Ali-Asbro has been in the city for a week. He still dreaded going to his new workplace. He hadn’t counted on the unsolved issues and suppressed emotions that would raise once he came back to the city.
He had advised his business partner and investors to invest in Hargeisa.
He still held a grudge against the Hossain family. The boys he practically grew up with and saw them as his childhood, friends had mistreated him for falling in love with their sister.
He went from being a well respected young man who was praised for his good working ethic, to be looked down at. “Wecel dig wasaq leh” a bastard with unclean blood is what they called him. He had never heard someone referring to him in such degrading terms before.
Since the day he had to run away from his home town, for falling in love with a girl who was out of his league. Ali-Asbro held resentment towards the upper class “pure blooded” the Hussain family.
How every way he tried to forget Dunia, she was there in his mind to be compared to every girl who captured his attention for a moment. Dunia would die of laughter now if she heard this joke his mind would wander off and pay Dunia a visit both in the waking hours and in dreamland. Ali-Asbro mourned his love for twelve months. The first three months he cried out loud and prayed for a miracle.
The second three months he woke up early to pray then went to the Bus Station in hopes that Dunia might be the next person to get off the bus. He would always ask “is this the only bus that left Hargeisa last night?” And the answer was always yes.
I am such a fool for thinking that she was actually going to elope with me Ali-Asbro would laugh at himself at his own naivety.
He then spent three months laying in bed. Wishing to just stop existing. He had no control over his destiny. He hadn’t asked to be born out of wedlock. Or to be put down in front of a mosque to then be raised by a barren couple. His mother and father treated him nothing less than a gift from Allah. Their love is what got him up from the bed. That, and the harsh truth his aunt served him one evening.
“Listen, Ali, you are still young and strong, you will be all right.” His aunt said covering her nose with her hijab. “You can’t lay here, and pity yourself anymore. My brother is old and he should be retiring but he is sending you money, while it should be the other way around.” She went out angry. “I am an orphan,” Ali-Asbro said still laying in bed.
She came back in the room again with flaming red eyes. “I can swear may I die if I am lying, you did not hear that
from my brother or his sweet wife.” She sat next to him. “They have never allowed anyone to treat you less, in fact, they gave you all in their power, love and care not even birth parents do all that nowadays” she touched his forehead. “Now it is your turn to take care of your parents my child. You are my beloved brother Ahmed’s son. You are Ali, son of Ahmed” he cried and she wiped off his tears. “Waryaa uuf uuf you stink get up from corpse position and take a shower, nin raga is dhig be a real man.”
The next three months he cried while he washed and cleaned cars. He made himself noticed as a handyman.
Seven years later, he was back to his home City. He was eager to show off the new business he brought back with him. But he dreaded to go around where he might see the girl who once owned his heart and mind. With time her hold on him was losing its grip. But ever since he came back, old memories were resurfacing.
“You sing like a horse, ” she would say about his voice while giggling. And he would bark like a dog. That made her laugh even harder. Ali would watch her and think to ask himself how someone so beautiful could love someone like him.
The thought of losing her used to feel like a fist punching him in the chest. “I will work hard and buy you gold and a donkey” he had said to her, “and I will be a math teacher and buy you” she paused ” Wait why a donkey, ?” She asked puzzled by that. “well, who will sing for you when I am at work?” And she had laughed like crazy.
He dared to lean forward and surprise her with a kiss on her lips. She responded by slapping him. They stood and looked at each other for a moment, she took both his hands and placed them on her face. He took a step coming closer to her. “It’s alright,” she said, through the tears. Mixed emotions all around. Young love, fear, shame, regret, want, need, risks…
With the kiss, their adrenaline skyrocketed.
What if they were caught? It was the end of both of them, but especially Dunia. By committing this sin she was tainting her family name and the whole family’s honour. She was bringing disgrace to her family, by kissing a man outside wedlock.
“I want to marry you please let me go to your father and ask for your hand”
They had agreed that was a good idea, but her father had already given her away to a man without Dunia’s knowledge.
He had lost her. He has heard that she married a wealthy elder man who has lived and studied abroad, Rome, to be precise. He was a pharmacist and could take care of and spoil the woman whose heart he thought belonged to him. “She was happy, birthed children and living lavishly” he heard the gossip in the city.
I am trying to be happy for you. Qaliyeey my precious Dunia, I am truly trying…
Dunia stood in front of her bathroom mirror for a long time. She studied herself. From side to side, she had gained side rolls but nothing to make her seem like an Auntie. Her burn marks were not bothering her, as much as the idea of him calling her Auntie.
“Eddo Ku yeh, how dare he call me Auntie?” She slapped herself in the head for being childish. Why am I obsessing over this? She combed her hair and remembered Kimina. Ooh, Kimina you would have loved to hear about how life is mocking me this time. Dunia felt a pinching pain by the thought of Kimina.
I am sorry sister to have left you without proper goodbye “ I will go out tonight to watch the stars and pray for your well being after salat layl the midnight prayer” Dunia said out loud while braiding her hair into two long pigtails.
“Why do you keep staring up?” Madka-Kher was finding out new things about Kimina ever since he found her. She wasn’t completely the same. “I am looking at the stars,” she said smiling as if she was thinking of someone special. Madka-Kher wanted to demand who else could make her smile just by thinking of them. But he knew better. Kimina would tell him everything in due time. He had to be patient, so she wouldn’t take off again. She could live without him. She proved it to be true, while his world had collapsed without her.
They were sitting on the top of a roofless lorry. It was dark and the lorry was overheated. They were going to sleep there in the midst of a jungle. With only two paraffin lamps to see and a torch which only the driver was allowed to hold.
Amongst the thirty passengers on the lorry, Kimina was the only one travelling with a child. Elderly women and men, business people selling sugar sacks to the villages they pass on the way. The sugar sacks were uncomfortable to sit on for too long, but it was cheaper than sitting on an open space in the lorry. The driver and most of the men went down to sleep under and next to the Lorry. The women and children were allowed to sleep up in case of an animal attack or bandits. Since Madka-Kher was amongst the youngest men, he was the first one up to keep watch until midnight then another young man would take over.
” I had a sister before all went to hell,” Kimina said still gazing at the stars. All those nights when Dunia forced her to sleep outside the hut, paid off, She wasn’t scared of the darkness anymore. Even the hyenas or lions roar from distance didn’t terrify her as much.
“Her name was Dunia, and she was” Kimina felt saddened. Rafiki yangu, dada yangu “she was my best friend and my sister Madka, why do I lose everyone I love?”
Madka-Kher sat next to her and wrapped his hand around her shoulder. She leaned in, to rest her head on his shoulder. Their son was laying on her lap deep asleep.
“SubhanaAllah Everything is qadr our life and Destiny lays in Allah’s hand,” Madka-Kher said looking up at the stars that looked like they were taking turns to shine.