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Hadizat was woken up by her ring tone the next day.
“Good thing I’ve activated my Nigerian line”, she muttered as she giggled excitedly. Since she told Munirat she had arrived the country, they had not spoken again. Hadizat couldn’t wait to see her sisters physically and hear ‘first-hand’ gist of everything going on in their lives. Her excitement was short-lived. Munirat’s angry voice threatened to result in an instant headache.
“What the hell Hadizat? What the hell?!”
“Munirat?” Hadizat quietly interjected as she stared at her phone to ensure it was actually Munirat calling. The voice was Munirat’s but the disrespectful tone could not be that of her sister, Hadizat reasoned to herself. Or had she been possessed by an evil spirit?
“What is wrong with you Hadizat? I know you are my elder sister but sometimes, the way you behave is annoying! How could you run away from home? Do you even care how everyone feels? Especially mum? The poor woman is crying her eyes out right now and father is at his worst! I thought you’d gotten over this madness in the UK but it seems I was wrong.”
“Are you done Munirat? Are you done?” Hadizat asked calmly, resisting the urge to shout down her sister’s ears. “Thanks for all the insults Munirat. You haven’t given me a chance to tell you what happened. You are only willing to lay the blame on me. It’s alright Munirat. I’ve heard …”
Hadizat was shocked out of her wits as the line went off on the other end. Munirat had cut the call on her! Her first reaction was anger. How dare she? She was four years older than Munirat. How could she call to berate her and then, cut the call on her too?
“How?” Hadizat asked in tears. “How can I pray for them? They hate me! They hate you!”
Hadizat knew what she should do but she couldn’t. The previous day, her brother Mustapha had called and all but threatened her to return home, plead for forgiveness and continue her life as a good Muslim girl. Hadizat had never said no to him before. He had been surprised when she did and he lashed out in fury. He ended the call in anger saying he hoped she would listen to reason and not destroy her already bright future. Hadizat did not have the opportunity to tell him that her future was already at its brightest because her life was hid with Christ in God.
Madam Zainab had been telling her that a lot. Hadizat had searched for the verse of Scripture and affirmed it to herself too. She had confessed to Madam Zainab that she was scared. Scared that her family would come after her and attack her physically. Scared that her life could be in danger. It had helped to know that Madam Zainab had experienced the same feelings when she ran away from home years ago. Madam Zainab had assured her that no harm would come to her because her life was hidden with Christ in God.
Hadizat wept till she was too tired to continue. Then, she decided to obey. She opened her lips to pray and pray, she did. Soon, she burst into tongues as the tears streamed down her face. She stood in the gap for her family and interceded for the ones she loved most. Later, she felt a warm blanket of peace envelope her. It was almost as though God Himself was enveloping her in an embrace.
I’m here for you.
Hadizat smiled and worshipped. “Thank You Lord”. She was so assured of God’s peace and security that when she read Rukayat’s scathing message later on, she didn’t react as she thought she would.
I always thought I was the dullard in the family and you, the smart one. I guess I was wrong. Why did you study the Quran then if you were going to abandon Islam? I beg you to have a rethink and come back home. If for no other reason, do it for my marriage prospects. No man from a respectable family will want to marry me if he hears my sister abandoned the faith. Please, I beg you.
Hadizat reread the message. This time, she didn’t weep. She didn’t feel bad. She laughed out loud and the laughter rang throughout the empty house. Now that she had prayed and felt God’s peace, the text actually seemed funny and she knew that the laughter was one of victory.
“Satan, you have failed. My parents and siblings will come to the light. You came too late.”
Life was good with the Adegbites. Mr. Sola Adegbite, Madam Zainab’s husband, returned from his business trip three days after Hadizat arrived there. Hadizat guessed his wife must have given him a heads up from the kind way he greeted her a few minutes after his arrival.
In a few hours, she discovered that Mr. Adegbite was a kind-hearted man. It was there in the way he conversed with and treated everyone around him – his wife, son, the security man and herself. With each day that passed, Hadizat fell more in love with the Adegbite family.
The following Sunday, she followed them to church. The church was nicely built and everything was orderly. Immediately Hadizat stepped in, she felt the Presence of the Holy Spirit envelope her. She sat with the Adegbites and just bowed in worship. The sermon was great too and she jotted a few highpoints. After the service, she was introduced to a number of people and Hadizat happily responded to their greetings.
By the time she had stayed with the Adegbites for a week, she had been introduced to the entire family. The first son of the Adegbites – Setan was married with a kid and he lived at Abuja with his family. Olu, whom she had met, was an accountant and he stayed with his parents. Their only daughter Lola was at the Federal University of Technology, Akure. She was a carbon copy of Madam Zainab. Hadizat was pleased that they had all accepted her as part of the family.
Mr. Adegbite pulled some strings to get Hadizat a job when she informed them that she’d like to stay back and work. She had prayed for direction earlier and she hadn’t felt a release in her spirit to travel out of the country again. In two weeks, she had gotten a job as a regulatory compliance/legal officer at a telecommunications firm in Ikoyi. Hadizat could not be more excited. She resumed at the firm and buried herself in work.
One afternoon, her director at the office sent her to deliver a letter to his friend at a law firm in Victoria Island. Hadizat promptly grabbed the letter and her handbag and went on her way. On her way out of the office, she ordered a Bolt ride and before she came out of the building, her ride was waiting. On the way, she decided that she’d just dash into the office, deliver the letter and return to her office quickly. That way, she would not end the ride and the Bolt driver would not leave. She asked the driver if he was okay with the plan and he replied that he was. When she got to the law firm, she quickly alighted with a “I’ll be right back” to the driver and hurried to the door.
“She said that ehn. Tell her I’ll face her whenever she comes to my office to beg…” The owner of the voice was laughing at someone else who had just walked out of the reception through another door. The voice sounded strangely familiar but before Hadizat could fathom how and why, she collided with someone and her bag fell to the floor.
“I’m so sorry. I was in a hurry. My Bolt driver… I…” Hadizat halted as she heard the same voice she heard earlier interrupt her.
“No. don’t worry about it. I’m the one at fault. I apologize”, the owner of the voice was talking while he bent to pick up her bag and the file that had flown off her hand. He stood and looked at her as he stretched out his hand to return her bag and the file.
For the life of her, Hadizat could not utter a word. Not till the handsome, dashing young man dressed in a fitted navy-blue suit with a crisp white shirt and red tie raise an eyebrow and ask, “Are you alright ma’am?”
Hadizat nodded but she still couldn’t bring herself to say anything. She could only whisper, “Timi…”