As we give you another read by Lipsete stories, we hope that all are keeping a safe social distance, washing hands frequently, sanitizing all objects we often use eg. doorknobs, keys, avoiding handshakes and praying. We do our part to keep Corona off and leave the rest to the Almighty God.
So here is Salma’s story. She and Nevin were high school sweethearts. This was a couple known by all the schoolmates. Teachers knew too and no matter how hard they tried to seperate them, they grew tighter. Everyone who knew these two knew they would end up together.
When the parents were informed of the duo, they decided it would be them that would end that relationship. They were now in form 4 class and needed to fully focus on the upcoming national exams.
“You have to end that fling you have with that girl.” Nevin’s parents had made him sit in the living room to give him the order. Nevin did not utter a word. He calmly listened as they barked at him why he had to end it with Salma. In his mind,that was impossible. They did not understand what he and Salma had. He wished they had given him the chance to tell them that without Salma, even that national exam was useless. But he opted not to argue the toss.
On the other hand, Salma and her mother were having an emotional debate.
“Mum! Nevin is my life. If you ban me from talking to him ever, I…I don’t think I will survive.” She was weeping.
“Salma, stop talking gibberish for heaven’s sake! This is just a high school infatuation. It will be over when you both leave high school.” Her mother pleaded.
“Mum, I love Nevin and I will love him to death!” Salma said and left her mother in the bedroom, running outside to catch a breath of fresh air. The thought of seperating from Nevin cut deep like a hot sharp knife.
They both could not wait to meet that Monday and share their melancholy weekend happenings. However, the forces against them had a different plan for them.
“As the school administration, we have decided that from now on, boys and girls will be studying in different classes.” The school principal was announced. “This also means that all the breaks and meals will be done in different times.” Salma held her chest in shock. Nevin stared at nothing in particular, motionless. This was a big blow to both of them. It meant that from morning to evening, the two would not meet as often as they did before.
To add salt to injury, Salma’s mother was waiting for her at five after school. Nevin bit his lip so deep it started to bleed when he saw his girlfriend walk away with her mother holding her hand. Salma could not hold her tears anymore. She cried all the way home.
Nonetheless, love has a way of conquering despite any barriers. In Nevin and Salma’s case, love conquered with the help of fellow classmates. They were the messengers of love letters , the organisers of clandestine meetings and the watchdogs of the two lovebirds when the two met surreptitiously.
The two would hug fondly and express their love for each other as they laughed at the naysayers. When they finally did their national exams, they thought that things would be better.
Lo and behold! They met the shock of their lives. It was a painful trip for Salma as she and her mum left to the neighbouring country to settle there. Her mother had claimed she had found greener pastures in the new country and tenaciously refuted Salma’s accusations of trying to seperate her and Nevin.
While Salma ranted and raved at her mother day in day out about their new residence, Nevin caved in a cocoon.When he found out the sudden transfer of his love, he did not yell or blame anyone. In fact, he did everything his parents asked, like applying for colleges and enrolling to a driving school. It was hard to tell what he truly felt.
However, Nevin built a wall around him that was too hard to break through. He rarely had conversations with anyone. He preferred to stay alone. No one could tell what he was thinking. He ate silently at the dining room with his siblings and parents and when a joke was made, he was the only one who had a straight face.
“It’s just a phase, it will go away.” His father said when his mother voiced her worry one evening when they were preparing to sleep.
“It’s a year now and he still acts weird.” His mother insisted.
“Let us look at the positive side, he does everything we ask him to,” his father said trying to encourage his wife.
“I don’t know but I would rather hear him protest. He is like a zombie, rarely complains. I even don’t remember the last time I had a conversation with Nevin or even heard Nevin laugh. His siblings are even tired of cheering him up. Nevin is in a world of his own. I am worried.” Nevin’s mother continued. They had had this conversation several times. They would only conclude that with time their son would go back to the bubbly self he was.
And Nevin did not change even with enough time, thirty years. He grew aloof, day by day. He graduated with a degree in Biochemistry and found a career that favoured his preference; to stay undisturbed in a chemical lab. His relatives’ persistent comments on his unmarried status fell on deaf ears.
At fourty seven years too, Salma had two kids, different fathers. Salma had grown so much bile in her that no one wanted to be near her. She always complained or whined. Her two ex-husbands had left her because of her turbulent aura. They were never good enough for her. Her first husband complained that Salma never saw anything good in him no matter how hard he tried. Her second ex-husband declared that he could not live with someone who compared him with an imaginary character. Only Salma’s mother understood what he meant.
Salma’s mother was sixty years when her daughter and her second husband went different ways. She regretted making that decision thirty years ago. No one would have thought that separating the two teenagers would have a permanent scar on Salma. She had seperated them for their own good,or so she thought. Salma’s mother did not want her daughter to end up like herself, a teenage mum. She wanted Salma to join university, get a good job and then get married and have children. Besides , Nevin’s mother had contemptously showed their dislike for Salma because she was from a single parent home.
She now knew that Nevin and Salma’s love was meant to be. They should not have been seperated. She wondered whether it was too late.
“How are you Nevin?” Nevin looked up unethusiastically at the voice that had greeted her. He was busy writing down some notes on his science project. He did not know the old lady that stood before him. He wondered if she had lost her way. She saw the old shadow of the young energetic man he once was. His black mane on his head was no longer there but a receding hairline.
“Yes madam. What do you want?” He asked as if irritated.
“I have travelled one thousand kilometres from the neighbouring country to see you.” Nevin, bored, had gone back to his writing. “I am Salma’s mother.” He looked up, his eyes lit. He dropped his pen and stood straight.
“What? Salma? Where is she?” He asked eagerly.
“If you really want to know, come with me.” Salma’s mother said. Nevin took off his white coat and without a second glance accompanied the old woman on her long trip.
She was seated in the balcony reading a magazine. She saw him first. She held her chest in shock. She could not believe that the love of her life was standing in her mother’s compound. She felt like she was seventeen all over again. The embrace was long, witnessed by her two children and mother. For hours, they talked about how life had been for them. It was just the two of them in their world.When they eventually went to Salma’s mother, she could not deny their wishes this time.
“Go my daughter, as long as you leave without the children. I am old now, I cannot stay here alone.” The children did not object to their grandmother’s wishes. They loved her a lot. Moreover, their mother promised to visit often.
When they came back, Nevin booked a hotel room for his love. It would be ill mannered of him to take her to the house he still lived in , his parents’. That evening was different. He invited his married siblings for supper that night. His family members were not only flustered by the unusual gesture but also by his thunderous laughters at any slight jokes. He too cracked his which he laughed at dramatically. He even prayed for dinner that evening. They would throw glances at each other questioningly until he made the announcement.
“Fam! I am getting married!” He announced. The family was elated. Albeit late, they were glad he had finally achieved their dream. They congratulated him jovially.
“Who is the lucky girl?” His mother asked. He gazed at his mother and smiled.
“Her name is Salma.” There was a long pregnant silence.
“The high school Salma?” Her brother delivered the question. He nodded, his eyes sparkling and his last tooth showing. Only Salma had that effect on him.
His mother’s eyes welled up. She thought she knew love but her son had taught her what love truly meant. Nevin’s life was like an empty can for decades until he met the love of his life they had tried so hard to seperate.
When she finally met Salma, she cried on her shoulders, apologising for wasting their lives for so many years. She watched her son, smiling brightly and playing around with the nieces and nephews he ignored before.
“So when are you getting married?” Nevin’s sister asked. Nevin and Salma, seated on a two-seater couch in their new house, quickly glanced at each other’s eyes and burst out laughing.
“We already did. Ran to the AG’s office and boom! We did it!” Nevin said and they laughed again, so infectiously that everyone else burst into a guffaw too.
Nevin’s mother, holding her husband’s hand could not stop staring. Salma was quiet,so content in Nevin’s arm.She whispered frequently to an eager Nevin who could not hide his grin. He had never been happier. It was as if life had been breathed into the two again.
“Truly my wife, true love always wins. We just could not seperate these two. Three decades and thousands of kilometres away from each other and love has joined them again.” Nevin’s father whispered to his wife. She nodded and swallowed hard. He had uttered her own thoughts aloud.