Dogon numfashi Hamma Suraj ya ja, idanunsa kan Laylah. Gaba daya abunda ta fadi masa sai yawo suke masa a kai, ya kasa comprehending komi. Gaba daya be san ta ina zai biyo wa matsalar ba. +
“Does Mahmoud know all these?”. Ya tambaya.
“He doesn’t”. Dan runtse idanu yayi kan ya kuma kallon Laylah.
“I think he has a right to”. Ya fadi yana miqewa “The choice is yours; duk wanda kika zaba da shi zaa daura miki aure gobe insha Allah. A wedding we fixed, a wedding there’ll be, baza mu juri kayan kunya ba”. Ya wuce ya bar Laylah a zaune. At that point ba wanda ya san abun yi kuma, babu kuma wanda ke son forcing dinta a kan tayi abunda ranta be so ba although parents dinta sun nuna kiri kiri zuciyar su ya fi kwanciya ayi da Mahmoud.
Zama tayi shuru ta rasa abun yi. Tana cikin wannan zaman ne Mahmoud ya shigo ya iske ta zaune shuru. Dago idanu kawai tayi ta kallesa hawaye suka fara zubo mata. Shima kallon ta yayi be ce mata komi ba. Sun dade haka shuru ba me cewa kowa komi kan Mahmoud ya ja dogon numfashi yayi magana.
“You love him, don’t you?”.
“More than words can ever say”. Tayi ýar murmushi.
“You’ll be more happy with him”.
“I wouldn’t know”. Hmmm kawai Mahmoud yace, hannunsa on his chin. “He changed me Mahmoud. Do you know I was a prostitute, just as you called me”. Har cikin brain Mahmoud yaji kalamanta. Duk da in the past he has taunted her using that word, be taba tunanin Laylah will ever tread on that path ba.
“You’re saying that to discourage me right”. Ya fadi yana dariya.
“Wallahi gaskia ne. Nayi karuwanci, for years. How did you think I acquired all these wealth? Haduwana da Abdulmalik changed everything, Haduwana da shi ya sa na fara kwadayin redemption, Haduwana dashi ya sa na fara kwadayin settling down. Having a family of mine. He gave me the push I needed……”. Bata gama ba Mahmoud a katse ta.
“You must love him alot to lie this way”. Ya fadi ya miqe “Let’s get married tomorrow”. Mahmoud ya fadi assuring her that he was still on his words. Ba tare da ya juyo ya Kalle ta ba ya wuce. Laylah kam hannu ta dora a kai, gaba daya bata san yadda zata yi ba. On one hand is Mahmoud, his innocent daughters who needed a mother. Dayan hannun kuma is khalifa, someone who deserved a second shot at love, someone whom her heart has been yearning for, and then his innocent son who craves for a mother’s love, a feeling he has never been privileged to experience. 1
Yasmeenah kam koh da ta koma saman terrace around 10 pm na dare khalifa Al-Haydar ta hango nan dai inda ya zauna tun rana. In ba sallah ba, ba abunda ke daga sa daga gun. Numfashi ta ja, she wish she could do something to help these 3 innocent souls. Tausayi taji ya bata, for someone who has never passed through hardship his entire life, he sure was going through alot zama cikin tsananin sanyin December, ga uban sauro, not to talk of the mess he left back home. Ta rasa why she felt so much compassion for him. Kawai shiga bedroom dinta tayi ta buda wardrobe inda tayi arranging kayanta ta ciro wani soft shawl da ta siya wani zuwan ta Istanbul. Ije shawl din tayi kan gado kan ta dauko body warmer ta sanya jikinta kan ta dau shawl din ta sauko qasa. Kitchen ta wuce ta buda fridge ta ciro ingredients ta fara hada sandwich. Sandwich uku ta hada, sun ji kaya kan ta hada 2 mugs of hot coffee, ta dau plastic bottle din ruwa daya ta dora kan tray din tayi waje. You haven’t eaten all day, have you?”. Ta fadi startling khalifa who was busy counting the stars up in the sky, hoping for a miracle. Kallon ta yayi cike da mamaki be ce komi ba, matsa mata yayi ta zauna a concrete bench din kan ta dora tray din tsakanin su. +
“Here” ta fadi tana passing masa plate din sandwich “Eat”. Kallon ta khalifa yayi sannan ya kalli plate din. Without any argument ya dau sandwich daya ya fara ci, yana tauna a hankula.
“You should also eat, ban iya cin abinci ni daya ba. Back home I eat either with my mom or son”. Ya fadi mata, fuska a sake. Kallonsa tayi shuru, cikin ta ya cika amma sai ta sama kanta da daukar sandwich daya, just to make him feel better. Sai da ya kusa gama cinye sandwich din tukun ya dau mug din coffee din yayi sipping a hankula. Komi nasa a tsanake.
“Thank you aunt”. Ya fadi a hankula.
“Yasmeenah…. you can call me Yasmeenah”.
“Yasmeenah?” Ya tambaya rhetorically “Isn’t that Arabic word for jasmine?”.
“You’re a smart one”. Ta fadi tana murmushi.
“My dad used to love jasmines….. alot”.
“They’re my faves too”.
“Obviously. You smell like jasmines”. Ya fadi yana dariya. Ita ma dariyar tayi tana kallonsa bata san lokacin da hawaye ya dan kufce mata ba. Juyowa yayi ya Kalle ta kan ya miqa mata hankie.
“Sorry, you just reminded me of someone I used to know”.
“An old lover”. Ya fadi yana daga gira “sorry, I’m prying”.
“No, it’s okay”. Ta fadi “Kana son Laylah koh”.
“Fiye da tunanin ki”. Ya tsaya ya kurbi coffee dinsa kan ya cigaba “After loosing my wife, ban taba tunanin zan taba son wata ýa mace haka ba. Loosing Laylah will be a big slap to the face, I’ve never wanted anything the way I want Laylah. I need her….. to complete me”. Ya fadi a hankula.
“Why then? She waited, for a months”.
“I was weak and feeble, I didn’t know what I wanted. Yanzu I just want her to hear me out. Kar ta dau hukunci sai taji what I have to say. If she still chooses him after hearing me, wallah I’ll honor her decision and vanish from her life. Just one chance”.
“What if I make it happen?”.
“I’ll forever be indebted to you”. Ya fadi yana kallon Yasmeenah with eyes that expressed his plight.
“I’ll send her down later. I need you to brace yourself yanzu. Tana tare da wan ta but as soon as I can, I’ll send her. You better sound convincing”.
“Thank you, thank you” ya fadi “Your son must be a lucky man to have you. You’re understanding”. Ya fadi.
“Maybe”. Kawai ta fadi masa, without telling him cewar bata da da. Miqewa tayi zata tafi taji yace ta dan zauna dashi please. A hankula tayi wrapping shawl din around him, in the process of wrapping shawl din ne ta ga mark din da ke wuyarsa. “What’s that mark?”. Ta tambaya “ka qone kana yaro?”. Ta tambaya tana shafa mark din. A round shaped surface a area din neck dinsa da yayi fari sol kamar zabiya.No, it’s a birthmark. A family mark more like”. Idanu ta zaro tana kallonsa amma bata ce komi ba tace masa she has to go. Har ta hau sama tunani ta ke yi akan birth mark inda ta gani a neck din khalifa. It matches the one he had but how possible is that? Bata yi Snapping out of thoughts dinta ba sai da ta ci karo da Leek. 4
“Ouch! Yasmeenah watch where you’re going. Ina kike ina ta neman ki”. Yasmeenah bata ce mata komi ba kawai ta jawo hannunta suka wuce sama Yasmeenah zuciyar ta fal da tunani
Laylah kam har Hamma Suraj ya shiga gun Ummati suka yi magana suka gama tana inda ya bar ta. Haka ya dawo ya izza ta, kallon ta suka yi da shi da Ummati da ta rako sa. Dama Zubaidah ita ta tare gidan surukanta temporarily saboda bikin. Kallon su tayi kan Hamma ya tambaye ta me ya faru. Fadi masa yadda suka yi da Mahmoud tayi. Tun kam ta gama magana Ummati ta katse ta.
“Da shi zaa yi auran. We can’t just turn him down at the dying moment. Shi wancan din me ya hanasa zuwa tuntuni. Baza mu zama manyan banza ba, ke kuma Laylah haquri zakiyi ki aura Mahmoud din, dama ke kika ce masa ya aiko. Shikuma wancan Suraj kaje ka basa haquri”. Ummati na fadi haka ta juya ta wuce koh sai da safe bata wa Suraj ba. Kallonsa Laylah tayi with pleading eyes.
“I’m sorry”. Kawai ya fadi mata ya wuce. Ita kuma ta wuce sama dakin ta. Kukan ma tayi har ta gaji bata iya yi kuma. Suraj na isa waje yayi wa khalifa sallama sannan ya isar masa da saqon Ummati, yana ta basa haquri akan cewa he should take heart shikam khalifa won’t just have any of it. Yace he isn’t moving an inch in be ga Laylah ba. Ya Suraj dai da ya rasa abun yi kawai ya kira matar sa akan ta fadiwa Laylah ta sauko, a lokacin kuma Laylah ta shiga bandaki dun haka ya shige motar sa ya wuce abunsa, a zuci yana fadin in sun ga dama su cinye kawunan su, shi dai a gaji. He’s had more than enough drama.
“Go home Al-Haydar. It’s over”.
“Laylah I love you. You told me you love me too. Dan Allah Karki mun haka, please Laylah. I left everything, ditched my wedding to come to you”.
“You’re late. I waited, kana ina lokacin?”. Ta tambaya. “Just go, it’s over”. Lokacin suna tsaye face to face with each other.
“It’s hard to let it go Laylah, by God it is. After everything you told me, everything I learnt I still love you, my love for you doubled, no quadrupled the day you told me all about you”. A hankula hawaye zuwa fara zirya kan kumatun ta. “It hurts to see you cry, nothing hurts more than making you cry. I’m sorry for all the hurt”.
“Ban so naji it’s over”. 2
“I’ve come too far to let you go Laylah. Just hear me out. Just this one last time. I’ll be contented with any decision you take after hearing me out, atleast I’ll be rid of the guilt that eats at me every blessed day”. Zama tayi a far end din bench inda yike zaune minutes ago. Shima zaman yayi kan ya juyo ya Kalle ta.
“I was in shock that day, I couldn’t face you because I was guilty. Ban san yadda zan yi facing dinki ba Laylah knowing cewa my cousin had a hand in the life you fell into”.
“Your cousin?”. Ta tambaya kan ta a daure.
“Sarah…. Sarah Muhammad Fadoul. Cousin ita ce”. Sai a lokacin komi yayi clicking wa Laylah, tayi putting two and two together.A hankula ta fadi “Sarah Muhammad Fadoul, Nawfal Muhammad Fadoul. Siblings?”.
“Exactly”. Ya fadi. Ita kam Laylah mamaki ne ya cika ta. So Nawfal was the brother Sarah went to pick a airport a ranar da uncle Mukhtar yayi kokarin molesting dinta. +
“Ina komawa gida, I had to leave for Azerbaijan for an emergency. There’s a member of my board that has been embezzling the company’s funds. They’re trying to bankrupt me. I spent 3 good months travelling from one country to another Laylah, I was busy. Trying to save my family’s legacy”. Sai da ya tsaya ya ja dogon numfashi kan ya cigaba.
“Ina dawowa kuma Begum dropped the bomb of my engagement to her friend’s daughter… Saima. Laylah a duniya I’ve never said no to my mother. Ba abunda bazan iya yi wa Begum ba but for the first time I said no to her, ina da wanda nike so. She asked about you, she carried out a background check ta gano ki and out rightly told me there was no way I was bringing a hooker into the family, there was no way I was going to make you the next lady of the Al-Haydar legacy. She gave me an ultimatum. In na aure ki I have to give up everything, the business, my family, even my son”. Ya fadi a hankula kan yayi shuru kuma.
“How on earth was I going to call you Laylah? In ce miki mene? I didn’t have the courage to face you. Maybe I’m not as courageous as the world think I am. These past months have been shitty, it wasn’t easy, spending them without you. And now I can’t imagine an eternity without you. Dan Allah Karki mun haka. Not after I left everything to be with you”. Without realising when it happened Laylah ta jawo sa zuwa jikinta.
“I love you Abdul. More than anything in the entire universe. I can’t imagine a future without you but it’s too late”. Ta fadi tana zame jikinta. “I wish it were up to me. Amma my parents have made a decision and just as you don’t want to go against your mom so do I. I want to make them happy, it’s the least I can do to make things right. I hope you understand”.
“Soooo, is this the end?”. Ya tambaya a hankula.
“I guess it is”. Ta fadi dan reluctant smile.
“I love you…. I always will”. 1
“To infinity and beyond”. Ta fadi a hankula. Shima maimaita kalamanta yayi kan ya saki hannayenta ta wuce cikin gida. Har ta dan yi nisa ta juyo ta kira sa. 1
“You’ll stay…. For the wedding. won’t you?”.
Da murmushi a fuskar sa ya ansa ta “sure”. Ta juya ta cigaba da tafiyar ta sai kuma ta ji ya kirata.
“Who’s your Maa?”. Ta tambaya harshly “Begum… I am Begum. Now say it let me hear”.
“Be.g.ggum”. Ya fadi a tsorace.
“Masha Allah. My little lion”. Ta taba masa kumatu kan ta tambaye sa abunda yasa yike neman ta.
Tunani khalifa ya dinga yi all through the drive back to his guesthouse from Laylah’s place. There he was, seated at the backseat of his posh ride, reminiscing about his childhood instead of mourning the love he had just lost.
“Khalifatullah…. son why are you crying?”.
“It’s Khalid. I punched me and snatched my bat”.
“Shine kake kuka?” Begum ta fadi rai a bace. Da karfi ta kira me aiki ta fadi mata cewa ta dauko mata tsumagiya daga dakin ta which she used to whip little khalifa.
“From now henceforth you won’t come to me complaining about every little thing. You’ll fight back like a man and stop shedding tears like a sissy” Ta fadi masa in a stern tone “One day you’ll be the giant of the Al-Haydar legacy. Cowards don’t rule over Al-Haydar empire my boy. Fight! Like the lion that you are”. Ta fadi masa kan ta kira me kula dashi ta fadi mata ta wuce da shi ciki. Sai can da dare ta shigo dakinsa, shikam khalifa ya kwanta shuru kamar me barci, a hankula ta buda palms dinsa ta fara rubbing balm a inda ta doke sa, Jim kadan yaji abu me dumi ya fado tafin hannunsa; hawayen mahaifiyar sa. Thinking he was asleep Begum apologised for being strict, she only wanted to build him up, she wanted to prepare him for the battle ahead, against a cruel world full of greedy people and conspiracies. Looking back, khalifa sai yaga to an extent his mother’s strictness did him good.
“What journalist! Allah kiyaye da na ya zama journalist. Khalifatullah kai daya gareni and I won’t sit and watch you waste away your life by becoming a journalist. You’ll be an engineer, you’ll have a second degree in business administration from Cambridge. I started making all necessary plans for your future tun ranar da na gane ina dauke da cikin ka, baza ka lalata mun lissafi ba”. Murmushi yayi da ya tuno decision din Begum regarding his career. With no option left, khalifa left for England to pursue degrees in the field his mother chose for him. Kan ya dawo kuwa an sama masa mata.
“Her name is Fatima zahra. Her father was once an ambassador, now a minister. We’ll profit alot from the alliance. Tun kana shekara sha biyar muka finalising zancen auran ku da iyayenta”.
“No son” Begum ta dakatar da shi “Begum Sahar hears no ifs nor buts. Get ready, you’ll go see her tomorrow” . Tana fadin haka tayi kissing forehead dinsa ta bar dakin.
Ruwan shower ya kunna ta shiga ba tare da ya tube kayan da ke jikinsa ba. For a while he was under the water, walking down memory lane. All his life, he’s lived under his mother’s shadow. Begum has every little detail planned out for him and she’s trying to do the same to his son. Poor Fadeel. Yana fita shower din ya sanja kaya, ya sa wani simple T-shirt da sweatpants kan ya dawo ya zauna a armchair inda ke bedroom dinsa, saura kiris ya kunna waya sai kuma ya tuna warning din Nawfal kawai ya share with intention din kiran Nawfal din da safe, with a secret contact which only Nawfal and Tariq had. Intercom ya dauka yayi waya zuwa kitchen, ya bada order din a kawo masa coffee up to his room. Idanun sa ya rufe, his head leaned against headrest din armchair din as he sipped his super hot coffee. Sai lokacin tunanin Laylah ya dawo masa. +
“You’re a coward khalifa” ya fadi wa kansa yana wani dan murmushin takaici “You had her right under nose but you let go and now here you are wallowing in misery ’cause you’ve lost her forever”. Hannu ya dunqule ya fara dukan kirjinsa yana fadin “It hurts here…. alot”. kuka ne kawai be yi ba amma tunani kam ba irin wanda be zo masa mind ba.
Let’s hear from Mahmoud……
Tuqi yike ta yi, yana wandering aimlessly after he left Laylah’s zuciyar sa cike fal da tunani iri iri. Words din Laylah sai replay suke ta yi a kansa. Yes, he’s going to marry Laylah tomorrow, he’s going to make her his…. but in name only dun after what he witnessed earlier, Mahmoud ya san koh ya auri Laylah, he’ll never own her heart. But what was he to do? Just give up at the dying moment? And accept defeat or fight for what’s his, rightfully.
“Just let her be Mahmoud, she’ll never be yours” . Zuciya daya ya fadi masa.
“Why let her be? Bayan you’re her first love, she’s yours…. yours and yours only. Koh dun kayi proving point dinka to Al-Haydar you’ll have to get Laylah”. Dayan zucin ya fadi.
“Think wisely…. you’ll be destroying not just one, but 3 lives. If you love her, let her go Mahmoud. You’d want to see her happy”.
“Never! Laylah ta ka ce. Ba me raba ku. Tomorrow is the day your long dream will finally come true. You can’t just give up because you’re intimidated by some rich dude”. Haka Mahmoud yayi ta fighting mental battles har ya gaji yayi parking gefen wani titi. Kai ya dora saman steering wheel. Ya dade a haka yana nazari kan ya daga waya to call Hamma Suraj, he can’t be weak and feeble. That wasn’t the time for showcasing weakness, he’s a strong man and he’ll act like one. With that resolve yayi dialling number din number din Suraj.
The next morning ana idda sallan subh Hamma Suraj be yi koh ina ba sai gida. Gefen mahaifiyar sa ya fara shiga kan ta jawo sa zuwa gun Abban su, sun kai one hour suna magana kan Abba yace a kira rest of the family; Laylah, Auta, Zubaidah, da one and only sister din Abba da tazo daga Girei, sai ita Ummati aka kira yar ta da kuma kanwar ta daya sai kuma Yasmeenah wadda ta riga ta zama ýar gida, aka shiga. Su dai Laylah suna barci Zubaidah ta shigo ta tashe su ita da Auta a cewar Ummati tace su sauko, ýan uwa na kusa na so su ja wa amarya kunne. Sai da suka dau over 3 hours cikin living room din Abba ana ta jan kunne kan finally suka fito, Laylah jiki a sanyaye ta hau sama. Tana hawa Auta na mata magana amma ta share ta ta shige dakin ta ta rufe. Qasa ta sama waje ta zube ta fara kuka, she didn’t know why her heart was hurting that way. Kuka tayi sosai har sai da veins din face dinta duk suka daga, hanci da cheeks dinta yayi jazur.
Ta dade tana kukan kan taji knock da voice dun Leek asking her to let the door open. Miqewa tayi ta buda mata door kan ta rufe suka zauna qasa tare. Dora kanta Laylah tayi a shoulder din Leek ta cigaba da kuka. Ta dan dau lokaci tana kuka kan Leek ta ce mata ya isa.Enough. Now let’s get you ready. I’ll make you so beautiful he won’t recognise you when he sees you”. Tayi kissing forehead dinta kan ta miqe ta fara hada ruwan wanka. Ita ma Laylah wiping tears dinta ta yi, ta miqe ta bi Leek bathroom din.
“Leek”. Ta kira a hankula. “It’s over…. Isn’t it?”.
“No habibty. More like the storm is over….. insha Allah”. Ta fadi mata with an assuring smile “Wipe your tears and say Alhamdulillah”. In a hushed tone Laylah tayi muttering Alhamdulillah kan ta fara stripping to get into the bathtub. Leek was giving her a hair wash when she quietly asked.
“How did you feel? On your wedding?”.
“Awesome! Happy…. anxious…. ecstatic. Mixed feelings”. Ta fadi tana chuckling “At the end everything turned out well”. Sighing kawai Laylah tayi ta rufe idanu, enjoying the warmth of the water against her skin.
Khalifa kam da wuri ya tashi barci the next morning. wanka yayi ya ci gayu, wani yace shine ma ango, ya sha kyau cikin one carton brown shadda me shegen kyau, wands ya sha embroidery, specially made for Al-Haydar from the United Arab Emirates, duk cikin kayan bikin sa. Black accessories ya sanya, jikinsa kam sai kanshi yike ta yi kamar wanda aka wa barin fragrance a jiki. Zama yayi shuru a kan bar stool din kitchen bayan ya dauko bottle din wine daya, a glass and wine opener. A hankula yayi popping cork din bottle din open ya zuba grape wine din into the glass and quietly sat, waiting for the appropriate time to leave for Laylah’s wedding, his Laylah’s wedding to some other dude.
Yana cikin wannan nazarin Tariq yayi tapping dinsa softly on his shoulder. “It’s time to go sir”. Ya fadi masa. Miqewa khalifa yayi ya shiga ciki ya dauko abunda zai dauka tukun ya fito suka wuce. Yana fita wani escort yayi saurin buda masa qofar gidan baya na wata arniyar Audi. Murmushi yayi wa mutanen da ke waje ke jiran sa kan ya shiga mota suka wuce. Suna isa outside gate din guesthouse din sai ga press, abunka da manya mutane da kuma zancen duniya da baya boyuwa, har an sama labarin whereabouts din khalifa Al-Haydar. Glass dinsa that was whined down yayi whining sama to evade the paps. Koh kadan he wasn’t in the mood to face the press… just not yet.
The drive to the central masjid inda zaa daura auran was quiet and short. Koh Koh da khalifa ya isa mutane sun riga sun taru, isowar sa yayi daidai da na Mahmoud. Kallon juna suka tsaya yi kan khalifa ya basa hannu.
“You win”. Ya fadi yana kallon Mahmoud cikin ido, shima Mahmoud irin kallon yike wa khalifa, their hands still entangled in a shake.
“I did”. Ya fadi, his emotion unreadable from his expression. Be ankara ba kawai yaji khalifa ya jawo sa zuwa jikinsa, for a manly hug.
“Let’s bury the hatchets…… congrats man”. Ya fadi mata “If you you ever let a drop of tear slid from her eyes, I promise to chop off that which makes you a man, I’m not even kidding”.
“Baka tsoron zuwa prison”.
“For Laylah? I can face the worst of torture. It’s totally worth it”. Ya fadi da murmushi “So beware”. Ya fadi kan ya masa sallama ya yi hanyar shiga masjid sai yaji Mahmoud ya riqo sa. You love her that much”. +
“Forever…. and a day more”. Ya fadi kan ya dan bugi chest din Mahmoud lightly ya wuce. Koh da ya shiga masjid din security hudu biye da shi sai da kowa ya juya ana kallonsa. Wanda suka gane sa sai mamakin ganinsa suke, all one could hear were hushed gasps coming from people. Ýan kasuwan da ke wajen wasu sai dadi suke ji, they’ll get an opportunity to meet the famous Khalifa Al-Haydar, the giant of the Al-Haydar empire and who knows if they play their cards well, they might get to struck a business deal with him. Shi dai zama yayi shuru kamar ma be san shi ake ta kallo ba. Mahmoud na shiga ya zauna directly next to khalifa. Dan nodding din kai khalifa ya masa kan imaam ya fara sealing fates din two lives.
A few minutes later, tun kan kowa ya fito daga masjid khalifa ya fito. Tariq na ganin fitar sa ya miqe ya biyo bayan sa yana ta kiran sunansa amma inaaa khalifa zufa kawai ke keto masa, hular kansa kawai ya cire yana ta ma kansa fifita.
“Ruwa, Tariq bani ruwa”. Ya fadi amidst gasps. Har zuwa lokacin be bar tafia ba. Wani shagon da ke gefen titi Tariq ya tsaya ya siya bottle water, chilled one guda daya koh tsayawa karban change be yi ba ya biyo bayan khalifa ya miqa masa ruwan shikam tunda ya kafa bottle din a baki be tsaya ba sai da ya kusa shanye content din bottle din, kadan inda ya rage ya zuba a kansa kan ya dago ya kalli Tariq.
“Shikenan Tariq, it’s over! Like over over”. Ya fadi frantically.
“Sir…. calm down”.
“I can’t dammit!”. Ya fadi yana kicking kafan sa in the air. “I need a goddamn loudspeaker. Ka samo mun loudspeaker Tariq”. Ya fadi har lokacin be bar tafia ba. Waya kawai Tariq din ya daga ya kira caretaker din guesthouse din Al-Haydar.
Can kam gidansu Laylah kam jama’a ne tam sun cika to the brim. Everybody busy with one thing or the other. Su dai su Laylah, Auta, Leek, Zubaidah and some of their friends suna zaune a Majlis ana ta hira. Wayan Zubaidah ne yayi ringing tana dagawa ta ga Hamma Suraj ke kira, dama ta riga ta fadi masa cewar ya kirata immediately the wedding wedding is solemnised.
“No, not until I see her”.
“She must be busy with people, let’s go”. Da kyar Tariq ya jawo khalifa suka koma inda entourage dinsa ke jiran sa. By that time jama’a an fita masjid, an gama daurin aure gaba daya.
“Hello cousin”. Juyawa yayi suka hada idanu da Nawfal.
“Nawfal”. Ya fadi kan ya jawo sa jikinsa “Dude how did you manage to do everything”.
“Not me but Mahmoud. He made everything possible”. Nawfal be kai da gama fadi masa yadda aka yi ba wasu uncles dinsu suka yi approaching dinsu, abun mamaki har da mahaifin late wife dinsa, infact shi ya tsaya masa ma a matsayin wakil, some close friends including Al-Mubaraq duk ga su sun rufe khalifa sai taya sa murna suke ta yi. Masu hoto kam na ta faman dauka. Excusing kansa yayi the moment Mahmoud’s figure came to sight. 2
“Hey”. Ya fadi a hankula. Juyowa Mahmoud yayi ya kallesa da murmushi me fadi a fuskar sa.
“Ango ka sha kamshi”. Ya fadi masa.
“Kaima haka angon Hidayatu ka sha kamshi”. Ya fadi shima murmushin yike “It’s safe to call you brother Inlaw, isn’t it?”. Ya tambaya. 1
“No”. Mahmoud ya ansa shi fuska a daure. “Why brother in law when you can call me brother”. Dariya suka tuntsure da kawai suka hugging juna each congratulating the other. “Now I’ll do the warning, if you ever let her shed just a single tear…. I won’t even cut off that which makes you a man rather I’ll steal her away, right under your nose”.
“I won’t give you that chance. Never! She’ll have all the happiness there is in this world, insha Allah”. Khalifa ya dan jima kadan suna ta daukan hoto da mutane kan Mahmoud yayi masa sallama akan cewar he’ll be leaving to go meet his bride while khalifa was whisked away by Nawfal back to the guesthouse, inda zashi ya shirya kan ya je ganin nasa amaryar. Su koh sauran baqi da suka zo domin khalifa wucewa farmhouse din old inlaws din khalifa suka yi inda aka hada musu wani dan get together. 1
The drive to the guesthouse was extremely quiet, ba wanda ke cewa kowa komi har suka isa. Khalifa na sauka daga mota direct bedroom dinsa ya wuce ya shiga wanka, kan ya fito Nawfal ya shimfida masa wani farin shadda sabo, wanda ya hadu sosai, da duk wasu accessories inda zai buqata. Sai bayan da ya gama shirin ne tukun Nawfal ya dawo dakin.
“How’s everything going over there”. Khalifa ya tambaya reluctantly.
“Fine, Alhamdulillah. Begum is on the verge of insanity, abunda ya faru ya mata zafi and she’s still on her words”. Nawfal ya fadi. “She’s picking up fights with anybody in support of your marriage”.
“She won’t accept my wife, will she?”. Ya tambaya idanunsa a runtse.
“My wife is doing good, she’s coping just fine. Thanks for as….”. Nawfal be gama magana ba khalifa ya katse sa.
“Wi..wii…ife? Wh..what are you saying?”.
“Yes khalifa. Can’t believe you missed my wedding”. Ya fadi da ýar dariya.
“Be serious man!”.
“Fine! That was the price I had to pay for sending you to Yola. Kai ma ka san the Al-Haydar family can never face disgrace, I had to marry Saima to save the dignity of our family”. 1
“Innalillahi! Nawfal what have I done. What have I done? How many lives did I have to destroy in my quest for love. First her sister and now you”. Khalifa duk ya rasa inda zai sa kansa, har kasa daga idanu yayi ya kalli Nawfal. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry”.
“Hey come on”. Nawfal ya fadi yana jawo sa jikinsa “I don’t regret doing that for you, khalifa a duniya ba abunda bazan iya maka ba, sai dai in abun nan ya sha karfi na. It’s the least I can do for you for all the times you stood by me tun muna yara har zuwa yanzu da muka girma. Everything happens for a reason, Allah knows best”. Shuru khalifa yayi be ce komi ba kan Nawfal ya cigaba da masa bayanin yadda yayi receiving call from some Yasmeenah at around 2 am na dare telling him cewa Mahmoud ya janye janye auran Laylah and if really he wanted marrying her manyan khalifa su zo by morning. Everything was meant to come as a surprise for both Laylah and khalifa. But then poor Auta had to be dragged into the whole debacle. At the dying minute aka hada ta da Mahmoud as consolation. 2
Dogon numfashi kawai khalifa ya ja kan ya jawo hannun Nawfal “Everything’s messed up and I feel so guilty. Let’s go”. Yayi hanyar waje. In no time there were on their way to Laylah’s residence. Koh da suka isa the house was very rowdy, bustling with activities, ga makada da masu kirari suma suna ta faman kida. Wani cousin dinsu Laylah dinne yayi ushering dinsu zuwa babban living room din gidan inda ba mutane. Shiga suka yi da khalifa, Nawfal and Tariq suka zauna shuru. Few minutes after aka fara shiga da refreshments kan ýan uwa suka fara shiga one by one ana gaisawa amma shikam khalifa gaba daya hankalinsa ba kansu yike ba, koh refreshments inda aka ije musu be bi ta kansu ba, he was utterly anxious and getting more impatient to meet the only one his heart has been longing to meet. Bayan Ummati da sisters dinta sun fita, Yasmeenah ce ta shigo da ita da Leek. Khalifa na hango Yasmeenah ya miqe in respect
“Au…..”. Dariya yayi kan ya kuma fadin “Sorry, Yasmeenah”. Jawo sa jikinta tayi ta dan yi hugging dinsa lightly tana fadin congratulations. Kallon Leek yayi wadda take ta masa murmushi sai ya tambayi Yasmeenah “Your daughter?”. Kai tayi nodding in affirmation ita kuma leek murmushin ta ya qara widening.
“Hi”. Ta fadi a hankula “I’ve heard a lot about you, from newspapers and from your bride”. Murmushi ya mata.
“Hello… sister”. Daga nan suka dan shiga taba dan hira sama sama. Ita kam Yasmeenah wani sanyi take ji har cikin ranta. That’s the kind of feeling she gets anytime she’s around khalifa cause he reminds her so much of her past. Shigowar Auta yasa su Yasmeenah suka fita suka basu waje. 2
“Brother Inlaw”. Ta fadi tana masa fara’a “Congratulations”.
“Thank you and congratulations to you too. Baki hushi dani?”.
“What rubbish! How can I be cross with you when you’ve brought so much happiness to my sister’s life”. Ta fadi. Ji yayi hankalinsa ya kwanta, Auta seemed cool about the whole incident. “Take good care of her, you would? Won’t you?”.
“Insha Allah”. Ji suka yi an gyara murya. Koh da ya daga kansa, wani sanyi yaji a ransa da idanunsa suka fada akan na amaryar sa.
“Can I finally talk to my hubby….. Aloneeee”. Ta fadi tana hararar Auta.
“Yaran yanzu da rashin kunya”. Auta ta fadi in a melodramatic way, placing a hand on her hip. Su ma Nawfal dariya kawai suka yi suka miqe dun suyi exiting room din. Sai da suka gaisa da ita kan suka nemi hanyar waje. Auta ma excusing kanta tayi ta fi ce ta bar khalifa tsaye in the middle of the elaborate living room. A hankula ta tako har ta qaraso inda yike tsaye, har ta iso gabansa idanunsa kanta suke, koh kifta su bayayi. Koh da ta iso gabansa sun dade suna kallon juna ba me cewa kowa komi, in ba kallon juna ba ba abunda suke, khalifa with a smile while Laylah kuma with glassy eyes, as if she was going to tear up at any moment. Be ankara ba kawai yaji saukar mari That was for disappearing without a trace for months, for all the nights I cried myself to sleep waiting for you”. Be farfado daga zugin da right cheek dinsa ke masa ba ya kuma jin saukar wani a left cheeks dinsa. 4
“And this one’s for the wrong timing. What if I had gotten married before you came?”. Ta tambaya kan ta fada arms dinsa ta kankame sa.
“I’ve been dying to do this” ta fadi kan ta sauke wani dogon ijiyar zuci, a sigh of relief. “You’ll never leave now, would you?”. Ta fadi tana kuka.
“No! I’m now yours, just like you’re mine”. Ya fadi hugging her back. Sun dade a haka ba abunda take in ba kuka ba, kukan murna and khalifa didn’t stop her. He allowed her pour out every pent up rage and hurt remaining in her while he basked in the glory of being cocooned in her warm embrace.
“Now, now habibty. Enough of the tears. I’ve promised alot of people to take very good care of you, kinga I can’t afford to fail on my very first day of being your spouse”. Dariya tayi kan ta sa hannu ta fara wiping tears dinta, dakatar da ita yayi ya sa nasa hannun to wipe away the tears. “Masha Allah, now smile for me…. please”.
“Just stop it already”.
“Stop what? I’m I making you uncomfortable?”. Ya tambaya. Bata basa ansa ba kawai ta dora kanta a chest dinsa, she could feel how rapidly his heart was beating and bursting with so much love for her.
“Khalifa”. Ta kira sa a hankula.
“I love you”.
Dariya yayi kan ya bata ansa “I love you too habibty. To the square of infinity”. Ya fadi kan ya sa hannu cikin pocket dinsa ya fiddo wani exquisite and antique looking ring. “This a family heirloom, it belonged to my great great great grandma and for generations, it has been passed down to the eldest daughters inlaw of the family”. Ya tsaya ya Kalle ta kan ya cigaba “My grandmother wore it, Begum too then zahra, now you will wear it and someday our Fadeel’s wife will wear it also. Insha Allah”.
“Oh really? Me ya hanaka bawa Saima then?”. Ta tambaya raising an eyebrow.
“I think even heaven was against our pair; I mean Saima and I. The ring didn’t fit, it was too small for her finger so I got another one made for her. The ring was waiting for it’s rightful owner”. Ya fadi yana kashe mata ido “Now if you won’t mind me putting it on you…. Mrs Al-Haydar”.
“Just put it already, I’m getting impatient”. Ta fadi chuckling. Palm dinta ya dora kan nasa before carefully slipping the ring into her ring finger. Gently yayi placing kiss a saman forehead dinta before softly muttering the word ‘congratulations’ to her ear.
“Congrats to you also Mr Al-Haydar”.
“Thank you. Thanks so much zahra”. Ya Kalle ta yana murmushi “Fatima zahra Al-Haydar”. Ita ma murmushin take “I think I have a thing for Fatimas. God took zahra away from me and now he’s compensated my grieving heart with another zahra. Alhamdulillah”. Ya fadi kan ya riqo hannunta suka zauna. 3
Zama suka yi, filling each other on all the while they were apart. Laylah was cocooned in khalifa’s arms while they wallowed in sheer glory of being together at last. Ring inda ya sa mata take ta wasa da as they spoke. Dago kanta yayi to come face to face with him and gently placed a kiss on her forehead, before placing another on her nose and then her lips followed afterwards.
A hankula Zubaidah ta buda kofar ta shiga with a bouncing baby Ammah straddled on her hip. Kallon yadda Laylah ta manne Jikin khalifa koh kunya babu tayi ta kada kanta, fixing her attention on the TV.
“Ai sai ki fito mu je, we have to start preparing Auta for her send off ceremony”. Ta fadi wa Laylah. Khalifa ta fara kallo kan ta juya ta kalli Zubaidah.
“Ki tafi zan zo”. Ta fadi a hankula. Zubaidah na fito ta koma ta kankame khalifa.
“Hey, you have to let me go”.
“No. In ka tafi I won’t see you again”. Ta fadi kamar zata yi kuka.
“Wallahi Laylah ina tashi barci gobe I’ll come see you as soon as I can”.
“Da gaske?”. Ta tambaya shikuma yayi nodding kan sa. Reluctantly Laylah ta miqe koh kunya babu khalifa ya rakata har bakin stairs ta hau ta wuce kan shima ya nufi hanyar waje. Nawfal ya kira wanda yana can dasu Hamma Suraj suna ta hira, yace musu su taho su tafi. Har inda suka parking cars din su Hamma ya taka masu bayan ya fadiwa khalifa cewa akwai abubuwan da ya kamata suyi discussing amma sai an gama hidimar biki an sama nutsuwa tukun.
Daga gidan su Laylah straight farmhouse din Ambassador Sa’eed (Khalifa’s former father inlaw) suka yi dan suyi sallama da uncles dinsa and a few associates and acquaintances that could make it to the wedding at such short notice. Sosai khalifa yayi mamakin yawan mutanen that came all the way to support him, wanda aciki har da uncle dinsa, kawu Ishaq. Sosai yaji dadi ganinsa, especially after Nawfal ya fadi masa of how shi kawu Ishaq din ya yi standing up against Begum to support khalifa. He was deeply touched saboda for years, tun mahaifin khalifa nada rai suke rashin jituwa saboda abun duniya. ‘Maybe it is finally time to bury our hatchets’ khalifa yayi tunani.
Godia sosai khalifa yayi sannan yayi wa kowa fatan alkhairi. Masu wucewa a ranar suka dau hanya while masu kwana suka wuce various hotels dinsu. Kowa ya watse ya rage daga khalifa sai few cousins dinsa aciki harda Nawfal and a very few friends wanda aciki har da brothers din late wife dinsa. Ambassador ya dade yana musu waazi dukan su in general kan yayi alkwari cewa da kansa he’ll travel all the way to Abuja to reason with Begum Sahar.
“Na san Sahar, mace ce mai taurin kai but I bet she’ll come around”. Hajjo tayi comforting dinsa. “Toh yaushe zamu je muga new daughter din namu”. Ta kuma fadi can to ease the tension. Shikam khalifa gaba daya he was feeling utterly uncomfortable facing his late wife’s parents. Ji yike kamar auran da yayi be yi wa late dinsa adalci ba. Dare ya ritsa sosai sanda khalifa, Nawfal together with the few friends left suka yi wa family din Ambassador sallama suka koma Al-Haydar guesthouse. Suna isa kowa ya kwanta barci amma khalifa gaba daya ya kasa samun kansa da barci. Zaune suke shuru daga shi har Nawfal ba me cewa kowa komi. Lura yayi da yadda Nawfal ke riqe da waya yana ta abu. He’s never seen his cousin that focused on his phone, gashi he had a serious look, as if something was wrong and there was something nagging him. Hey man, what’s wrong?”. +
“Nothing much”. Ya ansa masa his eyes still focused on his phone as typed away.
“You look tensed”.
“I haven’t spoken to Saima all day, gashi ina ta kira bata dagawa. I just want to make sure she’s doing okay”.
“Ohhhh”. Kawai khalifa ya ce ya kasa cewa komi. Zama suka yi shuru kuma, khalifa na sipping coffee dinsa.
“I’ll just send her a text”. Nawfal ya fadi a hankula, breaking the thick silence that surrounded them.
“Are you happy?”. Khalifa ya tambaya.
“Huhh”. Nawfal ya fadi yana daga gira.
“I said are you happy? Everything happened suddenly. Me running away on my wedding, you having to marry Saima when I know you’re in love with someone else”.
“Kai fah? Are you happy?”. Nawfal ya tambaya.
“Yes… I think I am. I finally have zahra all to myself. I’m happy”.
“Then I’m happy also for in your happiness lies mine”. Nawfal ya fadi.
“Shhhhh. Na fadi maka khalifa I’ll gladly lay my life down to you. All you have to do is ask”. Ya fadi yana jawo sa jiki for a brotherly hug “you’ve given me all I ever needed and even more, you’ve supported me tun muna yara, did everything for me. What’s there dan nayi making this small sacrifice for you?”.
“Thank you man, I owe you. I’ll forever be indebted”. Khalifa ya fadi yana kuka. Ringing din wayar Nawfal ne yayi Snapping both of them out of the emotional moment. Daga wayar Nawfal yayi ya kalli khalifa.
Sanda Laylah ta hau sama har an kusa gama shirya Auta. Yasmeenah ta samu tana adjusting mata veil ga ýan mata an zauna sai zolayar ta ake. A few minutes later Ummati ta shigo ita da sisters dinta, her friends and other elderly ladies to give the bride her final sermon. Sun dade ana ta ma amarya nasiha har finally suka fita, suna fita Yasmeenah and some other ladies suka shiga suka yi nasu har lokacin Laylah ta kasa facing sister din nata. Kowa da kowa ya gama fadin nasa kan aka kaita downstairs waje Abban su wanda ke zauna together with Hamma Suraj. A nan ma ta sha nasiha, ta kuma sha Addu’a sosai. Ba kadan ba Abba ya dinga saka mata fa alkhairi saboda ta fitar dasu kunya, ta rufa musu asiri, tayi musu karamcin da ba zasu taba mancewa ba.
“Allah sa yadda kika rufa mana asiri kema Allah ya baki wanda zasu rufa miki, Allah hada kanki da na mijin ki. May never ending love and happiness bloom in your new home”. Auta na gefen Abba mutanen Mahmoud suka iso daukar amarya. Laylah kasa jurewa tayi ta shige bathroom din dakin ta ta rufe kanta with the resolve of not coming out sai an tafi da Auta. Kuka me ansa sunansa kuka tayi because Auta made the sacrifice for her, if she hadn’t gotten blinded by love it never would’ve happened. Ita kam Auta tsayawa tsayin daka tayi akan ba inda zata in Laylah bata fito sun yi sallama ba. “2 can play the game you know” ta fadi da karfin standing by the door which lead to Laylah’s bathroom “Take your time in there, I’ll be here waiting”. Ta qara fadi. Ganin dai Auta ta tsaya on her words gashi sai jiran ta ake ya sa Laylah fitowa reluctantly. Sun dade a tsaye suna kallon juna kan Laylah ta dauke idanunta akan Auta. +
“I don’t know how to face you, after what I’ve gotten you into”.
“I wasn’t complaining”. Auta ta fadi da murmushi. Jawo Laylah jikinta tayi for a sisterly hug “I’ll miss you Mrs Al-Haydar”.
“I’ll miss you too Mrs Mahmoud”. Ta fadi suna dariya “Take care of the girls. Na baki amanar su”. Laylah ta kuma fadi.
“Insha Allah”. Sun dade suna ýan small talks kan finally aka wuce da Auta new home inta.
Tsit gidan ya dawo, jama’a duk an watse sai very few visitors wanda dama sun zo daga afar, su kawai suka rage. Su Yasmeenah and Leek har da su aka tafi kai amarya dan haka Laylah was left all alone in her room, bored.
Zainaba kam on her own side tun ranar da ta koma gida basu da aiki ita da mahaifiyar ta in ba na shiga da fice ba gidan malamai dun ganin an tsayar da auran Mahmoud da Laylah. Gaba daya ta kasa samun zama dan alamarin ya mugun razana ta, ga wani irin tsananin tsoron Laylah da take. A ranar da ta koma mahaifiyar ta ta dau waya tayi wa Mahmoud zagin uwa uba, kuma da yike ba wani hankali ne ya ishesu ba, babu wanda ya lallaba sa akan yazo yayi sulhu ta koma dakin ta, infact ba ma wanda yace bara yaji his own side of the story bare a san koh wanene da laifi. Su kawai sun yarda da story inda diyar su ta basu, cewar saboda zaya yi qarin aure ya sake ta. Ýaýa kam suna can, har ta infant din a hannun sister din Mahmoud wadda take basu kulawa sosai iya gwargwado. A ranar da ake gobe daurin auran Mahmoud da Laylah, zainaba da mamanta and her aunt suna zaune jugum a cikin living room, duk sunyi running out of ideas on what to do about their dilemma.
“Har sai da na siyar da gold dina dan na biya kudin maganin nan, kuma gobe da nisa aikin sa baya delay amma shuru muke ji har yanzu”. Zainaba ta fadi cike da damuwa “Yanzu fa Inna gobe ne daurin auran”. Ta kuma fadi.
“Ni matsala ta ma yanzu ya samu ya dawo da ke, wancan akuyar koh daga baya ma yi maganin ta. Kin tuna wannan malamin da Hajja Lubah ta hada mu da shi na can nijar. Da shi za mu hada ta ya mana fata fata da ita, har shi Mahmoud din sai mun ci karfin sa dan kwal uban sa”. Fadin hajia Inna, wadda ta kasance mahaifiya ga zainaba.
“Hmmmm nima abun na daure mun kai, ya ci ace aikin nan yayi”. Fadin Ladidi kanwar hajia Inna. A haka dai suka cigaba da zantawa akan yadda zaa ci wa matsalar. Har Ladidi ta dau waya ta kira wata qawarta akan ta hada ta da wani malami wanda zai musu aiki cikin gaggawa.
“Yawwa hajia Inna, kinga Saude tace wannan malamin ya iya aiki, can Lamorde yike. Yanzu shi zamu je ya mana aiki a samu ta koma, kinga in tana gidan sai mu san yadda zamuyi da wancan almurar”.
“Wai ke Daada Ladidi kina ganin ba kudi hannuna, gold dina na sayar last time dan a samu ayi aikin kuma ya qi ci”.
“Ke Dallah wa ke ta ba kudi?”. Fadin hajia Inna “Wani gold din zamu dauka mu bugar ayi mana aiki, in kika koma duk a jikinsa sai kin fiddo asara. Ai ba a banza na tsaya nike jajurcewa akan ki koma ba”. Nan da nan hajia Inna tayi wa Ladidi da zainaba umurni da su shirya a shiga kasuwa wajen ýan gold a bugar da ýan kunne kashe gari da sassafe a wuce Lamorde nemo asirin da zai sa Mahmoud mayar da zainaba dakin ta. A haka suka debi jiki aka wuce kasuwa aka sayar da ýan kunne akan naira dubu dari uku da sittin. Cike da murna suka dawo gida, lokacin masu aiki har sun gama abincin yamma, su uku suka zauna a bedroom din hajia Inna suna ci.
Gidan da suke ciki dai Mahmoud shi ya saya wa hajia Inna shi, gida ne na zamani me kyau na azo a gani wanda aka qayata shi da kayan duniya masu tsada iri iri. Masu aikin gidan su biyu duk kudin da ake biyan su daga jikinsa yike fita, sannan ga driver wanda Mahmoud ya dauko yaba mota, sabuwar matrix ana kai hajia Inna duk inda zata. Harta me gadi sai da Mahmoud ya sama wa gidan. Sha tara na arziki ba wanda Mahmoud baya wa zainaba da ýan uwanta bayan shi nasa ýan uwan koh kadan basu jin dadin ta. Ba dama kuma ta sama matsala da shi sai ta kira hajia Inna da sisters dinta su zo suyi wa Mahmoud wankin babbar bargo. +
Suna cikin cin abinci ne wayar zainaba ya fara ringing. Tana dagawa taga Suwaiba ce kawarta. Daga wayar tayi cikin murna dan ta san Suwaiba bata kira sai da wani gulma.
“Ke kina ina ana nan ana drama”. Suwaiba ta fadi koh sallama babu bare gaisuwa.
“Ya akayi, labarta ni qawa”.
“Hmmm ai ana nan ana bura uba. Ga wani yazo ya tsaya tsayin daka akan shi son Laylah yike, kuma so na aure”.