August 20, 2022

Amina finally sleeps off without calling Ismail. It is a long deep sleep. The next day she wakes up feeling a bit refreshed but sore.

Amina: “waoh! What a n….i….ght”she yawns, stretches on the bed.

With reluctance her eyes dashes to her Quran, it has an Ankara cover. She had made it. Years ago, when the Ankara business started Amina enrolls in a class where she learns bead making and how to design books and biros using Ankara. She starts the business but along the line finance becomes a problem. “Pick it and hold it” a voice echoes in her mind, picks it, flips, flips and flips. It is obvious that she hasn’t been in good terms with the holy book for a while now. Amina sits up,still yawning, finally opens Suratul Shura and she read in whispers: “It is He Who accepts repentence from His servants and pardons evil acts and knows what they do.” (Surat Ash-Shura, 25  “Any disaster that strikes you is through what your own hands have earned and He pardons much.”(Surat Ash-Shura, 30) She Flips several pags again “Allah says: “Say: O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Sûrah al-Zumar: 53]

“When comes the Help of God, and Victory, and you do see the people enter God’s religion in crowds: Celebrate the praises of your Lord, and pray for His Forgiveness: For He is Oft-Returning (in Grace and Mercy). Quran 110: 1-3

Amina then continue with the Tafsir under the verse (God says) O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it. Narrated by the Prophet Muhammad in Tirmidhi, Ahmad”, her mind keeps meditating on verse one even after she stops reading, “After, lord would you ever forgive me? For going against your will? she starts sobbing, she says still crying.

Amina Comes out after crying and asking for Allah’s forgiveness.

Mama who is washing outside looks at her,

Mama: “I see say you tire that is why I no disturb you!”

Amina: “Good morning,mama!” she picks up a broom, “yes I was but I feel better now!”

Mama looks at her eyes,

Mama: “Shey you drink tear gas?” Amina giggles,

Amina: “Tear gas?”

Mama: “Ehen na, see as your eye red na!”

Amina: “Oh,mama , you no go kill person sha! It’s because I overslept!” she leaves immediately to avoid further questioning from her detective of a mother. She hears her mother still talking as she goes in to sweep but pretends not to hear.

Amina decides to start start her 5 daily prayers on time and fasting Monday and Thursday to make it for all the sins she commited. On the first day she starts by waking up at about three thirty in the morning and decides to do night prayers(Nafil) first before the time for Subhi prayers.

Her mouth quivers as she reads Hadith (God says) O My servants, you sin by night and by day, and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness of Me and I shall forgive you. Narrated by Prophet Muhammad in Muslim, Tirmidthi Never lose hope in the mercy and forgiveness of Allah.

Half past five she goes into a fierce spiritual warzone, crying and praying on top of her voice. Footsteps then follow are voices. It is her mother and father,

Mama: “Amina! Amina! Wetin dey happen na! Why you dey  cry?”

Papa: “My daughter open the door,abeg! Maik we talk!”

Mama starts crying as Amina ignores them,

Mama: “Eh, so na so my pikin wan use cry ki’ e sef oooo!Chai! God!God!! wetin I do you na?”

She throws herself to the ground; her husband ignores her theatrics and continues knocking and pleading. After two hours they decide to retire to bed. The next day, Amina doesn’t come out, she is locked inside reading the quran,

Amina: “Lord your mercy, I plead for your mercy!!”

Her parents come to get her come out but all to no avail. It has become a routine for three days but Mama isn’t at rest, she worried to death,

Mama: “Hope say Amina no one use hunger kill e sef! God don hear the prayer na! Ah, na wa oo!”

On the fourth day, Mama cannot bear it anymore; she goes to call Mama Junior, Mama has being their neighbour for more than forty years Amina respects her lot for a good heart. Everyone loves her in the neighbourhood. Mama Junior calls out,

Mama Junoir: “Amina, it’s me Mama Jay!” Amina and siblings calls her that way, Amina opens up,” Why have you decided to punish yourself and parents, Amina,” she sits.

Amina who looks feeble smiles,

Amina: “ No, Mama Jay. It isn’t punishment. I am on a week spiritual journey. I’ve told mama but you know her now, “Mama Junior smiles and nods.

Mama Junior: “Okay. God help you my dear!”

Mama Junior tells her of when her husband was ill for fourteen years. It is a story everyone knows. She says that she was always fasting until her finally got his healing, “trusting in God help. Keep it up. I’ll talk to your mother!”

“God is showing mercy to her, my dear!” Mama comes to her door and stands there. She refuses to make any complaints for Mama Junior had explained to her and she promised to give Amina her space. Tears gather in her eyes, as she hears Amina reading the Quran by following it in aloud MP3 speaker in her room,

Amina: “Alhamdulillah, thank for causing your face to shine upon me!”

She sleeps at about three in the morning, suddenly, she sees Ismail in a room tied and surrounded by scary looking men, one of them cries, “Let’s just finish him, please!”

Annie: “Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Rajiun! No, leave him. Ismail you shall not die!” she wakes from the dream, praying.

She wakes up, ““I will marry him; I love him too much to leave him at a time like this when he needs me most. Even if he is going to die immediately after our wedding, I will marry him”,

His phone rings but no one is picking.

His phone keeps ringing and nobody picks up. She waits another twenty minutes, expecting him to call back and when he doesn’t; she picks up her phone and calls him back. His younger sister picks up the call.

Ismail’s sister: “Ismail is in crises. He is in coma right now. We are at the hospital”.

Amina: “Oh my God, what is wrong with him? Which hospital are you?”

Ismail’s sister: “Topnotch hospital in the state capital”

Amina: “Okay, I will be there shortly”. Let nothing happen to him o, she cries aloud.

Amina picks her purse, ties her hair and runs out to take a cab that will take her to the state capital where the hospital is located. All through the drive, she keeps shouting on the driver to hurry.

Taxi driver: “Madam, na over speed I dey so. I no fit run pass like this except you want make we jam other cars wey dey road and na accident be that”.

Amina: “Just stop talking and drive faster!”

Taxi driver: “Drive faster? You no see say traffic light say make we stop?”

Amina: “I don’t care; you can fly over other cars or push them out of the way for all I care”.

They get to the hospital and Amina flings some naira notes on him. “Madam, the money never complete”, the taxi driver says. Amina throws a thousand naira note on him and the driver shouts after her “Your change!” You can keep it, just leave me alone!” Amina fires at him back in confusion.

—————

Two weeks after Kamal was beaten up by Chief’s boys, he returns to his village to stay with his parents. He remembers that day as it was one of the worst days of his life. After chief had drove off with him tied up in the bush, his driver had taken them to an isolated area in Nasarawa state which is one of the states that share boundaries with Abuja and there he had ordered his boys to beat Kamal up and when he became unconscious, they left him for dead and threw his body on the road. Kamal was in that state of agony until a Reverend father drove by early the next morning and seeing him in that state had compassion on him like the good Samaritan described by Jesus in the holy Bible. The priest had taken him to the missionary hospital where he paid for his medical bills, fed and gave him clothes and when Kamal became strong, he gave him transportation fare back home. “My son, e don do. No dey think again. To live for Abuja no be by force”, his mother’s voice forces him out of his thoughts.

Kamal: “Mama, what hurts me most is that Fatima girl didn’t even say anything when chief ordered his boys to beat me up. And to think that I was never there for Amina the girl who loved me with all her heart also hurts me. I wish I can see her to apologize to her and ask for her forgiveness”.

Mama Kamal: “It’s okay, my son. Just concentrate on the trade you are learning now so that no woman go treat you anyhow because you dey jobless”.

Kamal: “I will o, mama. I have learnt my lessons the hard way. From today henceforth, I will hustle legitimately like other men do, I don’t have to fold my hands and wait for government to give me a white collar job. Nothing good comes easy”.

————

Amina waits at the hospital’s reception for hours for Ismail to come out of coma. She is taken in to the intensive care unit where Ismail is lying down, conscious but very weak. She sits behind him and takes his hands in hers. He tries to smile and sit up but pain forces him to lie in the same position.

Amina: “I am sorry, baby. I am not calling off the wedding anymore. Just get well and lefts get married, we have only few days to go”.

Ismail: “I…I..”

Amina: “It’s okay, you don’t have to say anything. Just get well for me and let’s get out of here. These past days without you have been terrible and I have realized how much I love you”, she says as the tears from her eyes causes her voice to choke”.

A tear drops from the corner of Ismail’s left eye and Amina kisses his hands.

Ismail: “I am..I am sorry. I llll..I will all…always love you”.

Amina: “I will always love you too, just get well”.

She raises up her head to stare into his eyes and she discovered that Ismail has stopped breathing. “Doctor! Doctor! Nurse!”

The doctor and nurses rush in and after examining him, the doctor shakes his head. “I am sorry, we lost him. We did all we could to save his life, he was such a nice young man”.

Amina: “What! Noooooo! He just spoke to me. Doctor check well, maybe he is in coma again. He can’t die”. Somewhere in the room, Ismail’s mother has fainted after the doctor pronounced her son dead.

To be continued…

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

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