[Apology to my non Yoruba readers, today’s episode is full of Yoruba quotes and proverbs. I probably thought I could convey my message better using my language but don’t you worry, I translated to the best of my ability…..thanks].
The journey to the hospital was full of panic. My brother drove speedily and in no time we arrived a nearby hospital. His wife quickly got down and ran into the hospital and was back with two nurses and a stretcher. They put mum on the stretcher and wheeled her into the hospital. She was taken into the ward where she was attended to without much delay.
My brother went to make payment while my sister-in law and I held hands and prayed silently to Allah to resuscitate mother’s health. I suddenly released my sister in law’s hold from mine and started pacing up and down the ward frontal. She walked up to me and dragged me to a seat.
“Calm down please, mum would be fine.” Hafsoh comforted me.
“Sister you don’t understand, if anything happens to mum, dad will lynch me. I don’t want to be the child who sends her mother to a journey of no return, I don’t want to be blamed for her death.” I lamented amidst tears.
“Please calm down and worry less. She isn’t going to die. Does she have any history of hypertension?” Hafsoh asked and I stared strangely at her as if I haven’t heard of the word hypertension before.
“No I don’t think she’s hypertensive.” I blurted out.
“Alright, let the doctors do their work while we hope for the best.” My sister in law said and this time the doctor walked out of the ward. We both jumped up and ran to him.
“Doctor how’s she?” We chorused.
“She’s stable but I’ll like to see the man among you.” The doctor said and my heart sank again.
“Doctor I thought you said she’s stable, why do you want to see my brother again?” I queried anxiously.
“There’s no problem at all. I just want to give him some information.” The doctor replied and walked briskly away without waiting to be queried further.
I wasn’t convinced all is well and I broke into tears again. My heart was really heavy and I had series of thoughts going on in my head. My brother walked up to us now and we conveyed the doctor’s message to him. He turned back and headed to the doctor’s office. I buried my head in my palms and wept again.
“Please Ramlah calm down, the doctor said she’s fine.” My sister in law said again trying to calm me down.
“If she’s fine why does he need to see my brother?” I argued.
“You heard him, he needed to give him some information.” Hafsoh said and I nodded my head and dried my tears with faith.
Minutes after, my brother walked out of the doctor’s office and we bombarded him with questions.
“Both of you should calm down please! Ramlah do you know before now that mum is hypertensive?” My brother asked me.
“Is she?” I replied with a question.
“I am as surprised as you are.” My brother replied.
“Someone might be hypertensive and not know if he/she doesn’t go for checkups. Some symptoms are normal malaria symptoms like headache and fatigue and if the person doesn’t pay heed, he may be treating malaria all the time whereas it is hypertension he’s suffering from.” My brother’s wife explained and my brother and I heaved a long sigh.
“So brother mi, what did the doctor say?” I asked anxiously.
“Mum is hypertensive, her blood pressure rose to 180 and that was why she slumped. He said she’s stable now but we can’t see her yet.” My brother explained and I cried again.
“I caused it, I caused it……..I caused my mother’s illness.” I said amidst tears.
“Please don’t blame yourself, you never knew she’s hypertensive.” Hafsoh tried to console me but my brother was silent.
We were not allowed into her ward until very late in the evening when the doctor said we could go in for just a short period. We opened the door quietly and walked in. She was getting a drip while laying down on the bed. Her eyes were wide open and to our surprise, she smiled as we moved closer to her.
“Mum how are you feeling now?” We all chorused.
“I am fine, very much better.” She replied as she tried to sit up but Hafsoh told her to stay put.
“Mum I am sorry.” I muttered.
“You should be you silly girl! Do you want to kill me?” She snapped.
“Mum please take it easy, you’re just recovering….. and you Ramlah don’t bring any issue up for now okay.” Brother Ahmad cautioned.
“Okay!” I replied dully.
I fed mum some food and after ishai, my brother and his wife left for home leaving me to spend the night with mum. Before my brother left, she warned me never to raise any issue concerning marriage with mum and if she mentioned it, I should try to ignore her by changing the topic.
I did as my brother advised and didn’t raise any issue with her, marriage or not. She wasn’t even available for talks as she slept all through the night, probably a sleeping drug was in her drip. I sat on an arm chair adjacent her bed and watched her till day break just dozing once in a while.
I got up by 3:00am in the morning to say my qiyyamul-layl. I couldn’t thank Allah enough for sparing my mother’s life. I would have been stigmatized for being a child who kills her mother. Her family would have grinded my bones and feed them to the birds in the sky. The scars of killing my own mother wouldn’t heal for life and I might live with the hunting for a life time.
That moment I had nothing in mind than to please my mother, she carried me in her belly for nine months, breast fed me for months as well and cared for me from cradle till the present moment. It wouldn’t be too much if I sacrifice my happiness for her. That was my conclusion during Tahajud and I decided to let her know of my decision once she gets better.
After Fajr I observed my Subh prayer after which I decided to take a walk, my mum was still sleeping so I thought I should stretch my body by taking a walk. I walked round the hospital and upon getting back into my mum’s ward, she was already sitting up on the bad while in gloominess. I moved closer to her and sat beside her on her bed. I locked my hands in hers but she didn’t look at me. I was confused on what to do to take her out of the gloominess when a thought suddenly ran through my head. I leaned my head on her shoulder and started singing.
“Iya l’olu gbowo mi [Mother is my caretaker]
To t’oju mi ni kekere [She cares for me when I was small]
Eyin re lo fi pon’mi [She carried me on her back]
Iyaa ku’se mi [I say well done to you]
Emi ki’ya mi ku’se pelu teriba mole [I say well done, well done to you. With a lot of respect to you
Emi koni k’ose fun’ya mi mo iya! Iya!! Iya!!! [I’ll never disobey my mother! Mother!! Mother!!!]
I leaned on her shoulder while singing the song severally with tears cascading my eyes. After a while she told me to stare into her eyeballs which I refused at first but on her insistence, I stared shyly into her eyeballs and she poured out her mind.
“What love should you have for a man that should surpass your mother’s love? What love should make you be blinded to see your mother’s pains?” She asked and I replied in tears.
“Mum please don’t let us talk about this now, when you get better we will.” I said crying.
“I am very much better and I need to talk to you now…………. Ramlah what you don’t realize is that………..Aya a’ma yalo nigba isoro [A wife may leave in times of adversity] oko a’ma koni nigba asise [A husband may call for divorce when a wrong occurs] sugbon obi nikan ni apata ti’kii deyin leyin omo. [However a parent is the only rock which stood forever in support of a child] A kii tori pe afe lo sede ka’ba ede je nitori ta’ba kuro le’de ede la o pada si. [You don’t severe kinship with your family simply because of marriage because if anything goes wrong in your marriage, you definitely have nowhere to return to except your family. This simply means that your family is yours and you shouldn’t treat them with insolence because you want to go meet a stranger whom you fell in love with along the line, forgetting that your family had loved you even before you were born.”
“Mummy please you don’t need to talk further because of your health. I perfectly understand you and I am ready to do your wish please don’t talk again.” I pleaded in tears.
“Really! You’re ready to leave Haarith and marry Tohib?” She asked with a lit face.
“Yes mummy anything for you.” I replied
“Oh thank you my baby. Your child shall never disobey you. As you’ve made me happy so shall you find happiness all the days of your life.” She prayed cheerfully.
“Aameen.” I responded.
“You see my dear, do not think I deprived you of marrying the one you love. Like I always tell you, there’s more to marriage than love. It is when the mind is at peace that a love can grow, in polygamy the mind can never be at peace so now tell me, how can the love grow in such situation? You will grow to love Tohib, he’s a very good man who will treat you like a queen and when a man treats his wife well, the love will blossom because love is reciprocal, if you inhale it you must definitely exhale it.” Mum lectured to which I nodded my head. She suddenly looked cheerful and happiness radiated in her eyes.
The door of the ward opened and my brother walked in with his wife. They noticed my mum’s happy mood and were surprised how she was able to get better so quickly. Hafsoh brought out the food and I fed her. To everyone’s surprise, mum got better sooner than expected and the doctor also confirmed it was a miracle. Her blood pressure got back to normal and all results shows she was fine and could be discharged.
She got discharged after spending three days in the hospital as opposed the indefinite number of days as earlier proposed by the doctor. Our distress was relieved and we smiled home. We didn’t tell dad she was sick, all we told him was that mum wanted to bond a little with us before coming home.
Two days after she was discharged from the hospital, she was returning home and I also packed my stuffs without waiting for a reminder. I had accepted my faith, though it was hard but my mum’s life was on the line and I had no choice. Even my brother could not object to mum’s imposition again, it was really beyond him now and we were all careful so that mum won’t have an attack again.
We got home and my brother who took us home explained everything concerning mum’s health to dad but didn’t mention that I triggered her ill health. Dad promised he would follow up on her and that she would do a regular checkup henceforth, eat appropriately and made sure she doesn’t have emotional disturbance.
I needed someone to share my worry with and luckily for me, Yusuf was home so I poured my heart to him. I had been looking for a shoulder to lean on and Yusuf offered me his. I told him everything that happened in Lagos in tears and how I have promised mum to do her wish. He felt my pains but was helpless. Just like brother Ahmad, he couldn’t tell me to continue fighting since mum’s life was on the line. He just prayed to Allah to ease my burden and make whatever step I take worthwhile.
It was drawing near to the time Tohib would be travelling to the US and since he wanted me to leave with him, time wasn’t much on our side so the wedding had to be rushed. The weekend mum and I arrived Abeokuta, He came to see my parents and he needed no introduction as mum had already endorsed him. Dad told him to bring his parents the next weekend so that a date could be fixed for the wedding ceremony but a solemnization might hold the day he’s bringing his parents.
A truck couldn’t contain my tears that day as reality dawned on me that I was a step closer to becoming Tohib’s wife. I cried very bitterly for myself. How pitiable can one be, all my life I had wished to marry a Hausa man. Haarith came my way and it was an instant connection. For years I denied him simply because of my mum and just when I told him I would marry him, like a pack of card, my dream came crumbling in my very eyes.
I had envisaged marrying him and I had planned a future with him. I had built a castle of love for both of us but little did I know that I was building a castle in the air, the wind came and blew my castle away. My hope dashed and my happiness lost, how pitiable can I be but a choice is definitely far from me as I had to swallow the bitter taste of defeat.
When Tohib was leaving on that day, he summoned me to walk him to the car which I obliged. He must have noticed my bulgy eyes because he asked if I had been crying. I stared at him and shook my head before speaking.
“Tohib why me, of all girls that exist in this world why should it be me?” I asked calmly.
“I chose you because you have a good family, I chose you because you are a good girl. You see, I have been disappointed severally by women which made me settle for a girl with a noble background like you.”
“Disappointed by women! How?”
“Okay it’s like this, it’s either I find a girl with a good behavior that doesn’t have a good family or a girl with a good family who has a character deficiency or a girl with both herself and her family faulty. I told my mum of my predicament and she recommended your family. I wasn’t disappointed at all as a good girl like you has a great family. Do you think wanting to die on your neck is for nothing? The day I met you I came to the end of my search, omo to niwa to’de lewa please allow me prove my love to you.” He pleaded.
“I have allowed you already, I have got no choice. This is all I can do to make my mother stay happy and alive.” I said dully.
“………And you’ll never regret giving me a chance.” He said and I asked for permission to leave before his drooling mouth report me of insolence again.
The days that followed before the next weekend were very tough for me. The thought of running away crossed my mind but I quickly waved it. Where exactly do I run to, running away would further deteriorate my mum’s health so I better stay and accept my defeat while hoping to get the best out of a loveless marriage. Mum says love is reciprocal, who knows if I inhaled it I might exhale it, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give it a try I consoled myself.
The days drew nearer and within the twinkle of an eye, the Saturday Tohib would be bringing his family to decide my fate came. That morning after sallah I stayed in bed and didn’t go out. My mum had bought three different attires for me to wear and they were laying on my bed without me touching any of it. She walked into my room and cheered me on, I pretended to be happy so that she wouldn’t be worried. She rained prayers on me before leaving my room. After she walked out a thought crossed my mind.
Since I knew I would be marrying Tohib, I didn’t call Haarith and he didn’t call me either. My brother must have told him everything that is happening. That morning I decided to call him not for any reason in particular just to hear his voice for the last time. I dialed his no and it rang but he didn’t pick. I continued dialing for the umpteenth time. He later picked up and as soon as I heard his voice, I broke into tears. He was saying ‘Ramlah Hello’ but I continued crying. He hanged up but I called back, this time around when he picked I summoned some courage and spoke to him.
“Hello Haarith…………you …..you…..you…..you have forsaken me.” I said at last.
“I didn’t forsake you Ramlah, I will be wicked if I continued disturbing you amidst family hullabaloo.” He said.
“Please I don’t want to marry him, come and abscond with me.” I blurted out and he screamed
“I’ll do no such thing Ramlah. I know how you feel but get a grip on yourself. This is the reality, maybe we weren’t meant to be. Accept whoever your parents want and I pray Allah blesses your union.” He prayed and hanged up before I could say any other thing.
I dialed his line again but no matter how much it rang, he didn’t pick and after a while he switched off his phone. I dried my tears and faced the reality. I picked one of the attire my mum got for me and wore it, I put my jilbab on it and sat on the bed ready to become Tohib’s wife. Moments later my mum came to call me that our guests had arrived and I should get ready, my heart sank at the information. I could also hear brother Ahmad’s voice, he had told me he would be coming around but I was indifferent.
I sat on my bed with arms akimbo, my tears had dried off now and no matter how much I tried to weep, the tears aren’t coming again. My mind had prepared for the worst. I could hear my mum as she hailed her friend ‘Toyin tomato! Toyin tomato!!’ and I shook my head. She toyed with my heart just to cement her friendship with Toyin tomato. I was still in this thought when my mum came to call me that my attention is needed in the living room.
I walked out sluggishly like a lifeless being and it took me forever to get to the living room. I peeped before entering and saw the so called in law. They were like twenty of them. My brother was sitting quietly watching as they talked and laughed. As a deputy parent I could read his displeasure and sadness. He not only wanted me to marry his good friend, he also wanted me to be happy and obviously he wasn’t happy because he knew I wasn’t happy.
I walked upon them at last and Alhaja Toyin ran to embrace me showering me with prayers.
“Oh Ramlah my wife, you shall have twins, triplets and quadruplets for my son, I shall carry your children with this my hands and back them with my back.” She prayed amidst smiles while others responded with Aamin.
Alhaja Toyin made me sit down beside her and the families were deliberating on how the wedding would take place when we heard a deafening noise from the gate. We all paused to absorb what the noise could be and before we could say Jack, our gateman ran into the living room panting heavily. We all stood up immediately as he scared us by his frightening entrance. He was panting very heavily and we were about to ask him what happened when a woman walked in with a broken bottle on her hands. We fixed our gazes on the woman as we were very surprised, I didn’t remember inviting a hooligan. My dad turned to the woman and queried her.
“Young woman, did you miss your road? This is not a motor park or a paraga joint. What are you doing with a broken bottle in my house?” My dad queried impatiently and the lady responded under heavy breath.
“Sir I didn’t miss my road and I am not here to hurt anyone as long as my husband follows me home.” She shouted and I and my family were amazed with mouth agape.
“Young woman, I said you missed your road, you were arguing with me. Your husband isn’t here at all.” My dad said again.
“I said my husband is here and I have come to fetch him, tell Tohib my husband to follow me now or I’ll unleash my terror.” She threatened and my family was dazed.
“What!!! Who did you say your husband is? Brother Ahmad queried.
“Tohib of course, tell him to follow me before I dip this broken bottle in his stomach.” She threatened again and this time around Alhaja Toyin had something to say.
“You this devilish woman, how did you get to know this place?” Alhaja Toyin asked her supposed daughter in law and she gave a sarcastic laughter before responding.
“There’s no hiding place for evil doers like you. After you chased me out of your son’s house, you now have the gut to come seek another woman’s hand in marriage. It’s not possible. A friend of mine informed me about this and I had to run here. I am still Tohib’s legal wife and until I say otherwise he isn’t allowed to marry another or else I’ll kill him and kill the other woman then kill myself as well. When we get to God in heaven, we’ll conclude the season film.” The woman threatened again and my family was too astonished to say a word, however my mother quickly rebuked her threat of killing the other woman which is me.
“My daughter will never be a victim of your wickedness you idiot. My daughter shall not die by your hands, please leave my house.” Mother retorted and Tohib reiterated what she said.
“Please leave this place this minute.” Tohib instructed his supposed wife.
“I am not going anywhere without you.” She fired back and this time around my mum found her voice again.
“Young lady please are you truly Tohib’s wife?” My mum asked.
“Yes Tohib is my husband whom I had a girl with and my daughter isn’t a love child. We are legitimately married.” She explained to our amazement and my mum turned to her friend.
“Toyin, Toyin Toyin!! How many times did I call you? Please tell me that this woman is lying.” My mum said impatiently and her friend stuttered a reply.
“Errrrrrm……………Ermmmmmm…….please don’t mind this devilish woman they are no longer together.” Alhaja Toyin replied and my mum got mad.
“Toyin I am not asking if they are still together or not, what I want to hear from you is if they’re actually married or not.” My mum retorted.
“Ermmmmm…..they’re married but presently separated. This woman is a hell of a trouble, I had to chase her away because I don’t want to lose my son. She results to violence whenever they have misunderstandings.” Alhaja Toyin explained but my mum wasn’t moved.
“They are married?……….they are married?………and you didn’t tell me your son is married?………..You don’t want to lose your son but you want me to lose my daughter, or is this not death that paid me a visit? [mum said pointing to Tohib’s wife] Ah Inu ma jin o…………inu ma jin o……………inu ma jin ooooooo.” [Human heart is full of vices] My mother repeated and dad cautioned her to take it easy because of her health.
“Mama Ahmad please take it easy and calm your nerves…………Inu nikan ko’lo jin, imu gan nika ti o je a gborun asebi.” [Human heart is not only full of vices but the nose is also wicked for not perceiving anomaly] My dad said in surprise and it was Tohib’s turn to defend himself.
“Please take easy ma and sir……….we are sorry if we disappointed you but I told Ramlah…………….” Tohib was trying to say when I interrupted sharply.
“You didn’t tell me anything ooooooooo.” I shouted
“I told you I have had disappointments from women…………….” He argued but I quickly interrupted again.
“……And when has disappointment means I am married………..or am I a witch to know that the disappointment you’re talking about is marriage………….please don’t even turn around to accuse me.” I warned and brother Ahmad had something to say.
“This is appalling…………awful………..horrid and hideous……….I can’t believe mum trusted her friend so much and she didn’t do any findings about Tohib. This is really unbelievable!!” My brother said and headed outside while humming a song. “Ero ti n r’oko, ero ti n r’odo, ojo ti’yawo ba na omo oko oro ni o sora re.” My brother walked out while humming this song but dad called him back.
“Ahmad you can’t leave us in this mess.” My dad said.
“Mum created the mess, let her clear it.” My brother said and walked out.
Tohib dragged his trouble shooter wife outside while I ran into my room in tears and shut my door, I couldn’t stand the mess any longer. It has to be a bad dream because it wasn’t funny at all. Oh my fragile heart you have really suffered!
[Any Yoruba reader that can help with the translation of the song Ahmad sang should please do in the comment box, preferably on the blog. I don’t know how best to translate it but it is really my mood right now………..shukran……LAJFINGERS].