Ruquayatu elopes with death. She does this sin, despite the fact that she once made a pact with life, death came and she took its hands, calmly, with a furtive smile that her mother wasn’t happy of. She was the type of young girl that a mother prayed, in earnest to the maker for and on account, several years ago, she had received Ruquayatu as a parcel from endless and countless pleas to Allah. Her birth is what Zaina, her mother would never forget. The agonizing pain of childbirth, the abstract techniques measured, that posed as the pains she was plunged and immersed into, before the precious tiny shape of the unnamed girl saw the world in a twinkling white light test tube filled room at the general hospital, Zaria. She had grown with so much joy and abounding happiness and her mother , being a single parent had thought she had eluded the feeling of disgrace and the portraying image unwanted pregnancy bestows.
At the time, there was a grey colored bungalow, lined with blue aluminum plates on the dancing rooftop and there was an empty room which undoubtedly had no sign of life until Zaina and her child made its walls exciting. Zaina worked as a nurse in the general hospital, double shifts; one partly accomplished in the day, long and hectic and another in the endless tiring night. She worked to meet the demands of herself and her companion and by the look of the smooth charismatic path, life was heaving them to; her effort was paying off extravagantly as Ruquayatu and her lovely self began to grow into a very elegant girl. She had been enrolled into a nearby private school two poles away from where they lived and her mother’s struggle surfaced about all she did and how she did them and the huge sum of tuition tortured her, enormous it was, seemingly impossible to pay, while the child, on a more different base struggled too, so as to meet the demands of society. The girl’s only flaw was her mother’s love and little of it more, would have spoilt her. Then as the world soils her name with bad news, Zaina’s source of livelihood wounds up adrift, caught in twines between the fowl ego of a doctor. She had been basking in the glory of him, a reputable single doctor, responsible for her round belly years ago – unknown to the world.
After a long time, she grows, and her thin legs elongate, her hair darkens and when it becomes astoundingly difficult for the young mother to satisfy her needs in forms of three squares of sweet meals; as a child deserves, it becomes obvious that her world , all In one little girl was falling apart into bits and pieces. Mother begins to surrender to her plight. Daughter begins to react cowardly. The two begin to react differently to the sudden change of events. The gap between them spreads like a virus, a disease that has no cure. The gap widens and a bridge of solution is to be the salvage of them both. There seems no remedy for this sudden turnout of escapades which lingers till the frailness of Ruquayatu gets addressed by the promises of her dark sunken mother saying to her it was going to be alright in the end. She grows, living with her mother; she gets to know that the world is not a mere one, which should be inhabited by the frail. Time parts ways as seasons change and as morning comes and retires into lengthy evening where mother and child would meet together again in their single room at Oriakpata Street. The girl is on a plastic chair. Her mother fondles an envelope, skimming the lines through a letter which jutted from the door’s entrance when she had returned from afternoon break. Her face was naked and distorted her round nose sweating, her eyes somewhat bloodshot, and her left leg crossed on the other on the floor. A glass of wine on a side table and at intervals, the brown affectionate eyes of Ruquayatu was caught perusing her mother’s face. Zaina’s entire world, in a single moment, was on a leash, right before her wet face. She didn’t know what to think as a profound solution, her mind and her brain were warring on a see-saw. Sounds of clashing steels exploded in her ears. Her daughter noticed her mother’s mood was not the same; apparently, she could not grasp it as naivety knew her earnestly well. Barely eight years of age, does she not understand what her life would be. She, in all her bright dreams –real or unrealistic does not yet know of the deepening hallowed ground her fate was entwined with. She never knows that her childhood days, as halcyon would soon fade into what her mother fears.
Zaina in all her query about life, was scared, as any woman her age would be if her level in life was attained by several other women surrounding her. Living alone with her daughter was what she thought impossible. She had finally settled down before she got the letter which turned everything towards the negative.
Today, as the heat drowns everything, Zaina kneels on the side of a bed praying to Allah to retain the life of her sick child. She wonders why things happen, why Ruquayatu would come to her, why Allah would bless her then let this happen. It was cancer the doctor had said to her. There is no cure. Not even time can heal her.
Zaina was someone to never lose hope. It was her curse. She continued to be hopeful, visiting places, celestial churches; at one not too distant from her street, there a priest resided. She had gone to him too, relinquishing her religion. Ruquayatu had been bathed with salt water seven times and sprinkled with holy water. She had cried from the itching of her eyes and fervently Zaina prayed along too as he sung praises and spoke in confusing tongues. That had not worked. In fact, as she noticed it when they returned after hours, the fever had intensified in her daughter’s body. She feared death, loneliness. She feared to return to her place far away Katsina to meet her parents and listen once again to their tiring voices of mockery. She was always strong and all she did was planned from the first detail, but this, this was to be the biggest blow she was ever to get.
It was the third month and at the same hospital Ruquayatu had first seen, it was to be her last because there was nothing to be done by the world. She is lying in her mother’s arms, laboring in her breaths. Zaina’s face is wet with tears as slowly she loses her, she loses her world. How would she see tomorrow? If finally she leaves this world, would she also live in it alone? She has seen and lived with reprise, loneliness, how it stinks, how deafening it is. She worries too and as the last beep of Ruquayatu’s heart echoes, she springs with fuss from the dream, soaked wet with sweat, drenching, breathing profusely, she feels next to her side and touches the sleepy Ruquyatu, alive and well. She faces the moon and prays to Allah to never let this nightmare come alive.
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