Walking across the street in the later evening, I keep shaking my head. The bars are filled with men and women likewise boys and girls, guest houses and hotels aren’t exclusive. Today is the evening of the so called Valentine Day. Many people are going astray today! Many innocent souls will get lost in the wilderness of lust! Many pure souls will fall into the dungeon of everlasting regrets! Just like myself, many kids will end up like me today!
Almost everyone walking on the street is wearing red; red and white, red and black, many combinations of red colours like amoxilline and tetracycline capsules. The whole town is always painted red on the day of Valentine, nahuzubillah! And 80% of Muslim youths are always involved. No matter what you say, no matter how you preach, people will still participate and err. I shake my head for myself. I remember when I was told, when I was warned, how I wish I had listened! But come to think of it, if the same scenarios should repeat themselves, I would still make the same mistake over and over again else I had let my brain rule over my feelings. Perhaps, most girls are like that, we let our feelings rule over our brain!
I just pray Idayah make use of my advice. She has been escaping the consequences excellently unlike me who has already get caught in the web of my disobedience. Alhamdulillah because if I hadn’t, I would have become worst. She may even got to be a better person if she returns in time before it’s too late. Allah is always an Ever-forgiven Lord!
“Yah Allah! Grant Idayah Your idayah” I chuckle, “her name is Idayah but she is a strayed dog!… I was also named after a pious woman, Mar’yam but I never emulate her piety, shame on me!” I soliloquize as I walk down to our house.
In front of our house sit my brother and his friend, Abu Anifah.
“When did he return?”
Although my brother isn’t harsh on me anymore, he hasn’t been free with me as before. I haven’t seen Abu Anifah since that day he advised me. I don’t think he has seen me either but he would have heard. No need to be shy but my legs keep dragging as I’m walking towards them.
“Keep your head up, Mar’yam! You don’t have to feel ashamed anymore, Kikiope!” I mumble, encouraging myself.
I smile, saying my teslim to them as I enter the house, closing the door behind.
“Alhamdulillah!” My heart almost burst.
I check the time, it’s almost Maghrib and I haven’t cooked. I rush into the kitchen and start cooking the dinner. My brother likes food and I don’t want this to be the first altercation I will receive since he arrives.
While cooking, my brother enters and for no reason I can tell, my heart starts racing in fear. He opens the pots on the hotplates and sees that I’m almost done.
“You are supposed to be done by after maghrib?”
“Okay” he rests his back on the kitchen’s opened door and faces me, “have you been going to the hospital for the antenatal care?”
“What about what I asked you the last time I called?”
“I asked the doctor and he said I shouldn’t obtain the JAMB form this year. He said it will be better if I wait till next year”
He nods, “I understand, that is better”
I think this is time for either query or interrogation so I calm myself and draw near the stool beside me and sit.
“Hope you always recite the morning and evening adhkars I taught you”
I nod, playing with my fingers.
“Have you thought of a name yet? I mean for the child”
“Hnnn… No, maybe I will think of one when I deliver”
“You supposed to, it’s sunnah to give the foetus a name when it reaches three months. So start thinking of one… Have you been buying the baby’s needs?”
“No, Ummy hasn’t mentioned it so I think it isn’t time yet”
Seeing his deportment, I’m now feeling at ease with him.
“Remind me at the weekends” he says as he abruptly exit without hearing my reply.
“He didn’t tell me what I should remind him of…” Smiling to myself, “he is now accepting me back as his sister” I continue what I’m doing at ease, till maghrib arrives.
“Mar’yam, I’m off to the masjid with Abu Anifah and we will both return after ishai for dinner” he shouts from outside.
I reply him that I’ve heard and they take off. Now I have enough time for myself…
“Asalam’alykum” Ummy greets as she enters.
“Wahlykum salam warahmatullah wabarakaatuhu” I run out of the kitchen and hug her.
“Don’t you know you are no more a kid”
I release her from the hug. She smiles and I smile at her.
“Get me a kettle of water, it’s time for maghrib” she says
We perform ablution and pray. After solat, while doing adhkar, I notice movement in my stomach. I smile,
“Why are you smiling?” Asks Ummy.
“Ummy, the baby is moving”
“Let me check”
Ummy places her hand on my tummy, the baby moves again.
Pointing to one side of my tummy “Ummy, this place”
Ummy moves her hand and places it where I’m pointing to. She smiles,
“That means he is healthy”
“He? How do you know it’s he?”
“I just know, it is he In’shaa’Allah”
“But Ummy, I think it’s a girl”
“I had a dream while I was admitted in the hospital…” I narrated the whole dream to her.
She takes a deep sigh, “I can’t tell if it’s a good or bad dream, what did you do when you woke up”
“I couldn’t do anything, I was so confused”
“Anytime you have such a dream, spit to your left side three times, say ‘ahuzubillah minna shaytaani rajeem’ three times and then you should turn and sleep on the opposite side on which you were previously sleeping on or you should get up and pray.”
I nod, “I pray it isn’t a bad dream”
She stares at me for a while,
“Mar’yam, this moment should have been one of the best moments for you and your husband if you had done this in the right way”
I don’t know what she meant but I’m feeling sad, poor me!
“Let me tell you about my first pregnancy, when I was pregnant with Abdullah. It was two months after our nikkah. Your father was very happy that he immediately called his parents for the news. He wanted to call his friends but I stopped him, he was overjoyed. What I just did with you now was what my husband used to do with me whenever I was pregnant, even when I was pregnant with you…”
I cut in, “really? But people do say that men care less when they start having children”
“Yes, some men do but not your Abu. He was always as caring as before even till his last breath, he kept mentioning my name. Whenever I was pregnant especially when it reached this stage as yours, he used to come home early in order to help me out in the home chores. It was his wont to bring home anything he thought I would be pleased with. Your father was always sweet, I’m missing him”
She starts wiping her face with her wrapper. She used to hide this feelings from us and pretended to be okay. This is the first time I’m seeing this side of her clearly. Even though I was small but I still remember those days, Abby was really a good husband and father.
“Ummy!” Tears assembles in my eyes too. I can’t bear seeing her in this state.
She forces a smile on, “I’m just missing him these days. I was so attached to your father and since that time he has gone I can’t help but miss him. Maybe if he were alive, we would have married you off to a better person before you fell into this error. He used to say you and your late sister are his ticket to jannah because of the hadith where the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, ‘Whoever has three daughters and he cares for them, he is merciful to them, and he clothes them, then Paradise is certainly required for him.’ It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, what if he has only two?” The Prophet said, “Even two.” Some people thought that if they had said to him one, the Prophet would have said even one.’ Your Abu used to discuss with me how we are going to raise you to be pious and religious women. But here we are! He is gone, your sister is gone and with only you, I couldn’t do it alone…”
Thinking to myself as she talks, “Ummy isn’t to be blamed, it’s I who lead myself astray.”
“Everything that happens in one’s life is ordained by Allah, He is the Best planner” she takes a deep sigh.
I’ve wanted to ask Ummy why she has not remarried. I can remember that Ummy was in her late 30s when Abby died, she had the chance but she didn’t. This maybe the perfect time.
“Ummy, why didn’t you remarry after Abby’s death”
“Your brother once asked me that. It’s just that if I should remarry, your Abu will no more be my husband in the akhira and I still want to be with him in jannah as I’ve promised. You know, his love, his care, I should be receiving them too in the akhira. Don’t you think it is worth enduring since I’m able to cope here alone?” she smiles.
“Can we be together with our spouse in jannah?” I ask.
“Sure, we will once we strive to end up in jannah”
A broad smile appears on my face. I never know there will still be romantic life in the heaven. If Lukman marries me, with the love I had for him, I would have been the happiest in jannah too but who knows if we have both reached the end of the road in this relationship. I think we already have! Even if in the future he comes back with some kind of excuses, I don’t think I can ever forgive and go back to him.
“Don’t worry dear, In’shaa’Allah you will soon go for the ultrasound scanning and we will start preparing for the baby’s needs. In as much as you promise to be a better you then I will always be there for you. You are still my ticket to jannah bi iznillah”
Ummy still has much hope in me, I shouldn’t ever dissapoint her anymore.
“So help me Allah”
Around 10am in the morning, hearing a knock at the door.
“Who can that be? I’m not expecting a visitor”
I take the key and walk toward the door asking who it is.
“It’s me Idayah, Asalam’alykum” she greets.
I reply her teslim and open the door. She enters and inclines on a seat tiredly. She looks so worn off.
She reclines her arms on the table before her and sigh, “I supposed to have listened to you. I was really a Valentine tool”
Tears threaten to come out of her eyes but I can see her holding them back.
“What do you mean?”
“You should know I slept at his house till this morning. When I woke up, he asked me when I will leave and I told him anytime. He was very unstable that I could sense something was going on so I was determined to stay for a while. He started bringing up some excuses trying to send me away but I turned him down and stayed. Then he left me in the house and went out. An hour later, a girl came in while I was in his sitting room and asked me who I am. I told her that I’m Abiodun’s girlfriend, she told me I was wrong that she is his fiancée and they are already engaged. I was about to stand up to her when she showed me their engagement pictures and her engagement ring.” Tears start flowing from her eyes, “Mar’yam, do you know what is making me sad this much? This girl looks much decent and cool. She talked and replied me in a cool manner even when I raised my voice at her. I looked like a complete fool before her that I couldn’t help but dragged my legs out of that house… I’ve been calling that Biodun but he isn’t picking my call. I can’t believe I’ve been played again by a man” she starts weeping.
I move closer to her and pat her at the back. Even though she is sad, I don’t pity her because I believe she pulls this on herself.
“Mar’yam, I had thought I could marry him because I think I loved him…”
I cut in, “but you said your Dad won’t allow you to get married now”
“Yes, but I’ve been thinking to push it through no matter what after I gain admission into the university this year, maybe in my second year. Mar’yam, you know I’m not growing younger and I’m now above 20years of age. It’s always my dream to marry young that is why I’ve been searching for a serious relationship these days. I’m also tired of dating different guys, I want to get married!”
“Sorry dear, you still have more boys at hand you can consider now”
She withdraws from my grasp, “others aren’t serious, none of them is ready to get married. All they know for now is to enter anything in skirt”
I burst into laughter, “even if a pig wears skirt?”
She also laughs as mucus slips from her nose. “Even a donkey!”
We both continue to laugh till the sadness reduces on her face. I ask her about the men she has at hand and which one has the possibility of wanting to get married to her but she isn’t sure of any. I advise her to desist from her illicit way and moves closer to Allah azza wajal and He shall provide for her.
“Put on the qimaar and be quick, the time isn’t on our side” says brother Abdullah, standing behind my door.
Today is the weekend he asked me to remind him of. He had bought me a new long qimaar and socks which I’m going to wear to the market with him this morning.
Hesitating to wear the qimar over my dress, he knocks on my door and enters after receiving my permission.
“Put it on…”
I cut in, “but… But brother Abdullah, people will stare at me and talk behind my back. I haven’t wore any qimaar as long as this before. Besides, this state I am… Th… They… ” voice get caught in my throat, I don’t think he can understand me even if I’m able to say it. People will call me different names like ‘serious after useless’.
“You aren’t serious, is that why you haven’t been using all the qimar I’ve bought you? Is what people will say more important to you than your obedience to your Creator? Even if they backbite about you, let it become a force and energy that will drive you forward along your success road, not the energy that will refrain you.”
I smile and hesitatingly put it on. Although I’m motivated, I still don’t understand why he prefers I wear qimaar.
“Isn’t a long dress that covers fully and a small head-cover sufficient?” I murmur.
Walking down the market with my brother, buying the baby needs from one baby store to another, I can sense some people staring at us. Those who know my brother but don’t know me ask him if I’m his wife and he says to them that I’m his sister. My brother carries the loads for me while I choose the items as we walk around the baby store. I tell him to let us buy it all in a store but he insists we search different stores for qualities. I would have been happier if I’m doing this with my husband still Ahamdulillah, I’m happy that my brother is giving me his support and doing this for me at this moment. It is true that no one can be compared to one’s blood!
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