Story: A dream of a mother (Episode 1 & 2)
He was running as fast as his legs could carry him, the house was just ahead. He could see the lights of the house, the curtains were drawn, and the inhabitants of the house were probably asleep, unaware of the terror about to be visited on them. He was able to get in front of the ivory painted gate now, and he began shouting on the top of his voice.
“Help, Help, wake up” he yelled at the top of his voice. But a shot rang out, and he was still gazing at the lit balcony of the house, when he felt a pain rip through him, he held his throat as blood spurted out of it. Before he fell to the ground, he saw a young woman come out to the balcony, he wanted to warn her, but the darkness enveloped him, and the world blacked out…
Twenty Years ago
“ Subhanallah! What am I going to do now, my father will disown me” Khadijat said aloud as she looked at the food she had just eaten and thrown up in the toilet sink. For the past few days she had been throwing away her food because the smell of food made her feel queasy. But she made sure she threw it away in the central dustbin because if her mother found out that, she was throwing away food, she would become inquisitive and then her secret would be out.
But how long was she going to hide it? She pondered as she thought of her predicament. Khadijat was the only daughter of the Imam Hassan of the central mosque in Oshogbo. The Imam had about seven sons, but they were all grown-up and married, with their families in different cities. Khadijat was just 18 and had just gotten admission into the University. However she had begun to see the Christian boy, Damilola, in the next flat. This was unknown to her father, who spent all his waking hours at the mosque, and her mother, who was up as early as 4am to buy drums of palm oil from the market which she would sell at her shop at wholesale prices.
When Khadijat had missed her monthly visitor, she had told Damilola who had convinced that perhaps her monthly visitor was late this time. But something had told Khadijat that the secret play she played with Damilola had brought out result and landed her in trouble. She waited a few more weeks and when her monthly visitor did not come, she knew for sure that she was in trouble. She again, intimated Damilola about the development, and he had advised her to get a pregnancy test home kit. But even before Khadijat saw the two red lines on the strip she had urinated on, she had known she was pregnant. The cramps, the tenderness in her breast and even the queasiness had told her that she was with child.
Her world had crumbled when Damilola had told her that he was traveling to India to study Medicine and cannot be responsible for a child.
“Besides, I am not the only one you were sleeping with” he had said to her that fateful evening that she had told him she was pregnant. Khadijat had slapped him so hard across the face and had walked back to their flat. She had stayed away from him for days, hoping that he would come back to his senses. Had he not said that he loved her, and was ready to convert to Islam, for her sake? Then why would he say a thing like that to her? Surely, he would come back to his senses, he is probably afraid of such a huge responsibility, she made excuses for him.
But for days, Damilola did not attempt to meet her, she did not even see him at the balcony where they usually met. So she summoned courage and went to his house to ask for him. There, she was given the shocker of her life, Damilola had already traveled out of the country.
Damilola’s mother: “Are you alright, you look pale” she asked, looking at the young girl, with the hijab covering her head. She wondered though, what her son was doing with the Muslim girl. She was beautiful for sure, but her son would not dare have anything to do with an unbeliever.
Khadijat: “I am alright ma’am” she said and turned to go, but she stopped and asked, “Is there any way I can reach him, I really need to talk to him” she said and this time she could not stop the tears from spilling over.
Damilola’s mother: “Oh no, what is going on now?” she asked, with her heart hammering in her chest because, somehow she knew even before Khadijat opened her mouth to say anything. The young girl explained to this Christian woman that she had an affair with her son and now she was pregnant.
Khadijat had begged Damilola’s mother not to tell her parents yet, as she was not ready to break the news to them. But she knew she could not hide it forever, so she decided it was time to open up and face the consequences. She decided she would wait until her father was back from the mosque and her mother, from the market. That evening, she went to the next flat to tell Damilola’s mother that it was time to intimate her parents about her pregnancy. They were both talking by the door when they heard a voice.
“What did you say?” the voice exclaimed. Both Khadijat and Damilola’s mother turned and saw Khadijat’s mother, standing on the stair landing and gaping at them. She had obviously heard all that her daughter was saying to Damilola’s mother.
Damilola’s mother: “Neighbor, take it easy. It is only pregnancy, nobody died” she said
Khadijat’s mother: “Khadijat, you have killed me, you have finally destroyed us and brought shame on us. You got yourself pregnant for an infidel?” she cried as she hurried up the remaining flight of stairs. She dragged her daughter, into their flat and slammed the door, despite Damilola’s mother’s protests.
Khadijat: “Mother, I am sorry, please forgive me” she cried.
Khadijat’s mother: “I thought you were in the right path. I always thanked Allah for giving me such an obedient child who walked in the ways of Islam. I used to pride myself in the fact that you always wore your hijab and never missed any Salat. Is this what you were really doing, allowing an infidel defile you?” her mother cried, her voice choked with so much emotions.
Khadijat: “I am sorry mother, he said he loved me” she cried along with her mother. They were oblivious of another presence in the house, until he grabbed Khadijat and flung her to the wall.
Khadijat’s mother: “Alfa, she is our only daughter, do not kill her for me” she cried and rushed to pick up her daughter.
Imam: “How can you bring me so much shame? You, who has been an example to all the young people in the mosque, Khadijat, what will people say of an Imam whose child got pregnant by a Christian!” he said and sat down, holding his head between his head.
Khadijat’s mother: “She is a child, who has been misled by that infidel. We have to salvage the situation” she pleaded, kneeling before her husband.
Imam: “There is no salvaging anything; this abomination will not stay in my house. Before I go in and come out, I don’t want to see Khadijat in this house, I disown you!” he yelled and rushed into his room.
Khadijat’s mother looked up to the heavens, wishing that solution would come. She knew her husband was a hard man, and when one of his brother’ daughters had gotten pregnant, he had advised his brother to throw her out. She had thanked God for giving her a daughter who embraced Islam and walked in the right path, so that she would know no shame. How could she have known that, despite all the outward appearances, her Khadijat was seeing not just any boy, but a Christian boy?
Khadijat: “Maami, please talk to father, I don’t want to leave my family. You are all I have now” she cried, holding on to her mother’s wrapper.
Khadijat’s mother: “Your father would soon be back, and I cannot tell what he would do if you are still here. Come, lets go to the neighbor’s, you will stay there until your father’s anger is quenched” she replied and took her daughter by the hand.
When they got to Damilola’s house, Damilola’s mother intimated Khadijat’s mother about her son’s traveling, and that Damilola would not be back until he was done with his studies.
Khadijat’s mother: “Khadijat, did you tell Damilola about the pregnancy?” her mother asked .Khadijat nodded and her mother shook her head. Don’t they teach these Christians anything about responsibility, she wondered.
Damilola’s mother: “My son is just a boy and there was nothing he could have done. Your daughter can stay with me until she delivers. After her delivery, she can go on with her life, while I take care of my son’s child”
Khadijat’s mother: “That child is also my grandchild. Would you just separate a mother from her child?”
Damilola’s mother: “I am not saying so. Well, it is too early to argue about this, we should think of the girl’s welfare first” she replied, looking pitifully at the young Khadijat.
Khadijat cried as her mother left her in Damilola’s house, she prayed that her father’s anger would quench quickly so she could go back to her family. She thought of the life growing in her and sighed. She could not blame the child for what was happening to her because if she had followed the precepts of Islam, she would not be in this predicament. For days, her elder brothers came and begged her father to pardon Khadijat and bring her back to the house, but the Imam refused, and even threatened to send their mother packing. The only way he would accept Khadijat back was if she was no longer carrying an infidel’s child.
Khadijat decided to take matters into her hands to right the wrong that she had done, there was something she could still do. She took out her small cell phone and called her best friend, Halima.
Halima was the child nobody wanted their child to associate with. She was a Muslim, but she had gotten out of control of her parents. Her father was an Alhaji who was more concerned with making money than whether his daughter was walking in the path of Islam. Her mother had a big fabric shop in Ayegbaju International market, where she sold imported fabrics which she imported from Dubai and all around the world. So, Halima went out with aristocratic men, for her, it was not about the money, but about the domination of these men in bed, and the class. Halima was just 18, but she had the body of a grown woman with luscious hips and ample buttocks, her fair skin glowed and her eyes which were always coated with Kohl, held Nubian promises. Aside her physique, Halima had also aborted so many pregnancies, that girls her age could not have done.
When Khadijat started crushing on Damilola, it was Halima she told. Halima advised her to go after Damilola, but Khadijat was a reserved girl and even she knew that Halima’s ways were not pure. But when Damilola began to pursue her, he was too charming to resist and she threw caution to the wind. Again, when Damilola asked that they consummated their love, it was Halima, Khadijat went to, and asked for advice. Halima advised Khadijat to give in to Damilola, that if she didn’t, another girl was going to give it to him and he would leave her. Khadijat, afraid to lose her new found love, gave in to Damilola, and here she was.
She had told Halima when she first found out she was pregnant, the latter told her not to tell her boyfriend, Damilola, for he would look at her as a girl who could not take care of herself. She advised her to abort the pregnancy, but Khadijat was too afraid to do an abortion and she had chosen to tell Damilola. But now that things had become worse, she had no other option but to abort the pregnancy, and restore peace to her family. So, she called Halima.
Halima: “I told you, telling him was not the right option, everyone knows you are pregnant now. Anyways, it is not too late, meet me at Shoprite, I will take you to my abortion doctor” she said when Khadijat called.
When Khadijat got to Shoprite, she was still sure she wanted to abort the pregnancy, so she went with Halima to the clinic where she told her was where she did all her abortions. But when they got to the clinic, Khadijat looked on, with horror, at the young girls lined up, some coming out of the inner consulting room with pain on their faces. She sat down with them and looked on with confused eyes, as Halima booked her for a D and C. She told herself she was doing this for the love of family, she was so sure that if she aborted the pregnancy, her family would be whole again, and things would go back to the way it used to be. But no one told her that, even if she aborted the pregnancy, the deed was done and her father would never see her as he saw her before.
Her name was called and she walked tentatively to the inner room, while her friend, Halima smiled at her encouragingly. Halima was smiling at her phone and tapping away in a chat with one of her lovers when Khadijat ran out of the inner room, screaming on top of her lungs.
Khadijat: “I can’t” she cried.
Halima: “What do you mean you cannot?” she asked, turning around abruptly, twirling her long Brazilian weave.
Khadijat: “The prodding with metal objects, inside me. I am practically still a virgin, I did it just once. There is no way that metal will enter my body without destroying something” she cried.
Halima: “Stupid girl, you are no longer a virgin, you are pregnant, and if you don’t go in there, this pregnancy will destroy your life and family” she yelled, hoping she could yell ‘sense’ into Khadijat’s head.
Khadijat: “I will not do this” she said vehemently and walked out on her friend, who shook her head sadly and followed her.
Halima followed Khadijat home, hoping that she would be able to convince her friend to heed her advice, but the latter was adamant, and too scared to ever consider abortion again. When she had entered the inner room, the first thing she had seen was the bucket full of blood and obviously foetal elements. Then she had seen the different scalpels, and knew that they would go into her body, destroying the developing foetus and probably her womb. In horror, she had run out of the room, and there was nothing Halima could tell her that would make her go back there or anywhere else for abortion.
The two girls were still talking when Khadijat’s mother walked up to them.
Khadijat’s mother: “So Khadijat, this Omo ale is your friend? This girl that is the reject of our society is your friend. Why then am I surprised that you got pregnant? Ha, Khadijat you have made me the laughing stock of the society, you were not what I thought you to be” she said and burst into tears.
Khadijat: “Mother, I am so sorry. Forgive me mother. I am so confused right now” she cried and rushed into her mother’s arms. Despite her mother’s push, she clung to her mother.
Khadijat: “Help me mother, I don’t want to do an abortion and I want our family to be whole again”
Khadijat’s mother: “Oh my Khadi, you naïve little girl. Don’t you know that, no matter what you do, our family will never be whole again? Your father put so much trust in you, it is the reason he sent you to school, to prove to everyone that female children are worth something too. Look now, you disappointed him, nothing can ever be the same” she said as she stroked her daughter’s hair.
They were in front of the house, and Damilola’s mother watched them from the balcony. She shook her head at the pitiful sight. If only girls would be wise, they let themselves go and have fun with a man, but they were the ones who bare the pain and shame of that fun. Her son was there in India, while the girl he had impregnated was here in Oshogbo, suffering the consequences. She decided right then that she would not let the girl’s life be destroyed because of one mistake. She hurried downstairs to meet them.
Damilola’s mother: “Khadijat’s mother, please, let me send Khadijat to my sister in Lagos. If she continues to stay here, she would go through some much emotional trauma After delivery, she can fight for another admission into school. She is still young and has her life ahead of her. Let us join hands and make sure that this one mistake does not destroy her life” she said soberly.
Khadijat’s mother saw a kindness she had not seen before in most Christians she knew, in the woman’s eyes she saw a genuine concern for Khadijat’s well being.
Khadijat’s mother: “Thank you, thank you very much. Perhaps it is Allah’s will, that our families be joined together by a child” she said and embraced the other woman.
The Imam stayed away from his home as much as he could, and his wife concentrated on her business. She was galvanized by the fact that her daughter was in good hands. She hoped that with time, her husband, the Imam, would come to accept things as they were. But she was soon to find out that, her husband was not ever going to accept things, in fact, he was going to take care of the cause of all the trouble.
Khadijat wished that Damilola would call her even for once, she knew that his mother had called him, but yet he had refused to call her. Did he even care for her at all, or had she just been someone he could manipulate. She wiped the tear that threatened to fall, and summoned courage. She had made a vow not to cry anymore, as God had been good to her to give her a second mother in Damilola’s mother.
“Did you think I was going to allow you destroy the name I have worked years to build?” she heard the voice, and knew who it belonged to, even before she turned.
She turned, with fear on her face and stared at her father. The Imam was as angry as the first day he had heard about the pregnancy. He even looked more ferocious, but what was more frightening, was the knife in his hand.