Read Chapter 5&6 HERE
“Hadizat!” Rasheedat called “Hadizat.”
Hadizat pretended to be asleep. Her face turned to the wall. This was one of her antics whenever it was time for prayers. Anytime she was home, the bells her father installed were a constant reminder for everyone in the household to pray. Hadizat always obeyed then and prayed, even when she didn’t feel like it.
In school however, it was a different story. There was no one to tell her what to do… except Rasheedat, her roommate and Rasheedat didn’t have a compelling force like her father.
Hadizat chose to do just as she pleased. She either stayed in the library long enough or she just pretended to be asleep so Rasheedat would leave her alone.
“Hadizat!” Rasheedat called again and tapped her feet. “She must be really tired after all that reading.”
Rasheedat left her alone and prayed on her own.
After her prayers, she spoke to Deola who was reading a novel.
“Deola, I’ll be going out to see my boyfriend. I’ll be back before 7pm.”
“Hmmm… Rasheedat, don’t you think?…?” Deola began.
“Cut it out Deola please! No preaching today”, Rasheedat cut her off with a wave of her hand. “I just want you to know where I’ll be so you won’t look for me.”
She quickly put on a pair of flat sandals and hurried out.
“Hmm….” Deola breathed deeply and shook her head.
Hadizat feigned a yawn and sat up. She looked at Deola who eyed her warily. She feigned a yawn again as she looked away.
“Stop the act Hadizat.”
“What?” Hadizat questioned.
“I know you weren’t asleep so, stop the act”, Deola replied.
“Well, I….uh… never mind”, Hadizat wanted to disprove Deola’s assertion but in the end, she figured she had nothing to lose if Deola knew her secret anyway. She just didn’t feel like praying.
Once in a while though, she felt guilty and decided to pray. But most of the time, the reverse was the case.
“Why are you doing it?” Deola asked.
“Pretending to be asleep. This is not the first time you’ve done that.” Hadizat looked at Deola. Why did she have to be so observant?
Hadizat looked away. She was not under any obligation to answer.
“Hadizat”, Deola called softly. “You can deceive everyone but you can’t deceive yourself and you can’t deceive God.”
Hadizat didn’t reply or even look at her. But, she heard every word.
“You know the fallacies in religion. You know how women are relegated to the background. You’ve detected the subtle nudges towards violence. Most of all Hadizat, you’ve realized there’s no heart. Nothing at all. Isn’t that why you’ve decided not to waste time praying?”
Hadizat swallowed. Deola could say whatever she wanted. Hadizat resolved to offer no reply.
“Why don’t you come to Jesus, Hadizat? He loves you so so much and He’s willing to hold your hand and guide you through life. Don’t say no to His undying love”, Deola pleaded.
Hadizat jumped down from her bed and put on the water heater as she began to peel her clothes off her body. She knew it would come to this. Deola had tried to preach to her twice. Infact, she had not tried. Deola had preached to her on two occasions. This was the third.
Hadizat wondered why. Was it because they were roommates? Normally, Christians hardly preached to Muslims. They took their gospel or whatever they called it to atheists and other less active Christians or traditionalists. They hardly preached to Muslims. Hadizat could count how many had preached to her. They weren’t many. In fact, it was just one, Deola.
Deola Makinde was a third year student and she had been Hadizat and Rasheedat’s roommate since the year before. The three girls had retained the room this year and they intended to retain it the next year as well.
Rasheedat and Hadizat would have to source for another roommate when Deola finally graduated at the end of the next year.
The girls got along quite well. Hadizat was the bookworm who was almost always in the library. Rasheedat Sanyaolu was a second year student, just like Hadizat. But, she was in the Theatre Arts Department. She told Hadizat and Deola that since she was nine years old, she had always dreamt of acting in Yoruba movies.
At first, Hadizat had issues relating with Yoruba Muslims but she decided a Muslim roommate was better than none at all. Deola had picked first as an older student. That was how Hadizat ended up with Rasheedat and Deola as roommates for two years in a row.
Hadizat now wished she had chosen all-Christian roommates. At least, no one would disturb her to pray. Deola turned out to be a very committed and active Christian. She always studied her Bible and prayed. She never failed to go out for fellowship meetings and evangelism.
Rasheedat was committed to prayers. Outwardly, she seemed like a good Muslim. Inwardly, she was the exact opposite. Hadizat snorted in disgust when she recalled a time when Rasheedat was giving them graphic details of her last sexual escapade with a guy who had promised to give her a star role in a movie, not that Deola or Hadizat had asked. Deola had blocked her ears and screamed while Hadizat had simply plugged in her earphones and put on some music. John Elton was much better than Rasheedat’s moans.
Hadizat wrapped her towel around her smallish frame and moved towards the bathroom. As her hand touched the door knob, she turned and looked at Deola.
“Why do you even care? Why do you preach to me?”
“Because I love you”, Deola answered. “But, Jesus loves you more.”
“Why don’t you come to Jesus Hadizat? He loves you so so much and He’s willing to hold your hand and guide you through life. Don’t say no to His undying love!”
Hadizat blocked her ears as she tried to drown the words. What in the world was happening to her? She was hearing Deola’s voice in her sleep!
“…. I love you but Jesus loves you more.”
Since the day those words were spoken, Hadizat could never get them out of her mind. It was even more so a year later, with Deola gone.
Hadizat turned and angrily sat up on her bed. She looked towards where used to be Deola’s corner and saw the empty mattress. Tears welled up in her eyes. Before she knew it, she was sobbing. Hadizat did her best to cry quietly so she won’t disturb Rasheedat who was fast asleep.
“She loved you”, Hadizat spoke softly, pretty sure no one could hear her. She continued anyway. “She loved you and you let her die.”
She kept on sobbing as she recalled the events of the past one year. Hadizat was a three hundred level student now and so was Rasheedat. They had both resumed the new year with zest and they planned to make Deola’s stay in the room as a final year student even more comfortable.
Unfortunately, Deola had not resumed. A week after resumption, Hadizat and Rasheedat became worried. They put a call across to Deola’s parents. Their calls were not answered. Fellowship members who visited got the same answer – Deola had not resumed.
The next week, Deola’s parents – Mr. and Mrs. Makinde arrived with the sad news – Deola had actually been suffering from breast cancer. It had been discovered during the holiday but since she was already in the late stages, Deola opted to just bide her time and wait it out instead of going for chemotherapy which was going to deplete her parents resources with no certain solution.
“No!” Hadizat had screamed. It wasn’t true. It couldn’t be true. Deola had called her two weeks to the resumption date. Hadizat had been in Zaria then with her brother Mustapha, his wife and their two sons. Yes, Deola’s voice had sounded a bit low but not low as in sick and ready to die, right? Deola couldn’t be dead. She was a Christian! Didn’t Christians say their God was so strong and powerful that He could do anything?
Hadizat and Rasheedat had cried their eyes out. Perhaps they hoped Deola would one day walk in through the room door and laugh that it was all a joke she put her parents up to, Hadizat and Rasheedat didn’t pick a new roommate.
After Deola’s parents carted away her remaining belongings, that corner of the room looked empty and dry. Deola’s absence permanently etched by the bare mattress looking naked without a beautiful bedsheet to adorn it.
Since the day Deola’s parents arrived to share the sad news, Hadizat had been hearing snippets of her conversations with Deola. Sometimes, she would go a week without hearing them. Then, they’d return with a vengeance. At other times, she welcomed them wholeheartedly as if that would make her feel Deola was still around, preaching to Rasheedat to stop her wrong deeds or laughing and advising Hadizat to “take it easy with the reading” or saying in her soft tone “… I love you but Jesus loves you more.”