Alhaji Suri sat in his bench and thought about what Alhaji Babu told him yesterday, he is to give his daughter’s hand to him in marriage or clear all his debts. How was he going to clear this debt? If he did, that would be the end of him, his finances would crumble. But looking at Fati, what could he do to convince his stubborn daughter to marry Alhaji Bubu who is his age mate? He soliloquized only to feel startled upon hearing his wife’s voice.
“Alhaji, what is the matter? Why are you talking to yourself?” Mma Fuleira asked
“Oh, it is nothing, on a second thought; I think I should tell you. It’s about Fati, Alhaji Bubu wants her hand in marriage”
“I believe I did not hear you well, it cannot be Alhaji Bubu who is almost 70 years old?” Mma Fuleira enquired.
Silence engulfed both of them. They know the implication of defying the man, and they know what will happen if they break the news to Fati, but they by all means have to put the latter at a disadvantage, the question was how?
Fati is a university graduate who has sworn never to marry a Muslim although she is from an Islamic background. In fact, she joins no religion. Her father is of the opinion that the girl has been brain washed by some traditionalist. Whenever the girl opens her mouth to talk about religion, she talks about religion being used as a tool of colonialism, being used to cheat and suppress women, being used to cheat others and the worst of all, being used to kill innocent people.
Alhaji Suri sometimes thinks he made a mistake sending her to school. It certainly is school which has brainwashed her into rebellion. Just last week, during a conversation with some of her friends in his own house, he had overheard their conversation and was shocked at what his daughter had to say;
“What? To marry a Muslim man, I’d rather stay single or kill myself. It is not that I aim to label. I know the religion is fine. People who practice it without greed do great and live with mankind in harmony, but now, many are confusing religion with their barbaric cultures and using the literal meanings of quotations from the Bible or the Quran to push their selfish desires. It seems the Bible helped Christian women to be human by specifically saying one man to a woman, the idea of Muslims being asked to marry as many as four and love them equally, which is ridiculous because to me no man can love four women equally, makes me fear getting into any of those traps. I also pity the women whose jealousies are cocked on their chest forever. I reject being thrown into a slot of a person who has four slots, such greedy people thriving on the wings of religion to exercise their greed make me sick. They marry a woman today only to see another tomorrow and start battling with their first slots to fill their second slots, then a third. They then reserve the last slot for their old age only to force themselves on some young girls using the ratio of men to women as their worldly excuse before they turn into corpses. Such strange people! If there is an Allah somewhere above, He must really be shedding tears so He should reserve severe punishments for them in their graves.”
Alhaji Suri could not sleep that night. He had married three women but died, he felt so insulted by the words of his daughter but could not confront her for fear of her saying what she said to his face. He has had loved all of them to the best of his capabilities, but Mma Fuleira tops his love chart. So this girl has succeeded into making him do an examination on his life. He knows he is courageous, but he does not understand why all his male children are calm while Fati got his extreme trait; his fire. He can never dare to blaspheme but his daughter does that easily. He hoped none of his religious friends hear what she said, she might be stoned for blasphemy. Since he heard those words from her, he resolved never to have any conversation with her about religion ever. Now what is he to do?
He could tell her and force her to agree, but knowing Fati, she is not the type to be forced into submission. He calls for a family meeting when she goes to work and talks to his family about the problem. They agree that Fati must be married without her consent.
It was a bright Saturday when Fati saw the preparations going on, the house was painted, “pito” was brewed, different meat were fried, she asked what was going on only to be told, Fauzia is to get married to her longtime boyfriend. She helps somehow though she did not like the boy in question because of his drinking prowess.
He woke up on Sunday morning only to feel the hands of people on her body, something like a massage. It seems she has been bathed and was being dressed. She asked what was going on only to be told that she is getting married to someone. She made to talk and realized that her talks will do nothing for her. She must have a plan rather. She asked who her husband to be was but none teld her. She knew instantly that it couldn’t be good.
She was taken out dressed and covered. Lele was applied on her hands and feet, when she got out, they poured something on her signifying her marriage was sealed, still, there was no sign of her husband. After all the loud music and greedy mouths who saw her marriage as an opportunity to feast, her things were packed into a car and she was sent to her husband’s house.
She was sleeping because she was too tired, she felt a hand on her, opened her eyes and managed to switch on the light only to see Alhaji Babu’s protruding belly leading him as he stands naked, he says “sorry” and makes to push her on the bed but she instinctively bites his hands until blood oozes. As the man wails, attracting some people in the house into the room, she collects her thoughts and decides to run away. But she realised that the security man had been warned to never open the gate for her. The walls are also too tall to climb.
Hajia Sunda was very angry with Alhaji Babu;
“I told you to be very careful with women you go in for. With your diabetes, do you have to go in for a dog who will bite and send you to your grave?”
His second and third wives agree and the insult went on and on and even after the doctor finished his treatment and left, she heard insults directed at her. She realised that she needed to find a way out of the house as fast as she could but all eyes are on her. She opened her room only to realise that she had been locked inside. She calls out but none minds her.
She cried herself to sleep until she saw the door opening, before she could get to the gate she saw the intruder put her food down and quickly locking the door on her way back. She decided to starve. She had no phone to call anyone and she had no one on her side. She knew that the moment she realised that they all knew she was getting married but only she was oblivious to that fact. This is a war she must fight and triump. Even if she has to lose her life, she does not care as long as she is not turned into a corpse vehicle for an old man waiting to enter his grave.
She had known Alhaji Buba but had never known the man harbored such thoughts about her. He had usually patronized the bank in where she worked, she knew he was her father’s best friend and was a very wealthy man but never thought he had such moronic thoughts.
That evening, the man stood outside and addressed her, if only she is willing to lie with him, he will make it possible for her to live a normal life and even go to work, but if she remains adamant, he is going to lock her in the room for as long as it takes.
Fati felt very hungry, she did not want to eat any of the foods that the people had brought in for fear of it having a sedative. It’s been over five days now and she is fast losing touch with time. She thought about Kwame Kodie, he had thought her how to break into houses when she had wanted to be a detective. That guy is the only one she had had a real connection with throughout his life but he had been frank with her, his parents will not find it funny if he happens to even date her, something about the Christian religion and its rivalry with the Islamic religion. Then she started hating Christianity too. Religion she thought was supposed to make people free and give them peace not tying them like ropes so much so that they cannot breathe freely in this world. She searches for a pin and unlocks the door as everyone sleeps.
She stepped on the compound of the house and realised that the gateman was dozing outside his small room. She dashes into the hedges. The noise woke him up, he got up, surveyed the area and walked around a bit only to go back to his dozing. Fati did not know how long she was in the hedge, but she felt something move and thought it was a snake, at that same time, she heard a car spark and run to see if she could get the chance to go outside with the car. As she stepped out, she was blinded by the sunlight, she felt some sharp pains and fell unconscious.
She woke up feeling pain all over her body, she felt as though she had been pounded. She saw her mother sitting by her bedside and Alhaji Bubu’s first wife sitting at the far end. She called her mother and told her:
“I forgive you, all of you for what you did to me. I was knew the most happiness through you, I now know the most sadness through you. I am really sorry for all your caged minds. I wish somehow that you find the liberation before joining the earth. Living like this all your lives, deciding for others what to make of their lives certainly must have its heartaches. But for the life you chose for me, I would rather die than thread that path, so whatever happens to me, please know I’m at peace. Now please get me some water”
Mma Fuleira rushed for the water, only to come back to see her daughter being wheeled away to the mortuary. She passed on Hajia Sunda said. I am sorry, my son did not know she was hiding in the hedges, he was going out when she run into his car. I am so sorry.
Mma Fuleira knew within her heart that she could not blame anyone but herself for her loss. Her greed, her husband’s greed and her family’s greed had cost her her only daughter. She had two sons and a daughter, now she has only two sons. She cried bitterly. When Alhai Suri heard the news, he fell down and said not another word until he met the wandering ghost of his daughter which held a gun pointed at him. I thought she said she had forgiven us, why is she threatening to kill my tired ghost? He thought, his gladness at seeing her turning into fear.
Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia © 2014.