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Hadizat stood in the airport lounge and breathed happily. She had been mightily blessed in this land. She had come to UK a year ago, unsure of her self and adrift spiritually but God had sought her and found her. She was still amazed by it all.
After her experience at PENSA the very first day she attended, Ahmad and Alexa had followed her up intently. Ahmad had narrated his experience to her. His father had been a very staunch Muslim from Pakistan. They led a quiet life in Bajaur, Pakistan but all hell broke loose when his father had a chance meeting with a missionary preacher and became a Christian. He had to seek refuge from the Taliban. They fled the village at night and arrived the UK several days after. Ahmad met Christ too and started had his new life in the UK going ahead to high school and now, studying Political Science at Edinburgh University.
Hadizat had been intrigued with his story and she concluded that he really was in the best position to mentor her. The book he gave her the day after her salvation remained her favourite. Ahmad had given her the bestseller book, I dared to call him Father. She had read it so many times that she felt if it were possible, she would have loved to meet Sheikh Bilquis herself to inquire how she was able to stand against those who were intent on forcing her to stay true to her Islamic roots.
With Ahmad and Alexa’s help, Hadizat’s spiritual life had grown tremendously. She had never missed a day at PENSA since that day her life changed and she had enjoyed a consistent fellowship with the Holy Spirit once Alexa taught her to converse with Him.
“Hadizat!” Hadizat smiled as Alexa hugged her from behind.
“Alexa, how are you?” She turned in Alexa’s arms.
“How am I? How am I? I should be asking you that. How do you expect me to be doing when you are going away?” Alexa cried. “Why can’t you stay?” She asked again as she released Hadizat.
“Oh Alexa, don’t make me cry. I wish I could stay but I feel strongly there is something I have to do back in Nigeria. Who knows? I might be back. I was given an offer at Thorntons.”
“That’s is true”, Alexa smiled.
Thorntons was one of the biggest law firms in Edinburgh and Hadizat had an internship offer awaiting her there. She still had a month to accept or reject it. Then, she could always apply for her PhD at the university of Edinburgh too
“You could always stay for Ahmad too”. Alexa added and fiddled with her earrings.
“Ahmad? What?” Hadizat sputtered.
“Oh come on, Hadizat you have seen the way he looks at you. There is something there.”
“He looks at me like a sister!” Hadizat said.
“No, he does not”, Alexa retorted.
“Does too”, Hadizat countered and folded her arms. “Where is he by the way? He said he will be here.”
“I said it that there was something there,” Alexa winked and turned around. “Oh here he comes.”
Hadizat looked in that direction and saw Ahmad walking towards them. She smiled as she saw a book in the crook of his arm. Ahmad had been her storehouse of books since she got born again.
“Hadizat, Alexa, hello!” he greeted with smile as he got to where they stood.
“Hi Ahmad,” Alex pouted. “Can you get her to stay? “
Hadizat laughed and shook her head. “Alexa, you can be something else at times you know that.“
Ahmad laughed too and fixed his gaze on Hadizat. Alexa walked away under the guise of going to the vending machine.
Hadizat’s breath caught in her throat as she noticed Ahmad staring. If Alexa hadn’t made a comment about Ahmed earlier, she would have never imagined it. But as Ahmad’s eyes remained on her, she caught a flicker of something. Perhaps he felt something for her after all?
Ahmad reached up and put his palm on her cheek. “Hadizat…” He licked his lips as if unsure of what to say.
“I know you have to go. If you come back …single, I’d have something to say to you.”
Hadizat stared at him as if she just had an electric shock.
Then just quietly as though the last minute had never happened, he removed his hands and started talking about the book. Hadizat nodded repeatedly to show she could hear him but she was far away. Ahmad was in love with her? How did that happen? She thought as she saw Alexa returning.
“Hey you two. Care for drinks? Alexa asked.
“Sure”, Ahmad responded with a smile and grabbed a soda.
Hadizat declined. “I will take something on the flight.”
“Boarding Announcement for Boeing 446 to Nigeria”
“That’s your flight”, Alexa pouted again and looked liked she was about to cry.
“Oh, Alexa” Hadizat pulled her into her arms. “I’m going to miss you.”
“I’ll miss you more.” Alexa hugged her tightly. They disengaged and Ahmad settled for a handshake.
“Call if you have any questions or any thing. Right Alexa? He asked with a glance at Alexa.
“Right”, Alexa nodded.
“Always remember to pray and study the Word”, he added.
“I will.” Hadizat promised. “Take care you two.”
She turned and walked towards the queue.
On the queue, she turned and looked at them one last time. They were still standing together and they waved when they saw her looking at them. Hadizat smiled. Alexa and Ahmad were her spiritual parents. Her spiritual father and mother. They might not know it yet but they looked really good together. Ahmad must’ve made a mistake falling for her. Alexa was the one he should be with. Hadizat realized she had not been a Christian as long as Ahmed and Alexa had but she felt strongly that they were both meant to be together. It was a good thing she was going. She would only be a distraction. As she left the queue to go through the door she turned to look at them one last time, smiled and threw them both a kiss.
Hadizat’s heart was in her throat as the driver drove from the airport to the house. She had no doubt that they would all be happy to see her, even her father. But, whenever she thought of their reaction to the fact that she was no longer a Muslim, she instantly became scared. Her baptismal name was Elizabeth but she still stuck to Hadizat. It felt right with her. She was glad she had not ditched her long scarf. When she became a Christian, she destroyed her hijabs and dumped them in the waste bin but insisted on covering her hair with long scarfs. Try as she might, Alexa could not bring her to do otherwise.
Hadizat was no fool. She knew how people dealt with those who did what she had done. She knew the treatment for infidels. Serious persecution and for some, the ultimate price. She prayed for strength and stamina as the drive navigated the roads of Yola. She prayed specifically for her father’s heart and also that her family members would all come to the knowledge of Christ.
The only person in her family who knew of her salvation was Munirat. Two months after she met Christ, Hadizat had decided to tell Munirat about it. What influenced her decision was the fact that Munirat was quite levelheaded unlike Rukayat. Munirat was in her final year at the American University of Nigeria. She was studying Physics and was already engaged to the son of the state’s Commissioner for Information.
Hadizat thought back on their conversation. Munirat had been shocked and pleaded with her to rescind her decision. She didn’t understand why Hadizat had chosen to make herself an enemy of the family and, quite frankly, she was scared of what would happen to Hadizat when others got to know about it. Hadizat had assured her of her safety. She tried to talk Munirat into accepting Christ but Munirat had rebuffed her twice.
Hadizat wondered if others would react like Munirat or if they’d react differently. She had no more time to plan as the gates of her father’s compound opened and the driver drove in. She whispered a quick prayer for help, pasted a smile on her face and alighted from the car much to the delight of the two servants hurrying from the house and beaming with smiles.
Hadizat met her parents in sound health. She couldn’t help but notice they had both aged a bit or perhaps it was because she had been away for a while. After she had her bath, she decided to sit with them for a while and talk.
“Hadi masoyi”, Hajiya Dankore smiled. “You look so beautiful. You’ve really done a lot of growing up. Although you look a bit thinner”.
“Mido jam mama. I’m fine”. Hadizat smiled. “How have you been?”
“Alhamdulilah. Look, you even speak Fulani with a foreign accent!” Her mother laughed.
“Mama, stop mocking me ooo”, Hadizat laughed. “And how are you papa?”
“Alhamdulilah. I see UK did you well”.
“Nagode papa. How’s business?”
“Business is good. Thanks to Allah”, he replied. “What are you going to do now Hadizat? Work and get married or go for PhD and get married?”
“I’ll pray about it”, Hadizat said without thinking.
“Pray about what?” Her father gave her a surprised look.
“I mean…uhm… I’ll pray about it and decide. I have an offer from a law firm in Edinburgh though. I might decide to take them up and juggle a PhD”, Hadizat replied quickly. “Close call”, she whispered to herself.
“Hmmm…Mallam Sanusi was at my office the other day”, her father continued as though Hadizat did not say anything a moment ago.
“Really?” Hajiya interrupted.
“Yes. He is interested in Hadizat. Well, his son actually”.
Hadizat breathed in sharply. She decided not to make any statement. Not till after they knew of her spiritual status. It would not do to make any rash decisions. Not now that she just returned. She turned to her mother and saw her worried face. She smiled to reassure her and remained quiet.
“Well, what do you say?” Her father asked.
“I’ll think about it”, Hadizat replied quietly. Her father had made up his mind. She knew it. He knew it. She could only trust God for deliverance at this juncture.
“Well, I…” Her father’s phone rang, interrupting his next statement. “Okay. I understand. Why don’t we do it like this? So, what was the…” He stood up and left the room, still on the phone.
Her father came out an hour later dressed and packed for a journey.
“Hajiya, I have to travel to Kaduna urgently. Something’s come up”.
Hajiya stood. “Okay Alhaji. Take care”.
“Hadizat”, he called. “We’ll discuss when I return”.
Hadizat replied with a nod and watched him step out of the house.
Hadizat gave her mother a look.
“What?” Hajiya quizzed.
“Papa has changed. A bit. He’s still domineering….but, not so much. What is it?”
“Hmmm…” Hajiya breathed. “I think age is taking its toll. He doesn’t travel as much as before”.
“It’s a good thing”, Hadizat replied with a smile.
“Now, let’s talk about you masoyi”, Hajiya pulled Hadizat to a seat and looked at her conspiratorially. “What has you all glowed up? Is it a man?”
Hadizat laughed and looked at her mother. Would she understand? Was it time? Would she react like Munirat? Would she push her away or draw her closer? Most of all, would she believe?
“Masoyi na, what is it? Talk to me”.
Hadizat had waited till the next day. At night, she had prayed and committed her mother’s heart to God. She could only preach. She couldn’t save someone by herself. If she could, she could have granted salvation to her entire family. But, she couldn’t. She could only point the way and sit back while they made the decision.
“Masoyi na, there is something on your mind. What is it?”
“I met someone mama”.
“A husband?” Her mother’s eyes lit up.
“First, I have to tell you this. For a long time mama, I felt restless. I always felt there was something I didn’t have, something I couldn’t attain”.
“Hmm… I’ve always known you were not at peace but you never told me anything Hadi”, her mother interjected.
“Because I didn’t know how! How could I tell you that when I studied to get good grades, I did it so that maybe I could get a feeling of satisfaction. How could I tell you that I tried so hard to be a good girl and a perfect daughter so I could feel fulfilled? How?”
“Oh masoyi, don’t cry”, Hajiya moved closer to her daughter and pulled her into a hug.
“It’s okay mama”, Hadizat wiped her tears with the back of her hand. “All that’s in the past now. I’ve found what I’ve been searching for all my life”. She smiled.
“This someone helped you?” Her mother asked with a smile.
“More than that mama. He saved me. He gave me a brand new life. His name is Jesus”.
Hadizat felt her mother’s eyes drop off her shoulders.
“Masoyi, you said what?” Hadizat washed the colour drain off her mother’s face.
“I’m no longer Muslim mama. I’m a Christian. Born again and washed in the blood of the Lamb”.
“What did I just hear you say?!”
Hadizat and her mother turned at the sound of her father’s voice. If Hadizat had never known the meaning of anger, she knew it then as she stared at her father. It was written all over his face. He was not just angry. He was enraged!
“Oh…Alhaji…you… you’re back. I…I thought you said…you said you’d be gone for three days”, Hajiya moved to take his briefcase.
Her father used the briefcase to push her mother aside and walked in to face a surprisingly calm Hadizat.
“Hadizat Aminatu Dankore, what did I hear you say?”
“Wadu muya papa. I’m sorry but then again, I’m not sorry. I’ve met Jesus. I’m a…” Hadizat’s monologue was cut short with a slap to her mouth. She fell back on a chair.
As she tried to regain her footing, she saw her mother move to stand between her and her father.
“Alhaji please. Useni. Please. She can’t be serious. She has no idea what she’s saying.”
Hadizat tried to make a sound and then, she tasted it. Blood. Her mouth was bleeding. “I’m not playing around mama”, she squeaked.
“I would rather kill you with my bare hands than watch you become an infidel”, her father thundered. “This was the way Zainab…”
Hadizat noticed that her father restrained himself from speaking. She looked from her father to her mother and then back again.
“Who is Zainab?” She queried.
“Shut up!” Her father ordered. “Get out of my house!”
“Oh Alhaji. Please. Useni Alhaji. Please”, her mother begged.
“Tell your daughter to stop this foolishness or she leaves! I cannot harbour an infidel. I’d rather kill her”.
“Ah…Alhaji, please”. Her mother turned to her. “Masoyi na… don’t do this.”
“It’s okay mama”, Hadizat spoked with tears slowly streaming down her face. “I’ll go papa. But never forget this. And you too mama. Jesus loves you. You will live to confess Jesus is Lord”.
Hadizat turned and dashed to her room. She packed a few vital things and some pieces of clothing. In a few minutes, she was out of the house. She shut out the image of her mother crying and hailed a cab. She sat in the cab unsure of where to go next. She asked the driver to go to Jimeta. They had gotten close to Jimeta Market when she received a text from her mother.
Zainab was your father’s fiance long before he met me. They were so close everyone affirmed they’d end up together. Your father was very much in love with her. Somehow, she went on a holiday somewhere in the South and became a Christian. She escaped her family’s clutches and left to forge a new path. Your father never spoke of her again. I met her two years ago on a shopping trip in Lagos and we’ve spoken twice since then. Go to her. She will take you in. 44, Olaitan Street, Off Turnbull Road, Ikoyi. I love you Hadi. Keep in touch.