This was not the plan.She paced all over her room, intermittently stopping mid-pace to glance from the wall clock to the phone in her hand, then resumed pacing.Why wasn’t she picking her calls or replying her messages? Something was wrong.She slumped onto the bedside sofa. This wasn’t how things were supposed to go. Her plan had been fool-proof, all bases and contingencies covered. And then out of nowhere, this happened. What was she going to do? Allah, she couldn’t fix this. Maybe she should just quit while she had the chance.Her gaze strolled to the picture frame beside her. Would she ever be the doe-eyed naïve little girl in the picture who was laughing and looking up adoringly into the man’s face, secure in his arms as he towered protectively over her.She picked up the frame and flung it hard at the floor, shattering the protective glass. Scattering the shards, barely noticing the blood flowing from her palm due to the cuts made by the glass, she picked the picture and cradled it to her bosom. She smiled wistfully as memories flooded her
She had returned home from school crying. She ran into the house, only to see him standing there tall and majestic. She didn’t know he would be visiting today. She ran into his arms. One look at her tear-stained face, he asked what happened. On telling him that her classmate had called her a “Yer Maraiya” (illegitimate child), his demeanour changed, from that of an angel to a war general. His rage knew no bounds. She had never seen him like that before. She locked herself in her room, frightened.When his rage had been abated, he came to her and told her he was taking her out for a fun trip.They had driven round the whole town, going from one park to another, store to another. It was the best time of her life. They had eventually stopped at the beach.She would never forget his words to her that day.“Never show your weakness. Never back down without a fight. Always fight back. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong, as long as you emerge the winner.Kai nyarinya na. Gini na ya natefiya a cikin gigiyan ki. Ke ne gini na. You are my daughter. My blood flows in your veins. You are my blood. Never forget that, kekyawa sarkin yaki, my warrior princess.I am your father, and for that reason, who your mother is isn’t important”That was the last day she saw him because the next day, he was assassinated.
Her ringing phone broke her reverie. Voice devoid of emotion, she answered “I apologize for the silence. I had to leave the phone in the car because of my meeting with him.” the voice on the other end said“And?” The voice continued “I updated him as you and I discussed. He also was as surprised as we are at the turn of events, but he seems to be rolling with it. He hasn’t given me new instructions, other than to keep searching for her.”“Do as he says. In due time, I will let you know the next step. Remember, don’t draw suspicion towards you. Keep feeding him with information as you have, but it must go through me first. You must run everything by me first, is that clear?”“Crystal.”, the voice replied“And Anita, fantastic job so far. You’ll be getting a package soon.”“Thank you, Ma’am. “Anita replied. “One more thing, Ma’am. Like I mentioned earlier, about the security guard…..”“The security guard shouldn’t be your problem. Leave that to me. Just focus on your assignment. That will be all for now. I’ll call you later.”She hung up the call. She had made the right choice in selecting Anita for this. She had met Anita during one of her numerous stints in a juvenile facility, where she had saved her from death. Ever since then, Anita had pledged her life and loyalty to her. At some point, she had gotten worried that Anita was falling for Jaleel but she hadn’t failed her so far. She’d have to keep an eye on her though. She despised working with women but in this case, she had no choice.She got up from the bed. The weather was becoming chilly, she thought, wrapping the terry robe closer to her. She found herself drawn to the mirror. Walking to it, she paused, staring at her reflection. She slipped the terry robe off her shoulders, wearing nothing but a silver pendant around her neck. She was the modern-day equivalent of Helen of Troy, breathtakingly beautiful, a woman men would go to war and shed blood for. Countless times, she had been praised on her beauty and physique. Yet, she seemed unfazed by it. He had taught her to never depend on it. Let people believe you are just a pretty face, he said, then strike them when they least expected.Growing up without a mother had been tough, but her father had taught her to be strong, and she was the better for it. Absentmindedly, she touched the silver pendant. He had given her this, that last time they saw. When you feel sad, frightened, or confused, just stroke it and think of me, and like the genie, I would be right beside you, he said, as he put it around her neck. Even as she touched it, she knew he wouldn’t appear, as he promised. They took him from her. Jaja and Jaleel, they killed her father, her face contorted with rage
ABUJA, 1988 11:17pm
Abeeb tiptoed from the bed towards the door. As he shut the door, he looked towards the bed. Hassanat’s chest rose and fell in rhythm with her deep breaths. For the first time since he returned home, she was deep asleep. He locked the door behind him. She won’t be awake for the next 4 hours, not with the drugs in her system. It would give him enough time to settle things.As he drove out, he could picture the faces of his servants. Pity. They felt sorry for his choice of wife. A woman who was weak, with bouts of psychosis, and now a child murderer. The first two were true, but the last, no, Hassanat didn’t kill their daughter. He knew she had her limitations, but murder wasn’t one of them.A car infront of him flashed its lights 4 times in quick successions. He followed the car into an untarred road. They stopped in front of an abandoned uncompleted building. The car he had followed flashed its lights again and honked the horn 3 times. Seconds later, a figure came out with a bundle in its arm.Abeeb stepped out of the car and walked up to the figure. The figure handed the bundle to him.“Are you sure you want to do this, Abeeb. There’s no turning back from this.@Abeeb held the bundle securedly “Yes, I am. It’s best this way. “ The bundle moved and started cryingAbeeb unwrapped it and started muttering to the baby “Kekyawa sarkin yaki, it’s okay…..” He then told the figure “Baba, you know I love Hassanat but she isn’t fit to be a mother. To save her and our marriage, Jamila is better off somewhere else. Asides the three of us, no one else knows who she is or that she is still alive, is that understood?”Baba nodded.As Abeeb carried his daughter away, he kissed her and whispered, I will always keep you safe.
This wasn’t the plan. The wasn’t the original plan, yes, but the pieces were falling back into place now. As before, she had all the aces. She was still calling the shots, even though they didn’t realize that.She was her father’s daughter after all. Abeeb’s daughter. Slowly caressing the chain again, she traced the Arabic inscription on it with her index finger. JAMILA. Yes, they would all pay dearly for this!!!
Previous Episodes : 1,2,3,4,5,6,7Writer: Oma Okpala. Blog