“Woman, speak to your daughter! She will marry whoever it is that I choose for her” Alhaji said as he stormed off. His baban riga flowing behind him.
“Noooooo” Aisha wailed. “Umar loves me and I love Him too…”
“Shut up! What do you know about love? You’re just 19. You will grow to love whoever your father chooses for you” Her mother interjected.
“Umma please don’t do this to me, do you want me to be miserable for the rest of my life? Give me this chance to have a happy life please. Talk to Alhaji” Aisha pleaded, holding on to her mother’s wrapper.
“Aisha, listen to me, Your father knows what is best for you, after all, he gave birth to you. Please my daughter, try to see things his way. Umar’s father and yours have never been friends” Hajiya said, gently pulling out her wrapper from her daughter’s palm.
“Is that all that matters to you? One stupid fight? What about my happiness, Umma? Do you and Alhaji ever think of my happiness too? Or do you want me to be an unhappy old woman like you? You were forced to marry Alhaji and look how it has turned out for you. Sadness is written all over…” a stinging slap for her mother cut Aisha short.
“How dare you talk to me in such disgusting manner? You are a very stupid girl, wawuya kawai” Hajiya hissed, walking out angrily through the same door her husband took.
“How will I ever live without Umar? My life will be miserable. After all the plans we have made together for our future. I can’t stand any other man” Aisha said to herself, tears pouring down her face.
It’d been 20 minutes since Aisha got to Umar’s house bearing the bad news from her parents.
She had sat, watching him pace back and forth more than 30 times.
“Say something please” She said, almost whispering.
“Let’s run away” He bluntly replied.
“You heard me. Let’s elope. It’s obvious that your parents will never like me and soon they’ll get you a husband. Come with me now and let us go very far before it gets to that point”
“Umar, are you in your right senses? How dare you suggest such a thing?”
“I know how terrible it sounds but that’s the only option baby na. I can’t bear to see you leave me. Aisha I love you” Umar looked like he was going to cry. He had come to sit beside her, putting her hands in his.
“I can’t. I mean, it’s not even possible”
“It is, my darling. I’ll soon get a job with my medical certificate, my business can sponsor our trip and settlement in another state, pending when I get the job. We can go to Kano, I know how much you love the big city. I’ll do my best to give you your dream life then we can come back when tempers have cooled and beg our parents. You may just have to defer this semester or session and come back to continue later but everything will be fine Aisha, I promise.”
“Umar, I’m scared”
“Baby, please do this for us. If we allow them, these people will kill what we have” He went on his knees.
“I’m afraid your daughter will not consent, Alhaji. She seems to have been charmed by that boy”
Ahmed had come to pay a visit to Aisha’s parents after his friends told him that they had seen Aisha around Umar’s house.
“Don’t say that Ahmed. Aisha is my daughter and will do whatever I ask her to. Just be patient, she will be your wife.” Alhaji replied.
“I really hope so Alhaji. I desire your daughter, she’s so beautiful and decent unlike many ladies I know” Ahmed had a stern look on his face.
“I brought my daughter up well. She’s very intelligent and decent, the envy of other maidens. As you know she’s already ripe for marriage and many suitors have come but I have turned them down. I want to make the right choice for her. I want a man who will allow her continue her university education as she’s in her 3rd year already and you are the man I have chosen so you have nothing to worry about.”
“Thank you Alhaji, you know I’m up to the task. Aisha will finish in school and even go for her second degree but I’m still worried she’ll choose Umar over me” Ahmed fumbled with his car keys.
“She won’t” Alhaji said, trying to convince himself too.
“She is at his house as we speak and that is why I came here to report to you”
Alhaji stood up in anger. “What!? Okay. I know what to do. I will handle this”
Two weeks later.
Aisha ran out of her lecture theatre. Umar’s friend Habib had sent her a text saying Umar was involved in an accident and was rushed to the hospital.
She rushed into her car, started it and sped like she had never done in her life. Her heart raced. What could have happened?
In no time she was at the hospital.
One look at the love of her life and Aisha burst into tears. Whatever had happened to him had left him battered, barely recognizable.
“He was attacked on his way home today by a group of hoodlums. Apparently, your dad had sent them to warn Umar to leave you. Umar’s life is in danger because of you.” Habib explained to Aisha as they walked through the corridor outside the ward where Umar was being treated. Umar had been fast asleep when Aisha got to the hospital and the nurses had told her not to disturb him.
“But why?” Aisha sniffed. Fresh tears poured down her face. “But why would Alhaji do such a thing?”
Deep within her, she wasn’t surprised. For two weeks now, she had been scared such a thing would happen after her father had slapped her for going to Umar’s house and said he’d handle both of them. Aisha knew her father and knew how far he could go.
“Umar doesn’t want to take this up with him for obvious reasons. You both need to talk, he should be awake now. Maybe you should go in and see him.”
“Umar I’m so sorry. I knew he was angry but I didn’t know he could go this far” Aisha whispered. Her eyes were swollen from tears.
“Your father hates me for no reasonable reason.”
“I’ll talk to him”
“Talk?” Umar laughed bitterly. “Did you say talk? Who can talk to your father? No one”.
” Umar please forgive him for my sake” Aisha managed to say as tears started pouring from her eyes again.
Umar flinched. He couldn’t bear watching her cry. Why did life have to be so hard? Why did he have to suffer for the fight his father had with Aisha’s father years before they were born? Was the fight even the reason or did Aisha’s father just hate him?
“Aisha, is this where our love story ends? Is this where the journey stops and we part ways? Is this how your father will break us?”
“No, Abba! Don’t say that” She sometimes called Umar “Abba” meaning “father”. She said he was everything to her including a father.
“Then let’s leave together. Let us leave this town and begin our lives afresh in a new place. Your father will get over it.”
“Umar, isn’t there another way?”
“I can’t think of any. Your father has sworn never to give you his blessing if you marry me and he promises to hurt me. The only choice we have is to leave his sight.”
“Abba Let us give him time and see if he changes.”
6 months later
Aisha walked through her father’s garden in the early hours of the morning. It was her wedding day.
Shortly after the first one, her father had sent people to attack Umar again.
Aisha smiled, a bitter regretful smile as she picked flowers from the garden as she strolled by.
Umar had come begging her to leave the city with him. He had gotten a job in Kano that came with a house and an official car. He promised to make her happy but she had refused. A decision she regretted immediately she made.
The next day, she had gone to Umar’s house only to be told that he left for Kano very early that day and left no address or contact. Aisha had cried every day for weeks.
Her father eventually forced her to accept Ahmed who she couldn’t even stand.
The days passed slowly and her wedding date was fixed.
“Aisha, come and have your bath. We don’t want to be late” Aisha’s mom called from inside.
Aisha sighed heavily. She was getting married to Ahmed while the love of her life was far away.
It was about to be a very long day.
“How dare you Aisha?”
The wedding was over, friends and family had gone back to their abodes. The wedding was a big one.
Aisha had been taken to her husband’s house and had done everything a new wife was expected to do.
She woke up late in the night and walked to the kitchen to get some water to drink when she heard footsteps and the voice behind her.
“How dare you?!” Her husband repeated.
Aisha looked up at her husband. “What do you mean Ahmed? What did I do?”
“You and your family made a fool out of me” Ahmed said, almost whispering.
“How? What are you talking about?” Aisha asked, even more confused.
Ahmed looked up at her with bloodshot eyes like he was ready to pounce on her any minute.
“Who disvirgined you?”
To be continued next week Friday
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed reading. Head back here next week Friday for the concluding part of the story.