Azeezah was an only child for a long time before her Parents gave birth to her younger sister Azeemah.
Happiness tingled in their home with the arrival of the new bundle of joy. Azeezah was the happiest because she finally got what she had always wanted.
Ever since she was a child, she had craved and prayed for a younger one to hold and cherish and her utmost desire was granted when she was twelve years old. Their next door neighbor’s daughter always taunted her with her own siblings because she had four of them.
Azeezah would cry endlessly and always question her mum as to why she refused to give her a younger one. Her mother would console her that it wasn’t her fault but she wouldn’t understand.
“Habeebah has four younger ones but I have none, she doesn’t allow me play with her siblings, please mummy I want a sister too.” She would say amidst tears.
“My dear don’t worry, your sister is coming very soon, don’t you believe.” Her mum would reply softly
“Mummy how soon will that be, get pregnant today and give birth tomorrow mummy please.” Azeezah would say with so much innocence and her mum would smile.
There was no reason for a delay and series of test had been done which shows she had no problem as well as her husband. She had conceived Azeezah the very month she got married and she experienced no complications with her birth. She didn’t take it so serious when she wasn’t conceiving because she already had one and given birth to a child already nullifies a woman from barrenness.
She began to get worried when weeks rolled into months and months rolled into years without any other child forthcoming. She discussed with her husband and they sought medical attention. Nothing was wrong with both of them and the doctor advised them to intensify prayers and be patient. She was worried more so because of the pressures from family and friends who thought they were trying to be posh by giving birth to only one child.
“This is an English culture and not ours. How can you give birth to a child and be comfortable, don’t you know that having one child does not cancel barrenness. Anything can happen at any time.” A female relative once told her.
“Ma, it’s not my fault and I am not doing anything to prevent having more babies. The baby is not just forthcoming.” Azeezah’s mother replied.
“Maybe you and your husband are not doing it very well.” The woman replied and Azeezah’s mother smiled before replying.
“We do it ma, more than you can ever imagine.”
“Then why the delay? You see I know a potent traditional medicine man. His concoctions are very potent, you won’t miss the very month you start using it.” The woman proposed.
“No thank you ma. Tawwakaltu ala’llai, Allah is sufficient for me ma.” She replied and the nosy relative pressed further.
“Esin’o ni kama’soro. Give to Ceasar what belong to Ceasar and to God what belong to God. Sebi it’s for you to have a child.” The woman tried to convince her.
“Thank you ma, I’ll rather give everything to God than give anything to Ceasar which will take me out of the fold of Islam.”
“Okay o, I rest my case. Iye omo t’oba bi loma wo yara e, you can’t add mine to yours.” The woman said giving up.
It really takes a heart garnished with iman to wither the storm of pressure. According to Yoruba people, someone with one child cannot boast of escaping barrennes so she shouldn’t fold her arms and feel okay.
Azeezah became a big girl and now her curiosity dwindled with age. She was much older now and displayed a high level of understanding. She no longer disturb her mother about a younger one but instead joined her in praying to Allah. Their prayers was finally answered when she was eleven plus.
Like every other month, the menstrual period was expected but it was a bit a late. She didn’t think much of it until a month passed by. She went to the hospital for a test and the doctor congratulated her with the news of a pregnancy. The family couldn’t be happier and they put everything in place to welcome the new baby.
Baby Azeemah came at the time Azeezah’s mother was very busy. All the while that she had only a child, she made use of the opportunity of not having much on her hands to pursue academics. She had her Masters degree and proceeded for PH.D and before she conceived baby Azeemah she was working with a big NGO and her work took her from country to country.
After the birth of Azeemah, Azeezah’s mum did not resign from her work and azeezah who was twelve years old at the time took full responsibility for her baby sister. Whenever her mum was away she took care of her with all pleasure. She grew up to be a very diligent young girl and her mum had no worry concerning leaving her sister with her.
Azeezah was in JSS 3 when her baby sister arrived and one can imagine the length of the gap between them. Her sister became her cuddle and the apple of her eyes. She took up the role of a deputy parent so fast and discharged it diligently.
Her sister was put in a crèche in her school and she took up the responsibility of taking her along and returning with her everyday. Azeemah grew up in her hands and she catered for her not as a sister but as a daughter.
Azeezah could not leave their town for her University education because of her sister. She chose a University in their town and was going to school from home. The bond between the two sisters was very strong and if you really want Azeezah to be mad, just tamper with her sister and she would unleash her terror.
Azeezah finished her University Education, served her nation through NYSC scheme and decided to settle down with her heartthrob Abdul Hakeem. She was 23 at the time while Azeemah was just 11. It was a tug of war as Azeemah cried non stopped that she must go with her sister to her husband’s house.
“Darling you can’t go with her, she’s going to far away Port Harcourt besides your school will be affected.
“No mummy I want to go with her, I can always change my school that’s not a problem.” Azeemah argued.
“No baby you can’t follow her. You can’t leave mummy alone, I’ll be very lonely.” Azeemah’s mum tried to convince her.
“Mummy you’ve always left me with my sister so why are you complaining now.” Azeemah argued again and this time her mother couldn’t object again.
Azeemah went with her sister to Port Harcourt and a new life started. She was enrolled in a secondary school because she was in JSS 2 at the time. Both sisters lived in peace and their lovely relationship continued. Azeemah was Azeezah’s baby and she latter acted just like a mum to her.
Azeezah welcomed her first child and their mother came around for the omugwo. She was really happy that both her daughter’s were living fine and she couldn’t wish for a better relationship.
Days rolled into weeks, weeks into months and months into years and now Azeemah was in her final year in the University. Her sister had four beautiful children now and she didn’t leave her place since childhood.
She chose University of Port Harcourt where she studied computer science and graduated with a first class. She met Abdul Hafeez who liked her and proposed marriage to her. She liked him too and before agreeing to his proposal,she wished to discuss him with her sister for necessary advice.
“Do you like him?” Her sister asked and she smiled before responding shyly.
“Yes.” She replied shyly.
“Awwwwwwwn, my baby sister has really grown.” Azeezah replied and Azeemah was blushing.
“If you like him then do your Istikhaarah to seek Allah’s guidance.” Her sister advised.
“Hmmmmm, sister is that really necessary. I like him so much and from the little that I know of him, he’s a good man.” Azeemah replied.
“My dear, you are being childish, it’s very important for you to do Istikhaarah because you may like something wherein there would be no good for you and you may dislike something wherein lies a lot of good for you.” Azeezah explained.
“Sis, how did you meet your husband, did you love him at first sight, how did you know he was the one?” Azeemah bombarded her sister with questions and she smiled before responding.
“My dear, one question at a time, to your first question, I met my darling during NYSC camping program. Do I love him at first sight? No, but I was attracted to his good virtues. He was the camp Amir then and I fell in love with his diligence and simplicity. We worked together because I was also the Amirah so I got to know him better. When he proposed marriage I found him irresistible and I wanted to say yes immediately but I used my brain. I did istikhaarah and Allah guided my heart towards the best. I never regretted marrying him and I will choose him over again. To your last question, no one can ever know if a man is the one simply because you feel like it. Prayer solves that riddle and leaves no room for regret.” Azeezah educated her baby sister.
“But sis, after saying yes, is it not possible to meet another person whom you may like? Can you tell the former one you’re not interested again and start up with another one?” Azeemah asked and her sister shook her head before answering.
“After praying your Istikhaarah sincerely and you’ve given a yes answer, you ain’t allowed to say no again simply because you see another person you like. You see my dear, human heart will always like and admire, even after marriage you get to see other men who you might admire and that is where contentment takes place. You don’t lust over what is not yours, you can only admire and that is why Islam encourages lowering of gaze. Don’t stare at other men or watch other men’s awrah and by this your heart is protected from lust and evil thoughts.” Azeezah explained.
“Hmmmm that’s true sis, contentment, bashfulness and lowering of gaze is the key. Thanks so much sis, I love the relationship between you and your husband, you understand each other perfectly and I have never seen you quarrel.”
“We do quarrel, only that we don’t wash our dirty linen outside. Anytime he’s angry I keep quiet and anytime I’m angry he’s calm. There’s no perfect marriage anywhere so my dear don’t go into marriage with the intention of living with a perfect man. There’re good men for sure but no perfect man.” Azeezah explained again and her sister hugged her for the witful advice.
“Thank you sis, I’ll follow your advice and do Istikhaarah.”
“That’s my girl……….and make sure you do it without any inclination towards Abdul Hafeez so that you can be properly guided.”
“Yes ma.” Azeemah agreed and thanked her sister.
She did the Istikhaarah and before she could tell Abdul Hafeez a no or yes answer, something terrible really happened.
On a Thursday night, Azeezah complained of headache and she took some pain reliever after meal before going to bed. At the middle of the night she woke her husband that her head was pounding and couldn’t sleep. The time was 2:00am at this time and going out at that time of the night seemed impossible. The husband advised her to take a shower and take some pain reliever again to which she did but the pain didn’t subdue. The coolness of the water triggered another thing and she started shivering.
The situation was getting out of control and not minding the time again, he took his car keys and carried his wife to the car. They were stopped by vigilante groups severally on their way but with the explanations that he needed to take his sick wife to the hospital, they allowed them pass.
They got to the hospital and all treatment proved abortive. It was time for Malakul Maut to take her soul and the doctor announced her death to her husband in the morning.
“We tried our best but she’s dead.” The doctor announced and Azeezah’s husband grabbed his hands.
“You said what?” He shouted.
“Sorry please take heart.” The doctor said patting his back.
Azeezah’s death was a rude shock to everyone. Her husband wished it was a dream, he needed someone to wake him up from a bad dream and tell him to stop dreaming. It all appear like a movie to him. The woman he had spent beautiful years of his life with suddenly dropped dead without a prior notice. The human in him betrayed him and he wept like a baby.
Azeemah wasn’t taking the news of her sister’s death lightly either. She wept until her eyes were blurred from tears. She had cried gallons of tears yet she was still hurting. A woman she’d known as her mother all her life is dead and never to return again. A sister who was everything to her, she acted like a mother, father and everything. Her backbone is dead and the one who made her life so fulfilling is gone. She wept very bitterly and blamed death for being so cruel. Anytime she dried her tears and decided to take heart, a look at her nieces and nephews who were now motherless would trigger her tears again and she would broke down and wept profusely.
Azeemah decided to be strong for her niblings but it wasn’t easy. She wrapped them around her and told them to cry no more. They replied her that she was crying too so why would she tell them not to cry. The atmosphere in the house was tensed and everyone was silent with his own thought. Azeezah was buried same day and they were confused as to whether to break the sad news to her parents or not. They were advised to break the news later as telling them immediately might be tragic.
Azeemah’s suitor was around all day and assisted with the burial. He stayed with them till very late in the evening and when it was time for him to leave, Azeemah saw him off to the gate.
“Please don’t cry again, you have to be strong for your niblings. They need you now more than ever.” Abdul Hafeez said.
“Thanks so much, I’ll try and be strong for them.” She replied and broke into tears.
“Nooooooo, not again.” Abdul Hafeez consoled.
“You don’t understand, I can’t believe my sister is gone. Why would she leave me now that I needed her most. She had been the one I know as my mum all my life despite that my mum is alive. She cared for me from cradle till now, I need her now that I’m about to get married, I don’t understand why she has to leave me now. I can’t simply care for her kids like she did for me, why sister why now.” Azeemah lamented amidst tears.
“Please dear, you just have to stop crying. We can’t question Allah and He alone knows what time each and everyone one of us will die. When it’s time, no one has the power to delay for a second. Your sister’s time has lapse and we can’t question Allah. All she needs from us now is not tears but a good deed in her name which will reach her in her grave.” Abdul Hafeez consoled and Azeemah dried her tears with her hands, bade him goodbye and walked back into the house.
She walked into the living room and sat beside her sister’s eldest daughter Aisha. The girl stared at her before speaking.
“Aunt who was that man?” Aishah asked with her eyes fixed on her aunt.
“The one that just left?” Azeemah asked back
“He’s ………..ermm He’s Abdul Hafeez.”
“Who is he, are you going to marry him?” Aisha asked with childish innocence
“Ermmmm………..it seems like it.” Azeemah replied and Aisha burst into tears to her amazement.
“Darling why are you crying…..please don’t cry.”
“Aunt please don’t leave us.” Aisha pleaded with tears
“Darling I am not leaving you, I can’t leave you.” Azeemah replied also crying now.
“You’re going to leave us if you marry uncle Abdul Hafeez.” Aisha cried out.
“Darling I won’t leave you, even after marriage I’ll make sure I check on you everyday. I am not leaving this town please don’t cry.” Azeemah replied but Aisha wasn’t satisfied.
“You’re leaving us aunt, when you go to your husband’s house it’s not possible for you to check us everyday you’re lying. What will become of us when you’re gone, mummy has left us please don’t leave us too. We are too little to be left alone, daddy will go to work and we can’t survive on our own, please aunt don’t leave us.” Aisha pleaded in tears.
“darling I won’t leave you……….okay, to assure you I won’t leave you, I’ll tell Abdul Hafeez to get a house down the street. Please darling believe me I can never leave you.”
“No aunt, we want you to live with us, if you go daddy will marry another wife and she might maltreat us. Please aunt Azeemah marry my daddy.” Aisha burst the bubble and Azeemah’s mouth went agape in surprise.
“Darling……….that can’t happen…. I can’t..……marry your dad……………….I………….can’t…..” Azeemah replied incoherently with shaky voice.
“Aunt you can, please don’t leave us, don’t leave my siblings and I.” Aisha pleaded in tears.
“Darling please stop crying, we’ll discuss this some other time okay.” Azeemah replied and scoop the little girl in her embrace.
That same night at table, Aisha told his dad to marry aunt Azeemah and the latter too was dumbfounded. He discarded her proposal by telling her it’s a bad habit to talk while eating. The little girl obeyed and kept quiet but she wouldn’t stop saying it. She begged her dad as much as she begged her aunt to marry each other.
Azeemah was beginning to feel uncomfortable in the house but there was nothing she could do, she couldn’t leave the children simply because of her insecure feelings. Aisha’s clamor soon resonated with her siblings and they all began to sing the song together. By this time, Azeemah was confused, she was torn between marrying her love and dancing to her niblings tune for prosperity sake.
Two months after the death of her sister, her heart was still dark and she couldn’t decide anything. The kids were on break now and they were all going to visit Azeemah’s parents in Lagos to spend the long vacation.
The parents had been informed about the sad occurrence and it was really a hard blow but time is healing their pains now. The healing pain seemed opened again with the visit of their grandchildren, grandmother burst into tears and cried profusely after seeing her grandchildren from Azeezah. She lamented again and it took a while before she took a grip on herself. Grandfather consoled her that Azeezah’s children are solace for them and seeing them should comfort their heart and not otherwise.
The following morning, the trio of Azeemah, Grandmother and Aisha were in the kitchen preparing breakfast when Aisha sang her usual anthem. Azeemah ignored her but grandmother has something to say.
“Azee there’s sense in what this girl has said.” Grandma cut in and Azeemah exclaimed.
“Mummy and you too!” She exclaimed.
“Please allow me talk Azeemah, the only thing that can ease the pains in my heart is to ensure that these children are in safe hands. Azeezah’s death is a big blow to my heart and my heart will be relieved if her vacuum isn’t left unfilled. Her fruits must not suffer and we don’t know what will happen if their father marries another woman. Please Azeemah consider your niece’s yearnings and make all of us happy.” Grandma urged in tears and Azeemah too broke into tears.
“Mummy I have a man I love, daddy Aisha still remains my sister’s husband………mummy and Aisha please I can’t do this.” Azeemah said in tears.
“Aunt please don’t leave us.” Aisha pleaded in tears.
“Azeemah please, since this is not against Islamic teachings, you’ll grow to love him. He’s a good man whom your sister lived happily with till her last breath. You can do this for all of us and you’ll be happy too. Abdul Hakeem is a very good man please Azee.” Grandma pleaded with her daughter.
“This is disgusting, how can I marry my sister’s husband, mummy please marriage won’t stop me from caring for the children.”
“It will my dear, when you get married, you start raising your own family and your husband might not consent to you going to check your niblings all the time but when you marry Abdul Hakeem, you remain in your sister’s house as you have your own kids and raise all of them together. The prophet PBUH gave Umm Kulthum in marriage to Uthman after the demise of Ruqoyah which means two sisters can marry a man but not simultaneously. Nothing is too much to do for your sister who raised you and cared for you like an angel, please my daughter make us happy.” Grandma pleaded again and there was silence afterwards.
Grandmother advised her daughter to pray over it and not feel outrightly disgusted about it. She showered prayers on her and also gave her words of advice.
The long vacation was over and Azeemah and her niblings returned to Port Harcourt. Azeemah was confused but decided to go with her mother’s advice of praying about it. Though marrying her sister’s husband wasn’t what her heart wanted but she was ready to sacrifice for her niblings sake. They got home and life continued.
Abdul Hafeez, her suitor was disturbing her yet she couldn’t give an answer or explain what was going on to him. She cried silently and begged Allah for guidance with a heavy heart. It wasn’t easy for her but she sure trusted Allah’s guidance.
One Friday morning after breakfast, Abdul Hakeem summoned Azeemah for a discussion and they both sat in the living room.
“I know what I am about to say may sound odd but I urge you to listen till the end. ” Abdul Hakeem started and Azeemah bent her head while fondling with her fingers.
“It’s very heavy for me to say but I hope you understand me perfectly. I know if you leave this house, the kids and I can survive but the kids think otherwise. I have given it a thought and I have also prayed about it before finally deciding to speak out. I know this is hard on you, I know you really wanted another life and feel trapped with your sister’s death but trust me, we can work out a beautiful relationship, not because of the kids alone but for our future as well.” Abdul Hakeem said and Azeemah broke into loud tears.
“I am very sorry Azeemah but this is not an imposition but a proposal. You’re very free to say No or yes. Any decision you come up with will be respected.” Abdul Hakeem said and Azeemah dried her tears before speaking.
“It’s okay, there’s no problem at all. I’ll do anything for my sister and my niblings, probably this is God’s wish for me. My sister said you’re a good man and everyone testified to your goodness. Ever since I know you, I never had a negative impression about you. It’s okay, I’ll walk through life with you, not only for the children’s sake but to fulfill destiny as well. My mum said I’ll grow to love you, please be good to me.” Azeemah said with teary eyes.
“Every affliction that falls on the earth or yourselves, already exists in a book before it is brought into being by us. No doubt that it’s easy for Allah to accomplish.” Surah al-Hadid verse 22.
“With Him are the keys of the invisible. None but He knows them. And He knows what is in the land and the sea. Not a leaf falls but he knows about it, not a grain amid the darkness of the earth, nor anything green or withered but is recorded in a clear book.” Surah Al-An’am verse 59
“We hold the store of everything and we send it down in an appointed measure.” Surah al-Hijri verse 21.
[Life happens and Allah knows best. May Allah ease our affairs at all times………………..LAJFINGERS].