Posts tagged “feud

Tunde & Anaya: Part 7

Posted on 28/03/2013

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Although there was relief in her father’s words, the empty look in her mother’s eyes haunted her throughout the night. She’d begged her father not to say a word until she was sure about her feelings and about Tunde. He readily agreed, still grieved for his wife who would no doubt protest the relationship if it indeed happened.

Anaya tamped down a sigh as she shoved her notebook into her purse before standing. Blinking at the empty classroom, she shook her head wryly. Since last night, she couldn’t get her mind to focus on anything but her mother’s feverish words to keep her daughters safe from the evil ones… She shivered involuntarily, already imagining her mother’s adverse reaction to Tunde. Shaking her head again, Anaya exited the classroom and headed down the hallway.

The loud chatter of pharmacy students crowded in the hallway bounced off Anaya’s ears as she remained in a daze, trying to figure out how to reconcile her duty to her family without ignoring her heart. She’d had another dream about Tunde and although it was a foolish thought of being with him, happy and content, she couldn’t help it. Smothering another sigh, Anaya pushed open the glass door and headed down the stairs toward the parking lot.

She rubbed the back of her neck, sore from reading throughout the night. Two more days and she would have to sit for the first final of the year. It was enough reason to push Tunde from her mind. It didn’t matter since he had no way of finding her or her finding him. It was probably better this way, she assured herself as she crossed the street to the lot.

Lifting her eyes as she stepped onto the sidewalk, Anaya almost choked on a gasp as she saw him. Long legs clad in charcoal slacks crossed at the ankle, arms folded over a broad chest and that smile that she admittedly had missed. She felt her heart slam hard against her chest as Tunde Halliday pushed away from his car and started slowly toward her, long arms at his sides. She couldn’t move, couldn’t look away. The sun behind him had cast an almost ethereal glow over his head and she would’ve laughed at the silliness of her thoughts but couldn’t. She just gaped openly at him.

He gave her a lopsided smile and Anaya finally released the breath she’d been holding. “Hey,” Tunde said softly, his eyes tracing her face openly as if he’d missed seeing her as much as she did him.

The overwhelming desire to fall into his arms rocked her. She’d missed him. “Hey,” she breathed, tightening her hold on her bag’s strap. Her eyes did their own open perusal of his angular face before returning to those dark eyes. Her brow furrowed slightly when she noted the absence of mirth.

“I hoped I wouldn’t miss you coming out of class…” Tunde continued, his eyes holding hers captive.

Anaya blinked. “How long did you wait?” She could hear her heartbeat in her ears.

He shrugged casually, one corner of his lips lifting in a half smile that made her warm all over. “Not long. How was your day?”

Better now. “Not bad… Yours?”

Tunde merely smiled and Anaya forgot to breathe as she saw the answer in his eyes. “Want a ride home?”

Anaya bit her bottom lip. She wanted to spend time with him, wanted to be with him now more than ever. Then her mother’s solemn expression crossed her mind and she frowned slightly. “I don’t know…”

He raised a brow at her. “Why not?”

Anaya shook her head. “Well, I drove so…”

He chuckled. “That’s right. Well, I merely said that so I could spend time with you.”

She felt the warmth rush up to her head, overwhelmed that her thoughts were echoed by his words. “I know…” she said quietly and lowered her gaze. So much for staying away from the distraction of him.

“Have you had dinner?”

Anaya lifted her eyes and shook her head. “You?” she adjusted the thick strap over her shoulder.

Again with the crooked smile. “I was hoping to eat with you.” He raised one dark brow. “What about it?”

She smiled back. “Okay…”

Tunde grinned fully now, some of the mirth returning to his gaze. He nodded and hooked a thumb over his shoulder. “Mind riding with me? I’ll bring you back to your car after dinner.”

Anaya knew it was probably easier to drive separately but had a feeling he didn’t care. She didn’t either. “Okay,” she replied, soft and serene smile curling her lips.

As they walked back to his car, Anaya snuck a look at the tall man beside her. There was something very secure and comforting about him, as if she didn’t need to worry or fear anything when she was with him. When he pulled open the passenger’s door for her, she lifted her eyes to his and felt the reassurance in those keen dark eyes that she was right. He would take care of her.

Giving him a shy grateful smile, Anaya ducked into the car and settled in the seat, realizing only then that the heaviness on her shoulders had eased off once she’d spotted him waiting for her. In the back of her mind, she knew that everything would be alright.

Dinner with Tunde Halliday was probably one of the best times Anaya could remember. She couldn’t stop laughing at his stories of growing up in Nigeria; from his horrible experience in a Navy boarding school where he ran home almost every week, to escaping from alligators in Yenegoa.

Anaya shook her head as she tore another piece of bread. “I don’t understand why you boys take such a risk with your lives? Why go into the river if you know there are alligators?”

Tunde grinned boyishly, dipping his piece of bread into the tomato soup. “Curiosity drives a man to do certain things, Ana. It’s what we’re about.” He smirked at her. “Don’t tell me you’ve never done anything risky.”

Anaya wrinkled her nose. “No way.” She chewed on the soft bread, eyes dancing at him.

His brows shot up in surprise. “Nothing risky at all?” He shook his head. “I don’t believe that.”

She shrugged her shoulders. “It’s true. I’ve lived a careful life.” With a naturally-apprehensive mother like Hadiza, she didn’t have much of a choice. Also with a sister like Leeza who strived to test all boundaries, she had to keep it balanced in the house. In fact, choosing to be with Tunde would probably be the most risky thing she’d ever considered doing.

Tunde nodded, leaning back in his seat. “Well, that’s very admirable. I’m guessing it’s good. No scars or terrible stories of the past.”

Anaya frowned at him. “I didn’t say that…” She shrugged, lowering her eyes to the bread in her hand. “I just try not to get in situations that I can help avoiding.”

He was quiet for a moment and she lifted her eyes to his face again, surprised to find him staring solemnly at her. Anaya quickly retraced her words, trying to figure out if she said something wrong.

“Do you think you and I pursuing a relationship is a situation you want to avoid?” he asked softly.

“What do you mean?” Anaya asked, unable to breathe. How could he read her so easily?

Tunde shrugged, leaning forward to rest his elbows on the table, gaze focused on her face. “I know that your people are wary of us…”

“Not you,” Anaya said quickly. “You’re only part Yoruba, right?”

He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter, Ana. It’s still my blood. They’re still my people.” He forced out a sigh. “I’m sure you heard about what happened a few days ago… Two young men were killed because of what’s happening between our people.”

She frowned, her body tensing up. “What is this about?” Was he retracting his intentions to be with her just now that she was convincing herself to fight for it, for them?

Tunde raised a brow at her impatient tone. “I don’t want to stop seeing you. I don’t want to let the fighting between our people to stop me from pursuing you. Is that going to be a problem for you?”

Anaya gaped at him, unable to respond.

“Ana…”

She shook her head. “I can’t believe this…” she whispered softly.

Tunde blinked at her. “Will it be a pro—“

“No.” Anaya shook her head again. “No, it’s not a problem.” She couldn’t fight back the smile as she lifted her eyes to his. His gaze was steady and strong as if he would stand with her and fight against the impending struggle that would ensue. Again the overwhelming desire to fall into his arms returned in full force and Anaya had to steel herself from standing.

“Good,” Tunde said, giving her a smile of his own. His dark hand moved across the table and caught hers, his long fingers wrapping around her palm as his eyes caressed hers, promising her he was here to stay.

<<Part 6 || Part 8>>

Tunde & Anaya: Part 6

Posted on 26/03/2013

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Tunde adjusted the slim gray tie under his collar and lifted his eyes to the solemn reflection in the mirror. Just then, the door swung open and his gaze shifted to his brother’s equally grave expression. He sighed, hands smoothing the gray tie. Silas approached him, hands shoved in black slacks.

“Silly, silly, silly…” Silas muttered as he leaned against the window’s ledge by the mirror. His eyes lifted to Tunde’s face, eying the man from head to toe. “Sure you can do this?”

Tunde shrugged his shoulders. “What else can I do? His mother requested I give the eulogy…”

Silas snorted under his breath and turned his head to peer out onto the street, watching as people filed into the two-story church building. “Senseless fighting, amounting to what?”

Tunde’s eyes watched Silas’ mouth, his brother’s words echoing the pain in his heart. Femi Oyeniran. A young and promising high school senior who was on his way to Texas A&M University at the end of the year. He remembered the lanky young man with his mischievous eyes and easy laugh. A good boy, caught in the crossfire of a senseless feud. Picturing the boy’s lifeless body in the casket on the first floor, Tunde dragged his eyes from Silas’ profile and focused his gaze back on his tie.

Silas shook his head and turned back to Tunde who was frowning at his lopsided tie. Pushing off the ledge, he walked over and gently pushed Tunde’s hands to straighten the tie himself. “Nervous?”

Tunde heaved a sigh. “Annoyed. Confused.” Why was Femi downtown so late at night? Why couldn’t their fellow Nigerians bury the hatchet and stop fighting each other? His heart twisted, recalling the shy gaze of the lovely Anaya and his brow furrowed deeper. Disappointed.

“Your dream girl,” Silas said, pausing when Tunde stiffened visibly. His eyes lifted to Tunde’s. “She’s a Fulani right?”

Tunde didn’t reply, merely staring at his younger brother with a grave expression.

Silas grunted and lowered his eyes back to Tunde’s stubborn silk tie. “It’s unfortunate that her people can’t get along with ours… but you still want her, don’t you?”

He felt his heart skip a beat as the truth pushed through the despair. “Yeah, I do.” Seeing her that night, with her gentle eyes searching his as he shared with her about his ear condition, he had a feeling that she was beginning to give him a chance. But what if she felt differently now?

“Do you think she’ll let something like her people’s discord with ours to not give you guys a chance?”

Tunde swallowed hard, looking over Silas’ head at the darkening sky in the window. The storm was coming, the gray blanket of clouds settling over the town. “I hope not… I pray not.”

Anaya bit her bottom lip as she sat at the second stair with Leeza who pressed her ear against the wall, listening to their mother’s agonizing cries as their father relayed the news. This time the fight was personal. Hadiza’s second older cousin’s first son had been killed in the crossfire. Ibrahim Sanusi was a young and impressionable, fiery tempered man. Anaya remembered the few times he’d come with his father to visit them, recalled that cold dark stare whenever Leeza and Anaya dared to stare back at him. She’d never liked him and now felt terrible that she’d ever harbored ill feelings toward the young man being laid to rest tomorrow evening.

From what she’d caught wind of from her father’s muffled voice, the other side had lost a young man of their own. Her heart twisted in pain and she clenched the hem of her tunic. When would the fighting stop? It’d been much quieter, more peaceful when they came to this country almost eight years ago. Sure there were cold and pointed stares between the different groups but no one dared to strike the other. When did it all start?

Leeza tapped her knee and Anaya dragged her gaze to her sister’s questioning one. The younger girl cocked her head to gesture that they go back upstairs and Anaya realized that her mother’s sobbing had ceased. Their father had succeeded to calm her down… for now. It wouldn’t be long after he left that Mother would take to praying aloud. To Allah for the sake of her people.

Tamping down a sigh, Anaya slowly rose and followed Leeza back to her room. She closed the door quietly and walked over to the bed where Leeza had taken her place, legs crossed, eyes focused on Anaya.

“You are worried?” Leeza asked quietly and Anaya dared not look into her sister’s sage gaze.

“Sad. Confused.” Disappointed. An image of the dark-skinned, kind-eyed Tunde crossed her mind and she reluctantly squelched it down, guilt filling her heart.

Leeza tilted her head curiously. “Why? Because Tunde’s a Yoruba man?”

Anaya jerked her wide-eyed gaze to her sister. “Could you be quiet?” She hissed through clenched teeth, peering over her shoulder at the door.

Leeza rolled her eyes, leaning back on her elbows. “So what if he’s Yoruba? Don’t tell me you believe that nonsense Mama said?” She frowned at Anaya’s silence. “You do?”

Anaya bit her bottom lip. “I know he’s not like them. That he’s kind and…” She shook her head. “I can’t. You know Mama will fall ill if I even mention a Yoruba man asking to date me.”

“Sister, don’t you think you’re giving Mama enough reins on your life?” Leeza leaned forward and grabbed her older sister’s hand, forcing the girl to look at her. “You can’t do that, Anaya. You shouldn’t.”

At Leeza’s sincere urging, Anaya could feel the tears gather at her eyes. She blinked them back and shook her head, insistent. “She’s already having a hard time with Ibrahim’s… I can’t add to her grief.”

Leeza dropped Anaya’s hand and drew back, glaring at her sister. “You will sacrifice your chance to be happy because of Mother’s stupid fear of them?”

The door swung open and Anaya stiffened as Leeza inhaled sharply. Anaya didn’t turn around but knew who stood on the other side of the door. “Papa…” Leeza said softly.

“Go start to prepare dinner,” their father’s stern but soft voice sounded from the door. It didn’t take a second for Leeza to fly off the bed and shuffle out the door, her head bent penitently. She knew this was not the end. It was clear that their father had heard everything.

Anaya bit the insides of her cheeks to keep from shivering visibly, her back still turned to the door. Her father’s footsteps sounded as he entered the room and closed the door behind him. She closed her eyes and lowered her head. “Papa…” she croaked out. “I’m sorry.”

The mattress dipped as her father perched on the edge. “Lift your head, Ana…” he said softly.

Anaya swallowed hard, gripping the hem of her tunic as she forced herself to lift her head, eyes still closed.

A soft gentle chuckle permeated through the gripping fear and she squinted one eye open. Her father’s kind eyes stared back at her and Anaya released a tight sigh as she opened both eyes. A slight smile lifted one end of his mouth as he regarded her openly. “A Yoruba man, huh?”

The incredulity in his voice stiffened her body again and Anaya lowered her face again. “Papa, I’m sorry.”

“Sorry for what, Ana? That a wise man sees the treasure I have held dear since you were given to me?”

Her heart slammed hard against her chest. Anaya blinked rapidly as the tears gathered again. She shook her head. “I should’ve told you first.”

“Really… Between the shooting and your mother’s mourning, how would you have gotten my attention?” His hand moved to cover her own and Anaya stared down at the dark long-fingered hand of her father’s. She bit her bottom lip to keep from sobbing. Gratitude surged through her for her father’s faith in God. His gentleness and love for his daughters and wife was something she’d never seen in any of the men in their community.

“You must know this already, my Ana,” her father continued speaking when she couldn’t utter another word. His fingers curled around her palm. “The God you and I serve, he has a funny way of making life… How do you say it, he has a strange sense of humor.”

Anaya dared to look up and saw a full grin on her father’s face. She blinked at him, still unable to speak.

“This Yoruba man, do you like him?” Her father’s dark brown eyes searched hers.

Her heart skipped a beat as Tunde’s image appeared before her mind’s eye and she took a moment, basking in the warm way he looked at her, the gentle way he had tended to her ankle and the direct way he told her of his interest in her. Warmth surged through her body and the corners of her mouth lifted, encouraged by the gentleness in her father’s smile. “Yes, Papa… I do.”

Her father nodded and squeezed her hand gently. “Then don’t worry. Your mother, I will take care of her. Your sister is right, for a change.” He gave her a wry smile. “A child should not have to sacrifice for their parents… It’s the other way around, you should know this.”

Anaya dipped her head, overwhelmed by her father’s words. He was a man of few words but she’d always been closer with him than her mother because of the way he showed his love and reverence for God, a God she believed in wholeheartedly. Her mother, Hadiza, his wife, was still battling to release her ties with Allah and for that reason; Anaya couldn’t connect as well with her. “Papa…” she choked in between a sob.

He shifted on the mattress and placed a hand on her bowed head. “Don’t worry. The God you and I serve, He will take care of everything. Remove the fear from your heart and trust Him.”

Tears of relief fell unrestrained now as Anaya leaned her head on her father’s strong but narrow shoulders, feeling the tight hold on her heart release with the valued, soothing word from her reticent father.

<<Part 5 || Part 7>>

  

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