TRIAL, TEARS AND TRIUMPH [Triple T]
By the time Enitan was through with secondary school, Haleemah, the only rock she had in the family was married and gone to be with her husband in another state, so there was no one to intercede on her behalf.
However, Haleemah always made sure she get in touch with Enitan but being a well behaved child who doesn’t defecate through the mouth, she would tell her sister everything was fine and never disclose her hardship. When Haleemah asked about her result, she told her it was woeful and lied that Madam said she would have a re-sit. She dared not disclose the truth, else, she would be dealt terribly with.
Madam had already collected the form of a hair-making salon beside the house when Haleemah visited unannounced. Mrs Badmus placed the form on the center table and walked into her room. Halimah arrived, sighted a paper on the table and was curious to know what it was. She opened and alas, it was a form of hair-making enrollment. She read through and the name written boldly on the form was Haneefah Badmus.
She was shocked and was still holding the form with mouth agape when her mum walked back into the living room. The mum too was surprised to see her as she didn’t inform her she would be visiting.
“Haleemah! When did you come? You didn’t even tell us you’ll be coming.” Mrs Badmus said in amazement.
“I arrived just now. I wanted to surprise you and that’s why I didn’t call………………………..mum what’s this?” Halimah asked, showing the form on her hand to her mum.
“What does it look like?” Madam snapped.
“Mum don’t tell me you want to enroll Enitan in a hair-making salon?”
“Exactly what it is.” Madam replied unflustered and walked to a sit. She sat and her daughter quickly sat beside her.
“Mum this is not right. She can write her WAEC again and have good results. Please give her a second chance. Her failure is not because she’s dull but because she’s overworked. Please mum, reconsider…………………………” Halimah pleaded but her mum interrupted her sharply.
“Shut the gutter you call a mouth you fool! I’ll give you a dirty slap if you say any more word. Do you want to teach me how to treat a nonentity? Have you seen how woeful her result is? What has house chores got to do with failing exams, that is just an excuse for her damaged brain and I won’t be guilty? Who is supposed to do the work if not a common servant like her? I have made my final decision. She will learn hair-making because I can’t continue to waste my money on a bastard. Granting her the opportunity to write WAEC was a privilege in the first place and I’m not going to give her a second chance. She’s definitely not cut out for school. If we all go to school, who will be making our hair or making our clothes? Allowing her to acquire a skill is something you should applaud me for. What would you do if I didn’t allow her access to any education? Break my head? I have tried, in fact, I over tried for a bastard. I have spoken and that’s my final decision.” Madam said obstinately and turned her back against her daughter.
Haleemah heaved a long sigh and thought for a while before responding.
“I am not pleased with your decision mum and I’ll like to take Enitan to go live with me.” Halimah dropped the bombshell and her mum almost brought down the roof.
“Are you mad or high on drugs? Which is your problem between the two? You want to take my slave away, you dare not, in fact, you’ll regret the day you were born.” Mrs Badmus retorted.
“Mum, Enitan is not a slave. She’s my father’s daughter. She’s my sister. If you need a maid please go and hire one, you have the means. Stop maltreating this innocent girl who has done you no wrong. Why are you being so wicked, mummy why?” Halimah stated and burst into tears.
“Did I hear you call me wicked because of that useless girl? Did you just talk rudely to me? Enitan’s suffering has just started for what you have done.” Madam said angrily and just then, Enitan walked into the living room from outside. Madam rushed to her and landed her two dirty slaps simultaneously.
The poor girl was lost. She didn’t know what warranted the slap. She held her face while hot tears cascaded her cheeks. Halimah moved to her and embraced her. Madam charged at her again but Halimah shielded her.
“You Bastard! You want to turn my daughter against me. I have just started with you…………………”
“Mum fear Allah, this is too much! This is sheer wickedness! Remember you have daughters too and you shall surely reap whatever you sow…………………” Halimah was saying when her mum charged at her too. She quickly grabbed Enitan’s hand and they both ran out of the living room into the compound.
They both sat on a bench outside while Enitan couldn’t control her tears.
“What exactly is my offence? If living is a crime, Allah should just take my life…………………………”
“Shhhhhhhhhhhhh……………….please don’t talk like that. You were created for a purpose and your life shall be free of tribulations. Please do not despair.” Haleemah placated.
“Why did she slap me because I don’t understand? I was coming from the market, in the scorching sun where I had gone to stock the house with food. On getting back, I was welcomed with slaps. What have I done? When will all these ill treatment stop. As far as I can remember, that woman had been maltreating me since I was a toddler, now I am 17 and she hadn’t stopped. When will I be free? What exactly is my offence?” Enitan kept asking with hot tears in her eyes.
“I’m sorry. I think I caused it this afternoon. I was telling her to allow you have a WAEC re-sit instead of learning hair-making but I think she got angry. I am really sorry.” Halimah begged.
“Please don’t that again. Don’t beg her to change her mind. Just leave me alone. She’s right, a bastard and a nonentity like me is not wanted in a school. I don’t deserve to go to school. Let me learn how to make hair, that’s my fate, I have accepted it.” Enitan said with tears.
“You’re not a bastard. Neither are you a nonentity. And no, you wouldn’t learn a skill but go to school. Just allow me handle it.”
“Please don’t handle anything. The one you handle just now caused me two hot slaps. Just let me be, I’ll be fine…………………………..” Enitan was saying when she heard a violent call of her name by Madam.
“Enitan, eni’ya! Won’t you come and cook now before I break your head!” Madam shouted from inside while Enitan quickly got up and ran into the house.
Halimah heaved a sigh and shook her head in pity for the poor Enitan. She wished she could help her, but trying to help her was causing more hurt to her. Halimah got up and was about to walk into the house when the family car hoot. The gateman ran to the gate and flew it open. The driver drove in and Halimah watched as her younger sister, Hikmah , Enitan’s contemporary, elegantly alighted from the back of the car where she sat gallantly like the owner.
Hikmah, upon sighting Halimah ran to embrace her and they exchanged pleasantries.
“Where are you coming from?” Halimah asked Hikmah
“From JAMB lesson.” Hikmah replied with smiles. She gallops in one position like a horse, still unable to curtail the excitement of seeing her sister.
“I see………….how was Jamb lesson?”
“It was fine.”
“Where is Enitan?” Halimah asked
“Haven’t you seen her? If she hadn’t gone to the market, she should be inside cooking or cleaning.” Hikmah replied.
“Hmmmm.” Halimah sighed.
“Sis, what’s the problem?”
“Nothing much, I am just sad and worried for Enitan. She deserve a better life don’t you think? You were coming from a Jamb lesson while she’s sitting at home doing chores………………………….”
“Sister what are you saying? Enitan can’t simply sit for Jamb, she failed her WAEC woefully, remember!” Hikmah replied sharply.
“Yes I know she failed WAEC and woefully too but the last time I checked, Enitan isn’t a dull girl. Her poor performance was due to the huge responsibility on her head. She had no time to study. She had no break, no joy and no life of her own. If you were in her shoes, you would fail woefully too. She’s our sister, we need to help her. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander. Remember the prophet said we ain’t a Muslim until we want for our brother what we want for ourselves. Mum is maltreating her and I’m not happy about it. Remember you won’t be under mum forever. You have to save yourself so that Allah won’t decree that mum reap her bad deeds by striking you with adversity.” Halimah said.
“I don’t understand.” Hikmah expressed in confusion.
“It’s like this, in Islam, Everyone is responsible for his/herself. So the saying that the deed of the mother will be taken out on a child is a fallacy in Islam. But Allah can strike a child with calamity in order to punish, aggrieve, torment, or embitter the mother who is the evil doer. So my dear, you have to save yourself.” Halimah educated her sister and it seemed she reasoned along with her.
“What do I need to do to assist Enitan?” Hikmah inquired passionately.
“That’s my lovely sister. Please bring your ear.”
Haleemah returned to her house that day. The next day, the driver announced that it was time for Hikmah to go to Jamb lesson but to everyone’s dismay, she said she wanted to discontinue the lesson as she had changed her mind about writing Jamb.
“I am not writing Jamb anymore so there’s no need of attending the lesson again.” Hikmah replied her mother who asked why she wouldn’t be attending Jamb lesson again.
“You’re kidding right?” Her mum replied, waving away the seriousness of her daughter’s talk.
“No mum, I am dead serious.” Hikmah replied.
“Are you alright at all? Stop playing dirty pranks before I give you a dirty slap.” Madam retorted impatiently.
“Mum, I can endure the slap but I don’t think I’ll be able to endure Allah’s punishment.” Hikmah replied but her mum was confused.
“Allah’s punishment? Don’t tell me you have joined the clique of those who believe education is haram, because I can’t wrap my head around your point.” Madam said impatiently again.
“Mum, I won’t be attending Jamb lesson again until you allow Enitan go to school instead of learning a skill. Enitan is your husband’s daughter and by implications she’s your daughter as well……………………….”
“Shut your mouth you fool! It was Haleemah yesterday and now it’s you. Did you girls conspire against me? Anyways, your conspiracy will not work. Enitan is not going to school and that’s the final. Now go in and get prepared for Jamb class or else I’ll deal with you in a bitter way!” Madam instructed sternly but Hikmah was not perturbed.
“Mum! You are free to deal with me however you want. I can endure your punishment but I can’t endure that of Allah. You are not being fair to Enitan and that is injustice. Whether you like it or not, my father’s blood runs in her veins regardless of the way she was born. Dad left enough wealth to cater for us all so why exclude Enitan? This is my little way of fighting for her, please mum change your mind.” Hikmah concluded with a subtle tone but Madam charged fiercely at her instead.
“For daring to challenge my authority in this house, I’ll deal mercilessly with you.” Madam said angrily, picked a broom and started whipping Hikmah with it.
Hikmah shouted for mercy but her mum didn’t leave her. She whipped her so hard that the broom left reddish stripes on her body.
“Will you go to Jamb class or not.” Madam repeated as she whipped her with the broom.
At first, Hikmah was unwavering. She replied with no, but when the beating got harder on her. She changed the no to yes and that was when her mum discontinued the whipping but the broom already left bruises on her body.
She cried bitterly as she groaned in pains. That was the first time her mum would beat her and the beating was so severe.
“Next time, you will think twice before you stand up to me.” Madam said, hissed and walked again.
After madam walked away, Enitan came out from where she was peeping and rushed to Hikmah. She dared not come out when the Whipping was going on. Madam would leave Hikmah and pounce on her instead. She held Hikmah but the crying Hikmah pushed her away.
“Leave me alone you bad luck!” Hikmah screamed transferring her bitterness to Enitan.
“I am so sorry.” Enitan said and tried to wipe Hikmah’s tears away but the former pushed her away the second time.
“I’m so sorry that you got beaten because of me but I’ll really appreciate if you guys stop interceding for me so that you won’t get hurt.” Enitan said softly.
“Yes, it’s about time I mind my business. You’re such a scum that carries badness about.” Hikmah said amidst tears, got up and walked with pains to her room to prepare for Jamb lesson.
Since that day, she dared not confront her mum over Enitan’s matter again. She minded her business and obeyed her mum like a good girl.
Enitan started her apprenticeship in a hair-making salon near the house. She resumes by 11:00am as agreed by Madam and her boss. The agreement of 11:00am was to afford her the opportunity to finish house chores before going out. The closing time was also slated for 1:30pm to enable her prepare the family lunch and to put the house in order before Madam gets back from work.
By this time also, Hikmah had gained admission into the University of Lagos and only comes home during the weekend.
Enitan was coping fine in the salon and by the time she spent 6months, she could make any type of hairstyle perfectly. She was diligent at work too which made her boss had a soft spot for her. Whenever the boss wasn’t around, the customer prefers her to other apprentice and they would appreciate her by giving her a token which she gives to her boss. The boss wouldn’t collect but advice her to get a piggy-bank and start saving. She obeyed and started saving.
Sunday was a work free day for her so this particular Sunday, she was doing the dishes in the kitchen when madam walked in angrily.
“Enitan, when did you start stealing?” Madam asked impatiently.
“I don’t understand you ma.” She replied in bewilderment and Madam brought out her piggy-back from behind and she was dazed. She was more surprised because madam had broken it.
She had kept the piggy-bank under her bed and wonders how madam found it.
“Where did you get all this amount of money? My money had been missing in this house but I wasn’t vigilant, now I know who had been stealing my money. How dare you!” She retorted, charged at her and landed a slap on her face.
Without allowing her to say anything, she picked up a broom and whipped her so hard without giving her the chance to explain herself.
“Thieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeef………….Barao, oleeeeeeeeeeee! I will come to your salon tomorrow and tell everyone that you are a thief.”
“Please ma don’t do that. I didn’t steal your money. It was the money given to me by customers.” Enitan tried to explain for the umpteenth time amidst tears but her explanations fell on deaf ears.
“Liar! Customers gave you all this money. I have always known you’re a useless girl but I never knew you have advanced to a thief. I am going with you to your salon tomorrow. I’ll so disgrace you, you’ll never be able to raise your shoulders high again, you thief!” Madam threatened and walked out of the kitchen leaving her in tears.
Enitan cried bitterly and as usual, bitterness collided with gloominess for her. She cried like never before and thought that was the peak of maltreatment. She was scared of what the outcome of the disgrace would be. The other apprentice would surely make jest of her and the tag of a thief would be given to her. She had never stolen all her life and the stigma of an offence she didn’t commit would really be sickening and unbearable.
She thought of what to do to avert the looming disgrace and an idea crossed her mind. She quickly rushed to a phoning center and put a call through to her boss. She explained everything to her and the boss agreed to help her.
Later that Sunday evening, Enitan’s boss visited Madam and explained how the customers had been generous to her. The boss explained that she was the one that advised her to get a piggy-bank and start saving. It seemed the boss’s visit cancelled Madam’s threat of disgrace but when the boss left, Madam pounced on Enitan and started another round of beating.
“How dare you bring your boss into my house without my permission? Do you think her coming here has changed anything? You still remain a thief and for what you have done, you’ll go hungry for two weeks in this house and your hunger starts tonight.” Madam threatened after beating her.
Mrs Badmus was very certain that Enitan doesn’t steal but her mission was to reduce her to nothing. She was out to deprave her by harming her self esteem so that she wouldn’t see anything good in herself. She had vowed to humiliate her at any slightest opportunity so that living would be hell and unbearable for her. She knew with the boss’s visit, her plan of going to disgrace her at the salon had been defeated and that was why she was mad. She starved her that night and Enitan went to bed in tears. The worst thing was that she hadn’t eaten lunch before the incidence occurred so practically, she ate only breakfast that day.
The following day, Mrs Badmus starved Enitan again and reminded her that the starving had just begun. She wasn’t allowed to eat out of the food she cooked and after completing the normal routine chores, she went to the salon with an empty stomach.
She got to work but couldn’t concentrate. Her tummy was rumbling and her head pounding. The boss she would have begged money from had not arrived and the other apprentices too were as broke as her. Her tummy continued to sting her and when she couldn’t endure the pain again, a thought crossed her mind.
There was a fashion design shop beside their salon which was hired by a man. The man was a jovial man who comes to their shop to crack jokes and tell funny stories. He was nice and also religious. He doesn’t miss time of prayers and Enitan always heard him recite the Quran from his shop.
She swallowed her pride, got up and went straight to the man. He was working on the sawing machine when Enitan got there and she greeted him politely. After greeting him, she stood still in shyness without knowing how to beg him for money.
“Do you want anything?” The man, probably in his mid twenties asked with smiles.
“Errrrrrrm………………..Errrmmmmmmmmmm……………….” Enitan stammered incoherently. She wanted to open her mouth to talk again when her tummy rumbled aloud.
“Your tummy need food, will you eat some rice?” The man asked and Enitan quickly nodded her head.
(“Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said,”When is the help of Allah ?” Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near”)
Baqarah verse 214.