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Two months later, Hadiyat’s parents discover that she is
pregnant and are devastated by the unfortunate predicament of
an unwanted pregnancy that will jeopardize her privileges of
getting married to Assam or any other man in Niger. Every bride
must be a virgin otherwise she will bring public shame and
discrimination against her parents and family. This bad
development infuriates her father and in fury, he nearly beats her
to a state of unconsciousness until her mother and fellow Arab
beggars nearby intervene to save Hadiyat’s life from the wrath
of her enraged father. Sule is unable to defend Hadiyat and he
wisely keeps away for his own safety.
“Father, please have mercy!”
“Mercy? You don’t deserve mercy, but to be stoned to death for
the abomination you have done and brought shame to our
family and me. Allah! What will I tell Alhaji Musa and his son
Assam?”
“The Satan has done his worst. It is not our fault or Hadiyat’s.
We should have sent her home since last year, but you were the
one delaying her. Now the worst has happened,” her mother
laments bitterly.
“Is the delay the excuse for her indiscipline? Women. You are all
dummies with your brains in your loins. Our daughter has
disgraced us and you are blaming me!” Hadiyat’s father
screams in fury.
He raises his whip as if to whip his wife.
“Go on! Beat me too. I will keep on saying the truth. The sooner
we return home the better. We can do better than begging
infidels for money. Is that not an abomination? You grin and
smile to ask them for alms, but you curse and sneer at them
behind their backs. Why not reject their alms since they are
infidels? Such hypocrisy. I am fed up. If not for Allah, I would
have left you and returned home without you.”
“Insolent woman! I will teach you how to keep your insolent
tongue still!”
He tries to whip her, but his fellow Arabs hold him back,
rebuking him for disgracing his family shamelessly in public.
Hadiyat holds her mother as if her life depends on her mother’s.
Her father retreats to their corner under the flyover while the
younger children look on with mixed feelings of fear and pity.
The shame of it all makes Hadiyat’s parents to stop talking
about it openly. And without wasting anymore time, they pack
their belongings and leave for their own country. To save their
beloved daughter from further abominations among the infidels.
Sule watches helplessly from a distance as Hadiyat leaves with
her family. His buddies begin to sing songs on how Sule has
lost his Arab “wife”. And Sule chases them all over the bus stop
without much remorse for the departure of Hadiyat.
In the harmattan of 2005. A beautiful fair lady with long curly
hair and holding a young girl walking by her side comes to the
motor park under the flyover opposite the National Stadium in
Surulere, Lagos. She is well dressed in a modern white skirt suit
and high heels. She has a small red handbag. The petty traders
notice her as she walks up to the few Arab beggars. She wants
to give them alms. She looks like a rich young lady. Probably a
tourist. They regard her with anxious and curious eyes. The
Arab beggars point to an old woman among the petty traders
they call “Mama John.” And she turns to the woman.
“Good evening ma,” she greets politely with glints in her
beautiful hazel eyes.
The old woman looks up from her seat in response. She thinks
the young white lady wants to buy from her. She sells sweets of
several brands. But, there is something familiar about this
young white lady holding a little white girl. They look alike. Must
be her daughter. They have the same eyes.
“Yes, oyinbo? What to do you want to buy? Peppermint or
chewing gum?”
“No, ma,” the white lady replies.
“Hen?”
If she does not want to buy anything, then what does she want
from me?
“Mama, I am looking for Sule,”
“Sule? Which Sule? I am not Mama Sule. I am Mama John.”
“Yes. But, They say you know Sule. The one who was collecting
money from bus drivers and conductors at the bus stop,” she
says pointing to the bus stop.
“Oh, Oh!” the old woman exclaims as she remembers the Sule
the white lady seems to be asking for.
“Yes, Sule. Oga Sule. Tall and slender. Black fine boy with gap in
his front teeth?” she says describing him.
“Yes. Yes. Sule. Tall young man,” the white lady says.
“Ah. Sule don go school and Sule don become Oga lawyer now.
No be conductor again. Sule, good boy is now a big man lawyer
in Lawanson,” says the old woman.
Some of the other petty traders and some touts gather on
hearing the name of Sule. Because, Sule has become a
household name among them since he left to go back to school
and has become a lawyer since passing out of the Nigerian Law
School last year and most of them were at his Call to Bar party
on Victoria Island. Then, out of deep curiosity, the old woman
scrutinizes the white lady and it begins to dawn on her that she
resembles the very pretty Arab girl that Sule impregnated seven
years ago right here under the flyover before her very eyes and
she was one of the people who intervened when her infuriated
father “Baba Hadiyat” was punishing her.
“Hadiyat?” she calls her name.
“Yes, ma. Hadiyat. I am the one,” she replies.
The old woman looks into her hazel eyes and touches her hands
and cheeks to be sure that she is not mistaken. And on her
conviction of the reality that she is really Hadiyat, she exclaims
in excitement.
“Hadiyat! The Arab girl! Sule’s girlfriend!”
Her announcement echoes and attracts the attention of other
traders, touts, drivers and conductors and many others. They all
surround the young white lady and her girl-child whom the old
woman now recognizes as the result of Hadiyat’s pregnancy for
Sule. She begins to thank the almighty God for the providence of
the unwanted pregnancy that has brought such a very beautiful
child into the world.

To Be Continued…

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