“What is burning your hand that you’re throwing down on the soil, gan-gan, I want you to tell me today,” Hanifa, Shakir’s elder sister, sitting in her office chair, demanded. “Aliyah told me since last week, you have been acting strange to her. You don’t talk with her. You don’t do anything! Ehn? What is wrong with your head, I want you to tell me.”
Shakir raised up his head to meet her big sister’s gaze. He repositioned himself on the chair facing Hanifa’s desk, and then with a countenance of grimace jeered: “Sista mi, don’t talk to me like that. I am the head of a house for God’s sake!”
“Ehn-ehn?” Hanifa commented sarcastically while clapping her hand twice. “Sorry o, Oko Iyawo. Indeed you’re the head of your house. But you’re not acting like one at all.”
Shakir felt anger soaring inside him, but he had a lot of respect for Hanifa so in a gentle voice he asked: “Did she tell you? Aliyah, did she? I mean, did she tell you what she did?”
“What did she do that someone hasn’t done before?” Hanifa asked with a slight tone of nonchalance as she continued to search for a book on her desk.
Shakir did not respond. He knew her sister was aware but wanted him to say it out. He knew she wanted him to say it out and thus feel embarrassed, but he wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction. He thought of leaving, but he needed to find an excuse to rescue himself. He stood up, and said he had to meet his mechanic in about half an hour, and he needed to get going as soon as possible. But Hanifa wasn’t done with him. “Jo’ ko,” she commanded him to sit. “Aliya told me what happened. But what I don’t seem to understand is what the big deal is?”
“You don’t understand?” Shakir’s eyes became wide. “She obviously doesn’t want me to be with her as a husband should be with his wife!”
Hanifa smiled and said, “Omode’n se e. Both of you are to be blamed for what happened. But you are the one that has the most fault in this case.”
“How?” Hanifa asked with a face plastered with confusion. “What I don’t seem to understand with you brothers is that you want a pious and modest woman, but you still want the sister to act in the bedroom as though she were a porn star –audhubillah! – even at her first time!”
She paused for a while, removed her hijab broach, and took off her yellow scarf. The power had been cut so the air-conditioner was now off. The heat was becoming unbearable.
“You’re the first person Aliya will be with, and it’s normal for her to feel pains, but from what she told me you seemed not to care about that. I want to ask you, did you sweet talk her before you guys started? How long did you kiss her? Did you stimu? Ehn? And you will be fumbling around as if you guys know Sunnah.”
Shakir, remembering that he did not do enough to make the contact easy on his wife, now began to feel remorse for the pains he caused Aliyah both during and after the ordeal. His head down cast, and his lips firmly sealed.
“And to top it all,” Hanifa resumed, “you had the nerves to be angry at her! Ehn? Omo olomo is now crying all day. Shakir, you’re my brother, but I have to tell you the truth, you messed up big time. I….”
Hanifa’s pager beeped, and it happened that a boy just fell from a mango tree and she was needed in the emergency room to take a look at the injured lad.
“Go and make it up to her,” she commanded, rushing out of her chair, her scarf coming wrapped. “And oh, take this book and read it. It should help you guys. I gave a copy to your wife as well. It was written by a friend here at the teaching hospital.”
“Thank you sis,” Shakir said as he rose from the chair too. He looked at the cover of the book, and he noticed the name of the author: Kafilat Junaid
An hour later, in his office, Shakir had already finished reading the book. After observing the asr prayer, he sent Aliya a text message telling her he was sorry.
Leaving work for home, Shakir got caught up in a traffic holdup which brought the main road from Challenge to Apata to a standstill. Red brake lights of arrays of vehicles decorated the road, relieving the center of Ibadan from total duskiness.
One boy, a hawker, who Shakir assumed to be in his early teens, had on his head a bucket containing soft drinks, perused inside the traffic looking for potential customers. At the boy’s sight, Shakir began to feel thirsty. He whined the glass down, and beckoned the young boy. He bought a bottle of soft drink and asked the boy with pale body and tanned face to call the gala seller too. He gave the boy a thousand naira bill, waving his hand against the effort of the boy to get him change.
“Thank you sir. God bless you,” the boy prayed.
“It’s okay,” Shakir waved again, feeling good about himself. Alhamdulillah, he thought.
Baby I AM COMING. Inside go-slow. Love you. He texted Aliya.
Ok. Don’t be long. Love you too. Aliya responded.
An hour later, Shakir got home. He opened the metal door to their three bedroom apartment at 9:47 in the night. Aliyah in her emerald nightie which left the greater parts of her thigh uncovered was just lining her eyelashes with kohl. She went to the living room to meet Shakir, who was holding a large bouquet of roses.. She fell into Shakir’s arms as he took out a fancy case of diamond earrings.
“I’m sorry, Aliyah. I have been a fool.”
“No.” Aliya put her finger on Shakir’s lips to stop him from talking. “No, you haven’t.”
Shakir savored the beautiful scent emanating from Aliya. The cologne was worth its price. And so they began to kiss. At first, Shakir felt some slight pains because of his lips, but because the wound had already healed, it was bearable. The French, or in their case, Nigerian kiss escalated. And it escalated more. To the extent that they kissed-walk to their room.
“But won’t you eat first?” You must be hungry?” Aliya asked, both now about to get rid of their clothes.
“I ate gala and…”
And the kissing and further plays returned.
During the act Shakir tried to be gentle as much as he can. He paid attention to Aliya’s body languages. He stopped a couple of times to ask if Aliya was fine, and then they would get back into it. They both fell asleep thereafter seamlessly.
They woke up when the sun was already out. They rushed to make ghusl, and then prayed Fajr together. And as they recited adhkar after the salat, one observer, like you, yes you the reader, had an epiphany that this young couple will live happily ever after if they both submit their egos at the front door of their house, learn to grow, and well, keep the line of communication opened between them.