June 25, 2022

In the sitting room where Kamal and his parents allow her to spend the night, her mind drifts to her landlord. “The man is kind and nice but how could I have rejected all men in the past just to end up with an old man like my landlord? Hmmmn” She is still thinking about her situation when she falls into a troublesome sleep.

“Wake up! Wake up!” Kamal’s voice pierces through her ears startling her. “Quick, get dressed, it’s almost morning”, he orders.

Amina: “When did you come into the sitting room?”

Kamal: “This is not the time for question and answers. Just get dressed and leave before my parents meet you here”.

Amina: “Okay, please show me the rest room, I need to ease myself and freshen up”.

Kamal: “You need to what? You can’t be serious. I am talking about you hurrying up to leave and you are here talking about restroom. Just get dressed, you will ease yourself on your way to the park, just enter any bush you see around and do what you want”.

Shocked and taken aback, Amina puts on her top and ties her hair. “Can I have some money out of the N100, 000 I gave you? Your mum obviously doesn’t need any surgery and the money I have on me cannot take me back to my house”.

Kamal: “Which N100, 000 are you talking about? Is it not the same money we used to pay our transportation fare here? Didn’t you eat on the road? I paid for the food out of it”.

Amina: “You can’t be serious. What I ate on the road is just about N300 and our transport fare here wasn’t too expensive because we came with Government Mass Transit bus. You should have about N85, 000 left with you. Give me some of the money so that I can sort myself out”.

Kamal: “Well, I don’t have any money with me. I thought you gave me the money for my mother. I gave her all the money as soon as we got here”.

Amina: “Your mother who accused me of going out with men to get money is the same person you gave my money and she collected?”

Kamal: “Oh, you don’t trust me? You can go and ask her yourself”.

Amina leaves the house without asking for the money from Kamal’s mother. “Nwam, escort her to the park and make sure say she enter motor before you leave there. I no want make them say person wey come our house they miss”, she address Kamal.  “And you”, she says turning to Amina, “I forbid you from ever going near my son, if you force yourself on am, e no go ever better for you”.

——————–

All through the journey back, Amina continues to shed tears as she never imagined that things could turn out this way between them. She feels that all hope is lost and she makes up her mind to become her landlord’s girlfriend pending when she can overcome this heartbreak and move on with her life. As soon as she arrived Zuba Park, she buys airtime of N100 and dials her mother’s number. She intends to tell her parents that she will be coming home to spend some weeks with them before thinking of the next line of action since things are not moving well for her. Jalila, her parents’ last child who is 19 years picks up her mother’s call.

Jalila: “Hey, aunty Amina. Long time, we have been to trying to call you all these while to no avail”.

Amina: “Jalila baby, how are you? Sorry about that, my phone is acting up. Sometimes it just switches itself off without my knowledge. This one your voice is sounding this sharp, what’s up?”

Jalila: “Aunty Jalila, that’s what we have been calling to inform you. I did my introduction yesterday and we are looking at December for the wedding but I want to seek your permission first before I give my husband and his people the approval to pick a date for the wedding. You know that you are my elder sister and I can’t get married before you unless you permit me”.

Amina: “Of course you have my approval. Mine is not coming forward anytime soon and I see no reason why I should keep you waiting for me if you are ready. So, who is the lucky man?”

Jalila: “I met him two years ago. He is a level 8 civil servant with the ministry of…”

Amina: “A what! Did you just say Civil servant? How much do they pay level 8 civil servants? How will you cope? Why are you in a rush to get married anyway, you are just 19, young, beautiful and intelligent. Better suitors will surely come your way”.

Jalila: “Ah, aunty, I am old enough o, after all I am an adult. I cannot say because I am young I should keep turning down suitors; time and tide wait for no one. Money is not everything in marriage and the future is bright because my fiancé is a graduate and he is intelligent and hardworking. We will build our future together and enjoy it together. He is very encouraging and through his help, I have secured admission into our state university here. The marriage won’t stop my education. As a woman, our reproductive years are limited”.

Amina: “Since you have made up your mind about it, I wish you all the best then. Give the phone to mama”.

Mama Amina: “Hello, Amina, how are you?“

Amina: “I am fine, mama. So you people want to marry Jalila off at this tender age?”

Mama Amina: “No be we wan marry her off o, na she bring husband and the man is very humble, respectful, God-fearing and hardworking. Why we no go support her?”

Amina: “I see? I thought you won’t be in support of this considering her age”.

Mama Amina: “19 years old girl na small pikin? Shebi oyibo say any girl wey don reach 18 years fit marry? Tell me the truth, my pikin. You want make we postpone the marriage make you first do your own?”

Amina: “No, I am not ready for marriage yet”.

Mama Amina: “Why, my daughter? All your mates don born pikin and you still never ready? You no know say woman time dey pass? Wetin…”

Amina: “Oh please, mama. Enough of this marriage sermon, I hear it all the time. I called to inform you that I will be coming back home next week to stay with you people for some weeks. Things are not going as planned here”.

Mama Amina: “You wan come do wetin? No try am o. If you must come back, you better bring your husband come with you? Do you want people to laugh at us more than they are doing because you no see husband marry? All the man wey you reject, God don bless them, they marry young girl’s wey you senior and them don born children and you wan come stay like that for house. E no go werk..?”

Amina: What did you just say Mama? E no go what? Did you mean “e no go work or werk”?

Mama Amina: Amina, I say “E no go Werk”

Amina’s call credit gets exhausted and the call ends.

After the call her mother’s words reechoed in her mind with a more emphatic tone, “: “You wan come do wetin? No try am o. If you must come back, you better bring your husband come with you? Do you want people to laugh at us more than they are doing because you no see husband marry?”

Amina: “Even my mother is showing me outright rejection!”

Tears in a blip gather in her eyes, her heart is heavy. It is now her against the world. Being unmarried at her age is treated like an ailment or plague. Everyone she knows indirectly insults her, “You wan come do wetin?” these words of her mother’s pierces her heart- it is the spear that has caused her bleeding. Yes, she agrees that a lot of men asking for her hand in her twenties she had turned down but she couldn’t just marry any man! Her reason is simple; she has suffered growing up in her father’s house and she doesn’t want a repeat of that in her husband’s house.

Marriage isn’t about endurance but enjoyment, so she thought. But right now with all the rejections she doesn’t care about enjoyment she will welcome one of endurance,

Amina: “I have gone through a lot!” she feels tears roll down her cheeks, touches the tears but refuses to wipe it. She wants the world to know she is in unbearable pains.

She remembers the Alfa.  Some ill happenings in her life had rubbed her off retentive memory. She cannot remember how she actually got to meet the Alfa. But she remembers that she goes to him crying and whining Alfa listens to her but is focused on the prayer Rosary his fingers are fondling with. The movement of the fingers synchronizes with the quivering of his lips,

Alfa: “You have come to za bus stop. You must get a husband after the daily prayers I’d give you to recites!”

Knowing she doesn’t have any knowledge in Hausa or Arabic, he gives her an English translation. Amina follows all the countless rules that accompanies the long hour of prayers. After a month of completion, she goes to him and he gives her a substance to drink, bitter with the look of muddled water. Catching her breath she empties the cup as the Alfa looks at her smiling and licking his lower lips. Oblivious of her environment he hypnotizes her. In malady, she wakes up unclad on the dirty looking mat in his small room. Her hand goes to her thigh and she feels a thick dried substance close to her private part. With disgust she leaves Alfa’s room cursing and swearing. Instead of getting a husband she treats a sexual disease that almost claims her life.

For the sake of marriage she has put her life on the life on numerous occasions.

———–
Amina gets home after a terrible hold up and she sees the landlord’s car parked in his garage. She thinks of going to see him but she decides to freshen up first. On Getting to her door, to her utmost shock and embarrassment, she sees her things outside with the padlock to the door changed. Everything including her under wears, kitchen utensils, mattress and even Kamal’s belongings were packed outside. “Oh my God! What happened? Who could have done this? Where do I go from here now?” She thinks aloud not knowing what to do or where to go.

Question: “Who threw Amina’s things out of the house? What will she do next? Should she go back home despite the warning her mother gave her? Should she give in to the landlord’s demand to end her sufferings? Will Madam Shine take her back?

Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.

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