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On Friday, Hadizat woke up earlier than usual, burdened with a strong urge to pray for her family. She quickly knelt by her bed side and launched into prayer. She called her family members one by one and interceded for all of them but prayed especially for their salvation. When it got to her mother’s turn, Hadizat felt such a strong burden that she laid on the cold tiled floor and groaned in prayers till she felt a release.
After the prayers, she quickly joined the Adegbite’s in the morning devotion and prepared for work. On her way to work, she sent her mother a quick message,
_Ina kwana mama? Yaya kike? I miss you. Hope everything’s good? Stay blessed. I love you._
Hadizat breathed in and out after sending the text. “My mother will be fine. You’ve prayed Hadizat. Trust God.” She relaxed and recalled that she was to have lunch with Timi today. The attack of tummy tingles she felt at that moment was overwhelming. She looked down at her traditional ankara wear and hoped she looked good enough.
At lunch, it seemed the butterflies in Hadizat’s tummy had planned to disgrace her. She bit into a sandwich and chewed daintily while Timi watched her, amused.
“What?” She asked after swallowing. She didn’t want to risk the food falling out of her mouth.
“Ah…nothing o. I’m just waiting for my food,” Timi replied, with a smile dancing on his lips.
“Why are you staring at me?”
Timi laughed, “Your ‘oyinboness’.”
“W-what?” Hadizat struggled to rein in her laughter.
“Don’t get me wrong. You’ve always been formal, reserved, a bit of Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes Hadizat but ehn…going abroad has added to it.”
“Your food,” Timi declared. “I’m here waiting for my abula and you want to take burger for lunch.”
“It’s a sandwich.”
“Same thing. ‘Oyinboness’.”
“Leave me alone, Timi.”
Timi laughed. “Ah Hadizat! I missed you sha…”
“You did?” Hadizat’s heart leaped.
“Of course I did. All those times in ABUAD library…”
Hadizat felt distraught when the Timi’s food arrived and the presence of the waitress stopped his tale. Timi washed his hands and quickly dug in.
“Tell me the story Hadizat,” he asked in between mouthfuls. “How did you come to be with the Adegbite’s?”
“Olu didn’t tell you?” She was shocked.
“It wasn’t his story to tell,” Timi replied just before he swallowed another mouthful.
“Hmm…,” Hadizat breathed. “It’s a long story Timi.”
“We’ve got time. Today’s Friday or do you want to rush back to the office?”
“No, I actually took the rest of the day off. I’ve not done that since I started work so my director was quite lenient,” she smiled.
“So, tell me.”
“It started …” Hadizat related her salvation story, return home and the resultant outrage from her father and how everything led her to the Adegbite’s door. By the time she was through, she felt tear drops smearing her face. She noticed Timi was done with his meal. He pulled out his handkerchief, reached out slowly and helped dab the wetness from her face. Hadizat’s heart literally stopped.
“I’m sorry. I can be such a handful,” Hadizat tried to even her breathing.
“It’s okay Hadi. It’s okay.”
Just then, her mother’s reply came in. Hadizat picked her phone and read the text slowly.
_Yaya kike Hadi? I’m fine masoyi. Just a little tired. Nothing a little rest can’t do. Hope you’re good? How’s Zainab and her family? I miss you too masoyi. I love you more._
The tears that had receded before returned in full force. At Timi’s enquiry, she explained the burden she had in the morning and showed him the text.
“Come on. Let’s get out of here.” Timi settled the bill and they walked out of the restaurant to his car. Just when she was about to get in, Timi spoke.
Hadizat forgot what she wanted to say as Timi pulled her into his arms and held her close. His heady cologne and the warm feel of his suit made her snuggle in deeper. Hadizat sniffled.
“It’s okay Hadi. Let it out,” he cooed. And as though a dam had broken, Hadizat burst into years and cried out. She didn’t care that she was in public wrapped in a man’s arms. All she thought was to make good use of this opportunity.
When she was done, Timi released her and they both laughed out loud.
“Sorry I ruined your handkerchief,” Hadizat began. “And your shirt…oh God!”
Timi laughed. “Oh, stop apologizing. Get in. Let’s go. I’ll drop you off.”
“Thanks,” Hadizat spoke immediately he got in and started driving. “Thanks for everything.”
“Always a pleasure Hadi. Always a pleasure,” he smiled. “You know you look more beautiful when you cry. Should I make you cry more?”
“Timi!” Hadizat shouted as he roared with laughter.
After church the next day, Hadizat was resting on the sitting room couch poring over a Christian novel she had found on the bookshelf. The book was titled, ‘Lost; Finding the Way Home’ by E. C. Hannah and it was turning out to be worth her time. She was a few pages from the end when Madam Zainab walked in.
“Yaaiye, are you done with your nap?” Hadizat asked.
“Eey, I feel well rested,” Madam Zainab replied and took the arm chair opposite Hadizat. “Did you enjoy the service?”
“Eey. It was great Yaaiye, as always,” Hadizat dropped the book and sat up straight. “The sermon…it made me think of my family.”
Hadizat didn’t want to let up that the sermon had made her cry but it seemed the older woman could tell. The sermon had been titled, ‘Compassion for the Lost’ and was a call to Christians to intercede for and evangelize to unbelievers. It had reminded Hadizat of the dream she had that morning. She had been trying to rescue her family members from a gaping black hole but they were locked in with a gate. She kept on hitting the gate’s lock with a big hammer. She had almost broken the lock when she saw a huge hairy hand grab her mother’s neck. The hand was about to strangle her mother to death when Hadizat woke up abruptly, clutching her own neck.
As usual, she had prayed for her family especially her mother till she felt a release in her spirit. Hadizat knew she was doing all she could – prayer. But, she couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps, there was something more and she voice this out to Madam Zainab.
“Yaaiye, do you think, for instance, I should try to reach out and preach to them?”
“I see the Bible verses you post on your WhatsApp status. Don’t your family members view them?”
“Yes, they do.” Hadizat had even been surprised that the verses were having a positive effect on one of her cousins. He had chatted her up for more exposition on some verses and he showed serious interest in the things of God. Hadizat prayer he would come to the knowledge of the truth.
“That’s okay for now, my dear. If there’s something more you should do, God will let you know. Let God lead you Hadizat.”
Hadizat nodded and felt a weight lift off her shoulders. She resolved to follow God’s leading step by step. He knew best.
“Now,” Madam Zainab raised her eyebrows in a questioning manner. “About Timi.”
If Madam Zainab was in doubt about anything, the blush that serenaded Hadizat’s face ceased those doubts at once.
“He asked me out,” Hadizat blurted out.
“Really?” Madam Zainab asked, surprised. “When was this?”
“Mmm…what did you say?”
Hadizat hesitated, “I accepted…but, I want to seek you and Daddy’s permission before going ahead.”
“Of course. Well, let’s ask Daddy first before we do anything, okay?”
______________ _________________ _______________
Hadizat was a ball of nerves on the day of the dinner. Lola had returned from school on Wednesday and the girls stuck to each other like two peas in a pod. Lola offered to do her makeup and Hadizat agreed as long as it was light.
Hadizat was aware Timi had paid the Adegbite’s a visit the previous day for the sole purpose of asking their permission to date her. She had been at work during the visit and Timi had not breathed a word of it to her. Madam Zainab had intimated her of the discussion later in the evening.
“Hadizat, are you ready?” Madam Zainab walked into the room.
Hadizat turned from the mirror where Lola was working on her face. “Not yet, is he here?”
“No, it’s just 5.30. Didn’t he say 6pm?”
“Yes, he did.”
“I think you should do without the headtie tonight.”
“I concur,” Lola nodded in agreement.
Hadizat looked in the mirror. Ever since she became a Christian, she found it difficult exposing her hair. She had been using the headties since her days at Edinburgh. Maybe it was time to let it out. She wondered what Timi would think. Would he like it or…
“Okay,” she decided. “I’ll remove it.”
She removed the pink headtie she had wrapped stylishly around her head and dropped it on the bed. Lola made quick work of loosening her big cornrows and styling the hair.
The look on Timi’s face when he saw her hair made Hadizat know she had made the right decision. Timi’s eyes blazed in admiration as he studied her from head to foot. She was dressed in a long royal blue dinner gown with pink highlights on the sleeves and fishtail end. High heeled silver sandals graced her feet and Lola had done well with her makeup.
“Hi,” she greeted shyly, aware that Madam Zainab and Lola were listening at the top of the stairs.
“Your hair,” Timi strode to where she stood, eyes on her hair. “It’s so long. You’ve been hiding this underneath all this while?”
Hadizat laughed. “I’m not exactly used to opening my hair. I just did so tonight.”
“Then, I must say that was a wonderful decision. You are beautiful Hadi.”
“Thank you. You look good as well,” Hadizat replied, admiring the wine-striped blazers with a white shirt underneath and jean trousers.
“Let’s go,” Timi took her hand and slipped it into the crook of his arm. He flashed her a smile and Hadizat could only mutter a prayer to calm her raging heart. “God, help me”.