July 18, 2024

When yesterday Rumaisah told me about the man she wanted to marry, I was happy for her.

It was her childhood friend, Mansur. I never knew they were still in touch with each other before, he was from an affluent family and his parents were friends with ours.

She had told me his father recently handed over one of his filling stations in Kano to him hence, he was now thinking about marriage. He was just 22.

“Did Mama and Baba know about it?” I had asked her because she was a very shy person.

“Yes, Nna Hajara had told them for me” She had responded while fidgeting her fingers.

“Alright then, when is he going to introduce himself to them? Or is he shy too?” I had said.

“No,” She had smiled. “I asked him to wait”
“Why?” I had asked.
“Because I want you to get a mother for Amani first, or what do you think?” She had uttered.
“Hmm, just tell him to come out” I had said.

“Alright, Ya Idris” She had satisfactorily sighed.

Today was Salim’s baby’s naming ceremony, I prepared as early as possible and drove to their house for the ceremony.

The baby was now about to be named after Salim’s father, Talib – an extraction of the name; Mutalib.
“Idris, help me with this tray” Salim uttered handing over a tray filled with some sweets and dates to me. “Share it to those over there”
“Alright” I humbly collected the tray and began sharing what was inside to the nearby people.

As soon as the baby was named, we shared the takeaways brought to us by the girls from inside too to the people that came.

Qasim helped us as well, same as Manal’s younger brother, Farouq. After that, we went inside to eat in a canopy. Just as I sat in one of the plastic chairs Amani came to me with her tommy so full.

“Daddy” She said breathing hard.
“Amani, why must you eat everything?” I said.

Thus, she giggled trying to sit on my lap.

“Amani, you for sure will disturb me” I sighed.
“Why won’t she?” Salim teased.
“Koh? Don’t worry, in few years time you also will be on my shoes In Shaa Allahu” I uttered.
“Of course yes, and I won’t complain” He said widening his stainless teeth. “Yes, yes, yes…”
“You need Omega-6 tablet” I teased.

“Says my doctor” He teased back.
And just then, Manal came with food for me in a covered plate and a chilled Coke. “Please don’t give Amani, she had been eating since, infact Amani come lets go please” She said.

“Unnwum!” Amani shrugged while on my lap.
“Come on, it’s me o!” Manal said but still the girl refused to follow her, you know how kids can be at times and they are unpredictable. Thus, Manal took off leaving her with me.

“Thank you” Salim said as soon as his own food was delivered to him by one Halimah.

“What about mine?!” Qasim yelled at her.
“Ah! I am coming now” She rumbled and left.

One thing I learned about Qasim was that he had once proposed to Manal and she turned down his hand. I also learned that he was still in love with her hence the glares towards me.

We ate and later on in the evening just after telling Manal I would be going to work she told me to wait, that her parents would like to see me. I was so surprised, I never knew she had already spoke to them about me.

But one thing I noticed was the sadness written allover her face, she wasn’t agile anymore and she looked so disturbed. I had wanted asking her if something was wrong but promptly changed my mind thinking it was all stress.

Hence, I patiently waited to be called and immediately after magrib prayer I was summoned into the room Manal settled in. Her father was a very tall black man, he hardly smile and his eyes were as wide as those of Manal.

Her mother on the other hand was fat just like Salim’s mother, she was also fair and beautiful. Infact, Manal looked like her in numerous ways if I may say.

“Manal said you are Igala, is that true?” Her father said immediately after the greetings. He had sent Manal outside in order to have a private conversation with me, yes… private!

“Actually,” I cleared my throat and continued. “My father is Nupe while my mother is Igala”

“Nupe and Igala?!” He squealed.

“Ye… yes, sir” I stuttered lowering my gaze.
“I never knew those tribes are friendly to each other. I thought they hate each other” He said.
“It depends on the individuals, Baba” I smiled.
“Koh?” He said.
“Yes, Baba” I nodded.
“Well Idris, I am so sorry about your late wife and I pray you find someone far better than my daughter to replace her with” He uttered.

“I… I don’t understand, sir” I said because at first, I didn’t get what he was talking about.
“Well, the thing is we don’t allow inter tribal marriage in our family…” He apprised me.

And at that moment I felt like the whole world was on my head. Like seriously? And Manal refused to apprise me about it? Why did she even accepted me? Why on earth did she…?

“Idris, my son” Manal’s mother chimed in. “I am sorry on my daughter’s behalf, she must have forgotten about it that was why she…”
“Babu wani forgotten!” Her father intruded. “Taurin kai ne dai kawai nata.

So Idris, just be patient kaji? As you can see she has already arranged her luggage – we are going back to Minna with her tomorrow In Shaa Allah, and wallahi she’s not coming back kaji koh yaro?”

Another planet on my head, thus my heart began beating more faster. I wanted to be strong but the feeling of being betrayed made me to release the pending tears in my eyes.

So Manal knew everything? Upon all the video games in this world, she decided to play with my heart. I didn’t even know what else to say.

“Just go, ka ji?” Her father added.
Thus, I sniffed and stood to my feet with my eyes so blurred by tears. “No problem, Baba” I said to him and thence walked to the door. Just as I walked out, I found Manal leaning her back on the opposite wall facing me in tears.
“Wallahi Idris I didn’t know he was serious when he made that clear to us years back, wallahi tallahi…” She was saying when I cut in.
“Get Amani ready, I will be waiting for her in the car outside” I said and turned leaving with her trailing me in tears and begging me to stop. I didn’t listen to her, I kept walking and as soon as we were about reaching the living room she stopped following me. I cleared my face and find my way into the crowd and left the house to my car outside the damn house.
With tinted glasses, I could cry without been noticed. Thus, I broke into another round of tears hitting the steering wheel so hard with my hand. “Why, Manal? Why? Why? Why?!”

Just as I was busy crying, Manal arrived with a sleeping Amani and her suitcase. I quickly wiped of my face, stormed out and opened the back seat’s door for her. She laid her inside and then looked me in the eyes. “Lets elope” She said but I pretended like I didn’t heard her. I remotely opened the boot and dropped Amani’s luggage inside. “Please, Idris lets…”
“Love marriage may be beautiful, but with the parents’ support is awesome” I said about storming back into the car when she held me. “Idris please don’t leave me, please don’t leave me dan Allah” She said releasing the tears in her eyes – not minding the people around us.

This time around, her tears melted my heart but I was still angry with her. I should have at least known about her father’s statement concerning intermarriage, yes I should have!

“Manal, just obey your parents” I said and thus extricated from her tight grip and stormed into the car. I never wanted to leave but I had to, so I ignited the engine into action and accelerated away in a high speed – 120km/h.
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Thank you for reading #InsideArewa

Written by Mohammed Abubakar KingMoha, Inside Arewa



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



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