My mum has the cutest smile I have ever seen, very articulate and beautiful, her strength is so admirable and my father loves going out with her, so he will be showered with praises from men in the society, especially his friends that always comes home to drink mum’s kunu gedah. Though he has another wife but he spends most of the time with me, my brother; Mustapha and my mum, he calls me Gimbya (princess) but my name is Aisha.
We all live in Borno but my father rented a separate house for both families, during Ramadan, we all come together to celebrate and pray, sometimes we gather in my house, while other times at our neighbor, mummy Zainab’s place. She only has Zainab, and I am so glad she’s my good friend because we all attend the same school. Ar-Rayyan highschool. I always tell Mustapha and Zainab I will be a doctor in the nearest future, but Zainab says the future will take care of itself.
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Laughter was the pleasant tone that hovers my home, I have a peal of very loud and confused laughter that even confuses me but has never hindered me from laughing when my father tries dancing or professing love to my mum. It is always funny and very romantic, I always wished to have someone just like my dad, hardworking, caring, and cute.
My dad was different, he doesn’t believe in polygamy and he believes strongly in education. He would tell anyone who cares to listen that the reason “there’s nothing fun or interesting about marrying two wives. I’m not done understand Mama Mustapha, you want me to add another”. Everybody loved him because he was nice to everybody.
One sunny afternoon, my father returned home, gasping for air, he was breathing heavily, while sweat runs down his wrinkled face down to his chest. Curiosity flared me. “what is it, papa? Who is chasing you? Talk to me?” I became very worried as all he did was shook his head. I offered him water to drink, he took a bit and went to the room, lying down facing the ceiling.
Later that evening, at dinner, when my mum returned from the market he finally spoke, “I am ruined” with tears welled up in his eyes “as I was working at the farm, dan’allah..these men just came to the farm with their cows, I asked them to please leave, but they refused, as I was arguing with one of them, the other punched me in the stomach and started beating me with a rod. He then brought out a knife and threatened to stab me if I uttered a word. Fear traveled down my spine and I stayed motionless watching their cows devour our crops. They burnt the farm before they left and said this was my punishment for challenging them. “everything is gone” he said with tears rolling down his eyes. “when will it end,” I asked myself.
The incident traumatized my father and two years later, he fell very ill. The only good thing was that my mum was pregnant. For weeks, my mum and mummy Zainab took turns in taking care of him.
On that faithful night, I heard a very loud noise. People, yelling “What’s going on,? I wonder, quickly, Mustapha closed the door and asked me to quickly hide inside my mum’s room, under her bag of clothes.
I did exactly what he instructed, still peeping to see what is happening. All of a sudden I saw my brother drop dead with a dagger on his chest, I held my mouth tightly not to scream, then the men entered the room, my father was lying on the bed helplessly, while my mum was fidgeting by his side, she was pushed to the ground. I watched as my dad was macheted right on the head. He dropped to the ground gasping for breath. My pregnant mum was raped and butchered to death
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The trauma was so much, I fainted, when I gained consciousness, my house was filled with flowing blood of my family, I rushed out and saw the whole street littered with dead bodies, burnt houses, injured people, and wailing people.
I sat helplessly in front of my house, hoping this was a dream and would awaken in no time. The horrific death of my parents played repeatedly in my mind.
Few hours later, Mummy Zainab appeared from her hideout. She hugged me and took me to her place. My uncle came a few days later and took me in
A mass burial was conducted by the community which was televised
My reality became scary but my oblivion was just the opposite, very peaceful. School ended for me as my uncle could no longer afford to pay my school fees with her fifteen children. He decided he was going to give me out in marriage
Few months after the death of my family, my wedding date was announced to me. My uncle called me to his room one night to break the news of Alhaji Tanko coming to marry me. The marriage, he said, will ease the family burden. I was very confused because Alhaji Tanko is 70years old with Four wives already, though he is wealthy
“There’s no way I am going to marry someone that is older than my late father, kai, I am only 16years old.” I fought back “dan’allah I don’t want to marry now, I want to go to school and be a doctor” He responded angrily ” Allah ya yi maku azaba (God punish you)kai!kai!kai! Makaranta? what school, did your father drop any money before he died. Your Opinion does not matter, besides Aminat too is marrying Alhaji Usman, the former local government chairman, a day after yours” I turned to look at Aminat who looked happy, then I said in my heart “if he can give his thirteen years old daughter easily to Alhaji Usman, then I truly have no choice” I nodded my head as tears gushed down from my eyes
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The night before the wedding, I sat down weeping and reflecting on the last few months of my life. I cried until I had no tears in my eyes. A part of me wanted to run away, the second past was scared. So I stayed back.
Everyone was happy at the wedding except me. I became his fifth wife, and few months later, I got pregnant was delivered of a baby girl. I called her Sakina which means peace because I was hoping she would bring me peace but she did not.
Exactly one year after her birth, I finally summoned the courage to leave and stole three hundred thousand naira from my husband’s room and disappeared. I cried all through the journey to Lagos. I spent exactly one week at the railway side in Agege. Then I overheard someone, who just returned from Ghana speaking to another about opportunities in Ghana. I walked up to him and asked in Hausa how to get to Ghana. he looked at me and gave me a description. I thanked him and left
Ghana was different from Lagos. It was not overpopulated. I got a cheap hotel room, got a part-time job serving food at a restaurant of a Madam Fowe who I met on the bus to Ghana. I lied to her that I was heading to Ghana to school. We bonded and she wrote her number on a piece of paper and asked me to call her. I called her few weeks later and narrated my ordeal to her. She felt pity and offered me a job at her restaurant. I told her about my dream of becoming a Doctor and she encouraged me to enroll for evening lessons. She loved me like her daughter since she didn’t have a child of her own
DREAM TO REALITY
I gained admission into the University Of Ghana and studied Nursing. After four years, I got a scholarship to further in Canada. I became a doctor, practiced for a few years. It was amazing how 12 years have passed but I still think of my daughter. I wondered if she was fine. Will I recognize her? How does she even look now? will she forgive me? These were the questions I asked myself. I believe she hates me now.
But on a brighter note, I met Dr. Nazifi. First, we were friends and then we became lovers. He is from Nigeria, Kaduna, to be precise. He proposed and I said yes, though I did not tell him about my marriage to Alhaji. No one knows about that except Madam Fowe and I wanted to keep it that way.
A few months later, he took me to Kaduna to meet his mom. His dad had died a few years ago. He lost a long battle to Diabetes. We spent a few days in Kaduna, then traveled to Borno to visit his uncle who now represents his Dad. Lo and behold, his uncle is Alhaji Tanko.
There I was, staring at him and the beautiful girl by his side, more like my reflection but a younger version of me. All of a sudden her name was called and she responded. That was my daughter, that was Sakina. My heart skipped as my state of oblivion was no longer peaceful; here’s my fiancée and my husband.