She died quite tragically over a decade ago.
Quite literally in my arms. The details; I choose to have selective amnesia about. Suffice it to say that her passing was tragic. In deed and indeed.
What I can tell you about her though, is that she was slim. Lithe. Yet well-endowed. The compound adjective a couple of words back, only obvious to one other person alive, apart from Zainab…and maybe the persons that performed her final bathing (Islamic) rites.
The thing about Zainab was convoluted. she was larger than life. You only needed to see her once, you would remember her forever. I knew her better than most.
I have been out of town a few days now. Just flew in hours ago.
For security reasons, I cannot say where I have been. She died in that town. The town had roads, alleys, streetlights, and people though. If that helps.
I am bit of a fitness nut, so every evening at about 8 p.m, I would take brisk thirty-minute walks.
I have been away since Thursday. I commenced my ‘spirited’ routine on Friday.
Yesterday, as the days before, I had just jogged across a busy road, rife with unreasonable motorists, kept the pace under a flyover, scanned my right for oncoming traffic in a microsecond, and covered that road in a few seconds. i decelerated into my power-walk as soon as my Nike’s touched the sidewalk.
I had by now approached a hard right, so I slowed. The second I turned the corner, my hairs prickled. Maybe it was because the street was dark? No! Something was off. I slowed even more and narrowed my eyes as my visual purple readjusted slowly to the poor lighting.
Then I saw her. Walking just in front of me. I know Zainab’s sashay. I know that plain, white t-shirt. I knew that black skirt and the way she wore her braided hair. Above all, my nose knows. It never fails me. I know that particular whiff of Gold Oudh…it was made specifically for her. It is not commercially available.
Light-headed and hyperventilating, I walked on, following. She was about two meters ahead and turned right suddenly. I was at that intersection in about three seconds.
It was a dead end! My original path lay ahead. i halted and stared in awe,
‘Zee?’ I remember calling out. her fragrance still hung heavy in the one meter by one meter dead end.
I slowly turned back the way I came.
And for the first time in twenty three years, and finally, I wept for Zainab. I mourned her passing finally.
I don’t know what yesterday was about Zee, but, I see you.