostly conservative Muslim Nigerian girls. His answer earned him a frown and he was afraid he had offended her. Well, she was on the phone maybe that was it. He thought. Or maybe she didn’t want to be associated with a country that first brings scams to mind and then other positive things. Recollecting his thoughts, he caught a few French words from her conversation. Ah ah! French. He didn’t fail French classes and he wasn’t clueless about it either. Ah ben oui! French West Africa. That’s it. Excited, he guessed again hoping she would come out and say it since he was on the right path. To his surprise, she shut him down and disappeared behind the pristine doors. Moron! She scared her away and you forgot about lowering your damn gaze! Stop being foolish and get back to work! He continued uttering a series on chastisement on himself until a man tried to park by the gate she had just left. Africans, always thinking he’ll do them a favor just because they’re from the same motherland. The sign clearly says ‘No Parking’! He thought annoyingly until the man said, “My man, I won’t be long. My niece was just here I think with her young son. She said she’s going to pray quick and come back.” That got Uthman’s attention.
“How does she look like?” he asked next intrigued. Maybe they could help each other after all. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
“Oh…maybe 5 foot 4, wearing a headscarf, and definitely without that no-good ex-husband!” the tall African man said, getting suddenly riled up.
“It’s okay, calm down. I saw her. So you’re her uncle huh?”Uthman asked, traipsing on his words and scratching his head in embarrassment.
“Oh yea. She’s cute isn’t she?” the uncle said, winking. “She needs a good man. She deserves a good man.”
Uthman agreed but he wondered if the man was distracting him with his speech so he could pass time and park there for a short while. And while he was at it, attempt to match-make his niece or ‘pimp’ her without her being present so that Uthman looked the other way for just a couple minutes. All these possibilities flashed in his mind in a matter of seconds and Uthman wasn’t sure what to think but he was definitely skeptical. Since he wanted to know more about the enigma that she was, he indulged the uncle in his tales and asked the right questions about Femta. They laughed and joked for a little until she barged in.
“Let’s go Tonton,” she said, scowling intensely at Uthman as she walked away toward her Tonton’s black SUV. Her uncle said goodbye to Curly Locks and run to help her put her things in the car.
Uthman smiled widely and hopeful as the car drove away. He spotted the back of her floral scarf and the cheek kisses and hugs the family members exchanged once inside the car. He tore his gaze away from them and continued hatching his plan. His sister Basma owed him a favor and it was time for her to pay up!
To be continued…
©Papatia Feauxzar 2016
~Picture: African Violets~