There was a dead man laying on the rug, and Armani stared at him, unshaken , with a smug smile, feeling content and working out ways to make this look like what it wasn’t: A suicide.
Hadjia Hassanat sat in the compound of the beautiful building she loved to call ‘Castle’ and heaved a deep sigh. She was many months gone and knew the baby would pop anytime, she kept hoping that the moment came earlier than the doctor envisaged , just so she would get it over with and push out the ‘thing’ inside her . She was tired of carrying a bump so huge and she had grown really fat over the years. Her husband always had a busy day but he made sure to check on her through the company messenger who came home twice a day to see how she was faring. He had spent his earlier years as a Bureau De Change apprentice, now he owns and operates five branches of his and this meant he had to be constantly available. It was from this business he was able to build the huge edifice that Hadjia loved so much and many more.
Many people in the neighborhood spoke in whispers about how haunted the house was. They went further by saying she probably lived in a different world in her head, where she was queen and everyone next to her were peasants who dropped at her feet at the mere sight of her and she roasted each one anytime she felt like it, as a daily meal. Talks went round about how she supposedly killed her first child and fed her to the dogs and was on the verge of killing the second, Armani before she was rescued and taken far away to Ibadan, to live with Hajia’s aged mother.
There were different versions of the story, some said she had bouts of madness where she would suddenly talk to herself and make spontaneous decisions on who to kill, they said she had tried her hands on many killings but her first successful one was her first baby, whom she killed by twisting her neck 360 degrees and leaving it dangling.
None of these stories fazed Hadjia, only she knew how much she loved her dead baby. Oh her dear Jamila, the baby girl who everyone described as beautiful and who had full curly hair like her paternal grandmother’s. She did not deliberately decide not to breastfeed her, it just was not something appealing to her. Why should she breastfeed a child who had caused her so much pain by draining her beauty and making her so fat? She regularly felt tired and everything was such a bore. Her hopelessness skyrocketed by the minute and she had lots of blame for herself.
It had to be that she had ill luck and wasn’t destined to feel the joys of motherhood everyone talked about even despite having a child. She knew she had strange thoughts from time to time but she would mutter ‘Audhubillah’ and that would be it. One Tuesday afternoon when Alhaji had travelled for Hajj, Jamilah turned white and Hadjia didn’t know what to do, the shock at seeing her pretty baby looking all white, made her fixated to the spot and she watched as life left her fragile little body. It took a scream from the house help to jolt her back to reality.
She watched as the baby’s body was taken away and as her husband was called home. She also saw how everyone wailed and had lots to say about how wicked she was and how the baby would have survived if she had been a more attentive and virtuous mother.
‘Salam alaykum Salam alaykum, Make everybody lock their gate o, fight don start” . A loud voice rang through the Neighborhood and she jumped to her feet and scampered for safety, the force she applied in reaching for the front door made her wheeze round and then she fell to the floor with a thud. The last thing she remembered was her husband’s voice calling her name from far away: “Hassanat, Dan Allah Kar ki mutu”.
December 2016, Ibadan.
Armani had lost her pregnancy four times in a row and she was beginning to question her choices and blame herself a lot. The doctor said she was consuming something which was affecting her body and wasn’t letting the babies stay. She had told her husband everything the doctor said and they had taken precautions every time regarding what she ate anytime a positive pregnancy result came in. They had prayed and fasted, they had even done marathon fasting where they did nothing but pray for 72 hours. Her husband, Jaleel, took time off work many times than one just to be with her and follow instructions that the Pastor had given them. They had met Pastor Samuel during one of their quests to seek a solution to their problem and threw their religious belief (Islam), to the side. Their only intention was to conceive successfully and that they were ready to get through any means.
The fifth pregnancy came and to their surprise, it stayed over four months which was the regular month of losing it previously. It was on a day during this period she came across the message on the paper in her husband’s box. That was the day her life changed forever, that was the day she took a knife, waited for him at the door, and stabbed him repeatedly, until all life left him.
Dan Allah Kar ki mutu means ‘please don’t die’
All characters and events in this narration are totally imaginations of the writer and have nothing to do with any known person, event or history.