July 14, 2024

Idris drove me to their family house and I was wholeheartedly welcomed by his mother and everyone in the house. I didn’t know what he told them about me but they treated me like their very own. His mother even began calling me oya wa in Igala which Idris later translated the words to me as our wife.

 

The house was a very big building with different apartments.

 

“Unbgo omami deh?” Idris uttered in Igala, it seemed like he was asking about his daughter.

“Fafayi ma le duhu yi” His mother responded.

“Owun pkyi ene? Unbgo ma…” He was saying when a girl of about five years of age suddenly bounced into the house together with a lady I later learned was his junior sister, Rumaisah.

“Daddy!” The little girl ran to him.

“Oh Amani, I miss you so very much!” He said as he knelt and embraced her. “I miss you alot”

“I mishh you chuu, daddy!” She said.

Actually, it was his daughter. They didn’t look much alike though but she had his head, ears and his nose. She was very fair and beautiful.

They greeted each other thus, he introduced me to them as his friend. Yes, friend! After all we were just friends, right? Well, we had some talks together in the parlor with Amani on my lap until it was time for Asr prayer. I went and performed ablution together with Rumaisah and then prayed in the apartment in which she shared with Amani. As soon as I was done supplicating, Idris’ mother sent for me. I was taken to her room thus we shared our stories.

 

I learnt a lot about Idris’ family, his late wife and about their tribes. His mother was Igala from anpka, Kogi State while his father was Nupe from Gbako, Niger State.

 

They weren’t that good in their tribes though but they were very good in speaking Hausa and English.

 

We stayed in the house till precisely nine p.m when night news was been aired. Thus, Idris asked Rumaisah to get her luggage and that of Amani ready. I was very happy we were finally leaving, after all I was practically exhausted.

 

Before we left, Idris’ mother took Amani and handed her over to me. “I hope you know what I mean by this, Manal?” She said smiling at me.

 

“Yes, Mama” I managed to smile back.

“Thank you for understanding, please hold her as your very own. I can’t imagine she had been allover you ever since you came” She uttered.

“She loves my warmness and In Shaa Allah I will take good care of her, Mama” I blurted.

“Alright” She huffed as she placed her hand on Amani’s cheek. “Goodbye, my granddaughter”

“Bye, gyan ma!” Amani squealed.

And just then, Idris horned from outside – he was already waiting for us in his car. We went outside to the car and thus Amani demanded to stay in the front with me.

 

Rumaisah smiled while loading their luggage in the car’s boot.

“Mama mi, Baba mi, Nna Hajara, Ya Mahmud, goodbye!” She bade them before storming into the car. Nna Hajara was Ya Mahmud’s wife, she was their father’s junior sister from the village.

“Bye!” The chorused.

“Drive carefully!” Idris’ mother said.

“Alright, Mama!” Idris said as we drove away.

The trip wasn’t that bad if I may say, but what Idris and I did wasn’t good.

 

We weren’t in any relationship yet we fooled his parents and everyone in their family house, what if they later discovered the verity? I really shouldn’t have made a promise to take care of Amani, the poor girl would never forgive me if she in the future learnt about what I stupidly did!

Could you even imagine she embraced me like her mother? She slept on my lap while leaning her body on my chest as if she had knew me for a very long time. Perhaps she saw the spirit of her mother inside me but wait, did she even know her mother? I heard her mother died shortly after given birth to her in the hospital.

“Manal, should I drop you in your house or…?” Idris was saying when I unhesitatingly cut in.

“I already texted Ya Salim to lock the gate”

“Oh, nice!” He smiled as he made a U-turn.

Immediately we reached his house, he gave Rumaisah the keys to open the gate thus, we drove in. I was so exhausted that I nearly lose my balance as soon as I alighted from the car while holding Amani, she was still sleeping.

“I am sorry I put you through all these” Idris said as we headed to his flat.

 

Rumaisah was left behind taking care of all the luggage.

“What we did was wrong!” I said.

“I know, but we can still make it right” He said leading us to a room, probably that of Amani.

“How?” I lazily asked trailing him.

“Hmm” He sighed as he unlocked the room’s door and walked inside. “We can marry…”

“Each other?” I cut in so exhausted.

“Yes, Manal” He said as he helped me laid Amani on the bed. “You can sleep here with her, it’s her room. Rumaisah normally share it with her, there is a bathroom and also…” He was saying when I wearily hopped unto the bed and slept without even knowing I did.

 

“Idris, yesterday you said something about us getting married to each other, can you explain please?” Manal uttered fidgeting her fingers as soon as I pulled over in front of their house.

 

“Oh, yeah!” I gulped and continued. “Manal, I… I love you, and I really want you to be my wife”

“Hmmm!” She heaved a sigh. “I don’t really know what to say, I think I should be going”

“Wait, please!” I said holding her hand.

“Okey” She said not looking at me.

“I love you, Manal” I repeated my words again.

“Okey, thank you” She said and before I could speak again she alighted from the car and ran into their house with her bag.

 

You know, she might just be coy or perhaps not interested.

I huffed about igniting the engine of my car into action with the thought of Manal allover my mind. She really seemed like someone who despised love. Maybe she was betrayed in the past or maybe… my thought was intercepted.

“Wow, look who’s here!” It was Salim, he was holding something in a black leather.

 

There was no need for me to ask him what it was after all Akara (beans cake) doesn’t need a formal introduction – It smelled good.

“Good morning, friend” I alighted from the car.

“Morning, Idris” We shook hands. “How was the trip with my sister, I hope it was great?”

“Yeah, she bounced in recently” I gulped.

“Alright, and you?” He asked.

“I… I am about driving back home” I said.

“No, not when breakfast is here” He winked.

“Hmm” I gulped as I glanced at the leather. Heaven knows I loved Akara more than…

 

“Come on, lets go inside!” Salim exclaimed.

“Okey” I gulped again and trailed him into the house. This was my first time being into their house, it was very big with many indoor trees.

Salim walked me into their flat hence I was welcomed warmly by his mother and his heavily pregnant wife in the dining area whom I learnt were waiting for Manal to finish the pap the latter already started in the kitchen. Actually, the tablewares were also waiting.

 

“When Manal came in, I asked her why you didn’t come in with her and she told me you were in a hurry” Salim’s wife said smiling.

 

“Yeah, I was in a hurry but Salim here” I gave him a friendly punch. “Forced me to come in”

“Och! Well then you can go” Salim said.

“No, I’m no more in a hurry” I gulped staring at the leather of the Akara on the dining table.

“See him mouth!” Salim teased.

And just then, we heard some footsteps. It was Manal and she was so surprised on seeing me.

“Look who’s here, Manal. It’s your husband” Salim’s wife said wearing a smile on her face.

“Ya Hauwa ki bari dan Allah” Manal protested as she kept the pap’s bowl on the centre of the table and began serving us together with the Akara Salim bought. “He’s not my husband”

“Look who’s denying?” Salim’s wife teased.

“She’s just shy” Salim’s mother chimed in.

“Shy? I don’t think so! She’s just forming or maybe her mother inlaw told her something about her hair, she doesn’t like plaiting it…” Salim said busting into a scornful laughter.

“Ina jin kunyanka, Ya Salim” Manal said.

“Are you serious?” Salim huffed.

They kept talking while I watched Manal with every move she made. She was hot in sweats. I mean, she looked tempting when perspiring.

As soon as she was done serving, she sat close to me and began eating without a word.

 

That was how we ate until we were done. Thus, I helped her cleared the table against her wish and as soon as we went into the kitchen she asked me to drop what I was holding and go.

“Have I done something wrong?” I asked.

“Try asking yourself” She uttered as she unhesitatingly began washing the dishes.

“Myself?” I puzzled. Actually, I didn’t know what I did so I kept thinking hard. “Oh, was it about the stress I put you into yesterday?”

“Not that!” She squealed.

“Okey, tell me” I gulped drawing closer to her.

“I just don’t think you truly love me, Idris. All you want is a good mother for your daughter, you think I don’t know? Please just leave me alone, I already know everything” She said.

“Who told you that?” I said smiling. She was right but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love her.

“My conscience” She said.

Thus I huffed and knelt in front of her. She wanted me to prove my love for her and I would do just that. I removed my late wife’s ring from my finger and rose my head to her. “Before my wife died, she returned this ring to me. She said I should give it to the woman that deserves it, and now I’m giving it to you. Manal, please will you marry me?” I uttered.

“I… I don’t know what to say but yes, you can put the ring in my ringfinger” She said as she hastily rinsed her soapy hands and stretched the right one to me. She seemed very excited.

 

“Okey, my love” I held the hand and put the ring in her ringfinger. “I love you, Manal…”

Thank you for reading #Insidearewa

 

Written by Mohammed Abubakar KingMoha, Inside Arewa

 

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