177 Pages
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177 Pages


It is believed that even silence will whisper when pushed to the wall. Saleh�s love and respect for his mother, Hamsatu, is not only detrimental to his own life but also injurious to his family life. Hamsatu makes all the decisions in his life. She becomes despotic and decides who her son should marry and the type of children his wife should bear. Habiba is just thirteen when her grandmother, Hamsatu brings in a suitor, Zubairu, a contemporary of her late husband. Although Saleh wishes to send all his children to school, a rainstorm renders him hopeless as his mother takes ill and eventually dies. After his mother�s death, Saleh�s bankruptcy compels him to take a loan from the elderly Zubairu on condition that failing to repay the loan means handing his daughter, Habiba, in marriage to Zubairu. Habiba is helpless, as it turns out that she is not just paying for the wrongs of her father but has to carry the responsibility of his abandoned wife and children by remaining married to Zubairu who is willing to assist them as long as she plays his game. Radiant Mohammed brings to the fore the socio-cultural plight and challenges that bedevil impoverished northern Nigerian families and compel parents to scuttle their children�s educational ambitions at very tender ages in favour of marriage. Consistently, Mohammed nails the dilemma of the young Habiba between loving and hating the adults in her life that have caused her pain, and the desire to avenge her lost youth and ambitions.



Published by
Published 29 December 2013
Reads 3
EAN13 9789789182671
Language English
Document size 10 MB

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Razinat T. Mohammed
Published by Kraft Books Limited 6A Polytechnic Road, Sango, Ibadan Box 22084, University of Ibadan Post Office Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria 0803 348 2474, 0805 129 1191 E-mail: kraftbooks@yahoo.com
©Razinat T. Mohammed,2013
First published 2013
ISBN 978–978–918–125–4
= KRAFTGRIOTS = (A literary imprint of Kraft Books Limited)
All Rights Reserved
First printing, September 2013
Early Life
Habiba wandered into the shade of a large Neem tree feeling tired from the exhausting sun. She found an exposed root of the tree and settled her weary posterior, stretched her tired legs, and with her right hand, massaged her feet therapeutically as she occupied herself in deep thoughts. The other children had already gone far along the winding road and it was not possible for her to meet up with them. She wondered why responsibilities kept weighing her down as they did. She sat under the tree, staring blankly into the eaves of the wavering tracks. The sun was scourging hot. The walk to her street was a long one and being all alone, she was not in a hurry to go home. At school, much to her dislike, the class teacher of primary five, a rather skinny woman called Atika Adamu, had chosen her to keep charge of the others. Habiba did not know whether it was because of her robust physical structure that gave her an appearance of someone older than her thirteen years that really prompted Miss Adamu’s decision to make her the class prefect or just merely her own fate. She, at that point, wanted to protest this appointment but something inside her throat had simply groaned a sound that sounded like ‘Eeeh’, which in its ambiguity could represent an acceptance or the preface to a speech, which could end up in the negative. Nonetheless, Miss Adamu spelled out the thirteen-year-old Habiba’s responsibilities within minutes of her appointment. She was to see to it that the date was written out on the top right-hand side of the large blackboard every morning. The classroom must be swept daily, she was to be the last to leave the class after close of school, she was to speak on behalf of any absentee, in short, she was to acquaint herself with the problems affecting thirty-three pupils and those of Miss Adamu whenever she herself was absent from school. Of all these responsibilities, however, the one requiring her to remain in school late gave her the greatest worries. This was because of so many reasons that ranged from
the fear of molestation from boys who remained behind to play football or carry out other mischievous activities to a more devastating fear that awaited her at home should she return later than expected. While she sat under the tree with a mind that was exhausted and a body that was physically sick, she gradually became conscious of her environment and suddenly jumped up like an automated doll, brushed the sand off her uniform and walked as fast as she could towards the central area of Maiduguri town where they lived. She was alone on that day because Ummi, her younger sister, was at home due to a malaria attack. From the close of school, Habiba knew that every minute counted for much in terms of her home chores. Moreover, from her guess, she must have sat under the Neem tree for close to forty minutes and that meant several hours behind schedule at home. She took the last turn that brought their house in view. It was about 3.15 pm when she got to the door. She hesitated a while and then said a silent prayer before she touched the doorknob. As soon as the door made a clinking sound, a shrill voice shouted “at last” from within. Habiba did not know what to say in her own defense. She was afraid. She hated the frequent rows with her mother, Kande. Kande, a very smallish woman of about thirty-three, vaguely attractive, had married her present husband Sabiu just three years back and had borne him two children, a boy and a girl. Her first husband Saleh, father of Habiba and Ummi had kicked her out of his house at the instance of his dearly beloved mother. Saleh’s mother, Hamsatu, had for long waited for a male child to be born to her son. When Kande gave birth to her third girl-child, Mama Hamsatu could not bear the disappointment further. “This woman will fill your house with women,” she had said to Saleh with disgust. Kande had been heartbroken on that day which was her first day home from hospital, with the little baby girl. She had sat on the edge of her bed in the small bedroom she shared with her husband, her heart pummelling her little body, raw from the trauma of childbirth. “Why should this woman hate me so?” she wept silently. Saleh, confused at the sight of his wife’s tears looked at his mother meekly, his eyes limpid and pleading with the old woman
to be kind to the newly delivered mother. Hamsatu simply gave a loud hiss and walked out saying inaudible things as she went. Saleh could not help following her closely behind and his dishevelled head bowed. He was a strong believer in God and knew that it was He who gave and, therefore, did not blame his wife for giving birth to yet another girl-child. However, his mother was his mother and he had to accord her the utmost respect as ordained by God. Hamsatu herself had borne six girls, five of which died in infancy, leaving only Maimuna and an only son, Saleh. Her fears had been that her husband’s name would terminate if he did not have sons in the lineage to carry on his family name. This had been her fear over the years that Saleh had been growing up. It had pushed her to get Kande to marry the young Saleh, then only seventeen. Saleh’s father did not worry about his wife’s fears because he had other sons by his three other wives. It was perhaps the existence of those other sons which drove Hamsatu into her furious anxiety and frequent anger with Kande. Kande continued to wipe her tears as she sat in the dark room. She was completely oblivious of her immediate environment. She wondered what it felt like to be loved and appreciated in its real sense. She thought of women who had borne male children and were desperate for female ones. How stupid they are! What can they possibly want with female children? What can be more wonderful in this world than to give birth to a male child and be loved and spoilt by both your husband and his mother? she wondered. The tiny crying voice of the little girl wrapped in some old rags by the corner of the bed startled her back to the world that was her own reality. She turned and looked at it still wailing. Although she could not see the little face of her bundle of unhappiness, it moved its rag covering up and down, right to left in a riotous circle that got Kande terribly irritated and confused. Kande suddenly realized that she herself had not stopped crying, she looked away from the child and with her two fore-fingers, quickly blocked her ears while the tears continued to stream down her cheeks. She did not want to be agonized by the wailing of the little girl-child.