Back in Lagos, Laraba told herself that she deserved a little bit of fun with Chuks. She had never really gone to fun places or on a real date before, and she knew it was her last chance to get a feel of it. Herself and Chuks had agreed to call off seeing each other once they returned to Lagos. She was soon to be a married woman and her parents would not hear of it!
Laraba’s sister Lami, told her that she seemed to have a glow on her face since her return from the east. A few people at the office said the same thing. Laraba told them that it was the thought of getting married that made her glow. Hamma looked even more distant when he came to the house to visit. He was very mechanical about the arrangements for the wedding. He didn’t behave as if he missed her at all and a few times she compared him to Chuks. It was sad that it wasn’t Chuks she was getting married to. She knew inside of her that she would have been happier, but duty to family came first. She wouldn’t let her Father down.
After much thinking, she decided that she would tell Hamma what had happened between her and Chuks in Enugu. She needed to get the guilt out of her system. She got to Hamma’s house and pressed the bell several times. She called out to the Maigadi and there was no answer. She pushed the gate a little and it opened. She called out. No response. She could hear voices in the distance. They seemed to be coming from the back yard. It seemed there were many men in the boy’s quarters. It looked like they were having a meeting. She peeped through one of the windows and saw Hamma. He was speaking in a tone she had never heard before. She put her back to the wall and listened, Hamma told his listeners that they would not sit and watch infidels take over their town. He talked about more ammunition and funding coming soon from sponsors. He went on and on. She heard Hamma’s father’s voice too. The shock was too much!
She ran home to tell her Mother. Her Mother shrugged and said that, it wasn’t women’s business. That was men’s matter. She didn’t seem to care. Laraba waited for her Father to have his dinner and when he was watching TV, she went to his living room and sat beside him but didn’t know how to broach what she heard at Hamma’s house. Eventually, she decided to say it as it was. Her Father listened to her while he had his eyes on the TV. When she was done he closed his eyes and mused. He reminded her about the time when she was a child and had fallen off the first floor of the house, when it was still under construction and had to be flown to Europe to have treatment and surgery done. He told her that it was Hamma’s Father that had paid for the entire trip and medical expenses. There was not much to say. She got up thanked him and left. Lami wasn’t not much better when she told her. Lami said that Hamma was the epitome of a good Muslim and that it was true that infidels were trying to infiltrate the town taking over the Keke and Okada business. Laraba was shocked at her sister’s response. Her sister had warned her not to discuss it with anyone.
Several days after, she had bad Malaria and had to stay at home. Lami had gone to work and left her phone behind. When Laraba saw it, she sent her an email at work, asking her whether she should switch the phone off or take her calls. Lami didn’t reply her email so Laraba decided to leave the phone on, in case Lami tried to reach her on it. Not long after, the phone began to ring. Laraba decided to pick it up and tell the caller that Lami had left her phone behind. She picked the phone and saw the caller’s name was saved as “My husband” Laraba smiled, she knew her sister had many suitors, but she wondered why she had saved this one’s name as ‘My Husband’. She picked the phone. She heard the caller say “Hello My wife”, it sounded like Hamma’s voice. She said Hello and was about to tell the caller that it was not Lami, when she heard Hamma’s voice for sure this time. He asked “how is that your stupid sister, is she still sick? When are seeing? I can’t wait to see you” Laraba almost fainted. She was too shocked. She cut the call. He kept calling back. She took the phone and went to the contacts to see if she was mistaken. No way! It was really Hamma that called. How long had they been seeing each other? What was the plan? Why did he insist on her marrying him if he preferred her sister? Too many questions. She went through their WhatsApp messages. It was gory! It seemed they became even closer when she was away in Enugu.
She was in shock! Just then Lami walked in. “I’ve been looking for this everywhere”, she said as she picked her phone. How are you feeling? She asked Laraba. I’m feeling sick and betrayed! Lami sked what she meant. ‘Lami, how could you be seeing Hamma, when you know he and I are to be married soon? Lami screamed at her: “Shut up and lets have peace, everything has been about you since we were little. It was you that fell. It was you that spent 4 months in Europe. It was you that went to the better school. It was you Baba insisted must Marry Hamma first before I do. Hamma has always loved me, me not you! Their Mother heard the shouting and came to the room. “Hajjya, your daughter has been seeing the man I am to marry and she thinks its fine “
Their Mother looked from one daughter to the other and shakes her head. ”Lami, why were you shouting at your older sister like that?? “Hajjya, tell her tell this foolish Laraba that it is not only her God created” tell her Mama, Hajjya looked at Laraba. She was mumbling something. Laraba screamed: ‘Hajjya, it seems you knew about their relationship and you never said a word about it to me! Their Mum said, ‘custom did not allow Hamma to Marry Lami unless you, the older sister was married first, so it was decided that Hamma should marry you first and then marry Lami after a year or two’. Laraba wiped her tears and walked out of the room. Lami kept laughing. “You’re not as perfect as you think. Madam sabi! sabi”
When everyone was asleep, Laraba picked up her large scarf that she had converted into a travelling bag. She had her clothes, a few shoes and her certificates. Chuks was groggy when she called him and was wondering why she called that late. When they were done talking she crept outside and headed straight to the Maigadi’s post. The Maigadi was asleep. She woke him up and asked him to open the gate. When he was being difficult, she reached into her purse and gave him N2,000. The gate opened instantly. The Maigadi urged her to return before early morning prayers, so he wouldn’t get into trouble. Chuks was there already. She got into the car, and as they zoomed she looked back at the gates of house, knowing she would not be returning for a very very long time.