Author Topic: Only if I had Known (A Short Story)  (Read 31887 times)

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Offline Muhsin

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Only if I had Known (A Short Story)
« on: September 04, 2011, 05:23:00 PM »
Only if I had Known

Written by MMI

MALAM JAMILU, a lean, tall, tanned dark-skinned nomadic pastoralist, wearing a thatched-bowler, with a stick on shoulder, a machete a little below the armpit, looking haggard, shagged and hazard had arrived in Kano, at its southern part, wandering from this location to that, looking for a range land to feed his flock.

Eventually, he was entangled in a fatal motor accident, when trying to cross the road with the animals. Many of them perished, others scattered into the bush in panic and terror, hence many again were lost, while he himself was thrown half dead with severe injuries to a distance away from the main road. The truck driver involved apprehensively ran away after seeing the gory scene.

At cock-crow, Malam Usman came, a strongly built aged farmer, popularly called Shehu in the honour of Shehu Usman Bin Fodio, a renowned Islamic propagator in northern Nigeria, from the neighbouring village; his farm was a shouting distance away from the road. He suddenly saw the corpse-like figure of Malam Jamilu lying still. Shehu closely looked at his face and later learned that he was not dead, but gravely wounded. So, he immediately took him to a nearby dispensary for medical treatment.

The half-dead man spent weeks receiving treatment. Luckily enough time passed by and he was able to see, talk and make a few motions with his legs, hands and later his entire body. He was finally discharged and taken by the old farmer to his home, a small village outside the area of the Kano famous wall.

Following that horrible accident, its climax and anti-climax, the victim made uncountable thanks and vowed to give whatsoever Malam Shehu would someday demand from him and went away to his village of origin. He amazingly later came back, requesting to stay with him (Shehu) due to the little memory loss he had.

“Malam,” said Jamilu in a waxy and pale face as they sat in his entranceway.

Shehu looked up, “What's wrong? Have you left something and now come back to take it?” he surprisingly but friendly asked.

“I was definitely going wild. I discovered I couldn't go back. I lost the specific way to follow,” he replied, tears pouring down his pale face.

“What did you say is your village name?”

He said nothing but started sobbing, thinking it wasn't fair to do this to him. Does he think I'm lying? He asked himself.

“It's sweet of you to worry by asking me or there's any kind of help to offer of taking me back. I can swear, so I want more than anything in this world. But…..”

Cut in Shehu, “I know. I notice that at once. Don't ever bother yourself. You are welcome.”

Malam Jamilu was nicknamed “Bako,” meaning a “stranger” by Bishiya village people—the village he relocated. He stayed, running errands for Shehu and learning Islamic knowledge. Shehu was a settled Qur'anic school teacher with a number of students.

Years flew. Bako got married, witnessed by his helper as his wali (guardian) and some of his colleagues and the hospitable people of Bishiya village. Shehu had three kids among who one was named Usman, but called Maisunan Malam, meaning Malam's namesake. He was a naughty boy of twelve. His sisters, Jamila, a couple of years older than him, and Baraka, whose brother died before Maisunan Malam, was four years older. Maisunan, as the name was shortened, once ran away from his parents, but was later brought back by the spiritual power of the hard prayer by his father and his students.

On the very day Bako's first daughter was born; Maryam, he promised to give her hand in marriage to the bilious son of Malam Shehu. He did it blindly, overlooking the furious nature of Maisunan but thinking, and hoping that someday he would change for the better.

Years passed away. Maryam had grown to be a very ravishing, likable and creditable girl and started school. But her childhood betrothed was not schooling. As to the tradition of Hausa people, the kids of makarantar allo traditional Qur'anic school teachers do not usually go to makarantar boko western/modern school, and even any other school on a misconception that these kids will inherit the knowledge possessed by their parents. Maisunan was allowed to follow the footsteps of those kids. Severally, this false belief was rejected by some true scholars, saying that the Apostle of Allah, Muhammad says: “All Muslims should seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.” And nobody was excluded.

Unexpectedly, Maisunan disappeared for the second time to an unknown place, even to himself, in protest to his being punished over the rudeness he fomented. This obnoxious incident occurred after Bako had left Bishiya as an interloper, a squatter with his family to his own residence in Raunita quarters in Kano metro.

A message came to him that his would-be in-law was abducted. He did his best relentlessly to unearth where the scourge was taken to, but flatly failed. The first thought that came up to his mind was his daughter betrothed to Maisunan. He felt defeated and depleted.

“Oh, Allah, by what other way can I show my deep gratitude to Malam Shehu? Help me Allah; bring back this boy.” He prayed in an undertone.

Years went, but there was still no information about Maisunan’s whereabouts. One day, Malam Shehu and his daughter, on their way to visit Bako, had an accident and all went to the world beyond, as his wife did about a decade ago. But before then, he left a will to Bako not to forget to fulfil his promise. He went on and said: “Had it been among my other two kids there lived a boy, I would have advised you to give her hand in marriage to him.”

Maisunan showed up once again many years after everybody had almost forgotten about him. Maryam, at that time, had already finished secondary school; had an educated boy-friend, Abubakar by the name who was also her cousin. Abubakar was an educated, twenty-three-year old chap. He was studying at a university in the city. Likewise Maisunan was now a rich-man. He, after fleeing his natal village, went to Lagos and started up as a scavenger, then a mugger and ultimately, luckily became a business-man, now a mogul. Even that miraculous re-bounding with Maryam occurred during an intra-state Qur’anic Competition in which Maryam represented her Islamiyya, Islamic school. The gathering was held in one of his hotels in Lagos, He traced her therefrom.

Bako was so happy beyond imagining by seeing Maisunan back. Besides, this brought him confusion concerning who to give his daughter’s hand in marriage to: her old betrothed, who was still a rascal as ever but rich; or to Abubakar, a student, not-yet-so-ready but a relative and the person his daughter dearly loved and firmly preferred.

Maryam, from her side, showed every possible resistance to her father’s likely decision of marrying her to Maisunan. She at last made up her mind, giving heed to her father’s wish following a brief encounter she had with her bosom friend, Samira.

“What are you doing? You alone?” Samira asked, bewildered, looking at her friend in a palpable perplexity.

“Hmm. I thank Allah for bringing you to me. I’m compounded by thoughts, sister.”

And she briefed her about Abubakar and Maisunan.

“Who is your choice, then?”

“Aha, that’s what I want to be advised of.”

“Mts.” She hissed, irritated. “Who is wealthier, ready and accredited by your parents?” she was blunt.

Maryam was instantly numbed. “Sincerely speaking the Alhaji, but…”

“No ‘buts’ here, sister. Thank Allah.” She now looked business-like. “In this suitor recession era, you got two at your disposal. Don’t misuse your golden chance.”

Maryam considered and reconsidered what Samira had said. She furthered her deliberation: only me am blessed amongst my other friends. It’s true. The early bird catches the worm.

And, Abubakar too had grudgingly given up, for all he said after hearing the unfolding situation was: “I can’t help any matter out here; I wish I could.”

Malam Bako had had a while of going through; as he taught what he did was, and finally married off Maryam to Maisunan in spite of all the fact that came to light about Maisunan being too dangerous a person to be his daughter’s husband. He still insisted that he could change. More-over, his wife had personally expressed her doubt over their daughter’s love for Abubakar. It could be a mere consanguineous one, she innocently maintained; not true love. And whatever, I’m going to be rich, yes rich as an in-law to such a tycoon. But unfortunately for him the marriage was short-lived.

Alhaji Usman as he was known among his business associates there in Lagos, it was gathered, was among some unscrupulous Nigerians, who exploited children to make money. He used to arrange, secretly, with some proprietors or proprietresses of day-care centres and some self-cantered, dishonest parents, to take children, register them as his messengers, waiters or waitresses in his hotels or even prostitutes as their pimp in his many brothels. He, worst of all, used to “shack up” with some. That was why he never paid attention to Maryam as his wife.

As to the punishment of those captured red-handed for child abuse, negligence and human trafficking, Maisunan was sentenced to life in prison. Government forthwith donated all his property to charity as compensation to the unending sorrow and protracted frustration he forced in the hearts of the parents of auspicious children. So, even his house in Kano, which his wife Maryam lived in, was claimed as government property. Worst still, Maryam, shortly after that shocking experience, was tested HIV positive following a miscarriage she had, which led her to acquiring a Pregnant Induced Hypertension and she eventually died.

Maryam’s parents, particularly her materialistic, shallow-thinking father regretted his ill-conceived decision. He vowed not to ever give his daughter’s hand in marriage except to the person she loved and whom he thoroughly checked background of, knowledge and the like. It was so late he discovered where he was wrong. He fell sick; he could not breathe. Malam Bako, within a short period died of congestive heart failure.

« Last Edit: September 04, 2011, 05:25:53 PM by Muhsin »
Get to know [and remember] Allah in prosperity & He will know  [and remember] you in adversity.


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