Sharaf and Suliya were on the bed, in the middle of the night, bodies locked, cuddling. Then they began to smell smoke. Alarmed, they both jumped and scrambled to see where the smoke was coming from. They traced the smell of the smoke to the kitchen where they found Abdulbasit sleeping on a bonk which appeared to be a bed in a hospital ward. Suliya’s heart began to raise as Sharaf went to feel the boy’s temperature. Then Suliya felt a cold hand touch her on the shoulder; she turned and saw that it was her grandmother who had died years ago. She froze and turned away and now she was back in her room.
It was pitch dark and hot. She blew three times on her left side and sought God’s protection from Shaytan. She walked over to her son, observed him, touching his neck to feel his temperature. Then she headed for the bathroom to make ablution. Getting back into the room, she wore a white abaya and began her voluntary night prayers – tahajjud.
The next morning after taking Abdulbasit to school, Bolanle came to her house with Ti Oluwa Ni Ile part 1 – part 3 in hand. Suliya had several thoughts bothering her. She was troubled by the marriage prospect lately. Also, two days ago, her mother sent through her brother a special antimony gotten from one sheu which was said would make everything go as desired. Suliya took the antimony and emptied it into the garbage after her brother had gone.
Then the nightmare last night too terrified her and she knew she had to speak about all of these to someone she’s confident of her wisdom and has the ability to guide her.
She was about to call someone when Bolanle knocked the door, and so she decided to bask in the lively company of her friend. They watched the trilogy film from nine’o clock up to one o clock in the afternoon, gisting through most of the movies.
“How can I get them Ahl Sunnah brothers? I mean the rich ones o like the commissioner?” Bolanle asked.
“Well, I can’t lie o. You’re going to have to work on yourself.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, no offense, but we attract what we give out. You know, you, you be party girl. Even though, you’re not brazen like that, people won’t know. All you go dey attract will be like your yeye boyfriends who are sophisticated jigolos and are only interested in your cookies and the little you get for hand.”
“So are you saying I have to be using hijab and become ‘salaam alaykum’ to get serious guys?”
“All I am saying is all these faya sile and all go dey repel your target audience ni o.”
They turned back to the TV and watched Baba Wande exclaimed “Owo kase nle.” Then Bolanle said: “Suliya, there’s something I have wanted to ask you all these times o.”
Bolanle pouted her lips and wrinkled her nose. “It is intimate o.”
“Ehn so, it’s been five years since your divorce abi?”
“Yes, going to six.”
Bolanle exhaled. “Hum. So, you haven’t had sex at all since that time?”
Suliya stared back in response to Bolanle at first and then said slowly. “Nope.”
“Chineke mey!” Bolanle exclaimed. “Chim’o!”
Suliya burst into laughter. “Wetin do you? Dem commot something for your body?”
“Eh, for real Suliya? How do you do it? Ehn I for don die if it were me!”
“Ha ha…” Suliya chuckled. “We learn to cope naa ni.”
“Abeg, cope kee you there. Which kind cope be that.”
“To be honest with you, it hasn’t been easy. Some days I will just feel like….ohh God, oh…. But you know at the end of the day, for the fear of God’s wrath, I resist.”
The room felt quiet, leaving Oba Alapatira of Ajeegbe’s (played by Dele Odule) verbal lashing of Baba Wande in the background.
“And it’s not like I am going to give these stupid guys bombarding me on Facebook my body.” Suliya added.
“Wow, Suliya, you’re strong o. I pray God give me the same strength because these days the type of emptiness I’m feeling with all these yeye boyfriends is really something. I wish I can be like you.”
“You can, Bolanle. All you need is a little effort, and God will do the rest.”
“Hmnn…” Bolanle let her mind imagine herself in hijab, not only when praying, but as part of her everyday life. She envisioned herself performing hajj, in white garb, her husband beside her as they walk in circle around the kaabah. She smiled.
“Maybe next week, we can go together and pray at Lekki Masjid? You’ll really like the sisters there.”
Suliya called Umm Aisha, the leader of Lekki Masjid sisters circle, after seeing Bolanle off and asked if she could come over to her place for a serious discussion. She said yes, so Suliya hailed a cab. When she got to Umm Aisha’s place, she found her in a casual jeans and t-shirt, watching Saworoide. Umm Aisha’s plaited hairs caught her eyes. She had never seen Umm Aisha except in her usual large hijabs and during serious activities such as lecturing or praying or engaging in dhikr. So, seeing her watching TV, drinking a fruit wine, and just being normal amazed and pleased her.
“Should we go to my study for this? Or is it something we can discuss here?” Umm Aisha asked after handing Suliya a glass of fruit wine.
“Any place is fine.”
“Let’s go to the study then because the children will soon get back from school. And I don’t want them bumping in on our discussion.”
Umm Aisha led the way, and Suliya followed, taking quick glances at the velvety curtains, the indoor plants in the corners, and the beautiful dining table and chairs she just passed. The study smelt of musk and books and had a feel of library to it. They both sat inches apart on a three-seater couch and turned slightly towards each other.
“Se ko si o?” Umm Aisha asked if everything was fine.
“Thanks Umm Aisha for allowing me to come to you and may Allah reward you for always checking on me whenever I’m missing at the sisters circle.”
“Afwaan, my sister. Wa iyyak.”
“I recently got a marriage proposal from a brother, which I accepted.”
“Allhamdulillah. Congrats.” She shook Suliya’s shoulder tenderly.
“But I have been feeling some kind about it because of the surrounding issues.”
“Hmnn. How come?”
“The brother is married.”
“And I knew him from long time back. We were courting in university before I met my ex, and all… but the biggest thing is his wife is someone I know.”
She stopped talking for a moment, weighed if she should let it all out or not. She at first decided to stop, but when she looked at Umm Aisha’s face, the genuineness and friendliness in it made her comfortable. So, she went ahead.
“The brother is the new commissioner of finance, Sister Amina’s husband.”
She paused for a bit, expecting Umm Aisha to react or weigh in, but Umm Aisha just kept on gazing at her.
*** This is an excerpt from my forthcoming book – in shaa Allah. ***
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