Literary Zone

Passion of Love – Part 1

5 March 2010 at 03:56 | 775 views

By Lans Omar, Winnipeg.

December 31st, 1985. In a household at Aberdeen, Freetown, Victor Brown, 25, a fresh graduate from Fourah Bay College, was busily cleaning the house. It was a tradition that the house be kept clean for the New Year.
The Yuletide season was very noticeable in that specific part of the city. Christmas in Freetown, Sierra Leone, was huge. It was a time for family gatherings, feasts and celebrations. Friends and family from around the world always marked Freetown as the mecca for the holidays.
“Almost a week and half Ayesha hadn’t been in contact with me,” Victor stopped cleaning for a while and was thinking.

Ayesha had been dating Victor for three years now. They met when she was a sixth form student at the Annie Walsh Memorial Secondary School in Freetown. It was friend of Victor that actually introduced them at her school Prize giving Day.

Ayesha Rashad was a fourth generation Sierra Leonean. Her great grand-father, Bin Batista Rashad had immigrated to Sierra Leone from Lebanon during the colonial era to do business in the protectorate.

At 23, Ayesha is the sole heiress of the Rashad dynasty in Lebanon; a multi-billion dollar business empire.

When she first met Victor, it was love at first sight and that relationship had blossomed like a wild fire in the harmattan. It was Ayesha’s first true love.

Victor had been raised a devout Catholic. On the other hand, Ayesha was Sunni Muslim, she was compelled to recognize the five pillars of Islam with special attention to performing the five daily prayers.

At 5 feet 9 inches, light-skinned, she commanded a serene beauty; average built with the typical coca-cola shape. A look most of her friends envied.

Finally, Victor’s phone rang.

“Hello, Victor here.”

“It’s Ayesha.” The other end said. It was almost two weeks since he had heard Ayesha’s voice. “Hi Victor, long time. I miss you baby. This thing, victor, this thing.”

“Well Ayesha, it’s up to you.” Victor responded.

Ayesha was sobbing: “It’s not up to me, Victor. My dad is going to abandon me. My mom has been under some heavy bashing by my family for the past weeks. Vic, oh, Victor, is just too much for us at home.”

“But don’t you have choices?” Victor asked.

“Baby, it’s not about choices. It’s all about my family, my culture, my religion, and above all, my pride. Victor, I don’t really know what to do. Even last night, my dad called some family elders and it’s just way too much to handle. And, you know Aunty Zahrah…..”

“Yeah, what about your Aunty Zahrah?” Victor was enquiring.

Ayesha responded: “Well, baby. I can’t talk on the phone right now. My mom’s just got inside my room, and can we meet tomorrow at Heart of Gold, 4pm?”

“Okay, Heart of Gold, 4pm.” He confirmed.

“Luv you baby.” Ayesha said.

“Luv you to….” But the line went dead before Victor could end his goodbye.

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The Rashid residence is called "the Spanish House," the mansion was a typical Mediterranean villa. It was basically concrete block with a stucco exterior and a combination of lath-and-plaster and wallboard inside. The house had grown considerably since its birth in the 1400.

Architecturally, it is remarkably unified, with Mediterranean arches and a real red tile roof. The tile roof provided excellent insulation and reduces the workload on the air-conditioning. Windows and sliding doors are top-of-the-line insulated thermal pane glass with a coating to cut air transmission.

Real Spanish tile floors highlighted the grand entry Hall, the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, the laundry, the utility room, the guest suite, and the guest bath.

Its eleven rooms plus four baths were all generous in size. Downstairs rooms had nine and ten-foot ceilings. There were built-ins galore. Custom cabinets in the living room, dining room, kitchen, and powder room all match each other and the magnificent curved grand staircase.

All the bedrooms and dressing rooms have entire walls covered with cedar closets and built-in chests and cupboards. The chandeliers, ceiling fans, and fixtures were exquisite.

Inside the mansion, there was a masjid (masque) for the Rashad family and their friends. Every Friday from noon to 2:30pm, all you heard was the unique recitation of the holy Quran from the mansion’s woofers surrounding the building.

Mechanically, the house was completely up-to-date, from its central vacuum system, most efficient air-conditioning systems (independent systems for upstairs and downstairs), built-in telephone system, modern plumbing and wiring, and advanced water treatment system to its top-of-the-line built-in appliances. The kitchen featured restaurant-quality equipment usually only found in homes costing millions of dollars. This was an extremely comfortable family home, yet with the spaciousness and elegance required for entertaining on a grand scale.

The mansion was located atop one of the highest dunes along the coast of Lumley beach in Freetown. This gave it the best views obtainable.

Ayesha had spent all her life inside this mansion except for family vacations to Lebanon and the rest of the world.

Her friends once described this house as “Ayesha’s little prison.”

Ayesha was the Rashad’s favourite child; everyone from her mom to the last of the siblings adored her.

On this Friday afternoon just after Juma prayers, Her dad, Pa Rashad, as he was addressed by all, had summoned Ayesha for a one-on-one meeting inside his room.

Ahmad Rashad was born in the Assyrian-speaking Rashad household on October 20, 1916 in Kenema, Sierra Leone, but lived most of his life in Kesrouan, Lebanon. He had returned back to Sierra Leone within the last twenty three years just after Ayesha was born.

Pa Rashad is a strict disciplinarian by the real meaning of the word. If you were summoned by the old man for a one-on-one meeting, then something was seriously wrong. This Friday afternoon, Ayesha, with all the other women, in their household just finished performing the Friday Juma prayers and was wondering why her dad wanted to talk to her privately.

“I thought we had talks last night.” She wondered.

Her mom was the emissary for the meeting. Pa Rashad earlier that week told his wife that he wanted to talk to her little girl just after Juma prayers.

“Your dad will like to talk to you.” Imrana Rashad mentioned. “It’s not anything that serious, just a little chat with you.”

“But Mama, you know Pa Rashad. Whenever he needs to talk to you, something must be wrong. I’m really concerned what he wants from me this time.” Ayesha replied.

Hugging each other, the older woman said: “I love you ‘Yesha. You’ll be fine, ok?”

“Hope so, Mama.” The younger woman said.

Ahmad Rashad, drapped in a typical Islamic attire, came down the stairs to the hall, where Ayesha and her mother waited. Ahmad was a tall, big man with a balding head and a freckled complexion.

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