June 12, 2024

Ever since I got discharged from the hospital, I had been hoping to see the mysterious man that had been around me when I was in the hospital.

Sadly, I only knew his name and his occupation but didn’t know more about him. I could ask about him from Ya Salim but what if he… – I couldn’t finalize my thought when Hajiya Siyyamah called me.

“Take this key please” She gave me her car key as soon as I walked into her room. “Go to the market and buy this foodstuffs for me” She said handing me a list. “Also, drive carefully please!” She cautioned.
“Alright, Hajiya” I beamed at her and headed back to my room.

After putting on one of my hijabs, I walked out to the compound, stormed into her car and drove to the market. The place was full the fact that today was Saturday. I carefully drove into the parking area and parked the car in a small corner. Thank God the car was a small body Honda, there was no space for big cars.

It took me almost an hour to get all the things I was sent to purchase, thus I returned back to the car and gently drove away. Ask me how I learnt how to drive and I would tell you my junior brother, Farouq taught me.

We were just three years apart but he knew things I didn’t. He was very good at learning new things, just tell him to do something new and he would miraculously do it for you. He was a prodigy.

While on my way home, my phone began ringing. It was Hilwah, my course mate from school. I gently reduced the speed of the car and quickly picked up the call.
“Hello” I said waiting for her response.
“Hi, Manal” She said in a low tone.
“Is everything okay?” I asked.
“Not really” She cleared her throat. “Just coming back from the clinic, Yusuf nearly killed me today”

“Again?” I puzzled wondering the kind of husband he was, he had been so cold and aloof towards her.
“Yes, Manal” She sniffed and continued. “I am leaving his house before he kill me one day”
“No, please don’t do that!” I snapped at her.
“Why?” She asked.
“Because your marriage is just 8 months” I replied.

“It’s a bit early, right?” She sniffed.
“Yes, you should think about something else… not ending your marriage with him” I suggested.

“Okay, what should I do?” She said.
She was the same age as me and had gotten married few months before we completed our Youth Service.

She was presently living in Wudil together with her husband, Sergeant Yusuf, an Army Officer. The day she first told me about their relationship I almost told her not to marry him. Firstly, he was a soldier in our NYSC camp and wasn’t that friendly. Secondly, he was Nupe stroke Igala, a somewhat rare tribal combination.

And thirdly, he loved being respected like a General during our training. Well, I graced their wedding but ever since they got married she had been complaining to me about his malevolence towards her. He was always throbbing the heck out of her.

“I am in Kano, I think you need to spend some time here with me” I suggested. “Or what do you think?” I continued. “I am in my Aunt’s house”

“Oh, so you are in our state but refused to apprise me right? Why?” She queried.
“Sorry, I wanted telling you but I’ve been through a lot. Please call me when you are coming over” I said.

“I will come over tomorrow!” She said.
“Okay, I will be anticipating” I said.
“Alright then” She said.
“Yeah, take care” I huffed.
“You too” She said.

Today being Monday, I woke up with a very strong Malaria. I was still the only one at home so I had no one to send to the pharmacy for drugs.

Mama had refused to let my sister and daughter return back, she said they would stay with her till the holiday ends.
My temperature was so hot and I had no extra pills at home to calm the illness down.

My only option now was to contact pharmacist Aisha, hence I took my phone from the drawer and called her. “Hel… hello Aisha, please get me a Ciprokris 500MG, Nufenac, and… and any of the broad spectrum antibiotics.

Hurry up please, I am burning badly” I stuttered while shivering.
“What?!” She screamed. “Okay, okay… stay calm please, I will be on my way right now”

“Okay, come… soon” I said.
“Alright” She uttered and ended the call.
When I was still living with my parents, my mother used to say I was the weakest among her children.

She said every time I became ill the whole family and neighborhood would know about it because I used to mourn like a baby. Actually she was right, I was someone who could hardly endure pain most especially when sick.

In my family, we were four with Sister Kubrah being the first child, me the second child, yusuf the third, and Rumaisah the last among us. We also had our Igala names too, Ma’one yi, Ojo ne, Alu ko’ojo ka and Oyonu, respectively.

Phurrn!
Phurrnn!
I heard a horn outside, it was definitely Aisha. I had no gateman so I managed and got myself up to my feet before walking out to the gate with my body wrapped with blanket. As soon as I unlocked it I pulled it open.

That moment, I felt a piercing headache. I didn’t even know when I almost fell down but Aisha was able to get me back to my feet. She helped me walk back inside, to my room, thus she placed me on a drip, administered some drugs into it and just then I slept. We the pharmacists can also treat, but you should know that we are not doctors.

When I woke up, I felt like someone reborn. I felt so much better like I wasn’t the one that Malaria bashed in the morning. What baffled me more was the fact that the time now was 7:35pm. “Subhanallah!” I screamed as I quickly withdrew from the bed. I wasn’t on drip anymore which means it had finished.

But where was Aisha? I wondered as I walked out to the parlor. Just then, I started perceiving a strange aroma. She must be in the kitchen!
Thence, I went in there and found her cooking. She turned and gave me a broad smile. “I am happy to see you awake and soundly” She said.

“Thank you” I said leaning by the cabinet.
“You are welcome…” She said and continued. “I called the management and told them about it” “You shouldn’t have” I sighed.
“Why?” She gave me an interrogative gaze.
“Because,” I hesitated as I walked towards the freezer for something to hydrate myself with. “I am going to work today, and it is almost time” I said taking a can of chilled coke.

“No, you’re not going anywhere!” She said.

“Why?” I asked after taking a gulp of the coke.
“You are asking me?” She glared at me. “Look, I’ve been here since morning making sure you get better and now you’re trying to disappoint me?” She shook her head displaying anger.

“Thank you for the care, but I have to go” I said because I was scared of sleeping alone ever since I lost my wife.

That was why I even chose night shift at work because that way I would not be present at home in the night. Yes, sure!
“If you go, consider our friendship broken” She said as if we were dating or something. Hmm! “Broken?”

I smirked and shook my head about leaving the kitchen island when she suddenly uttered something that hence bewildered me.
“If you are scared of living alone I can, you know, stay with you here till your sister and kid returns.

Trust me, you need me” She said.
How the hell she knew I was scared became a mystery to me. Did she read my psychological situation or what? And talking about staying with me, was she trying to prove to me that she could be a perfect wife to me? I wouldn’t buy the idea because people might suspect something, society is always looking for ways to sully your name. “You can sleep here today but tomorrow please go back home.

I would be resuming work so I don’t think I would be needing your presence after today” I uttered.

“Okey” She said displaying sadness.
If only she knew what I was scared of, what might arise if I allowed her to be staying with me. “Thank you” I said to her once more before leaving the kitchen.

I went back to my room and found 11 missed calls from my brother, Yusuf. Hence, I hastily called him back.

“Hello Yusuf, is everything okey?” I asked.
“Brother, where have you been?” He asked.
“It’s a long story, just tell me if everything is okey or not” I uttered in a tone of curiosity.
“It’s my wife, Hilwah” He said.

“Don’t tell me you pissed her off again!” I said.
“I did o, I was drunk that was why” He said.
Actually, Yusuf was a very bad boy. He changed ever since he joined the Army. I had warned him not to join the army but he insisted he had to. He joined them shortly after his Diploma.

“Alu Ko’ojo ka!” I called him with his Igala name. “What is wrong with you?” I said.
“Nothing, oma iye mi (my sibling)” He said.

“You are on your own, since you don’t used to hear word” I said about terminating the call.
“Ahh, oma iye mi ewun eh ka de? (What are you saying, my sibling?)” He said pathetically.
“I am saying the truth!” I blurted out.

“Just help me, I won’t do that again shen ki ojo je (If God Will)” He vowed just like before.
“Mtsww” I hissed and continued. “If I help you, then it’s because of God not because of your vow or anything else. Alu sholobi…”

“Thank you, oma iye mi. She ran away since yesterday. Please call and tell her to come back home. I won’t harm her ever again” He said.

“Alu re!” I shouted at him to keep quiet. “You’re not the one to tell me what to do” I said and quickly terminated the call. What a big mess!

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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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