No matter how much I asked my mum about the destination of our journey, she wouldn’t disclose. I called my brother and informed him of the new gimmick mum had come up with. He advised me to tell dad about it which I did. My dad told me mum had informed him about it and that I shouldn’t panic.
“She told me about the journey and asked me not to disclose the destination to you so that you wouldn’t tell Haarith but don’t you worry you’re safe. Let us do everything to please her okay.” Dad said.
“Okay dad.” I replied and was a little bit relieved.
A week after, mum told me it was time to go on the journey and my heart sank. I wondered where she was taking me to and I created a lot of imaginations in my head without getting any headway. Dad told me the driver would be taking us to the airport which further arose my curiosity and anxiety. Where could it be that we had to travel by air and not by road? What exactly was mum up to, what was she trying to do? I asked myself but couldn’t provide an answer.
We hopped into dad’s car at about 5:30 in the morning and the journey to the airport in Lagos was in silence. I looked out of the window with my heart beating fast and with a million thought going through my head. We got to the airport eventually and during the process of boarding, I discovered our destination was Edo state and I heaved a troubled sigh. It was a 7:00am flight from Lagos to Binin. My second journey by air, throughout my four years in ABU Zaria, I only got to travel by air once. This particular journey must be very important for mum to book a flight and a return flight had also been booked for 7:00pm same day.
I needed not be told again that mum was taking me to Haleemah’s family home but why was what I couldn’t fathom. We didn’t sit together inside the plane so I didn’t have the opportunity to ask her why she wanted to do such a thing.
The plane landed and we negotiated with a taxi in the airport. Mum told the taxi man the address and I smiled wryly, she must have done a thorough investigation for her to know the address, the investigation she couldn’t do when her friend’s son was involved. I wasn’t happy at all because I don’t know the motive behind this journey but do I have a choice? No I had to obey the last order.
We entered the taxi and journeyed to God knows where in silence. I stared at the woman sitting beside me and saw a very determined woman who would go to any length to satisfy herself. I was still staring at her when she turned to look at me, I quickly took my eyes away. I wasn’t bold enough to ask why we were on a mission to Benin. I guessed she read my mind because she started talking now without being asked.
“I want to know the kind of home the woman whom my daughter would be sharing a man with comes from.” Mum said and I was marveled.
“Mummy!!” I exclaimed.
“If you shout again I’ll give you a hot slap.” She said sharply.
“Mum this isn’t necessary at all, you mean we had to journey all the way from Abeokuta just to know the kind of family Haleemah comes from? I am not marrying into Haleemah’s family but into Haarith’s family so if anything at all, we should visit Haarith’s family home and not Haleemah’s.” I grumbled.
“It’s very necessary, in fact it’s important. I want to know who are parents are, I want to know the kind of mindset they have. I want to know everything about her. In many cases, the wife may not have a cruel behavior but her mother or other relative may be fighting for her, physically and diabolically. My sister’s co-wife was able to run away just because we don’t know who her family was. As a mother it’s very important for me to know all this information and make sure there’s no problem before my daughter proceeds.” My mum said with a strong will.
“So……..when are you going to make findings about Haarith’s family or that isn’t important?” I teased.
“I supposed your brother has already done that, it’s a kind of division of labour. Your dad and brother should handle Haarith’s side while I handle his wife’s side.”
“I don’t think it’s necessary all the same. What are you going to say when you get there?” I asked while twisting my mouth.
“You just wait and see.” She replied and I heaved a long sigh.
We made the rest of the journey in silence and after some minutes, the taxi driver pulled over in front of a black gate and announced that we’ve got to our destination. My mum paid the fare and we alighted. We walked to the gate and mum knocked gently on the door while I had my arms akimbo. She knocked severally before a little boy of about 10 opened the gate for us. Mum greeted him and he asked questions before allowing us in.
“Who are you ma and who do you seek?” The little boy asked my mum.
“Tell him we’re from his son in law, Haarith.” Mum said to the little boy and upon hearing Haarith’s name, he told us to come in.
We walked into the compound and into the house. The boy asked us to sit while he went inside to fetch his grandmother. My mum sat but I didn’t sit, my heart was beating very fast and the fear of the unknown engulfed me. Mum told me to sit but I refused, I kept standing till Haleemah’s mother came upon us. We greeted her and mum was about to say something when Haleemah’s mother moved closer to me and smiled.
“Are you not Ramlah?” Mama Haleemah asked and my heart sank before responding.
“Yes I am ma.” I replied with a dry throat.
“Yes my eyes can’t deceive me. I haven’t met you before but I saw your picture on Awwa’s copy of the graduation journal. Please have your seat and how are you darling?” She asked with a smile.”
“I am fine ma.” I replied while sitting down but my mind was still troubled.
“We’re expecting your friend today, she’s coming from Lagos to pay us a visit.” Mama Haleemah announced and I replied okay with a forced smile.
“I need not ask if this is your mum because you share a striking semblance. Are you in Benin for a function?” She asked and my mum quickly replied.
“No we aren’t here for a function. Actually we’ve come to pay you a visit.” Mum said and the woman adjusted herself on the chair.
“Hope there’s no problem?” Mama Haleemah asked with an obviously worried look.
“There’s no problem at all…..actually I have brought this your daughter to you. Of all the men that exist in the whole world, she chooses to marry your daughter’s husband. I have told her to look for a single man but she insisted that she loves Haarith and must marry him.” Mum explained trying to play a good Samaritan who wouldn’t hurt another but Mama Haleemah smiled before responding.
“Is this how you behave in your place?” Mama Haleemah asked and my heart ran another round of somersault.
This is real trouble, what does she mean by ‘is this how we behave in our place? Does she mean is this how we snatch husbands in our place? I was still thinking when my mum replied her.
“We don’t understand you at all.” Mum asked.
“I mean is this how you behave honorably in your place? Actually I don’t see the importance of you people coming to see me. I don’t have any right to stop my son in law from taking another wife and I don’t have a problem with it either. I have two daughters who are second wives in their respective marriages and Awwa her friend is one of them isn’t it Ramlah?” Mama Haleemah asked me.
“Yes ma….Haleemah is a second wife.” I replied with a shaky voice.
“Did you hear that Mama Ramlah. I am a Muslim who believes in the Qur’an and every message it entails. In as much as I don’t have a problem giving my daughter in marriage to be a second wife, I shouldn’t have a problem with it when my daughter is about to have a co-wife as well. Life is very simple and in the obedience of the creator does heart find peace and tranquility. There’s absolutely nothing we can do to change destiny. These children need our prayers for guidance and for their overall well being, after that let’s leave their affairs in the hands of the one that knows it all.” Mama Haleemah said and my mum couldn’t do more than heave a sigh and she continued.
“Although I am just hearing it for the first time that Haarith wants to marry Ramlah but all the same who am I to stop it. Mama Ramlah I am a woman who has trained her children to accept anything life throws at them so far it’s not against the teachings of Islam. I am very sure Haleemah has no problem with her husband taking another wife and I’ll still call her and talk to her. Don’t worry Mama Ramlah I understand your fear and it’s just natural for a mother to feel the way you’re feeling.” Mama Haleemah said and my mum and I were dumbfounded, we were just staring at her like a magic.
She noticed our surprise countenance and she smiled again before speaking.
“Don’t be surprised, I am also a woman who has two co-wives and I won’t say it’s been easy but I tell you, having a good heart helps a lot. When your mind is clean and doesn’t wish evils for others, no matter the plot against you, it will always meet a waterloo. My watch word in polygamy is, know when you’re the oppressor and know when you’re being oppressed. When you know you’re the oppressor and you fear Allah that you shouldn’t harm your fellow Muslim then you’ll call yourself to order. Do not see your Mate as a rival but as a sister in Islam and this helps a lot. When you’re being oppressed, voice out and demand for your right without violence. By and large the fear of Allah should be the watchword always.” Mama Haleemah explained again and my mum and I exchanged gazes.
We were still discussing when two women walked upon us and Mama Haleemah introduced them as her co-wives, they greeted us warmly and enquired about our journey. To my surprise, Mama Haleemah introduced me as Haleemah’s co-wife and I was left in awe. After about two hours of discussion, we were called to table and the aroma of pounded yam and egusi soup greeted us. We ate the food with happiness as our mission in the house was a success. I could see my mum was very happy at the outcome of the visit and I couldn’t wait to hear her remark about the whole thing.
After our meal, we relaxed as the family had shown us the true definition of Islamic brotherhood. They gave us a superb hospitality which not only melted our hearts but also gave us a spirit of belongingness. We felt attached to the family and we learnt a lot from them. Part of the lessons being that, you ain’t a Muslim until you wish for your brother what you wish for yourself and the spirit of selflessness, empathy and love amongst others.
At about 3:00pm, we were about to leave when Awwa arrived. She jumped to my embrace and dragged me to a room.
“You’re the last person I expected to see here, what’s going on?” Awwa asked with a lit face.
“Hmmm…you won’t believe my mum brought me here to see the kind of family Haleemah comes from.”
“Why………..do you agree to marry Haarith already?” Awwa asked in bewilderment
“You’re not current at all.”
“I am not o, it’s been a while we spoke now.”
“That’s true, I agreed to marry Haarith and my dad has given his consent but mum said we have to come here first before she gives her consent.”
“Hmmm….your mum is funny….so after seeing who we are, what’s her decision?”
“We haven’t spoken but I am sure she’s impressed. I am sure she has learnt a lesson that would last her a lifetime. She thinks everyone takes life as serious as herself but I’m sure she now knows better.”
“So….Our dear Ramlah is marrying Haarith at last after so many denial. Welcome girl…welcome to the association of second wives.” Awwa said and I burst out laughing.
“Is there something like such in Islam? Come on! A wife is a wife, whether first, second, third or fourth. No association of second wife joor.”
“Truthfully there shouldn’t but the second wife surely knows her position.”
“Na you sabi………we are on the same boat.”
“Haleemah hasn’t told me anything, are you sure Haarith has informed her?” Awwa asked me.
“I am sure he must have……….maybe Haleemah is just taking her time to tell her family.”
“Maybe……….so tell me, how’s preparation going?”
“My mum’s consent is still hanging you’re talking about preparation, I haven’t prepared for anything.”
“Don’t worry, now that your mum knows that Haleemah is from a noble family who wouldn’t harm her daughter, I am sure she’ll give her consent now.”
“She should o, I can’t wait to marry him at all.”
“Really! Haarith’s wife in the making.” Awwa teased and we both laughed.
A journey that began with a fright, ended up being a pleasant journey. I really enjoyed myself and coupled with seeing Awwa after about two years made the visit more memorable and I left the house with a big smile.
We took a taxi back to the airport and boarded a flight back to Lagos. We were unable to go home that night so we spent the night at my brother’s in Abeokuta. Throughout our journey to my brother’s house, my mum didn’t tell me anything and I didn’t ask either. I know she would definitely say something when we get home which is why I didn’t bother asking.
We almost never entered the house when my mum started telling my brother how awesome Haleemah’s family are and how she loved them for their large hearts and simple philosophy of life.
“So mum………what’s your decision now?” My brother asked anxiously.
“Ah what else…..she can go ahead and marry him now, Haarith is a good man, his wife is good too and also comes from a great family. May Allah’s peace and mercies abide by the three of them always.” My mum prayed and my tears flowed effortlessly.
This is victory at last and I was very glad I was able to wither the storm and overcome the obstacles. My brother gave me a big hug and congratulated me for being triumphant. Although my dad who is the head of the family and who has the overall say had gave his consent but I wasn’t satisfied. I felt my joy is incomplete without my mum’s approval. I don’t want her to be bitter with my marriage and I thank Allah her approval wasn’t out of compulsion but with conviction and happiness.
I ran into my brother’s guest room and prostrated for sajdal shukr. All praises and adorations be to almighty Allah who has granted me my heart desires. I felt I should share the good news with Haarith and I immediately put a call across to him.
“Guess what Haarith.” I asked with a smile.
“You’ve got home from Haleemah’s house.” He said and I was shocked
“Haarith! How did you know?” I exclaimed.
“Awwa told my wife about it.” Haarith replied.
“I am sorry, she didn’t disclose our destination to me so there was no way I could have told you.”
“No problem, so is she satisfied with her findings?” Haarith asked.
“More than satisfied, I was about to tell you that she’d given her consent when you gave me a shocker.”
“Alhamdulillah……….but I wasn’t really waiting for her consent. The walliy of my bride to be had already given his consent so a second marriage on my mind already.”
“She’s my mother Haarith, she has to be happy with my choice.”
“So are you preparing?” I asked.
“Yes, presently in Dubai with my family.” Haarith said and I was surprised.
“……..And how is being in Dubai a preparation for a wedding.” I asked confused.
“Of course it is, I am bringing you here after the wedding so I have to bring my wife and kids here first.” He explained.
“I see, you’re a good man Haarith.” I passed a compliment.
“You won’t know that until you marry me.” He boasted
“You’re not a good man joor!” I retrieved jokingly
“A trial will definitely convince you.” He boasted again.
“You’re so full of yourself.” I teased.
“Are you not willing to try?” He asked.
“I am and I can’t wait…..so when are you returning?” I asked.
“Friday in shaa Allah then I’ll come over to your place on Saturday.”
“Alright, may Allah protect your journey………..and my regards to your family.” I said.
“Not yet.” I replied.
“I know, just pulling your legs………okay, have a beautiful night rest.”
“And you too.” I said and wanted to end the call when he called my name.
“Hey Ramlah hold on……we haven’t finalized on your Mahr.” He said sharply
“Oh that’s true….and I already made up my mind on what to take.”
“Okay let’s hear it.”
“Tafsir Ibn Kathir, volume one to ten.” I said without blabbing.
“Alright, this is just the right time, a friend of mine is presently in Saudi for umrah. I’ll just tell him to get it for me.” He replied
“And don’t you want any other thing?” He asked.
“Any other would be a gift, that’s what I want for my Mahr.” I said with confidence.
“Yes ma.” He teased.
“You are not serious.” I said and we both laughed.
The following day we returned to Abeokuta and my mum narrated excitedly to dad how beautiful our journey was. She was all smiles when telling my dad Haleemah’s family were angels in human form. She went on and on narrating the beautiful experience and my dad was just laughing all through her narrations. Mum informed dad she’d given her consent and dad thanked her on my behalf. Mum later got up and walked to her room and dad turned to me.
“I told you to let us please her, she has seen things for herself now she can’t object again. Women are definitely the most difficult specie to deal with but when wisdom is applied, one will achieve success in dealing with them. Ramlah my dear, may Allah make the journey you’re about to make a fruitful one. You’ll never regret marrying Haarith and may your union be blessed beyond human expectations and comprehension. Polygamy is a lot of sacrifice and I pray Allah see you through.” Dad prayed and I gave him a warm hug.
The Saturday that followed that day, my family received Haarith’s family. It was a beautiful day that showers a good tiding. A great day filled with happiness and unforgettable sweet memories. A memorable day that ushers a new beginning. I wanted to tell time to hold still so that I could dwell in the happiness of the present moment forever but nay time has to pass. Time should pass quickly because this day was not actually my wedding day but a day to decide my big day.
I sat on my bed as the memory of the crushing days came flashing, or no! This the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me. Many have crushed and their hearts have been crushed, but I crushed and I am about to marry my crush…oh how sweet. I was still in my thought when my sister came to call me that my attention is needed in the living room.
I walked upon the crowd in the living room and my heart sank. I saw loads of gifts brought by Haarith and I was amazed. I took a seat beside my mum and dad’s elder brother who served as the spokesperson asked me series of question to which I replied. I was surprised when the Imam asked me if I agreed on the Mahr, my heart skipped as I thought a solemnization was about to take place.
The Imam further asked my dad if he agreed to give his daughter in marriage to Haarith after the agreement of the mahr by both bride and groom to which my dad said yes. Two witnesses were then called upon to bear testimony to the solemnization after which we were pronounced man and wife. Everything happened so fast because what my parents agreed to earlier was just a family introduction. I don’t know how they suddenly agreed to a solemnization and I was still in my thought when my dad got up to remove the calendar hung on the wall.”
“Four Saturdays from now is 21th, is it okay by you for the wedding ceremony?” My dad asked the goom’s side.
“It’s okay but a fortnight would have been better.” Haarith elder brother replied and my dad’s elder brother objected.
“Four Saturdays is not too near nor too far, please let’s leave it like that….and please for the records, our daughter is not leaving today, we agreed to a solemnization to allow the children freedom of interactions since they’ll be planning for a wedding ceremony.” My uncle said and everyone agreed.
The in laws were treated to a nice meal and both families were happy as two became one. I returned to my room and was about undressing when Haarith’s call entered my phone.
“Please come out for a moment.” He said to me and I hesitated before going out to answer him.
I walked out and the in laws were going already. I walked up to where Haarith was and he quickly held my hands and pushed me slightly into the car. I tried to free myself but he held me more tightly.
“Let go of my hands now.” I struggled.
“No, you’re mine now remember?” He said with a smile.
“So you cajoled my family into having a solemnization for you to be able to do this?”
“No, a solemnization was both parties agreement and I couldn’t have been more satisfied and happier.”
“I see……….” I was saying when he covered my mouth with his finger, scooped me into his babariga and planted a kiss on my cheeks.
“Aren’t you the one who said you couldn’t wait?”
“Yes I said so………..but.”
“No but, I am not eating you, just a kiss.”