Noura returned to us.

Many of us have different meanings of reincarnation. Here is one, expressed in a short story. Do you share the same view? If not share your meanings on the comments’ section down below. I would love to hear from you. So, What does reincarnation mean to you?

©2022 Muzhinga Kankinda.

#fiction #shortstories #reincarnation

I knew her. Her name was Noura. She was my twin sister, a kindred soul, second to my heart. We did everything together and our parents often warned us about our closeness.

“How will you cope without each other?” said our mother. 

“This closeness cannot continue if you are to follow different careers.” Our father would add on, but Noura, as the oldest, would just smile, take my hand and whisk me away from our parents’ talks. 

“Don’t mind them. I will carry you with me wherever I will go.” she would tell me. Even when I got pregnant, she fumed with anger and scolded me. 

“How could you do this, Naura? I did not expect this from you.” she grunted that fateful day. I perceived hurt and disappointment in her eyes. I heard pain in the tone of her voice. Her distress broke my heart and I broke into immense, uncontrollable weeping. Seeing me in such despair, Noura softened and stepped closer, putting a hand around my shoulders.

“I am not angry,” she assured me. “Being pregnant is a good thing but you missed the timing, Naura. You should have waited until after you were married and done with school. What will you do now? You know our parents will not allow this, Naura.”

“I am in a dilemma, Noura.” I replied, looking straight into her eyes. It felt peaceful as she was the only one who never judged me, not even once.

“What should I do?” My question caught her off guard. She was not prepared for this and I knew that I was stressing her out.

“What else?” she shrugged her shoulders. “We need to tell Mama na Dada.”

“But, they will kill me….” I hissed. With a half laugh, Noura cradled my face and looked into my soaked eyes. 

“It will be hard for them, that I will not hide from you,but keeping the truth will be harder and it will hurt more.” she replied softly. 

“Don’t worry I will be with you no matter what happens.”

I wanted to believe her but knowing my parents, I shuddered. They were traditional and highly strict with us. They had laid up standards of conduct and living for us. I even wondered how I turned my back on their instructions and gave my body to Ndise, the son of the rich philanthropist in our community. I cannot remember whether it was the money or his designer clothes and pretty boy face that enticed me into his luxurious home, and into his spacious, highly premium room with expensive antiques and collectibles or under his Aloe Vera scented  premium quilts and into his soothing arms. 

It happened so fast after he’d kissed my lips, sending chills down my spine. I only got to realise my mistake when he was done and we were lying on the bed, arm in arm. Even then,my mistake felt so blissful that I ignored my conscience. I forgot about my sister’s warnings; everything about good advice was blurred and forgotten, but the pregnancy changed everything.

“Have you told him?” Noura finally asked. I did not have to tell her who was responsible. She knew it was Ndise because she had warned me and him several times before our act of sexual congress.

“No, not yet.” I reluctantly lied. “I am too scared.”

“Stop being a coward, Naura. He is the father. He must take responsibility. It is not like he has no means of supporting the child.”

“You don’t understand…” I pouted, unable to tell her that his parents knew about my pregnancy and threatened to harm me if I mentioned their son as the father even though Ndise had accepted that he had impregnated me. 

“If you are so afraid then Mama na Dada will help you go to their place.” Noura told me.

“No!” I exclaimed. “Please, Noura. Let us just abort this pregnancy.”

“No, Naura. The stone that the  builders reject usually becomes the chief cornerstone. I have a feeling that the baby growing in your belly will be a blessing to our family.”

“I am afraid, Noura.”

“Don’t be. I am with you.” Noura assured me. I threw my arms around her and wept. She wept too, but for a different reason other than mine. At this point, all I could think of was the possibility that I would owe my life. 

***

A week after our talk, Noura and I summoned our parents in the small lounging room in our house to reveal the truth about my pregnancy. It was getting risky to hide the truth from them, especially our mother who was trained in such things. She was a community midwife. 

“Mama, Dada,” I said and swallowed hard. They both looked at me, eyes flickering with anxiety. It was as if they knew the truth already.

“I am pregnant.” I quickly said and exhaled. Strangely, both of them did not look surprised and this came as a great bother. 

“Mama, Dada….Naura just said something to you.” Noura chipped in hesitantly. 

“We heard her.” our mother replied dejectedly.

“The parents of the boy responsible already approached us.” our father added. “The man has offered us a huge sum of money just so you can abort the child.”

“No,” Noura and I grunted in unison. Our father looked at us and sighed, his eyes filled with sorrow and despair.

“Something terrible will happen if we do not accept their offer,” he revealed. Noura and I exchanged looks as understanding fell on her. Now, she understood why I was so frightened back then.

“They threatened us.” our mother spoke too. “The man was definitely not joking about what he said he would do to us if we told anyone that his son impregnated you.”

“But that is unfair.  He always parades himself like a good man – a saviour for the community, yet he is a beast of destruction from within.” Noura grunted.

“Indeed. All his good deeds are a charade. He probably does it to gain popularity.  I hear he wants to stand as a member of parliament in our constituency.” Our father explained.

“I am sorry….I don’t know what came over me.” I said as tears started streaming down my face. 

“Crying will not make the problem go away.” Our mother told me.

“Doing what they want will not solve it either,” Noura told our parents. “If this is the case, we can just leave this place and go somewhere else.”

“Yes. We have already thought about that, but the man is influential. As of now, there are people keeping a close eye on our house. Yesterday, I was even followed to my workplace.”

“No, this is not right. They should not terrorise us for the mistake their son is partly responsible for.” Noura told our father

“Where are human rights?”

“Human rights, Noura, do not work for the less privileged….” our father replied sadly. 

“Even so. I will not let Naura pass through this injustice. If the system fails us, the people will not.”

“Just forget about this matter, Noura.” our mother advised her.

“Yes. Just let it be.” Our father said before he looked at me. “If you don’t want to abort the child. We can send you to the village where you will stay and give birth to the baby.”

“I will go with her then.” Noura declared.

“There is no problem,” our father said. “That way, you will be safe and you will be able to take care of each other.”

“When do we leave?” I asked him.

“The day after tomorrow, at midnight. I will ask my friend to take you out of the town. He drives an import and export van. You can catch a bus to the village when you reach the junction.” 

“Thank you for your advice, Mama and Dada.” Noura and I thanked them and then retired to bed.

The following day, I was seated in my room when I received a call from Ndise. I didn’t want to pick it up but my intuition told me otherwise. 

“What do you want?” I breathed through the phone angrily.

“I am sorry, Naura.” he said, whispering. 

“Your apology will not sort out my problems, Ndise.” I grunted.

“I know,” Ndise said softly. Perhaps he was applying ‘the calm response mechanism’ of relieving anger. 

“But I have a solution.”

“Which is abortion?” I almost shouted, but I calmed down immediately, gnashing my teeth as I responded to him. Strangely, he denounced the option of  abortion, but his solution astounded me so much that my stayed silent for a while, ruminating as to whether I had heard the right thing. 

“What did you say?”

“Let’s run away together.” Ndise repeated himself. He sounded serious so I knew he was not joking at all.

“I love you and I also want to be there for our child.”

“But you father and-

“Forget about them, Naura. I love you and I know you love me too.”

“Yes, but my sister and parents will be in trouble if we run away.”

“You got me wrong, Naura.” Ndise replied. “We will all leave. All of us.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes. I have been saving money for years thanks to my father’s grooming. We can use it to relocate.”

“I don’t know…your plan sounds risky. Someone has been watching our house these days.”

“I know. That is why I want us to leave as soon as possible. There is no telling what my parents could do to you and your family.”

“In that case, I will have a word with them.” I replied reluctantly because I was not sure of how I would relay the message to my sister and parents.

“It is all your good, Naura. I am also doing this for our child. I want him or her to live.”

“Me too.” I said, sobbing. “My sister says this child is a blessing and I believe her. Noura could never lie to me.”

“She is right, Naura. I believe her too.”

“What do you mean?”

“We secretly spoke and she got me thinking about our situation. I was afraid of my parents’ wrath and accepted everything they told me but not anymore.” Ndise revealed. My heart was overjoyed suddenly. I realised Noura was a saviour, sent to me by God. After speaking to Ndise, I disconnected the call and leaned against my bed, smiling heartily. 

I didn’t even realise when Naura and our parents walked into my room. They were also happy. I could tell by their expressions that Noura had helped me convey the message to them. 

“I assume Ndise called you.” Noura happily said.

“Yes,” I beamed shyly. I was still embarrassed by the fact that I had gotten pregnant out of wedlock. 

“We agreed to leave with him tomorrow at midnight.” Our mother said.

“I just hope that his parents will not find out about this before we leave.” I said, feeling panicky all of a sudden.

“Nothing of that sort will happen.” Noura said and she was right. Midnight, the following day, my family and I escaped with Ndise by our side. We only packed our clothes, footwear and photo albums and pictures. My father’s friend, Mr. Ntheka drove us out of the town in his truck and instead of going to the village as planned earlier, we diverted and relocated to another place- a city this time around. We chose the city because it was vast and big, Ndise assured us that his father would never be able to find us there. In the city, we chose the remotest residential area for our stay. It was a quiet neighborhood for middle-class families and I loved my stay there. 

We settled in quite well and made new friends. After a few months, Ndise and Noura returned to school while my parents looked after me at home since my belly was now growing. I was so happy, especially when Noura played with my little one right from the belly. She would sing the baby to sleep, and I would eventually fall asleep too. I don’t why, but I always felt at peace when Noura was around me. 

At six months, my belly had grown so big and the baby was already kicking. Noura and Ndise were so fond of this little one that they literally stayed around me to feel it kick after school. Noura was the happiest soul In the house, but one day she returned, looking the saddest and from then on, she never smiled again. I noticed she stopped going to school and would often have secret conversations with Ndise and our parents. 

I remember questioning her about having an affair with Ndise. She looked so disappointed that day, but I did not care because I was jealous of her sudden closeness with my Ndise. 

One morning, Ndise told me that he was going to take me to the hospital for check-ups and an ultrasound. I readily agreed since I knew I would get to have him all to myself for the whole day.  We visited a regular hospital to avoid attention and the doctor received us well. From the ultrasound, we could see the beautiful creature breathing peacefully in my womb.

“It’s a boy,” the doctor said. Ndise was so happy that he hugged and kissed me in front of the doctor. The man had a lot of questions for us especially since we were a young couple but he chose not to inquire. 

“Thank you. Thank you so much,Noura!” Ndise hugged me over and over again. It was obvious he was happy that the baby was a boy because now he had someone to continue his lineage and legacy. 

“Don’t worry, we will have a girl after this one.” he said when I pretended to be upset. The doctors advised us on how to take care of the pregnancy and sent us on our way. I was elated when we walked into the house, but what I saw shocked me immensely. Noura was seated on a sofa with my mother sorting out some fake pregnancy cushions.

“This will be a great fit for me.” she said before she saw me. I stepped closer and she grabbed all the cushions and tried to leave. I grabbed her hand and turned her face to me.

“What is going on?” I asked worriedly. “You all have been acting strangely these days.”

“It’s nothing.” she said and left. Our mother also stood up and left the moment I turned to look at me. I felt so left out that tears began to fall. Noura always shared her secrets with me before anyone else but it seemed like things had changed. Terrible thoughts began to talk my mind. Was she trying to wear a cushion so that Ndise would mistake her for me? I asked myself and pondered.But it was so,why would our parents support her? 

Every one of my thoughts did not make sense. All conclusions were overwritten by logic. Ndise hugged me from behind and assured me that all was well.

“You are just thinking too much.” he told me before kissing my cheek. I was about to turn and hug him when the door opened and our father walked in. He separated swiftly and went to sit on different seats.  In the evening, we informed everyone about the baby’s gender and they were all happy. On this night, the old Noura returned. She was the happiest. On this very day, Ndise went down on his knees and proposed to me and I agreed to marry him. 

We planned to get married after the baby was born so that I could fit in a wedding dress. Meanwhile, Noura returned to her gloomy ways and soon, she stopped moving around. I brushed off all my jealousy and began to pry into the issue but neither our parents nor Ndise gave me a concrete reason for Noura’s strange behaviour.

Nonetheless, the day came when I understood everything. On this day, Noura was extremely happy because we were going to purchase some wedding items. Strangely, she wore a pregnancy cushion and when I asked why, she said she wanted us to continue twinning. I laughed at her excuse. It was lame but I loved the idea. It had been long since we looked the same and did things together. 

“We should pass through the salon and do the same hairstyle as well.” I happily suggested.

“That is a good idea.” She chirped. ” But not just the hair style. We should buy similar clothes too.”

“Similar clothes?” Our mother asked, looking displeased. “You two are grown ups now.”

“It is just for today, mother.” Noura said and I agreed with her.

“Alright,” she said, obviously forced to agree too. “Just come back early.” 

Noura and I agreed and left. Noura wanted us to shop from a small boutique, but forced her to go to a shopping mall with me. I just felt like reliving the old days with her, especially since we had millions to spend.

We went into a salon, did our hair the same way and left for a boutique. Noura and I had the same favourite colour so we bought two purple dresses and instantly changed into them. After that, we went to the supermarket and began getting groceries for the house.

On our way home, we were suddenly ambushed by two vans which overtook our taxi and blocked the road in front of us. Two strange men came out of the van and rushed to our car.

“Get down now!” They shouted with pistols pointed at us. The driver of the taxi was then asked to leave or face the same fate. The man reversed and sped off while we were dragged to one of the fans and pushed us inside, inconsiderate of our condition. There were at least five more men in the van. They bound our hands and put a black hood on our heads. My heart was beating fast. I felt as if I was going to lose my baby. In deep thought, I suddenly found myself thinking of Noura. What was alright? What thoughts were running in her head? 

By now I knew why she had become so worried. Everything she had done was for the reasons of protecting me. I struggled, screaming her name. Hard slaps landed on my back to shut me up and this angered Noura, who began shouting at the men.

“It’s me you want! Stop bothering my sister.” She yelled. Fear gripped me when I heard her say that. She was trying to get herself killed for me. I was about to reprimand her when the van came to an emergency stop. The van in front of us had stopped abruptly, causing the sudden halt for us too. 

“What happened?” One of them asked grudgingly. 

“They hit someone I think.” The driver said. The men snorted rebelliously and got out of the van and left us alone. Noura whispered, inquiring if I was okay. I told her that I was fine but before I could ask how she was, the doors of the van opened and we were hurled out and pushed on what seemed to be grass. The hoods were removed from our heads and we were so elated to see Ndise and a group of men surrounding the van in front of us. 

“Let them go,” Ndise shouted vehemently.

“Your father asked us to kill the pregnant girl.” One of the men replied.

“We will not let them go until we fulfil our mission.”

“Fine. You have to kill me as well.” Ndise told them and opened fire in the vacuum. Seeing this, Noura stood up to run away and one of the men shot her in the back. I screamed as she limply fell to the ground while the men who had kidnapped us ran off, scattering into the bush. Ndise dashed to Mr and untied my hands and without delay we rushed to Noura. Ndise felt her pulse and pulled back in fright.

“What happened?” I asked frantically.

“She is gone.” Ndise replied without looking at me. He fel incompetent at this particular moment but that was not the issue. I knelt down and shook Noura vigorously,asking, commanding and demanding that she wakes up but all was in vain.  I cried and cried until there was no more sorrow inside me. It was replaced by excruciating pain which gave birth to anger and resentment. 

“Your father should pay for this.” I repeated as Ndise drove us back. I let Noura rest on my lap, just in case she woke up. At this time, my pregnancy was not even a priority.

At the hospital, Noura was pronounced dead at arrival. Nothing could be done for her. Ndise left me at the hospital to wait for  my parents and went to report the matter to the police. At first, they ignored him since his father was powerful, but they later agreed to open a case after he’d mentioned his relationship with the heartless man. 

Soon, news spread about his cruelty and it came as a shock to most people. They knew him as a philanthropist, good at heart and a  generous donor. Ndise was commended for having him arrested despite having a relationship with him. Not long after that,many secrets about him came to light. The man was a drug trafficker and that was where he amassed his wealth from.  He inherited the business from his grandfather, the father of Ndise’s mother who was also a person of interest and  on the run. 

We buried Noura with heavy hearts. I found it especially hard to cope without her and soon lost appetite. I stopped leaving my room and soon fell into depression. Ndise employed a doctor to nurse me from home. She found out that both the baby and I were not well and quickly asked for Ndise and my parents to have a private conversation with her. While in my room, I overheard her cautioning them in the hallway. She advised my parents and Ndise to admit me to a hospital to receive proper care.

Ndise immediately admitted me to the same hospital where I was being treated,and with the help of therapy, I began to eat and talk a little. With time, my mind shifted back to my baby. I felt so bad when I came to realise that I had given up on the child that my sister fought to the death for.

“He is a blessing.” I told my mother when she came to visit me. She was so happy to see me talking and smiling. 

In the seventh month, and before the delivery week, I decided to take a nap and drifted into a deep sleep. Then she suddenly came to me. I was so upset that I didn’t want to look at or talk to her. Yes, she didn’t keep her promise and it tore me apart

“You lied to me.” I told her when she coaxed me to look at her. 

“I am sorry,” she said, her eyes teary. “Death came so fast. I had no way of escape, but I am glad I saved you -i saved you and Ndise.”

“I knew it!” I bellowed, swatting her hands off my shoulders. “No wonder you were acting so strangely. You had planned to take my place all along…..but tell me didn’t you think of me at all? I mean…how would I feel if you left….the sorrow, pain and guilt?* 

I paused as a river of tears rushed down my face. I was uncontrollable.

“You lied to me,” I repeated in my sobs.”You said you would take me with you wherever you went but you left without me….I am all alone and hopeless now.”

“Forgive me,” Noura was weeping too. “I tried to love….I promise I did, but I have no power over death. Forgive me….”

“I have made up my mind, Noura.” I told her. This time it was my turn to hold her shoulders.

“I will come to you as soon as my baby is born.”

“Don’t be silly!” Noura hissed. “Your baby needs a mother….”

“And I need you….”

“Maybe our parents were right. We should not have been so close.”

“It is too late for regrets now.”

“Fine. I will try to come back….just hold on.” Noura said, astonishing me. Yes, it was quite shocking for her to say that when she was already dead. 

“Stop joking around,” I pouted.

“I am serious.” Noura said. ” Just wait for me.”

With those words, I awakened suddenly, panting heavily. I was about to pour myself a glass of water when I suddenly felt labour pains, sharp and excruciating that I was sent into deep cries of agony, soliciting help. Hearing my cries, Ndise and my parents rushed into my room. Surprisingly, they hadn’t left on this day but I was in too much agony to think of the reasons why….anyway, it was probably because of me.

My mother sensed the situation and rushed out. She came back with two doctors and some nurses who later pushed them out of the room to give us space. 

The baby was on his way!

After six hours of struggle, my little bundle of joy was successfully delivered, crying high. I was weak and weary, but my desire to see my child and bid him farewell surpassed all odds. Yes, I was determined to leave and go in search of my dear Noura.

“May I hold him?” I weakly said to the nurse holding the baby

“Him?” she asked, looking confused.

“Yes,” I answered a little harshly. I wanted to say more but had no energy left. 

“It’s a girl,” the nurse said as she handed me the baby. My eyes flickered with shock and dismay before they quizzically shifted to the doctor who had done the ultrasound for me.

“How come it’s a girl?” I asked him. A Lot of thoughts were running through my head. There were a number of baby switching cases in our country at the moment. Nonetheless the possibility was low. I was in a high fee paying room, alone. It was impossible for the medical personnel to switch my child with another.

“I don’t know. I am also confused….” he muttered. “But nothing is impossible with God….” 

“Are you saying that God did this?” I raised my eyebrow then, looked at my baby, she smiled, mouth empty with no teeth, but with abundance of bliss; and from that moment on, I knew that Noura had returned to us. 

The End

©2022 Muzhinga Kankinda

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