Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Idol '08

Momsie told me I am the prettiest girl in the world - I believed her until I started school. Salewa had long jet black hair, Kiki was very light skinned and petite, Yewande was plump and her dark skinned glowed. I didn’t feel like the prettiest girl in the world.

When Momsie told me I have a really good voice – I was skeptical.

Do you have a good voice? Let everyone hear that beautiful voice of yours...

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

And it came to pass...

“Ka yi sauki yan zu ne?”[3]
“Allah zai tai makeka ka sami sauki[5]

Hajia Medinat was the last neighbor to visit Zainab after her tabarmar kunya[7]. Although, the neighbors knew what happened, they all treated her as if she had an illness that the common wontu[8] medicine could cure. Hajia Medinat said the same things as the others “eat, sleep and rest. Zaka sani sau ki yazu[9]

Zainab locked the door after Hajia Mediant left her house. She was not angry because she expected them to all stand together with aloof dignity. Their ridicules came in the form of lectures and their sorrowful mocks were accompanied with silent jeers. And of course, this embedded trait of theirs will transmit from one generation to another in the name of culture. A practice so long established that it has the force of law. Any one who does not adhere to it becomes an outcast. Zainab is a labeled reprobate, as a child she had been spoon fed the same customs but was wise enough to chew its morals and spit out its hypocrisy.

Her cell phone vibrated and she willed with intensity for it to be Musa but it was one of those annoying forward text messages from Hazzanat asking its recipient to forward the same text to twenty other people in order to have good luck in life. She slid the phone horizontally to reveal a QWERTY keyboard and hit delete. She was tempted to send Musa a text but decided against it. “He should be the one to come to me” she muttered under her breathe. She remembered their first major fight; it was the second day of Ramadan[10]. They met after the Maghrib[11] prayer to break their fast together. Musa who was always so sullen after work was full of cheer and praises for his boss. This was the same boss Bature, Musa vowed to mow down with his car. The change in attitude came as a surprise to Zainab

“Musa, did you get promoted?”

“No, but I know it’s coming very soon, Boss Bature called me a very intelligent man. In today’s meeting, he asked us a question and I was the only one who got it right”

“What is the question?”

‘If you are walking in a dark alley at night with your mother, wife and sister, suddenly a rapist appeared and you are overpowered. He then asks you to pick one person for him to rape, whom would you choose?’

“That’s a very tough question”

“No, it is not difficult when you really think about it. I chose my wife”

“You did what? Why would you do something stupid? Aren’t you supposed to protect me ….her? Ashamed of her admission, Zainab looked out the window hoping he did not catch her last word.

“I chose my wife because I cannot bear to see my mother go through such ordeal, and I would not pick my sister for the sole reason that she is not married. What man would marry her after he knows she was raped? But my wife, I know it is not her fault, I was there so I will forgive her”

“You can also forgive your mother” Zainab uttered in disgust.

Musa pulled her closer “are you angry with me? It was a hypothetical question. I would rather die before I give you up” That was enough to soothe Zainab’s feelings. The day ended pleasantly just has it needed to for two people in love.

Zainab was sucked out of deep sleep by the repeated blows which threaten the nails out of the door’s hinges. She looked at her wrist watch and the time was quarter to two. She immediately shook Musa’s sleeping figure on the adjacent sofa. Disoriented Musa was unable to think with clarity and act with intelligence. He asked Zainab to open the door. Hesitant in her steps, she reluctantly opens the door. Three gunmen pushed their way into the room rushing violently against Musa.

“Enter your room and bring out our allowance” One of the gunmen instructed authoritatively

“Sir, this is not my house, I am just a guest” Jellified Musa answered. The gunman looked from Musa to Zainab and slowly a smirk appeared on his lips and he simpered at Musa’s lame excuse. “I see... the cat is out and the mouse is out to play. I will also like to join in this game”

He motioned his men to bring Zainab as he unbuckled his belt. Musa pleaded and offer his car as atonement.

“What car do you drive”?
“A Toyota sir”
“What year”
“1982 sir”

“You must be mad. I drove a Lexus into this stupid compound and you are offering me a wretched car. I will never go backwards in life. Wretched man”

What every girl prays not to happen to her occurred that wee hours of the morning. Musa left shortly after the gunmen. He did not look at Zainab nor did he utter any comforting words.

A month slowly crawled by and he still hasn’t called.

The vibrating phone jolted Zainab to the present. It was another annoying text from Hazzanat. She slid the phone horizontally and began to text.

“Remember your answer to Boss Bature’s question... remember your words to me”

The reply came

“It would have been so if you are my wife... I am sorry”

The nausea came first, followed by her tears. She ran into the bathroom to release the first batch of bile that is to come every morning for the next four months.

[1] Good Morning
[2] Answer to greeting
[3] Are you well now?
[4] No
[5] God will help you get well
[6] Amen
[7] Matter of shame
[8] Arabic prayer written on a slate in black ink then rinsed with water. It is used as medicine.
[9] You will soon recover
[10] Islamic month of fasting
[11] The fourth daily salat -