This piece was written by my “father”. He’s Samsudeen Alabi, an insanely intelligent and creative friend. He’s @SamOlaAlabi on twitter. Note that the Niyi in this article, is an acknowledgement. Because, you know, I’m amazing. Anyway, this is about the travails we students are facing, due to the ongoing ASUU strike. Enjoy.
There is a God for every man. But on most days, He’s busy planning for every man’s big day. So sometimes we feel like nothing is happening when a lot is. Those were the words of the Imam when I told him about my frustration with the whole ASUU palaver. I had gone to him with a heavy heart and a broken spirit. I had told him that I needed some kind of reassurance that Allah hadn’t gone to sleep on the matter. He didn’t grin like He usually does when I start up another one of my unconventional discussions. In fact, he looked perturbed and heavy-laden too.
So when he told me those words, I left him and went away quietly. Something told me not to prod him further. I think his hajias were at it again. See, the Imam has three wives and twenty-three children. Once, he confided in me that he wished he hadn’t married thrice. He wished he could give some of the children back to Allah. He wished his filial headaches were less. The Imam is a man of many wishes.
On my way back to my father’s apartment after the evening prayers, I saw Sule slipping something into Mairo’s hand. Then when the young man felt nobody was watching, he playfully slapped the fourteen-year-Old’s behind. Instantly, I knew it was only a matter of time before the Imam gets another grandchild from Mairo. But if there is one thing I have learnt from my dealings with the Imam’s family, it is to always turn a blind eye.
A familiar hand squeezed my shoulders gently from behind. I knew it was the hand of Imam Sadiq. You showed up for solat, he said. I was almost worried that the ummah had lost a bright man and future advocate of its cause after you left in the morning. Your questions are at best startling and confounding, he continued. What is your bother, my friend? He motioned me back into the mosque and I followed his lead.
The mosque is a shed standing on four bamboo planks. Its roof is aluminum and itsfloor is the only cemented portion of the outer compound. Daddy had it fixed before he returned to his station in Abuja so that when rain falls, we could still have a space big enough to accommodate our neighbors for ashamu during Ramadan. The shed is divided into two to indicate difference in sex and the floor is covered with a thick carpet upon which the mats are laid.
Nothing seems to be working in the world, I blurted out as soon as the Imam sat down. The Law School opens in October and if we don’t resume soonest, I think I might have to wait another year. It’s been forty days sir. I don’t know what God is doing. I know that the government is useless and the Lecturers are self-serving megalomaniacs, but you taught me that God is in charge of us all. If so, why won’t He call the warring elders to a truce? I am fed up.
To compound my woes, I continued, I am being tempted with that which most men cannot decline. Sir, it is the wife of the soldier, the one whose husband was killed inSomalia about a year ago. She started out by asking me to help her replace some bad electric bulbs with new ones; then it was to fix her sink; then the fuse of their meter smelled burnt. Much later, their generator won’t start and her child was running a temperature. When I got there, she was silently sobbing. I was touched to say the least but behaved like I hadn’t noticed her tears.
I fixed the generator by cleaning out the plug and as I was about to leave, she shouted from her room that she was coming, so I busied myself with the Yoruba movie playing out on Africa Magic. All the while I was still standing against the door to their apartment as I was hitherto almost gone.
Then the unexpected happened.
Sir, I must say that I wasn’t prepared for what met my eyes when the mother-of-one emerged from her room. She was loosely clad in a gown that must have been meant only for the eyes of her husband because it left almost nothing to the imagination yet concealed everything necessary. I was transfixed. I just could not look away.
The moment she stepped back into the sitting room, her presence felt like the relieving yet enchanting scent of air when the first drops of scant rainfall touches the earth. My heart was beating so fast that I could hear its gentle thump in the deafening silence that engulfed both of us. It was like the television had been muted by some ancestral forces. Then I remembered what a pretty friend of mine back at the university in Ife once told me about the roving eyes of some of our randy lecturers. She said when they stared at her, she felt like every piece of clothing on her had been removed.
I am sure Mummy Niyi must have felt that way. Then her son opened the door to his room and emerged looking all sweaty. He asked to be fed and the woman nervously whispered something like; you’re sweating, thank God. Now I am sure you’ll feel better. She asked me to sit down. She said I needed to sit down. I did not know what she meant until I felt a throbbing between my legs, just below my stomach. I saw the bulge and at once, I knew I had to sit down. I was slightly embarrassed at my rabid display of manliness.
When she was done feeding Niyi, she put him to bed and came out again. She still looked the same, but this time I was more composed. She sat in a chair not so far from mine and causally asked how I have been coping with the strike. I wasn’t sure how to answer. I wasn’t sure if words would come out from my mouth. So I gently swallowed first. She noticed and smiled. But I noticed that it wasn’t a teasing smile. In her eyes, I saw that she was quite glad she had such an effect on me. In fact, I caught her stealing fast glances at the region of my bulge when she felt I wasn’t looking. But it is my bulge so I would know. She had no arrogant airs about her and she was so easy to talk to. She seemed very calm and relaxed and it would take depth to decipher that the glimmer in her eyes wasn’t from joy but from resignation. She seemed ready for anything and that made her almost imperturbable.
For the first time, I allowed myself to think that she was beautiful, in fact very beautiful and I did not feel like I had sinned. We talked about everything but the actual thing we both wanted to talk about. But we knew that so much had been said in the silence. When I told her I wanted to leave, she offered to walk me to the door. She said she wanted to lock the door after I was gone. Then the tension started to rise again. I felt heat at the back of my ears and my palms were suddenly sweaty. I thought I caught a glimpse of her heaving a very heavy sigh, but I can’t be so sure now.
When we reached the door, I made for the door knob but her hand was on its handle before mine. For a second I thought of myself as that handle in within her grip. She seemed to have read my thoughts as she seemingly fumbled with the door. Then she closed in to open it and her bosom brushed my shoulder. I couldn’t move, so she had to gently nudge me on when the door almost hit me in the face. She didn’t apologize; she just giggled and whispered into my ear. Good night. See you tomorrow.Or so she said. Needless to say I couldn’t sleep all night. Now we are so cordial and I see the inevitable happening between us anytime soon else the passion flying about between us will spark a flame and consume both of us.
Sir, but my main grief is that in all of this I don’t see any wrong with what I am doing. I should be sad and depressed for flirting with a widow without shame but I feel absolutely no remorse. I don’t think I am responsible for the death of her husband to start with. Nor am I responsible for the inability of ASUU AND the government to reach a truce on their bloodless but fatal battle. I am not even responsible for my hormonal reaction to the startling beauty of Mummy Niyi, the widow. I shouldn’t be blamed. I have not sinned. I am only but a victim of circumstances. I stopped and kept quiet so I could hear what he had to say.
The Imam sighed and started. Nothing is a mistake. Everything that happens in this life is being orchestrated by our God. No goodness or badness escapes his command. He may not approve of the bad, but He doesn’t force anybody into doing anything. He allows us all to decide whatever path we choose and then we have to live with the consequences of what we decide. Everybody has a prerogative over his own life and destiny. Whatever you choose to do with that prerogative is what makes you accountable before Allah.
Then he said; everything in life is a matter of choice. God has given us an array of options to choose from. Whichever you pick, you are responsible. You must be ready for the consequences of your choices. So choose wisely. God has given you freewill.
I scoffed and responded to his spiritual diagnosis of my dilemma. Freewill you say? I think not sir. If the freedom to choose does not include the freedom to create the choices, then there is no freewill. I didn’t create the choices I have, so I have no freewill. The Imam was now obviously befuddled.
Before he could respond, Mairo stepped in and knelt down before him, and then she whispered something to him and left. The Imam rose. Your father wants to see me, he said. This isn’t over D Law. We must finish this conversation tomorrow. I nodded and we walked back towards our house.