Jamila came from a village where people believed you must get married to someone from your village. Her paent got her married to a man from her village called Abdullahi. She never liked Abdullahi from the onset but she promised to make her parents happy because they have invested so much in her; they gave her all the basic necessities of life which a daughter deserve to have from her parents. It was because of this that she surrendered and succumbed to their wishes. She was indeed docile and submissive but Abdullah, was a cassanova. He never lowers his gaze on any lady he sees, be it an ugly or pretty lady. He was jobless so he took his new bride to Jigawa where his brother lived.
They managed to get a two roo apartment for them. Jamila was a very intelligent lady. She is a nurse by profession so she was fortunate to secure a job at near by hospital. Moreover, she goes to their in-laws house everyday to wash their dishes, sleep the house and fills the bowls with water. in fact, she did most of the household chores just to win the heart of her in-laws. They loved her so much that they treated her just like their own child. Abdullahi couldn’t give his wife helping hand but rather always pressuring her to give him money from her earning. She never complained but gave him.
Ten months after their wedding she had a baby boy. The child was named after Abdullah’s grand dad. A year later, his sister was diagnosed of appendix and he asked his wife to help his sister in the hospital where she works.
The bill was expensive but Jamila talked to the accountant so that it can be reduced. Her sister in-law Aisha had a successful operation. Aisha was married but was attending a school at Jigawa, so she brought her three children to stay with their uncle’s wife. For Jamila it was an added responsibility because she was the bread winner. She brought the attention of her husband to the issue that she can not take care of his sister and her children. He ignored her. Aisha felt that she wasn’t welcome in the family. She immediately called her mum and told her Jamila was a bad woman and had never liked her. The mother in-law became angry with Jamila and hated her. What baffled Jamila was that Abdullahi always traveled without telling her. He comes back home late, while girls always call him on phone to book appointement with him. He had a ‘’Sugar Mummy’’ who prevented him from attending to his wife. The sugar mummy bought him a car. Some months later the sugar mummy too discovered that he was flirting around with many ladies. She became perturbed and took away her car from him.
Jamila was into thrift contribution with her colleagues at the hospital where she worked and she was able to save N250,000. When she collected her share, she gave the money to Abdullah to help her buy a plot of land. He took the money and was never seen again. Months passed and soon it was sallah period. While he was away jamila the school fees, house rent, electricity bill, health bills and many more for her children. Like became difficult for her and her salary was like a drop of water in an ocean that couldn’t ease her problems.
She was so broke financially that she stole the hospital the hospital kerosene. She also stole medicine and sold them to be to feed her children. She struggled to buy a sallah ram. She gave the ram to one mallam to help her slaughter on sallah day. A day to sallah abdullahi cmae back home while jamila was out. He asked his children if their mum had bought sallah ram. They showed him where the ram was kept. When she came back, she saw him and never said a word to him. The next day, he collected the ram from the mallam and slaughter it. However he bought a new phone for her from his travel. She was so angry with him and she threw the phone on the ground. Out of annoyance, Abdullah grabbed her and slapped. She slapped him back and a fight ensued. He beat her to stupor. Her children called her neighbor who took her to hospital. When she regain consciousness, she asked of her husband’s whereabouts but instead was given a divorce later from one of his friend. She couldn’t believe what she saw and busted into tears and regrets.
Narrated by Fatima Abubakar
Story by: Amina Abdullahi
culled from Tambari
It was on a Friday evening that everything changed for me. My dad had just returned from the mosque; that was when the alarm clock said eight, and as was his tradition he wouldn’t remove his long white jalabia before he shouted.
Why is the generator not started yet?
I knew within me he was going to complain about my not coming to the mosque that evening which would add up to the problem at hand. To cover up one of the problem I dressed in a long Jalabia and left the house through the back door. I had to pretend I also went to the Masjid.
I sluggishly walked towards the door and tapped on it as though the Chinese door was complaining of body pains.
Who is that?
It’s me, I said stammering
When the door was opened I walked in as though I was carrying the weight of Mount Everest on my legs.
Where you not the one talking in your room few minutes ago? Queried my mum
Oh no? I shouted inaudibly. Mum you have destroyed my plan. How is your headache, she added. By this I knew I had to face my dad’s interview soon. Am getting better I said looking away.
My Dad was sitting on the sofa pressing his tablet pc. It was obvious he was reading news or perhaps on Wikipedia because as far as I knew him he never liked social media. He looked up briefly and turned all of his attentions back to his tablet pc, but I could see the ire inside of him waiting to be released.
Good evening sir, I said as he pretended not to have heard at all. I turned and was about leaving the sitting room when he roared out.
Come back here, you are now taking decisions for me in this house right?
Not so sir, I said babbling
Then how, tell me am listening, he continued. Maybe he was right. Often when ever he was away the house does as I say not because they were afraid of me but because I was given that opportunity and it was getting out of hand since I was misusing the golden opportunity.
Am sorry sir, I said leaving again but this time he got provoked as he stood up almost immediately and gave me the dirtiest slap ever. I slumped and it was the last thing I remember immediately I woke up on the hospital bed the following morning.
I was an asthmatic patient couple with the fact that I was feverish that day that I sweat and felt dizzy after walking few steps even in the room.
Immediately I opened my eyes I saw my Dad sat almost in front of me staring straight into my weakened eyes and it was at this time clear he was very sorry. His eyes carry the colours of a virgin sunset and his facial look was that of a cow. As far as I knew him he would never say sorry even though he was.
How are you feeling now Prof? He said touching my neck maybe trying to feel my pulse. He was fond of calling me Prof right from when I was a kid. I don’t know why but I could tell from his character how my education and lifestyles seems to be more of importance to him compare to my three other siblings.
Am fine, I said even though I knew I wasn’t as he made his way out of the ward. Let me go and see the doctor, he said closing the door behind him.
Immediately he returned, he rigidly supported his back on the wall. He stared vacantly at the window that barely had better curtain and shook his head every seconds and his eyes clouded with tears which he couldn’t shed.
“I will be back,” he said again even though it was not up to two minute he had just returned. The tone rang hollow, his emotions encased in a vacuum. He spoke as if it were some well-rehearsed line he had already repeated a thousand times. The announcement, though cold, remained firm, and it indicated more than just a temporary absence. The finality of the statement slowly took substance, and it lingered in the cozy room.
The words fell upon my senses like a lead weight. I stared at him turning his back, impatiently waiting for further explanation; and I was offered nothing.
Your mum will be here soon, he said as he finally bangs the door behind him.
It was when my mum returned that I was told I needed a blood transfusion, which I was given some hours later. It was getting late and my dad was yet come to the clinic which was some miles away from home.
We waited patiently but he didn’t come but only made a call to my mum that he wouldn’t be able to come until the next morning. My three other siblings were in a boarding school which means he would be alone in the house.
Mum there is something wrong with dad, I said pathetically.
What do you mean?
The way he left this morning had something more to it than just “I will be back” that he said before leaving. I said throwing away my face.
You know your dad, he hardly show his emotions, she said feeling relieved.
It was the next morning. The day was getting closer to noon yet dad was yet to come to the clinic and by this time the panic was high as his number refused to go through. My mum became restless and she couldn’t sit nor stand. Maybe it was because of my statement the previous day.
Hours later, the doctor walked into my ward and his face had stories to tell.
Hajia please come, he said as both leave the ward in slow motion motive. I waited for my mum but she was yet to return. I lethargically came down from the bed and made my way out the ward. In the reception I met one of neighbors and two of my family members sobbing and crying oceans out of their eyes.
What is happening? I asked as none of them answered.
You are not yet strong, the doctor advised as he led me back into my ward.
Towards evening I was discharged and met my house like a stadium. Everyone nodded their head like matured agama lizards.
Somebody help me, somebody please! Can anybody hear me? My mum sorrowful screams pierced through the neighborhood in a heightened tone. Her neck was revealing all the veins that lie therein as she cries the sorrow out of her heart. She shook her head vigorously and stamped her feet heavily on the harden earth yet it wasn’t enough. She rolled herself to the ground as she cried uncontrollably; she was absolutely inconsolable. Her cries of anguish echoed and wildly permeated through neighboring homes and within minutes more people hooted in. the entire compound was crowded with streams of sympathizers. Oh! Dad is dead? It can’t be, I cried
No! It can’t be. He is the most religious in this neighborhood; he can’t kill himself. He knows vividly how punishable it is for one to commit suicide. One of the mosque congregations lectured.
I sluggishly walked into his bedroom where his lifeless body lay in the bed. I was kaput and I bent to touch his feet as his bed was covered with his own pool of blood and the next thing I heard was “Prof, wake up its time for prayer”.
Subhanallah! I shouted. I am dreaming! It was a dream! But how can dream be this long and so true? Thank God I said with tears dripping down my eyes. Even though I couldn’t tell anyone the dream no doubt changed me for better.
Seeing these indigent lads gives me nothing but depression. To keep body and soul together I had opted to perpetually navigate my ears to the sound of their drum beats to tranquil myself from the turmoil portrayed by these lads.The so called recession has dreadfully hiked the number of these boys. Trotted in a single file along Jos-Abuja express road, beating their fragmented plates, gawking at the sky intently begging to cater for themselves and their masters. The name Almajiri sounds mammoth but it’s meaning was unfathomable to me at first.
Almajiri as the lads are frequently referred to spring forth from Arabic word Al-Mahaajirun, which precisely means (a migrant). Fadan karshi, a Southern part of Kaduna where I sojourn is predominantly dominated by these Almajiri Boys.
At about 9.am on Wednesday, I stepped out of a friend’s hummer Jeep fully kitted on my NYSC regalia. It was one of those days we flaunt our military uniform for admiration and to stylishly solicit for people’s help especially for a lift. With only #300 on me I was waiting for a vehicle to covey me to gwantu for CDS. Was flagging down any car possible. As I stood with unwavering optimism, my attention was driven away by a pitiable sight. ISMAIL, a famous Almajiri Boy deserted under a scorching sun, piercing into his pores. Weeping uncontrollably with his tattered duds, in-sensuous hair and cracked lips filled with blood stain alluring flies like abattoir where Shanu (Cows) are being slaughtered. Flies fed vigorously on the fresh wound at his right arm and his broken plate which serves as an identity for any almajiri. As I stood lost in thought, he jilted me with his pity-beckoning voice. So shallow a voice like a suckling scrambling for the mother’s breast. ”Corper, don Allah taimake ni ba da kowa” (please help me I have no one).
I Looked at him with much disdain clothed with a little bit of sympathy. How do I go to Gwantu if I treat him with my transport fare? Pressing that I needed to thumb print for the month of January, even though December allowee hasn’t popped-out. An act we are accustomed to. Immediately I shook both of my hands inside the khaki pocket in search of my wallet, just like a dream I was rounded up by these lads. the tempo of drum beat has gone atrocious as they plodded towards me with frowned faces like a hungry lion looking for a prey to devour. they are being compelled by their empty belly and licking pouches that has vowed never to retain anything valuable nor gratifying. I already had unhealthy disdain for their parents and their so called Mallams behind this unlawful act with the sole aim of enriching themselves and at the same time denying these lads their right in the society as well as decent and sound upbringing propelling them to litter the road, endangering their lives and causing heavy traffic every seconds for the Travellers. Invaded with these thoughts in the mist of confusion as to whom to offer help to like MMM. Obviously, like the MMM ponze scheme, I have been merged with the ALMAJIRI’S by the turbulence that betide us which has transposed the language of many even the snug Nigerians. Just like a soldier sent to the war front without arms. The boys have been unleashed to the street neglected, metamorphosed to beggars from background. Undeniably, the essence of the Almajiri has been defeated. Weeping bitterly for the sake of survival, he deserves to live. A voice whispered to my ears, thrown to the ground by a whirlwind from an unknown source, my hands got injured amidst this scene. The boys in their impoverished state took the saddle upon themselves to raise me up from the dust. The cry of the poor lad sank deep inside my heart, stood up like a statue of New York. Gave them #50 out of the #300 which was almost torn into pieces by these boys out of excitement. Rest the poor Almajiri boy on my shoulder in an attempt to cross, we were both knocked down at the middle of the road by a motorcycle and the lad swayed from my shoulder. Found myself later at the hospital bed but the abused, neglected Almajiri boy “Ismail” gave up the ghost. My community development service was done on that hospital bed. Ward 2A, room 15. Will live to remember that fateful day in the course of my service year. My heart wept for Ismail, the Almajiri boy.
The time was almost sun set, the call to prayer (The Muslim Adhan) was made by a man from whose voice one could tell he never attended a better Islamiyya (Islamic studies) but was given the position due to his age or better put, as a show of respect. Sincerely speaking I hated the fact that no one could correct his manner of his approach towards the call to prayer. Before I could finish with the ablution, they had already started praying. I hurried up with it, for I knew the prayer would be over in two to three minutes.
The funniest thing about the imam was that he was only good at saying countless of Allahu Akbar which he was never tired of.
Few moments later, the prayer was over. The imam faced the congregation. My eyes penetrated through the space between two the person sitting directly opposite him and our gazes melt into one another. It was very visibly clear I was different from everyone due to my mode of dressing especially the fact that I wore a face cap.
He folded his legs and raised his rosary or tesbi up so as everyone could see and started reciting what no one hears but only sees how violent the upper jar was to the lower one. His bears were combining in colours ranging from dirt, that is brown, and black and white colour.
The imam was neither fat but extremely slim in nature. He raises his hand and started praying again. I was surprise as everyone continued to shout ameen even when they had no idea what he was praying about exactly. This made me almost burst out of laughter as I had to run out of the mosque before I create a scene there.
Immediately I opened the gate to my lodge, I saw something that I couldn’t believe my own eyes.
“What are you doing” I snapped
I, for a moment became speechless with shock. Zahra’u was only smiling. I only wanted to help she said laying the last cloth on the line. I became stupid that I didn’t even thank her. I was just too shock that our little joke became something serious.
That night when so much began and so many things changed forever in my heart. Zahra’u’s name was edge in my heart. I must go and thank her. I left for outside and many thoughts ran riot in my mind as I take every step of mine.
“Zee” I shouted as she ran out of her room hurriedly as if been pursued…..
PART THREE COMING SOON