Once upon a life (Part 1) Inspired by a true story

Once upon a life (Part 1) Inspired by a true story

In a land north-west Nigeria; Kano state, at precisely 0144 hours on Thursday, the 5th day of June, 1988 a security guard heard the distinct voice of Ahmed coming from the house; where he had worked for over five years. The night before and that morning, had been exceptionally quiet and peaceful. Audu had barely sat down after his nightwatch rounds; in fact he was just starting to drift off to sleep, as a result of the stillness of the morning, when he was startled by the distinct voice he could make out, even if he were dreaming. “What’s wrong with Ahmed?” He asked himself, as he hurriedly ran towards the house, holding firmly to his matchet; in the event of its necessity. As he ran, Audu was sure that it was Ahmed who was in dire distress. He could make out his voice, because Ahmed and Audu had a common bond- the interest for northern Nigerian folktale stories and history; which Audu willingly obliged to share with anyone, who cared to listen. Ahmed seemed to be the only one who ‘cared’ and would gladly listen to every detail and ask boyish and inquisitive questions, afterwards. Ahmed  was screaming with all the strength he could summon “Help me!! Help me!!”

Audu arrived the front door in such a hurry to becoming Ahmed’s hero, that he missed a step and fell face down unto the concrete floor. As he staggeredly got up from the floor,he felt a piercing  pain in his gum and the taste of blood. There was no electricity at that time, so he could not see that he had just lost his central incisor (front tooth)! As soon as he was back on his feet, Audu knocked on the back door. “Mairo!!” He called out to the live-in housekeeper, “Zo ki bude mun koffa” (translated: “Mairo, come, open this door for me”). She had barely obeyed his request when Audu barged into the house like a hungry lion waiting to devour its prey in pieces. He headed straight toward the  boys’ room, where he found everyone in the house gathered around with little Ahmed in the centre. “Audu! I had a horrible nightmare”. Ahmed informed him.

Audu found the scene strange, because Ahmed’s very caring mother would have naturally been the first on the scene. Madam had been pregnant, so although Audu understood that she would not be so active, he knew her as an extreemly loving mother. So Audu asked “Ina mama?” (translated “Where is mum?”) Apparently, happening concurrently, was mum; a qualified and well experienced midwife, having her baby in the next room. Audu was informed about it and so he understood that probably Ahmed somewhat had an inkling that mum was having a baby. Well, talk about loosing a tooth to a false alarm and the services of a hospital assistant being more necessary than his, Audu, happy that a baby was coming had to go and nurse his (now) hurting gum.

Aisha started to grow so gracefully and Ahmed particularly took a liking to his baby sister. He felt responsible for her because he was the one who had woken the whole house on the night of her birth and had been the first to receive her warm cuddly self from his mother’s arms.

As she grew, Aisha (like every other female child) wanted to be close to her father, but she realised that he was very harsh to her mother and this made Aisha recoil into her shell. She grew continously antagonistic towards men and told herself, ‘I will never take this kind of treatment from any man.” Aisha built an invisible wall around her and became withdrawn. She did not even realise that her self esteem was being chipped at little by little, till she was totally without it.

When the young men started taking interest in her, she would tell them off in a very hostile manner. Though she had a deep desire like any human being to be loved, deep down, she was afraid that they might hurt her the same way her father hurts her mother. One day, her neighbour Kabiru; her immediate elder brother’s friend who had been watching her and who wanted her to become his girlfriend approached her. He didn’t know how best to approach her, so he childishly wrote her a “love letter’ it read:

“Dear Angel,

I know this letter would meet you as fine as I am sure you are.

I have been observing you all this while and would like to be your boyfriend. I love you. Please say yes.”

Yours,

Kabiru.

“The nerve!!” Exclaimed Aisha, when she finished reading the letter. “What nonsense! These men think they can talk to any girl they meet, eh? Well, I will show this boy that he’s stepped on the wrong toes. Silly men! First, they sweet-talk you only to be mean to you later. Msheww! Not this chick, you don’t!!” With that she barged into her brother’s room and had a go at him. “Can you imagine what your friend wrote to me?” she asked angrily whilst waving the letter at her brother. He collected the note and read it. “Is that why you stormed into my room, behaving as if the world has collapsed? He’s a guy and he likes you, you should be happy. Please leave my room and let me be, I have better things to attend to, thank you.” “Is that all you are going to say?” Aisha asked. Her brother ignored her and flipped the TV channel. Aisha walked out of his room angrily slamming the door of his room and went straight to hers.

“How could Ahmed be so insensitive? He didn’t even behave like a protective elder brother by making an attempt to protect her from these ‘mean people’, called men..” (as if he wasn’t a man). “Ahmed should be on ‘my’ side” She thought. “These men are all the same and I will prove to them that I am one woman they cannot mess around with, starting with this Ahmed, mshheeeww!!” She hissed. “Nonsense!” she said out loud.

Two days later, Aisha spotted someone coming to their house. She recognised him from afar as Kabiru the writer of the letter and her elder brother, Ahmed’s friend. “Look at how he is even walking, so annoying and he is busy looking for a girlfriend all over the place. I bet this is how he writes to all the girls he sees ‘loving’ them all. Not this chick you don’t!” She thought. She rushed downstairs and went straight to him before he go to Ahmed’s room.

“Kabiru!” she shouted. He turned “Yes? Aisha nice to see you. Did you see..” Before he could finish asking about the letter he wrote to her, Aisha Blurted “Don’t you EVER think about writing me in this life or the next, you hear? I am sure you’ve written to half of the girls in this neighbourhood. Loving each and everyone of them and trying your luck. Don’t you bring it near me, cos you see me? Look very closely..” pointing at herself she added “you can’t touch this, not now, not ever! Nonsense!!!!” She threw the letter at him and walked away before he could utter a word. Kabiru walked quietly away and went into Ahmed’s room.  The matter ended just as quickly as it had started. Any feelings Kabiru ‘thought’ he had for Aisha were quickly extinguished.

The following year, Aisha was going into the university. By this time, she was hardened and had absolutely no self-worth nor did she know herself. She blamed everyone else for the unhappy and unfulfilled life she had. She didn’t realise that she was becoming a monster that was harming herself. She wanted to be loved but didn’t know that the reason why she was this very angry person was because she had resolved to be mean to men because her father was mean to her mother. This ate deep into her person that she had no self-love let alone love anyone else.

During her first year at the state University, Aisha had made many female friends. She was particularly close to Felicia. Although they were in different departments, Aisha could relate with Felicia because they shared resentment towards the men folk in common.

Felicia was from the middlebelt region of Nigeria and had had a tough childhood. Her father had left her mother abruptly when Felicia was only eight years old. She was the last of four children. Her father had left their mother to be with another woman; her mother’s ‘best’ friend. The next thing they heard about him, he had another family with the same woman on the same street! This enraged Felicia so much. Her mother could not bear the humiliation and shame, so she moved to a neighbouring state to start life over. Things became so tough for Felicia, her mother and three brothers, that her mother had to concede to marrying another man who promised to take good care of her and her children.

Mr. Oti had been a wonderful step father to the children and all started going very well for the family; Felicia and her brothers were happy again. One day, while playing outside Felicia could hear her mother’s voice getting closer to the house. She was screaming “What kind of curse is this?” over and over again. By the time her mother came into the house, she bursted into tears. “What is wrong mama?” asked Felicia and her brothers. But their mother wouldn’t breathe a word about the details of what was wrong with her to her children. All she could say to them was “when you grow up, you will understand”. With that she would burst out into fresh flow of tears. It broke the children’s hearts to see their mother like this.

“Where is daddy?” They asked, referring to Mr. Oti. “Does he know that you are crying?” Their mother would stare at them without uttering a word

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