Sinner (A short story)
It didn’t make sense. This was the second time I had missed the last prayer of the night. What had gotten into me? It was weird, so unlike me. In the past, I even prayed before time just to feel good about myself. I knew it was bad, but that’s not the point. I was beginning to get really worried. I sat down on the swivel chair, and spun it around every few seconds. I thrust my upper body forward, which made the chair roll towards my reading table.
A bunch of papers were scattered across the mahogany desk. Most of them were test scripts that I had received in the week – Math, Biology, Chemistry, Literature and History. The results were marked in the top right corner of the now crumpled papers – 68, 70, 55, 80, and a whopping 40. My grades had fallen – from straight A’s to C’s and D’s.
How pathetic. Maybe I was failing ‘cause I skipped prayers? I mean, if I didn’t pray, who would help me pass at school? Or… maybe it was because I wasn’t studying. It was all due to these meaningless yet useful distractions.
Speaking of distractions… I leaned over and picked up the pink frame that I had recently added to the collection of framed photos on my desk. The photo was of Ahmed and I, at a party we attended over the weekend. I had worn my viridian dress – shamelessly revealing in its blue-green. Aisha said it was ‘sexy, and it brought out my curves. Something Ahmed liked – girls who weren’t afraid to show off their bodies and skin.
But I was too self-conscious, so I donned a pair of black tights and wore my Giuseppe Zannoti lace ankle boots – they cost five hundred pounds. Damn. That wasn’t much really, was it? As a former aspiring human rights activist I knew what five hundred pounds could do for a bunch of hungry village children. My cousins, aunts, and uncles in the village whom I hadn’t visited in forever, would benefit. That was like one hundred thousand naira or more? But I spent that money on boots. Oh well, the sad people were only into voodoo and my father’s money – the boots were definitely worth it.
Anyway, Ahmed was the problem, I was sure of it.
He was only free in the evenings, from seven till ten, when we’d hang out and smoke shisha and do other fun things. By the time I remembered, prayer time would long have come and gone. Ahmed never cared, he probably only prayed on Fridays and during Eid. But ‘suspecting’ him was not the problem – he was the problem. He was so beautiful, and wild, and mysterious, and naive, he made me feel so good about myself and that was all that mattered.
Before eleven, I would sneak back into the house, after having “study dates” with Sharifah and Maryam, my classmates, at their house. Anti Fatima, Fadil’s mom whom I was living here in the city with, didn’t really notice. As long as the good grades came in, nothing really mattered. Besides, she was too busy trying to take care of herself.
‘Aqila, what the hell is wrong with you?’ I thought to myself.
It was just wrong for a Muslim to miss prayers just like that. Of course I knew a lot of people who missed prayers and didn’t practice their religion well. But for that to come from me, it was so… unorthodox. What happened to the geeky Aqila who did what she was told and had pleasant thoughts and prayed?
I stood up and decided – it was time to pray.
It was past one in the morning, but I was going to pay the three prayers I had missed, one after the other – Asr, Maghrib, and Isha. I rushed to the bathroom to perform ablution. Hands, mouth, nose, face, arms, hair, ears, feet. I loved rinsing my ears. They only had to be cleaned once but I just loved tracing my fingers around my ears. It felt so good. Step one down.
Step two, to pray.
I went back into the dimly lit room. The room had a red glow to it because Ahmed’s bandanna was draped over the reading lamp. I remembered having to steal the bandanna – a dare from Aisha, my new best friend. She was such a bully, I swear. She made me do such bad things. I didn’t even want to think of how I took it off Ahmed’s neck.
I looked at the blue hijab folded on top of the prayer mat in my corner, right in front of my balcony, overlooking the pool and I wore it.
Unfolding the mat took seconds. I faced the Alqibla and started reciting the Iqamatu’salat. I raised up my hands in proportion to my ears, and recited,
‘Allahu Akbar’. God is great.
I hadn’t gone past the first surah when Ahmed came into my head. Not again! When I missed prayers, I worried. When I did pray, most of it wasn’t reciting the surahs from the holy book. I would stand there and daydream about McHottie. This time around, I was trying to take off the bandanna from Ahmed’s neck. He was on the couch and I was sitting next to him.
“I like your bandanna”, I said, giggling. I did not like this. But Aisha was there by the microwave, making popcorn. Although Ahmed couldn’t see her because she was behind us in the open kitchen, she kept urging me to flirt with him. All I’d told her was I had a crush on him. I didn’t think things would get to truth or dare and ‘let’s get physical.’ Seriously, Islam condemned all that, except you were married and stuff.
So yes, we’d played truth or dare and instead of even doing the dare, Ahmed wanted me to run around making monkey noises. Yes, he was a child and I loved it! I whispered, in my husky, girly voice, ‘Let’s tone it down a little. We’re in a jungle alright, but I’m not quite your average monkey.’
‘Oh yeah?’ he grinned, obviously excited. How irritating, childish really. All I said were a few embarrassing words. Monkey? Where did I even get that? ‘Oh, Ahmed brought it up’, Aisha said later – she made me look at every word in an unholy manner.
I climbed over him – well I was playing monkey. I reached for his neck and slowly loosened the bandanna. With my teeth.
“Whoa,” he grunted, he was enjoying this. A lot. The hair on the nape of his neck stood up. After a while, I began to enjoy it too. As I loosened the bandana, Aisha, appeared in front of me, out of thin air and pulling at her ear. At first, I couldn’t make out what she was saying. Then I got it, ‘Lick it’.
Oh, Dear Lord just ‘cause I enjoyed this unholy game of ‘monkey-get-the-bandanna-from-the-boys–neck’ didn’t mean I wanted to taste him.
Eew. Astagfirllah. God forgive me.
I shook my head and mouthed back ‘No’.
Ahmed was busy grunting, for what I didn’t know. I was only breathing on him, the bandanna in my mouth. Aisha was impatient – she crossed her fingers ‘Do it.’
Once she uncrossed her fingers, she ran out the living room, leaving me alone with Ahmed. One, two three… this couldn’t be that hard.
It’s Ahmed, Aqila; he’s like your dream boy! Okay… once I was done arguing with myself, I took a lick, a very light one.
His big hands were not on the leather couch anymore, he had pulled me closer to him with them. Horny little ****, I sighed in my mind and continued. This dare better pay off. Why was I even friends with Aisha?
“Aqila!” I heard someone yell my name. It wasn’t Ahmed , he would have been too was busy panting and grunting and groaning all at the same time, possibly even hyperventilating too.
It was Fadil, my family friend.
I came back to my senses and saw him standing by the door, a few feet away; I had been stretched on one foot, leaning ahead. I straightened myself up but I couldn’t hide the surprise in my big eyes. Fadil had obviously caught me daydreaming, or in this case late night fantasizing when I was supposed to be praying. I’m sure the angels had cursed my future generations for this act.
“What are you doing?” he asked me with a very disturbed look on his face.
“Mind your business!” I managed to say, a little embarrassed, as I rushed to the door and closed it shut.
To be continued…