Fiction

THE WALL BETWEEN- Chapter Fourteen

One Friday night, when everyone was getting ready to sleep, a huge knock was heard on the door. I was surprised, who could it be at this hour, I heard my Uncle murmur as he opened the door. Few minutes later, I started hearing voices from the sitting room. The voices were loud enough to bring down the roof. There was a different voice, it was a masculine voice and it belonged to the visitor.

The visitor kept shouting “My property, give it to me”.

What property was he talking about. I opened my door and tiptoed to the sitting room, I hid behind the door to see who it was. I saw the man who got everyone upset the other day, the man Aunt Baraqah said isn’t worth knowing, my grandparents were shouting at him.

Then I heard Grandpa say “how dare you, you killed my daughter and now you want the child. I should have sent you to jail”

That man was my Father, I was shocked. My mouth was wide open, for a minute, my mind went back to the story Aunt Baraqah told me about my mother and how my father treated her. 

I wanted to go into the sitting room but I couldn’t, my grandparents won’t be happy to see me there.

“I will take my daughter back and that’s it, she’s mine”

“For 16yrs you never showed up, who do you think you are. You’re a murderer and an ingrate” Granny

“Call me whatever you like, she’s still my daughter and she need to be with her father and not live in this jump site” he said

“You’ve overstayed your welcome, you’re not welcomed here anyway so leave” Uncle

“I will leave but the next time I come, you better be prepared,am coming to take what’s mine” he said and left cursing.

I went back into my room tried to sleeping. Granny came over to check on me, the voices were loud enough to wake me up, but I pretended I was sleeping.

At dawn, I asked who and what was it that made such noise. I pretended not to know anything, Grandpa looked at me and said

“Your father came to take you” I wasn’t expecting him to say it, he probably felt I needed to know.

“He said he’s coming back” Granny added
I couldn’t say anything, I saw sadness in my grandparents eyes. They weren’t happy and my father was the cause of it.

“Hiqmat is old enough to make decisions on her own, she can decide whether to leave or not.” Uncle said.

I wasn’t happy, my father never asked about me till I was 16. After all he did to my mother, he still wants me. He talks rudely to my grandparents and shows no remorse for what he did. I wondered why Granny didn’t allow Grandpa send him to jail, my mother would have wanted him in jail. He was my father, but I started having negative feelings towards him. He wasn’t a good man before and after I was born. He probably hasn’t changed I thought and I haven’t spoken to him before.

My cousin, Maryam, came home for her semester break. She told me a lot of things about school trying to prepare me for the university struggle. I talked to her about the situation at hand

“Maryam,what will you do if he was your father” I asked her

“I will do what’s best and what’s right”

“What’s that”

“Be grateful to those who nurtured me and never forget the one person behind ny mother’s death”

“But it’s good to forgive”

“Yes,but don’t loose your self when doing that. Remember people aren’t always who they seem”

“Are you saying I shouldn’t give him a chance”

“Don’t even dare, you can forgive him. He’s your father and human but don’t deny our grandparents what’s theirs”

“What’s that”

“You, you are your mother only property. Apply wisdom Hiqmat, that’s the meaning of your name.

“I really don’t know what to do”

“Hiqmat, look within you, you’ll find answers but whatever you do remember your family” she concluded.

“Do you think I should talk to him first, probably hear his own side of the story”

“Hiqmat, what else do you want to hear, he did all they said he did. If he wasn’t guilty, why didn’t he come around all these years” she paused “There’s nothing to the story again, please don’t get yourself hurt” she added

“Am confused”

“Don’t be, think before you do anything but always remember our grandparents”

Everything Maryam said was true, she was right. I shouldn’t loose my self when I forgive him. I was ready to meet my father and talk to him, but I am not going anywhere with him.

…To be continued.

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Fiction

THE WALL BETWEEN- Chapter Thirteen

Aunt Baraqah and I left Aunt Faiza’s house,we took a cab and left for home. We were quiet although the ride, she kept staring at me. I was thinking about everything she and Aunt Faiza said. 

When we got home, she held my hands and said “Talk to Grandpa tonight, let the words come from your heart. I have narrated the story, go talk to him. Remember he loves you” she said.

I walked into the house and greeted everyone. Everyone was seated in the sitting room except Grandpa, I went to Grandpa’s room and knocked at his door

 “Come in” Grandpa answered, I entered the room and saw Grandpa. He was sitting on a chair,he held a picture frame. When he saw me, he hid it. I pulled out another chair and sat beside him. I looked straight into his eyes,they looked weak, he has been crying.

“I know what happened to my mother” I said Grandpa eyes widened, he was surprised. “I know he bewitched, abused and maltreatment my mother” I paused showing him her shoes. Aunt Faiza gave them to me,she said Grandpa bought them for my mother.

“Who told you” he asked touching them.

“It doesn’t matter Grandpa, I will have to know sooner or later” I continued “You and Granny has always been there for me, you’ve been my parents ever since I was born. I know you love me just as you love Sofiyah” Grandpa eyes was filled with tears upon hearing my mother’s name.

“I love you Grandpa,you’re my Father. I know my Father is back for me, am not leaving you. My place is with you and Granny. I love you” I said, tears flowed freely from Grandpa’s eyes.

“Let me fulfil my mother dreams and I promise you won’t loose me to anyone” Grandpa pulled me over and I could hear him cry

“I love you, am scared of loosing you just like your mother, I failed to protect her like a father should” he said, I wiped out his tears with the edge of my scarf.

“It’s not your fault Grandpa, you were a good father and you still are” I said holding his hands. “Am not going anywhere,i will be with you not him” Grandpa looked at me, his face brightens, he pulled me closer and kissed my forehead.

Grandpa and I left for the sitting room, he held me close. Everyone had a smile on their face, they knew what was happening already. Granny stretched her arms out for a hug, she has been waiting for that moment. Everyone was happy that night.

In my room, Aunt Baraqah and Granny came over to talk to me. Granny apologize for not telling me about, she felt I wasn’t going to understand.

“Am sorry for not telling you, I don’t know how to and I couldn’t tell if you would understand” she said 

“I understand” I told her

“It’s good you’re on the same page with Grandpa now” Aunt Baraqah said smiling

“Thank you”

“I will be leaving tomorrow, been away from home for long” she said.

“Go to sleep now” Granny said as they both left 

I tried sleeping and this time I was happy, happy to know what happened to my mother and also happy to know Grandpa is happy. Knowing what happened to my mother was caused by my father, I was getting prepared to face him anytime.

____________________________________________

After salatul fajr, Aunt Baraqah was ready to leave. Her bags were packed already, Uncle volunteered to drop her off at the bus station. I hugged her as she was about to leave

“Thank you” I said

“Make sure you keep to your promise” she said.

The car left for the park, Aunt Baraqah came over because of me and she was happy her stay paid off. I was going to miss her but she’s right I shouldn’t forget my promise, I promised my grandparents I wasn’t going to leave them for my Father. 

Grandpa left the house that day, he told us he was going to town and won’t stay long. In his absence, Granny and my cousin Kareem were talking

“You haven’t told us what brought you home” Granny asked him

“I came over because Hiqmat called, I wanted to talk to Grandpa and am happy everything went well” he said. I looked at him with a big smile, I was really happy my cousin came over because of me. It was one of the best feelings ever.

When Grandpa came back, he told me he has paid for my jamb form and I should visit the cafe to complete my registration. I was really happy, Grandpa had a big smile on his face. He told me to read hard for my exams and choose any university of my choice.I put a call through to Aunt Baraqah and Faiza telling them about it, I was really happy my dreams were coming through 

Kareem left for Lagos the next day and my Software classes continued. I registered for JAMB and attended JAMB lectures after my Software class. 

…To be continued.

Fiction

THE WALL BETWEEN- Chapter Twelve

NARRATOR- BARAQAH

I cried as she narrated her story, I knew it wasn’t Sofiyah who was getting married. Usman bewitched my sister!. I wanted to take her away that day but she said she can’t leave.

“We are leaving together today” I said 

“It’s not possible today, his boys are outside.They didn’t see you coming, If I go out with you, they might hurt us”
“So what do u suggest” I asked her

“I will call you when the boys aren’t around, but I don’t have phone” she said.

I gave her my phone, I had just one phone. She had to call my husband and I will be there in a jiffy. I waited for the boys to be distracted, before I left the house.

I called Faiza and your uncle when I got home, I told them what was happening and your Uncle who was in Lagos then said we needed to take Sofiyah out of Usman’s house. He spoke with our parents about it and they told us to bring her home. Grandpa was angry, he wanted to get Usman arrested, but we needed to get Sofiyah out of his house.

Two days later, Sofiyah called “Hello, please tell Sofiyah to come over, the boys are gone” she told my husband.

  I called your Uncle and we went over to her house and took her away. No one was in the compound that day, we left and No one saw us.

Sofiyah stayed at my place that day, and the next day we brought her home. On arrival, Grandpa took her to the hospital she was six months pregnant. My parents had tears in their eyes when they saw her, Sofiyah looked really bad. In her bed, she cried asking for forgiveness from our parents. They needed to forgive her, she didn’t do the things she did on purpose. 

When Sofiyah was with us, no one knew where she was. We didn’t tell anyone about it and your father didn’t look for her. Sofiyah was literally missing for four months and your father didn’t tell anyone.
We were aware what happened could lead to something big because of the law so we made things right. I had pictures of Sofiyah taken when she was alive, the scars on her body, the house and everything around her. Her story was recorded and a statement was made in the police station. All these were done with Sofiyah consent and we were safe Incase Usman wanted to accuse us of kidnapping and killing his wife. 

Four months later, she gave birth to you. Sofiyah spent two days hospital and then Cesarean Section (SC) was done. She died few hours after your birth, She shouldn’t have died but she did. No one could stop death, she died of postpartum bleeding. Grandpa named you Hiqmat because it means Wisdom.

After your birth, Usman got to know Sofiyah was with us. He came to our house with the police, meanwhile, we’ve reported him to the police before he came. Grandpa got him arrested instead, Usman spent a night at the police station he was bailed out by his sister. Grandpa was willing to jail Usman but Granny said he shouldn’t, she said his sentence or death won’t bring back Sofiyah, it was best to let him be and let God be the judge.

I tried convincing Granny but she said her daughter is dead and buried. Grandpa gave you his name Hiqmat Ali, but we can’t deny the fact that you are Usman daughter Hiqmat Usman.

It’s wasn’t entirely your mother’s fault but Grandpa hasn’t let go, he still blames himself. Grandpa is scared you might fall victim to such, not just by going to school, but seeing your father in school. Usman is a junior lecturer in the Engineering Department of the University of Lagos.

NARRATOR- HIQMAT

“Don’t cry dear” Aunty Baraqah to Hiqmat

“Dear, I know how you feel about this. We really wish none of this happened” Aunt Faiza

“My father killed my mother” Hiqmat said crying

“Let it go,you need to let it go” Aunty Faiza 

“Grandpa doesn’t want me in school because of him, he’s wicked ” Hiqmat

“Your father is back” Aunty Baraqah said “He came some months ago and most recently two days ago. He has been asking about you, he said he wants his daughter back.” She paused 

“That’s why I came home, we needed to find a solution to everything. You told Grandpa want to go to the university to study architecture, that’s why Grandpa is angry. He’s scared your father might find you there and take you away” Aunt Baraqah

“He said you belong to him” Anty Faiza.

I was cold, my father is back to take me after sixteen years, it’s impossible. Then I realized why Grandpa was refusing to send me to the university. My father is the reason, he’s the wall between me and my dreams.

“Grandpa is concerned about you, you might think he’s selfish but he has to protect the only thing Sofiyah left behind” Aunt Faiza said

The wall between you and your dreams is your father, he’s the reason Grandpa is scared of sending you to the university. There’s no way he won’t get to know about you going to the university and we don’t have to capacity to send you abroad except there’s a scholarship” Aunty Baraqah

“A time will come when we won’t be there to protect you, he will find you.” Aunt Faiza

“What can I do” I asked in tears.

Aunt Baraqah held my hands ” you need to convince Grandpa you aren’t going anywhere, talk to him and tell him you can do better than your mother. Tell him you know the story and you know why he’s scared, tell him you will never leave his side, appreciate him. You need to talk to him from your heart”

…To be continued.

Fiction

THE WALL BETWEEN- Chapter Eleven

After my visit to Sofiyah house, I wasn’t happy. My sister was looking unkept, Usman was looking great when I saw him. I kept wondering what was happening to her, she was also pregnant.

 I was restless, I kept thinking about our conversation. Sofiyah was scared, she didn’t want Usman to see me with her. I could remember he gave me a wrong number and address, which means he didn’t want anyone around her. I started having weird feelings about Sofiyah and Usman, I waited patiently for her call before I could conclude.

She called one day and requested I come over to her house. “Hello, Baraqah this is Sofiyah” said the voice as I answered the phone

“Sofiyah thank God you finally called, hope all is well

“Am fine, Usman will be traveling tomorrow” she said whispering.

“Ok” 

“You can come over tomorrow, don’t call this number. Be at my place by 12noon tomorrow” she said and hung up.

Sofiyah was whispering throughout the call, something wasn’t right, nothing has been right from the first day. I prepared myself for the next day and told my husband about the call, he said Sofiyah was probably going through something and I should be gentle with her.

I got to her house the next day, I met Sofiyah at the terrace she was waiting for me. We hugged each other and she welcomed me into her home, we started talking and soon Sofiyah was in tears.

“How have you been Sofiyah, what’s going on with you” I asked her as I settled on the sofa.

“Baraqah am not doing well” she said in tears 

“What do you mean, what is happening with you. No one heard from you after your Convocation” I said 

“There’s a lot to it Baraqah, am suffering” she said. I placed her head on my shoulder trying to comfort her.

“Tell me everything” I said

NARRATOR- SOFIYYAH 

“Baraqah, I don’t know what came over me. I really didn’t like Usman when I first saw him” she said. “I could recall our first meeting, it was at the school cafeteria. Usman sent one of his friends to me, I told the boy to leave me alone. At noon that same day, Usman came to me”

“I sent my friend to you this morning” Usman said “Well I like you and I want you to be girlfriend” he said pulling my hand “Am well known inside and outside campus” he added. Usman continued to brag about himself 

“it’s better you forget it, I can’t go out with you” I told him

“No one turns me down, I own this campus” he said and I walked away from him.

 200lvl second semester, I was in the library when he came over. I suddenly started liking him and that was how I fell in love. I don’t know what came over me, I started doing and believing everything he said. I became secretive and didn’t find any fault in him, I wanted to be with him. He’s from a good background, but Usman is evil.

After our wedding, everything was going well. I thought I married the man of my dreams, few months later he told me we were packing out of our apartment. He said he didn’t want family coming around to interfere with our marriage. I did as he instructed without confronting him.

Usman bewitched me. He doesn’t pray nor fast,he drinks, womanizes and smokes. He brings this women into our home,whenever I confort he beats me up. so many times I tried to escape,but I couldn’t.He has someone watching over me. 

“How did you get to know he bewitched you” Baraqah

“I was sweeping the house one day,when I decided i needed to change the interior.I was through with the sitting room and decided to do the same with the bedroom. I was picking out some clothes he wasn’t wearing anymore when something dropped from the pocket of one of his clothes.I picked it, it was a small bottle the size of an ink bottle. I opened it and found a substance in powered form, a piece of paper was buried in it. I opened the paper, my name and his were written on the paper. I found another object tied in with a black and white thread, I loosed it and behold it was my name written on another paper with his.

After seeing all these, my eyes became cleared. It was then I realized I have been bewitched, I cried out but no one could hear me. I started to recall everything I did, my heart was heavy. I tried calling you or Faiza that was when I realized I don’t have anybodys contact. I tried escaping but i couldnt, he has some boys mounted outside to watch over me, it was as if he knew I was going to find out. 

When Usman came back that day I confronted, he took everything from. There was nothing I could do than to confront him. Usman beat up and I was pregnant, I almost lost my baby. He didn’t take me to the hospital, he said he did it to teach me a lesson. 

“When I asked you out in school, you were ignoring me abi. Didn’t I marry you, I got to see everything you were hiding. I married you to teach you a lesson that no one says no to me” 

I was shocked, I ever expected such. I only refused him because he wasn’t a good person but I ended up paying for what I know not. Usman started bring women home, he drinks and smokes. 

He said “When you give birth to my child you can go back to your family, till then you can’t leave this house. Don’t even think about it, my boys are outside”

Usman hides his phone from me, I got to call because he forgot to take his phone to the bathroom this morning. He does that everyday, I sleep in a separate room and I work as a slave, I haven’t been to a hospital since I got pregnant. Baraqah I don’t know what to do, am dying here please help.

…To be continued.

Fiction

THE WALL BETWEEN- Chapter Ten

Few weeks after my graduation, we got married. It was the best day of our lives, getting married to someone we love was a dream come true.

Sofiyah looked really beautiful, our henna and dresses were made by Granny, She made them with love. Grandpa told Sofiyah she could stop the wedding if she wanted to, but Sofiyah said she wanted to get married. I felt something wasn’t right but I couldn’t figure it out. 

Granny was happy, her daughters were getting married. It’s every mother’s dream to see her daughter(s) getting married, prayers were made and the ceremony came to an end. While we were about to leave, Granny told Sofiyah she was scared she said something wasn’t right but darling Sofiyah assured Granny she’s fine.

We all parted in tears, Sofiyah and I left for our husband’s house in Lagos.

Days, weeks and months passed after our wedding. I was happy in my marriage and I was in law school. Sofiyah was done with school already, she was about to go for her NYSC. I didn’t see my sister for a long time after our wedding, our parents were worried too. When we visited the house they were living, we were told they’ve moved out. I last saw Sofiyah during her Convocation.

We tried to get to Usman’s parents, they said Sofiyah and Usman were fine. Usman parents lived abroad and didn’t know where Usman lives, his siblings promised to send us their address but they never did. It was a really difficult situation, no one knew where Usman was working. He didn’t have a job when he got married and no one has his phone number too.

I was out one day to get groceries when I saw Usman, he was looking very different from the last time I saw him. I greeted him and asked about my sister.

“How is Sofiyah, I haven’t heard from her in a while” 

“She’s fine, she’s been busy lately. She just got a shop” he said

“She should’ve checked on us, everyone is worried about her” I said bringing out a pen and notebook from my handbag “Can I have your home address, I went looking for her and was told you’ve moved out of your previous apartment” 

He was reluctant to give me, but he did give me the address to a house. I went further to ask for Sofiyah’s shop telephone number, he said she doesn’t have one and his house telephone was faulty.

“Can I have yours” I asked

“OK. 025….” He called out the number

“I’ll call you, please tell Sofiyah to come see me” I told, but he didn’t reply me.

After meeting with him, I kept recalling his attitude and how he wasn’t willing to give me the address to his home nor his telephone number. I visited the address given to me and it was his sister’s house, She told me she hasn’t seen him in a while. When I tried calling the telephone number, it was his sister’s. 

I was getting scared, I told my husband about it and he decided he was going to help look for Sofiyah. He asked me where I saw Usman and he began the search. According to him, his house shouldn’t be far from the market since he came to get some groceries. I called Faiza and told her what has been happening, she promised to come to Lagos.

My husband called me few days later and told me he knows where my sister lives. I was excited about the news. I left for the place and when I got there it wasn’t far from my house. Sofiyah lived in a house two streets away from mine, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I always walk pass the house where she lives and I never saw her. My husband told me I should come back the next day, but I insisted i was going into the compound.

I walked into the compound, there were two buildings in the compound and both were bungalows. I saw a lady who had a piece of cloth tied across her chest sitting on the terrace of one of the building, she was picking bean. I recognized her, she was Sofiyah.

I called out her name, she saw me and ran towards me. I haven’t seen her in months. Sofiyah was surprised see me, she gave me a warm hug.

“I have looked for you everywhere, i saw Usman but he gave me a wrong number and house address” I said in one breath

“Baraqah am so happy to see you, am sorry” she said

“Me too, why are looking like this” I asked her, Sofiyah looked unkept.

“There’s a lot to talk about” she replied.

“Why don’t we go inside” I suggested

“No way!, Usman will be back soon. I don’t want him to meet you here, he’ll get angry” she said

“Why?” I asked “I haven’t seen you in months” I was surprised

“There’s a lot to it sister, let me have ur telephone number so I’ll call you” she said. I gave her my house phone number. 

“I will be expecting your call” I said

“I will call you” she said giving me another hug. I left the compound with a heavy heart.

…To be continued.

Fiction

THE WALL BETWEEN- Chapter Seven

 I had my bath and rushed out to join everyone in breakfast. It was going to be big day, I was going to find out what happened to my mother.
“Hiqmat, your uncle will drop you off at school” Granny said. That was a good idea, I won’t have to wait for the bus. 

“OK” I said cleaning the table, I hurried into my room and took my bag. 

“Don’t come home late today” Uncle said, I was surprised he noticed I came late the previous day. “We all knew you came late but sometimes, somethings happen for a reason” he added, I nodded my head in agreement and alighted from the car. I walked into a building, it was a four storey building and the computer school was on the third.

Some hours into the class, we went on lunch break.The class usually last for five hours, I took my bag and left during lunch break making sure no one saw me. I was on my way to the car park to get a taxi, when i saw the man from the previous evening. The man who got everyone upset, I felt like going to go him. I wanted to know why he got everyone angry, but no one asked me to, I continued walking to the park.

 I took a taxi to Aunty Faiza’s house. I walked into the compound and knocked at the door. Aunt Faiza opened the door and I walked in. 

“As-salam alaikum waramotulah wabarakatuh” I greeted 

“Walaykum Salam waramotulah wabarakatuh” she replied “Hiqmat, you are early hope you went to class?” She asked

“Yes, I did” I said saving the story to myself 

“Good” she murmured 

“When are you taking me there Aunt?” I asked few minutes later, I didn’t want to waste anymore time. 

“Don’t be in a hurry dear” she said smiling, “Did you tell anyone you were coming over?” she asked 

“No” I answered.

“Why?” she asked

“They won’t let me” I replied

 “You didn’t tell them you were coming here yesterday” she said and I nodded “You have to be careful, you are still a child” she said scolding me. 

   Few minutes later, there was a knock on the door. Aunt Baraqah walked in, I was surprised to see her even though it’s her sisters house. 

She looked at me and said “You should be in class right”. 

“Am sorry, I came to see Aunt Faiza” I said

“It’s okay” she replied

“Hiqmat, please make some Zobo drink for us” Aunt Faiza said sending me to the kitchen.

  I could hear the two sisters bonding as I walked into the kitchen. Zobo is made out of dried hibiscus flowers, cooked, filtered and the juice is mixed with different varieties of flavours. Minutes later I was done preparing the drink, I was about walking into the sitting room when I heard them talking.

“I think we should tell her everything, she needs to know” Aunt Faiza said “She’s going through a lot, she may not say it but she’s hurting” 

“I know, but what if she can’t handle it. She’s too young for this” Aunt Baraqah 

“When are we going to tell her, when they come to take her or now” Aunt Faiza said.

Who is coming to take me?, There are a lot of things I don’t know. I took the Zobo into the sitting room and served them, I turned around to leave when Aunt Baraqah called me.

“Hiqmat, your Aunt and I have decided to tell you everything about your mother” she said 

“We want to be sure if you will be able to handle it” Aunt Faiza added.

“I can” I said nodding my head.

There’s nothing I wanted more than to know what happened to my mother and going to the university. I can handle everything as long as I get to know what happened to my mother.

“Alright” Aunty Faiza said telling me to sit beside her. “If you feel uncomfortable let us know” she said holding my hands.

“Let me call Granny and tell her you are with me” Aunt Baraqah said bringing out her phone. After the call, she swapped seat with Anty Faiza.

“Are you sure you want to know what happened” Aunt Baraqah

“Yes” I said, Aunt Faiza smiled telling her to go ahead.

“Alright, You see” Aunt Baraqah started.

*****************************************

  Back at home, my cousin Kareem come home. Kareem is Uncle’s son, he’s my first cousin. I called him some days earlier, telling him about Grandpa’s refusal to send me to the university. He promised he would be coming over to see if he could convince Grandpa. 

Granny was excited to see him, she hasn’t seen him in a long time. My cousin is a lawyer, he lives in Lagos with his sister Maryam who’s in the university. His visits were usually short and unannounced. 

Uncle got back from work and was welcomed by his son who didn’t tell him he was coming. 

“As-salam alaikum” Kareem greeted 

“Walaykum Salam, it’s good to see you” Uncle replied ” You didn’t tell me you were coming home” he added

” I don’t intend on staying long” Kareem said 

“As usual, hope your sister is aware you coming” Uncle asked

“Yes” he replied

Uncle noticed my absence, “Where’s Hiqmat?” he asked

“Granny said she is with Aunt Baraqah” Kareem answered

…. To be continued.

Fiction

THE WALL BETWEEN- Chapter Eight (My Mother’s story).

NARRATOR – AUNT BARAQAH
“Your mother, Sofiyah was her name. She was my sister and the third of Granny’s four children. We were a happy family, our childhood was great and we had almost the same friend.

Your mum, Faiza and I were always together. You’re just like your mother, light skinned and beautiful.  Sofiyah was about your age when she got admitted in to the university, she also wanted to be an architect. you both share the same dreams” Aunt Baraqah stopped to wipe off the tears from her eyes.

“She got admission into the university of Lagos, she was doing great at school, never missed a class and always came home whenever she needed something. Things were going fine until her third year in school” she paused and took a sip from the Zobo drink.

Sofiyah came home, during the second semester break while she was in her third year. We were relaxing in the courtyard, when she told us she wanted to get married. Everyone thought she was joking, she told us she has met the boys family and wanted him to meet us. 

“I want to get married” she said

“You’re joking” I teased her

“No,am serious. I have met with his family and I want him to meet mine” she said
Grandpa was calm, he told her to bring him home.

“Ok, you can bring him over” Grandpa said “I hope you know what you’re doing” he added

“Yes father” she replied

“Why haven’t I met him” I asked

“No reasons” she replied

Later that night, Faiza and I asked her why she didn’t tell us about her plans first, she said she wanted to make it a surprise. She apologized for not telling us about it and promised not to hide anything again. 

“You should have told us about your plans first” Faiza told her

“We are your sister” I added

“I wanted to make it a surprise, am sorry if i hurt you” she said

“Promise you won’t be secretive” I requested

“I promised” she said 

“When is he coming” Faiza asked

“Soon” she replied

  Few days later, I walked into the sitting room and saw a young boy. He was sitting beside Sofiyah, a glass of water was on a table beside him. It was obvious he’s the one she was talking about, Sofiyah had promised not to hide anything from me but she didn’t tell me he was coming home that day. I wondered why she did what she did, at first I thought she was scared we might steal him from her but we will never do such.

 The boy left few minutes later and I overheard Grandpa asking Sofiyah some questions, she wasn’t able to give Grandpa a good reply.

“He’s a student, he’s living with his parents. How will he take care of you” Grandpa asked

“He will, God will” she answered

“Really, I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable I would have…” he paused “Aside him being a student, he’s not well composed” Grandpa added

“He was nervous that’s all” she said

“You can’t marry that boy, he’s not the kind of man I want for my daughters. He’s a boy” Grandpa said

“Why? I love him and he loves me too, that’s all that matters” Sofiyah said 

“There’s more to marriage than love, love isn’t enough reason for getting married” Grandpa told your Mother.

Grandpa has always told us we could get married while still in school. He said whenever we find someone who we think we want to spend the rest of our lives with, we should bring him home. Grandpa won’t have rejected your Father if he wasn’t sure about his decision. 

Your Uncle was leaving for Lagos the next day, he came over for a visit. He persuaded Grandpa to give your Father a chance, I could remember him saying.

” Dad, give him a chance, you just met him he probably isn’t what you’re thinking. Sofiyah won’t have brought him if she wasn’t sure” Your Uncle had told Grandpa. 

Granny was not really convinced, she couldn’t decide whether or not should your Mother should marry your Father. Granny who was sick, she tried telling your Mother to reconsider marrying your Father.

“Sofiyah, why don’t you take things easy” Granny told her

“I am, moreover am not a child”

“There are so many men out there, take your time” Granny advised her.

   We resumed back to school and Sofiyah changed. She started keeping to herself, we did all we could to get her to talk to us but she was stubborn. We came back from classes one day, and met her in the room. She wasn’t living with us anymore, she moved some of her things to her friend’s hostel. We decided to make her talk to us, and when she finally did, she told us with or without Grandpa’s blessings, she will marry your Father. She was determined to marry him.

“I love Usman, and I will marry. Father doesn’t like him because he’s a student” She said, there was something Sofiyah wasn’t telling us. 

” Father can’t say you shouldn’t marry Usman because he’s a student” Faiza told Sofiyah.

” You have to stop hiding things from us, we are sisters and we need to stick together. If you don’t talk to us, how can we help you because you need our help” I told her but her reply wasn’t what we excepted.

“Why do I have tell anyone what happens in my life, we are sisters not shadows” she said and walked out of the room.

I was loosing my sister, I needed her to see us as her sisters and friends not enemy. Sofiyah would walk pass us in school whenever she saw us, she stopped returning our greetings. All attempt to get her to talk to us were in vain, Sofiyah’s friends weren’t helping either. We didn’t say or do anything to warrant such treatment from her.

 

Fiction

THE WALL BETWEEN- Chapter Nine

 One day, Faiza and I were returning from the market. We came across a group of boys under a tree just beside the male hostel. It was a regular sight, but something was different that day. We saw Usman, he was gambling!. We were surprised to see him, we stood trying to figure out if it was him or not. Our eyes met, but he pretended he didn’t see us. We told Sofiyah what we saw, but she said it wasn’t Usman. Sofiyah kept seeing Usman.

 Another holiday came, we all went home and Usman came over with his family to ask for Sofiyah hands in marriage. Prior to that, Usman had gone to see our parents. He also put up a great act, telling them how much he loves Sofiyah and wants to get married to her. 

Grandpa was made to believe his lies. Usman also went to your Uncle’s house a couple of times and bought him over with his fake attitude.

Grandpa agreed to the marriage. Faiza and I couldn’t understand what was going on, so we decided to talk to Grandpa who said he was convinced Usman would make a good husband.

“Who told you so” Faiza asked

“He came to see us while you were in school, your brother also said I should allow them get married” Grandpa replied.

“How do you feel about this, do you think it’s right?” I asked him

“Sincerely Baraqah, I don’t think it’s right. I feel that young boy isn’t what he says he is. But what can I do, your sister said either Usman or no one” Grandpa said.

“We don’t want them to get married, he’s not good” Faiza told Grandpa

“As much I want don’t want this, I don’t what Sofiyah to do anything wrong” Grandpa said.

 Grandpa was scared Sofiyah will get pregnant or elope. We tried our best to talk to Sofiyah, we only saw him gambling but that isn’t a quality of a good husband. After much ado, My wedding and Sofiyah’s was scheduled to take place on the same day. I was getting married after graduating from the university.

We went back to school and I was preparing for my final exams. I decided to talk to Usman myself, he was a final year student too. I found him in one of the classes and queried him

“What exactly is it you want from my sister?” I asked as I approached him

“Come on, you should at least say Hi” he replied “…well all I need is marriage” he added 

“My sister will never fall for someone like you, what exactly did you do?” I paused “Sofiyah is probably getting married because you pressured her, what is it that’s in you” I asked, i was getting furious

“Am not what you think I am, am a good boy from a good background. It’s not my fault you can’t see anything good in me” he said

He was from a good background but that doesn’t mean he’s good. He keeps bad company and amongst others he gambles. 

“I don’t like you, I really hope all this is what it is. I hope you are not trying to hurt my sister because I can feel it” I told him. I walked away before he could reply me.

I was getting married and so I needed to get close to my sister. After talking to Usman, I decided I needed talk to her. I found her in the library and went to her.

“How prepared are you for the wedding” I asked her 

“Very prepared”

” You love Usman, don’t you” I said grabbing a seat

“Beyond your imagination”

“Does he feel the same?”

“Yes, Usman loves me. If he doesn’t I won’t be getting married to him”

“I know, I just wanted to know if there isn’t anything attached to it” I asked

“Nothing other than love” she said

“But he’s not your type of man, you like men who are older and independent” I said trying to get her to talk

“People change Baraqah” she said staring at me “I met him and my taste changed” she said

It wasn’t possible, Sofiyah always wanted to get married to someone older than her and independent not a student who is almost the same age as her. 

“Tell me how you met him”

She smiled “We met here in the library, he came to read. That’s how we met” she said. I would have been happy but I wasn’t. She looked like someone who is in love but I didn’t like it.

“Am happy for you too,we are getting married on the same day” she said holding my hands. I forced a false smile.

Exams came and soon I was through with school, after my Convocation ceremony, we got married.

….To be continued.

Fiction

THE WALL BETWEEN- Chapter Six

 “Hello” a soft feminine replied. I turned around “Hiqmat dear, come in” the lady said, she was a young woman, dark skinned and looked chubby. She wore a nice blouse, her hair was wrapped under a turban and her smile complimented her looks. The lady was Aunty faiza, Granny’s last child.

“It’s nice to see you” she said as she ushered me into her sitting room, it was a large sitting room with a dinning section, the chairs were made from black Italian leather, a chandelier hanged from the middle  of the roof. I sat comfortably on the sofa. 

“…so tell me, what brought you here huh” she asked as she gave me a glass of cold juice

” I came to say hi, I missed you” I said taking a sip “Were are my cousin’s?” I asked 

” They’ve gone to see Granny in Ibadan” she replied

  Aunty faiza is married with two kids, her husband Mr Abdus samad is an auditor and Aunty faiza is a housewife.

” I was preparing porridge when you came, do you care for” she asked

“Yes”  I replied, I couldn’t believe she was asking if I cared. Porridge is my favorite food. I followed her to the kitchen. 

“So what are you doing presently” she asked

“Am currently learning software development” I replied

“Huhm” she sighed ” I heard what happened, hope you’re not thinking about it” she said putting down the pot of porridge.

“You mean Iya Ruqayat death” I asked not sure of what she meant.

“Iya Ruqayat is dead!” She was surprised “when was that?” she asked

“I thought that’s what you talking about, she died this morning” I said as I gulped the remaining juice.

“I don’t know, God bless her soul” she said ” I was actually talk about you and Grandpa” she added

“You know already” I asked.

“Yes dear, you’re still very young to understand why Grandpa is making such decisions” she said serving the porridge, she served mine and I soon began to eat. 

We were in the middle of the delicious meal when her phone rang, she picked it up and got talking. By the time she ended the call I was through wth my food. 

“Hope you enjoyed your meal” she asked

“I do, thanks” I said returning the dishes to the kitchen

I assisted her in cleaning the kitchen, the kitchen was half the size of the sitting room. It was a modern kitchen. 

“Aunty” I called, trying to get her attention

“Yes” she answered

“I actually came to talk to you” I said starring at her. My visit to Aunty Faiza’s house wasn’t really because I missed her, I had come to seek answers to my questions.

“What’s that” she asked arranging the cabinets. 

“No one wants to tell me why Grandpa is refusing my going to the university” I said trying to catch her eyes “No one wants to talk about my parents” I added.

” Hiqmat dear” she held my hands ” Grandpa isn’t refusing, he’s just scared that all” she added as we sat on the sofa.

“I do deserve to know why he’s scared, he keeps mentioning my mother” I said moving closer to her, I wanted her to see through me. I really wanted someone to understand what I was going through.

“You do deserve to know, but am not in the best position to do so” she said “We all promised not to talk about it in Grandpa’s house” she added. It was the same thing Aunty Baraqah had said earlier.

I had come to her because she isn’t living in Grandpa’s house, they only promised to not to talk about my mother in Grandpa’s house.

   “What happened to my mother?” I asked ” I want to know what she did”  I said holding her hands, this time I was in tears.

“It’s okay, I will tell you” she said wiping off my tears with the edge of her blouse “… but I wont be the only one to do so, there’s someone else who knows it all”.

 I was relieved, “Who knows it better” I asked 

“Someone you know” she said “I really don’t know half of it, though she’s my sister” she added

“Where’s she living” I asked ready to go find the someone who knows it better.

“Hiqmat, it’s late already. You can’t go anywhere except home” she said standing up ” Granny would be worried by now” 

” When can I go to see her then” I asked as I made my way to the door.

“Come early tomorrow, but make sure you go to class first” she said. She followed me to the gate, where she boarded a taxi to take me home and gave me some money. 

I told the taxi to stop at the junction, didn’t want my grandparents asking where I was coming from. As I walked closer to the house, I saw a man coming out of our compound. He was frowning and cursing, he looked young, wore a jean trouser and a polo shirt. I haven’t seen him before, he walked into his car shutting the door in anger. I stood by the gate trying to hear what he was saying when Granny called me

“Come here you” she said, I ran towards her and asked

” Who’s that, why’s he cursing?” I asked

“That’s the person who upset your Grandpa the other day” she said as we walked into the house.

Grandpa,my Aunty and Uncle were in the sitting room, they all looked angry, the young man must have really upset everyone this time.

” Here she comes” My Uncle said as if they were looking for me. 

” Thank God she wasn’t in” Grandpa added.

“Go to your room” Granny said as Aunty walked me to the room.

“Who’s that man” I asked my Aunt

“Someone not worth knowing” she said shutting the door.

Whoever that man was, he really did upset my family. No one asked why I came home late instead they were happy I wasn’t home when the man came. I had dinner and prepared for next day meeting.

….To be continued.

Fiction

THE WALL BETWEEN- Chapter Five

    I got registered in a Computer college very close to our house, Grandpa instructed my uncle to get me registered. I was hoping to learn a lot about software development.

  JAMB form was out already, I got home after class and informed my Aunt who said I shouldn’t tell Grandpa yet. My Uncle and Aunt would have been able to get it for me but they didn’t want to get Grandpa upset.

  That night, after having dinner, I laid on my bed and was going through the pages of my book. I was trying to get my mind off everything and study, I soon heard some voices from the courtyard. I leaned over the window to see what was happening.

    ” Not again, everyone is quarrelling because of me” I said to myself.

” Am not telling you what to do, am asking you to” I heard uncle telling Grandpa.

   ” You can’t tell me what to do, she’s my responsibility” Grandpa replied. 

   ” Hiqmat shouldn’t be treated this way, give her a chance” Uncle said

   “You said the same thing when her mother brought her father home, what was the result” Grandpa said “You told me to give him a chance, I did and what did he do to my daughter. He’s going to do the same to her” Grandpa added.

   ” You are still living in the past, I only wanted the best for my sister. I guess i was wrong but this child is innocent” Uncle said

    “Am done with this” Grandpa said as he tried to walk away ” I can’t let her go, she’s the only thing Sofiyah left behind” he added.

     “She will go to the university, she’s going to fulfill her mother’s dream. She looks up to you, you’ve always been there for her and you’re turning your back on her just because of her father.” Uncle paused

    “She’s my responsibility as well father, all we need to do is stand by her just as we’ve always done. Her father shouldn’t be the reason why she should be  denied anything” Uncle said as Grandpa walked away. 

   ________________________________________

    It was my tradition to sleep after the morning Prayers, I was wrapping myself under the duvet when I heard the door bell ring. I looked at the wall clock hanging on the wall, it was 7:15am.

 “who could it be at this hour, It’s too early to have visitors” I said trying to get up.

  I heard Aunt Baraqah’s voice from the sitting room, she was in in kitchen preparing breakfast. 

     ” Subhanallah!!!” She screamed, everyone rushed out to see what had happened.

    ” What happened” my uncle asked, opening the door to see who was there.

  ” Iya Ruqayat is dead” she said almost crying

    “Inalillah wallahi rojiun” Everyone said in unison

     “Her maid said she died this morning” Aunt added wiping off tear from her eyes.

    “God bless her soul” I said almost whispering.

  The news of Iya Ruqayat death made everyone moody. I saw her some days before her death, she was our neighbour and Granny’s friend. She sells Bean cake and pap popularly known as Eko and Akara, hers was the best and she had lots of customers. Most times, people stay in queue just to buy her Eko and Akara.

  Iya Ruqayat always gave me five pieces of Akara whenever she saw me going to school. Memories of her and how everyone was going to miss her made me cry. I stood by the kitchen window as I watched people coming to pay their last tributes to Iya Rukayat at her house. Death is inevitable I thought, no one would have imagined she would die that morning.

  As I tried recalling the memories I had with Iya Ruqayat, I found myself lost in thought of how my mother had died. I was told she died few hours after my birth, Granny gave me a picture of her which laid by my bedside. There was no other pictures of her around the house as it reminded everyone of her. 

   I began to think of what she did, no one actually talks my Father and it never bothered me. So many questions came running through my mind, no one was ready to tell me anything. Asking Granny about my parents wasn’t a good idea, she has tried to stop thinking about it. 

  I suddenly felt something warm on my shoulder.

   “Hiqmat, aren’t you going to school” the voice said, I turned around it was my Aunt. I have been standing beside the window for long.

” What were you thinking” she asked, 

“My mother, I was wondering how she was and what happened before and after her death” I said, not sure if I was asking a question.

” Your mother was an amazing young lady, death is unpredictable and inevitable” she said folding her arms

“What did she do, why is Grandpa ….” I asked

“Hiqmat” Aunt cuts in ” We’ve promised never talk about your mother in this house” Aunt added 

” Why?” I asked hoping she would answer me

“I really wish I could tell you about your mother, but a promise is a debt” she said. I was a little disappointed, but then I thought if no one can talk about my mother at home then someone outside the house can. 

   Grandpa was going to attend the funeral prayers, she was to be buried at her husband’s ancestral home at ilesa.

  I hurriedly had my bath, carried my bag and left for my Graphic class. As the class went on,I kept checking my watch. I wasn’t really interested in the class, my conversation with Aunt Baraqah was on my mind. I rushed out of the class as soon as it ended, I had to be somewhere, it was important.

  I alighted from the cab, and walked into the compound. The gate was painted in wine, there were flowers behind the fences and a dog cage. The house was a bungalow and it was repainted. There hasn’t been much changes since I last visited.

 I walked towards the house  “Good afternoon” I said as I knocked at the door, they don’t have a door bell. I walked around the terrace waiting for a response before I knock again, Just then the door opened.

…To be continued.