AUTHOR: OGECHI ALABI
Zainab took the stone to a reputable jewellery store. She met with the owner and showed him what she had. He collected it and tested it. He weighed it and offered her an obscene amount of money for it. She wanted to discuss with Usman first and he kept increasing the offer. She promised to come back with her husband. She couldn’t believe the stone was worth that amount. She didn’t think her father-in-law knew.
She appealed to Usman to ask his father if he knew the value of the stone he gave her. He didn’t know. He bought it off some miners and had kept a box of them over the years. The man didn’t know he was sitting on a gold mine. Zainab wanted to return the stone but Usman’s father declined. He said it was a gift to her.
She went with Usman to a jeweller. He appraised the stone and offered almost double their previous offer. He stated the stone was very rare and people would do anything to get it. Zainab insisted on going back home with the stone. He made a more generous offer. She looked at Usman. He told her it was her call. She shook her head and wanted to leave when the man dropped a bomb, the offer was his last. Zainab promised to return.
She went to another jeweller but the last man’s offer was the best. The other jewellers didn’t want her to leave either. So she asked twice what the last man offered, and they backed off. Zainab went back to the jeweller with the best offer and struck a deal with him. She called her father and asked him to send his domiciliary account details. She sent most of the money to her father through the jeweller. She kept the rest in dollars with her.
She asked Usman to tell his uncle to help them find accommodation in Abuja where they would live. Preferably a block of four flats. The girl searched and finally found one. Zainab asked her father to pay the rent from the money sent. She went furniture and household items shopping with her husband. Then she bought two used cars that had lower mileage and were certified in perfect condition. She sent them to Nigeria with other items she bought for sale. Her husband followed whatever she suggested or did.
Before they left Dubai, her father had helped set up their new home. She didn’t buy outrageously expensive items but she targeted quality items. They went to Kano immediately after they landed in Nigeria. They stayed for a week visiting family and friends. They visited Zainab’s father. Zainab shopped for him. She bought him a very expensive wristwatch. He was surprised. She also gave her mother-in-law a beautiful bangle.
Usman told his late wife’s family he would take his daughter when he relocates from Dubai. He had prepared them. When he went to pick her up, her grandmother refused to release her. She claimed she travelled with her other child and wasn’t back. Usman was very upset. He wanted to blow off the roof. He called Zainab and told her what was happening. Zainab told him to calm down, she would meet him there.
She went to her father-in-law. She told him everything. He dressed up and followed her to Hadiza’s grandparents’ house. They were shocked to see him in their home. Usman too was shocked. He sat down on the seat he was offered. They exchanged pleasantries. The grandmother offered refreshments but he declined.
“My son did a foolish thing by allowing you to keep his daughter after the death of his wife. Why do I say a foolish thing? Because you are ungrateful people. He married your sick daughter and took very good care of her. He was broken when she died. He forgot his pain and tried to heal yours. How did you repay him? You hide his daughter from him and give him conditions for him to see her or have her back. He relocated back to Nigeria with his wife and his son. He wants to have his daughter but you are a stumbling block. If she is not in his house by 7 pm tonight, whatever happens, accept it as the will of Allah. I will not say more than this.”
Hadiza’s grandfather quickly replied, “7 pm is too late, she will be with your son by 5 pm. I apologise for my wife’s mistake. She is attached to the child and that is the reason she has acted like this. Please forgive us. I will talk to her too. Also, they should allow us to see her once in a while. He said they are moving to Abuja. It is far away from us. My wife will feel it. He should stay close so she can visit her more often.”
“He should leave his job in Abuja to remain jobless here? You see why I said he did a foolish thing. Return the child at the stipulated time. Son, let us go home.”
They brought Hadiza at 6 pm. She was excited to see Zainab and Kamal. She hugged her daddy too. Zainab assured her grandmother she would take very good care of Hadiza. She promised Hadiza will call her every day. She was still sad but at least she could talk to her grandchild.
They moved to Abuja. The flat was in a very nice location. Their cars were parked inside the compound. They had everything they wanted. Zainab took charge of the home and she carried Usman along with her spending. She wanted them to invest the money with her father. It was a lot of money. She wanted to transfer the money in her father’s custody to Usman but he refused. His reason was because the stone was hers and not his. He wanted her to make reasonable decisions on how to manage the funds. He didn’t mind being informed but to him, it was solely her money. He also insisted they didn’t change their modest lifestyle, he loved simplicity. Zainab agreed. They were not to alter their lives to show off.
Zainab’s father helped her get a job at the University of Abuja. She was excited to have the job. She combined it with NGO activities. She used different avenues to get the attention she needed. Before long, she had clients. She started at the university before she could afford to rent an office for the NGO. Usman helped her attract foreign funding.
She took Kamal and Hadiza to see her parents. They were glad to have them in their home. She stayed for a week. Usman couldn’t leave work but Zainab’s university was on holiday. She mentioned on her social media handle that she was in Ilorin. She posted a number for those who wanted to see her to call and book an appointment.
Bashir found out Zainab was in Ilorin through the account he was stalking her with. He was excited. He wanted to see what she looked like after having the baby. He believed she would have lost her shape, added excessive weight and was no more beautiful. He used Aliyah as bait. Aliyah called Zainab to book an appointment. They went together to see Zainab.
Zainab was surprised to see Bashir there. What he expected wasn’t what he saw. She had added some weight but she still looked gorgeous. She was so beautiful. He couldn’t take his eyes off her. She asked him how she could help him.
“Memuna is always fighting my new wife,” he said to her.
“Who is Memuna?” Zainab asked him.
‘My other wife. She harassed Aliyah.”
“You are the man, what have you done to stop the harassment?”
“I can’t do anything. They fight over me, both of them. I don’t want Memuna to kill her one day.”
Zainab wasn’t buying. She wanted Bashir to leave because he was making her uncomfortable. She told him, “I don’t handle rivalry between two women over a man. It would be stupid for any woman to fight her fellow woman for a man. If he valued you, he wouldn’t look at another woman. Since he doesn’t walk away.”
“Is that what you will tell Aliyah?”
“I will tell her to make peace with her senior wife and respect her. But, I am not equipped to solve the problem right now.”
Bashir asked Aliyah to excuse them and then he said to Zainab, “Did you miss me?”
“Bashir, please go. I don’t want to have any issues with you and your women.”
“Aliyah reminds me of you. She is eager to please me. She is a sweet girl. I married her to tame Memuna but she didn’t. She is not as exposed as you are but I am sure she will be faithful to me.”
“Good. I am happy for you. I have clients waiting outside.”
“When can I see you? Can we have dinner?”
“Bashir, I am a married woman and a mother. I am not interested in having dinner with you. Please leave.” He left and Zainab was relieved. She didn’t want to see Bashir again. The way he looked at her scared her. He was truly obsessed with her.
She told Usman about Bashir’s visit. He wanted to drive down to Ilorin when he heard about Bashir’s visit. He wanted to talk to him man to man. Zainab promised to handle it. She hired two bodyguards to move around with her. Bashir never came close to her again because her bodyguards look mean and they don’t smile or crack jokes. Until she left for Abuja, she moved around with them.
Aliyah did not get pregnant after six months of marriage. Bashir asked questions. He was the only man that had been intimate with her, how come she couldn’t get pregnant? Each time he brings it up, Memuna will flaunt the DNA result. Bashir believed something wasn’t right.
He mentioned it to his mother and she shoved it aside. She asked him why he needed more children when he had three. She told him to enjoy Aliyah and forget about more children. Bashir was convinced now there was more to this. He took the three children out one afternoon. They took samples from the children for DNA testing.
The result was out in three weeks. Bashi was not their father. Bashir realised his mother was in on the deception. Was she the one who brought the men for Memuna to sleep with? His mind went wild. He struggled with himself. How could he be sterile? Memuna deceived him and ended up being the whore he had called her. He was upset as you are angry. He couldn’t control his anger. He wanted everything to end that day.
Bashir got back to his house. He called Memuna and the children into the room. He asked them to sit and wait for their surprise. Through the window, he doused the room with kerosene. Memuna and her children perceived it. Memuna became worried. She checked the door and it was locked. She picked up her phone and called Bashir’s mother. As his mother picked that was when he dropped the lit touch inside the room and immediately the fire spread. Memuna screamed as she grabbed her children trying to protect them from the fire.
Bashir’s mother heard everything. She called some people close to the house and asked them to help rescue Memuna. Bashir was in the compound with a big stick waiting for people to enter the house to rescue Memuna. When they saw him with the stick, they went back.
Bashir’s mother had to rush back to the house. She entered the compound and saw Bashir sitting in front of the entrance. She scolded him and tried to enter the house. He clubbed her with the stick. She fell. Those that followed behind her rushed back outside. They didn’t know Bashir’s mother’s condition at that moment. They called Bashir’s father.
He came to the scene with a group of men. They tied him up and kept him by the side of the house. They rushed into the house and traced where the fire was burning. Breaking the door wasn’t easy but they succeeded. This was the second time they were breaking the door. The three children and Memuna were unconscious. They helped curtail the fire and then brought Memuna and her three children out of the smoke and fire. They were rushed to the hospital along with Bashir’s mother who was also unconscious.
Luckily, they didn’t die. But Bashir’s father had him committed to a psychiatric home. Bashir was upset he had to go to the nut house which he called the psychiatric hospital.
Bashir’s father judged the matter between Memuna and Bashir. He said Bashir cannot marry her anymore because she gave him bastards as children. He was so disappointed that his wife connived with their son’s wife to defraud them. It was terrible. He asked Memuna to leave for her own watching the procedures.
Memuna was hurt by the decision. How would she have trained these three children all by herself? She decided to take her husband to court. She filed a petition against her husband and he was served. When the case started, it was a criminal case. Bashir was indicted for attempted murder. Before he could be sentenced, Bashir was released to a psychiatric hospital. He almost committed suicide and was placed in a holding cell. He was not allowed to have visitors.
Finally, he moved Bashir abroad for proper evaluation and treatment. He was glad it wasn’t worse. Aliyah was to stay and take care of him. She didn’t last three months taking care of him before she disappeared. She found somewhere to stay. Because of the way he left Nigeria, he couldn’t come back, he was now a fugitive.