Amina, you are getting married to Alhaji, shi ke nan! Umma spoke as she mixed the semovita furiously.

That food will not taste nice because I can see there is no love in what you are doing. Amina retorted.  Mama, I am only 9, do not do this to me. Remember how Fatima and Maimuna ended. Besides you swore that you will not let me marry any Alhaji until I have finished secondary school. I won’t marry him. Shi ke nan! You won’t force me to do what I do not want to do.

I won’t let you ruin me. I won’t… “Ki yi shuru!” Umma interrupted. What do you know? Yes I swore never to marry you out but it has become the law that when a girl is married she is of age. Alhaji wants to marry you and make you of age. Amina, Umma broke down, I love you, but look at our life. Since your father died, we have been begging. My kosai business is not even moving. Education is not free, so how am I going to send you to secondary school?

Amina, Umma continued “listen to me. The world isn’t safe anymore. Remember it is this boko-haram crisis that has killed your father. Look! I am ready to die, but I want you to have a future. Alhaji really loves you… even if he doesn’t, he will take care of you and keep you secured.” Umma turned back to her semovita on the earthen stove and continued mixing it furiously.

“I hate you. Yes, I hate you!” Amina squawked, and left her mother, weeping.

Amina refused to eat for days. She paced about the compound. She did not even speak to her mother since the night at the kitchen. She cried. She went to her father’s grave and lamented to him.

Only if Aminu had been alive, this wouldn’t have happened, but her father died in one of the bomb blasts of Maiduguri.  He was a fish merchant. He wasn’t wealthy, for in the economy of this day, it is hard to declare one as wealthy if he isn’t in politics. He was just capable of taking care of his family; his lovely umma, and only daughter Amina.

“Baba” Amina spoke “Why did you have to go so soon? I miss you. Please help me fight this battle. I do not want this marriage.” She paused, an idea had just dropped. She wiped her eyes and continued. “I swear by your grave, she called his name; Aminu Dan Ibrahim Dan Aliyu Dan Mohammed, I would make this bloody if mama gives me off to that old fool!” She kissed the earth, stood up, walked as though she was late for a meeting, although to her they were strides of war.

“Amina, ba zaki kashey niba! Where are you coming from at this late hour?” Her mother asked. “It is none of your business.” Amina paused, and then continued.  “After all I will soon be of age. Let me be.” Umma was infuriated. There was an enmity between her daughter and her. She was confused. She ran after her like a mad dog and pulled her by the ear, she twisted it, and then bit her shoulder, still holding her ears, and said “I am still your mother at least. Give me that respect.”

Amina was in awe. Her ears were throbbing. She couldn’t believe what had happened. Mama had just done what she thought she would never do. Her parents never touched her. No. They never fought. She sat by her bed. Moping, then she picked a blade and began to slit her wrists, for each slit, she called the name of the Alhaji who had brought this sadness upon her, and changed her mother.

As days passed into months, fear gripped them all. They lived like enemies. They were in fear of themselves. They were not family anymore; mother and daughter. Who knew it would turn out like this? In other families, once they were told they would be married off, they obeyed without any fuss. Umma hated herself. She wanted to die. She did not know what else to do. They had no food anymore. The bombers had destroyed all their shops. The whole state was in fear; men, women, and children. They said it was Christians they were killing, but the moslems suffered more. Was it their God who fought for them? No one was sure what the bombing was for anyway. Umma knew that these were signs of an impending doom.

Alhaji Mustapha, a man well above his seventies, pot-bellied, short and hairy. He had just returned from his trip to Lagos. As a senator, he had lots of money. He came to pick up his bride. They did not need any formal marriage. Of what benefit was it? Men like Alhaji knew nothing about dignity if not he would have at least opted to make it a ceremony.

Amina came in and saw the face of her to-be husband for the first time. The rage inside her was equivalent to a fiery furnace. She greeted, “Salama Alaikum” then turned away from the man and her mother. “Come here my wife, come and sit on my legs.” Alhaji replied “kyakawan yarinya” She obeyed; she went and sat on his legs. In fact, she sat in such a way that she felt the tip of his manhood. Umma was surprised, but she said nothing. She only hoped that Amina would be good for him, and bring happiness to them all.

It was done. Amina packed her things and left for Alhaji’s house. She said nothing to her mother as she entered his rover. “Be a good girl, Amina. Remember I love you and it is for your own good” she said half-heartedly as she waved goodbye. Amina said nothing. Alhaji touched her hands. She felt the urge to bite him, but she restrained herself.

It was time for Alhaji to do to Amina, what people in love did to themselves. Amina was waiting for this moment and it came. Alhaji without respect told her to open her legs for him. Amina did it obediently.

As he was about to penetrate, Amina grabbed him by his manhood and twisted it. As Alhaji fell to his side screaming for help, she laughed and brought out the same blade she used to slit her wrists, then in his weakness, began to slit his manhood happily. She began to cry, as she tore his tore his scrotum. She was now a beast. She couldn’t believe herself. She knew she had a future, not this life that fate, law, and her mother had decided to give her. Finally she suffocated him with his pillow to make sure he was completely dead.

Praying mat spread across the floor, dressed in black cape un pe; prayer beads in her hands. Chants of woe; she prayed for his soul. She knew it was damned anyway. Finally she tore her clothes and hijab, and then she walked out of the room. Naked! Blood! Blood splattered on her face as if she had just killed a rooster.

She sent word to her mother that she was going in search of a better life… She would suffer she knew, but she knew that it was a better kind of suffering. The one that wouldn’t end her like marriage could have done.

Smart girl, she had stolen an incredible amount of money from Alhaji. Her plan was to meet her mother in Maiduguri town. She was going to make the best out of life.

She was certain.


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