AUTHOR: OGECHI ALABI
Usman and Zainab’s courtship in Dubai was going smoothly. She did not visit him at his home and he didn’t visit her too. They met and had lunch or dinner or went out to have fun together and in public. They tried not to be alone in a private place. Usman was particular about that.
The next problem was to wade suitors off Zainab. Even though she told them she was engaged, they kept coming. They came with mouthwatering and very tempting offers but Zainab remained steadfast. She had married a lazy guy from a rich family in the past, she would not make the same mistake again. Usman treated her with respect and she was satisfied with him. They obeyed all the rules of Islam about courtship.
Usman was worried Zainab would give in to one of the suitors. She never mentioned the suitors to him but he was aware of everything. He knew the gifts she received and who they were from. It hurt him that other men wanted the woman he had focused on. She didn’t date them and turned them down respectfully but some persisted. It made him feel less. He believed he could do more for her but on what? He was not making the kind of money you can compete for the affection of a lady with.
He wanted to make Zainab stop talking to the men completely but he stopped himself. He just didn’t want her to have options. But she will wonder how he knew. She will be suspicious of him. She had told him what she liked about him is that he allows her to be herself. She was not willing to sacrifice that for anything in the world. He didn’t want his jealousy to ruin a beautiful relationship. He decided to marry her quickly so the other men would stop.
He discussed it with her. He made her believe he was interested in quality time with her in private. It made her shy. But she declined. She told him she had to finish before they got married. She was adamant about it. She told him to be patient and believed all will work out well. She continued, “Ehen, Hadiza will be on holiday soon. She should come and spend two weeks with us here. She will love the experience. She should come with her nanny so your in-laws will comfortable.”
“Hadiza? Why should I bring her here? Where will she stay?”
“She can stay with me or we rent a place for the two weeks so you can see her every day and have a relationship with her. Your mother can come too. She doesn’t get to see Hadiza.”
“What are you planning? I don’t understand you.”
“You have a child already but no relationship with her. If you are still hung on your ex, I can’t marry you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Hadiza reminds you of her. I can’t marry you if you are still hurting over her. I will know if Hadiza can stay where you are and I want to know how you will treat her. If you can’t treat the child you have well, how will you treat the ones you don’t have yet? It is from experience we learn.”
“Her grandparents won’t release. They won’t release her to come alone with the nanny even if they agree.”
“That is why your mother is coming with them. Call her and make the arrangement. I will secure the accommodation for the two weeks. We will need to go shopping for food. Save some money so you will shop with her before she goes back.”
‘Why are you doing this? Why do you want to force me to have a relationship with her? I love her but her presence brings back memories.”
“Beautiful or sad memories? You had a wonderful time with your late wife. You knew she didn’t have a long time to live. She sacrificed her life to give you a precious gift and then you abandon the gift with her parents. How do you think she feels where she is? If she could see you, would she be happy?”
“Zainab, do you want me to love you less?”
“I want you to love Hadiza more.”
“More than you?”
“It is not the same type of love.”
Zainab put pressure on him to do as she had said. He was worried his in-laws will reject the proposal. He talked to his mother about it. She was happy to make the trip with Hadiza. She sounded excited. She went to see Hadiza’s grandparents herself and told them she wanted to travel with her to see her father for two weeks. Her grandfather agreed while Hadiza’s grandmother wept. She was scared they were taking her away from them. Usman’s mother assured her she will come back with her. But, she also told them since Usman wants to settle down, he will come for his daughter. He told them to prepare for that eventuality.
Usman’s mother bought the tickets for the trip. Hadiza’s grandparents didn’t send her the nanny but a relative so they would have eyes there. Zainab rented a house which had four bedrooms. She employed a housekeeper to help with the house chores and running errands. Just before they came she went with Usman to shop for the house. She had a long list. Since he hadn’t incurred any expense so far, he took it upon himself to pay for the items they bought. She took him to the house and asked him to choose a room.
“Where would my mother stay?”
“When you choose, I will decide that.”
“Will Hadiza be in a room with her nanny alone?”
“Hadiza will stay with me. The nanny will stay in her room.”
“Then you should take the master bedroom since the two of you will stay together. I will take the room downstairs, far away from you ladies.”
“What if she doesn’t like me?” Usman asked suddenly.
“Why won’t she like you? Children are naturally drawn to people who show them love. She will like you.”
On the morning they arrived, Zainab and Usman were at the airport waiting for them. When they came out, it was a beautiful reunion, especially between Usman and his mother. Hadiza was sleepy and didn’t recognise Zainab. They took them to the house. They were jetlagged from the flight and tired. Zainab led everyone to their room and took Hadiza to her room to sleep. Her caregiver insisted on staying with Hadiza. She said she was instructed not to leave her alone.
Usman’s mother shouted at her and asked her to go to her room otherwise she will send her back to Nigeria on the next available flight. The girl insisted that she will not leave unless with the child. Usman heard the commotion and came upstairs. When he heard the cause of the problem he called his in-laws.
“You did not send Hadiza’s nanny but someone else to bring my daughter to me. The girl disrespected my mother and my fiance. It was out of respect I asked the nanny to come so you will be comfortable she is with someone she knows but as it is, I am sending the girl back to Nigeria and Hadiza is not coming back with my mother. She is my child. I gave you too much allowance and you insulted me because of it. My daughter cannot be around this despicable thing you sent here. If she tries to create a scene, I will call the police and she will be deported immediately.”
Hadiza’s grandfather replied, “Usman I apologise for what happened. She is my wife’s relative. We wanted someone who will pay attention to Hadiza to be with her. We didn’t ask her to disrespect you, far from it. She was to care for the child and help your mother there.”
“That’s not what she is saying. I have never met her before. How long did she spend with Hadiza before the trip? Did you send Hadiza to me with two strangers? How is that in the best interest of Hadiza except you wanted someone to spy on us? Well, she is not staying here and it is final. Hadiza remains with me. She won’t come back to Nigeria. If she does, your wife might run away with her and I don’t want that. If she can’t trust me and my mother, I can’t trust her.”
The girl refused to leave Zainab’s room. She said she must stay with Hadiza as instructed. Usman called the police. Zainab tried stopping him but he stopped her with the raise of a finger. They arrived in five minutes. They came upstairs and Usman told them what happened outside the room. That was when the girl became scared and called Hadiza’s grandmother. As she was on the phone, a female police officer came in. She asked the girl if the child is hers, and she said no. She asked who the father of the child was, she pointed at Usman. She then asked her what the problem was. She became to stutter. The police officer asked her to follow her to the police station.
Usman’s phone rang immediately. Hadiza’s grandmother begged him to release the girl. She confessed she asked her to protect the child. She didn’t want the girl arrested. Usman was adamant. “She insulted me in my home. She spoke to my wife rudely. You sent her here to undermine my authority in my home. Hadiza is not coming back. You will teach her to hate her stepmother. It is because of my wife-to-be you sent this girl. Send the nanny immediately otherwise I will make sure she rots in jail here. I will change my statement at the police station and claim she is an imposter sent to kidnap my child. In four days that nanny should be here.”
Zainab cut in, “We don’t need the nanny. Stop threatening her. I will talk to the police officers and we will resolve this. Usman, you react negatively when you are angry. I’m coming.”
Immediately after Zainab left the room, Usman’s mother turned to him and said. “She knows how to control you and she takes charge of situations. You marrying an older woman might not be bad after all. At least there is someone you listen to. This your anger needs to be worked on, you overreact and spoil things. Your parents-in-law will say you disrespected them and showed ungratefulness after everything they did for you and Hadiza. Don’t look at me like that, you should have scolded them and asked them to call the girl to order. But this will create a rift between the two of you.”
“That girl has to go back to Nigeria or else they won’t see Hadiza again. Zainab is diplomatic but I am not. I will not play a senseless game with them. She was rude to my Zainab and I will never forgive her for that.”
“Take that back!” Zainab said from behind him. “What has she done to warrant what you said? She was instructed and she did what she was asked to do. She has gone to her room now. We will treat her as a guest and that is it. I will handle Hadiza from now on. You will also get to spend time with her alone so you can bond.” She turned to Usman’s mother and said, “I am sorry for what happened, please forgive us. You must be very tired, I think you should have a bath and sleep. Please trust Hadiza with me, she will be fine.”
“I trust her with you. She told me on the plane she was coming to see her daddy and her new mummy. That girl scolded her and said you are not her mummy. She laughed and told me in low tones that you were her mummy. It showed you have been talking to her and she knows you. I will resolve the issues between the two families when I wake.”
Zainab was left alone with Usman in her room. He looked at her closely and said, “If I offended you, I am sorry.”
“You defended your family, that is more than I bargained for. I am proud of you. Hadiza will be too when she finds out.”
“Why are you doing this? Why do you want to make me vulnerable? I am weak where you are and she reminds me of a love I lost. The emotions are conflicting.”
“Mourn the love you lost and enjoy the memories of that time while you embrace the one you have now. Hadiza deserves to be loved. I want to know how you will love me through Hadiza.”
“But I already love. You know I do. I will marry you this minute. My mother believes you can control me, she is right. You are the only one I listen to. I hope they don’t take advantage of it.”
“Usman, are you hungry? If not, you need to rest. Is that ok?”
Hadiza woke up from her sound sleep at almost noon. She looked around the room until her attention was focused on Zainab who was on her laptop on the bed. Zainab turned and saw she had sat up. She removed her laptop and talked to Hadiza. She took her to the bathroom to have a bath and wash her mouth. She dressed her up and they came downstairs to eat. She gave her cereal to have that morning with some fruits. Hadiza was calm with Zainab. She smiled a lot too. Zainab knew she was trying to acclimatise to the environment. They talked.
The young lady joined them in the kitchen. Zainab offered her food and she ate. Zainab asked the lady to check if Usman’s mother was awake so she could have something to eat. The lady was reluctant to go but she later went. She came back and said she had eaten. Usman brought some special food for her.
Zainab took Hadiza to meet her father in his room. She knocked and he asked her to come in. Hadiza held onto Zainab’s hand as she looked around her father’s room. Usman looked at Zainab confused about what to do. When Zainab was no help, he said hello to her.
“Do you remember who he is?” Zainab asked Hadiza.
“He is my daddy.”
“How do you greet your daddy?” Hadiza went over to him and hugged him. Usman couldn’t believe she would do that. He patted her on the back. They left the room together and she sat down to watch television. He kept looking at her at intervals. He couldn’t believe how big she had grown from the last time he saw her. He saw the lady he had issues with earlier. She didn’t appear remorseful but she was on edge.
Later that evening, they went for a stroll. Hadiza was so excited to see the beautiful city. She enjoyed her time at the park too. Her grandparents hardly let her out of the house. It became their routine every evening she played with other kids at the park.
The next day, they all went out together. They visited places for Hadiza to have beautiful memories. When they came back, she held Zainab’s hand and followed her to her bedroom. It was the same every other night. She wanted Zainab to attend to her even when she uses the toilet. After five days, Zainab asked Usman to take Hadiza to a pizza place alone. He was scared but she insisted. His mother was worried but Zainab told her not to worry. She knew what Usman was capable of.
Usman bought pizza and ice cream for Hadiza, she was so happy. Then they went into the mall nearby. They ended up in a supermart that had a toy section. Usman went wild there buying Hadiza different toys which Zainab had to return some of them the next day. Hadiza was excited. If she wanted something she would, “papa” and point to it. It made him feel good.
By the following week, they went to the park together without Zainab so she could cook. Usman’s mother was surprised. She asked Zainab many questions which she answered. She was impressed with her. She observed that Usman never came to Zainab again after that night and she went into his room with Hadiza. She knew they were keeping away from each other. She could see the chemistry was strong. She liked it.
A few days before they were to return to Nigeria, Zainab shopped for everyone. She bought clothes, shoes and other accessories for Hadiza and some clothes and costume jewellery for the lady. Usman’s mother shopped on her own. She went out with Usman most of the time. Zainab bought some fabrics for Usman’s mother. She also gave her some quality fabric for his father. She was surprised. She packaged gifts for Usman’s in-laws.
The day they were leaving, Usman’s mother called her into her room. She had some jewellery boxes on the bed. She asked her to check them. She did. “I bought them for you. My son has explained everything about you and I am ready for us to come and ‘beg’ for your hand in marriage. It cannot wait, my son cannot wait any longer. He is a stubborn child. He has made the family call me names and turn against me. Usman is tough. He was different with Hadiza’s mother. He loved her dearly. I never thought he would remarry. Now I have spent time with you, I see what attracted him to you. He is a good person and I love him dearly. If you love him, tame his anger. He can become irrational when he is. Have you ever experienced that?”
“No ma. Hopefully, I wouldn’t. As we grow older, we become wiser. That’s what I feel. He is a changed man and he will live up to his responsibilities.”
“I want him reconciled with his father. He needs an apology from him, a sincere apology. His brothers will still hate him but they can overlook it. His father is still hurt and feels he deserves an apology.”
“I can’t force Usman to apologise but I will have a chat with him. If he does, then I have the effect you claim I have on him. But if he doesn’t, it means his convictions are still intact.”
“You are wise. You are not rushing to promise me for me to like you. You know how to support your husband. I hope it remains that way.”
Hadiza and Usman’s mother leaving hurt Zainab. She cried at the airport. Hadiza didn’t want to go back to Nigeria but Zainab insisted she went back because of their schedule. The two weeks were a break from their schedule. They moved out of the house and back to their private residences. Usman thanked Zainab for all she did for him. He asked her to rethink her decision of graduating before tying the knot.
Zainab thought about it. She liked Usman. She loved Hadiza. But she was still scared. She was scarred by her past that though she liked Usman, she was still scared. One of her biggest problems was intimacy. Even though her body healed there were some scars still there. She didn’t want him to see them and ask her questions. She didn’t want to tell him about the beating, only a few people were aware. What if he changes and becomes a monster like Bashir? Her mind was all over the place. She helped Usman bond with Hadiza. What if she couldn’t have more children for him? She was worried.
When she talked with her friends, she mentioned her concerns about children. Nkem told her there were medical breakthroughs that could help her conceive or she could pay someone to carry the pregnancy for her. Zainab was interested. She learnt about the process and then went to a hospital in Dubai that specialises in IVF and artificial insemination.
Read sed-cive Amina Season 2 Episode 4 – 5
She told Usman about her pressing concern about not getting pregnant. Then she shared her findings with Usman. He studied the materials she came with. Then he said to her, “What if you get pregnant without assistance? Have you ever thought it possible? Marry me and let us find out if we are infertile or not. Then we will tackle it together.”
They decided to have a quiet Nikkai wedding in Dubai. Zainab’s parents and a few relatives were present. Usman’s mother and three of his brother were present. His father’s youngest brother was also present. There were friends, coursemates and some departmental staff that added to the number. It was a simple ceremony and it was concluded quickly. Zainab wore a beautiful gold dress, she was stunning. Usman’s family were surprised Usman was marrying such a beauty. The age had become inconsequential.
That night, they lodged in a hotel for their wedding night. Usman excused Zainab so she could prepare to sleep. He came in when she was in bed. He took a bath and joined her. He pulled her close to him and attempted to kiss her. She withdrew, she was still very shy.
“Don’t tell me you are still a virgin,” he said jokingly.
“I am not,” Zainab answered him.
He came closer to her and kissed her. Zainab had wondered how it would feel kissing Usman. She did not need to wonder anymore. He was a smooth operator. He cajoled her into his web carefully. From the kiss, he had advanced. He took his time teasing her. She turned off the light beside her so he wouldn’t see her completely nude. He didn’t mind. He took off her nightie and then she realised he was a talker. Usman that was naturally calm and quiet was talking to her during sex. Every move he made, he made sure she enjoyed it. He asked her questions like, “Should I stop?” “Do you like it?” she was uncomfortable answering initially due to shyness but when it intensified, she responded sensually which heightened Usman’s excitement.
They were at it all night. After each round, he talked to her. He made her feel special. He made the act feel so good. Before they slept, he thanked her for giving herself to him. She was surprised. This was different and she liked it.
They got a new apartment and moved in together. Their closeness was unbelievable. Usman was the best thing that ever happened to Zainab. When he was with her, he was a different human being. He was playful and sensual. He made her feel loved and appreciated. She took very good care of him.
Usman was no longer worried about other men wanting his wife. He was the only man with her now. He was certain she did not mess herself up. He told her he didn’t want babies until they finish the programme. Zainab wasn’t waiting for that. She was not on any contraceptives. She wanted to know if she was fertile.
It took several months but she got pregnant. She didn’t know she was until Usman told her her breasts were fuller as though she was about to have her period. She realised she hadn’t had a period in two months. She went with him to get an over-the-counter pregnancy test kit. They used it and it was positive. Zainab cried uncontrollably. She held on to Usman as she cried. “You made me a complete woman, you made me a complete woman. I will love you forever.” Usman wasn’t excited about the pregnancy initially but her reaction made him realise how much she doubted herself. He was happy for her.
They informed their parents who were ecstatic about the news. Zainab’s father asked for traditional marriage. He wanted the family back home to know they were married. They agreed to come back for it but Usman insisted on it being lowkey.
They had the traditional wedding in her father’s compound. The place was packed full. Even though it was not a hall, it was a big compound that was jam-packed. Usman’s family were present. They performed the traditional rites.
As the wedding was coming to an end, Bashir arrived at the venue. He tried to create a scene. He claimed Zainab was his wife and she couldn’t marry anyone else. He made a fuss outside. Usman’s family were inside the house when Bashir came. He claimed Zainab and himself were still lovers and they hid it from their respective spouses. He was making claims and he sounded credible. But both families knew he was lying. She had been in Dubai for more than a year so where did they meet? Even Usman’s mother laughed at his claim.
Zainab’s father wanted to send him away but Usman stopped them. He went to meet Bashir outside. He asked him to leave immediately otherwise he will regret it.
“Do you know who I am? You have the nerve to threaten me. She’s my wife and can’t marry you.”
“She left you. She couldn’t put up with you anymore and she left. What you couldn’t do for her I did. She is mine now. I don’t want to ever hear you say anything about my wife. Go back to the brat you married.”
“What are you bragging about? I disvirgined her and had her for years. So what did you give her that I couldn’t?”
“A bun in her oven. Check your babies with your wife, you might be shooting blanks.”
It took Bashir some time to understand what Usman was saying. How could Zainab be pregnant with him? It wasn’t possible. He was heartbroken. He couldn’t believe he had slept with her. When did Zainab change? When did she have sex outside of wedlock? With all the stress she put him through and she gave this guy an easy pass. He was upset. The security agents arrived at this time and they escorted him out of the venue.
Bashir was hurt. He owned her body. He craved it now. But the suggestion he was shooting blanks affected him. He considered having DNA done. He discussed the issue with his mother. She told him, “Let sleeping dogs lie. What if you find out you are sterile, will you announce it to the world? Don’t test them. Once it was within the confines of this marriage she had the children, they are all yours. Think about it.”
For the first time, Bashir took great counsel. He listened to his mother and never checked. He was unhappy Zainab slipped through his hands. The man she married made it known to all, she was his and his alone. He would not let her out of his sight. He needed to talk to Zainab in private.
Zainab refused to meet with him. She said he was delusional and impulsive. She sent him a mail begging him to move on and leave her alone. He persisted in the chase. It was becoming irritating. She did what she felt was best. Zainab contacted his wife and told her what he has been up to. She sent numerous messages and pictures to his wife so she would believe her.
The fight they had over Zainab was the worst they had ever had. Memuna confronted Usman, he didn’t deny it. He told her she is his second wife and that he still loves Zainab and would want her back. He planned on challenging the divorce because he was blackmailed to divorce her. He had no intention of leaving her.
Memuna was furious, she called him all sorts of names. She laughed at him and said, “She has gone to be with a real man. A man who can handle her and she confesses all her secrets. She said she got pregnant without a snag. When I say when a man handles you, even your womb will obey him. She has no interest in you, stop deceiving yourself. I am just managing you so I can answer ‘married’ woman. My family called me useless, I wanted to prove to them I could keep a home. But they tied me to a more useless person. You chasing after a woman who doesn’t want you. If she can never see you again, she will be happy. You are obsessing over another man’s wife. You thought your good looks and family wealth will keep her but she ran for her life. She is not strong like me. Fight to finish.”
Bashir allowed her to spit her vile before he said, “You are jealous because you can never measure up to her. You can never be that beautiful with skin like silk. The sexiness of her slim body runs through my mind all day. What qualifications do you have? She is so brilliant. I didn’t want to get her pregnant because I idolised her body. I worshipped it. It was mine, it is mine. I needed you to have the babies so I can have her body for my pleasures.”
Memuna was angry at this time. She said, “Sexiness? Body for your pleasure? You couldn’t score bro. Your weak sperm couldn’t get her pregnant. That’s the truth. No matter how you tried, she couldn’t get pregnant for you.”
Bashir wanted to reply but held back a bit. He thought about what she said and was confused. He remembered what Usman said to him. Was Memuna confirming it? What did she mean by what she said? He didn’t mind being called a sexually weak man but infertile, now that was a different ball game.