Fatimah stayed in her parents’ house with the hope that her husband would call all to no avail. She tried to call him but he refused her call and sent her a text never to call him again. Her father who was not in support of the marriage never ceased to remind her of his warnings before she got married. He couldn’t believe that alhaji Abdul had sent her out of the house based on false accusation. Her mother also, was disappointed at the crash of her daughter’s marriage to one of the richest men in town because she saw the marriage as an avenue to change her status in the society.
Three months after her return to her father’s house without her husband coming to see them, her parents summoned her to their room.
Baba Fatimah: “Fatimah, it has been three months since you returned to this place with all your bags and baggage. Every single day of these three months, I have been expecting your husband’s visit to take you back even if it means that we have to settle whatever is the matter between you two. I have tried to call him to ask what happened between you and him but he wouldn’t pick my call. I remember asking you earlier and you told me that it was a little misunderstanding between you and him and that after he calms down, he will call you back. Now, I want you to explain everything that happened to me. You are a married woman, a pregnant one for that matter, I see no reason why you should be here when you have more than enough rooms in the house of your husband”
He finished talking and waited for his daughter to talk but she remained quiet.
Baba Fatimah: “didn’t you hear the question that I asked you or have you suddenly gone deaf and dumb?” he asked her.
Mama Fatimah: “my daughter, you need to speak up. What happened between you and my son in law? Why are you not talking? We are your parents and you shouldn’t keep anything away from us” he mother pleaded.
Fatimah: “mama, baba. I don’t even know where to start from, all I know is that I am innocent” she managed to say, trying so hard to control the tears that were threatening to take over her eyes.
Baba Fatimah: “what exactly are you innocent of?”
Mama Fatimah: “Fatimah talk now, tell us and if it means we going to beg your husband to take you back, we will do so” her mother intervened.
Fatimah: “alhaji accused me of cheating on him and that is why he threw me out of the house” she said quickly, afraid of her parents’ reaction.
Mama Fatimah: “wayo Allah na!” she exclaimed and raised her hands to her head as a sign of alarm.
Baba Fatimah: “what! What is this abomination that you are telling me this morning? How can your husband wake up one day and accuse you, as heavily pregnant as you are of cheating on him?” he asked.
Fatimah: “he said the pregnancy is not his own and that he will have nothing to do with me and the child in this life” she said, crying profusely.
Mama Fatimah: “we are finished. Maigida, we are finished. Alhaji has finished us” she said turning to her husband.
“woman, keep quiet and allow me think” he rebuked his wife who was going hysterical.
Mama Fatimah: “I will not keep quiet o, my husband. You know that alhaji has been the one sustaining us through the food stuff and provisions and money he sends to us every month. Our daughter here too gives us out of what she gets from him. Now she is heavily pregnant and he has thrown her out, where will we see the money to feed ourselves, her siblings, and she and the unborn baby? Not to talk of the things she would need for delivery? Why is it that any time that things want to get better for us in this family the enemy will rear his ugly head and cause us pain? When my daughter called to inform me that she was pregnant, I was happy because I thought alhaji would even love her more considering the fact that his other wives have not been able to give him children. Now see” she said pointing at her daughter and adjusting her sitting position.
Baba Fatimah: “woman, if you do not keep quiet, I will send you to the kitchen this moment. That is why I don’t like having woman around me whenever I am having an important discussion, they have a way of blowing things out of proportion with their rants” he said and his wife kept quiet.
Baba Fatimah: “Fatimah, is it true that you were cheating on your husband” he asked his distressed daughter.
Fatimah: “no father. I did not cheat on my husband, I would never d such a thing. I cannot even think of it. How can I even think of doing such a thing when I am always in the house? He doesn’t allow me go out at all”
Mama Fatimah: “I said it that it is the work of the devil. So alhaji does not even remember that he doesn’t allow you to go out again, talk more of meeting other men”
Her husband looked towards her direction and she kept quiet instinctively.
Baba Fatimah: “since you do not go out of the house, who is the man he accused you of cheating on him with?”
Fatimah: “his son. Can you imagine that, baba”
Baba Fatimah’s countenance changed when his daughter said that to him. He continued to stare at his daughter, wondering if he should believe that she was innocent or not. He shook his head several times, his heart heavy from sorrow.
Baba Fatimah: “I said it, I said it that there was no way what you had for alhaji Abdul was love. It was mere infatuation, fuelled by your love for material things and the money that he had to offer. As soon as you set eyes on his son who was younger and more handsome than his father, you fell into temptation. How am I even sure that it is not this same son that got you pregnant? The alhaji Abdul that we know has only one son born to him by his first wife over thirty years ago. All attempts to get his other wives to give him children have not yielded any results until he married you. I am disappointed at you, Fatimah. I warned you, didn’t I?” he asked, his voice rising.
Fatimah: “you have to believe me, father. I am innocent. I didn’t do it” she pleaded with him, wiping phlegm that was dripping from her nose into her mouth with the back of her left palm.
Baba Fatimah: “believe you? No, I don’t. Did you remember how I almost didn’t allow you marry that man because I felt the age difference was too much for you? Did you listen to me? No! Rather, you connived with your rich alhaji to get people you know I respect to talk to me thereby forcing me to accept the marriage against my wish. If you could do that just to have your way to marry him, I am sure there is nothing that you cannot do to give him a child”
Fatimah: “baba no, please don’t talk that way” she protested.
Baba Fatimah: “you have brought so much shame and reproach to this family. Get out of my house!” he ordered her to park her things and leave his house because he could not stay with someone who had committed such unprintable abomination under the same roof with him.
After alhaji sent his son Mustapha and his mother and Fatimah away, the remaining two women took over the affairs of the house, lording it over all the servants and maids in the house. They took turns to cook for alhaji and sleep with him and as the days rolled into weeks and weeks into months, they bonds grew stronger for it is said that there is no bond that is as strong as that between two women who hate the same person.
But the supposed love between the two women was not genuine and each waited for the perfect opportunity to set up the other. The most zealous was Jemila who was already cooking up plans on how to get alhaji to divorce Shafa so that he could send her out of the house. She had her plans and she could not wait for the right time for it to manifest.
Question: Hmm…the die is cast. Fatimah has been thrown out by her own father. Who could be responsible for the pregnancy? Where does she go from here? Could it be the work of her enemies just like her mother said?
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