ESCAPE FROM THE BOTTOMLESS PIT – Episode 4
By Ummu Abdillah
“Stop crying my dear, I know you were only pretending to be okay. You aren’t…”
I cut in as I continue crying aloud, “does he even ever loved me?”
“I don’t think someone like Lukman can ever love. An innocent girl like you easily fall for deceit” says Idayah.
Crying loudly, “This is too cruel and inhuman…”
“Sorry dear! Everyone starts as innocent; experiences make us become more cruel”
“What do you mean? Are you now taking his side?”
“No I’m not, I’m just wishing you luck”
She inclines forward and hugs me, petting me at the back, “stop crying and let’s think of a way out”
I withdraw and sniff, rubbing off my tears with my hands, “what should I do, ehn? I think I never know Lukman, he is becoming a total stranger as I’m getting more information on him. I’m confused”
“Do you want me to enquire more about him? I know many of his friends, even one of them was my ex boyfriend”
“No, you don’t have to! I should just try and get by”
“It’s okay, anytime you change your mind, just let me know”
Idayah and I weren’t that close during our secondary school days. She was one of the acclaimed ‘big girls’ in my class. She was usually in a sexy school uniform; very short skirt and tight top. She was known to be disturbed by most of our senior mates and male teachers. We just got to talk and chat during exam period because our surnames followed each other alphabetically.
Although this is the first time I’m confiding in her, I’m already seeing her as a sister because right now she seems to be the only person lending me a shoulder to cry on. Others are just either blaming me or telling me to be strong. No one wants to understand how I’m feeling. No one wants to hear me out, they are just judging me by their view irrespective of mine. Ever since I got my self into this mess, I’ve never got to talk to anyone about this except her. I’m indeed grateful!
“Thank you Idayah” I say as I place my hands on hers.
“You don’t have to my dear, I’ve always been looking forward to becoming a friend with you. It’s just unfortunate to be this way”
This is the real Idayah I’ve known, a friend to everyone.
I smile, “we already are!… That reminds me, where did you hear your rumour?”
“On our class whatsApp group, it’s even not only you. Do you know my friend, Gloria? She is also pregnant. It was all over the group chat” she expounds.
“That gentle girl?” I ask
“Gentle what? Gloria isn’t gentle at all! She is worse than I am. Because she doesn’t talk much doesn’t make her a gentle girl”
“I never know”
“See you dear, none of the girls in our class were decent except you and one girl that used to sit beside the senior boy…”
I cut in, “Rodiah?”
“Yes, Rodiah! I don’t know about her now because I haven’t seen her since our graduation but I heard she is now in a university”
I was really decent because I had the determination and focus before I was blinded with lust. I’m not surprised hearing her label Rodiah as decent, she has been a well cultured and religious girl. I heard many girls change when they enter university, I pray she doesn’t end up like me.
We have some chitchat about the girls in my class. I ask her many things I don’t know about them and she gives me all the answer. Her nickname really fits her; Miss BBC! I never know almost every girl is like me. We fall in love until we are lost in lust, why is it so? Is falling in love haram?
The muhazin calls, we hear the adhan. It’s time for solat dhur. We both stand up and head into our bathroom for ablution. After ablution, I borrow a prayer mat from brother Abdullah’s room and we are ready to pray in the sitting room. I watch Idayah as she untie her head scarf and spread it over her head and neck, leaving her arms uncovered. She wants to pray in her tight jean trouser which is revealing her whole body shapes. Is this how she usually prays?
“Idayah, don’t tell me you are praying in that outfit. I’ve been thinking you will ask me for something that covers more” I say
“Why can’t I? I’m covering my head, neck and my trouser is long enough. If you are referring to my uncovered arms, then I can extend my scarf to cover them”
“It isn’t about only your arm, you are wearing a shape revealing cloth and the Prophet (salallahu alaehi wasalam) said ‘Allaah does not accept the prayer of a woman who is of child-bearing age unless (she is covered) with a khimaar.’ That means you should pray in an ample dress that covers all your body and it must be loose so that it doesn’t show the shape of your body. It’s also best to cover your feet.”
“But I haven’t born a child” she argues
“But you are of childbearing age, pregna…”
She cuts in, “it’s now clear, enough! Since you know this much, you shouldn’t have fallen into this pit you find yourself”
My eyes become red, she just rubs a salt unto my wound…
She moves closer and hold my arm, “I’m sorry dear, I’m just joking. I don’t mean to hurt you”.
I close my eyes and hold back my tears, “let me get you one of my khimaar and wrapper, the time is going”
I enter my room and rub off my tears,
“Kikiope, you shouldn’t let this get to you” I soliloquize.
I take a wrapper and a qimar for her. We stand side by side on the same line while I lead the solat and we start praying. On my sajdah during the solat, after the sujud adhkar, I ask Allah for forgiveness and guidance. What I only know of my sin is having premarital sex, I don’t think it’s a sin to fall in love.
After our solat, I throw on a long dress with a small hijab. I don’t bother to look good, it has no more essence. I walk Idayah to the main street where she takes a ride home.
Returning home, I pass through the corner where I first met Lukman. A silly smile appears on my face, what is this lingering feelings I’m perceiving? I quickly walk past the corner. Hearing some murmuring voices from behind, I turn back and see two girls in my former secondary school’s uniform. They are my juniors at school and I recognize one of them who lives not far from our house. They stop talking and start looking else where immediately they notice I’ve seen them. I turn back to the front and keep walking while I try to listen to their conversations.
“She is pregnant” says Kafilah, the girl who lives not far from our house.
“She isn’t, her stomach isn’t big” the second girl argues.
“Her stomach may not be big yet but I’m very sure she is pregnant. My sister told me” says Kafilah
“Really? See her, prostitute!”
“I heard she doesn’t even know who impregnated her. She must have had sex with different boys” says Kafilah, more loudly enough for me to hear without listening.
They must be trying me out. Rumors are really bad, don’t I really know who impregnated me? Should I fight these girls or leave them. They are much younger than I am, people will blame me if I should fight them. So I increase my walking speed and never look back till I get home. I enter my room and cry bitterly,
“how much longer will I have to put up with this?” I cry aloud.
I continue to cry till I drift to sleep.
By luck, I wake up at the time of ashr and I pray. I start preparing for dinner because my brother will soon arrive from work. Alhamdulillah, his school has resumed from strike and he has been preparing for resumption which makes him unable to attend madrasah.
“I’m going to be free from his terrible gaze for a while” I murmur.
Almost done with my cooking, Ummy is supposed to have returned but she hasn’t. What could possibly be keeping her this long?
About to perform ablution for maghrib, I hear a knock and teslim. I think it’s Ummy but it’s my brother. I reply his teslim while he enters and walks past me without looking at me or saying a word. He goes straight into his room, my heart sinks. His silence in the house alone is enough torment for me. When will this be over?
After praying, I head to his room and say my teslim while I knock. I try to open his door but it’s locked. What is happening? I call out on him and continue to knock till he shouts on me.
“Stop disturbing me! What do you want?”
I’m taken aback, it’s like this is the first time I’m getting such reaction from him.
“I’m sorry, I just want to ask if I should bring your food to your room or you will eat it in the sitting room”
“You can bring it here!” He shouts in response.
What’s wrong with this man today? Why is everyone I thought I know very well are becoming strangers to me everyday?
I serve his food and bring it to his room. He opens the door and I enter. After placing his food on a stool beside his bed, I turn to leave when he calls me.
“Mar’yam, when last did you check your school admission list?”
“I checked it last month and…”
He cuts in, “your name is now added to the list. You have been given admission”
“Alhamdulillah! Allahu Akbar!” I shout in joy.
I want to hug him like I always do but I restrain because right now I’m the person he hates most in the world.
He opens his food and starts eating, “what are your plans now because you have made things complicated for yourself already”
I suddenly become so sad, I don’t know what to say in reply so I rush out of his room. I sit in the sitting room, waiting for Ummy to return. I try to eat but I’ve lost the appetite, I don’t know how I’m going to escape this bottomless pit I’ve found myself…
While thinking, Ummy enters saying teslim and I reply.
“Ummy why are you returning late?” I ask.
“Where is your brother?” She asks
“He has gone to the masjid”
She yawns and sits tiredly on the couch, “have a seat, we have to talk”
I sit next to her.
“You can see I haven’t talked to you about what is going on since we have left the hospital. It’s because I was giving you time to recuperate and Alhamdulillah that you are now very well okay” she pauses and looks at me.
My heart starts beating faster, I don’t know what Ummy is trying to say.
She continues, “your brother should have told you about your admission… I went to that boy’s house today, Lukman or what do you call him? I was wondering why he hasn’t checked up on you or was it a one night stand?”
I shake my head in denial, the look on her face says she disagrees. But there is no way I can convince her.
“If it isn’t, why did he run away? His mother said he travelled but I believe that is not it but he is running away from you. I asked his mother about her own plan for you and she said you should come and live with her. While we were talking, the other girl she called his wife arrived from hawking. She has been hawking fufu (a food made from cassava) for that boy’s mother. I pity the girl but I don’t blame the woman because everyone has to do something to survive. Is that the kind of life you want to live?”
Sorrow fills my heart, I start looking down. Such kind of life is so pitiful, how can I live like that? A life I never lived!
She continues, “I watched the girl as she immediately started peeling the cassavas with knife, she barely rested. You are almost same age as the girl. I imagined you living like that but I don’t think I can bear it. So, what do you think we should do?”
I quickly kneel in front of her, “Ummy please don’t send me there, I will never do it again. Please I don’t want to go”
I plead. I want to cry to show her my remorse.
I mean it but the tears won’t come. It seems I’ve shed all the tears in my eyes.
Tears gather in her eyes, “what do you think I should do then? Because now, your brother is in his final year and will In’shaa’Allah resume tomorrow. You have been given admission to study nursing and midwifery which is expensive and here is the complicated one; a baby whose father isn’t ready to take any responsibility. And here we are! I’m the only one left to take all the responsibilities. Do you want to kill me when I never killed my mother?” She bursts into tears.
Tears abruptly come into my eyes too and start flowing like a river, it never dries.
Still on kneeling, I start pleading again, “Ummy I’m sorry. I will do anything you ask me to do. Just don’t send me there”
She wipes her tears with a tip of her wrapper, “it’s okay, sit down… You know your brother is now in his final year, I have to start looking for his school fees and as an engineering student, his project fee is even costlier than his school fees. If this pregnancy thing hasn’t happened and I haven’t spent much at the hospital to save your life, I’ve thought we would do as we did 3 years ago when you wanted to pay for your WAEC and NECO examination fees and your brother wanted to pay his school fees and buy some text books. We both worked very hard then as we split to make sales at two different markets at the same time for several days. But the doctor warned me not to let you stress yourself because both your life and the child’s can be in danger. I don’t know what we should do? You are no more a kid, you should also think of a way we should go through this.”
Throughout the night, thinking of how to rule my life out of this mess, I barely sleep a wink. The only solution here now is to give up my admission for now. For my sake, for the poor child’s sake and for everyone’s sake. It’s hard on me because it has been my long time dream which I’ve been striving for. I tell Ummy about my decision, she finds it difficult to accept but she does accept at last. I can’t live with his mother and I can’t overburden my mother so I have to bear my cross alone by making this only sacrifice. I pray to Allah to give me a better opportunity to make this up in my life.
Months pass, we are now in the month of February of another year. I’m now 18years and two months old while my pregnancy has become 6 months old, Alhamdulillah. My stomach is becoming bigger everyday and I no more cry over my shame but I’m becoming stronger. Ummy and my brother are now back to their normal self with me. I decide to learn some handiwork but Ummy and my brother are against it. Instead, they make me attend tutorial classes for JAMB. I’m at first ashamed as I see the girls in my class laughing at me. Anytime I see them talking in group, I do think they are gossiping about me but I later get used to it. Most of them now become my friends. It is true that shame fades with time.
Returning from my tutorial class one afternoon, Idayah calls me that she is coming from somewhere and will like to stop by at my house, I tell her to come. When I reach home, I pray my solat dhur. I hear a knock and teslim, it’s Idayah.
“Wahlykum salam warahmatullah wabarakaatuhu, enter”
“Oh my lovely friend, I’ve missed you.” She walks towards me where I sit and gives me a hug.
Her face fills with enthusiasm, I offer her a seat.
“What’s up today? You look like someone coming from a party and why this extremely happy face?”
“Na so my friend, let me gist you” I adjust my seat inquisitively and she continues, “one of my boyfriends called me this morning to come to his house. I was so happy that I couldn’t wait to go because it’s been a while I’ve seen him and to my surprise he took me out for shopping and brought all this for me…”
She unloads a paper bag she is carrying and here are different kinds of dresses especially red dresses.
“Why is red too many here? Is red your favourite colour? When you aren’t a sango (god of thunder) worshipper” I ask
“Sango worshipper ko, ogun (god of iron) worshipper ni. Let me die before you bury me my dear, I picked some dresses and he picked those red dresses for me. See this pair of shoes too and these underwears, he also bought them for me”
She unloads the other two nylon bags, one contains three pairs of shoes in which there is a red sandal and the other contains ladies underwears, mostly red colours.
“I still don’t get it, why red of all colours”
“You are becoming impatient, after we bought every thing. He then drove me to his house and to my surprise he kneels before me, holding a jewelry box. I was anxious that I thought he wanted to ask me to marry him but do you know what he said?”
“What did he say?” I anxiously ask.
“Will you be my val?” She mimicks him, “and he opened the box. Alas! It’s a diamond necklace! I mean this necklace I’m wearing” she increases the pitch of her tone in happiness.
I look at her astonished, I don’t know why she is so happy about ‘be my val’ which is not ‘be my wife’
“And?” I ask
“And what? Why aren’t you happy for me?”
“Is being someone’s val something to be happy for?”
She starts packing her wears back inside the bags, “you are irritating me then, I shouldn’t have come here. I should have gone to Gloria or someone that will cheer me up. You are too boring for my liking.”
“Are you angry? Please don’t be! I just don’t understand why you are happy because he asked you to be his val and not wife”
She sits back, “the reason why I’m happy is because he made me realize I’m special to him. There are many girls out there, why should he call only me to be his Val if I’m not special to him. Maybe next time, he won’t ask me to only be his Val but ask me to be his wife.”
I burst into laughter, “how do you know that you are the only one he asks that and how does luring you to his bed on Val’s night makes you special?”
“Val is a day of expressing love…”
I cut in, “and infatuation!”
“You get it wrong, please don’t ruin my day. Today is 7 and Valentine day remains seven days today, I’ve got to prepare myself for the day”
She angrily stands up, about to leave when I pull her down back to sit.
“Idayah! Let me talk to you as a sister in faith. You may abuse me again with my current state but I don’t care, I will still tell you the truth. Islam is a religion of all season and reason. Even when I was dating I didn’t celebrate Val because my brother has already enlightened me about it”
She rests her cheeks on her palms and starts looking at me probably thinking I have nothing significant to say.
I continue, “we have our own festivals and Islam proscribes joining the non-Muslims in celebrating their festivals. Valentine day has a pagan origin, it was believed to be a day the pagans celebrated their ‘feast of wolves’ where various illegal sexual activities took place. Later when Christianity came to reign, the day was assigned to celebrate the death of one of their saints known as saint Valentine who was executed because he conducted secret marriages for soldiers. Even though there are contradictory stories behind it but it’s very clear that Valentine day celebration originated from the pagans and Christians. Therefore, it is the festival of non-Muslims and not ours. Islam is a religion that promotes love, it encourages us to show love and gratitude to each other every day and all time and not on a particular day. Just like the prophet (salallahu alaehi wasalam) ordered us not to face the non Muslims direction to worship, we shouldn’t join them in their festival. This day has been a day when immorality, lust and infatuation are promoted. Muslims who celebrate Valentine day by any way either by engaging themselves fully or partially in it commit a great sin of disobedience to the Allah’s apostle as well as Allah azza wajal together with the sin they earn from committing different kinds of immoralities. In conclusion, we Muslims must say NO to Valentine day!”
She takes a deep sigh, am I getting into her?