Haarith was boldly written in cap letters on the paper the psychologist gave to me and upon seeing this, my mum clasped her hands on her head and exclaimed.
“Ramlah! So this is all about Haarith. You’ve been making me have sleepless nights just because of a man, oh my good lord this girl is really a mess.”
My mum said and broke into tears. Dad didn’t say anything but was just heaving a sigh intermittently. The psychologists turned to my parents before speaking again.
“Please ma and sir, who’s this Haarith that your daughter wrote his name?” He asked and mum responded.
“He’s a man she wanted to marry but we objected.” Mum replied.
“…………And why did you object to her wish?”
“The man in question is a married man and my daughter cannot marry a married man.” My mum responded again and the psychologist turned to my dad.”
“Sir, is it your agreement or it’s your wife’s sole decision.” He asked.
“Well, it’s our agreement. I see no reason why my daughter should bring home a married man when single men have not gone into extinction.” My dad replied and the psychologists smiled before replying.
“Well, before I give my thought as human, allow me give my thought first as a psychologist. You see ma and sir, rejection not only hurts, but it also inflict damage to our psychological well-being that goes well beyond mere emotional pain. Rejection destabilizes our need to belong and that is exactly what is happening to your daughter. When we get rejection, the need to socialize get destabilized and the disconnection we feel adds to our emotional pain. Reconnecting with those who love us, or reaching out to people we feel strong affinity for and who value and accept us, has been found to soothe emotional pain after a rejection. Feeling alone and disconnected after a rejection, however has an often overlooked impact on our behavior. Rejection triggers angers and aggression, rejection destroys self-esteem, rejection temporarily lowers our IQ, rejection causes depression and depression when lingers for a long time causes mental illness.” The psychologist explained and my mum exclaimed
“Subhanallah you this girl really want to kill me right?” Mother exclaimed but dad told her to calm down.
“So in other words what you’re telling us now is to allow our daughter marry a married man.” My dad asked and the psychologist smiled again before responding.
“No sir I am not saying that, I am just trying to explain how the human mind works when faced with rejection. She is your daughter and you have a full right over her. I have given my thought as a psychologist, if you need my thought as a human I’ll gladly give it.”
“Please go ahead.” Dad urged.
“Okay, as a human who has blood flowing in his vein, I think you both are being selfish. You are only after your happiness and never cared what becomes of your daughter. Your appearance shows you are Muslims and your religion does not go against polygamy. Even as a Christian, there’s no where in my bible that says a man should marry only one wife. So personally polygamy isn’t a dreadful adventure for me. As parents our guidance and prayers are only required for our children not to stray. Take a very good look at your daughter, if care is not taken and she continues in this state of emotional pains, mental illness is inevitable. I’ll urge you to allow her see the said Haarith and proof me wrong.” The psychologist said bluntly and my mum gave out a loud cry, my dad heaved a sigh and spoke calmly.
“Thank you so much, we’ll definitely look for a prompt solution.” Dad said and we left the Psychologist’s office.
On our way home, inside the car, dad was driving while my mum sat beside him. I sat at the back not thinking about anything in particular. There was an uncomfortable silence before mum broke the silence. She stared at me from the mirror before speaking.
“Ramlah I know you’re pretending, you better come out of your pretence now because I won’t allow you marry a married man.” Mum said sternly.
“Mama Ahmad what exactly is your problem! Didn’t you hear what the psychologist said, he said we should allow her see Haarith first, so that we’ll know if missing him is responsible for her current state or not.”
“Before n ko? If we allow her see him, she’ll definitely be fine and that’s why I said she’s pretending. She knows if she fakes ill health we’ll be forced to dance to her tune and she’s lying.” My mum said obstinately.
“This girl has really taken after you, like mother like daughter.” My dad said.
“How is that so, I was never as stubborn as this.”
“You’re quick to forget but I didn’t forget, anyways I’ll remind you. I am an Ijebu man whom your parent’s warned you never to marry. Despite the fact that we are both from Ogun state, your parents are from Egba while mine are from Ijebu. Your parent’s doesn’t want to have anything to do with Ijebu people simply because of some bitter experience they’ve had with the Ijebu’s. Omolara you fell sick for three months without anyone knowing the cause of your sickness. You weren’t reciprocating to treatments until your uncle suggested that they invited me over. Omolara when you saw me, you suddenly got better and your parents put aside their hatred for my tribe and allowed love to thrive. I don’t know if you were pretending then or you were truly sick but all I know is that you fell ill because of a man and here is your daughter too also ill because of a man. I wouldn’t know if she’s pretending because I’ve never been in her shoes before, you were there and real eyes recognizes real lies.” My dad submitted but my mum broke into tears.
“You don’t need to cry my darling wife. What you’ve done to your parents is exactly what your daughter is doing now either consciously or subconsciously. Your parents allowed love to thrive and sent you away with prayers, you never regretted marrying me till date. Why not allow your daughter too pursue her happiness and send her with prayers instead of rejecting vehemently to her choice.” Dad said again and mum responded amidst tears.
“Now I am the bad mother who wouldn’t want her daughter to marry her choice right? You talk as if I made the decision alone. It is our collective decision so don’t put the blames on my head.” Mum argued.
“Omolara yes it was our agreement and I am not taking back my words or putting blames on you. However after much thought and coupled with the fact that this girl was suffering emotionally, I told you to let us allow her but you cited your sister’s example which is reasonable enough. As time went by my heart continue to bleed for my poor daughter and told you to let us allow her wish but you refused begging me again to support you. You came up with the issue of your friend’s son and begged me to support again, that wasn’t successful and I expected you to learn but you didn’t. Now my daughter’s sanity is on the line, should I be foolish enough to allow my daughter go mad before letting down my ego as a father? Please my hands are off.” Dad said but mum wouldn’t stop crying.
“My daughter cannot marry a married man, my heart wouldn’t be at peace if she marries a married man. I won’t be happy if she marries a married man. I don’t want anything bad to happen to my daughter.” Mum continued to lament until we reached the house.
We entered the house and dad called brother Ahmad on phone. He told him to hasten to his call and come over immediately. I walked into my room and tried to catch some sleep. I was still sleeping when there was a knock on my door. It was brother Ahmad, he’d arrived already and came to tell me that my attention is needed in the living room. I walked to the living room where the trio of mum, dad and Ahmad were sitting waiting for me. Dad cleared his throat before speaking.
“Ahmad I called you here because of your sister. I don’t know if she’s acting up but for the last three weeks she’s not been talking to anyone. We’ve been to three different hospitals and after the tests confirmed she wasn’t suffering from any ailment, we were advised to see a psychologist.” Dad explained and brother Ahmad impatiently urged him to continue.
“We saw a psychologist who told us your sister is depressed and upon findings Haarith is responsible for my daughter’s depression.” Dad explained and my brother stared strangely at me before responding.
“Ramlah you’re kidding right?” My brother said but I didn’t reply.
“See Ahmad, why I called you here exactly is not to apportion blame to anyone but to rectify the situation. Since Haarith is your friend, make your findings about him and feed me back with the result. If I am comfortable with his deen and character then I’ll give my daughter to him. Please Ahmad fear Allah and don’t be subjective just because he is your friend, remember it’s your sister’s life we are talking about.” Dad said and mum registered her displeasure by giving a loud hiss. She got up and walked out while dad followed her.
I was left in the living room with my brother and he gave a sarcastic laughter before speaking.
“Ramlah I can’t believe you fell ill because of a man. What happened to your voice, are you pretending?” He said but I was mute.
“This is serious, but Ramlah you said it in clear terms that you don’t want Haarith again so why the sudden depression because of him. I have told him you said you don’t want him again so how do I tell him again that you’re sick because of him………….how………….” My brother was saying when his phone rang.
He picked his call and the cellphone was audible enough for me to hear his conversations. I heard Haarith’s voice and my heart ran a marathon of somersault. I adjusted myself on the chair and I needed not strain my ears for I could hear them loud and clear.
“Hello bro, I am in Lagos, I want to come say hi. Are you home?” Haarith asked.
“Oh bro, how have you been? Good to hear you are in town but I am presently not in Lagos.” Ahmad replied.
“Gosh…and I was really excited about seeing you…………where are you?”
“I am at my parents in Abeokuta…………………..Ramlah is sick…………”
“What! Ramlah is sick……..what happened……..you know what…. I am coming to Abeokuta right away.” He said with shaky voice and hanged up.
My brother dropped the phone gently on the table as tears cascaded his cheeks. He brought out a handkerchief from his pocket to dry his tears. I wanted to ask why he was crying but I couldn’t bring myself to talk. He stared at me with tears filled eyes and spoke calmly.
“I haven’t seen this type of love before, Ramlah I am sorry. I thought you meant what you said, I never knew you were talking out of frustration. Don’t worry Haarith still loves you………..he heard you are sick and his voice became shaky all of a sudden. Go to your room now and rest, when he is around I’ll come and call you.” My brother said and I got up and walked to my room.
Inside my room, I cried too because I couldn’t just explained what came over me. I couldn’t believe I fell ill because of a man, I couldn’t believe I have to subject my family to troubles and tears before they could allow me do my wish. My mum wasn’t happy with my choice yet and from dad’s speeches earlier in the car, mum had been the one instigating him. Dad had apparently surrendered and mum wouldn’t be able to go far on her own but all the same I still needed her happiness and not for her to be sad at my choice.
The Prophet’s hadith came like a flash to my memory. A man went to him and said, o messenger of God! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship? The prophet said your mother. The man said: then who? The prophet said: then your mother. The man further asked, then who? The prophet said then your mother. The man asked again, Then who? The prophet said: then your father” Reminiscing this Hadith made me realize I just have to make my mother happy with my choice.
More so when Allah said in Q 46 verse 15 that ‘We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents, in pains did his mother bear him and in pain did she give birth to him’. I don’t want to make my mum sad and I wish to marry the man I love which is why I must apply wisdom henceforth. My mother must be wholeheartedly happy with my choice and only then could I be happy in my man’s world. I smiled suddenly when I remembered what dad said in the car, I actually took after my mum. She fell ill because of a man and I am also doing the same. Blood can’t be cheated and I am the true daughter of my mum, only if she would agree that I am her complete replica in terms of look and character and be lenient with me.
I was smiling now as I remembered everything is turning out in my favour and just a black spot which I planned to erase with wisdom. I checked the wall clock and a feeling of anxiety engulfed me. I couldn’t wait for Haarith to come, I couldn’t wait to see him, I couldn’t wait to scream out his name and behold his handsome face. I was smiling beautifully and the happiness I felt deep inside of me was indescribable.
It was Zuhr time now and I hurried to make ablution and stood in prayers, I was in my last sujud when my phone rang. I knew it’s a good news and I smiled deliciously. I said the final teslim and reached for my phone. I saw my brother’s missed call and I knew he’s around. The one who made my heart flutters is around, my happiness is around, the one who hold the keys to my heart is definitely around. I was still in my thought when my phone rang again and my heart sank for the umpteenth time. I picked my phone and it was the information I had been eagerly expecting.
“Ramlah please stay in your room we’ll come over.” My brother said and I quickly lied on the bed and covered myself with a duvet. I obviously looked worried and it was as if I carried the burden of the whole universe on my head, I wasn’t talking either or responding but other than that, I didn’t look like a patient in the hospital so I just have to form real sickness.
I covered myself and closed my eyes, I was hearing footsteps now and my heart beat faster than normal. I didn’t open my eyes but I heard their footsteps as they walked in and I could also feel their presence. I could hear their voices as they discussed in low tone.
“How long has she been like this?” Haarith asked
“Dad said three weeks. She hasn’t been talking or responding but aside that she’s fine. She’s sleeping now as you can see.” Brother Ahmad replied.
“Not talking and not responding is what you call fine? No she isn’t fine and I am worried.”
“Don’t worry, she’ll be fine.” My brother said.
“Ramlah if you can hear me, I still love you and my feelings for you hasn’t changed. I met your dad now and he said I can go ahead and marry you………………” He was saying when I quickly jumped up and yanked the duvet away.
My gaze and his locked and I called out his name with tears rolling down my cheeks. My brother was surprised I spoke and he gave a triumphant smile. Haarith smiled too before speaking again.
“I am glad you found your voice. The obstacles are over and I should renew my proposal immediately…….. Ramlah will you marry me?” Haarith proposed again with a smile.
“Yes I will marry you, I am sorry I had to make you worry. I’ll marry you over and over again.” I said with happiness as tears of joy cascaded my cheeks.
“I am glad to hear that………………..I never stopped loving you and my love for you is renewed one more time.” Haarith said with a grin and my brother held his hands and spoke.
“Okay love birds……….it’s good to see both of you happy again. Ramlah go back to sleep while we return to the living room. Dad wants to see your husband to be.” Brother Ahmad said and I nodded my head.
They both walked out of my room and I quickly got up. Why should I sleep when my life is about to take a good turn. The intensity of my happiness right now wouldn’t even allow me sleep. I put my ears to the door to eavesdrop on the discussion that is about to take place between my dad and Haarith and I could hear them audibly.
“How is she now?” My dad asked directing his question to no one in particular between them but brother Ahmad answered him.
“Dad you won’t believe she spoke upon seeing Haarith.” Ahmad replied.
“Really so this young man has been the one holding my daughter’s speech.” Dad said and I could hear as they all laughed.
“So tell me Young man, what plan do you have for my daughter?” Dad asked.
“I’ll love to marry her sir and I’ll be glad if my request is granted.” Haarith replied.
“But you have a wife, why do you need a second wife?” Dad asked and my heart sank, there he go again, I thought in fear.
“Sir Islam is a practical religion, it’s laws are in line with human nature. It does not deny the natural forces in human, rather it confronts them and provides guidance to control them without disrupting the peace in the society. In the society today, polygamy is frowned at and adultery is rampant. In spite of all attempts to promote monogamous relationships, many married men have mistresses or are involved in extra-marital affairs resulting in higher divorce rates, broken families, diseases and bastards. A Muslim man can’t fool around with the excuse of fulfilling nature when Islam has clearly bailed him out. Coupled with all this aforementioned reasons is the fact that I love Ramlah and my love for her is sincere.” Haarith replied and there was silence, I was beginning to panic if his reply does not meet my father’s demands when dad replied.
“I love your response, you’re intelligent………..but I am not convinced, how do you put two women under one roof without them tearing each other to pieces. Even one woman is difficult to manage how much more of two.” My dad said again.
“Marriage generally isn’t a bed of roses and polygamy as a type of marriage is not expected to be a bed of roses because monogamy isn’t close to a bed of roses either. With fear of Allah and sincerity of purpose, polygamy can be sweet with less challenge. I don’t intend to put my wives under the same roof, I have in my house, three apartments. My wife is presently using one and I intend to put Ramlah in the second……………” Haarith was explaining when my dad quickly interrupted.
“……………And the third for the third wife?” My dad asked sharply and I could hear brother Ahmad’s laughter.
“No sir I haven’t even married the second, why should I preserve a house for the third………my third apartment is used by my brother.” Haarith replied.
“Alright, it’s time for Asr already, we shall continue our discussions after Asr.” Dad said and I wasn’t hearing anything again, they must have left for the mosque, I thought.
Minutes after, they returned from the mosque and I was hearing their voices again but this time around I wasn’t interested in eavesdropping so I just lied on my bed basking in the euphoria of the victory that was most likely inevitable going by the present situation.
It was very late in the evening when my brother and his friend returned to Lagos. I received my brother’s call who informed me they were leaving but told me not to bother coming out. After they left I walked to the living room where I saw dad watching the TV. He smiled at me and told me to sit down.
“Ramlah Ramlah……my darling daughter who has taken after my darling wife in everything.” Dad teased and I smiled.
“Don’t worry………..your choice is good. He is a good man I can say for sure. Ahmad your brother is a pleasant son and his choice of friend is as pleasant. I interrogated Haarith and I am pleased with him. I see him as a man who will be able to take proper charge of his home. He won’t please one to hurt the other, and he won’t make one smile when the other is crying. He is sincere and as an elderly person I could read his sincerity. Moreover I want you to be happy so you have my consent and I have told him to bring his people.” Dad said and I jumped up happily and ran to embrace him.”
“Thank you daddy……….you’ll never regret making me happy.” I said and all of a sudden, the smile I was wearing disappeared. Dad noticed my countenance and asked a question.
“Are you thinking about your mum?” He asked and I nodded my head.
“Don’t worry I’ll talk to her and she’ll come around.” Dad promised and I hugged and thanked him again.
That night before I slept, I called Haarith who told me they’d arrived Lagos. He told me to stay healthy for him as we’re a step closer to achieving our dreams. I wanted to chat more with him so I asked why he was in Lagos.
“Why do you wanna know that?” He teased.
“I just want to know……….tell me now.” I pleaded
“Well I came to Lagos to see your brother.”
“Why are you so inquisitive?”
“Tell me joor.”
“I wasn’t going to accept that you’ve truly left me so I had to come to see your brother and probably beg him to beg you for me.” He confessed
“Really! What a terrible stalker you are.”
“And you are a terrible headache that refused to go away.”
“Hmmmm, okay…………how’s Haleemah and the champs?”
“My love is fine and my champs are fine.” He replied and I was silent.
“Ramlah why are you not responding………….are you jealous?”
“Hmmm not at all…………..I am marrying a married man so I already prepared my mind for all these.”
“Good………..and I love you.”
“I love you more.” I replied and fell asleep immediately after the call was ended.
Peaceful was the definition of my sleep that night. I haven’t had a peaceful sleep in a while and my body, heart and soul was refreshed after waking up the following day.
With so much happiness exhuming from me, I observed my sallah and went straight to the kitchen after that to make breakfast. I washed the rice and was about to pour it into the boiled water on the fire when a thought suddenly crossed my mind. The thought of checking my mum in her room engulfed me and I hurriedly poured the rice and walked to her room. I knocked the door and she asked me to come in. I greeted her but she gave a cold reply.
“Mum I am sorry.” I muttered
“Sorry for yourself.” She replied coldly.
“Mum try to understand, I love him.”
“I understand now, sebi your dad has told you the story of our love and you must be capitalizing on that right?”
“No mum I am not.”
“Even if you do, I am your mother and I have the right to be pleased with your choice of partner and before you people take me as a witch, I’ll give my consent too but on one condition.” She said and my heart skipped.
“What’s the condition?” I asked anxiously.
“You and I will go on a journey, the outcome of that journey will determine if I’ll give my consent or not.” She said.
“A journey?” I marveled.
“Yes a journey.” She replied.
“What journey is that?”
“You’ll get to know.” She replied.