AUTHOR: OGECHI ALABI
He left Memuna and went out. He didn’t get back until late at night. He took a danger, picked the last child they had who was sleeping by his mother, put a knife to his throat and shouted Memuna’s name. She woke with a startle and saw what her husband was about to do. She was terrified. She jumped up from the bed and began to shout.
“Who is the father of this child?” Bashir asked her.
“You are the father. I just wanted to hurt you, you are the father.”
“I ask you again, who is the father of your children?”
“They all belong to you.”
The child began to cry at this point and Memuna increased her shouts. She shouted, “he wants to kill my child.” People were at the door. They were banging and begging Bashir to open the door but he refused. Memuna told them what was happening. She was also begging Bashir.
Bashir sliced a bit of the baby’s neck. Memuna let out a scream along with the baby. It made those by the door successfully break down the door. Memuna was on the floor. Bashir was still holding the child with some blood on the knife. They took the knife from him while one person grabbed the child and ran out in the company of another person. Memuna was rolling on the floor crying. She believed her child was dead.
Bashir shouted at the people that came to rescue the child. He said, “That child is a bastard. My wife is a prostitute. She brought another man’s children to my house. She has finished me. Memuna I will kill you if I find out the children are not mine. I will burn you and these things in this house and go to my wife.”
“Bashir, you have run mad. Bashir, you sliced my son’s neck because a woman rejected you. You want to destroy us because of Zainab that has married another man. You are really mad.”
“Don’t ever mention her name, you harlot. Let it be that they are not my children, you will see what will happen. I will stab you before I set you and your children on fire. Don’t say I did not warn you.”
The rescuers called Bashir’s parents. His mother went to the hospital to be with the child while his father and his relatives came to the house. Bashir’s father entered the room when he arrived. He asked the relatives to hold Bashir and tie him up. He brought him to the main sitting room of the house along with his wife. One relative selected two witnesses from the people that came to rescue the child appreciated the remaining and saw them out.
The two witnesses stated what they heard and how they rescued the child. They shared all they heard Bashir say and how he reacted when they entered the room. Bashir’s father asked questions and finally thanked them and they left.
He interrogated Memuna. He asked her what happened. She narrated everything that happened. She said what favoured her. As she was speaking, Bashir’s mother came back with the child. Memuna rushed to check on the child but Bashir’s mother stopped her. She gave the child to the nanny to take away.
After Memuna told her story, it was Bashir’s turn. Bashir told his story. He used the words, my wife. His father asked if he was referring to Memuna but he laughed and corrected him. He said his wife was Zainab. Then he shared what Memuna said to him that afternoon that made him react at night. He wanted to know if the children were his or another man’s as she had told him.
“Bashir, you have been a problem to me from the get-go. You harassed and traumatised Zainab to the extent that she and her family don’t want to have anything to do with you again. You almost killed her in anger. Over what? Now you threatened to kill your child and burn the house with your wife and kids in it. This is serious.”
“She said I am not the father of the children,” Bashir responded.
“I never said so. He is lying.” Memuna answered.
Bshir’s mother spoke at that time. She said, “I will know who is telling the truth. Memuna, pack your things and your children; you are leaving with us. I will collect samples from your children and Bashir for a DNA test tomorrow morning. For your sake, I hope those children are his. If they are not, I cannot guarantee your safety.”
Memuna screamed, “Ah!”
Bashir’s mother was upset at this point. She believed Memuna caused the entire problem. She should have kept quiet instead of fighting Bashir over Zainab. She should have known Zainab will never go back to Bashir. Bashir hadn’t changed but she expected Memuna to have handled it better. Now there will be doubts that the children are not Bashir’s. People will gossip about it and call him impotent. It cannot happen, otherwise, her son will kill someone. She left with Memuna and her children.
Bashir’s mother called Memuna in the early hours of the morning into her room. She was still upset but she wanted to make sure her plan was foolproof.
“I am taking you to a place where you will swear that you have not been with another man except my son. Because if I find out these children are not his, I will hand you over to him. Would you want us to go there or you will confess to me.”
Memuna was on her knees. “Mami let me confess. I am not sure if all the children are his. I have been with other men to try and get pregnant. I did it to get pregnant and cover his shame.”
“Are the men aware?”
“They are not. I planned it well. I promise you, I was very careful.”
“Who knows? Who else knows about this? Your parents?”
“Nobody, I didn’t tell anyone.”
“You will swear to secrecy, this information follows you to the grave. Once you do that, I will help you. I will save you from this but if you continue to run your mouth for Bashir, whatever you see, you will take. I have warned you. I will cover for you concerning this but I won’t help you when you disrespect your husband. I will not support you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Bashir’s mother arranged for a fake DNA result and she submitted it to the family. The family accepted the children belonged to Bashir. They settled the couple’s differences and they went back to living in peace. It was short-lived as expected. They had several fights. Eventually, Bashir decided to marry a second wife. He found a girl that looked like Zainab. She was fresh and also a virgin. She was barely eighteen years old.
Memuna refused to accept her as a wife. She went to Bashir’s mother to help her stop the marriage but the woman refused. She had warned her about the incessant fights with Bashir. His mother knew he married this beautiful light-skinned Fulani girl to spite Memuna and maybe Zainab. Zainab wouldn’t care in the least.
Aliyah was humble and calm. She was everything Bashir wanted in a wife, she was very submissive. He treated her as an egg and completely ignored Memuna. Memuna tried to pick a fight with her but the girl was not interested in fights. She did her duty on her days and stayed indoors thereafter. She played with the children when they were back from school. She was like a child. Memuna ignored her and faced their husband. Anytime they fight, Bashir stops Memuna from sharing his bed and would have Aliyah take her place for that week.
Zainab had her baby. She gave birth to a son. Usman was so happy. This was the icing on the cake. He was perfect. Usman’s excitement was borne from seeing Zainab was ok after the delivery. She was up and about, was talking and was also very happy. They informed family members of the good news. The wife many believed was too old to bear children has given Usman a son. Zainab’s mother and Usman’s mother came to Dubai to help the new mother. Zainab was pampered into full recovery.
On the eighth day, Usman and Zainab named their son Kamal. Many other names were called but they chose this name together. Usman was the happiest man alive. He was married to the most beautiful woman he has ever known and now she had given birth to an angel as a son for him. The love he had for Zainab tripled. He would do anything for her.
When Kamal was six months old, Usman and Zainab brought him back to Nigeria. They took him to meet his sister, Hadiza. They stayed in Usman’s house during their visit. Usman picked Hadiza to spend time with them. Hadiza was excited about Kamal. She loved him instantly and was willing to help in his care.
Usman’s uncle took him to see a federal government official in preparation for their return to Nigeria. He went with his mother’s brother to Abuja for the meeting. Hadiza used that opportunity to visit Usman’s family. His mother was so happy to receive her and Usman’s two children in her home. Family members came to see his wife and children. They received several gifts, especially cash gifts.
Zainab asked Usman’s mother to take her to see Usman’s father. She was surprised. She took her to meet him with Hadiza and Kamal. It was the first time Usman’s father saw Usman’s children. He had never met Zainab. He was so happy to see them. He was surprised Usman had such a lovely family.
His father sat Zainab down and told her what Usman did to him. He had so many complaints. Zainab listened to him attentively. When he had finished so I said to him, “I wish I could take sides with you or take sides with Usman but what is amazing is that both of you told me the same story. It means you are an honest man like your son. I think he took after you. The difference between the two of you is that Usman is direct while you are diplomatic. My husband will say it as it is but you will butter it before you say it. In all, you are his father and he is your son. You can call him and iron out your differences. Or, forgive each other and move on. Have a relationship with your son again. Nothing he does will ever surprise you.”
Usman’s father was quiet for some minutes. He looked at Zainab as he was thinking. Then he said, “It is now Usman used his senses. When they said he was marrying an educated girl, I believed she would never be submissive to him. He married a sick woman first and now he was going for an educated woman. I believed the marriage wouldn’t last. You have proved me wrong. You know your husband very well. Because of you, I will call him and meet him. You are a wise woman. Welcome to the family.”
Before Zainab left that day, her father-in-law called her into his room and gave her a small bag. He told her to sell the content to start their life when they come back to Nigeria finally.
Usman was upset Zainab went to see his family while he was away. He was angry that she took the children there. He told her he had cut off most of them and now she had exposed his family to them. Zainab allowed him to vent. He observed she was not responding as he expected. He wanted an argument and she wasn’t giving him one. When he saw she was not ready for a quarrel, he calmed down. He came to meet her where she sat down and told her to always tell him where she was going and she shouldn’t visit the family house again.
Usman was surprised when his father called him and told him he had met his wife and two children. He asked him to come and see him before he returned to Dubai.
“Are you meeting him?” Zainab asked him.
“I don’t know.”
Zainab brought out the small bag and showed her husband what her father-in-law gave her. It was a piece of unprocessed precious stone and they both knew it was worth a lot of money. Usman asked her who gave her. When she told him, he said “You must have impressed him because he is not easily impressed. How did he get it? That’s my concern. What did he ask you to do with it?”
“Sell it and start our lives here in Nigeria. I will sell it in Dubai.”
“Aren’t you worried about how he got it?”
“No. You can do the worrying for the both of us while I check for the global price of the stone.”
Zainab went with Usman to take Hadiza back to her grandparents when they were to leave for Dubai. She cried when she got to their house. She wanted to travel back with Zainab and Kamal. Usman was busy and didn’t spend much time with her bonding.
As they were leaving Nigeria, Usman had already secured a job with the Federal Ministry of Justice. He pushed his resumption date until he had collected his certificate. He didn’t tell Zainab about it until they got to Dubai. Zainab was happy for him. But she wondered what she would do.
“I have been thinking about it too. Why not start an NGO to help Muslim women who require legal representation in any matter? You can expand the scope but I believe you would be successful. You can teach women their rights and also help them fight for them.”
“You want me to be an activist?”
“You will make a good one because you appear unassuming until you attack.”
“Have you forgiven your father now?” Zainab asked.
Usman kissed her on the lips and said, “Do I have a choice? You set it in motion and I went along. I love you, Zainab. You make me so happy. I don’t remember ever being this happy and content in my life.”
“The feeling is mutual.”