Once Upon a Life – Conclusion

Once Upon a Life – Conclusion

“Who’s there?” Called her father; he had heard movements in the kitchen and wanted to call the children. “Ni ce baba” (Translated “I am the one, dad”) Aisha responded. “Kira mana Kabiru” (Translated “Call Kabiru for us”) her father instructed “I want both of you here, right now.” he concluded. “Ok baba”, Aisha replied. She went to her brother’s room, when there wasn’t any response to her knocking, she remembered he went next door.

Aisha was so curious to know what was happening, that she wondered why her brother ‘chose’ this time (of all times of the day) to go out; as she walked to Zakari’s house.

“Kabiru, baba da mama na kiran ka” (Translated “Kabiru dad and mum are calling you”) Aisha informed her brother, immediately she saw him. Without waiting for a response, she started heading back home. “Please hurry” she added as she walked towards the door. “Is everything alright?” Kabiru asked. “Yes” was Aisha’s sharp-ended response.

Different thoughts raced through Aisha’s mind as she walked back home. “I wonder if mum has finally convinced baba to agree to the divorce. Why must it always end this way?” She pondered. Flashes of what she and her late best friend used to share became so real and fresh in her mind. Memories of Felicia; the pain of loosing her, now loosing her (not-so-functional-but-at- least-a-family) family were beginning to build up a storm in Aisha’s eyes. “Oh Felicia, I miss you so much. I wish you were here to go through this with me. Who can I talk to now? ” she thought to herself.

“Aisha!!” Kabiru called out. “I have been screaming and asking you to wait up. What is happening?” He asked. “I don’t know Kabiru, we will find out when we see baba and mama,” she replied. “But, you are crying, Ai” remarked Kabiru. “Did anybody die? Talk to me” he requested, but Aisha had nothing to say.

They arrived at the house. “Salamu Alaikum” (Translated “Peace be unto this house”) “Amin” (Translated “Amen”) responded their father.

The two walked in to the living room where their parents were sitting and to their uttermost pleasant surprise, the two were sitting “TOGETHER”; as in on the same sofa.

“Are you surprised? And why are you looking so sad Ai?” asked their mother. “I am fine mum, just a bit tired, that’s all” Aisha lied. “Well, why don’t you two sit down and we will answer all your questions”, added their father (their responses were so synergistic, they sounded as if they had been rehearsed.) “Well, this doesn’t happen quite often”, blurted Kabiru sarcastically as he sat down.

“Your mother and I have been having very productive discussions, I must say” began Alhaji. “Well, that’s news” was Kabiru’s sarcastic response, as he rolled his eyes. “Young man, you are going to sit down there and listen to what your mother and I have to tell you, I am the boss of you. You will speak, only when/if you are spoken to. Do I make myself clear?” Alhaji reprimanded; angry at Kabiru’s resentment and sarcasm. “Kabiru not today, please”, their mother said pleading with her son; because she noticed that the atmosphere was getting potentially toxic, as it normally does preceeding the two men’s arguments. After giving his mother a stern look (as if he was saying “I will be calm because you asked”), he reclined into his seat, without saying another word.

“As I was saying,” continued Alhaji. “Your mother and I have had a productive discussion about a lot of things. One of uttermost concern for us is the effect of our arguments on both of you” he paused and looked at their two children. By this time, Kabiru had resorted to fiddling with his phone and paid no attention to what his father had to say, especially after having a go at him. “Am I thinking or talking?” Alhaji asked.

Judging from her brother’s body language, Aisha knew she had to break the ice. “Well, baba we are listening” she said. “What your father is trying to say is that before today, we never knew the extent of damage our incessant arguments have caused both of you and we are sorry. Aisha, I noticed during our talk in the car on our way back from the event, that you had strong resentments for men and Kabiru, you’ve become isolated and very quiet; almost like a recluse” their mother added. “I have been taught during the life coaching classes that a dysfunctional home can really affect the children in it, but my definition of dysfunction did not include quarrels between parents even though it had been mentioned several times, I thought since ours didn’t involve getting physical, it wouldn’t affect you two. How wrong I was. We are truly sorry and have resolved to keep our differences on the downlow” she added. “Kabiru, Aisha we are sorry and we will do all it takes to work this marriage out and protect both of you from the negativity of our relationship.” Alhaji added remorsefully.

“Kabiru, say something” requested his mother. He looked at his mother and sat up. “Well, I hope I will not be attacked, because I’ve got something I want to ask and quite a lot to say.” Kabiru said. “Go ahead” Alhaji encouraged.

“Ok, so you two resolved all this in one sitting? Or some divine being intervened? This is just too much to believe Baba and Mama. Both of you have quarreled almost on a daily basis as far back as I can remember and the atmosphere when both of you are in the same place, is mostly very tense and toxic. Sometimes, I wonder how both of you had us, if you two hate each other so much. It even makes me feel like it’s our fault that you two are still together; like we make you guys live together because you two ‘HAVE’ to. It’s almost like a “let’s-stay-in-the marriage-because-of-the- children”,  kind of situation and its very uncomfortable.”

“That’s why I am so withdrawn; suggesting to you that I might as well be non-existent so you two can make up your minds and forget about the marriage and that I do not want to ever be used as some sort of ‘marriage adhesive or fix-it tool’  As a matter of fact, I doubt you two mean what you are saying. If this is just one of those hyped moments that won’t last, you do not need to start what you cannot sustain. Baba, I must say that you annoy me the most, because as a man I have no role model to emulate. I go to Zakari’s and my other friends’ houses, and their fathers are all so cool and easy to relate with, but you are just a dictator around here. Once we hear you coming home, we all run into our rooms and hide, like a group of rats running away from the cat. I really do not know what to make of  all of this, I am hurt, confused and almost asking you two not to bother, because in my opinion, it is TOO LATE!!” Kabiru shouted and walked out of the house. All attempts to get him back, proved abortive.

“Kyalle shi” (Translated: “Leave him alone”) said his father. “We have failed and have to bear the grunt of the effect of our failure on our children, I guess. He is angry right now, let him go and cool off, he’ll be back” Alhaji added. Turning to his daughter, he asked “aren’t you also going to give us a piece of your mind, young lady?” He asked.

“There is no need baba, Kabiru has said pretty much everything. My challenge right now is how I would mend my perception about men. It sure would take more than one sitting, baba. I must say that you two have a lot more to do than just tell us (and expect us to believe) that all is now hunky-dory. No offense mama, but you told me some weeks ago that you wanted to leave baba for good. Today you want to stay after a life coaching class, what do you two want from us? Are you two even concerned that you have two adolescent children who are lost and have no sense of direction in life? All you two have ever done is get mad at eachother and now you want us to sit down here and act as if nothing has been happening all these years, simply because you two have learnt a thing or two about putting your act together? I don’t think it can be that easy.” Aisha said matter-of-factly.

With a shaky voice Aisha continued; “All these just remind me about Felicia; my closest friend whom I lost last semester, also had a traumatic background and what’s worse? She died without knowing what life was really all about. Honestly, I would rather be excused” Aisha started crying as she got up to go to her room.

There was an awkward silence between Alhaji and his wife. “Hmm, you see what I noticed? The anger that has built up in these children is something we must be responsible for and we need to find a way to loving them back to themselves.” Mrs. Idris said. “You are correct Maman Kabiru, one never realises that as parents, what we do has much more effect on these children than what we say.” Alhaji added.

“Come to think about it, my husband I must apologise for my behaviour all these years. When I thought about it all, I asked myself, what was all the bickering about? Was it really worth it, now that we have realised the effect on our children? I don’t think anything is worth fighting for in exchange for what we have now lost in these children. Oh may Allah help us sort this mess. Amin” She prayed.

“We would have to do it together maman Kabiru. In the spirit of restoration, I would like to also apologise to you my wife. Please forgive me. I guess your counsellor was right about us both having strong dominant personalities; not willing to compromise for one another, for the fear of not being taken for granted and all for what? Ego? It sure wasn’t worth it at all.” Alhaji said. “I think we need to go for the counselling you talked about together. I truly was blind concerning these children and this is far from what I wanted for them. I wondered why Kabiru was always angry with me, now I know. Oh my! You know when you told me about Aisha’s behaviour in the car, the message didn’t really sink in, now I know.” Alhaji confessed.

“Well, we have to go past knowing, I suppose. We have to start working together as a family, obviously.” Mrs. Idris said emphatically. “You know what? This is all like dejavu” said Alhaji. “What do you mean?” Asked his wife. “This whole thing happening in this family has happened in my life growing up. My parents used to always fight. I used to hate it and thought it wouldn’t happen to me, but when I found myself in the same scenario, I gave up and thought that’s how it always is in marriage.” Alhaji informed his wife. “You know the counsellor I spoke with during one of our sessions said it’s possible one of us had a dysfunctional upbringing. I informed her that my parents were like two peas in a pod. She asked if I knew how your background was and I said I really didn’t know too much considering our courting was more of a distance-based one. She advised to find out more about your family and parents, but I couldn’t for obvious reasons. I also thought….”

“Baba, mama Kabiru is packing his stuff. He said he’s leaving!!” Interrupted Aisha, as she hysterically barged into the living room. “What?” Mrs. Idris asked rhetorically. The three dashed to Kabiru’s room with Alhaji leading the pack.

“Where do you think you are going, young man?” Alhaji asked his son. The question went unanswered as the determined young man kept stuffing his suitcases with his personal effects. His mother walked towards him, held his hands, looked sternly at him and said, “Son, I know we have disappointed you as your parents, and we are not perfect, but at least we are now willing to work things out and we cannot be complete without you Kay, please stop this.” She pleaded. Kabiru looked at his mother and said “Mama, do you know how long I have lived with resentment for the way things are in this family and to my father? I am constantly angry and do not even know why you guys had us.” Kabiru said in-between sobs.

“I am especially sorry son. As the leader of this home, I did not play my role right, mostly because I really didn’t know any better. I do not want to make excuses, I just want to plead with you to forgive me dan Allah. We will try to live better and give you and your sister a more conducive home to live in. Please son, we need you, stay.” Alhaji said as he held his son and for the first time in ages, Alhaji hugged his son and they both cried. Mrs. Idris joined in and Aisha looked on with tears in her eyes. Her mother quietly beckoned on her and she joined in the group/family hug.

“We will get there, slowly but surely. Baby steps, but we will make it TOGETHER insha Allah. (Translated: By God’s grace) Said Alhaji. “Amin” his wife replied.


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