TRIALS, TEARS AND TRIUMPH [Triple T]
Enitan quickly grabbed the food and didn’t bother to go eat in her boss’s shop. She devoured the food like a hungry Lion right there in front of her life saver. The man watched her as she ate and intermittently shook his head in pity and surprise.
She ate all the rice in the bowl without leaving a grain. She heaved a deep sigh of relief after eating and the man offered her some water to step the food down. She drank the water and her eyes were filled with gratitude. Her lips formed a delicious smile and she thanked the man immensely.
“Thank you brother Taofeeq. You just saved me from dying.” She said with a burning appreciation.
“Let’s thank Allah………..so tell me, when last have you eaten that made you eat like that?” Taofeeq asked.
“I ate last since yesterday morning.” Enitan replied with a bitter face. Her pains suddenly resumed.
Taofeeq checked his wristwatch before screaming.
“Subhanallah! You ate last since yesterday morning and this is 12:00pm of another day! What happened?” Taofeeq asked curiously with concern.
“It’s a long story.” Enitan replied wryly.
“Please share it with me, a pleasant girl like you shouldn’t go through any difficulty in life.”
“I’m sure you don’t want to know my horrible story.” Enitan replied, not ready to share her story.
“Believe me I want to know so that I can render any assistance I can.” Taofeeq replied with an assurance of help and after Enitan thought she really needed help, she opened up.
She told him everything about her, from her birth to the present, leaving nothing unsaid. Taofeeq listened with interest while he shook his head intermittently. He was in awe, he couldn’t believe this little girl of just eighteen had gone through and is still going through so much in life. He didn’t interrupt her and he only spoke after she finished.
Taofeeq heaved a sigh and started with prayers.
“May Allah ease your affairs. I am really touched by your story and the fact that you have been going through this hardship since forever is what embitters me the most. Allah is the supreme God and he tries us in different ways, this is your own trial and I’m sure you’ll overcome it.” Taofeeq consoled.
“When will I overcome, I am tired. I have gotten to the limit of my patience. I don’t think I can endure any further.” Enitan said with tears.
“Please don’t cry. The help of Allah is near. Just continue to be the good girl that you are, she’ll change one day and realize her misdeed.”
“Hmmm, that woman can never change. Wickedness runs in her blood. She hated me with passion and she’ll stop at nothing to see my downfall. I’m where I am today courtesy of her meanness. I wanted to go to school but she’s changed my destiny by force.” Enitan lamented bitterly.
“No one can change anyone’s destiny Enitan. She has no power to do that. I want you to know what you’re passing through has been predestined. Although it is very good to be educated but going to higher institution doesn’t determine success. Even graduates nowdays are advised to learn a skill as plan B or even Plan A as the case may be. What do you think happened to me? I have a university degree but I found a career in fashion designing and the income has been great…………………………..”
“You have a university degree? Enitan interrupted in awe.
“Yes I do.”
“Wowwwww!! I thought as much!! You’re distinguished, classic, dignified, graceful, sophisticated, decorous, and exquisite.” Enitan said and Taofeeq smiled, he was amazed at her knowledge of words.
“Where did you learn those words? You described me with just a word using different synonym. I’m really impressed.”
“Remember I finished secondary school even though I didn’t pass WAEC. I am not a dullard, it’s just that I didn’t know then that I should create time for study despite the workload I shouldered. Now I know better. I love being educated so I help myself with the dictionary. I want to be an exquisite hairdresser at least.” Enitan said with smiles.
“That’s impressive! You can go for part-time courses if your step mum feels going full time would affect the house chores you run for her.” Taofeeq suggested.
“You don’t get it. She doesn’t want me educated at all. All she wanted for me to be is a slave who would shine her daughters’ shoes and carry their bags. But I know Allah is greater than her. Her evil wish will not come to pass in my life.” Enitan said confidently and Taofeeq stared at her for a while before speaking.
“Do you mind going for NCE part-time?” Taofeeq asked.
“I wish, but where do I get school fees.”
“Don’t worry about school fees, I’ll help you.” Taofeeq said and Enitan’s mouth went agape, she couldn’t believe her ears.
“You don’t mean it?” She asked in amazement.
“I mean every bit of it. Let me be part of your dream in life. I want to feature in your dream so that we can picture the future together.” He replied with smiles and the happy Enitan started showering him with prayers. She prayed until she was lost for words.
“Amin.” He replied her prayers. “So first thing, let us get a GCE form to start with. Your O’level result must be intact. The NCE PT program I talked about runs only on Saturday. All we need do is to carry your boss along so that you’ll have Saturday as break which will enable you go to school. You have to keep this from your step-mum or else your dreams would be shattered.” Taofeeq said and Enitan was really elated.
“Keeping it a secret from her is what no one should remind me about. Once you are able to identify your enemy, you can’t be harmed again.” Enitan replied sagely and Taofeeq nodded his head in agreement. Adversity had really made her wiser than her age.
Their plan worked perfectly. Taofeeq obtained a GCE form for her and she studied for the exam like never before. While her chores at home didn’t lessen, she didn’t allow it debar her as it did before. She locked her room and studied through the night. She slept during the day at the salon to make up for the night sleep she missed and her boss was cooperative.
Enitan found a new aura of joy and peace and she had a reason to live her dream life with Taofeeq constantly encouraging her. She sat for the Exam and made all the papers. She had 4 C’s, 3 A’s and 2B’s. Taofeeq was really proud of her and he wasted no time in obtaining the NCE form for her while advising her to intensify her effort and not let her passion and zeal dwindle.
She was admitted for the part-time course and school life started. Class starts from 9:00am till 5:00pm and this was where her boss became more useful. Since Enitan resumes work at the salon by eleven and closes by one, it was impossible for her to attend the class to time but her boss went to see her step-mum to plead with her to be releasing her by 8:30am on Saturdays.
The boss gave the reason that being the only apprentice who’d been certified, her assistance would be needed on Saturdays more than any other days as customers are always many on Saturdays. The boss also talked about her closing time on Saturdays to be extended to 5:00pm and surprisingly, Madam agreed on the condition that she finishes her chores before leaving the house.
Enitan thanked her boss immensely and also appreciated Taofeeq who had been helpful with prayers. He gave her some sunnatic prayers to be chanting to ease her burden and to make her step-mum’s maltreatment lessened and it seemed the prayers were working wonders.
Whenever she was encountering so many troubles, he thought her to be chanting, Allahumma la sahla illa ma ja’altahu sahla wa anta taj’alul’l-hazna idha shi’ta sahla. Meaning, Oh Allah! There is nothing easy except that which you make easy; and you make the difficult if you wish easy.
Whenever she fears the woman might harm her, as she did with the iron burn and other cruelty, he taught her to chant, Allahumma ikfinihim bimaa shi’t. Meaning, Oh Allah protect me from them, however you wish. And the prayers had always worked like magic.
Taofeeq also taught her plenty other prayers to be chanting to ease her burden. He took his time also to teach her how to read the Quran as Arabic Education wasn’t a priority in her house and none of the children was sent to Madrasah.
Enitan learnt so many things from Taofeeq and gradually, he became her strength and reason for living. She always looked forward to a new day because of him. She longed for the night to come to an end so that she could see him.
Taofeeq on the other hand was never tired of teaching, comforting and being a solace for her. He was never tired of paying her fees and that he did judiciously for the period of three years she spent in school acquiring the NCE certificate in English Language.
Enitan was to spend two years learning hair-making as agreed by her boss and step-mum but after she was through with the two years, she begged her boss to speak to her step-mum to allow her more time. She wouldn’t be opportuned to attend her Saturday class any longer now that she’d graduated since she was using the salon as a cover before. Her boss reasoned with her and decided to help her.
Enitan’s boss went to her step-mum and explained to her that she would like to employ Enitan as a hair stylist because she was the best among her apprentices that graduated. At first, the step mum disagreed and told the boss that she’d already gotten hair posters to be posted in front of the house for her to work in the house. So that her work outside wouldn’t affect her usefulness at home.
After so many begging and a lot of forth and back, step-mum reluctantly agreed and the triumphant smile on Enitan’s face was delicious. Now she could attend her class without obstacle. By this time she was already preparing for the second semester exam of her year two. But before the exam, an unpleasant situation occurred.
Since over a year that Enitan had started her NCE part-time programme, she made it a top secret from her step mum and her half siblings. She tightened her belt and made sure the house chores doesn’t suffer so that there wouldn’t be any suspicion.
She kept all handouts, school documents and even receipt of payment away from home to avoid an awful story. She knows if her step-mum got to know about it, there would be war and that would be the end of her programme. She became more diligent and intensified her patience and endurance but the cat was eventually let out of the bag.
She was preparing for her second semester of the second year and had to bring some handout home to read. Before now, she made sure she read in the salon before coming home but there was a particular course that needed to be studied with scrutiny. She decided to bring the handout home to study overnight but she forgot that her step-mum was a snooper. She always wanted to know whatever Enitan was up to so that she could look for an excuse to torment her.
Enitan studied overnight and since her normal routine was to wake up by 3:30am, she closed her book and put it under her pillow. To her, she hid it enough not knowing the eagle eye would fetch it out. Her step-mum made sure she checks her room everyday. The woman was suspicious of her but she hadn’t been able to lay her hand on any evidence to torture her with. She continued the snooping everyday and this particular morning happened to be a bad day for Enitan.
Immediately Enitan closed her book, she went straight to the kitchen to do the dishes and also put the food on the fire simultaneously. She finished with the dishes and was about to exit the kitchen to go do another chore when she bumped into her step-mum.
Madam’s eyes were emitting fire and Enitan knew there was fire on the mountain. She stared at Enitan for some second before bringing forth the book she hid behind her. Immediately she brought out the book, Enitan wanted to run away because she knew the beating would be severely bitter. As she made an attempt to run out, her step-mum fiercely grabbed her hand and pushed her back into the kitchen. She locked the kitchen door and put the key inside the pocket of her pyjamas. Enitan shouted with fear even before being beaten, she knew she was a dead meat.
She started reciting Allahumma ikfinihim bimma Shi’t. She started moving backward until she was stopped by the wall. She sighted the cooking food on the fire and her heart raced, the woman could carry the food and pour on her head, she was capable of that and more. She quickly thought of what to do as she whirled round the kitchen trying to escape the looming beating. She was still whirling while her step mum too was trying to catch her when her eyes caught the bowl of freshly grounded pepper.
Acting as fast as a lightening, she quickly carried the bowl and before her step-mum could grab her, she poured the pepper on her face, with a target of her eyes. The woman screamed loudly and whirled around like a blind woman. She scratched her eyes in pain as she shouted for help. Enitan rushed to her and quickly fetched the key in her pocket.
She opened the door and was about to run out when she paused, turned back and helped the shouting Mrs Badmus to the sink to wash her face. Enitan was nice enough to put her hand on the tap after which she told her to wash her face by herself. She picked her book on the floor where Mrs Badmus dropped it and rushed out before her children come for her.
Enitan ran out of the house and never looked back until she got to her boss’s house. Her boss also lived in the neighborhood and upon sighting her, the boss was shocked and surprised. The boss checked the time and it was only 5:15 in the morning. The Muadhin was just calling Adhan from a nearby mosque. The way Enitan was panting restlessly out of breath, her boss knew she was in danger. She took her in and Enitan explained all that happened to her. The boss shook her head and heaved at the same time before responding.
“You freed yourself at last from your step-mum’s bondage. One thing I know for sure is that she can never allow you back into that house. You have become a free girl but you have to pay some bitter price for your freedom.” The boss expressed and Enitan burst out crying.
“I don’t understand you ma.” Enitan said amidst tears.
“What I mean is that the grass is not greener at the other side of life. Where are you going to live henceforth?”
“I don’t know…………………..” Enitan replied in confusion and burst into tears again.
“You shouldn’t have retaliated by putting laws into your hands. She wanted to beat you and not kill you, beatings does not kill. You should have hanged on a little bit. It is true that she discovered you’re running a part-time progamme without her permission or knowledge, she could still change her mind and allow you finish your progarmme if we beg her as we’ve always do. Now you’ve lost your home. I would have accommodated you but you can see that my house is filled up.” The boss said and Enitan cried the more.
She felt the blow of her boss’s outright rejection and the tears that cascaded her cheeks was hot and salty. She cried bitterly for not trying to endure today’s beatings. She’d always endured the beatings and though she’d nursed a lot of bruises which later turn scars but she didn’t die. Perhaps she wouldn’t have died if she had waited to receive today’s beatings as well instead of behaving irrationally.
Enitan cried loudly as she looked forward to a gloomy future without a shelter to put her head. She lamented with hot tears as she remembered the hell she’d passed through in her almost twenty years sojourn in life. She’d lived short but her experience is huge with so many bitter tales.
She left her boss’s house and went to the mosque where the adhan was being called earlier. She joined the congregational prayer and at every sujud, she cried to Allah to ease her affairs. She stayed in the mosque till day break. All the time she spent in the mosque, she never stopped crying and her tears flowed like river Niger.
After day break, she couldn’t go home but went straight to the salon. The key of the salon was always with her, so she opened, cleaned and waited for customers to come. Her boss doesn’t appear in the shop until late in the morning. She trusted Enitan so much with the shop and Enitan never disappointed her.
Other apprentices later joined her that morning and they all noticed her bulgy eyes. She told them she didn’t sleep well and they told her to lie down on the mat in the shop but she said she was fine.
Later that morning, Taofeeq arrived and as he opened his own shop, he called upon the apprentice girls greeting them one after the other like he always does. Everyone of the girls responded to his greeting except Enitan. Taofeeq was worried as it was unusual of her. After he settled in his shop, he came over to Enitan’s shop and the first thing he noticed was her swollen eyes.
He inquired about the problem but Enitan said there was no problem.
“Please don’t give me that! With this swollen eyes! You can’t tell me there’s no problem.” Taofeeq pestered and the other girls exchanged glances.
They all knew Taofeeq has a burning affection for Enitan the way he was always concerned about her. The way he was always rooting for her and the way he comes looking for her every now and then speaks volume. If he doesn’t, why would he sponsor her to school to study? They all thought.
Enitan insisted there was no problem but Taofeeq wasn’t convinced. He summoned her to his shop and queried her again for the umpteenth time before Enitan opened up to him. She explained everything that happened that morning to him and when she got to the part where she poured pepper on her step-mum, Taofeeq exclaimed.
“Ha! You shouldn’t have done that!” Taofeeq exclaimed and Enitan burst into another round of tears.
“Why is everyone blaming me? Do you know the hell I go through in the hand of that woman? Her beating is always severe and there’s no day she beat me that I don’t have bruises. Now I have scars all over my body. Come to think of it! I’ll be twenty in a couple of months, what sane human being beats up a grown up girl like me if not a heartless and wicked soul. It’s enough, the beating, I can’t endure no more. I am fed up. I have gotten to my pain threshold and I don’t care if she doesn’t allow me into the house again. Perhaps, the street might even be a better place to live. I wish you were in my shoes so that you’ll know the pit of hell I am in. I truly wish you were in my shoes and you’ll know I have endured enough. Living shouldn’t be this painful! I need a break to gather the pieces of my broken heart together. The scars on my body is enough, I don’t want to accrue more scars. What man will marry me with all this horrible scars on my body……………………
“I will.” Taofeeq interrupted sharply and Enitan glanced at his serious face in mouth agape.
She smiled wryly and waved away the seriousness of his gaze.
“You’re joking right?” She asked faintly.
“No I am not. If you agree to marry me I’ll be glad. I love you regardless of the scars on your body. As a matter of fact, I don’t see the scars but beauty. The scars doesn’t define who you are, it only shows you’re strong, strong enough to wither a storm. I bless the day I knew you because you’ve brought so much joy into my life. Your sight alone makes me happy………………………..”
“Please stop it……don’t blackmail me with sweet talks. You want to make use of my vulnerability and my predicament to lure me into marrying you right, it won’t work. Please I have a lot to do in the shop. I’ll like to go if you don’t mind.” Enitan said and headed outside but she rushed back into Taofeeq’s shop while shouting and begging him to close the shop.
[The grass is not greener at the other side of life……………..a case of the devil I know is better than the angel I don’t know.
After Hardship is ease, was Allah’s promise]
LATEEFAH ADEWUNMI JUMAH