MY NAME IS ZAINAB HAMISU. I AM 25 YEARS OLD. I AM FROM KANO STATE. I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE MY DIVORCE DIARIES WITH YOU.
I am from a good home. When I say I am from a good home I mean I am from a good home.
My parents are hard working honest people and really no one can understand how and why I turned out this way. I grew up in Kano, somewhere around commissioner road. My father was a good man though he was polygamous. He was always rotating wives as far as I can remember.
The only constant women in the house were the first two wives; my mother and my stepmother. Even though my father was a notorious polygamist, he ensured we had the best of everything.
Now that I think about it perhaps that is where my problems began. Having the best of everything…
I got married at 19, in my third year in the university. It is not like I wanted to get married at the time but my parents insisted. I did some things that made my parents insist on marrying me off. Let me explain:
In my second year, I met and became friends with a girl called Farida.
She was a very popular girl on campus. She was beautiful. She was drop dead gorgeous and she was the toast of all the guys on campus. We were in the same class. We became friends because she needed someone to help her out with assignments and attendance and I happily obliged. Farida was the girl we all aspired to be like: she was classy, she was elegant, she was beautiful and all the men wanted her. She was what we call Babbar Yarinya; that is a big girl! I really wanted to be a Babbar Yarinya so I did whatever I could to get into her good graces.
Some weeks after Farida became my friend, she invited me to her house for a party. I had never been to a party before but I really wanted to belong to the popular crew on campus. So that is how I went to the party even though I had two tests the next day. I met so many’ happening’ people at that party.
I became so giddy when Farida introduced me as her friend to all the popular babes and guys on campus.
That night I met Mahmud.
Mahmud was the most popular guy on campus and all the girls wanted to be with him. He offered me a drink at the party and we instantly clicked. I was so flattered that I was the girl he chose to pay attention to.
Like play like play that is how we became extremely close. I soon abandoned my studies for parties. There was nothing better than being Mahmud’s girl.
Absolutely nothing in this world was better. We became inseparable. I was so intoxicated with the fame on campus that I started regarding school as a burden and my grades began to suffer. Naturally I drifted away from my original nerd efiko friends and at the time I thought their words of caution were signs of jealousy and envy.
I also avoided going home for anything; I made up excuses to avoid staying home for holidays. Mahmud took me to Dubai and we toured the United Arab Emirates… all while my parents slept soundly thinking I was studying hard in school.
Soon I became a big girl in my own right. I even had my own clique and everything. I was almost as popular as Farida if not more popular. I left the hostel and I moved into Mahmud’s off campus apartment. Life seemed to be going the way I wanted it to go. Mahmud spoilt me with money and expensive gifts. He got me a nice car and my reputation as a big girl on campus was cemented.
It was an exciting time in my life!
One day I got a call from an old roommate of mine from the hostel telling me that my dad had showed up at the hostel looking for me. She said she lied to him that she did not know me but that he was busy asking everyone in the common room if they knew me or if they had seen me. It dawned on me that I had made a stupid mistake. I changed my phone number and forgot to call my parents. Damn! He must have been worried after being unable to reach me. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
In my haste I raced to the hostel in my car. Stupid me I forgot my father did not know I had a car. Tashin Hankali! I had even forgotten to change to the atampa blouse and skirt I should have been wearing; I showed up at the hostel with my three quarter shorts and one million braids.
Soon as I entered the common room, I regretted being there. My father stared at me as if I was an alien. The shock and pain in his eyes so raw I could not help but to kneel down and start begging him.
A resounding slap blinded me.
Long story short, my father bundled me home in my shorts all the way back home. I was drowning in shame and sadness because I knew how much I had disappointed my parents. Especially my poor mother who was taunted by her co wives. They called her mother of a prostitute. It stung me in my soul and I regretted my actions immediately. I vowed to be a good daughter henceforth at least to redeem my mother’s image and prestige.
My father wasn’t having it and he decreed that I must be married off immediately. He refused to speak to me or to my mother, to the delight of his other wives. He took my phones and any other luxuries I had. No phones, no friends, no Mahmud and no school. Things got so bad that I had to fetch water to use, in my own father’s house!
My father completely cut me off from even my siblings as he forbade anyone from speaking or interacting with me. My only support was my mother who was allowed to cook and give me food. While I was busy wallowing in my pain and isolation I heard from my mother that my father was planning to marry me off to his PA.
I knew I had to do something fast. Nothing could be allowed to come between me and Mahmud. My mother seemed happy with the idea of me marrying Bello. She seemed so relieved I could not bring myself to tell her I loathed the idea.
After about a month of living like a prisoner in my father’s house, I was summoned to explain myself. I sat in the middle of the carpet and listened to my father rail on and on about the way I had disgraced him and the family. He said I had soiled the unblemished name of my elders on both my maternal and paternal sides. He told me how he developed chest pain from the day he saw me in the common room. He said it was pain he would live with for the rest of his life.
I begged him to forgive me.
‘I will forgive you….but on one condition’
I looked up, relieved that he had even considered forgiving me.
‘Anything baba, whatever you want me to do, consider it done!’
That is how I married my husband. Without any courtship or relationship whatsoever. I didn’t love him and he didn’t love me. One minute I was on my knees begging my father and next minute I was being whisked off to my husband’s house. There was no convoy of exquisite cars to take me to my husband’s home, no ululating in-laws, nothing.
There was no grand dinner; there was no celebration as expected from a girl of my status. There was only a nikkah with five people in my father’s living room.
That was the beginning of my problem with Bello.
Our first night as husband and wife Bello and I fought. I hated the fact that I had been married off to this man in such a lowly manner and I saw no reason why he would approach me sexually. I was expecting him to beg and pet me into his bed not bark orders.
He met me on the bed crying.
‘Look you better stop crying and resume your duties as a wife. Marriage is not play kin gane ko? I would have loved to undress you but there is no need since you can do that all by yourself.
There is no point since you are not a virgin.’
I hissed and got up from the bed. I made to walk to the bathroom when he pushed me forcefully on the bed. He flung my veil and tore my blouse. For the first two minutes I was too shocked to do anything but then I used my knee to hit his crotch and that had him disoriented. I ran out of the room downstairs towards the main entrance of the house. As I got to the living room, I realised I was naked, save for my bra and panties.
The bastard had untied my wrapper during our altercation! I couldn’t go anywhere like that. I had to go back upstairs and get some clothes. Dejectedly I went back to the room where I met him fuming. He slapped me and I fell on the bed. I had no energy to fight him off as he forced himself into me.
From that day on my husband treated me with disdain. He told me that I had been forced on him after university boys had finished with my fruit and now he was forced to dredge the juiceless discarded orange. He said this even in front of his friends and family who all applauded him for being so loyal to my father as to accept me.
As far as they were concerned he was a hero.
I was resigned to my fate. This was my life. If I wanted to be a good daughter, then I would have to put up with whatever my husband was throwing at me.
Being a good daughter would mean eventually being a good wife. Worst case scenario being a good daughter would get me into heaven in the afterlife. Allah rewards patient wives with Paradise.
In the following weeks, life got even worse.
Bello seized my phones and my car, apparently on the orders of my father. I had no friends, no one was allowed to visit me and I was not allowed to go anywhere. I could not even call my own mother.
My daily routine consisted of being raped in the morning; sitting around in the afternoon, pandering to Bello’s every need in the evenings and being repeatedly raped at night. Even while on my monthly period Bello found ways to molest me sexually by inserting bottles and TV remote into my private part.
If I refused his advances then he would whip me mercilessly with his belt.
I stopped feeling sorry for myself and I accepted my life as punishment for the life I had lived in University. My mother did not come to visit me until a year after my marriage. I had tears in my eyes when I saw her because I had not seen her in a year. I wanted to put her in my pocket and keep her in it forever.
My mother and I lost track of time talking about all the things that happened in the past year; we talked, we laughed, we cried and we lamented.
I felt so much better seeing my mother I did not even realise when Bello walked in. He completely transformed in front of my mother. He was the perfect son in law. He was a completely different person. Hmmm
I was praying hard that my mother would not leave. I couldn’t picture my life going back to the way it was, without any laugher only drudgery. Bello excused himself and I took the opportunity to beg my mother to please take me with her.
I begged her to let me go home with her. She just stared at me saying nothing. At this point I was almost whispering because I did not want Bello to hear anything. I heard his footsteps coming down the stairs; I started winking at my mother who just continued to stare at me.
Bello said to my mother ‘Hajiya it is getting late, shall I escort you home? I do not want Alhaji to be worried’
‘Haba my son in law, are you chasing me from your house? ‘
‘No Hajiya ba haka ba ne. My house is your home. Let me get to the mosque it is almost Maghrib. Sai na dawo. I hope you have eaten.’
‘Yes your beautiful wife has taken adequate care of me. Sai kun dawo, a gaida liman’
With Bello gone, I opened up to my mother about the rape and abuse I had been enduring. She was overwhelmed. She held me and we cried together. I couldn’t stop crying and she let me cry it out.
‘My daughter dole mu bar gidan nan. We must leave this house.
What will I tell him to convince him to let you go?’ ‘mama he is in the mosque let us just go now. He won’t be back until after isha prayers. Mama let us go now! PLEASE!!!’
She hesitated and then to my relief took her handbag ‘Let us go’
I went home and my father was suspicious of my presence though he was happy to see me. I slept like a baby for the first time ever since I got married. I slept well.
In the morning I was rudely awakened by my father’s voice yelling at my mother.
Bello had come to report that I was missing from my house. I did not know what to do. I had already brought dishonour and shame to my parents once; I could not do it again by becoming divorced. I had to sort it out. My mother interrupted my thoughts.
‘We need to talk my daughter, with your father, now!’
The tone of her voice alarmed me. I knew it was Judgement Hour for me. I did not know if my mother would take sides with me even though she knew the horrors I faced with Bello. I did not know how she would take it if her co wives knew. I was not sure what I wanted to do.
‘Nafisatu this daughter of yours is a very crafty human being. She doesn’t love him and now she has made up sordid tales to deceive you. I know what she wants to do. She just wants come out of her home to live the reckless life she misses. Do not let your love for your daughter blind you! ‘
‘She is not lying. I believe her. He has been molesting her.
He is driving her to the brink of madness keeping her locked up in that house. Dole ne mu yi wani abu a kai. Allah will hold us to account if you refuse to protect our daughter’
‘Qarya ta ke!!’ my father thundered.
‘Maigida you should calm down… I believe her.
Whatever she did in the past has passed! She is now in danger, her husband rapes her with objects, can you not see the grave danger she is in? I want you to end this marriage so I can take care of my daughter- our daughter. Don girman Allah na roqe ka’
My father was quiet as he looked from my mother to me. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking. I looked at my mother who was shaking and trembling… I wish I had been a better daughter to her.
I made up my mind there and then that my mother was right. My marriage had to end. I owed it to my mother to be better. I could not hurt her again by going back to my husband. No way!
‘But how do you expect me to believe that a man rapes his OWN wife? That gentle and calm young man could never hurt a soul…talk less of rape a woman talk less a woman that is his possession.
Scantily dressed women on the streets and loose girls are the ones who get raped, certainly not married women. How can I even start accusing my own son in law of raping his wife? I hope you understand what I am trying to say Hajiya. Ba zai yiwu ba ne!’
My daughter will not go anywhere near that beast! I am taking her to the hospital right away. I am going to defy you this time my husband because this poor girl has suffered enough.
If you won’t do what is right then I will take my children and leave you with your Bello’
I was dazed. I had never ever seen my mother like this. She defied my father. I was shocked and touched by her love for me.
My father seemed to soften. He sat down and started pleading with mama not to leave him. I could not believe it. So my father could beg my mother!
Weeks later, I was bouncing back to my old self.
Despite being summoned by my father, Bello refused to show up. On the day he was meant to come, his uncles came instead with my divorce letter.
My father was furious but I was so grateful and overjoyed. I did not care.
All that is important to me now is to go back to school and finish my degree. A new life awaits me Insha’Allah.
This experience has really made me grow up because I no longer care what anyone thinks about me or my mother. I have come to the realisation that people will always talk no matter what so I might as well face my life. My mother and I are closer than ever. I cannot wait to make her proud someday Insha’Allah.
MY message to anyone out there that has/is facing a similar experience is that you should leave as soon as possible. It is better to be divorced than to be dead. You are worth much more than you think so you do not need anyone’s validation.
All thanks to Jaruma Magazine Chief Editor For Allowing Us to Re-Broadcast it.
Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.
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