He drove slowly toward the entrance of the children’s school, only to find it already crowded with kids who had been picked up by their parents. His brothers and sisters had found their places after getting off the school bus.

His heart was heavy, and despite his humorous nature, he couldn’t find solace. Everyone who knew him could recognize his laughter, but there were times when he’d return with a haunted look, especially after taking his medication. His eyes were perpetually concealed behind dark glasses, a result of his tendency to close them and weep. He couldn’t seem to stop crying, having lost the love of his life six months ago.

At this point, his sorrow was evident to all, and everyone sympathized with the young man who, despite his youthful appearance, was struggling with overwhelming grief. The loss was so profound that it seemed impossible to find a match or a substitute for what he had lost. Zahra Adam Ishaq, the woman he had loved since childhood, had been the center of his world. He had cared for her in sickness and in health, supported her through thick and thin. Unfortunately, on the very day they were to be wed, her illness took a fatal turn, and Zahra’s life was cut tragically short.

It had been only three days until their wedding when tragedy struck. He had endured countless nights of unbearable torment, even succumbing to madness. But God, in His mercy, had given him another chance at love, despite his vow to never look at another woman. Many suitors had presented themselves, and their parents had even brought marriage proposals, but he couldn’t find anyone to replace Zahra.

He rubbed his face, reminiscing about Aneesa, who used to affectionately call him “chewing gum” due to her love for him. She was the daughter of his mother’s friend, and he shook his head in disbelief.

It was as if he looked to his right and saw her in the children’s classroom. Like the other children, she wore a blue uniform and a white hijab, with a school bag slung over her arm.

A wave of nostalgia washed over him, and he removed his glasses, blinking back tears. However, the sight of the students outside brought him back to reality.

Car horns behind him honked impatiently, causing him to hastily turn his attention to the road. A driver even scolded him, “You fool, if you’re going to look at her, at least pull over.”

Ishaq didn’t hesitate to park his car, his heart heavy with emotion. As he exited the vehicle, the sight of her filled him with tension.

Seeing her, he said to his friend, “Ummilolo, the village head is watching me, wondering how I’m holding up. He’ll never look at me the same way again.”

Ummilolo was about to leave, but instead, she walked over to his window, and the car emitted a loud hissing sound. Droplets landed on his face as she leaned in closer.

The other students, her brothers and sisters, were agape, unable to move.

As they giggled and clapped their hands, she laughed as well before running away. She extended her hand to them as they joined in the fun, her laughter filling the air.

They were about to follow her, but Isaac Gwalo put his hands to his ears, overwhelmed by the echoes. He closed his eyes and remembered Zahra, who had also done this to him, kissed him, and treated him differently.

He couldn’t bear to see Zahra’s memory alongside another man, as those who sold pigeons did.

With a sorrowful expression, she asked, “Won’t you please give me one?”

Isaac Gwalo looked at her incredulously and replied, “If you collect money, you can have agwaluma in the evening.”

She then asked, “Why can’t I have just one since my father gave you money?”

Isaac was perplexed, “No, no, no! What about your father? What does the bird have to do with it?”

As the commotion continued, she pointed and ran off, saying, “PDP!!!” The other children stood in shock, shouting, “Waaaaaaa!!!” and hurriedly followed her.

The children had already grabbed their snacks, and while they chased the pigeons, Isaac wondered what had become of the birds after he’d discarded the empty tray. There was no way he could run after her or pet her, despite the yearning in his heart.

The other children were chanting, “Sai Zahra!! Sai Zahra!!!!” as they enjoyed the chase.

Isaac, who had witnessed the entire scene, couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of longing. He couldn’t help but call out, “Zahra??”

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