“Beatrice, are you okay?”
“You’re playing with your food.”
Beatrice looked up at Seriki and down at her food and realized she hadn’t eaten much.
“You’re not used to Chinese?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Why didn’t you say so?”
She stretched out her lips in a polite smile and willed her mind back to her date. It had journeyed to Bankole all on its own, leaving her with Seriki.
“So what would you like to eat?” Seriki asked with an endearing grin as he put aside his meal and stretched his hand and held hers.
She replied with a shrug. She didn’t like his touch but she made no effort to withdraw. Alone together, he was more of a gentleman than he was with an audience.
“I’m not so hungry, Seriki.”
“Okay. Maybe we could go somewhere, have a couple of drinks and talk about you and why you’re so distracted.”
The idea didn’t appeal to Beatrice. All she wanted to do was go home, crawl into bed and have a good cry. The disapproving look she caught in Bankole’s eyes earlier when he saw her in Seriki’s arms had left her uncomfortable.
“Bea, seriously, what’s wrong?” Seriki squeezed into her hand. “I can call you, Bea, right?”
“You’re damn too fine to be this gloomy. Is all well?”
“Yes, yeah…I’m fine.”
At that instant her phone rang and she reached into her purse for it. When she pulled it out and saw that it was Bankole calling, she went blank for a few seconds.
“Won’t you answer that?”
Beatrice stood to her feet in a dazed motion. “One minute, please.”
She went straight to the Ladies’ and hid in one of the stalls, answering the call a half second just before it rang out.
“H-hi,” she said, her heart palpating fast. She expected an immediate response from Bankole but got silence instead.
She felt a rush of blood come to her face at the sound of his voice.
“Banky…” she said into a sigh.
“I am so disappointed in you.”
A smile on its way to her lips retracted.
“So everything to you is about money, that’s why you’ll sell yourself so cheap to a guy you know absolutely nothing about! What went wrong with you, Bea? How did it get so bad? Or were you like this from the beginning?”
Beatrice was dazed.
“As in, don’t you have self-respect as a woman?”
“Banky, why are you saying all these things to me?”
“Because somebody needs to tell you before you wreck yourself. It feels like you’re in paradise now but the way that guy will dump you and rubbish your name, no man in this town will want to go near you! Continue! Keep being a ho!”
“Banky…” Her voice came out in a painful whisper but met a beeping disconnected tone. With a shaky hand she let the phone down and peered at it through tear-laden eyes. Pain seared her heart and she buried her face in her hands and sobbed.
Seriki found her several minutes later and led her out of the restroom. He was able to get her to stop crying but was unsuccessful in finding out what was wrong. They left the mall after her refusal to stay longer. Seriki took her home and hung around for a while. He left when the clock struck ten. Beatrice was all cried out by then but was yet to get over the shock of Bankole’s words. She stayed awake until Sharon returned. The latter was no doubt, aware of how badly the date with Seriki went. She was mad with Beatrice but rather than confront her, grumbled to herself as she changed into her night clothes and went through the ritual of cleaning makeup off her face. Beatrice listened in silence, her face to the wall. Afterwards she endured another half hour of Sharon hissing and cussing Bankole as she laid beside her on the queen-sized bed they both shared.
The morning took an eternity to come. When it eventually did, Beatrice remained in her position; she had her ears trained outside where a neighbor was singing loudly in a coarse tone as she did some morning cleaning.
“Bea!” Sharon called. It was her first activity upon waking up. Beatrice prepared herself for a fight as she turned around.
“Get up, get up, get up! Let’s talk!”
Sharon waddled to the only window in the room and parted open the curtains to let daylight in while Beatrice sat straight.
“What happened between you and Seriki yesterday?” Sharon turned.
Beatrice put up a clueless face. “We went out nau. What happened again?”
“Abeg, don’t play with my intelligence this morning. Seriki dropped you off here and came to me and told me everything. Who called you on the phone while you were with him?”
“It was that useless Bankole abi?”
Beatrice gave no reply.
Sharon’s eyes tapered to slits. Beatrice waited for the tongue-lashing that was to follow but in a suspicious twist, Sharon’s facial features straightened out. She walked back to the bed and sat.
“What happened, Bea?” Her tone came out gentler. “What did he tell you?”
“Bea, talk to me nau. I know he said or did something to hurt you.”
Beatrice, who was cuddling a teddy bear resting between her legs, hugged it tighter as her eyes watered. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Haba, Bea. Your own sister fa. Talk to me, sweetheart.”
Beatrice sniffed and wiped a tear going down the side of her nose. “Yesterday I saw him at the mall as Seriki and I were coming in. So later on he called and accused me of following Seriki for his money…” Her next words were stuck in her throat. Sharon moved in closer and rested a hand on her knee. The act gave Beatrice strength to continue.
“Then he called me a ho and…and hung up on me.”
Her last word was dragged into a sob that shook her body. Sharon pushed the teddy bear away and wrapped her in a hug.
“Aww, poor baby. Just let it all out.”
Beatrice cried wretchedly. Each time she tried to stop, some memory of Bankole would surface and she would relapse. Sharon was surprisingly patient through the entire dramatic episode. When finally Beatrice pulled herself together, she handed her a handkerchief and resumed her serious deportment.
“Bea, it’s time to let go. The handwriting on the wall is clear. His feelings for you are of pure hatred. No man who loves a woman will call her a ho. He doesn’t love you anymore.”
Beatrice bit her lower lip to keep from crying again.
“There’s something I’ve been hiding from you for a while because you’ve been through so much already.”
“What is it?”
“It’s about him. Somebody told me that there’s a girl living with him now. One Yoruba girl like that.”
Beatrice lifted her head in slow movement.
“They work in the same office. In fact, they go to work and back home together. Sometimes, she even drives his car.”
Beatrice first instinct was to disbelieve the news but she recalled her encounter with Ruky and her tummy whipped.
“They say she has big ass.”
Beatrice closed her eyes and fresh tears filled them.
“You know the girl?”
Beatrice nodded. “She was the one I gisted you about that he carried home that night of the Smush party and gave my dress to wear.”
“The same girl? You see?!” Sharon exclaimed.
“So they’re now living together,” Beatrice said to herself. “No problem.”
“Exactly! Not your problem at all! Useless idiot! He should have her! You, just move on with your life! Find your own happiness!”
“So there was something going on between them the whole time.” Beatrice continued her monologue as the severity of the news wormed its way deep into her emotions.
“Before nko? And he was there acting the saint. I’m sure she’s not the only one.”
“Bea…look, I’m your sister. Nobody on this earth can love you more than I love you. Take that to the moon and back! I’ll die for you!” She swore by hand motions. “What’s the age difference between us? Is it not just a year? Remember mommy used to say her womb was still very warm as I left it before you came in? So babes, no man can love you the way I love you and that’s why me I’m looking out for you. These men are evil at the end of the day. The only way you can succeed with them is through trade by barter. That’s the only language they understand. Never give a man what he cannot afford. Never! Your heart and your head are yours! Keep them for yourself! Every other thing is negotiable!”
Beatrice exhaled silently. She had heard this sermon before. A million times. But for the first time, it was sinking in. Bankole’s spitefulness to her was a wound so deep only he himself could heal. And since that was not going to happen, she was beginning to think it was time to let go.
Yet she fought one last time.
“But Banky is not this person he is now. Something is wrong, Sharon. He’s not like this.”
“Something is wrong where? He had always been like this but he couldn’t show you his true colors because you were housing and feeding him. Now that he has money, the devil in him has come out.”
“What if it’s that Ruky girl that is twisting his head?”
“Babe, bone that thing abeg! Bone! Listen to me. That nigga never had and will never have anything good to offer! Just move on!”
Beatrice pulled her teddy bear close again as Sharon dipped her hand into her handbag and pulled out a bundle of five hundred naira notes. She counted off ten thousand naira and handed it to Beatrice.
Beatrice put the money aside.
“Bea, you know there’s more where that came from.”
“I’m not interested.”
“I’ve known Seriki for almost five years now and he really likes you o. No jokes.” In habit, she lowered her tone to a whisper. “They say he’s looking to settle down.”
“So, what if he thinks you’re the one?”
“But you just lectured me about men now-now.”
“Did you hear me say you should fall in love with him?”
“I’m not interested o, Sharon. Let him be carrying himself and be going.”
Sharon’s affectionate air disappeared and her sassiness returned. She blessed Beatrice with a nasty eye business.
“So what happens to the 650k he’ll be sending into your account on Monday?”
“Oh, now you’re interested.”
“What 650k, Sharon?”
“Well, he was questioning me about why you were crying and wanted to know if it had to do with another guy. I, of course, denied, and then I told him you borrowed money to go into gold business since it’s hard for you getting a job, but that the person you sent to buy the gold for you from Dubai, made away with the cash and left you in gbese. And that’s why you were crying.”
“What? Anyways, he was like how much? And I said 350k.”
“Then he said is that all? And I said yes. Then he said, give me her account details and I’ll send in the money plus an extra 300k so that she can start afresh.”
Sharon rolled her eyes delightedly and laughed out loud.
“Diarris God o, Sharon!”
“Abeg, leave him out of this matter.”
Beatrice couldn’t help but smile. “The Lord will deliver you.”
“Amen! Anyway sha, the 350k is mine. Keep the other half.”
“I still don’t want.”
“Yimu. When you get sms alert now, story go change.”
“Oh, shattap.” She stood up. “Me, I’m going to church. Devil like you, stay here and be pining away for man.”
She disappeared into the bathroom, leaving Beatrice with a torn heart and a piercing conscience. She was ashamed that the idea of being three hundred thousand naira richer appealed to her. Perhaps Bankole was right; she was all about the money. But who wasn’t? In a society where daily living was becoming a survival for the richest, it was only necessary for her to subsist any way she could. It was a tragedy that she was above thirty and had nothing of worth to her name. If Seriki’s little gift could help her up on her feet, there was no pride in taking it. She would simply thank him and use it to set herself up, work hard and pay him back every single kobo.
She heard water running in the bathroom and Sharon singing with the loveliest of voices. She recalled their childhood, how both of them often stood before the congregation in their local church and rendered ‘special numbers’. Sharon every so often would fantasize about becoming a musician in the future while Beatrice had dreams of being a vet doctor. They were big dreams for poor, little girls from a small town. Beatrice hadn’t been so hopeful they would make it but Sharon had been. She believed in them, in their future, and in a God who made dreams come true.
What had gone wrong?
She could sit and watch him sleep all day. He was that absorbing. One could never tell by looking at him that there were layers of heat underneath his unruffled surface. It wasn’t that he seemed to transform into someone else when no one was there; it was that, under the same skin, he had a way of being fire and ice. Hot and cold. Good and bad. Very, very, very bad.
Last night she had helped him forget…by making him remember. She helped put the memory of Beatrice in a box and that box was her.
“If I was Beatrice,” she had asked, “what would you do with me?”
It was a wonder to watch the way his eyes took on different forms when everything else on him remained unchanged.
“What I would do to you,” he modified her question. She gave him a nod. Shortly after he showed her the things he would do to Beatrice. He was so intense she felt jealous even as she felt pleasure. If Beatrice was so loved that she received that much passion from one man, why then did she stray?
Bankole was a guy easy to be with. Always ready to please. Kindhearted and generous. And although deep down he had complex issues, he was mostly running on the fuel of goodness. For Ruky it wasn’t a question of whether she was falling in love with him or not. He had struck her somewhere deep from the first day she locked eyes with him. But she had no designs of keeping him. Their lust would follow the way of all romances under the sun, burning brightly at first, and then someday it would die like candlelight snuffed out by a cold wind. Until then he would be her pretend fiancé to her family, her lover between the sheets and friend when hours of darkness and loneliness disquieted her days. She would continue to be charmed by him like she was last night, and even now as he began to stir on the bed in a way that made her long for him again
Get up, get up, get up, get up.
Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up.
Bankole’s eyes flickered open and met the brightness of daylight. He pulled his blanket over his head quickly and tried to continue where he stopped but Marvin Gaye was all up in his ears with Sexual Healing.
“Ruky…” he grunted from beneath the blanket, “not this song, please. Play something else.”
Ruky stayed silent until he came up for air again and searched for her around the room through hooded eyes.
“Creepy,” he said when he spotted her watching him. He laid his head back on the pillow. “Stop the song, Ruk.”
“I’m not the one playing it,” Ruky replied. “It’s my alarm tone and my phone is right under your pillow.”
“Oh. Sorry.” He put his hand beneath his pillow and pulled out her phone.
“Ten o’clock?! Shiiiit!” Bankole threw the blanket off and sprang from his bed. “Why didn’t you wake me?”
“I did. You just went back to sleep.”
He picked his boxers and jeans from the floor. “I can’t believe I forgot Hope.”
“Well, I didn’t. Relax. She’s fine. She’s in the parlor having breakfast.”
Bankole slowed down in a relieved sigh. “You made breakfast for her?”
“Oh Ruky, thanks,” he said.
“Don’t thank me yet. The child refused my food.”
“Then she got out her phone and called her cook and ordered what she wanted to eat.”
“She did that?” Bankole frowned.
“And acted like I was invisible but it’s okay.”
“No, it’s not,” he retorted, wearing his clothes. “She was rude to you yesterday…”
“It’s okay, really. She just met me yesterday. Beatrice is the person she knows and I’m cool with that. She’s just a kid.”
“Still, she should learn some manners,” he said, going out.
“Manners keh. Please, leave the girl jor. Your job is to be a fun uncle. Allow her father to teach her the manners.”
Bankole stopped for a second and looked like he wanted to reply but he walked out.
Ruky rose up. This wasn’t the morning-after she had expected. Not that she was expecting cuddles and kisses; she just wanted to know if he regretted what they did. But she wasn’t going to dwell on it.
She also noticed that he avoided her eyes. But she wasn’t going to bother about it too. If he wanted to be withdrawn during the day but fiercely hers at night, she was all for it.
The door made a sound and he returned.
“Ruky, I want to talk about last night.”
Ruky looked at him. “You better not. Usually when people try to go over their sexual encounters, they come up with regrets.”
“Regrets?” Bankole looked puzzled. “The only thing I regret doing yesterday was that phone call to Beatrice. It was stupid and childish. But everything that happened with you, Ruky… I want to do it again.”
Ruky hid her surprise.
“And I want to take you out again this evening. Beatrice and Mrs. Tunji interrupted our date last night.”
“You want us to go out on another date?”
“Any problem with that?”
Ruky let her eyes stray from his. This wasn’t what she bargained for. She was fine with where they were. Going out on dates like normal couples was going to creep her out.
“No, no problem with that.”
“It’s going to be an unusual outing, though. Do you mind if I take you to a buka?”
She chuckled. “No, I don’t. In fact, I know the perfect Iya Basira around this corner.”
“Correct babe! I’m really tired of the fancy restaurants, mbok. I miss the days I could just walk into a buka with two hundred bucks and eat quality food that could take me the whole day.”
Ruky laughed. “Were you that broke?”
“Omo, mehn! Broke was an understatement, Ruks.” He leaned back on the door and placed a foot over it. “I was very sure I was either cursed or jazzed or both. It was that bad. I remember being so broke one time in school and I was all alone. Everyone had gone home. I hadn’t eaten in two days. On the evening of the second day I remembered I once hid a cup of garri from my housemates, so I went to get it. When I pulled it out from where I hid it, it was like I had just discovered gold. But you don’t want to know what I found in it.”
Ruky squeezed her face. “Don’t tell me you still ate it.”
“I didn’t have a choice. I picked out the shit, washed the garri and attacked it like it was chicken and chips.” He shook his head as his eyes took on a faraway look. “Those days were terrible, Ruky. I always dreamt of being who I am today but I never really thought I’d make it.”
Ruky smiled in understanding. She had been where he had been. It was the strongest thing drawing her to him but she was afraid to take it any further. She just wanted him in her bed.
“I think Hope is calling you,” she said, pointing to the door.
“I’ll be back.”
Bankole left his bedroom to the sitting room and found Hope seated before the television, cleaned-up, having breakfast and watching the Nickelodeon channel.
She turned. “Good morning, Uncle Banky.”
“Baby girl, I’m so sorry. I was tired and overslept.”
“It’s okay.” She smiled.
He walked to her. “You showered?”
“All on your own?”
“Uncle Banky, I’m a big girl.”
“You washed behind your ears?”
“In-between your toes?”
She gave him a confused look.
“You didn’t? You’re still a baby.”
“I’m not.” He saw her face heading for a frown. He brushed it away with a pinch of her cheek.
“My baby.” She grinned. He lowered his eyes to her food tray.
“Aunty Ruky made breakfast for you?”
“Nope. I called the cook and he brought me breakfast. There’s some for you in the kitchen.”
“Any for Aunty Ruky?”
“No.” Hope turned honey-brown eyes away. “Uncle Banky, when is grandma coming back?”
“Look at me, Hope.” Bankole sat beside her and brought her face to meet a firm stare. “Remember what I taught you about being polite?”
“Yes.” Her tone was low.
“Can you try it with Aunty Ruky?”
“Why? I don’t like her.”
“I know. But it’s okay to be nice to people you don’t like. It won’t hurt you. Or will it?”
“I guess not. But mommy says I can do whatever I feel like doing and not feel bad about it.”
Bankole fought not to show his disapproval at Monet’s parenting skills. “Yes, sometimes you do just what you like but other times you don’t, especially when it hurts others. Okay?”
“You’ll try to be nice to her?”
Bankole smiled. It wasn’t a bad deal.
“Uncle Banky,” she looked up at him, “we’re supposed to go to church.”
Her statement gave him a stab in his conscience as he recalled what he spent the night before doing.
“We’ll go next Sunday.”
“Done with your breakfast, Hope?” Ruky emerged from Bankole’s bedroom. Hope took one look at her and her face soured. She faced her food tray.
“No, I’m still eating.”
Bankole let out an apologetic expression to Ruky as she walked to her bedroom. He blamed Hope’s attitude on the manner in which they had been introduced to each other. The previous night, Mrs. Tunji had called while he was still on his date with Ruky and asked him to babysit Hope for the rest of the weekend. She told him she had to catch the last flight to Abuja for an emergency. By the time Bankole and Ruky arrived home, Hope had been waiting with her chauffer over an hour. The child was sleepy and cranky and would not say hi to Ruky. Afterwards she acted like Ruky was invisible and repeatedly asked after Beatrice.
“Uncle Banky, can we go out for ice cream later?”
“You want ice cream?”
She nodded and took his hand in both of hers, giving Ruky’s bedroom door a furtive glance. “Just me and you.”
“Why just me and you?”
“Please, say yes.”
Bankole thought she looked too adorable for him to turn down. He gave her a kiss on the head. “Sure.”
“Yay!” She hugged him. “You’re my best uncle!”
“Not Uncle Guru?”
She shook her head. “No, you.”
Bankole laughed. He once heard her say the same words to Guru. The girl seemed to have inherited her mother’s sugar-coated tongue.
“Uncle Banky, when is Aunty Beatrice coming back?”
The question caught him on the wrong foot.
“Well… She… we broke up and she’s not coming back.”
“Huh?” Hope sat straight.
“I’m sorry, Hope. I know you like Aunty Bea but we were fighting all the time. We were always mad at each other.”
“You could have just said you were sorry. Grandma told me that when I do something bad to my friends, I should tell them I’m sorry so that we’ll always be friends. Don’t you want to always be friends with Aunty Bea?”
It was another question that hit him like a cannon ball.
“Then call her and say you’re sorry.” The child’s voice was raw with emotion that touched Bankole. He stroked her cheek.
“I wish it was that easy, Hope. I’m sorry.”
She shrugged his hand away. “Well, I don’t like Aunty Rukayat. And I won’t come for your wedding if you invite me.”
Bankole tried not to laugh. He put his arms around her and pecked her cheek.
“Don’t worry, I won’t get married to her.”
He felt her light up with a jump.
“You’ll marry Aunty Bea?”
She did an excited little dance in his hold. He chortled. He liked to see her happy, even if it meant he had to lie to her.
Mrs. Tunji was beyond worried. She paced around her bedroom in the Abuja G&M mansion like a man waiting for his wife outside a labor room. On occasion she would stop and look out the east window, staring over different colors of rooftops that covered quiet houses in the exclusive neighborhood. There was a time she adored the view, the colors and the tranquility it gave her. Residents were hardly seen walking the lanes below. If one didn’t catch them driving off hurriedly in the mornings or returning in the evenings, it would be assumed the entire neighborhood was on vacation. Everybody was extremely rich and reclusive here and it was one of the reasons Monet chose to secure one of the most expensive properties the community boasted of. It was money well-spent because through connections, Madu had already turned the mansion into an elite lodging house that was leased out on temporary basis only to those who could afford it.
Presently, there were foreign nationals who were visiting for a series of international conferences and subsequently for the presidential inauguration at the end of the month. Mrs. Tunji had made no contact with them on arrival the night before. She slipped into her bedroom a few minutes after 11pm and straightaway dialed Khalid’s number. It angered her to find it unavailable after several tries. She was mad that on his request, she had left Lagos at an uncomfortable hour, just to find that she was unable to reach him. He had begged when he called, sounding desperate and like one on the verge of tears. He wouldn’t tell her what was troubling him, he just wanted her in Abuja.
Now she here was, the morning after, and she still couldn’t reach him. She was no longer angry. She was worried. What if something had gone wrong with him?
She would blame his wife if anything did. Onsachi vanished without a trace a week ago, ignoring that the date for her trial at the court was already set and around the corner. Khalid had almost lost his mind at her disappearance, more worried about her wellbeing than any consequence with the law. Mrs. Tunji despised her. Her opinion of Onsachi was of a woman who was not only cruel but vengeful as well. She was convinced her disappearance was aimed to cause Khalid great pain, as if murdering his mistress in cold blood was not enough.
“Khalid, please call,” Mrs. Tunji muttered. She was staring out her favorite window as usual but the view held nothing interesting to her. She just wanted to know that all was well with Khalid. He was becoming more of a son to her than Duro or any of her other sons had ever been. With every passing day she was finding the need to fill up the spaces she missed as a mother with her own children in him. What she lost with her children was gone for good. To them, she was a stranger. To Khalid, he was the mother he didn’t have.
Her phone buzzed to life in her hand, making her jump. She looked at the screen and almost passed out in relief. She answered the phone call.
“Khalid! Thank God you’re fine. What happened to you? I’ve been in town since last night but your phone has been off. What happened?”
“I’ll text you an address. Please come alone.”
He sounded shaken still. His voice dry.
“Khalid, what is going on? Talk to me.”
The connection was broken rudely. She stared at the phone for a few seconds before returning the call. It rang unanswered.
His text came in. He wanted her in Kubwa. She didn’t know where that was. Throwing her shawl around her shoulders and steadying her glasses on the bridge of her nose, she walked out of her bedroom. A chauffer was summoned at her orders and she handed the address to him.
“I know the place, ma’am.”
“Hurry. Take me there.”
The journey dragged on forever in her mind as scores of buildings, cars and people flew past her unnoticed. Her instincts told her something was terribly wrong. Khalid was a man who always had it together no matter the situation. Whatever was ruffling his feathers had to be serious.
“We’re here, ma’am.”
Mrs. Tunji looked out her window. They were parked outside the gate of a massive but old house. It looked uninhabited as the fence surrounding it had been torn down in quite a few places. The gate was missing a half that exposed the state of the compound. It was covered with weed and wild flowers where there once had been a lush lawn. Mrs. Tunji was wary to go in but she had no choice since Khalid was still not picking his calls.
She lifted the sides of her wrapper and walked into the compound with eyes darting at every corner at once. When she got to the front door, she found it slightly ajar. She pushed it in and walked in.
Surprisingly, she found a complete set of furniture and decorative ornaments in the living room. Heavy damask drapes plagued by dust just like the furniture, covered two large windows. An expensive chandelier missing more than a few glass rhizomes hung perilously from the middle of the ceiling.
Mrs. Tunji carried her attention from everything else and looked around for Khalid.
“Khalid?” she called. There was no answer. But she saw a door to her right that was left wide open. She trudged towards it, calling his name a second time.
Again no one answered. Her pace slowed considerably when she got to the door.
She took a peep in and what she saw made her gasp and retreat one step back.
“Jesus!” She put a hand over her chest. “Oh God, Khalid… what have you done?”
Lying on the floor in one end of the room was Onsachi. She was dead, her blood splattered above her on the wall and smeared all the way down. Khalid was seated on the floor beside her. Between them was a gun. Khalid’s head was bent.
It took a while for Mrs. Tunji to put herself together and fight the queasiness that had invaded her system.
“Khalid, please tell me you didn’t do it.”
He raised his head slowly and she saw a broken man.
“I didn’t, Aunty Jola. I didn’t. Onsachi… she killed herself…because of me. She killed…”
He couldn’t go on. His head fell to his chest. Mrs. Tunji was speechless. Of all the problems in the world, she never saw this coming.
“Oh, Khalid…” she sighed.
He lifted his head again and stared at her blankly for a while. And then from nowhere he let out a whimper, buried his face in his hands and wept like a little child.