Read the previous chapters HERE
“Who you be sef? Oga and madam no dey o”.
Hadizat sighed. She was at 44, Olaitan Street, Ikoyi. The house had not been difficult to locate.
When she received her mother’s text at first, Hadizat was stunned! She had never heard of a Zainab. She didn’t even know her father had a girlfriend before he met her mother. Thinking about it, she realised she knew very little about her father’s younger days. Only her mother told her stories of her teenage life and university days.
Hadizat took a while to gather her thoughts before asking the taxi driver to take her to the airport. She boarded a last minute flight to Abuja which cost her more. At Abuja, she boarded another flight to Lagos and arrived at about 6pm.
As she walked out of the Arrival lounge, she hired an Uber to take her to the address her mother gave. Due to the bustling traffic, they completed the ride in an hour and half. Hadizat alighted and knocked. For over ten minutes, she was trying to explain her mission to the security man. She sighed again. Things weren’t going as well as she thought.
“God help me please”, she prayed.
“Sorry, But you no fit stand here. Oga and madam no dey”, the security man repeated.
Hadizat was about to respond when she heard a car horn. She turned around and saw a car park directly in front of the gate. A middle-aged woman stepped out of the car and called out.
“Dotun, what is the problem?”
Hadizat didn’t realize she was staring. The woman was so beautiful. Even in the dark with only the rays from the street light, Hadizat was sure the woman would’ve turned heads in her younger days. Hadizat vaguely noticed the woman surveying her as well till she spoke.
“I never would have believed it! You must be a Dankore. Your eyes gave you away. Sanuku.”
“Sanuku ma”, Hadizat genuflected. She was unsure how to greet. She thought of the irony of it all. She was meeting her father ex-girlfriend! If she was not in a sort of quagmire, Hadizat felt she would have laughed. As it was, she felt like crying instead. In fact, a tear dropped and she hurriedly wiped it away.
Madam Zainab moved closer and placed her hands on her shoulder
“Why don’t we go inside and you can tell me all about it?”
She threw her keys to the security man who had already opened the bigger part of the gate and walked into the compound.
“Dotun, drive in and bring the stuff in the boot. Where’s Olu?”
“Madam, he went out,” the security man replied as he caught the key expertly.
“Really? So, there’s no one in the house?”
“Drive the car inside the compound and get me the house keys then”.
Madam Zainab turned to Hadizat and gestured towards the house.
“Let’s go wait by the door, So, what’s your name?”
“Hadizat ma’am, Hadizat Dankore”.
“That’s a beautiful name, Hadizat,” Madam Zainab smiled, ” I don’t even want to go into why you’re here. We’ll have enough time for that later. Is that okay?”
“Yes ma’am”, Hadizat replied and managed a smile.
“I just returned from a business meeting”.
“Interesting”, Hadizat replied.
“My husband is on a business trip, But one of my sons Olu is around. He didn’t tell me he had somewhere to go. I’ll call him.”
The security man came closer with the house key and handed it over to Madam Zainab. She opened the door and they stepped in.
“You are welcome to my humble abode, Hadizat. Take a seat and I’ll get you a glass of water.”
“Thank you ma. I’m so grateful.”
“You are welcome.”
Hadizat sat on the chair and surveyed the environment. The house had a ‘homey’ look and it made her think of how a little less than six hours before, she had been asked to leave the only home she’d ever known. If she had been told two years ago or before that, that the day would come when her father would throw her out, she’d have called the person a confirmed liar.
Madam Zainab walked in with a chilled bottle of water and placed it in a stool in front of Hadizat.
“Excuse me. Let me call my son.”
Hadizat sipped the water and continued the survey. She saw beautiful pictures. She could see Madam Zainab with someone who looked like her husband and three children – two males and a girl who looked so much like Madam Zainab. Hadizat smiled.
“Olu ni bolo nlo? Where are you?”
Hadizat couldn’t overhear the replies.
“When are you returning? Are you serious? Young man it’s almost 8:30? I’m waiting for you. Be back before 10pm”.
“Sorry about that”, Madam Zainab turned to Hadizat.
“No problem ma’am.” Thank you so much for everything”.
“It’s nothing. You look tired, Why don’t I fix you something to eat and then you’ll rest. We’ll talk tomorrow”.
“Okay ma. Thank you.”
“It’s okay my dear”.
Hadizat woke up to hear singing. At first, she was surprised. What on earth had happened to make her mother sing gospel praise songs. Then the event of the previous day came flooding back. She was in Madam Zainab’s home. Hadizat yawned and stood up slowly. She slipped into the robe by the door, put on slippers and quietly exited the room.
After eating last night, Madam Zainab had taken her upstairs to her daughter’s room and explained that her daughter was at school. Hadizat had a warm bath and fell asleep immediately her head hit the pillow. She had experienced enough ‘adventure’ for one day.
As she descended the stairs, Hadizat could make out a male’s voice. She pulled the robe about her tightly and kept on walking. She entered the sitting room quietly and sat down. Madam Zainab’s eyes nearly popped out when she saw her.
“I…I didn’t think to wake you. You know, you are Mos…”
Hadizat smiled broadly as Madam Zainab struggled to explain. She shook her head slightly and quietly said, “I’m a Christian ma. That’s why…”
“Oh my God. Oh my God!” Madam Zainab explained repeatedly. “Oh my God! Who would have thought?! Come here my dear”.
Hadizat moved closer to her and stepped into a warm embrace. Oh how she wished this was her family and all of them were believers having regular family devotions!
“Hello! What’s going on?” The young man asked?
“Olu, this is Hadizat. I told you she came last night. Hadizat, this is Olu, my son”.
Hadizat freed herself from the embrace and shook hands with Olu.
“Hi”, he greeted.
“Hello”, she replied.
“We’ll talk later. Let’s finish up with our Father”, Madam Zainab smiled and held Hadizat’s right hand. Olu took hold of her other hand and completed the circle. Madam Zainab started a worship song. “Ésè Baba…ésè Oluwa…”
Hadizat felt calm. In spite of all she had experienced in the last twenty-four hours, she felt assured of God’s love and care. She felt peace.
After the prayers, Olu quickly went upstairs to get dressed for work.
“Hadizat”, Madam Zainab called as she walked towards a door. “Join me in the kitchen”.
Hadizat joined her and in no time, they prepared a light meal of tea and bread with fried eggs.
Half an hour later, Olu had eaten and left for work. Madam Zainab sat on the couch in the living room and touched the space close to her. “Zo Hadizat. Come. Tell me the full story”.
Hadizat narrated the events of the previous year – her time in the UK and her salvation. Then, she concluded with the events of the previous day. When she was done, there were tears in her eyes. She looked up and noticed Madam Zainab’s was no different.
“Congratulations on your salvation my dear. God be praised!”
“Thank God”, Hadizat smiled and dabbed her face with the edge of her robe.
“Hmm…God works in such mysterious ways. I never would have thought that Umar’s daughter would one day tow the same path I did many years ago”.
“Hmmm…” Madam Zainab breathed deeply and continued. “Your father Umar Dankore and I were very much in love. We met at the university and clicked. Your mother was my hostel mate. Umar and I planned to get married immediately we finished our tertiary education. Our families were aware and very much in support. But God had a better plan. In my final year, I went to Port Harcourt to see one of my uncles who had just gotten a job in an oil company. He had a wife and at that time, they had only one daughter. He complained that his wife and daughter were lonely as they had not yet made any friends so he wrote me to come over if only for two weeks. I agreed. Hadizat, those two weeks changed my life”.
Madam Zainab paused and sipped tea from the mug she had kept on a stool close by before she continued.
“One day, some young people – about five of them – came into the compound and started preaching from flat to flat. My uncle was at work. I was at home with his wife and daughter. Of course, we refused to let them in but my interest was piqued so I lingered by the window and listened as they spoke to a neighbour. I had never heard anything like it! In fact, I had never paid any attention to Christians. From that day, I wasn’t at peace. I wanted to know for sure. I kept asking myself, “What if they are right?”
Hadizat remembered Deola and nodded. She knew exactly what Madam Zainab was talking about.
“The next time they came”, Madam Zainab continued. “My uncle was not at home and his wife went to the market. Their daughter and I were home alone and the little girl was fast asleep. I decided to stay in the verandah and listen to them. That was the day I gave my life to Christ!”
Hadizat could see the excitement on Madam Zainab’s face and she was transported back to that day at the lounge in the University of Edinburgh when she chose Jesus.
“It was hard work hiding it from my uncle and his wife. From their house, I resumed school. That was when problems started between Umar and I. I knew I could never marry a Moslem and be at peace. I started avoiding him and giving excuses. I don’t know if he suspected anything. All hell broke loose when I graduated and had to go home. My parents were livid! My father actually threatened to kill me.”
“Oh God…” Hadizat breathed. Madam Zainab’s story was another version of hers.
“When they told Umar, he came to see me to talk sense into me, as he put it. He was hurt and angry. It was after the conversation with your father I ran away. I couldn’t bear it anymore. I ran to Lagos and cooped up with a former classmate. I started working at a restaurant and I met my husband at my local church about three months after. The rest of it is a story for another day. But, God has been good to me Hadizat. No matter how you might be feeling right now, just know this – God will be good to you”.
Hadizat moved closer and hugged Madam Zainab again. This lady was God sent! And yes, she believed. God will be good to her!