“Chuks, get it into your skull, I will never be with you!” “Laraba, who is talking of being with me? It is marry I want to marry you. No man but me will marry you. See, let’s bet!” Laraba gets up and walks away.
The next day she gets to her office to meet a bouquet of freshly cut flowers and a box of chocolates. She especially loved the chocolates. It was the kind she liked. It was dark chocolate with Brazilian nuts. There was a small note with the package. The sender signed off as “M”. Could it be Mohammed, she thought. They had been betrothed to each other since their childhood. Mohammed was a very quiet man, right from when he was a child. She was surprised that he could be this romantic. She thought about it and made up her mind that her sister must have given Mohammed tips.
She smiled, happy that he was wooing her like he really wanted her and not like she was a chore he had to do. “Sannu Hamma, yayade?” Something held her back from saying thank you. His voice was flat as usual and he didn’t seem excited to hear her voice. They talked about this and that, but he didn’t ask whether she had received his gift. Since he didn’t ask, she didn’t say anything about it too. It was safe to be quiet and not to give the impression that she was giving room to another man to chat with her or that was comfortable with accepting gifts from strange men. Or could it be a new admirer? She gave up cracking her brain about the gift and offered colleagues some of the chocolates. At least if there was love potion inside, it would catch them all, she thought.
The very next day at the canteen, Chuks walked in as she was having her meal. He stood in front of her and attempted to shake her hand. She put her hands under the table and said “I don’t shake men”. “Okay now, no problem. Did you like the gift I sent you, my Queen Laraba? Laraba looked at Chuks long and hard and didn’t reply. She was tired of him. “I hope I picked the right chocolate for you. I wasn’t sure you’d like it. Say something now, my Queen” Laraba ignored him and walked away, leaving half of her lunch in the plate. He had a knack of creeping up on her every lunch time. It seemed he had someone in the canteen who used to give him information about her whereabouts. She was glad he never came to her office. It would have been embarrassing!
It was evening. She was done for the day. Mohammed was meant to pick her up at work. After over an hour of waiting, she gave up and decided to go outside her office to get a taxi. Mohammed wasn’t picking his phone. After about 20 minutes of standing by the road waiting for a taxi, it became windy and large drops of rain began drop slowly. Just as she was about to run to shelter, a cherry colored Honda pulled up in front of her and wound down. “Get in, get in!” It was Chuks. She got in quickly. There was no point being stubborn and getting wet! All through the drive, Laraba said nothing. She adjusted her veil so that it covered more than half of her face. She didn’t want anyone to see her in Chuk’s car.
To be continued..