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Hadizat arrived Yola in the afternoon and instead of going to the house immediately as she would’ve done before, she went to a hotel and booked a room for a couple of days. She knew the hospital owned by the family doctor in GRA but she texted Munirat anyway to be certain. When Munirat texted the address, Hadizat confirmed it was the same hospital and hailed a cab.
When she got there, she sat at the reception and called Munirat to let her know of her arrival. In a few minutes, she saw a beautiful young woman garbed in a long yellow hijab and black tights walk into the reception.
It dawned on Hadizat that this was the first time she was seeing her sister physically in almost two years. She smiled and stood up.
Munirat looked uncertain for a moment before smiling back and reaching out for a hug. “Sanuku Hadizat. Welcome. I’m sorry for everything.”
“No, I’m the one who’s sorry. I should’ve put more effort into resolving our differences. We are sisters for crying out loud.”
Hadizat released her and they both took a seat at the reception. “How is mama?” Hadizat spoke up first.
“She’s in private ward B. She woke up at 4am this morning. The doctor gave her some injections and she drifted off to sleep. He said she’s going to be alr…” Munirat’s voice broke and she wiped her face quickly with her hands.
Hadizat quirked her eyebrows and leaned closer to Munirat. Munirat squirmed under Hadizat’s scrutiny and shifted her eyes warily.
“There’s something you’re not telling me Munirat. What is it?”
Munirat turned to the other side and dropped her head till it rested on her knees.
Hadizat watched Munirat lift her hand and stare into space for a few seconds. She could feel dread creeping up her spine. “Jesus, take control,” she muttered under her breath.
Munirat turned her head and faced Hadizat. A lone tear dropped from her eye. “The stroke isn’t the worst of it Hadizat. Mama has cancer”.
“They called it renal cell carcinoma (RCC)…”
Hadizat could not believe her ears. “Surely the information must be wrong”, she thought. That couldn’t be her mother but the look in Munirat’s eyes told her otherwise and her worst fears were confirmed. She recalled the series of dreams she’d had about her mother and the prayers. Hadizat was about to break down in tears when she heard the words in her spirit.
Do not be afraid. Be strong.
Hadizat felt hope surge within her. She stood up and squared her shoulders before turning to Munirat, “Take me to her.”
Hadizat walked behind Munirat into the ward. She looked around quickly and noted that the room was clean and comfortable before her eyes settled on the frail figure of her mother on the bed. She walked towards her and felt her heart squeeze in pain at the sight. Hadizat touched her mother’s feet, wrapped in a soft blanket, bowed her head and prayed.
“Oh Father, let nothing happen to her. Heal her and let her confess that You alone are God.”
She opened her eyes and turned towards Munirat. “Where’s Baba?”
“He is at home. We both rushed her here yesterday afternoon. I left in the evening and returned this morning. He was with her all night.”
Hadizat nodded. “Brother Mustapha? Rukayat?”
“Mustapha is on his way here. He went to London for a meeting. Rukayat is in Zaria with her prospective in-laws. She promised to be here as soon as she can.”
“Okay. Can I stay with her?”
“Sure. I’ll be in the reception.”
Hadizat sat in the single chair by the bed while Munirat walked out and closed the door softly. She prayed quietly for a while and sat still for a longer time studying her mother’s face. After about an hour, Hadizat began to talk quietly – she narrated everything that had happened since she left home, including those she had earlier told her mother via texts and WhatsApp chats. She even managed to slip in details of Alexa and Ahmad’s budding romance. After a while, she felt her mother’s eyes on her. She looked up and confirmed her hunch – her mother was staring at her and smiling.
“Ya iye,” she breathed softly, unsure whether she was hallucinating or her mother had really woken up.
Her mother smiled, “Masoyi na, sanu.”
“Let me call the doctor,” Hadizat shot to her feet but stopped short when she heard her mother speak softly, “Masoyi na, sit.”
She resumed her seat and stared at her mother. “How are you?”
“A bit weak but I’ll survive.”
“Did you…are you…” Hadizat breathed. “Are you sure you are okay?”
“Masoyi na, there’s no need to walk on eggshells around me. I know about the cancer.”
Hadizat was flabbergasted. “You knew? Why didn’t you say anything?”
Her mother looked into her eyes and smiled. “What should I have said? I know it’s time. I can’t start that chemo nonsense. I’ve known since last year.”
“Oh mama,” Hadizat’s eyes glistened with unshed tears. “Don’t say that please.”
“Masoyi, don’t cry. It’s okay really. I’m glad you are here.”
Hadizat sniffed and attempted to smile. “Where else would I be?”
Hajiya Dankore cackled. “With your Yoruba beau maybe?”
Hadizat’s face fell. If she were to be honest, she would have admitted to herself how much she missed Timi. During her flight, she’d had enough time to think and she realized she had treated him badly. Timi had been the epitome of kindness and deep down, she knew he’d never hurt her.
“Masoyi kingani? What is it?” Her mother’s voice brought her out of her reverie and she struggled to push thoughts of Time to the background.
“It’s nothing Mama. I’ll tell you when we are out of here,” she diverted.
“Okay. How’s everything? Work? Zainab and her family?”
Tell her about Me.
Hadizat did a doubletake. She remembered she had never really preached to her mother. She had been about to do so when she was thrown out of the house at first. She shrugged and decided to wait till her mother returned home. But the nudge in her spirit became stronger.
Tell her about Me.
Hadizat opened her mouth to speak but her mother beat her to it.
“You look like you have something to tell me.”
“Is it about the Yoruba beau? The one you talked about on WhatsApp?”
Hadizat shook her head. “It is about a beau but, not that beau. It’s about Jesus.”
“Ma so yi na, I…” Hajiya Dankore sighed.
“No Mama, listen to me please. Jesus is the real deal. Why do you think I’ll leave a life of riches and comfort to be with people I don’t know from Adam if not that Jesus is real and true? Why do you even think Madam Zainab’s family accepted me wholeheartedly? It’s because we share the same blood – the blood of Jesus.”
Hadizat breathed easy as she noticed her mother was paying rapt attention. “God loves you Mama. That’s why He sent His only begotten Son to deliver…”
Hadizat felt so happy at the way the Holy Spirit took control. By the time she was done, her mother was crying softly. She surrendered her life to Christ immediately.
“I’m so happy ya iye. You have made the right decision. But, I’m certain my happiness cannot be compared to how God and the entire host of Heaven must be feeling right now.”
“Ma so yi na…thank you. I feel so relieved. I believe it’s finally time to go.”
“Don’t say that Mama. Jesus can…”
“WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?”
Hadizat stiffened as she heard her father’s voice. She stood up and turned around slowly to look at the face of her father – a face she hadn’t seen in months. She saw her elder brother Mustapha walk in beside her father. When his eyes settled on her face, he wore a confused expression which gave way to an empathetic look. Hadizat knelt and greeted just as Munirat walked in too. “Ina kwana Papa. Ina kwana Brother.”
“What is this infidel doing with my wife? Munirat, were you the…”
“Alhaji please…” Hajiya Dankore’s voice was weak but firm. “Please.”
Alhaji Dankore took a look at his wife on the bed and an unusual wave of emotion seemed to flow through him. He turned to Hadizat. “I don’t want to set my eyes on you again. You can visit when I’m not present. Now go.”
Hadizat made to leave but her mother’s voice stopped her. “No, Hadizat. Stop.”
All eyes turned to Hajiya Dankore in shock. She had never spoken up against we husband. This was a new Hajiya. Hadizat asked to be certain.
“Stay,” she repeated as she struggled to sit up. Munirat rushed to help her.
“Alhaji,” Hajiya breathed deeply and faced him squarely. “I’ve watched you be the lord over our home for so many years, no questions asked. I regret not speaking out so many times even when you rode roughshod over me and over our children. It has to stop.”
Alhaji Dankore stopped staring at his suddenly courageous wife and became preoccupied with something on the ceiling.
“Hadizat is our daughter,” Hajiya continued. “She made a choice. Let her live with the consequences of her choice. But, don’t estrange her from the only persons she has to call family.”
Hadizat felt moisture on her face. When she touched her cheeks, she realized the tears had been flowing slowly. She whimpered when she felt someone embrace her from behind. She turned to see Rukayat.
“I’m sorry,” Rukayat mouthed.
“It’s okay,” Hadizat replied and returned the embrace.
“Alhaji,” Hajiya continued. “Please, forgive Hadizat. Let her return home. This is my dying wish.”
Hadizat pulled herself away from Rukayat’s arms and turned sharply. “Don’t say that Mama.”
“It’s okay ma so yi na. It’s okay.”
“I’ve heard you, my wife. I will obey your wish.”
Hajiya smiled at her husband and he responded with a nod before walking out of the room. Mustapha came closer to Hadizat and embraced her as well. “I’m sorry Sister. Welcome home. Sanuku.”
“Nagode Brother. How’s your family?”
“Alhamdulilah. All are fine.”
“Thank God,” Hadizat repeated. “Rukayat,” she smiled, with a wink at Munirat and her mother, “I believe you have gist for the girls…”
Everyone erupted in laughter.
That evening, Hadizat returned to the hotel to rest despite Munirat’s pleas that she come home.
“I’ll come home when Hajiya is discharged,” she promised as she hugged Munirat and entered into the waiting cab. Back in her hotel room, she ordered a native delicacy of meltuble and ate heartily. She felt like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. She had not been herself since she received news of her mother’s illness. She felt better now that Hajiya had received Christ. That was the best news ever!
“Thank God. Thank You Jesus,” she repeated over and over again.
Hadizat picked up her phone with the intention to call Timi and stopped when she remembered the aftermath of the dinner.
How odd that he was the first person that came to mind when she wanted to share her goodnews. Not Madam Zainab. Not Lola. Not Alexa. But Timi.
“It isn’t really odd, is it?” Her mind teased.
“No,” she whispered. It wasn’t odd at all. He was the love of her life. But, she was scared. What if she could never measure up? What if…?
The sound of her ringtone stopped Hadizat’s line of thought. She took a look at the caller.
“Hello, Hadizat! Come back to the hospital now please. Quickly!”
Hadizat sighed as the call went off and she sprang into action. She left her half finished plate of food and got dressed quickly. It was 8pm. She ran outside the hotel and hailed a cab back to the hospital.
When she alighted, she quickly paid the cab driver and ran into the hospital. She saw Munirat at the foot of the stairs pacing. Hadizat rushed up to her sister. “Munirat, kin gan ni?”
Munirat turned to her with teary eyes. “It’s mother. She’s taken a turn for the worse!”
“How? Who’s with her now?” Hadizat queried as she started walking towards the ward.
“She’s not there,” Munirat called out. “She’s in the theatre. The doctors had to perform an emergency surgery.”
“Oh Jesus,” Hadizat muttered as she walked back to the reception and took a seat. Munirat strode to where she was and took a seat as well.
“He’s outside the theatre with Mustapha. Rukayat went home to get food from the cook so we can eat.”
“Hmmmm…” Hadizat breathed. “How did it happen? She was gotten better, right?”
“I don’t know. After you left, Baba and Mustapha were with her when they noticed she was jerking. They quickly called in the doctor. The doctor checked and recommended an emergency surgery. He said there was a particular tumour touching a vital organ that needed to be cut off immediately”.
Hadizat nodded and covered her sister’s palm with hers. “It will be okay. God is in control.”
Hadizat’s heart was in turmoil but she believed in the Word she had received and she resolved to do just that – be strong.
Her faith was severely shaken however when three days later, in the early hours of the morning, her mother – Hajiya Dankore breathed her last.
______ _______ _________
Hajiya Dankore was buried the same day in accordance with Islamic laws. Only Hadizat knew of her change in faith and it gave her immense pleasure that her mother was in glory but that did nothing to stop her grief.
A day later, Hadizat sat alone at the top of a small hill in Kodomti, Numan Local Government Area. That was her mother’s village – the home of her grandmother who died almost a decade ago. When she was younger, Hadizat had loved to pay her grandmother impromptu visits especially when she needed to leave the house to think. She would sit on that hill for hours observing and meditating. She sat quietly now clad in an all-black ensemble with a loosely tied black scarf. Her feet were bare. Hadizat sniffed and felt another gush of tears.
“Why Lord? Why did she have to go? She had just surrendered to you. First, Deola. Now, my mother. Why?”
My ways are not your ways.
“I prayed. What was the need of those prayers if…ohh!” She groaned.
She was saved. Your prayers served that purpose. And for that reason, you will see her in Heaven. You made Heaven glad daughter. Be strong.
“I want to. I want to be strong,” Hadizat cried. “But, I can’t. Help me Lord. Comfort me.”
The Comforter is here. But, I’ll make it even better. I’ll send a human comforter too.
“Human what?” Hadizat felt like laughing inspite of her tears as joy bubbled up from within her. “How can You be telling jokes under the circumstances? But, thank You God. I feel lighter already.” She recalled when Deola died in the university and she had told Timi about her feelings. Then, she had received instant relief and Timi had mentioned something about the Comforter. She had experienced it herself now. “Thank You Holy Spirit,” she worshipped.
She remembered the lovely times they’d shared and she knew how wrong she had been when she let her fears rule. Timi was not the sort of person who would lead her on and dump her later. He loved God. She could trust him. She missed him deeply, his amusing smile, side jokes and intelligent arguments. Hadizat smiled and wondered if things could get better with her and Timi just as it was with her father. And as though she conjured him, she heard a voice in the distance. A voice that was unmistakably Timi’s.
She turned sharply and there he was a little way off looking even more handsome than she remembered in black jeans and sneakers with a blue short-sleeved shirt. He took a step towards her and kept on walking. Hadizat stood and waited.
When they were close enough to be standing toe to toe, they both drank in the sight of each other.
They both spoke at once and laughed.
“Let me go first please,” Timi pleaded and took her hands.
“I’m sorry Hadizat. I’m so sorry. For your mother’s death and for my actions…”
“You didn’t do…”
“I did. Or perhaps I’m sorry for my inactions. Hadi mì, I should have told you. I should have told you I love you, not just as a Christian sister but that I was in love with you. I should have been straight with you.”
Hadizat felt shivers on her skin as he dropped her hands and placed his on both sides of her face outlining her facial features with his fingers. She swallowed.
“Let me tell you something Hadizat. One day, when we were in 300 level at ABUAD, we were both sitted in the library studying for our exams and I just happened to look in your direction. You were probably trying to cram a section or something because you were looking at the ceiling intently. You looked so beautiful. Something clicked inside of me in that instant. Do you know the words that dropped inside of me?”
Hadizat shook her head. She couldn’t bring herself to say a word. Her heart was beating like she was running a mile a minute.
“Wow. That was the word. Wow. Then, it was ‘I for marry Hadi but nah religion make everything spoil’.”
Hadizat laughed and Timi smiled as well.
“So, when I met you again and you told me of your conversion, I was taken aback to that day and that’s when I knew.”
“Knew what?” Hadizat held her breath.
“That I couldn’t live without you. I love you Hadi. I’m sorry I didn’t say it sooner.”
A tear slipped from Hadizat’s eyes. “I love you too,” she whispered.
Timi grinned. “I know.”
Hadizat’s eyes widened. “How?”
Timi grew sombre as he reached to remove her scarf. “Can I? I want for run my fingers through your hair.”
Hadizat nodded and stilled as he let her scarf fall to her shoulders to reveal her unplaited hair. Timi removed the band and ran his fingers through her hair. “Wow. I’ve been itching to do that since that dinner day. You are so beautiful Hadi.”
“I’m sorry about that day. The things I said…”
“Forget it. Since you love me, it doesn’t matter now.”
“You said you know. How?”
“I met Hajiya, your mother.”
Hadizat’s eyes widened.”What? How? When?”
“A day before she died. Forgive me for not letting you know. After the dinner, I was distraught. I didn’t know what to do. The next morning, I went to see Daddy and Mummy Soetan. They informed me that you had travelled. I badgered Mummy till she gave me Munirat’s number. I don’t know how she got it. I called my boss and asked for a week leave. I travelled down the next day and I got to see your mum at a time when you were not around.”
“She’s beautiful. I see where you got your looks.”
“She told me about her salvation. That was wonderful,” Timi smiled.
“What else did you talk about?” Hadizat asked.
“Well, she gave me freedom to do what I’m about to do now.”
Hadizat opened her mouth in shock as Timi got on one knee.
“Marry me, Hadi. Please. I know there will be challenges ahead and a few rough roads but please, travel this journey with me.”
Hadizat smiled and looked up. “Human comforter huh? God, You did well. Thank you.” Then, she faced the love of her life and dropped a kiss on his forehead. “Yes Timi. I’ll marry you.”