The pen may be mightier than the sword, but the ear is smarter than the word. Silence. That was all Amina heard while watching her family chew through their dinner.
There and then, she decided that she was done with recipes. She was never going to write down another one, even though cooking shows were wildly entertaining. Popular television chefs often licked their fingers, pontificating about their methods being the most satisfying, but it all seemed like the performance of circus monkeys now. Amina wasn’t interested in showing off anymore. It completely missed the point.
The roasted chicken and vegetables sitting humbly on the table was the real thing. It was a dish that epitomized normalcy, and neither did Amina add any finesse to it by using a fancy recipe. The silence around the dinner table that night confirmed that it wasn’t a formula that made a good meal. It was serving people what they wanted to eat, in the way that they liked it.
Everyone, who was anyone, appreciated the care that went into a plate of mum’s authentic home cooking.
Little Mo, for instance, had his lips wrapped around a spoonful of mushy peas. None of it had actually gone into his mouth. Instead, his cheeks were puffed up like a chimpanzee’s while he aligned the green blob, and then sucked the mess in through his teeth. The squishy sound it made delighted him immensely. He, no doubt, was imagining himself as the gorilla on the packaging that the peas came in. Mo often aped it in a deep Herculean voice and, to feed his imagination, Amina had ignored all advice on the perfect mushy peas and blitzed the poor things to smithereens. Admittedly, hers looked like vomit, but the glee on Mo’s face was priceless.
Fatima frowned at Mo’s savagery. It was a sign of disgust that would ordinarily be voiced, but she found talking with food in her mouth equally repugnant. It was quite a conflict to be suffering at her tender age, though Amina’s daughter was pedantic about rules. She did everything methodically. For her, Amina made an especial effort to thicken her gravy so that it didn’t run off into the other compartments on Fatima’s plate. Fati, as she was affectionately called, had rather clinically separated the potatoes, meat and peas on her plate so that they wouldn’t infect each other. She liked to savour each taste, one at a time. Amina liked to think of that quirk as a talent for gastronomy, and the semblance of order that the stiff gravy added to her little girl’s world made Amina’s heart skip a beat. All it took to make Fati happy was a pinch of culinary rebelliousness.
Unlike the children, their father ate with his hands. He handled his food the way he did all of life. A good grip, Anwar’s father had taught him, was the only logical way to navigate uncertainty. Amina watched him chew all of the thirty-two times that his dentist advised was good for digestion. That too was a recipe, but mothers can’t always be prescriptive while remaining the support behind everyone else. Families were bound together by embracing the uniqueness of its individual members, and that made Amina more inclined to go with the flow.
It was a change in her that happened in the strangest of ways.
While the first few years of Mo and Fati’s lives were characterized by enthusiastic doting, the demands of parenthood later began feeling like an imposition. After years of dishes and laundry, and then some more dishes and laundry, Amina felt fit enough to relinquish her gym membership altogether. Instead of a nimble body, being strong came to mean conquering repetitive chores lest Amina rob herself of living her own life. Then, one night, Amina collapsed from exhaustion and found herself in a brothel, sharing a drink with a prostitute that looked uncannily like herself.
In the dream, Amina was man of service as he wore a uniform and hat to that effect. He ended up in a room where the prostitute peeled his clothes off for him. His arousal was apparent, and Amina felt what it may have been like for men to become erect. A salacious urge then overcame him as he watched the prostitute undress herself. They copulated on the bed without any intensity of emotion, except for the recurring visual of the man looking directly into the prostitute’s wide-open eyes. It was a steady gaze, and even more captivating was the experience of Amina as a man who was enjoying a woman who looked just like her. When the man finally ejaculated, the warmth of their carnal juices mingled, and Amina felt pleasure from both sides of the gender divide. Of course, she understood that reality had confined her to a female’s experience, but the dream was so poignant that it challenged Amina to look beyond her personal boundaries. She woke up with a new perspective toward many things, including food, which was as primal as sex.
Of course, every mother didn’t have Amina’s wild imagination, but one wasn’t really necessary to appreciate the warmth of a dinner shared with family while the chill autumn winds howled outside on that ordinary Tuesday evening. A photograph may have been able to capture the tangibles of chicken, potatoes and peas, but it could never capture the silence between them. It was screaming the joy of motherhood that Amina felt within, and she simply went with the flow.
Her wandering thoughts were interrupted though when Mo kicked himself off his chair. Fatima took it as a cue, and placed her utensils neatly beside her plate before joining him. As kids do, they were expected to shuffle about before doing what they were about to do, but they didn’t. They knew their places, and that made the whole charade all the more amusing to Amina. The rascals had thought this out.
What Amina wasn’t expecting was for Mo and Fati to stand there like soldiers and thank her.
“For what?” Amina laughed, but her curiosity was piqued as the gesture felt strange.
She glanced at Anwar to see if he had a clue as to what the children were up to, but he continued emaciating a chicken drumstick unperturbed. It was only when Amina turned back to find the kids sheepishly seeking an answer from their father that she realized what was really going on.
Amina guessed that their father had told them she was sick, and they needed to help make her feel better. Those probably weren’t Anwar’s exact words, but Amina could imagine the conversation to have amounted to that. It was Anwar’s style, diplomatic.
Still, appeasing their mother left the kids with confusion on their little faces.
Amina deliberately threw her arms wide open, and her children fell into them. It was hard to conceive of a hug being painful, yet the kids seemed relieved themselves to be over with the awkwardness. Children were too natural to be unloving, so hate had to be taught to them. Amina cringed inside and, before the moment became a lasting one, she sent them off to do their homework as usual.
She then settled down to finish her own dinner. It didn’t taste the same. Then again, she was chewing on the possibility that the same silence she had perceived earlier as an unspoken joy could very well have been a looming discomfort. Was she that blind, she asked herself, or was she making up stories in her head?
Her doubts were amplified by Anwar, who behaved as if nothing had happened. In silence then, husband and wife sat across each other at the dining table. No words were really necessary. Amina was sick to the stomach anyway. The hurt had something do with her not saying what she was told to. She just knew it, and now she was definitely not going to do what was expected of her because having her children poisoned against her by her own husband was down-right disrespectful.
So much for the joy of motherhood. It left Amina in second place.
A day later, Anwar suddenly swerved the car off the road. The inventors of safety belts deserved credit for saving Amina’s face from hitting the window, but they also strapped her in while being taken to an unknown destination down a dusty rural path.
“Why are you being so mean?” she yelled indignantly.
Anwar’s grip remained firm on the steering wheel. He tossed her a stoic glance, but turned his attention back to the road without a word. It wasn’t the only question he refused to answer.
When the kids didn’t return home from school that afternoon at their usual time, Anwar skirted around their whereabouts by playing stupid. It was his way to disguise a lack of imagination at excuse, so Amina pacified herself by guessing that they were at their grandparents. His dismissive manner, however, still brought on a panic that finally exploded in the car. Amina wanted answers and, to get Anwar’s attention, she yanked the handbrake lever up.
The wheels suddenly locked upon the gravel road, twisting the car sideways, and sending them skidding toward a sand embankment. Anwar shoved Amina back in her seat, and set the wheels free. Alas, it was too late to regain control of the car. It slid toward the barrier at a hellish speed and, in the dark night that surrounded them, two pairs of eyes glared brighter than the full moon in the sky above. Amina’s fingernails were dug deeply into her seat as the embankment hurried to ram into them, but Anwar swiftly swung the steering wheel in the opposite direction, and the car luckily straightened out. They rolled to a stop, just barely kissing the embankment with the car’s bumper.
Without a moment’s notice, Anwar put his foot down again and raced ahead. Having completely ignored that Amina had almost killed the both of them was an omen that pointed to the emotional collision they found themselves in after what had happened. Whether their marriage could recover from it was a different matter, but the husband who Amina had spent the better part of her life with was now estranged to her, and yet another deafening silence ensued.
The car roared down the gravel road, deeper into the night. They had left the streetlights behind a long time ago, and the world had turned into a collage of sombre hues outside Amina’s window. The rocky outcrops in the countryside cut jagged shapes into the canvas of the navy night sky and, as they sped through the menacing hills, first the farmstalls and then the rest of civilization dwindled. A sign reading ‘Hekport’ finally told Amina where they were headed to, but the headlights still only exposed that one dusty path that led yonder to God knows where. And then Anwar slammed the brakes. The car skidded to a stop, and they stood idling in the middle of nowhere.
There, Anwar scanned the dusty clouds billowing around them, apparently in search of something. A beam of light outside Amina’s window spawned a portal in the blinding debris, and out of it emerged a ginormous hand that rapped its knuckles on her window.
Bang, Bang, Bang!
“Open the fucking window!” Anwar shouted at her, then slammed a button to roll it down himself.
The hand happened to be attached to an arm, at the end of which was a tall but elderly farmhand who was propped up by a wooden staff and tented over with rags. He shined his torch in Amina’s face. Up close, Amina noticed that one of his eyes was defunct, and protruded from his skull like a purple grape. She gulped, and reached for Anwar’s hand, but comfort wasn’t on offer. Anwar was busy putting the car back into gear.
It was then that the dust clouds had settled, and Amina found themselves parked before a gate that kept a pack of vicious dogs at bay. The farmhand limped off to swing it open, yelling at the dogs to shut up, but they growled anyway.
Cruising through the gates, Amina quickly rolled her window up. A hound had leapt out toward her and, though she wasn’t ordinarily disturbed by barking, she startled when the dog spoke to her in plain English. She shot a glance at Anwar, who seemed to have heard nothing, but Amina was sure that she didn’t imagine the dog warning her to watch her back. For God’s sake, no hound was that well-trained.
Get…a…grip, she sniggered to herself while approaching a farmhouse.
The ranch they had arrived at was the end of the road and, when Anwar shouted at her to simply ‘come’, Amina stepped out of the car willingly. All her life she wanted her man to lead, but never stopped to question where he would end up taking her.
The front door was swung open by a man wearing long white robes that made him look like a monolith. The beard growing out of his chin looked like a tree and, in a decidedly serious tone, the man explained that he was certain it would one day bear fruit. Given the bumpy ride there, Amina smirked at the quip, but nevertheless kept her guard up. Her reluctance did not go unnoticed.
Anwar, however, took the man’s joke as wisdom and bowed his head respectfully. Perhaps he was trying to make an impression when taking the man’s hand. It was meant for shaking, but Anwar cupped it in his palms. There were better ways to kiss someone’s ass but, when Anwar addressed the man as Mevlana before any actual introductions were made, Amina suspected that they had met before.
Perhaps the dog was right, she thought.
Mevlana then stepped out of the doorway, and Amina and Anwar crossed the threshold into one of those turn of the century styled farmhouses. It was built entirely out of wood and stood upon a stone base. It sat bang-smack in the middle of a wide tract of barren land across which the autumn winds blew recklessly and attacked the gutters, trimmings and roof tiles. Inside, Amina could hear them clapping eerily away. It sounded as if there were a hundred souls gossiping about the couple who had just arrived, or at least were betting on whether Amina would sit next to Anwar on the settee. The father of her children was beginning to look like a regular creep that night, and the tension between them was at breaking point.
In the lounge, a younger woman sat cross-legged on the floor while grinding some herbs in a pastel and mortar. How she could see what she was doing mystified Amina as the only lamp burning in the room had been dimmed by a dark brown shade with little tassels hanging off the edge. It matched the colour of the walls, the drapery, the carpets, and the brown velour couch that was offered to Anwar and Amina to sit on. If not for an orange ornament sitting on the table beside, they could very well have been lounging in a cardboard box. That the people were brown too made the whole scene even more ridiculous, but Amina kept an air of civility given the polite chit-chat about the home’s history that Mevlana used to open the conversation.
“For many years this house was a sanctuary for the lost and confused,” he began.
Amina frowned quizzically. She too was lost and confused as to what he meant. Mevlana explained that people visited what he called ‘the home’ when they were faced with problems that they couldn’t solve.
“They don’t come anymore?” she asked, noticing that he had used the past tense.
“Hekport has changed,” Mevlana replied, “After the new road was built, people don’t pass this outpost to travel between the provinces anymore, so the house fell into dilapidation.”
“I would never have guessed,” Amina retorted, quickly spotting the frayed carpets and paint peeling from the walls.
“Besides,” Mevlana remarked in response to Amina’s disdain, “many people don’t believe in the power of spirit anymore.”
Amina glanced at her husband, wondering why she had never detected his penchant for superstition before. She then remembered that no one can truly be known, and let it slide.
“Hmm, what do they believe in?” she finally asked.
“The power of money of course!” Mevlana chuckled, and his beard rustled along with the bounce in his belly.
“I can relate,” Amina remarked. Anwar’s new car was standing outside, and he was more careful with it than he was with her. “It’s quite disappointing,” she added.
“Well, why do you think you’re here?” Mevlana asked.
“I don’t know,” Amina replied. “I’m a hostage.”
Mevlana frowned, so Amina explained that she was led to believe that Anwar was taking her to fetch their children, and that too after much fussing.
“And then I ended up here,” she concluded.
Anwar grunted disapprovingly. He was otherwise listening to the conversation with a sense of jubilance, but now began puffing through his nose like a dragon.
“So, what am I doing here?” Amina asked insolently.
“Someone cares about you obviously,” Mevlana replied before Anwar could. Sitting on the edge of his seat, Anwar’s body language seemed too abrasive for the game that Mevlana was playing with Amina.
“Love means different things to all of us,” Amina snapped. She may have sounded disrespectful, but that was just how she felt.
“Hmm,” Mevlana nodded, “let’s just say that you’re here to see another perspective.”
Ah! Amina relaxed. She got the picture.
She was brought to this man to be fixed. Mevlana was some kind of mystic that helped people with problems that they couldn’t solve themselves and, since Anwar’s muscles and money weren’t helpful in mending the dismal communication problem they were experiencing in their marriage, he was an ideal customer.
But there was nothing supernatural about what had happened. Amina had good reason for her actions.
She understood that Anwar did not agree with her response to the situation, but it wasn’t his prerogative to decide for her. She had told him, and his family, that she would deal with it in the manner that she felt was fit. It angered Amina that Anwar had brought her to Mevlana as it implied that he assumed she was broken in some way. That was unkind.
Before she could sling her handbag on her shoulder and insist on being taken home, however, Mevlana’s attention was suddenly diverted.
The woman sitting beside them on the floor loaded the herbs that she had been crushing into a little basin at the top of the orange ornament on the table. It turned out to be a type of diffuser that a match was held to. When the powdered herbs caught alight, Mevlana inspected the concoction with a handkerchief over his nose. He then held out his hand, and the woman put one half of a lemon in it. Mevlana pumped it to get the juices flowing, after which a few drops were squeezed over the burning embers. They expunged into a gassy cloud, and what remained in the diffuser were tiny bits of raw meat that cooked over the blazing herbs. Mevlana was satisfied by the distinct aroma of barbeque, and waved the thing away.
The woman then left the lounge with the little shards of meat in some tissue paper, and Amina heard the front door swing open. There was a loud whistle, after which a set of paws raced across the veranda’s wooden floor. Thud! The sound of an animal’s teeth gnashing drowned out as the front door was shut again. Khadija, as that’s what Mevlana called the woman, then joined them again in the lounge. She placed the diffuser on the table between them which, by then, was oozing a steady wisp of blue smoke.
“Sniff it once,” Mevlana said.
Amina laughed. “I will if he does,” she exclaimed, turning to Anwar. “This is a couple’s retreat with a twist isn’t it?” she asked with a stupendous smile.
Mevlana searched Anwar’s face for a response. He was chewing on his little finger, a habit that Amina knew much about. It indicated that Anwar was feeling anxious. Unlike him, Amina could stand on her own two feet, and they were gracious enough to walk her over to the water closet down the hall.
There, she shut the door calmly but spun around and fell back on it. A frantic heaving overcame her, and Amina cupped her mouth tightly to ensure that the panic wouldn’t escape. A brave face had served her well, but the smoke she had refused to inhale still stung her eyes. In the mirror, she found that her mascara had run down her cheeks along with her tears. With her lipstick and hair still in place, it was a good look for a miserable tart, but Amina decided that no one could see her that way.
“Damn!” she cursed. She had forgotten her handbag in the lounge.
She found the bathroom drawer empty, but a few sheets of toilet paper were enough to clean herself up. Amina reached over to tear some off when a knock at the door startled her. Behind her, the door was already pushed ajar, and a hand offering a fresh towel had invaded her privacy. Amina recognized the floral print on the brown sleeve.
“You’ll need this,” Khadija’s muffled voice said from behind the door.
“I’ll use the tissue, thanks,” Amina replied, but Khadija pushed the door open anyway and squeezed herself into the tiny bathroom.
“You’re a guest!” Khadija shouted unnecessarily, and so Amina took the towel.
She was then pushed away from the basin so that Khadija could turn the hot water faucet on herself. The plumbing banged in the wall before water coughed out of the tap. Khadija tested the water with her fingers, and adjusted the temperature.
“Old houses y’know,” she quipped.
Amina resumed her place at the sink, expecting to be left alone, but Khadija skirted around to the cupboard where she found a fresh bar of soap. She sat down on the toilet to unwrap it, and waited to find Amina’s eyes in the mirror.
“That was courageous,” Khadija said. Amina ignored her so Khadija clarified. “In there,” she explained, nodding in the direction of the lounge.
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, you know!” Khadija teased, “standing up to your husband like that.”
Amina refused to dignify that comment with a response. Instead she dropped her gaze into the basin where she dipped the edge of the towel into the hot water and began wiping her cheeks clean. In the mirror, Khadija rested against the toilet’s cistern, staring dreamily at the floor. She was mumbling to herself, something about how men take liberties, then suddenly startled.
“What are you going to do?” Khadija asked, rather worrisome.
“He’s not going to let you off so easily,” Khadija replied.
“I can handle my husband, thank you very much,” Amina retorted, rinsing her face in the mirror.
“I meant Mevlana,” Khadija explained.
“Husband’s usually let him do whatever he wants,” Khadija said, and then leaned in to hand Amina the bar of soap, “because he gets the job done.”
Amina took it from her. She hadn’t a clue what Khadija meant but wasn’t planning on sticking around the old farmhouse to find out either. Actually, she was intending to return to the lounge with the threat of divorce if her husband didn’t take her home, and to her children, immediately. But that wasn’t Khadija’s business.
“Well, I can’t see how Mevlana gets anything done around here without you,” Amina said, turning back to the basin to lather her hands.
Khadija was taken aback by that statement, and stared at Amina.
“These towels,” Khadija cried, “who’s going to wash the make-up off them? And this toilet…I’ve got to clean it every time. Even the stupid plumbing. I’m on my knees fixing the pipes,” Khadija lamented, lifting her dress to show Amina her bruises.
“You’ve got to decide your own worth,” Amina told her, “you’re not a slave, are you?”
“Nooo!” Khadija sighed. The trouble however was that she was quite afraid that Mevlana may punish her if she didn’t obey him. “What if he doesn’t talk to me anymore?” Khadija asked.
“It sounds like you’re killing yourself trying to satisfy him anyway,” Amina quipped, and Khadija froze as if she had just received a revelation from God.
It was quite possible that Khadija hadn’t even conceived of having a life of her own. To Amina’s mind, Khadija was a victim of a culture that didn’t respect individuality, and might have felt quite alone in that big farmhouse located in the middle of nowhere. Like herself, Khadija probably hadn’t been lent an ear of support in a long time.
“You and I are not so different after all,” Amina told her, and Khadija’s face instantly lit up.
She jumped off the toilet and grabbed the towel from Amina’s hands. Khadija then patted Amina’s neck dry and fixed her clothes. The invasion of personal space took Amina by surprise, and she was too late in stopping Khadija from pushing a bang of hair behind an ear. Once it was back in place, Khadija met Amina’s astonishment in the mirror. Amina wasn’t sure, but it looked like adoration in Khadija’s eyes.
“That husband of yours is a lucky man,” Khadija whispered.
“Please tell him that when we go back to the lounge,” Amina quipped.
“I’d just stop screwing him!” Khadija exclaimed, “that’ll set him straight!” It was so unexpected a comment that Amina laughed.
“Do you think that’ll work?” Amina jested, but Khadija’s brow knitted and her face turned serious.
“Do everything twice, that’s what I say,” she replied.
Then, in the strangest gesture that anyone had ever made for Amina, Khadija reached into her bra and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. It was squashed, and a little sweaty, but she took one out and laid it down on the counter along with a lighter.
“To calm the nerves,” Khadija whispered with a broad smile across her face, as if she was doing something naughty. She then left the bathroom, and Amina to her own devices.
“People!” Amina grimaced to herself in the mirror. They just use you, she thought.
A few moments later, Amina was battle-ready again. Her face was stripped of make-up, but there was a resilience in her gaze. It was the real Amina staring back in the mirror, the same one that felt no guilty for who she was. She hopped out of the water closet and into the hallway cursing her love of surprises.
And then she suddenly got another!
On the wall across was hanging an old but curious sepia photograph. Amina stowed the cigarette and lighter in her pocket, and stepped closer to examine the picture-frame. It was taken on the stairs that led up to the front door of the farmhouse, and captured both Mevlana and Khadija standing alongside another woman. Amina hadn’t met her, but they may have all been Amish in a previous life since all three figures in the picture wore long black cassocks. Amina quickly dismissed that theory though when noticing the beaded necklaces that hung from their necks. Attached to each was a different coloured pendant made from precious stones. Interestingly enough, the dog in the photograph was wearing one too, and it was the same pitch-black hound that warned Amina to watch her back at the gates.
Amina loved animals, but she had never seen a dog with such unusually long and prickly ears before. They stood to the side instead of upwards, and the mystery of the strange ears got her thinking about what breed it was. Since men are dogs, Amina’s mind quickly hopped, skipped, and jumped to the question of Anwar’s character too, and an unusual memory that was dated the morning of Leila’s engagement sprang to mind…
“Don’t bang the door!” Anwar whispered rather loudly.
“Get off my back!” his elder brother, Brad, screeched right back.
Amina was caught between them outside the main bedroom door in her father-in-law’s house. It was at the end of the passage, a dead end so to speak, where Anwar stood mano-a-mano with Brad.
“Have some respect,” Anwar whispered, “it’s your father in there.”
Brad laughed, “I’m his doctor, I know what he needs.”
“Don’t be prick!” Anwar yelled, then toned down to a whisper again, “Pa has cancer. We all have to come to terms with it.”
“By giving up?” Brad whispered back at the volume of regular yelling.
“Oh! I know where this is going,” Anwar rolled his eyes, then drawled, “you want the money to give him proper care.”
“You’re pretty keen to put him in a box!” Brand sneered. “Maybe it’s you that has an eye on Pa’s inheritance.”
Before their altercation evolved into a full-blown war, the door to Pa’s bedroom swung open. Ma stepped out into the hall and closed the door quietly behind her. Vexation became her when she turned around to face her sons.
“If anything is going to kill your father, it’s having raised two idiots!”
Ma pinched Anwar’s ear. “Now everyone’s hurting at the thought of losing Pa,” she told him, and then pointed a finger at Brad, “and no one is slacking in their efforts to help him recover.”
Both Anwar and Brad dropped their heads in shame as Ma reminded them that it was Leila’s engagement that day, and it wasn’t the time to be fighting about money. Leila was, after all, Brad’s daughter and Anwar’s niece, and she deserved their full attention. Ma then hugged her sons.
“…This is not the time to be arguing about money,” Amina whispered to herself back in the hallway of the farmhouse. She repeated the phrase to the dog in the photograph while pondering its significance.
If she remembered correctly, it was Anwar who then gave his brother a hand to shake. The gesture showed that Anwar was a sensible man, and that was one of the reasons why Amina had chosen to marry him in the first place. She knew that Anwar had integrity.
Amina decided to drop the idea of threatening Anwar with divorce in favour of simply reasoning with him. This was perhaps just one of those times when they were disconnected, and couldn’t fathom each other. Hmm, that simple wisdom could mend their marriage.
Amina smiled at the hound in the photograph. It was fast becoming her best friend, and Amina didn’t even know its name. She blew its image a kiss, and the dog in the photograph just as casually lifted its paw and blew one right back at her.
Thud! Amina leapt back and hit the bathroom door behind her.
Something was happening to her and, before she could perform a quick introspection, she was distracted by a muffled voice coming from within the wall. The words were incoherent sounds, but they reverberated rather strongly within her as she recognized the voice. Amina put her ear to the wall to glean who was trapped inside, but logic luckily reminded her that the wall separated her from the lounge where Anwar waited.
Amina crept down passage, and peeped around the edge to spy into lounge. The first thing she noticed was that her handbag was missing from the spot where she left it.
“If Amina doesn’t sort herself out tonight, our marriage is over,” Anwar was telling Mevlana while his hands flailed about.
“That’s pretty hasty,” Mevlana remarked from the recliner he was relaxing in. Anwar’s hands dropped as he paused to think.
“No! No! No!” Amina’s mind was yelling.
She hoped that Anwar wouldn’t share what she asked him not to speak about. It was a matter of privacy, and her trust would be severely betrayed if he did.
“Let me tell you why she’s really here,” Anwar finally said, and Amina knew that she was now truly alone in that farmhouse.