TRASH AND TREASURE
On Thursday morning, Iman woke up with emptiness as usual. She got up sluggishly and proceeded to the bathroom. She made ablution, got out and stood up in prayers. She was in the last prostration when she heard a knock on her door. She smiled brightly with optimism that it was her husband.
She hurriedly did the last teslim and then jumped up to go get the door. She was beaming with smiles and at the same time apprehensive of what might happen if it was actually Ilyas. She opened the door gently with a palpitating heart and behold! It was her neighbor.
She held the door and blinked her eyes severally while the neighbor continued smiling. After a while when the woman wouldn’t stop smiling, Iman forced a wry smile in return and the neighbor spoke.
“Asalam Alaykum Amariya! How have you been?” The neighbor asked still smiling.
“Walaykum salam. I am fine?” Iman replied dully.
“Are you sure?” The neighbor queried now with a worried expression.
“What do you mean?” Iman asked while staring hard at her.
“Your face doesn’t look fine. Since you arrived with your husband on Saturday night, I had wanted to come say hi but my husband held me back. He told me I should give you guys space as newly wedded. But I have not been seeing neither you nor your husband anywhere around the house and I am worried. This morning I decided to come check on you and your face tells me all is not well.” The neighbor registered her concern.
“On the contrary ma, everything is fine. I just woke up and this happens to be my face whenever I’ve not had my bath. Thank you for checking up on me.” Iman explained and showed appreciation but the neighbor wasn’t convinced.
“My husband said he hasn’t been seeing your husband in the mosque, did he travel?” The neighbor pestered and this time Iman gnashed her teeth before responding.
“Yes he travelled. Please ma, I put something on the fire if you don’t mind.” Iman said and without waiting for a response, she shut the door and leaned her body against it as hot tears cascaded her cheeks.
What sort of a woman is this for goodness sake! Why wouldn’t she mind her business early in the morning? Why would she ask her if she was sure that she’s fine? Is her face like that of a Niobi? She soliloquized aloud with a sigh. It’s not really her fault, had it been Ilyas had not misbehaved the way he did, no one would have had the effrontery to ask her rubbish! She thought aloud again as the tears wouldn’t stop.
She was still leaning against the door when her tummy rumbled continuously. She felt the pang of severe hunger as she hadn’t had a whole meal since Sunday morning. She had been taking tea and water and it seemed those wouldn’t suffice her again. Her appetite had long gone since her husband disappeared plus she doesn’t see why she should be eating in her predicament.
That morning when her tummy wouldn’t stop rumbling noisily, she decided to make some rice with stew. She walked into the kitchen and got started. She put the rice on fire and proceeded to the freezer to fetch some pepper. Fortunately there were fresh peppers in the freezer. She got them, washed and poured into the blender. Hardly had she started blending when the power was interrupted. She gnashed her teeth again, a habit that had become part of her whenever she was frustrated.
She walked into the living room to raise the window blind to allow in some illumination when her eyes caught power at the neighbor’s flat. She opened the door to confirm her eyes and it was as she saw it. There was power at the neighbor’s so what went wrong in her own apartment.
She returned into the house, sank into the sofa and gave herself a nice cry. ‘Ilyas where are you? Why exactly did you have to leave me? Why! Why! Why! She soliloquized in tears and then suddenly she remembered she had the option of the generator.
Ilyas had told her the house has a generator house and his own generator is a yellow Elepaq model. She quickly dashed out to the back of the house where the generator house is and after coming face to face with the generator, she realized she couldn’t operate it. She didn’t know a thing about the generator and she stood there like a zombie.
She saw the start button, switched it and tried to pull the rope to start it but the generator wouldn’t start. She struggled with it for some minutes without success. She checked all the parts to see what she was missing but she wasn’t getting it. She gnashed her teeth again and hissed loudly out of frustration.
She turned to return to her apartment when she bumped into her neighbor. Her eyes blinked again and she walked gently pass the woman without uttering a word before her voice halted her.
“The power face in your apartment went off right? I can help you change it but before that, let me show you how to put on the generator.” The neighbor offered while Iman’s mouth went agape.
“Hav……..Hav……have you been stalking me?” Iman expressed with surprise.
“Stalking you? Why should I do that? I was here putting my clothes on the line for drying when you rushed into the generator house. I quickly sensed the power face in your apartment must have went off. I saw you standing in front of the gen in confusion and then I saw you again struggling with it, that’s when it struck me that you can’t operate it. Now do you need my help or not?” The neighbor asked with some charisma.
“I’m sorry if I was rude, please show me!” Iman requested politely and they both walked back to the generator house.
The neighbor showed her how to operate the gen. She asked her to try it and then she tried it and it was successful. She smiled and turned to her neighbor.
“I did it!” She screamed.
“Yes you did it. No one is born with technical-know-how. We all learn and learning is knowing.” The neighbor replied with smiles.
“Thank you ma.”
Then after, they proceeded to her flat where she helped her changed the power face. Iman beamed with smiles as she expressed her gratitude to the woman.
“Thank you so much, I am really grateful. This morning, you’re really a God sent.” Iman expressed appreciatively.
“It’s nothing. What are we neighbors for?” The neighbor replied with an engaging smile while Iman has another question for her.
“You’re really a super woman. How come you know how to do so many things?” Iman asked curiously while her neighbor smiled before responding.
“Because I have a husband who’s always home for just five days in a 30 days month. Apart from the headache, troubles and emotional instability that comes with a distance relationship, some of the advantage is that it trains a woman how to be self subsistence and independent of her husband. I don’t have to wait for my husband to change the bulb, put on the generator, kill the rats or get rid of cockroaches, fix gas cylinder, change power face or drive the car amongst others. All these I learnt through his absence and wherever he might be, his mind is always at rest that he has a wife who’s up to the task. He doesn’t have to panic that his home would be in disarray in his absence. He doesn’t have to run back home simply because his wife can’t kill a rat. Men adores women who aren’t weakling.” The neighbor expressed with smiles while Iman heaved a sigh.
“Thank you ma. I have to go in now. I have something on the fire.” Iman said while her neighbor exclaimed.
“Something on the fire since morning?” The woman exclaimed while Iman laughed.
“No, truthfully, I lied the other time just to dismiss you but this time, I truly have something on the fire.” Iman replied while the neighbor shook her head.
“You must really think I am a nosy neighbor right? No my dear, I am truly concerned about you. It’s just my way of strengthening the bond of brotherhood. After all, we’re Muslims and one of our responsibilities to one another is visitation as it enhances love. I haven’t been seeing neither you nor your husband around and I just thought it wise to ask.” The neighbor said and surprisedly, Iman burst into tears.
“Why are you crying? Please don’t cry again.” The neighbor expressed worriedly, moved closer to her and wrapped her in her embrace.
She assisted her into her apartment and immediately they stepped foot into the house, the smoke of burnt food greeted them. They both began to cough heavily. They covered their noses and rushed into the kitchen to switch off the burner. They opened doors and windows and ran out while coughing very hard.
“I’m so sorry. We were so engrossed in the conversation that I almost burnt down the house. That would have been a disaster added to the already existing one in my life. Alhamdulillah RabalAalamin.” Iman expressed with an unhidden sadness.
“You don’t have to be sorry. I think I held you up with the gist and didn’t allow you go in to check your food. May Allah’s protection never cease upon us. We thank Allah the house is not burnt. What already existing disaster are you talking about?” The neighbor was curious to know because she was concerned and had also developed a soft spot for her.
“………Hmmmm…..Never mind ma.” Iman dismissed her question.
“Okay…………Please let’s go to my apartment till yours is safe enough to stay.” The neighbor offered while Iman couldn’t decline.
The two apartments were the only ones in that compound. And the two occupants were Muslims. Since her arrival on Saturday, she hadn’t been opportuned to meet the neighbors but Ilyas had gave her gist about them prior to their wedding. He told her the couples were nice people who treated him with goodness. Ilyas would go on and on about the Hamzah’s. How they made his stay in Warri hitch free and how they’d been wonderful.
At the neighbor’s house, Iman was offered a meal which she couldn’t decline. She was really hungry and her body had started shivering. She couldn’t bear the pain any longer. She just had to accept the food. She requested to eat her food in the guest room because her neighbor’s husband was home which was granted. She was still eating when a message entered her phone.
It was a message from Ilyas, she quickly glanced through with her chest beating so fast. She read over again the message which said ‘I thought I was marrying a treasure. I never knew my pack of wrapped gift would be a trash. I am boiling with rage as I type this, I don’t want to see your face ever again!’
She held her phone and read over and over again with hot tears in her eyes. At a point, the wordings of the message became blurred due to her the pool of tears that settled in her eyelid.
Her neighbor walked into the guest room and met her crying while staring at her phone. She moved over to her and tapped her on the shoulder but she wasn’t present. Her mind had travelled away. The neighbor sat in front of her and collected the phone from her. She glanced through her message and because she is an experienced wife who had lasted over a decade in the marital institution, she understood her dilemma without difficulty.
“This is the disaster you talked about the other time right? Mrs Hamza asked while Iman nodded her head in reply.
I understand what you’re going through.” Mrs Hamza remarked but Iman continued crying.
“I understand how you feel but you have to stop crying. Crying won’t stop your problem.” Mrs Hamzah tried to console her.
“He called me a trash.” Iman lamented amidst tears.
“You ain’t a trash, not at all. Can you tell me what happened exactly?” Mrs Hamzah asked while Iman sniffed severally before responding.
“Can I trust you ma?”
“On Saturday night, there was a white sheet on the bed. I think he had a high expectation of meeting me as a virgin but I am not. He said I deceived him. He didn’t ask if I was a virgin and I didn’t remember telling him I was one so I don’t understand how I deceived him. I had a past I am not so proud of and I have long repented. Why should he call me a trash simply because I wasn’t a virgin? Or should I have told him I wasn’t a virgin? Honestly I wanted to tell him but I couldn’t bring myself to do so. If I had known he cherishes virginity so well I would have told him. I don’t mean to deceive him…………..He shouldn’t treat me like a trash.” Iman said and burst into another round of tears.
“Please stop crying. You have to stop crying please, crying won’t solve anything. You see my dear, men are of different species. Some men wouldn’t marry a woman who isn’t a virgin even at gun point. They cherish virginity just like the air they breath. This category of men can go as far as asking a woman they intend to marry if she is a virgin or not. With a positive answer, they stay while a negative answer will make them take to their heels. We can’t blame them, its their preference. And in case they don’t ask before marriage and they ain’t ‘fortunate’to marry a virgin, they begin to throw tantrum. They start waging war against their wives to the extent that they lose the goodness inherent in that woman and marriage itself. Your husband belonged to that category.” Mrs Hamzah explained.
“Really!” Iman screamed.
“Yes. All men cherish virginity and only an insane man wouldn’t be happy that he married a virgin. Some men don’t mind to marry a non virgin, they believe everyone has a past and they ain’t marrying the past but the present. I had a similar experience as you with just a slight difference. I’ll share my experience with you and also tell you how you can win back your husband’s love.”
To be continued.
LATEEFAH ADEWUNMI JUMAH