He stepped out of his vehicle, a smile playing on his lips, knowing that the anger from his wife’s abusive behavior was finally subsiding.

 

She turned her head away, avoiding eye contact with Mahfuz, who remained surprisingly composed. “I’m sorry, I need to take a shower,” he said, reaching for his phone. “I don’t know.”

 

She retorted, “You said the same thing yesterday when you went for a shower. I took your phone and was insulted. Even when I was gathering firewood, she berated me. I ran out of patience. It’s as if fate is playing a cruel trick on us.”

 

She mentioned she was wearing a red dress.

 

“Please, be patient. It won’t happen again. Don’t let it affect you, my love.”

 

Her face finally cracked into a smile, and she replied, “Hmm, Mahfuz told me he’d be back home in two months.”

 

“Don’t worry, God willing, madam. I’ll do my best to calm you down.”

 

Hadeeza smiled and turned away, heading back inside.

 

In less than five minutes, she reappeared with a beautifully prepared meal. Mahfuz opened the container to reveal potato balls with onion sauce, and the aroma filled the room, mingling with the scent of chocolate and biscuits.

 

He appreciated how Hadeeza’s cooking always provided a comforting respite, even though he knew Lubna was equally skilled in the kitchen. He had never imagined Hadeeza would re-enter his life and find a place in his heart.

 

In the past, he had been humiliated by her before he met Lubna, and he had considered marrying Hadeeza. She had shown him her strength, making him feel inferior in her presence.

 

Yet, he had found Lubna, who had made him forget about Hadeeza. He had never thought about her until she called him four months into his marriage and asked, “Mahfuz, where did you marry from?”

 

He had responded with, “Who is this?”

 

She had replied, “It’s Hadeeza.”

 

He had asked, “What do you want?”

 

She had accused him of trying to humiliate her and he had hung up and blocked her number.

 

Two days later, she had called from a different number, but he had blocked that too. She had persisted, sending messages he never read, and he had deleted them.

 

Despite never answering her calls, she continued calling until late at night, forcing him to turn off his phone at night. He had had enough one day and picked up the phone, asking, “Who are you looking for at my place, Hadeeza? We’ve moved on, why can’t you?”

 

In tears, she had replied, “Mahfuz, now that you’re married, have you completely forgotten about me? Do you want me to remind you of what you said to me before? I love you. I’m sitting here studying. My parents are in Gombe.”

 

Mahfuz had sternly responded, “Hadeeza, you never gave me a chance. Your boyfriend, the one you wanted to marry, cheated on you. Now you’re seeking me out, but I’m married now. I’ve married the woman I love. We’re living peacefully. Please, leave me alone and stop calling me.”

 

He had then turned off his phone. Five minutes later, he received a message from her, apologizing for her actions and agreeing to visit him with his wife’s consent. He had blocked her number, determined to move forward with Lubna.

 

To his surprise, Hadeeza kept changing her number and calling him, despite his repeated warnings. She sent messages in the morning, during the day, and at night. He refused to answer.

 

He never let Lubna see the turmoil Hadeeza was causing, cherishing the peace he had at home. It had been a year since their marriage.

 

Then, one day, Mahfuz went to work for a couple of hours and found Hadeeza waiting in his office. It had been five years since their breakup, yet she looked as stunning as ever.

 

She handed him a file, resting her head on the desk. Mahfuz averted his gaze and asked, “Hadeeza, what do you want from me?”

 

“I don’t want anything from you. I just want us to put all of this behind us and continue our love.”

 

“It’s been a year since I married Lubna. I have no intention of cheating on her or pursuing any other relationships. My wife means the world to me. Please, find someone else.”

 

She didn’t stop talking, her voice choked with tears. Mahfuz finally wiped her tears away and continued typing on his laptop, ignoring her pleas.

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