AUTHOR: OGECHI ALABI
His mother wouldn’t listen to his lies. She believed Zainab. The way she talked to Bashir hurt him. He felt he was a man and a woman can’t address him like that. He said it to her.
“Excellent Bashir. Let me inform your father if you will remain his son. Then he will tell my brother who is an army officer, let us see if you will survive it, both of you.”
Bashir calmed down. He knew the implication if this comes out. He decided to behave himself and ask for forgiveness. His mother wept. “Why would you want to backstab your benefactor? Allah frowns at that. Your wife didn’t leave you, she stayed and asked you to move out with her but you refused. Well, I support her. If you still want the marriage, move in with her. I am refunding the money she paid for the house and your father will furnish it for her. She is still your wife and we will support her whether you are with her or not.”
Read – His magnificent episode 1
Bashir was upset. He didn’t believe Zainab will tell anyone but she did. She told his mother. Who else would she have confided in? If this gets out, he would be ruined. His life would be at stake. He decided to listen to his mother and move out. He stayed in a hotel for two weeks while he waited for the house to be furnished. His father furnished it grudgingly.
Bashir’s mother refunded the twelve million naira for the house. Zainab’s father refused the refund of his share. He stated he gave it to his daughter as a gift and was not to be refunded. Zainab returned the money to her mother-in-law. She used the other six million to offset the loan.
When Bashir finally moved in, he insisted on separate bedrooms. The building was a four-bedroom house so she retained the room she was in and asked him to choose a room. He wanted the biggest room.
Zainab refused and told him, “I have to stay here. This is my house and I moved in here before you. It is either we share the room or you move into the other bedroom. This bedroom can accommodate all my things.”
“You are struggling with me for the bedroom because you feel you have something against me. Move out of this room before I come back otherwise, I will set this house on fire. Such disrespect. You reported me to my mother, you will forever live to regret what you did.”
She moved to the other room for peace to reign. She observed he was hardly home, he came back home very late. For a month after he moved in, he never touched her. He didn’t drop money for feeding. He didn’t talk to her. The environment was hostile.
Zainab tried to resolve the issues but it was proving difficult. He threatened to attack her if she ever presented the matter to him. He didn’t provide food because he stopped eating at home. It was painful for Zainab. When she decided to ignore him was when he left his phone and went out. She saw the phone and went through it. What she saw broke her heart. Bashir had been with different women and even gave them money he refused to give her or even contribute towards the buying of the house. She forwarded all the chats to her phone and quickly deleted where she forwarded them to her phone. As she dropped the phone and entered her room, Bashir walked in. He saw his phone on the dining table where he left it. He picked it up and left.
She called her mother and told her. She was miserable and she wanted out of the marriage. “Maami, he doesn’t love me. He doesn’t care if he is hurting me. I didn’t want to have a child with him but now I think I should consider it. He hasn’t touched me in months. He does nothing in the house, absolutely nothing. How am I supposed to manage?”
“I will call his mother to call him to order.”
“No maami. She will be upset I told you.”
“I will tell her you called to borrow money from me and I would like to know why. I will cover you up. If he is spending money on girls outside and not his family, he is a stupid guy. And I would ask her why you are not pregnant yet.”
“Apply for a Master’s degree. Go back to school, it will make your weekends more bearable. Carry his mother along.”
Her mother over delivered. Bashir came home angry. He asked her why she went to borrow money from her mother and not ask him for money.
“I have asked for money several times and you ignored me. I can’t afford the bills in this house, you have to contribute your quota. You don’t feed me or buy my clothes or toiletries. You are supposed to take care of me and you have the money to do it. Your women are not my problem, just provide for your home.”
“I don’t want to live with you anymore. I will be moving out soon. When I move out, you can do whatever you want. Ok?”
“When are you moving out so I can move into my bedroom? Are you divorcing me? If you are not, you are still responsible for me according to Islamic law. If you don’t provide, your family will.”
Bashir didn’t move out but he continued his late-night return home. Zainab had started her course at the university. She was to go Fridays and Saturdays. She told Bashir but he paid her no heed.
She told her mother-in-law who encouraged her but also reminded her about childbearing. She sent her some money to help her.
As Zainab started, she realised she didn’t look good or look like her female housemates. The young girls who were even married like her dressed more modern. She saw something entirely different that she liked. Funke had tried to upgrade her but she had shied away. She also saw men. They were interesting to talk to and they seemed to want to talk to her more. She was scared of sinning against her husband and Allah. She tried to look and smell good without compromising her faith.
She went to Funke for help. Funke took her shopping and helped her pick out clothes, body lotion, body sprays and perfumes. All the items were expensive. She bought a bag for twenty-five thousand naira which she had never done before.
Everyone noticed the changes. She no longer wore baggy clothes but clothes that showed she had a nice figure without it being suggestive. She never wore revealing or clinging clothes but she switched from hijab to fancy scarves. She wore light makeup too. She looked amazing going to work and also school. She even bought some pairs of jeans and long stops to wear on the weekend.
Read – The Innocent Child Episode 25 – finale
One Saturday morning, Zainab woke up to leave for her lectures. She had on a pair of jeans, a long top and her scarf with light make-up and her bag. Bashir came out of the room and took two steps back. He couldn’t recognise her. She looked different and very pretty.
“Where are you going dressed like this?” he asked her.
“I have lectures.”
“Unilag. Why do you ask? You are aware of my classes.”
“I am not aware of you whoring around the university. What type of dressing is this? O, you have a lover now. Is that what is going on? I punish you and you get a lover?”
“Bashir, I don’t know what you are talking about. Please I have lectures now.”
Bashir dragged her back as she tried to leave. I asked a question. Where are you going dressed like a prostitute? Is it because I have resolved not to touch you again you got a lover?”
“Bashir, I am going for lectures, I do not have a lover. I have not harassed you since all these days and I don’t intend to. I have not reported you or fought you. If you don’t touch me will I die? It is your conscience that is pricking you because you know all you have been up to.”
“You are not leaving my house dressed as a whore. You have to cover your entire body before you leave the house.”
“Fine,” she went inside and changed into a long gown that was the long sleeve. She put the belt of the dress in between her books and she stepped out.
“Where is your hijab? You have to wear it.”
She went back inside and wore the hijab. As she made to leave he said, “I will drop you at the lecture hall and pick you up.”
“You will have to call me to know where I am before you can pick me up.”
“Let me wait for you where I dropped you and don’t see you, then you will know who you are dealing with.”
She didn’t argue with him. She could see he was angry and she wanted to attend lectures, it was her happy place. She went with him.
As she entered her faculty, she entered the bathroom. She wore her belt on the dress and the tied her hijab into a style. She loved how she looked. She attended her lectures. She had fun. She interacted with her coursemates and shared ideas with them. She wouldn’t give up her lectures for anything in the world.
She had told him to pick her up at 5 pm. Lectures ended at 4 pm but she wanted to unwind with her friends and coursemates before leaving. At 5 pm, she was standing outside looking the way she looked to lectures.
Bashir couldn’t believe how sophisticated Zainab looked. He thought he was staring at a girl out of a magazine. He lost it at that point. She had a way of getting into his head. In the process of punishing her, he failed to realise she had upgraded herself and the upgrade made her more attractive and which meant she would be faced with so much temptation. His biggest fear was her falling for another man.
As he parked, he saw her walking up to the car. She looked different from when she left the house. The hijab was well-styled. Why was she doing this? She didn’t know the grief she was causing him. The gown looked different but it was the same gown she wore when she left the house.
She entered the car and told him she had to stop at the market to buy things to cook for the next day. Bashir to her he could not wait until the finish. She didn’t respond. As she stepped out of the car and tried to cross the road, a car stopped and then wund down.
“Hello beautiful, where are you headed?”
“I’m married,” was her response as she crossed.
Bashir didn’t leave. He came down from the car and waited for her. He was wondering when all this started. He alone was enjoying her beauty indoors and now the men outside are noticing her. What changed?
He watched her come out of the market. He noticed her poise, she appeared confident, she smiled at people and he noticed she glowed. When did this happen? He ignored her and she ripened? He was upset with himself.
“I had to. When your boyfriends are offering to give you a ride” she laughed and her eyes sparkled. “It is funny to you but not funny to me.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about. Anyway, let’s go home.”
When she got to the house, she entered her room, took a bath and changed into comfortable clothes. She wore a pair of shorts and a short top. This was how she dressed at home since she changed her lifestyle but Bashir hadn’t seen her or noticed the change. He noticed it now. He wanted to go out but just couldn’t step out.