Fatimah called her fiancé to inform him of her father’s disapproval. She had expected him to demand for a return of the expensive engagement ring that he had given her but rather, he remained calm and listened to all she had to say on phone after asking her to switch off so that he could call her back in order for her not to waste her airtime.
Fatimah: “that is it, my father categorically told me no and when he makes up his mind about something, he hardly changes it” she said into the receiver.
Alhaji Abdul: “don’t worry, this time around, he will change his mind” he assured her.
Fatimah: “you sound so sure, how do you know he would change his mind?” she asked.
“you love me and want to marry me, don’t you” Alhaji Abdul asked her.
Fatimah: “of course I love you so much but I cannot disobey my father and go ahead with the marriage, I just cannot do that” she said sadly.
Alhaji Abdul: “nobody is asking you to disobey your father. You see, I understand your father’s fears. First he is afraid of the age difference between us but he has forgotten that age is just a number when love is involved. Secondly, he thinks that my other wives will not welcome you well, but that is not true because I provide all their needs and as such they are bound to support me in all they do. I will get some people your father respects in his family and the Muslim ummah to talk to him. I am sure he will change his mind after that” he concluded.
Fatimah: “you…you know some people that are close to him?”
Alhaji Abdul: “of course. I already made enquiries about your family without your knowledge before I engaged you. I cannot just ask a girl to marry me when I have not confirmed that she is from a good home”
“Thank you, that is why I love you, you are so wise” she said feeling relieved.
Alhaji Abdul called the chairman of the local government where Fatimah’s father hailed from and where he lived with his family and informed the chairman of his intention to create jobs in their area by building a factory that would employ thousands of indigenes there. The chairman who was more than happy at the news offered to give him a land at a discounted price to build it. Alhaji Abdul then told him that he was doing so because he wanted to marry a girl from the area whose father did not approve of the relationship. After getting details from Alhaji Abdul, the chairman sent for Fatimah’s father and begged him to allow his daughter marry Alhaji Abdul because of the good the union will do to the community.
Baba Fatimah: “Mr Chairman sir, when I received your invitation to visit you at the office, I was excited and afraid at the same time. I want to ask you a question: you have female children, how will you feel if one of them decides to bring home a suitor who is older than you?” he asked.
Chairman: “honestly I don’t care about age. So long as they love each other and as long as the suitor is a devout Muslim, I will approve, after all I will not be the one to live with him”
Baba Fatimah: “with due respect your Excellency, you are only saying this because you are not in that situation yet” she said slowly afraid of making the chairman angry.
Chairman: “I understand your point of view but think of all the benefits that her union with that man will bring to your family and this area. He has promised to build a factory here that will help take a great number of idle youths off the labour market and subsequently off all forms of vices and crimes. You know that an idle man is the devil’s workshop, if our youths are gainfully employed, they will not have time to indulge in drugs and other forms of societal vices. Please help us” he pleaded.
Baba Fatimah: “so my daughter is now the sacrificial lamb to create employment opportunities for people, I thought it is the responsibility of government to create jobs for its citizens” he said.
Chairman: “how many factories and industries will the government build with its scarce resources that would employ everyone? Remember that people graduate into the labour market every day? Anyway, I am not saying we should use your daughter as a sacrificial lamb. A man that wants to build a factory in the local government where his bride hails from will do more for her and her family after marriage. Obviously, this marriage will also benefit you and she will also enjoy it, I swear by Allah that this man has a good heart”
Baba Fatimah told him that he would ponder over the matter and get back to him.
The chairman thanked him and gave him a white envelope containing mint notes of a hundred thousand naira courtesy of Alhaji Abdul but of course the chairman didn’t tell him that.
Baba Fatimah went home, thinking of how nice and generous the local government chairman was for giving him such a huge amount of money for taxi.
Similar situations occurred the following week and the weeks that came after it. Baba Fatimah received one invitation or the other from different people pleading with him to allow his daughter marry Alhaji Abdul for the good it would do to the society. His family members also paid him a courtesy visit to demand why he was the clog in the wheel of the good luck that was coming into their family. The daring ones among them accused him of being an enemy of his own daughter. After several days of sleepless nights, he bowed to pressure and called his daughter into his room on a very early Friday morning.
Fatimah knelt down to greet him and remained in that position like she always did until he asked her to get up and take a sit.
Baba Fatimah: “I am sure that you are aware that I have met so many politicians in the past weeks than I have met in all the years that I have lived on earth. The reason is not farfetched; they all want me to allow you to marry Alhaji Abdul because of the good your union with him will do to everyone. As if the summons from outsiders are not enough, my relations have also been on my neck and of course your own mother who is a member of my immediate family cannot wait to have you marry him. It is not like I cannot withstand their pressure but as they say, voice of men, voice of God. I don’t want to give the impression that I am the bad father who does not want his daughter who has come of age to marry the man she wants. If I keep you here, will I marry you myself?” he paused for effect and Fatimah shook her in head.
Baba Fatimah: “so, I have decided to give you the go ahead to marry him since he is the one you want. He and his people can visit us anytime they want to begin the marriage preparations”
Fatimah’s heart leaped for joy.
Fatimah: “oh, nagode baba. God bless and keep you for me” she said excitedly wishing her culture and religion was the one that permitted daughters to hug their fathers”
Baba Fatimah: “but, remember that I have reservations about this marriage and I am only permitting it because I care about your happiness. If anything goes wrong, do not come back to me. When I give out children in marriage, I wash my hands off their affairs”
Fatimah: “I promise you that nothing will go wrong, father. All that you will hear about me after this marriage is good news” she assured him and ran out to break the best news of her life to her mother who was in the kitchen struggling with smoke to make a breakfast of pap and beans cake for her family.
Question: Hmmn…we have our reservations about this marriage, it appears too good to be true. Do you think Fatimah should go ahead with the marriage after all that her father told her?
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