“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.”
Q 30 vs 21
“We will be on our way soon,” Mikaeel Folarin said as he drained the last of the juice from his glass. His wife, Ruqayyah nodded as well and began to straighten her hijab.
“Awwn so soon, stay a while longer now, please. Do you really have to leave now?’’ Sumayyah said pleading with her eyes, with a half smile on her lips.
Instinctively she looked across at her husband, Zaid, and the scowl on his face confirmed what she already suspected. He was furious. Thankfully Zaid was standing out of sight, behind their visitors, while she was bent over the table in front of them, trying to clear away the used tumblers, and so they did not witness this tense exchange between them. The scowl metamorphosed into a cold smile pregnant with promise. Her heart sank, and she could feel it at the bottom of her stomach; she knew what would come and it wasn’t something to look forward to. A sigh escaped her lips; Tie ba e bai Amoke (You are in for it), don’t u EVER learn. she thought. Ruqayyah’s voice paused her musings:
“Ah, Ummu Ramlah we have been here for long o. Besides it is getting late, you know my husband doesn’t like driving at night. Don’t worry we will visit again soon in shaa Allah“
The men shook hands and promised to get in touch later during the week. They were both engineers but worked for different companies; while Zaid worked with Shell, Mikaeel was with Schlumberger. The women hugged and promised to send new recipes to each other via Whatsapp. Sumayyah had hardly pulled away from Ruqayyah’s embrace when her husband put his arm around her waist, and squeezed tight, effectively pinning her to his side. No escape for you, woman. he thought to himself. Their house was a beautiful bungalow set in a vast, beautiful compound with flowers and fruit trees planted at strategic points. They walked out the front door, down the steps and into the compound beyond. Mikaeel and Ruqayyah got into their car; a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 model; just as Zaid called out to the security man at the gate; ‘S.O please open the gate. ‘Yes, sir’. .S.O replied.
‘Assalamu alaykum have a safe trip home ‘ Sumayyah smiled and waved
Don’t leave me here. She thought.
‘Give us a call when you reach home ok? ‘ Zaid said.
Leave so I can teach her a lesson.
At last the visitors were gone and Zaid propelled Sumayyah up the steps and into the house. He turned on her once they were inside, away from the prying eyes of the security man and asked with barely leashed anger; ‘What. Was. That. All about?’
Sumayyah swallowed hard, stepped back from him, and proceeded to give a hurried response.’ It- it was nothing, I- I wasn’t thinking and it kind of slipped”. She stammered wringing her hands.
“So soon stay a little longer, please”, he said trying to mimic her voice.
It would have been amusing if the situation wasn’t so dire. Summayyah was shaking her head so hard she felt it would fall off of her shoulders. ‘N- no pls. i-I didn’t mean it that way..”
‘Oh? What did u intend then?’ he asked as he closed the windows and pulled down the shutters. Not a sound must filter out tonight. ‘Don’t you know you gave them the impression about me, that you are lonely and I deny you other people’s company… I can go on and on’ He finished with the windows and took menacing steps towards her. ‘You can stop backing up now- you are against the wall. ‘ Sumayyah stopped. She hadn’t realized.
‘What do you have to say in your defence’ Zaid continued
‘I am sorry’ she said trying to sound brave as she lifted her chin.
‘Not good enough. You know it’s a good thing the kids are away at their grannie’s for the weekend- we have the house all to ourselves”. He stated and smiled. He was in front of the sound system now and he opened the CD slot, inserting a disc he had picked up from the cabinet. He pressed play and Sheikh Minshawee’s voice permeated the air, reciting the second chapter of the Noble Qur’an; Surah Baqarah. He increased the volume, and the speakers boomed.
He strolled back to her, where she stood rooted against the wall, shaking in fear. ‘My dear Sumayyah, you know you deserve this, right? In Islam, what goes on between a couple should stay between them, but you- through your careless actions –have exposed us to ridicule. You blabbed, and that was enough for anyone listening to think that all is not well. But all is and will be well because as your husband and the head of the house I have a right and a degree over you. You shall be punished and I hope you learn your lesson.
No, I do not deserve this, you cruel, vicious beast.
Sumayyah only nodded weakly and steeled herself for she refused to beg or try and make his sick mind see reason. She flinched as he cradled her face in his hands; ’So lovely’ he breathed into her face. He towered over her at 6ft3inches dwarfing her mere 5ft5inches height. “I will follow the prophet’s words and leave this part of you out”. He took a deep breath and cracked his knuckles “Bismillah.” He announced.
Sumayyah fell to her knees as he punched her hard in the stomach, her ribs, her hips even her head. Bones cracked and shifted from their sockets. He was always true to his word she had to give him that; he never touched her face. The beatings were punctuated with warnings,;
‘Always. punch . Think. kick. Before. slap .You. shove . Speak. another punch.
It went on and soon she was sprawled, in a foetal position on the floor. Not that it did any good, for Zaid’s fists always found their mark. Soon she was bloodied with deep cuts and wicked gashes all over her body. The Sheikh ‘s voice was the last thing she heard and the menacing sole of Zaid’s boot coming down on her was the last thing she saw before she blacked out.
November 2, 2017ose
The Thorn in The Rose
Sumayyah awoke with a start. She was lying on a hospital bed. She opened her eyes, tried to push herself up but a hand held her gently but firmly down and she heard a soothing voice say softly;
‘Shhh it’s alright my dear you are safe’. Sumayyah recognized the voice. It was her mother-in-law’s.
“Where am I?” she inquired feebly as she looked over at her mother-in-law for an answer.
Balqis Adetola Erinosho, who preferred to be called Mama Sho, smiled down at her daughter-in-law and replied;
“You are at the hospital Susu. You have been in an accident and you were lucky Z found you when he did”. Mama Sho had a tendency for coining nicknames. In Mama Sho’s words; only those close to her heart could earn a nickname from her. Mama Sho patted Sumayyah’s hand when she saw her questioning look.
“Don’t worry he explained everything to me. You are very lucky to be alive, having been attacked by those horrid, dangerous beasts your neighbours call their pets. I almost had them arrested but, you know Z, he has no penchant for trouble so I had to let it go. Won ba gbo orun ara won wo.”(They would have been in deep trouble).
She sighed and continued “I am just so glad you are ok Susu. I will inform the doctor that you are awake.”. With a final pat on her hand, she left the room.
Summayyah sighed. She wasn’t the least bit surprised that Zaid had lied to his mum about what happened. Typical, she scoffed, he always had a new story to tell whenever they had their ‘episodes’.
Their neighbours’ dogs were ferocious beasts: Rottweilers; and so the crime could be pinned on them. She wondered what yarn Zaid had to spin to his mum about how the two dogs attacked her. Poor woman, she was so sweet and she would believe anything he told her. He was the apple of her eyes and could do no wrong. In truth, Zaid appeared to everyone except her as a loving and caring human being.
She had no choice but to go along with this story like she always did. She tried to access the extent of her injuries; she could move her legs and they didn’t seem to be broken, thank God. check . She raised her right hand, no pain. check. Her left hand was bandaged from the shoulders down to her wrist, not too bad, I have had worse. She touched her head because it was pounding really hard; bandaged. She felt a sharp pain in her pelvic region and she knew all too well what it meant. Sumayyah buried her face into the pillows and wept.
IN THE NOT TOO RECENT PAST
“So did u speak to her?” whispered Zaid to his friend and course mate, Sabeel. They were seated across each other in the library and were supposed to be studying for their exams. Sabeel glanced at Zaid and mouthed “No”.
Zaid dropped his pen and still whispering asked, ‘why not?” He continued through clenched teeth; “you know part of your job descriptions as ameer is – TO ACT AS AN INTERMEDIARY between intending couples!”. He looked around to see if other library users had not been disturbed. A few readers close by glanced their way with frowns on their faces.
“I can see you are getting worked up and are determined to have this conversation now so we might as well get out of this place,” Sabeel said as he stood up from his seat and motioned for them to leave.
Zaid packed up his stuff and walked out of the library into the afternoon sun.He couldn’t shake the feeling that Sabeel was delaying meeting with her on purpose because he had informed him of his interests and intent three weeks before. Perhaps Sabeel also had designs of his own on her, for how hard could it be to summon a sister and ask her a few questions; he was Ameer after all.” I am listening”
Sabeel rolled his eyes and explained “Look I have tried ok. She just hasn’t had the time that’s all. You know exams are coming up and she says she has to prepare.”
“But guy you know this exam will be her last for this session- she’s going on I.T. And I would have graduated by the time she resumes for her final year. Abeg try harder, I have to get my answer before she leaves” Zaid pleaded.
Sabeel stopped walking and turned to Zaid. ‘Ok, I promise to speak with her today unfailingly. Remember there’s EXCO meeting this evening and she’s sure to attend”. Zaid smiled and thanked Sabeel.
“Assalamu alaykum Ameer”.
Zaid knew before he turned to reply that the voice he had heard was that of Sumayyah; the object of their discussion. He suddenly became tongue-tied and couldn’t reply nor could he take his eyes off the vision of perfection that just stopped by them. She was in a light brown jilbaab and her cream complexion complemented it. She was carrying a black bag which matched her black shoes. In Zaid’s eyes, she was the most beautiful and well-mannered girl on campus, and he wanted her to be his.
“Waalaykumsalam warahmatullah wabarakatuhu sis Sumayyah. Bawo ni nkan? (how is everything)”. Sabeel replied her.
‘Alhamdulillah. Everything is fine”. Sumayyah smiled and continued, nodding at the books they were carrying “I am headed to the library to continue where you people left off”.
Zaid found his voice ‘” Waalaykumsalam warahamtullahi. Inyen naa da(That is good). Don’t forget the meeting tonight o”. He smiled. Another reason he liked her, she enjoyed playful banter.
“I won’t inshaAllah. I have to get going. Salaam Alaykum.” Sumayyah finished and continued her walk to the library.
Zaid continued to stare at her retreating figure and jerked as Sabeel pulled his arm ‘Come on let’s go. Remember only the first glance is forgiven. Don’t worry, I feel your pain and I will talk to her tonight inshaAllah.” Zaid nodded and they continued on in silence towards their hostel. He always got whatever he wanted and he was determined Sumayyah would not be an exception.
Sumayyah was awakened by a light stroke on her cheek. Her eyes fluttered open and she looked up into the unfamiliar face of a woman. She had kind eyes and was smiling down at her.
“Good afternoon Mrs Erinosho. How are you feeling now?”.
“I am fine. Are you the doctor? Where is my mother-in-law, she was here earlier? I want to see my kids.”
“Calm down I will answer all your questions.” I am Nancy Ugu, and yes I am the doctor in charge of your case. Your mother-in-law left a few hours ago to pick the kids from school and bring you some food.”.
Another hospital. That explained why the doctor was not familiar. Zaid never made the mistake of bringing her to the company hospital or the family clinic. He always brought her to a new hospital whenever they had an ‘episode’. Cunning tortoise.
“Thank you, doctor. Please, may I have a drink of water?”.
Doctor Nancy nodded and poured her a glass from the dispenser at the far end of the room.
“Thanks.” Sumayyah accepted the glass and downed its contents. She placed the glass on the cabinet by her bedside and asked,
“Where is your hospital situated and how long have I been here?”
‘Ikorodu and you have been here for five days.” Sumayyah nodded. Poor woman. Doctor Nancy thought. I don’t know how she will take the news I have for her.
“Listen I would like to talk to you …about your injuries..” she hesitated.
‘You may go on doctor, Sumayyah prodded. ‘I am stronger than I look.” She tried to smile
Doctor Nancy did not smile back,. ‘Well, you have a fractured skull, a dislocated wrist, a fractured femur –the bone in your upper arm-, u also had some blood in your lungs, and…” Doctor Nancy stopped.
“And what else.. I-I lost the baby didn’t I?” she squeaked, the floodgates behind her eyes already threatening to open.
Nancy nodded, sat beside her on the bed and placed a hand over hers “I am so sorry madam. We had to perform a D&C to clean out your uterus because the foetus was no longer viable.……”
Sumayyah was no longer listening, she stared out into space as the hot tears burned her eyes& rolled uncontrolled down her cheeks. Ya Allah this is too much for me. She had been in her 19th week of pregnancy and this was the third D&C in five years – the 5th in her lifetime. The other miscarriage had occurred very early into the pregnancy. Her injuries came as no surprise as well; the last ‘episode’ it had been a dislocated hip bone, several fractures, and her neck was in a cast for months. The other time a pregnancy loss cracked ribs, and a slipped disc. She could go on and on but she had a choice; to continue to feel sorry for herself or fight back. She resolved there and then that she had had enough. She had given too much and the monster she called her husband had to pay. She stopped crying and wiped her tears; she knew exactly what she had to do. It’s payback time.