Teslim looked at his wrist-watch, it was 9:30am, he was worried and peeped out of the window at intervals. His mind was unsettled as to what could be delaying Mary, his fiancée.
They were having a date and they had both agreed to leave home by 8:00am. He was more worried because her phone was switched off, he could not reach her to know what was going on. She was already one and half hour late!
Teslim opened the window blind again and again to see if Mary was coming, he didn’t see her green light and was disappointed.
Just as he was telling himself to relax and calm his nerves, he heard a knock on the door, he asked the person to come in and Nurudeen, his childhood friend sauntered in with a broad smile on his face.
“Asalam Alaykum.” Nurudeen greeted with a smile giving Teslim a handshake.
“Wa Alaykum Salam”. Teslim replied wearing a long face.
“What is the matter Teslim? You don’t look cheerful!” Nurudeen queried with concern.
“Don’t mind me, I am only worried because I’ve been expecting Mary for almost two hours now and she’s not here. Her phone is equally switched off.” He said wryly.
“Mary…. Mary…” Nurudeen said vacantly, trying to recollect who Mary was. “Oh Mary! Your Christian girlfriend? Nurudeen added having remembered who Mary was. “Don’t tell me you still have something going between you and this girl? Nurudeen asked.
“Don’t worry your head bro I’m only trying to add one to the population of the already existing Muslims”.
“Meaning?” Nurudeen demanded, feigning ignorance of his intent.
“Stop acting like a kid bro, I’ll revert her to Islam after marriage of course!” He said boldly.
“Revert! Indeed! Do you think to make a person enter into Islam is a child’s play? What do you know about the Christians and their tricks? I don’t think you as a person can do that”. Nurudeen said pointing at Teslim.
“Do I need a special qualification to do it?”. Teslim asked.
“It’s like taking a risk you know, how do you intend to do it?”. Nurudeen queried with concern.
“She has accepted my offer of marriage and after marriage she automatically becomes a Muslim.” Teslim explained.
“As simple as that? Look, my brother, stop threading a lion’s den, this is dangerous and I can beat my chest to the fact that that lady is just pretending and deceiving you, once she accomplished her mission, she shows her true identity and off she takes you to the church”.
“That’s not possible, trust me, a woman can never tempt, nor take me to the church.” Teslim said with confidence
“That “tempt” that you just mentioned is their game. You will think you are dreaming by the time she succeeds with her temptation and you find yourself in the church. May Allah save you and I from such.”
“I’m still assuring you that I cannot fall for her temptations, besides Mary is not like that.”
“I want you to know that only Allah is infallible. Prevention is better than cure. The best thing is to avoid it. Taking the risk and looking for an exit is not the issue here. Besides, there are many Muslim ladies out there, who are ripe for marriage, talk of morals, beauty, education and what have you. We have them in Islam.” Nurudeen tried hard to dissuade him.
“Mary is my choice, she’s one in a million, she’s not comparable!” Teslim insisted
“Only Allah is incomparable, there are lots of human types”. Nurudeen cautioned.
“Nurudeen, why don’t you let us stop this early morning argument, it’s not going to change anything. I want to retry Mary’s number. He dialed her number and before it started ringing, Mary knocked and didn’t wait for an answer before walking in.
“Oh dear! You are right on time, I was just trying your number. What kept you?” Teslim demanded.
“The traffic jam was terrible, I’d left home a quarter past seven.” Mary explained, feeling exhausted.
All this while, Nurudeen was watching them in silence and shook his head in pity at intervals.
“Mary, Nurudeen is here”. Teslim called, calling Mary’s attention to Nurdeen’s presence”.
“Oh I didn’t notice his presence.” She lied
and greeted him coldly with a stern look. The latter replied softly and announced his intention to leave.
“Let’s drop you on the way.” Teslim offered.
“Don’t bother, I came in my car.” Nurudeen replied, and the three of them walked out and went their different ways.
Inside the car, Mary told Teslim that she heard everything Nurudeen discussed with him.
“I’ve been at the door for over fifteen minutes before I knocked so I practically heard everything he told you.” Mary confessed.
“Women!!! [Teslim exclaimed in surprise]. “What an eavesdropper you are. Don’t worry”, he assured her. “What Nurudeen said was typical of a good friend, he’s only concerned about my future, that’s all”
“Do you doubt my promise of entering the fold of Islam?” Mary asked sharply
“No not at all”. He replied shaking his head. Teslim drove off and stopped at a restaurant, he came out of the car and rushed to the passenger’s side to open the door for Mary.
She came out of the car holding Teslim’s hand and together they walked into the two storey building. They were greeted by an attendant who showed them to a seat. They sat and the same attendant brought the menu list for them to place their order.
After eating, they chatted and giggled as lovers would. After a while, Teslim proceeded to the reason of their date.
“Mary! [He called out softly] “close your eyes” he also commanded.
“What for? She demanded to know.
“You just close your eyes.” He instructed again. She obeyed and closed her eyes. Teslim brought out a small box from his trousers pocket, he opened it and brought out a beautiful diamond ring.
“Open your eyes.” He said again. She opened her eyes and screamed at what she saw.
“Wow! You really wanted to surprise me right?” She asked with a broad smile on her face.
“He stared into her eyes for a while before saying… “Mary please marry me.”
“Of course I will marry you” she responded almost immediately as if she had been waiting for the question all her life.
Teslim slipped the ring into her finger and bent to give her a light kiss on her forehead. The latter responded by giving him a
romantic hug which lasted for a few seconds.
* * * *
Daniel Williams had completed his one year compulsory service to the nation, by this time, Farha was also in her final year.
Daniel had earlier suggested that Farha should meet his parents, but she turned him down saying it was too early. She was afraid of what his parent’s reaction might be towards her. Daniel however assured her that there would be no problem. He said his parents would not decide for him whom to marry and besides he had discussed her with them on several occasions, of which they never raised an eye brow.
As Farha was determined never to leave Daniel, so also was her friend Aasiya not relenting in her effort to discourage her from giving her heart to the wrong person.
Aasiya tried all her best in making sure Farha does not enter into the pit of marrying a Christian but all her efforts proved abortive! Farha was hell bent on marrying Daniel: to her, it must be done at all cost.
When Aasiya realized that she could not handle the issue alone, she felt the best thing was to inform Farha’s mother of the ugly development.
Aasiya went to see Alhaja Adebowale on a weekend without Farha’s knowledge and fortunately for her, Farha’s elder sisters Fatimah and Fareedah were also around. They arrived home a couple of days ago.
Aasiya explained her mission and pleaded with Farha’s mother and siblings not to rebuke or forsake her but rather plead with her to change her decision. They appreciated her concern and sent for Farha immediately.
Farha arrived home and was surprised to see her elder sisters, they explained that they wanted to make their visitation a surprise and that was why she was not informed. They exchanged pleasantries, chatted and giggled till it was almost dawn.
The following morning, after breakfast, Farha’s family raised the issue at hand, they told her why they sent for her, it came as a big surprise to her, she wondered how they knew about Daniel. She couldn’t hide her surprise and asked questions.
“Is this the reason you came all of a sudden? Who on earth told you about it? I mean how did you know?” Farha asked series of questions.
“Is it true or not? That’s what I want to hear.” Her mother asked impatiently.
“What if it’s true?” Farha asked back unperturbed.
“If it is true, then you made a big mistake, if you think I can give you in marriage to an unbeliever, you are wrong, you better think again!” Her mother said angrily.
Farha’s sisters placated their mother, they begged her to be patient and calm that they would handle the situation. Afterwards, her sisters made her see reasons why she shouldn’t marry a Christian, they explained and expatiated, they pleaded and lectured but all she told them was that it was too late to have a rethink, that they should only pray for her to have a blissful union with Daniel.
“Prayer my foot! Not under my nose will any of my children marry a Christian, so all the Islamic upbringing I gave you, the madarasah I sent you do not have any good impact on you”. What you are telling me is that my labor on you should amount to nothing by giving you away to a Christian?” Alhaja said reprimandedly.
“What were you even thinking? What led you into it? A Muslim child who is given a proper Islamic upbringing, now you want to become a Christian?” Fatimah asked bitterly
“I won’t become a Christian, he’s going to practice his religion and I will practice my religion too”. Farha explained in defense.
“Listen to yourself, just listen to yourself Farha, what do you want to become of your kids when you practice different religion under the same roof?” Fareedah asked.
“We’ve agreed that our children would not practice any religion until they are eighteen years of age”
“Wow! Interesting, give yourself a round of applause! Fatimah said sarcastically. “Rubbish! absolute nonsense”. Fatimah said again changing her tone. “How is that possible? Farha, don’t ruin your life, don’t do what you are going to regret in future because we are telling you now, you are turning deaf ears.”
“Wait a minute, has the boy charmed you? Because I don’t understand you anymore Farha, this is absolutely not
my sister.” Fareedah said shaking her head.
“He didn’t charm me, far from it. I just love him and that’s all.” Farha defended for the umpteenth time.
“Love a Christian”? [Fareedah said and shook her head in pity for her sister]. “Look Farha, I know you are just being childish, this is just a passing infatuation which would not last.” Fareedah said discarding the seriousness of the matter.
“It is not an infatuation at all, I love him and he’s the one I’m going to marry. Farha said obstinately.
“Ehn ehn.” They all expressed amazingly. “Alright then, we shall see, if I am your mother or the other way round. We shall see how far you can go on your own. If you refuse to listen to me you are on your own. Marry yourself off without your parent’s consent and see the consequences. I’ll not think twice before disowning a disobedient
Child.” Alhaja threatened and walked out angrily.
* * * *
Farha returned to school and vented her anger on Aasiya because she knew without being told that she would be the informant.
“Aasiya, I don’t like what you did, in fact, don’t ever cross my path again”. She said angrily to her friend
“But my dear Farha, why do you engage in something that you are not proud to discuss with your family and friends. If you know deep down in your heart that what you are doing is the right thing, then why are you hiding it? My Nikkah with Salim is in a month’s time and you are all well informed. It’s something bad that one hides you know?” Aasiya said emphatically.
“Stop taking paracetamol for someone else’s headache”. Farha said, standing up and pointing an accusing finger to her friend “You are pulling the tail of a cobra and if you pull me to the wall and I turn back at you, you would not like the other side of me that I’ll show you”.
“You are already showing me your other side. Truth they say is always bitter, my dear, why not open your eyes and stop living in fool’s paradise, as for me Aasiya”. [Aasiya said beating her chest]. “I will not leave you alone”
“Then be ready to have high blood pressure because as for me Farha……….. [Farha
said mimicking Aasiya and beating her chest in the same manner]. “I will not leave Daniel until I marry him. I will marry Daniel Williams and heavens will not fall”.
“Like seriously?” Asia stated drooling while Farha slammed the door on her friend’s
face and made straight for the garage to board a vehicle going to Ibadan where Daniel stays. It’s just a one hour drive from Ogbomoso to Ibadan.
When she got to the garage, a vehicle fully loaded with passengers was just leaving. She was a little bit depressed, the thought of having to wait for God knows when, for another bus to get fully loaded made her worry. She stood beside the empty next bus and was lost in thought before she heard the voice of the tout [Agbero ] who spoke in pidgin [“Aunty, go inside and if you no won go inside comot for entrance make passenger enter”]. She quickly moved aside for the passengers to get inside.
Farha reluctantly got into the vehicle which was now occupied with only three passengers. One of the passenger was also a student travelling to Ibadan, the other two passengers were young couples.
The couples had a little baby boy with them, the husband was carrying the baby on his thighs while his wife was leaning on his shoulder. The baby was crying unstopped and the man was pacifying him reciting one lullaby after another. The mother could not help to see her child cry and made an attempt to collect him from his dad, the man stopped her and told her to continue sleeping “I’ll handle him, you just continue resting”. The man told his wife.
Farha all this while was watching the scene with a great admiration. She could not help but compliment the man’s kind heartedness and total discharge of responsibility.
“Men like you are rare”. Farha passed a compliment.
“If I don’t help my wife, who else will.” The man replied with a grin.
“No one beats my husband to lullaby, in fact he’s a rare gem, he has been a great relief to me since we had our baby, even at nights when the baby starts his vigil, he ask me to sleep while he attends to the baby”. The wife said.
“Wow! That’s nice; I want a man like this o”. Farha said.
“Pray fervently for it and Allah will give you a man like Daddy Emmanuel.” The wife replied Farha with a smile
Farha was confused. She could not draw a similarity between “Allah” and “Daddy Emmanuel” in the woman’s statement and she
“One of you is a Muslim I supposed.” Farha asked, directing her question to no one in particular.
“Yes I am a muslim while my honey is a Christian”. The wife answered.
“I see. So how do you guys cope?” Farha asked again.
“We are coping fine, in fact my husband is the most beautiful gift Allah has ever given to me, I couldn’t have asked for more”. The wife said happily.
“Does that mean you had no challenges from family and friends?” Farha was curious to know.
“Of course there were obstacles, but with love, patience, perseverance and persistence we were able to wither the storm.” The wife replied.
“At first, her father disagreed with our union, but as time goes on when he saw his daughter’s determination, and the fact that she was even pregnant at the time, he gave his blessings”. The husband explained.
“Love is the ultimate my dear sister, my father could not continue his fight when he saw that our kind of love was unique and made in heaven. He couldn’t ask me to abort either.”
The wife explained further.
It took the vehicle almost 3 hours to be fully loaded and before it finally got to its destination, it was very late in the evening.
Farha’s discussion with the Christian/Muslim couple in the vehicle made her more determined and optimistic about her relationship with Daniel. If Mama and Papa Emmanuel could have a blissful marriage in spite of their religious difference, she could also have a blissful marriage with Daniel. She thought.
All through her journey, she could not think of any other way forward to marrying Daniel except to get pregnant for him. She thought of the couple she encountered in the bus, if they could melt their parent’s heart with pregnancy she would also do the same.
Daniel worked with the central bank of Nigeria, Ibadan branch. He rented a one room self contain in challenge area of Ibadan close to his office.
Farha took another vehicle to challenge where Daniel lives and by the time she completed her journey it was 8:10pm.
At exactly 8:15pm, she was knocking on
Daniel’s door. The latter was surprised to see her since she didn’t call to inform him of her visit.
“At least you should have called me to inform of your visit.” Daniel said unable to hide his surprise.
“Are you not pleased to see me, should I go back?” Farha said frowning her face.
“No no no, I didn’t mean that, I’m just saying, so that I would be more prepared”. Daniel said defending himself.
“I’m hungry; I had a long journey, the vehicle waited till eternity before it gets fully loaded”. Farha complained.
“Eya sorry” Daniel said as he took a bottle of chilled water from the fridge.
“Here” Daniel said as he handed the water to her.
“Thank you”. She appreciated as she breathlessly drank the water and heaved a sigh of relief.
“You are in a bachelor’s house o, I don’t even have a stove let alone cook, should I get you a bread with sardine?”
“I don’t have a choice”. She said exhausted. Daniel went out to get the stuff, Farha silently surveyed the room. It was a large room, tastefully furnished with sets of chairs and a plasma TV hung on the wall. A mattress was placed beside the window and a wardrobe beside it. The L.G slim refrigerator was placed at the entrance adjacent the kitchen.
Farha entered the kitchen and it was practically empty. “Bachelor’s home indeed”, she thought to herself.
After Farha’s meal, Daniel asked her if she planned to sleep without bringing any cloth.
“I came without thinking, I had a fight with Aasiya, so I couldn’t bear to spend another night in that house.” Farha said.
“What was it all about?” Daniel asked.
“Could you believe Asia went to my mother and told her about our relationship?”
“So o! what is worth fighting for in that? Would she not know at the end of the day? Or are you hiding me”?
“No Daniel, far from it. I am not hiding you as a person but you know this our different religious background is an issue. I just felt the time was not right to let them know, because I know fully well that they would go against it.”
“And what did your mum say”.
“As expected she flared up, she said she would not agree”. Farha said bitterly.
“Don’t worry, as time passed and she sees the determination in you, she will succumb”. Daniel consoled.
“When will that time be, look here Daniel, I have a solution”.
“What is that?” Daniel asked casting his gaze away from the T.V in anxiety.
“My solution lies with you”. Farha said shyly.
“Me? How now?” Daniel asked.
“Are you not a man or you are just pretending not to get my point”.
“I honestly don’t.” Daniel said honestly and Farha kept quiet.
It was bedtime and Daniel offered Farha the bed and made to sleep on the couch when Farha drew him back.
“Where are you going, let’s sleep together on the bed?”
“I want you to be comfortable”. Daniel said.
“What is comfort in me sleeping alone, look here Daniel, we are no longer kids, I want to get pregnant for you so that my mother would not have a choice but to release me to you”. Farha said.
“Is this the solution that you said you have? Daniel asked laughing.
“Of course, what else do you think” She replied rolling her eyes at him.
“No Farha, don’t let us do it that way, forcing out their blessings with a pregnancy would not help matters, it will only compound it, besides I don’t want us to have a child outside wedlock.”
“Don’t preach to me!” Farha snapped. “Even in my religion it’s a sin to commit fornication but I don’t have a choice in my situation.”
“Farha, be calm, we do have a choice. You just have to be persistent and determined that’s all”.
“I am already but it’s not working”
“Okay, try and play on your mother’s emotion, plead, cry and employ a lot of tricks, Mothers are susceptible, press her weak button, you can even threaten to commit suicide if she doesn’t give her blessing to our union, try these and lets see what happens”.
“I hope it works”. Farha said hopelessly
“But wait a minute Farha, those your friends, don’t you think they are a pain in our necks, why don’t you desert them so that our
relationship would blossom”.
“Never! She snapped. That’s not possible, I’ve known them before knowing you, besides they are my sisters in faith. I love them, especially Aasiya. You all have different places in my heart. My friendship with them does not affect my relationship with you, I’m not a kid and nobody can control my life for me”. Her outburst amazed Daniel and he apologized for what he said.
“I’m afraid Daniel, I’m afraid that if I marry you, you will prevent me from associating with my friends”. She said with fear.
“I said I was sorry, I promise you that kind of a thing would not happen.”
“Are you sure”?
“Yes I am”.
“That’s a relief”. She said and lied down to sleep.
“ Have a nice sleep”. Daniel said laying on the couch.
The following morning. Farha got up early and said her morning sallah. She was doing her adhkar when Daniel woke up and said his own prayers too, singing and clapping as he said sit. After that Daniel went to get breakfast in the nearest eatery.
“Daniel! [Farha called out].s “this habit of buying food of yours must not continue”.
“That’s why you should hasten your assignment so that we can be together in no time and I have a strong believe that our marriage will work perfectly fine”. Daniel said.
“Me too”. Farha replied happily. “Seeing us together here, I am already feeling like a married woman”.
“Really? Daniel teased and hugged her.
Daniel saw Farha off to the motor pack to board a vehicle back to Ogbomosho. His house was not too far to the park, so they walked holding each others hands.
The vehicle was already half loaded before they got to the park and Farha was very happy that she would arrive early. As she made to enter the vehicle, Daniel drew her back giving her a romantic hug. They stood at the spot hugging like tomorrow would not come. After some seconds, they left each other and Daniel was still holding unto her hands, as if to tell her not to go again.
“I’ll miss you so much”. Daniel said
“I’ll miss you too in fact I am already missing you.” Farha replied trying to release her hand from Daniel’s hold.
Daniel waited till the vehicle was fully loaded and also watched it as it drove off before he went back with a feeling of emptiness.
Unknown to Farha, a classmate of Aasiya was in the vehicle which Farha boarded back to Ogbomosho, Aasiya’s classmate, who knew Farha to be Aasiya’s good friend witnessed all that transpired between Farha and her lover Daniel at the motor park.
Aasiya’s friend, unable to ignore the incidence decided to tell Aasiya, so she could talk some sense into her friend as she was treading a path of destruction, which she did and Aasiya was grateful to her for the constructive information.
Aasiya was scared this time not to incur the anger of Farha again. She started softly and made sure she chose the right words for her not to get exasperated.
“Farha. [She began softly]. “Allah created us and knew what is best for us. He sent us Angels and Messengers to warn us about His do’s and don’ts so that we would not go astray”.
“What’s the lecture about”. Farha asked displaying a nonchalant attitude.
“Nothing much, it’s just important for us to be reminding ourselves of Allah (SWT) words once in a while.
“Okay o” Farha replied without interest.
“Allah said in Quran 17v32: [“And come not near to the unlawful sexual intercourse. Verily it is a Fahishah (i.e anything that transgresses its limits. A great sin) and an evil way that lead one to hell unless Allah forgives him”]. “Allah is telling us not to move near fornication by avoiding anything that can make us to commit Zina like holding hands with the opposite sex, shaking hands with the opposite sex, hugging the opposite sex, caressing, intermingling, kissing of any kind whether light or a deeper kiss, being in privacy with the opposite sex and the most dangerous visiting a man’s house”. Aasiya preached.
As Aasiya mentioned visiting a man’s house Farha’s heart almost popped out, she knew without being told that Aasiya knew about her visit to Daniel’s house. She quickly hid her expression and continued listening to Aasiya.
“If we try and avoid all these things I’ve mentioned shaytan would be distant from us, he would not tempt us to commit
Zinaa. The prophet (SWA) said that a woman and a man would not be alone without shaytan being their third. Being in isolation with a man is very dangerous, anything can happen, he may even rape you”. Aasiya said.
“When he’s not crazy, he wouldn’t dare!”. Farha said admitting indirectly of visiting Daniel.
“Look at you, you are underestimating shaytan’s work, please fear Allah and the day you shall return to him in full account of your deeds on earth. The punishment of fornication is very severe and Allah’s punishment is real. Premarital sex should be avoided like a plague. Don’t let anyone deceive you to incur the wrath of Allah please. If you haven’t engaged in it, please don’t do it, but if you have, please return to Allah in sincere repentance and don’t go back to sin again.” Aasiya concluded and rested her back on the wall.
“Thank you very much Aasiya, I am very grateful” Farha said remorsefully. “Although” I’ve not fallen in it, but I was nursing the idea of doing it, now that you’ve admonished me concerning Zinaa, I will not do it”. She said shaking her head.
“Alhamdulillah.” Aasiya said happily and they embraced each other.
Farha had a thoughtful night ruminating about Aasiya’s admonitions. She promised herself never to engage in hugging, shaking, caressing, kissing again till after marriage. She vowed not to incur Allah’s wrath by going against his injuctions but marrying Daniel still stands.