• Rama Matan

The Pure One: Part IV

"Though lovers be lost, love shall not; And death shall have no dominion."

Dylan Thomas

This is the last and final part of The Pure One. If you're just joining us, make sure you read the other parts in order to understand the ending. If you like this story, make sure you like, comment and share this with friends and family. Don't forget to subscribe to stay tuned!

Happy reading!

IN THE courtyard, a large acacia tortilis grew on the right side of the wall and underneath it was a bench. Just like the bench, the floor was made of leftover pieces of marble and granite and under the light of the full moon, she could see lining the left side of the courtyard wall an adenium somalense, king portea, African daisy and many more plants she did not recognize. The kitchen’s window gleamed on the far right corner and the balcony stood in front of the rooms. There was a couch on the balcony and a coffee table. On the balcony ledge, there were cacti and daisies in tin cans. Going past it, they proceeded into the house where she could easily count five bedroom doors. Five bedrooms! What did she need five bedrooms for? Her stomach twisted and turned. Uncle Osman handed her the keys, “it’s all yours,” he said placing them in her palm, then led her to their bedroom where he left to give her some privacy.

The master bedroom was large and spacious and looked a lot like her mother’s room. There was a king-sized bed in the center, a wardrobe on the far left corner, and mirror and a dresser opposite the bed. The duvet on the bed was stunning with extravagant art and bright colors. She went to inspect the huge window. Outside, the full moon shone like a bright torch. She opened it to let in a gentle breeze and as she crossed the room to turn off the whirring fan on the ceiling, the marble floors felt cool beneath her feet.

As she sat on the edge of the bed, feeling empty and out of pace, it dawned on her that everything in the room, which now “belonged” to her, was very grown-up like, and the realization that her room now looked like her parents’ room brought a wave of isolation and abandonment and her eyes began to swell up, her chest collapsed. She folded the duvet cover, jammed in it into the wardrobe and slipped under the sheets fully dressed, her guntiino wound tightly around her body, and curled up much like she used to when she was a child, her mother’s voice slowly drifting away.

IN the middle of the night she woke up to find someone’s arm wrapped around her. For a moment, she didn’t know where she was. She looked hard into the darkness trying to recognize the unfamiliar room but then she saw the gold bracelets shine in the dark, the outline of her henna barely visible. She sat up. I'm married, she thought. A cool wind blew the curtains back and forth.

“You’re up,” Osman said hoarsely. Her stomach twisted into a knot. “I put bati on the dresser for you to change into,” he said. Feeling more nervous than ever before, she tiptoed out of the room. When she changed into her bati, she went out onto the balcony and sat there. With the lights off, the moonlight shone brightly and the stars were visible. Her mind wandered toward the million things she did wrong, how she did not change the first time or ask Osman if he wanted to eat something or how she did everything she could to him avoid him. After about a week of this behavior, he would probably divorce her and although her parents would not be pleased, she would be a free woman and that's all that mattered.

“There you are,” came Osman’s confidant voice as he sat next to her. He was quickly becoming a leech she could not shake off. She rose to her feet. “Can I get you something to eat, uun...uncle?” She stammered as she said the last word. He threw his head back and laughed. “Uncle? You’ve never called me uncle before.” He took her hand and pulled her down gently next to him.

The mosquitoes buzzed in the air around them.

“I can get it myself, but tell me, why are you so shy?” She let the question evaporate in the air. What was the proper way to respond to that? It was true that she never called him uncle but her failure to call him uncle was not symbolic of anything. Osman was not only a relative of her father’s, he was also his best friend. Growing up, Osman was the cool uncle and there was something about him that made her feel comfortable around him. She was cheeky and clever when interacting with him but only because he treated her—as well her siblings—with deference and civility, something that the other elders (who demanded total obedience) did not extend them. More importantly, and because he was from an educational background, he held them to a higher standard. So, naturally, she took to calling him Osman, which to her was the highest form of veneration. By calling him by his name, she set him aside from other uncles who were just uncles.

“Abukar tells me that you want to further your education. Is that true?” The moonlight shone on his disposition and she glimpsed, for the first time in weeks, the kind person she knew before everything happened. Now is not the time to be sympathetic towards him, she reminded herself. “And if it is?” she challenged. “If it is, I think you should do it,” he affirmed. She laughed instead and searched in his eyes for the catch, but there was nothing there. “No, I’m serious. You should do it. I know how important education is to you," he said waving his hand at the mosquitoes that buzzed incessantly in the space between them. “What do you want to study?” “Journalism,” she lied. Journalism was a scandalous career for a woman and a dangerous one for everyone in Somalia and one that her parents would've never allowed her to do. “Fantastic! I’ll take you tomorrow to register for the upcoming exams. How does that sound?” He beamed enthusiastically, his eyes twinkling. “It sounds like you’re buying my affections," she confessed, feeling brave for the first. Immediately His face changed and it reflected a painful glare which he quickly masked with a radiant smile. “I deserved that,” he murmured, “but I want you to know that…” he took her hand and held it in his for a moment, the words crawling up his throat. Then he put her hand on his chest, his own coarse hands chafing the back of her palm. Osman was an engineer but he didn’t have a degree. He was in university studying engineering when the war erupted and chaos ensued and since there wasn’t a lot of demand for engineers he did everything, from carpeting to mechanicing to renovating damaged buildings.

His dark eyes flickered under the moonlight as he whispered, his voice shaky, “I have loved you for a long time.” She felt his heartbeat accelerating under her clammy hand. Then suddenly, he leaned in for a soft kiss, his lips grazing hers gently, his breath warm and pleasant and when he released her hand and vanished into the house, their house, she felt her heart throb in her throat as she gasped for air.

The moon appeared and disappeared behind bursts of clouds, the mosquitoes droned, the breeze blew, and her new life began.

The End




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