Fatimah picked the phone and saw that it was her mother calling.
Fatimah: “good morning, mama” she said.
Mama Fatimah: “good morning, my dear. How are you and your husband?”
Fatimah: “we are fine. How is everyone?” she asked politely.
Mama Fatimah: “fine. So, when will you come to visit us? You have never visited since you got married and we are missing you already”
Fatimah: “I miss you all too. In fact, I have it in mind to visit soon” she said.
Mama Fatimah: “oh if you are too busy, I could come and visit you” she offered.
Fatimah: “busy doing what? I don’t do any serious work here. The only thing I do is cook for myself and then cook for alhaji any day it’s my turn to cook for him. The domestic workers do every other thing. Don’t worry, I will come and see you tomorrow” she said because she didn’t want her mother to come and visit her for fear of her co-wives embarrassing her mother.
Mama Fatimah: “okay. I will prepare your favourite meal of palm oil jollof rice for you” she said and the phone went off.
That night, she waited for alhaji to come back so that she could inform him that she wanted to go and see her parents the next day. When there was no sign of him during the time he was to return, she went to inquire of hajiya who told her that alhaji had travelled for a meeting and was due to return the next day.
Fatimah: “hajiya, you mean alhaji travelled without informing me? Is that how he does it?” she asked.
Hajiya: “my dear, that is how it is done in this house. He doesn’t tell any of the other women whenever he is travelling, except me and I am telling you because you are respectful, unlike the other wives”
Fatimah: “Wow. This house is like a school, one gets to learn new things every day”
Hajiya: “exactly, my dear”
Fatimah: “but why doesn’t he inform the other wives except you whenever he is traveling?” she asked out of curiosity.
Hajiya: “it has to do with trust. He doesn’t trust them enough to disclose his movements to them. As a public figure, he has to be discreet about his movements” she explained.
Fatimah nodded in agreement.
“so alhaji doesn’t even trust me” she thought.
She thanked Hajiya and returned to her room.
The next day, she got up early, dressed up and picked some food stuff and provisions from the main kitchen, these she intended to take to her parents.
She got out and asked for the drivers but the security man informed her that the drivers had taken the cars for service.
Fatimah: “no problem. I will pick a taxi home” she said and called on the security man to help her carry the food stuffs and provisions that she had neatly packed in a nylon bag.
The man obeyed but when they got to the gate, he stopped without opening it.
Fatimah: “why did you stop? Open the gate and let me out” she instructed.
The man hesitated, as if he was debating within himself on whether to open the gate or not.
Fatimah: “go ahead, don’t waste my time” she said.
Security man: “madam, where is your pass?” he asked her.
Fatimah: “I beg your pardon?”
Security man: “you cannot step out of this gate without a pass” he instructed her.
“and what is that supposed to mean?” Fatimah interjected.
Security: “the rule of this house says no wife goes out until she has presented her pass”
Fatimah: “oh, I see. Alhaji and formality sha. So, who issues the pass? I need one”
Security: “boss is the only one who can issue the pass. It means that he has to sign and stamp the pass anytime you want to go out” he explained patiently.
Fatimah: “well, my husband is not around and I cannot wait for him until he returns. Let me go and then I will get the pass from him against my subsequent outings”
The security man who was old enough to be her father smiled.
Security man: “that is not how it is done here. You have to get the pass first before you go out”
“what the hell are you saying? Didn’t you hear when I said that your boss who is to issue the pass is not around? I am his wife and not some domestic staff that needs some form of clearance before going out. Is this house a prison, am I a prisoner that I cannot go out anytime I want?”
Security man: “I am sorry, ma. I am only doing my job. If there is an urgent reason why you must go out before alhaji returns, call him and then he will call me and instruct me to open the gate for you. Until then, there is nothing I can do”
“this is so ridiculous” she said and returned to her room.
Inside, she picked up her phone and dialed alhaji’s number but it was switched off.
Fatimah: “Ha, what is all this for God’s sake? Even to step out of this house is another stress on its own” she said.
She was thinking of what to do when her mother’s call came in.
Fatimah: “hello, mama, I was just about calling you” she said.
Mama Fatimah: “okay, I thought I should call and ask the time you will come. Remember that you promised to come and see us today”
Fatimah: “I don’t think I can make it anymore, mama” she said sadly.
Mama Fatimah: “why? After you have made me slaughter a chicken for you? The palm oil jollof rice is almost ready too and then you say you cannot come?”
Fatimah: “I am sorry ma, but I have stomach upset. I will come some other time” she lied because she couldn’t bring herself to tell her mother that she was denied going out.
Mama Fatimah: “sorry, my dear. Don’t worry, you will be fine” she assured her.
Fatimah thanked her mother and ended the call.
Mama Fatimah: “since my daughter keeps bringing up one excuse or the other not to visit, I will go and see her. Yes, I will take the food I cooked and some herbs to her. I don’t have to tell her that I am coming, I will just go there and call her when I get to the gate. Thank God she already gave us the address before her marriage” she said and began to get ready.
Fatimah was going through the things in alhaji’s wardrobe simply out of curiosity. She opened one drawer after the other and went through files of different sort. After a while, she got tired and was about to take a nap when a white envelop hidden in a secluded corner of one of the drawers attracted her attention. She picked it, opened it carefully and her eyes popped out at what she saw.
“What!” she screamed.
Question: Ghen-ghen…Will the security man allow Fatimah’s mother in? What did Fatimah see in the envelop?
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