A long silence trailed Tomi’s reiteration of No to Fatia’s pleas. The two ladies both stared at each other for some seconds after which Tomi shook her head to affirm a negative answer and proceeded to her room. She sat on the bed as she ruminated on what to do about Fatia.
A lot of thoughts crossed through her troubled mind. If she listened to Fatia and kept quiet, that would means indulging her bad habit. If she goes ahead with her decision to report her, the enmity between them would get worse but then she wouldn’t wish for her life to be destroyed. If she were to be her sister Teslimah, she wouldn’t even think twice before reporting her to her father. So why would Fatia’s case be different since she considered her as a blood sister living under her care.
Tomi was still in her thought when she heard a knock on her door. She told the person the door wasn’t knocked and Fatia walked in like a prodigal son. She sat beside Tomi on the bed while Tomi avoided her gaze. She doesn’t want to compromise her decision to report her.
“Aunty Tomi I am sorry please don’t report me to my uncle.” Fatia pleaded for the umpteenth time while Tomi heaved a deep sigh before responding.
“Listen to me Fatia, reporting you does not mean I want to get you into trouble. It’s obvious you’ve grown wild out of control and I can’t handle you alone. Remember I am not the head of this house, neither was I the one that hosted you. Your uncle is the head of the house and he hosted you, it will just be appropriate for me to tell him about your escapades in order to put you in check. You need urgent help and since you don’t respect me at all, it’s obvious you’ll continue to behave insolently towards me so why don’t I report you to someone you can listen to.” Tomi replied with sincerity while Fatia was silent for a while before speaking again.
“I am so sorry aunty for all my bad behaviors towards you but I promise I’ll change henceforth and behave well. Please don’t try to avenge my ill treatments towards you.” Fatia expressed with shaky voice which got Tomi’s mouth agape.
“Avenge your ill treatments? I’m surprised at your way of reasoning. This is not about me but about you. Don’t see my reporting you as a clap back. No, I stand to gain nothing by doing that to a younger person I’m supposed to protect. I don’t want your life to be completely ruined. You need urgent rehabilitation don’t you get it. If an unmarried teenager can go as far as having a birth control implant done with a fake mother then her situation has completely gotten out of hand.” Tomi revealed while Fatia’s mouth went agape.
“Aunty how………..I mean how…………..how did you……………………………” Fatia stuttered incoherently with a shaky voice.
“How did I know about your birth control implant? Is that what you wanted to ask?”
“Y…e…s.” Fatia stuttered again.
“Well, the hospital you visited to have it done is the hospital where I’m serving. I saw you and I was so disturbed I had to ask and I was told about your mission. Can you now see why I can’t listen to your plea? Can you now understand why it is imperative for me to tell your uncle? I don’t want your life to be a total mess. I want you to live an upright life because there’s no good in being wayward. The result is always tears, regrets and destruction.” Tomi explained and at this juncture, Fatia broke into tears.
“You don’t need to cry. Don’t be scared either. Your uncle won’t blow your matter out of proportion. He understands that teenage age is a crazy age so he’ll handle your matter with utmost care. He just needs to know so that we’ll help you together. I can’t do this alone. I need to know some information for me to be able to help you appropriately. Who’s the woman that escorted you to the hospital as your mum?”
“Ermmmm………………….ermmmmm………………..errmmmmmmm.” Fatia stuttered.
“Relax okay! Don’t panic. See me as your big blood sister whom you can trust. I won’t put you into trouble I promise. Knowing this information will assist me to appeal to your uncle to tamper justice with mercy while dealing with you. You can trust me absolutely.” Tomi assured.
“She’s my friend’s mother. My friend introduced me to the man I brought home today. Myself, Titi and Lola are friends. Titi and Lola used to make jest of me that I don’t have a boyfriend. I told them I can’t have a boyfriend because my mummy told me not to have one because they always demand for sex. Titi told me it’s not a big deal to have a boyfriend and that any girl that does not have a boyfriend in this present time is not modern or civilized. She also told me that sex is not a big deal either. She told me sex is part of living a good life that I shouldn’t deprive myself. I told her I was scared that my mother would behead me if I get pregnant. She laughed loudly and told me I can’t get pregnant that there’s a solution. Her mother did same for her and she spoke to her mother to take me to do same. I did it today and I thought I could enjoy myself since my uncle won’t be coming here for the next three days. I thought I could silent you as always, I never knew you wouldn’t allow me have my way.” Fatia explained soberly.
“And I would never have allowed you again and again. I can accept any form of insult or ill treatment and even disrespect from you but definitely not Zina. I have zero tolerance for it and you having the audacity to want to do it under my nose is a big insolence and equally a disrespect to your uncle. Anyways I forgive you. So tell me, has he done anything to you?”
“No………..we were being careful of your presence. I was also scared of it because that would be my first time.”
“So…………are you telling me now that you’re still a virgin?”
“Yes I am.”
“Very good. In fact I am really happy to hear that. Now listen to me! Those friends of yours, Titi and Lola or whatever their names are, you have to run far away from them because they are life destroyers. They equally have bad parents that indulge and encourage their bad behaviors so no good child should keep them as friends. A lamb that befriends a dog will definitely eat faeces. Bad friends are bad influence capable of destroying a good child. Show me your friend and I’ll tell you who you are. I know the damage bad friends can do to someone’s life, I have been there and I am talking from experience. Don’t allow anyone talk you into losing your virginity. Your virginity is your most treasured asset as a woman, don’t lose it. Don’t listen to your friends about having a boyfriend. You don’t need it.”
“I don’t need it?” Fatia marveled.
“Yes you don’t need it. Islam frowns at boyfriend/girlfriend relationship not because of anything but because it’s a road to Zina just like the one you just escaped from. Allah says in Surah Al-Isra verse 32 ‘And do not come near fornication, it is a shameful deed and an evil , and opening the road to other evil’ Do not move near is the commandment of Allah because Allah knows there are some things that leads to it. If those things are avoided then there’s no way one can move near to Zina.”
“What are those things to be avoided?” Fatia asked eagerly.
“Very good! One of the things to be avoided is keeping a boyfriend. No relationship should exist between a non-mahram man and a non-mahram woman except there’s an agreement of marriage. When there’s no marriage in view, a man and a woman shouldn’t be friends to avoid zina. Even when there’s a marriage in view, caution should be taken like avoidance of visitation not to talk of when marriage is not in view, total abstinence from the opposite sex is strictly required. No shaking of hands. No hugging. No kissing, smooching, pecking, and no eye to eye contact. Allah says in An-Nur verse 30: ‘Tell the believing men to lower their gaze [from looking at forbidden things] and protect their private parts [from illegal sexual acts…..etc]. You can see that the warning of lowering of gaze preceeded that of protection of private parts because our eyes is the first contact of Zina. If the eyes are protected then it won’t look at forbidden things and then the heart won’t yearn for Zina while the hands won’t touch and the private parts would be saved.” Tomi explained passionately while Fatia continued sobbing quietly.
“Stop crying please. I know you have realized your mistake but you have to stop the tears.” Tomi urged.
“Thank you aunty Tomi. I appreciate your kindness. I have heard all you said and I’ll run as far as I can from Titi and Lola. I’ll also tell Deji that I’m not interested again. Please don’t tell my uncle about it.” Fatia pleaded again.
“My dear, you still don’t understand that I can’t do anything on my own without telling your uncle. He is the head of you and I and as such we musn’t hide anything from him. The birth control implant you have in your body must be removed and I can’t do it alone. That woman that took you to the hospital to stand as your mother is a criminal and should be arrested to serve as deterrent to other women like her. I can’t do all these alone. Trust me I won’t put you into trouble. Amir is my husband and I know how best to handle him. I want you to see my decision to involve your uncle as a means to reform you and not to destroy you. You’re my sister and I wish for you what I wish for myself please trust me uhn.” Tomi expressed with pleading eyes while Fatia nodded her head.
“Very good. Now it’s late let’s go to bed. Or do you want me to come and pass the night in your room?” Tomi suggested while Fatia nodded in agreement.
Tomi grabbed a pillow and they both exited her room to Fatia’s room to pass the night.
The following morning, Tomi tried her husband’s line again and it was the same switch off story. She became apprehensive but Fatia suggested that she tried Aminah’s line. She tried Aminah’s line and was relieved when Aminah’s phone went through.
“Asalam Alaykum ma. How was your night?”
“Walaykum salam. It was fine and yours?”
“Do you want to speak to your husband?” Aminah preempted.
“Yes please ma. I have been trying his line without success since yesterday evening.”
“I thought as much. He lost his phone yesterday afternoon.” Aminah informed.
“Subhana’Allah! Now I see……………please let me talk to him.”
“Just a minute please!” Aminah replied and dashed to the living room where Amir was.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t reach you since yesterday, I lost my phone.” Amir explained after they exchanged greetings.
“No problem I understand. Can you come by the house today? I need to discuss something important with you.”
“Hope there’s no problem?” He asked with a worried tone.
“If you’re this worried then you shouldn’t have left a pregnant woman all alone without checking on her since yesterday.” Tomi protested.
“We still spoke yesterday afternoon before my phone was snatched by some hoodlums under Ikeja bridge. I can’t believe you’ve missed me so terribly.” He laughed out.
“Who missed you? When your phone was snatched, couldn’t you have reached me through another means? How dare you went to bed without checking up on me?” Tomi protested again.
“I said I am sorry. Please forgive me uhn. Okay I’ll get you Pizza when I’m coming.” He tried to pacify.
“Don’t bribe me with pizza joor! Anyways, don’t only buy pizza, buy coldstone ice cream too and some Habeeb yoghurt.” Tomi specified.
“Alright, I’ll buy that and more. Let me go now to get ready for office.”
“Alright, do have a nice day…………love youuuuu.”
“Me too.” He replied and the call was ended.
After Tomi ended the call, the aroma of jollof rice filled the air and as she got up to go to the kitchen, Fatia appeared with a plate of jollof rice and handed it to Tomi.
“This is your food ma.” Fatia said with respect.
“My food?” Tomi marveled.
“Yes your food ma.” Fatia repeated with humility while Tomi stared strangely at her before responding.
“Thank you so much but I hope you’re not trying to silent me with a plate of rice.” Tomi asked to be sure of her intent.
“No ma. I am not trying to silent you ma. I thought about my situation all through the night and I concluded that the best thing to do is to inform my uncle. I know you have a good intention towards me and I know you’re after my success. Don’t worry you can go ahead and inform your husband. He’s my uncle and he hosted me so he should know whatever I am up to. I also want mama Titi to be punished because she forced me to go for the implant against my wish.”
“She forced you?” Tomi marveled.
“Yes I told her I don’t want to do it but she said if I don’t do it I won’t be able to enjoy a good sex life.”
“And about the jollof rice, it’s not a bribe at all. I realized I have been treating you with disdain despite how good you’ve tried to be with me. And now I have decided to be good to you. I am aware that you can’t eat the food you make by yourself and instead of me to assist in that regard, I turned a blind eye to your plight. Please forgive my childishness.” Fatia expressed soberly.
“You’re forgiven my dear, from the bottom of my heart. Tomi expressed with emotions and the two ladies hugged each other tightly.
It was a Friday and after the Jummah congregational prayer, Amir drove to Tomi’s house in Magodo.
Tomi was in the room when he arrived while Fatia was in the living room. Fatia’s heart ran a somersault after sighting her uncle but she consoled herself with Tomi’s assurance of not getting her into trouble. Amir exchanged greetings with Fatia and noticed her dull face. He asked what was wrong but she replied with nothing. He asked after Tomi and Fatia replied that she’s in her room while Amir walked into the room immediately.
Tomi who had earlier heard her husband’s voice tried to play a prank. She hid behind the door and immediately Amir entered, she suddenly appeared upon him from behind the door with a scream and the latter shouted ‘subhana’Allah with fright.
“I scared you!” Tomi expressed excitedly as if she was going to get a medal for scaring him.
“Stop being childish! You didn’t scare me, I was just surprised.” He said with some ego.
“Liar! I could see your heart wanted to jump out of your chest yet you denied being scared.” Tomi laughed out.
“Okay………….I was scared. Happy now?”
“Yes I am happy. Don’t be too egoistic to admit something. You’re human, and being scared is part of being human. I am your wife, don’t try to act tough with me……………anyways I have a surprise for you.” She said with smiles.
“What’s the surprise? He asked eagerly.
“Close your eyes.” Tomi instructed while he obeyed.
She brought out a wrapped parcel and placed it in his hands.
“Open your eyes.” She instructed again and he did as he was told.
“What’s this?” He queried with confusion.
“Unwrap it and let’s see.” She replied excitedly while he unwrapped and a pack of phone was staring back at him.
“You bought a phone for me?” He marveled.
“Yes now, didn’t you lost your phone? I don’t like it when I can’t reach you so I had to do what I had to do.”
“Where did you get the money from?” He queried.
“I am a corper remember. I get #19800 every month which I don’t get to spend at all because I have a highly responsible man who takes care of my needs. This is just a token of my appreciation to you for being a good man. You buried my initial worries and put smiles on my face everyday. Getting you what you need most at the moment is not too much for me to do please accept my heart.”
“I really do appreciate but you shouldn’t have bothered. I can afford a phone. Honestly I don’t want you to touch your NYSC allowance but save big.”
“I know you can afford a phone but nothing can be compared to a gift because it comes from the deepest of my heart. If you don’t accept it that means you don’t respect my feelings.” She grumbled.
“Okay……….I accept it wholeheartedly. Thank you so much. I love you and you’ll forever be my darling.” He said and snugged her tightly.
“Me too.” Tomi replied.
“What’s the meaning of me too?” Amir queried unsatisfactorily.
“I am copying you now. Didn’t you replied with me too when I said I love you in the morning?” Tomi protested with a twist of her body while Amir laughed out loudly.
“What’s funny?” She asked while staring hard at him.
“You this girl ehn, you’re a clown. I replied with me too in the morning because your co-wife was there but now there’s no third party why do you have to reply with a code.” She replied amidst laughter.
“I understand why you replied that way, I was just pulling your legs. Okay……I love you too.”
“Better!……….So………..You asked me to come, or is it because of the phone?”
“No it’s not because of the phone. I have been trying your line since last night like I told you in the morning. I wanted to discuss Fatia with you.” She started slowly.
“I hope she hasn’t done anything silly? I won’t hesitate to throw her out if she try to dishonor you………………….”
“No it’s not about me and please promise me you won’t flare up after telling you this. And promise me again that you’ll handle it with adequate wisdom. I’m telling you not for you to punish her but to assist her on her reform journey. I’ve spoken a lot to her and she’s realized her mistakes. Please don’t try to aggravate the matter.” Tomi pleaded.
“I don’t know the gravity of what you’re about to say but I’ll try and be calm.
“Okay………..the thing is……….errmm………as you know that teenage age is a crazy age where teenagers comes up with series of weird behaviors and at the core center of these weird behavior is peer pressure, peer influence which every teenager battles with.” Tomi started.
“You’re still beating about the bush. What has she done?” Amir replied impatiently.
“Errm……Fatia has been keeping bad and dangerous friends and it’s now telling on her behavior. Today she came to have a birth control implant done at the hospital where I’m serving………………”
“You promised to be calm.” Tomi reminded.
“I’m calm…………..I’m calm……………..I’m calm.” He repeated impatiently.
“When I got home I met her with a man in the house…………..”
“You’re breaking your promise.”
“I’m sorry. Please continue.”
“I tried to call you but your phone wasn’t going through but I managed to salvage the situation. I got the man arrested when he refused to leave.”
“All these happened in my house?”
“Calm down. Apparently, Fatia doesn’t know the gravity of what she did. She was being influenced badly. I told her to run away from those misleading friends and I also admonished her concerning keeping of boyfriends. I don’t want the whole issue to back fire on me and that’s why I had to tell you especially when a birth control implant was involved.” Tomi explained while Amir was quiet for a while.
“Honey you’re not saying anything.” Tomi shook him.
“I’m speechless. In fact if you hadn’t told me you would have gotten into trouble because I wouldn’t have taken it lightly with you. What nonsense! Under my nose? In fact, if you hadn’t told me, I don’t know what I would have done to you. Do you know how the girl is to me? She is the daughter of my older sister which makes her my flesh and blood.”
“I know you know I’m just trying to remind you. Her mother entrusted her in my care and you know what that means. Her mum is a disciplinarian who doesn’t tolerate nonsense. She can’t try such nonsense if she’s with her mother. So why would she try that nonsense in my house. If anything bad had happened to her now I would be blamed for being careless and weak because her mother hesitated before releasing her to me in the first place.” Amir said angrily.
“Are you now blaming me?”
“I am not blaming you. I am just trying to let you know the problem you would have gotten yourself into should you have concealed her.” He said angrily, got up in anger and proceeded to the living room while shouting Fatia’s name with a roar.
“Take me to the woman’s house right away!” He instructed Fatia.
“What woman?” Fatia replied with fright.
“The woman that took you to do a birth control implant.” Amir shouted.
“Yes sir.” Fatia replied with a shaky voice.
“Honey please take it easy.” Tomi’s voice trailed them as they walked out.
“Why is he now transferring his anger to me?” Tomi grumbled as both uncle and niece stepped out.
To be continued
LATEEFAH ADEWUNMI JUMAH