Doctor Nancy had left Sumayyah’s room the day before when she had noticed that the other woman was deep in thought and wasn’t listening to her anymore. She felt so sorry for her and was more determined to have a heart to heart conversation with her. So here she was preparing to step into Sumayyah’s room, hoping she would at the very least listen to what she had to say. Inside the room, Sumayyah was sitting up in bed, with the pillows propped behind her back and neck, and a breakfast tray in her lap.She looked up and smiled at Doctor Nancy,
“Good morning Doctor.”
‘Good morning, Madam how are you feeling this morning.?”
“I feel fantastic doctor. I woke up with a wicked appetite and fortunately my mother-in-law brought me breakfast .” She had to leave to run some errands.” Sumayyah replied cheerily.
‘I can see that you are in a good mood. Was your husband here too- I mean did he come with your mother-in-law?”.
“No he didn’t” she replied. “Do you need to see him for something?”.
“No, it just seems strange that he has not been here to see you since the day he brought you in. But I can imagine that he’s been busy”. Doctor Nancy cleared her throat and continued; “Madam please I would like to have a word with you if you don’t mind.”
More bad news?. “Sure doctor, no problem ..and you may call me Sumayyah”.
‘Okay, Sumayyah.” Doctor Nancy smiled, sat on the visitor’s chair facing the bed and began, “I want to ask you a question and I want you to be honest with me. Can you do that?” Sumayyah nodded and Nancy continued; ‘”You were not attacked by dogs were you?”.
Subhanallah . Of all questions, Sumayyah least expected this one. She was surprised, but pleasantly so. Perhaps the doctor could prove to be a useful ally, her demeanour suggested she was sincere and was only trying to help. No one- least of all Zaid would suspect that she had anything to do with what she had in mind to execute. She decided to take a leap of faith and trust her. While Sumayyah weighed in her options, Doctor Nancy mistook her silence for fear and tried to reassure her.
“It’s alright don’t be scared you can talk to me. I only mean to help you. “
Sumayyah spoke up “No doctor you misunderstand. I am not afraid –at least not anymore”. She sighed ‘”The answer to your question is: NO. I was not attacked by dogs but by a human being. My darling husband”, she finished sarcastically.
Impressive . Nancy nodded and smiled. Any other woman would have lied or created a scene. Only a very few would have come out with the truth. “You are brave for speaking out Sumayyah, thank you for your candour. And also for trusting me with the truth. You see aside from my practice as a doctor I run an NGO; called WADOV –Women Against Domestic Violence. We basically try to advocate and sensitize the masses about the evils of domestic violence, rehabilitate people who have been through its rigours and trauma. We also try to stop it and bring the perpetrators to book whenever we are able to. Although we do realise that not only women are victims of this horrible phenomenon but we can agree that a higher percentage of them are.”
Interesting . Sumayyah was enjoying this. Who would have thought that Zaid – in a bid to cover his tracks would end up bringing her to a hospital run by an activist who could bring him down? She listened as Nancy continued, “ I took an interest in your case when I noticed your injuries were inconsistent with that of a dog attack- no bite marks and so on. And since I have some experience with this sort of thing I soon put two and two together and I decided that I would at least try and talk to you. Now one final question: “Would you like my help ?” Sumayyah nodded and replied,” Yes doctor.” “Good. Now I want you to think about what you want to do – I mean what your next course of action is going to be. Do you want to begin divorce proceedings or you want him arrested or you’ll like some financial compensation.?”. Sumayyah shook her head in response.
Ooh-kay Doctor Nancy tried something else ‘”What if some of our lawyers come down here to the hospital to get some information so they can get a restraining order against your hubby from the court.?”. She explained further “ I understand you may not want to return to your home in the meantime and wouldn’t want a repeat of what happened .”
Sumayyah smiled at the doctor and said “I understand all that you have said doctor and I really appreciate your offer to help. But sadly not all our interests are aligned”. She saw Nancy’s quizzical look and explained further “ You see as Muslims, we handle some matters in a different way than the contemporary world does, take divorce, for instance, only my husband or an Islamic judge has the power to dissolve the marriage. I also do not think I want to be embroiled in the mess of a police case. Plus I would like to go home; I want to see my kids. I mean no offence doctor but I will like to handle this in my own way.”
Nancy wasn’t expecting this “So you don’t want to leave your husband?”
“I have had some time to ponder my situation doctor and I have come to a decision. Will you help me doctor Nancy?”
“Yes, of course, I will, as long as it is within my power. What do you want me to do for you ?”
Sumayyah couldn’t understand Aminah. She had informed Amimah that her crush of all crushes Zaid, had proposed marriage to her through the Ameer, and all her friend had said was ‘what was your reply’ with a blank look on her face.
“Ore(my friend), you are supposed to be happy for me. This your look dey fear me o. And you have not said anything .” Aminah sighed and replied. “Of course I am happy for you.. and I have actually said something. I asked what your reply was.”
“Oh okay. I said what any girl would; I told him I would think about it, do istikhaara and get back to him after the exams. You know now, I didn’t want to seem too eager, but I am going to say yeees in shaa Allah.” Sumayyah stopped smiling when she saw her friend still looking sombre. “Hmm Ameenah I know that look, tell me what the matter is.” She plopped down beside her on the bed. Sumayyah had met Aminah since their first year in school and they had both grown quite close; even though they were not in the same department, they were roommates and did virtually everything together. “I have my reservations about Zaid that’s all”.
“Oh? How come you never mentioned it before? Sebi u know that I fancy him and I talk about him a lot.”
Aminah cast a wry look in Sumayyah’s direction “Na your own I Sabi now, I didn’t know he liked you too. I thought you would get over it ni.”
“Well, I am not getting over this one. Wetin be your reservation? Abeg spill jo”.
Aminah hesitated “I don’t know how to tell you”.
“Say it however you like jare”. Sumayyah was losing her patience.
“Farabale (be patient). You see there was this incident I witnessed involving Zaid and it made me see him in a completely new light.” She looked over at Sumayyah, who said: “Yes, go on”.
“It was one of those times you left school before me, I had gone to the mosque to pray. There was no one in the mosque – you know how deserted it usually is during the holidays – anyway I heard the voices of two people arguing. I went out to see and lo and behold it was Zaid and Ameerah arguing. Before I could say ‘Jack’ Zaid hit Ameerah across the cheeks twice.” She paused and allowed the information sink in. Sumayyah was shocked. “But he is a gentle brother. Maybe the Ameerah was veeery rude to him.?”
“I knew you would say that. Do you know what they were arguing about? Seating arrangements for the next programme; you know he’s the da’wah chairman, right? And from what I heard o the Ameerah was not rude, she only disagreed with him about who should be seated at the high table. He claimed she had no right to disagree with him because it is his forte, can you imagine? In my opinion, he had absolutely no right and no need to hit her. Not to mention it is forbidden by the prophet to hit a person in the face.”
Sumayyah had no answer, so Aminah continued, “Look, I know you really like him but I can’t help but think that a man who did that to a woman he has no ties to can do far worse to a woman he calls his own. Please, I just want you to think this through and not make a decision you will regret later. Ok?”
“Thank you for telling me this Aminah. You are indeed a good friend. I will make some more inquiries about him from the Ameer. He’s close to him. Are you satisfied?”
Aminah nodded and they hugged. “May Allah guide you”
Sumayyah believed her friend but Zaid was known by everyone as a gentle and kind person. He looked like he couldn’t hurt a fly. Not to mention he was religious- he spoke Arabic fluently, he had memorized the Quran and tried to emulate the prophet’s manners and dressing.She would give him an excuse. Maybe he was tired or had a lot on his mind- there was certain to be an explanation. Come tomorrow she would speak with Ameer Sabeel and also have a talk with Zaid himself. After all, there are two sides to a story.
Mama Sho helped her grandchildren, Ramlah (9) and Yusuf (4) out of the car and into the house. The kids were disappointed to meet the house empty, yet again. Ramlah started to whine:
“Mama Sho, where is Mummy now? you said she’ll be back soon. She’s not here”.
“Yes, where’s our mummy?” Yusuf echoed.
“Don’t worry my babies, she’ll be back soon inshaaAllah. How about I make you lunch while you go in and change? Ramlah help your brother ok?”.
Mama Sho went into the kitchen to prepare their lunch and her mind wandered as she did. She could not believe what she had found out the day before. When Doctor Nancy had told her about the pregnancy loss and adviced her on the kind of foods to prepare for Susu, her suspicions were confirmed, Susu had not been attacked by any dogs. She had seen no bite marks. But the question remained: Who could have done this to her? Zaid?. Omo mi ko(It can’t be my son) She shook her head It could not be. If he wasn’t out of the country for a course she would have confronted him. Zaid had left two days after Sumayyah was admitted and would be gone for at least a month. Besides this was not an issue to be discussed over the phone.
Mama Sho was determined to find out the truth, and the only person she could get it from now was Sumayyah.
The Thorn in The Rose
Sabeel was lying in his bed, alone in the hostel room he shared with Zaid and two others, deep in thought. He had lost out and wasn’t feeling very good about it. The one thing he had ever truly wanted had eluded him and he could do nothing to stop it. Sumayyah. He really cared about her though he wasn’t sure his feelings were reciprocated. But a man can hope, right? And that was what he had held onto whilst trying to get his priorities straight until Zaid had announced his intentions and had asked him to speak with her on his behalf.
As Ameer, it was his responsibility to follow through such tasks despite his own feelings; he had to be fair in his dealings no matter what. Sabeel prided himself that he was sincere, truthful and believed in qadar, so he had ignored the little voice in his head discouraging him and he had reached out to her: she had only agreed to meet with him after the third request. Sabeel delivered Zaid’s message and he received the reply that broke his heart a few weeks later. Sumayyah had agreed for Zaid to meet with her parents to ask her hand in marriage. Zaid’s voice cut through his musings; he hadn’t noticed him come in.
“Assalamu alaykum.” How far have you submitted your thesis?”. I just dropped mine with my supervisor. Deadline na Friday o.
‘Waalaykumsalam warahmatullah. No, I haven’t. just a few alterations and It will be good to go. Tell me, how far with your runs now?” Sabeel asked.
“Alhamdulillah. I just got off the phone with Sumayyah now and she informed me her mum wants my family to come on the 18th of next month.”
”Ok, that’s good. .Baarakallahu feek my brother.” Sabeel forced himself to smile.
”Aamin wa feeka baarakallahu. Thanks, bro. See, I wan rest my head small abeg, it’s been a long day.” Zaid replied. He laid down in his bed and could soon be heard snoring softly.
Sabeel watched Zaid and could not help but think how fortunate he was . Zaid was born with a silver spoon and now he was going to be married to the most eligible Muslimah on campus. Not that he was complaining , Alhamdulillah he was always content with his lot and he worked hard and prayed harder to better himself. In fact, his situation had been one of the reasons he had held out on expressing himself to Sumayyah; he was an orphan, struggling to see himself through school as he had no family willing to shoulder his burdens. He had nothing to offer her. Perhaps her being with Zaid was for the best and he was certain that Allah would grant him someone better. He only prayed for courage to get her out of his mind and move on with his life.
The day of the Nikkah dawned bright and clear, with the sun out and shining in all its glory. It was a beautiful day and Zaid believed he was the happiest person alive. Alhamdulillah, he was getting married to a woman he adored and whom he was sure loved him back ; courtesy his Uncle (and by Allah’s will of course), he was sure to land a job after his youth service at one of the most prestigious oil companies in Nigeria ; and his family was always on hand to support him. His sisters: Zainab and Faatimah had both flown in with their families to Lagos from Abuja and Canada respectively to grace the event and in their words; ‘give their little bro away in marriage.’ Both of them and Mama Sho herself had fallen in love with Sumayyah when they had met her for she had charmed them with her grace, beauty and courteousness; just as she had charmed him too. Everyone said that they made a beautiful couple and he was certain that they would be happy. He only wished both their fathers were alive to witness their union. He had lost his dad when he was 18 and Sumayyah had lost hers when she was just 5 and had been raised by her mum. Zaid willed the sad thoughts out of his mind while proceeding to prepare himself for his wedding. Just then Zainab knocked on the door to his room and stepped in when he gave the permission to enter.
“Oko iyawo (Husband) you never baf. Do you want to go to your wife with smelling armpits?” she joked.
“How you know say I never baf, you just came in now”
Zainab replied ‘Ah see you. Lala dey your mouth plus I could perceive the stench from down the corridor.”
They both laughed at that and Zainab said;
“But seriously, Zaid get ready and come down o hmm, before your mum starts to freak out. You know today’s is your big day and Mama Sho can be paranoid at times. Let me leave you to it, at least I will have something to report to her when I meet her downstairs. We are overseeing the catering and other preparations.
“OK. I will be down in a jiffy”.. Zaid said as his sister left his room.
Yes, it was his big day today. He would be a real man in a few hours; Lord of his own castle and his attending Lady to go with. He could not wait to begin ruling.
Sumayyah kissed her kids goodnight and tucked them into bed. God how I have missed you both They had been ecstatic when on their arrival from school they had met her in the living room, ready to welcome them with hugs and kisses. Ramlah and Yusuf had refused to leave her side, until bedtime. She watched them sleep and felt her heart burst with love. Her children were her only source of joy in the marriage and frankly for a while now they had been the only reasons she stayed. Zaid had been a source of her joy too, a long time ago, but her love for him had slowly but surely waned. Now all she felt for him was disgust and loathing. Sumayyah stepped out of the room and walked down the corridor to her and her husband’s room. Doctor Nancy had declared her fit and had discharged her in the morning; after she had spent three weeks in her care. They had both cemented their friendship and had had more conversations following the first one. She picked up her bag and retrieved the bottle of pills Nancy had supplied her with. It was crucial to her plan and she was glad that Zaid was not home. It would give her time to set things in motion accordingly. She started as she heard a knock on the door.
“Susu, it’s me. May I come in?” it was Mama Sho at the door
“Yes, ma”. Sumayyah returned the pills to her bag and placed it in her wardrobe. I will find a place to hide those pills later.
Mama Sho opened the door and walked into the room. “Amoke, ma binu (don’t be offended). I heard you leave the children’s room and seized the opportunity. I would like to talk to you, hope you don’t mind?”.
” Haba, Not at all Mama Sho. I hope all is well ma?”.
Komabasi naa ni. (I am trying to take precautions) Mama Sho sat on the bed and patted the space next to her, ’sit my dear’.
Sumayyah did so and Mama Sho began “First of all I want to thank you for taking good care of my family.
You became one of us ten years ago and you know that I love you like my own daughter. I know you think of me as your mother too; even more so since we lost your dear mum. The point of all this is that; I want you to trust me; even more than you already do. I want you to know that you can tell me anything and be rest assured that whatever ought to remain between us will stay between us. Do you understand me Susu?” Mama Sho looked into her daughter in law’s eyes and Sumayyah nodded with tears in her eyes. ‘Yes, ma. I do”. Mama Sho continued, “Good. Now Sumayyah i ask you by Allah to please tell me the truth. The injuries you sustained were not as a result of an attack by your neighbour’s dogs, were they?.
Sumayyah wanted so much to shout out the truth. She was tired of all the pretence , the lies, the cover-ups, and most of all, she had had enough of the battering. But how do I tell her the truth about her beloved son?.
Her new found resolve at the hospital waxed stronger by the day and even that had lifted a huge weight off her chest. Perhaps coming out clean about everything to her mother in law would not be such a bad idea. If anything, they shared the same gender and she would finally put that love she claimed to have for her to the test. Sumayyah shook her head and uttered softly; “No. I had no encounter with the Rotts”.
Her mother in law nodded as if confirming what she already knew. ‘ Who did this to you?”.
“ Zaid,” Sumayyah whispered.
Mama Sho’s shoulders slumped and she burst into tears. A part of her had wanted to believe that what she suspected was not true and that there was another explanation. She shook her head and repeated over and over “I am so sorry”. She was shocked and ashamed that her son had turned into an animal that beat his wife and robbed her of her child. Sumayyah tried to console Mama Sho as her tears flowed; her own eyes were not dry either. She felt sorry for her in law and hoped Mama Sho would forgive her for what she planned to do when Zaid returned.