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Another time, He told me of other subtle qualities i might consider that does not have any bearing on her being pious or knowledgeable. He said I should note strongly, that these traits can be developed overtime or acquired like a skill through training and practice. He re-emphasized that he has made this attribute personal to him, (She should be from an intact home and not from a broken home). He explained that a lady from a broken home can either learn from it or become a cautious and better lady or it can change her into thinking its okay to have a broken home. He said he would not have risked it even for my grandma if she was from a broken home, it is a risk he is not prepared to take at all though it is a personal thing and has no basis in religion, and he said I can wonder freely with any woman from a broken home if I choose to.
He started telling me look out for all the latest qualities this generation is so blindly following. It has created a mental picture in your hearts of the ideal woman even though its delusional. But its better to consider it, rather than enter into matrimony and the mental picture in your heart paints her unfairly. He said to look out for good looks too, and her dress sense and he explained exactly how ladies of these days wear their dankwali onto their forehead and the lipsticks and powder and the kohl and how they walk and the bedroom voices they muster and the likes of it. He described everything so perfectly that at some point my eyes widened in surprise, he quickly added “I read and notice a lot and try to keep up with your generation Khalil, you see am not a foolish old man” his beards twitched and next thing there was a toothless smile.
He said “the best of ladies is the one you will take one look at her and she reminds you of Allah and not some beauty model? One look reminds you of the perfect description of modesty and shyness. Only then can you be hoping for a sure way to Jannah via matrimony.”
“Now, I am telling you this not to turn you against those without these qualities or form of behaviors, especially your Ammi, I am telling you all this only to help you put you on your guard so that you make a good decision. I noticed you have not being thinking lately about her after all my explanation. At first you were sure it was her, but now, you have not even mentioned Ammi even once. What that means is totally for you to figure out on your own. But I have this to say to you. “Knowing what you want from the start is always the best way to begin anything.”
Forgive me khalil, but your generation is a generation of closed minds. Your generation have destroyed that freedom we once had to choose randomly a wife and end up having the best of marriages because we were brought up with a mind that was still being ready to be molded even in our matrimonial homes. Our minds were still opened even after marriage. But your generation is a generation of closed minds who barely accepts nothing of value except what the society throws at them. Like I said, your grandma had all those qualities, me and your Granma molded ourselves for ourselves, there was not a thing that appeals to me in this world that I have not shared it with her and she turned herself into that and her too likewise. After arming ourselves with what appeals to us, we consciously started making efforts to make it a habit to appeal to each other in those ways. We strived to get our due from each other and ofcos the rest which we couldn’t if any, (he was in deep thought) we left it and sought Allah’s help.
Bappah told me that someone prayed this prayer for him, before he married my grandma. And all he could think of was one person in the entire world. His wife (my grandma Aisha). “May Allah bless you with a virtuous woman who will not only love you and your family but also safeguard your name, trust and wealth. May He in His infinite mercy bless you with a peaceful, merciful, understanding, and joyful marriage with a woman you will love, cherish and adore you and make it easy for you both to strive for Jannatul Firdausi together as one happy family” He asked me if I am picturing the love of my life too after hearing this prayer. He prayed this same prayer for me in Arabic as I chanted at the top of my voice and with a heavy heart. AMEEN.I stood up to go, feeling very horrible and guilty about me and Ammi.
With a rush of resentment and resignation, I understood what Bappah was trying to tell me all along. And with a rush of emotion, so did my father as he was heavily against it from the very beginning. It was as though Bappah didn’t want me to be with Ammi, and he wouldn’t come out plain to tell me so that I might not even ask him why. He will cast plenty doubts, in my mind about the relationship I have with Ammi and juggle with my brains with his numerous complex circle of explanations. Anytime I tried to stop him to elaborate, he will pretend he didn’t hear me asking. At a point, I summed up that he has succeeded in changing my mind not only about marriage but about what I have going. I tried to connect him to my father’s position, and make it seem like he is also against me and Ammi, and hear his reasons why he also doesn’t want me to be with Ammi, but he will not agree…
“Have you spoken to my dad about Ammi?” I innocently asked Bappah. He admitted he has, cos they seem to think along the very same line. He calls my Dad Mallam Badamasi and so he narrated this to me “Mallam Badamasi is a strange but wise person (so that I will agree with my dad’s position since he is wise). Before he married your mum, I had plenty questions that I couldn’t answer and that is how I left them unanswered. Till this very day, I still don’t have answers for them, but I agreed to give your mother out because he was a good man. I might not know the exact reason why he is against you and Ammi, but I will not be too foolhardy to push and probe some more.
“Now listen Khalil,” he said very urgently as I tried to interrupt him to ask him whether he is against me and Ammi. “In all of this, in all you have learnt, in all the confusion, you have a power that nobody in this world can take away from you. And that power is CHOICE. Choice shapes our future and destinies. Yes, you might be better armed with the needed information to enable you make a good choice, but you can be dogged and choose whatever you want in this life. Only that we must not complain when the consequences of our choices comes back to haunt us. Whatever you decide, know that I will be there to respect it, support you, and help you in It.” the very next minute wallahi he started snoring. I took it to mean he was trying to ask me to go, our session is finished. I still wondered whether he actually was sleeping truly or he was just faking it so I wont ask more questions…
Bappah has left me to worry about what choice I am to make concerning Ammi, and whatever the consequences, he has made me understand that I alone will live to face the consequences of my choice, whether good or bad. I found myself on several occasions trying to break poor Ammi’s heart by telling her she is not my type of woman again. I caught myself asking her about her Islamiyya even though I didn’t attend any at my big age. I was insisting about her doing Azumi, and she will say she will another time, I was asking her frequently about her sending me a recording of her reciting the Qur’an, or i quote some hadiths I have learned and share with her and ask her if she has ever heard or read about them. And bringing up instances and scenarios where I would test to see what type of decision and judgment she will take on certain issues or events. Gradually I started noticing I was withdrawing from Ammi. But I had to do it right. By telling her straight to her face or at least over the phone. But ofcos I couldn’t bring myself to tell her the truth. Just like it was never easy telling her I love her from the beginning.I wouldn’t want to break her heart, but it is something that is inevitable…
As wise as she was, she questioned me one time we met after our relationship suffered serious starvation. She questioned me about the big space that was now evident and existing between us. She asked if Bappah has gotten to me as he has gotten to her as well? I couldn’t answer her, I only smiled and she smiled too. She said it was okay, and that to be perfectly honest, she has understood what Bappah told her and that she has even tried to move on after she noticed my subtle withdrawal. That she was disappointed that I still wasn’t sure about us, and that I couldn’t be a man and stand with my decision.
“Well, am sorry to say, but I tried to move on. Checked out two people that came asking, but hmmm. You will laugh at me.” Ammi Said.
“It’s crazy. You have set a too high standard for my subsequent suitors Muhammad. Wallahi I even tried to make excuses for them but inaa. It just wasn’t like…I can’t just move on all thanks to you.” She finished. I hung my head in shame listening to Ammi, I have hurt her too much in this life, and no amount of sorry could undo the hurt and pain I have caused her.
“Am not accusing you” as though she was answering my thoughts. “am not saying meeting you was a mistake Muhammad. But it has shown me how lucky that part of my life has been.”
“Ammi…” was all I could manage to say.
And I couldn’t bring myself to talk. I walked away from Ammi, traitor tears betraying me as I did…
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Special thanks to Muhammad Sani