J is FREAKING out! At my wits’ end. Come over to her place ASAP.
Muslimah’s message scared me. I wondered what could have happened to make Jemima so worked up that even Muslimah couldn’t pacify her. Jemima must have called Muslimah when she couldn’t reach me – what with my phone in aeroplane mode as usual.
My thoughts raced as I drove like a maniac down to Jemima’s residence. I envisioned every possible scenario I could think of: Had she fallen ill? Had their house been burgled? Or worse still: had she lost the baby? I arrived at the estate in approximately 20 minutes, a journey that should have taken 45.
Muslimah met me outside just as I drove in through the iron-wrought gates. I parked the car and stepped into Muslimah’s embrace.
“Assalamu alaykum. Thank you for coming. Jemima’s been blowing hot and cold and I’ve had as much as I can handle. You know she won’t call Hadiza…”
I nodded and followed her up the front steps into the house. Muslimah and I were aware of Jemima’s unspoken rivalry with Hadiza. In fact, I think all our acquaintances knew. Only Hadiza was ignorant of it. We all pretended not to notice, however, and just went with the flow, hoping that she would come to her senses. So far it didn’t seem like she had.
“It’s alright, Muslimah. I didn’t have much planned for today anyway.”
That was partly true. I had planned on paying HIM a visit, to fulfil the promise I made. But that could wait. I’d try to explain things to him and hope that he’d understand. We soon entered the living room of the mansion, and I almost fainted when I saw Jemima. She was sprawled out on the floor- hair wild and unkempt, eyes red and puffy. It was obvious she had been crying her eyes out. Several boxes of tissues lay strewn around her all over the floor. Her messy look contrasted deeply to the immaculate living room.
“Jemima dear what’s wrong?” I settled myself by her side and pulled the sleeves of her nightgown back on her bony shoulders. It kept falling back off, so I let it be. She raised her head and the Jemima I saw now looked ten years older than when I last saw her. Gone was the humour that used to dance in her eyes. Sorrow and despair reigned supreme in them at present. A fresh round of tears started to fall down her already tear-stained cheeks.
I placed my arms around her shoulders and glanced over at Muslimah, who had settled in the couch on the opposite side of the room.
“What’s going on, M?”
Without a word, Muslimah bent slightly and slid a card to me. I picked it up and read its contents, stifling a gasp as I did so.
“Subhanallah,” I breathed.
“Yes, that’s what I thought when I first saw it too. And Jemima was blissfully unaware until he brought the amarya to the house and introduced her as his new bride. Can you imagine?”
“Subhanallah,” I said again. Jemima cried harder and I pulled her closer. Her reaction was beginning to make sense. Abdul had married another wife and had done so in the sneakiest way possible. It seemed unlike him though. He came across like a gentle and easy-going type of guy. Jemima made no bones about it to us as well; constantly reminding us at every opportunity she got that her hubby was under her control.
“The worst part is -they com- completely ignore me. She flits around the house like a butterfly that just left its cocoon. And Abdul? He has changed so much that I don’t even know him anymore.”
“Shh, please take it easy ‘Mima. Your condition is too delicate for this kind of stress.”
“Abeg help me tell am o. I am particularly worried about the bun in the oven.” Muslimah added.
All of a sudden, Jemima’s expression hardened, and she sat up straight. There was anger in her eyes now, and I understood Muslimah’s description of her blowing hot and cold at the same time.
“I don’t CARE about it anymore! I am of the mind to just claw it right out of me this instant!” She began to punch her stomach repeatedly. I grabbed both her hands and turned her to face me.
“Jemima, stop it! You know you don’t mean that.”
“But the baby’s death would hurt him, even if only a little right? It will make him come back to me and we can start afresh.”
Muslimah rolled her eyes. “You would be punishing yourself, not Abdul if you got rid of the baby. Remember he now has a new wife to give him another one, and you would be left with nothing.”
“Muslimah is right. A child is a blessing from Allah and you can’t use it as a bargaining chip to get your husband back.” I spoke gently. “Besides, the fact that he married another doesn’t mean you have lost him. Abdul is still your husband as much as he is the new bride’s. You can still make all this work to your advantage. But you must take care of yourself and the baby first.”
Jemima’s shoulders slumped and it seemed all the fight went out of her. “Wallahi, I didn’t and still do not deserve this kind of treatment from Abdul. What more did he want from a wife that I didn’t do for him?”
I couldn’t answer that, and Muslimah did not venture any words either, so we just allowed her to weep in peace. Hoping that the tears would ease the sorrow in her heart.
Jemima cried herself to sleep and I tried to make her comfortable on the floor by using one of the throw cushions as a pillow. I found a wrapper and covered her with it as well. Seeing her all sad and vulnerable made me feel more pity for her. I sighed and joined Muslimah on the couch.
“I feel so bad for her. But she’s strong and will get through this right?”
Muslimah shrugged. “I guess so. However, we have failed to address why Abdul would do something like this in the first place.”
I narrowed my eyes at her. “What are you saying?”
“Look I am not trying to justify his actions; he was wrong not to have told her about it. But we all know how Jemima can be a pain in the neck sometimes.”
She was right. I remembered an incident that happened during their third month of marriage. Abdul had neglected to pick her up after one of our playdates. That same evening, Jemima moved out of their house temporarily and despite our pleas and Abdul’s, she spent a week at Muslimah’s. She only agreed to return home after Abdul presented her with a brand-new car.
“So, you are saying he had had enough and decided to punish her by getting another wife?”
“Not necessarily. I say his actions were not to teach her a lesson, but for his own benefit. For his sanity. Perhaps he needed to close the gaps Jemima refused to fill.”
I could see her point now. Jemima had obviously taken her husband for granted too long and he couldn’t take it anymore. He simply found a solution the only way he knew how. The fact that I empathised with him wouldn’t stop me from giving him a piece of my mind when next I saw him though.
“I get you, M. It doesn’t explain his ignoring her sha.”
Muslimah rose and picked up her bag. “You know as well as I do that Jemima exaggerates stuff- a lot. I’m taking that part of the story with a grain of salt ojere. Anyway, na una wey get husband dey manage that kain wahala. Thankfully, I will never have to.”
I smiled and shook my head. “You and this your philosophy about men.”
She smiled as well. “Speaking of which: Do you mind staying with her? I have GNS 201 test this afternoon and I can’t afford to miss it.”
I frowned. “GNS 2O1?”
“Na so we see am o. Long story short, the course is now compulsory and everybody has to take it.” Her expression darkened, like a cloud crossed over her face. “Guess who is taking the course too?”
My mind did not want to formulate the answer, but it did, and my mouth spilt it of its own accord. “Prof. Jaiye?”
Muslimah’s expression told me what I needed to know.
“Allahu akbar!” I could do nothing but hug my friend. I knew what that meant. If that evil, hungry wolf of a man so much as got a whiff of Muslimah… I shuddered, refusing to complete the thought.
“Muslimah, be focused and make du’a. Allahul musta’an, Allah alone is our source of help. He’ll guide you through this-just like before. Have faith.”
Muslimah pulled out of the hug and wiped her tears with her sleeve. “Thanks. I must leave now. Take care of that drama queen, will you?”
I watched her leave and thought about everything she had been through. We were all supposed to graduate at the same time, but the problems she had encountered with that Shaytaan made it impossible for her. Muslimah had changed departments and gone back to 200level. We thought then, that her switch would be the last we would hear of the matter and of him.
I sighed and said prayed to Allah to help my friend out of this situation. Jemima was still asleep, so I curled up on the cushion and started to compose a text to send to HIM. I owed him an explanation for disappointing him again after all.
I believed strongly that the language of love is not spoken but lived; it doesn’t matter what a person said, only actions mattered. When I married A’isha, my wife, I wasn’t looking for perfection- because I wasn’t the least bit perfect. I wanted us both to learn together, catch each other, hold on to such ideals as honesty, faith, Taqwa and trust; and try to live up to them.
A’isha’s actions lately did not do much to instil confidence in me.
First, it was the restrictions. I wasn’t allowed access to one of her phones. Once, when I was still ignorant, I had tried to scroll through it. I was looking for nothing in particular, just something to while away time with. A’isha had freaked out when she ‘caught’ me, and she had snatched her phone away, handing me the other instead. Of course, she apologised after, but the damage had already been done.
Next were the half-truths, then the mysterious/cryptic diary entries… then the calls.
I would never have paid any mind if A’isha had not the tendency to receive calls from a certain contact in private. One of such cases was the call she received the last weekend we spent together. Everything had been going well until her phone vibrated. She thought I was asleep, and in truth I almost was. When she left my side to receive the call, I tried to resist the urge to follow her, but my curiosity got the better of me, so I did. Besides, I wanted to get to the root of the matter and refused to allow the Shaytaan’s whispers cloud my judgement.
I knew eavesdropping was wrong, but I didn’t regret doing it. I heard enough that day to form an opinion of what my wife was up to. Now all I had to do was gather enough evidence to confront her with, and it so happened that I knew just the way to do it without her finding out.
She left me with no choice.
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