An African Sunset

Reads: 384  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 1  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 14 (v.1) - Chapter 14

Submitted: February 08, 2018

Reads: 51

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 08, 2018

A A A

A A A

 

The Courtroom buzzed with an excited audience. Journalists took up most of the seats and the Mobile Policemen shooed people away from the windows. As soon as he entered the Courtroom, some of the journalists approached him with a stretched hand and a microphone. A tall journalist with prominent ears that stuck out like twin satellites and with an inquisitive set of eyes stepped closer.

“What do you think will be the outcome of today’s case, sir?” He asked.

“I’m sorry; you will have to wait to hear that from the Judge. The Judge alone delivers verdicts,” he replied.

“Yes, but what do you think of your chances in this matter?” He asked again.

“I can’t give you anything on that either. It’s unethical to pre-empt the Judge in his verdicts,” he replied.

“Sir, are you saying this because you know you will lose the case?” He asked.

“Litigants lose cases not their Lawyers,” he replied.

“You were described in the papers by one of the Lawyers representing the Applicant as a misogynistic and cheap bastard. Do you intend to take legal action against her?” He asked.

“No, I don’t,” he replied.

Mustapha knew without seeing the paper that it was Na’imah.

“Is it true also that you were involved with the other Applicant’s Lawyer?

“I don’t wish to talk about that,” he answered.

“Do you intend to appeal if you lose the case, sir?” He asked.

He reached the Lawyer’s seats and sat on the edge of the last seat. A court clerk shooed the journalist away and he walked back triumphantly to the audience despite his last unanswered question. Mustapha wondered what story the hare-looking journalist will weave out of what answers he had given. His thoughts switched to Furairah and Na’imah. His heart skipped a beat at the thought. Kamal had complained to him that Na’imah swore she must be at the hearing of the matter despite having given birth within the week. They will come he imagined, glistening with expensive cosmetic, flawlessly clean, self-assured and bristling with confidence.

Malam Jauro Bello came to the Lawyer’s seats and whispered into his ears.

“Barrister, how are you?” he asked.

“I’m fine,” he answered.

“I don’t think any of this hassle is on my case, is it?” he asked.

“No, it’s not,” he answered.

“You Lawyers are an intriguing lot. Look at all this excitement you triggered and yet you are the only ones who looked calm in it.”

Mustapha hummed an inaudible answer and Malam Jauro walked back to his seat. A journalist that was watching keenly followed him to his seat. 

“I’m right behind you, Barrister…right behind you,” Malam Jauro assured him.

Malam Jauro was in court in a suit he filed against a company in which he had shares before his incarceration. Fourteen years after he has not been paid dividends. Changes in the payment method had been made into an automated process and been in jail; he did not comply with the changes. Also, the bank in which he held an account in which the dividend was paid has since been liquidated. Sumayya sat next to her father. More Lawyers entered the courtroom and the Police officer locked the hall when it filled up. Furairah came in and sat on one of the adjoining seats. Na’imah sat beside her in a close and assuring way. She looked spent from labour. His eyes met with Furairah’s and they let their gazes linger. For the first time, he realised that he cannot read her expression. Her face was set in a Mona Lisa expression, mysterious and sullen but without sombreness.

“My Lord, the world has since the middle of the twentieth century progressed in leaps and bounds. Conventions have been challenged and weak ones have been defeated. Absolute truths have crumbled under the sustained barrage of science and universal common sense and Nations that have persevered in ignorance and bad tradition have withered in depravity…” Furairah said giving an oral adumbration after adopting her processes.

The Women Rights and Empowerment Coalition have sued the State on behalf of Zainab. It was a suit of Certiorari and Mandamus. Zainab’s husband had been included in the suit and he came to Mustapha for help. What Mustapha threatened seemed to have happened when he had complied with every advice he was given to prevent it from happening. He had visited his wife in the hospital and took Isah to her. Mustapha had stood beside him and encouraged him to talk to her and present the child to her. He sat together with Malam Isah and Inna at the Hisbah Board and listened to the bearded officer for an hour and a half. He did everything that was required and now he found himself in court. He was shaken and frightened when he brought the court’s papers to Mustapha. He could not believe that he was still to be punished after doing everything he was told to do. Mustapha took the papers, told him he will represent him and assured him that he can stay away from the court as long as he continue to honour the terms of the agreement he signed at the Hisbah Board to visit and take care of his wife and seek her forgiveness when she recovers fully and not to take any of her children again away without her permission. He was very grateful for Mustapha’s kindness. In truth, Mustapha knew that he was only a nominal party and in a civil suit he doesn’t need to attend the Court if he is represented by a Lawyer.

That gesture had inspired in Dan-Musa deference to Mustapha that he came back and brought him a cock and half a bag of rice. He was grateful to him, the young man whom the police respect and who rather than get carried away by his importance, returns an equal measure of respect to everyone including him, a poor uneducated village farmer. He accompanied him to the Hisbah Board and drove him to the hospital. He had done everything for him like a true Hausa man, selfless and humble. There was something about the young man that Dan-Musa admired. He kept his hair and beard long but he looked comported and although he wore suits he was in every other way a plain Hausa man with cordial and polite manners. There was something too in the young man’s head, education he believe, that controlled every youthful exuberance and placed him in equal gravity with everyone they came across from the bearded Hisbah Officer to Isah. He had resolved to put Abba in school to make him a Lawyer too.

When he told Sarkin Noma about Mustapha, the old farmer expressed his reservations since he never heard of a position in government as a ‘Lawyer charged with the protection of women’ and he told him that he did not trust the man because ‘a vulture does not hover above for nothing’. Dan-Musa replied him that, ‘it doesn’t matter because the hero of the horse is the man on the saddle.’

The Court hall fell silent. The Judge dropped his pen and adjusted his black robe. Furairah’s adumbration was a political statement and on which his Lordship will not waste his sacred judicial ink. Mustapha knew a few Judges that would have had ready for her a quick witty retort: ‘Young lady, this is not a political forum; if it’s okay with you, I’d rather you speak law to me.’

She spoke with power and conviction until her voice was the only one that was heard above the faint murmur of voices and the suppressed grumbling of the senior Lawyers. She was passionate and articulate. When she finished, the State Counsel stood up, adopted his processes and replied in his further adumbration that a court has no power to compel the State to pass a specific legislation no matter how desirable it may be. The Court has powers to declare an act of the other two arms of government illegal and unconstitutional but it can’t compel them to adopt a policy it considers right. He advised the young counsel to take her activism to the right place and not burden the Court with it. He acknowledged that the almajiri system is problematic but it is the initiative of the Legislators to pass a law abolishing or reforming it. Mustapha adopted his processes and sat down without any adumbration. He was still quite shaken. The matter was lost the moment it was brought because he knew for all the many prayers stated in the Originating Process only a few can be granted. Mustapha understood the suit was a publicity stunt to start a public discussion and with the journalists in the hall, it had quite well succeeded in that. 

He remembered Zainab and the event in the hospital. He took Isah to her and took Dan-Musa with him. She stood up from her bed and with tears in her eyes hugged her child. She threw Dan-Musa a look of resentment that wasn’t quite vile. The child was happy to see his mother and the mother was happy to see her child and the hug lasted for a long time until she stopped crying. She pushed him back and began to untie her bundle of clothes. She brought out a surprisingly neatly folded shirt and trouser from the bundle. Dr Mahmud looked into the opened wrap as if he had always wanted to see what was inside the bundle. She began to unbutton Isah’s shirt and the boy (now in his early teenage years) moved uncomfortably. She removed his worn out dirty shirt and put on the clean one. She hugged him again and when she did, Mustapha thought she looked quite sane.

“She will suffer from periodic episodes of momentary confusion for a while but she will be fine,” Dr Mahmud assured them.

He drove them back to Gano and with an air of authority he went with her to her father’s house, and with him they went to see the Dagachi who entertained them and with authority the Dagachi preached reconciliation to Zainab and her father. Again Dan-Musa was affected by the Dagachi’s deference to Mustapha. Inna cried and held on to her daughter and she told her a few hundred times in tears that she has forgiven her because it wasn’t her fault. It was the fault of her enemies, who been envious of her, used evil sorcery to drive her away from her home.

******************************

 

Kamal slew two rams for his child’s naming ceremony. Mustapha stayed in Abuja and avoided visiting the house until several days after when he thought the guests have returned home. He didn’t want to meet Sumayya as much as he wanted to see her again. He knew she will be at her friend’s naming ceremony and he felt cowed at the thought of facing her. Kamal told him that she has refused to be the child’s godmother (and he knew that it may have something to do with the child’s name). Later on, in Kamal’s fashion of informing him about everything, he told him she accepted the position as passionately as she first refused it.

Four days later he summoned enough courage to visit the house. Kamal (who has been annoyed at the strange behaviour) drove him there. He entered the parlour and he heard a door open from the upstairs bedroom. He looked up to see Na’imah but he saw her instead. She walked down the flight of stairs gingerly like a cat stalking a prey. Her steps were cautious and leisurely. He felt the stir of an overwhelming storm of emotion within him as he had felt on the day of the Call-to-Bar. It felt like the storm had been paused at its peak and now it got unleashed on him. He didn’t know what to hope for. She had grown taller as he suspected when she came to his office. Her face remained the same but the charm of the careless mischief has left her eyes. In its place is a resolute glare of maturity and elegance. She had grown fuller and the lace fabric gown held her tightly. He knew she must have worn a full hijab to go with the outfit or a long veil. She’s grown into a woman. He placed his hand on the handrail and stood on the landing and he looked up at her as she climbed down and waited for her as if waiting to take her in his arms. His heart thumped.

“Furairah,” he said.

“Yes, Mustapha,” she answered.

“It’s good to see you again,” he said.

“I wish I can say the same of you,” she said.

“Furairah, I want you to know that I know that what I did to you was the cruellest thing anyone has ever done to anyone.”

“Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. If your love was an intoxicant, I have survived the worst part of its hangover. Now I’m sober and I will be fine as soon as I stop asking myself, where I went wrong and at what point things went south,” she said.

“That night we sat by the lake and when you thought you were teaching me happiness, you weren’t. I already knew how to be happy, I have long learnt how to let go. Whatever I held on to was that part of me that gives me strength and direction. What you did that night was you thought me what love is and how to feel it,” he said and continued.

“I wish I can turn back the hands of time. I wish I had this to do all over again and I wish we had met under different circumstances,” he said.

“This is not what I want to hear. You know this is not what I want to hear. I want to know why,” she said.

“If you have the time for a little story, then, there were these two little boys back in secondary school. They were friends but they lived like brothers. One is quite fortunate because he had rich parents and the other wasn’t quite so. After secondary school they parted ways. One went to The American University of Nigeria; the other went to Ahmadu Bello University. They lost contact until half a decade later when one called the other. A certain girl had broken his heart in the University. She broke up with him just before he graduated. He sought his friend’s help to carry out his revenge. His friend has been at home with no hope of attending the Law School and he offered to pay the fees for him. The other thought about it and because he couldn’t afford the fees in any other way and partly because he thought it all a huge joke, accepted the offer and set out to break his friend’s ex-girlfriend’s heart. Along the way, he fell genuinely in love with her. He struggled with the thought of what he has to do and he decided against hope that somehow a miracle will happen and he will end up with her. And even if a miracle didn’t happen, he will still find a way to be with her nonetheless, and she will be his because he had fallen madly in love with her. On the day of the Call-to-Bar, he thought of her throughout the ceremony. The Chief Justice may have made a remark about his wig but he could not say what the old man said because he was thinking about her and looking forward to meet her family. Outside the hall he met his friend’s girlfriend instead. She was sent by his friend to help assist him complete his task and she did her job well enough.”

 The silence felt eternal. The realisation began to down on her and she stared at him. She was horrified at the revelation and she looked at him scrutinising his face.

“She didn’t do her job well,” she said shaking her head lightly, “she was a bad actress. I’m not a simpleton, Mustapha. I know an act when I see one but for whatever reason you thought you needed to do that, you broke my heart.”

“I know”

“You are Samir’s friend?”

“Yes”

“He always talked about you. Your friends have a strange regard for you. One named his first son after you and the other ask you to jilt his ex-girlfriend. You were always in his favourite stories,” she said and paused then she asked: “was any part of what we had true?”

“Yes.”

“I almost knew you before I ever met you but I never could have guessed that you were fake or that Samir was capable of doing that. So, all that we had been was a mirage of deceit for vengeance.”

He was silent. His heartbeat slowed down. A heavy load seemed to be lifted off of his chest. He breathed evenly and he noticed for the first time that the room was quite warm, kept warm for the newly born baby and its mother.

“Goodbye, Furairah,” he said. 

“Goodbye, Musty,” she muttered.

Na’imah entered the room and held Furairah’s hand. She had been eavesdropping conspicuously by the door. She looked at him and he saw the difference in her too. She used to be a spirited young woman and the Law School’s radical. She now has the satiated attitude of a young mother but she has lost none of her elegance. When she spoke to him, he stood by the door and listened.

“I hope that by now you’d understand, Mustapha, why women are reserved about their feelings towards men. You now see that it has less to do with ego or the fear of been turned down but the fear of been taken for granted by an undeserving wretch.” 

Kamal followed him out into the courtyard. He held him by the shoulders and turned him around.

“Mustapha,” he called.

Mustapha looked at his friend. Both were speechless and Kamal’s eyes were sympathetic and consoling. Mustapha’s were teary.

“How do I fix this, Kamal?” He asked him.

“I don’t know what to say, Musty. I still don’t know what happened between you and I can’t honestly advise you on how to fix it, but whatever it is you know best how to deal with it. I want you to think about what I would have done if it were me, and maybe consider trying that in your own way,” he said.

Mustapha dashed back into the parlour. He pushed the door and went in. Furairah was lying with her head on Na’imah’s lap. When he entered the room they both stood up. A tear rolled down from his left eye and he went to where they stood and knelt down on his right knee. The tear dropped from his left eye and he looked up at Furairah.

“Furairah, will you marry me?” He asked.

“What?”

She was extremely surprised.

“I have wronged you I know, but I love you and I am asking you, will you marry me?” He asked.

“You do know that if you would ask me that a thousand times, I will say no, right?” She said.

“How about a thousand and one times? How about a million times? I am undeserving of you but you are my happiness and I want that back. I am not deserving of your forgiveness but I will not hesitate to ask. These past years I have suffered in here,” he said and pointed to his chest, “you have haunted me and I have endured the torment of it until I can’t endure it anymore. I have come back to you for my redemption. I expect to be rejected again and again and perhaps I may have my penance in that. I have come to take back my heart. It died in Abuja for you. It broke when I saw the look in your eyes and it died when I walked away…when I should have stayed.”

Na’imah walked out of the parlour and left Furairah standing by herself. Kamal stood by the door and watched.

 “What has your friend got to say about you proposing to me?” She asked.

“My friend sent me back to do what I needed to do. For Samir, my heart has learnt to hate him as it loved you and he has long made his peace with his heart while I couldn’t with mine,” he said.

Mustapha stood up to look her in the eyes. Kamal made an inaudible noise and opened the door and Sumayya came in.

Mustapha remembered that he was expecting her. He told her he was in Abuja for his friend’s naming ceremony and she said she will come to see him there. She told him that she bought a lovely little shirt for the baby. She came in beaming with smiles and her clothes glittered in the light. She wore her favourite gold and silver colours and despite the mood of the moment Mustapha stopped to stare at the shiny attire when she came in.

“Musty, you have a visitor,” Kamal said leading her into the room.

Na’imah came back into the parlour to welcome the new guest. Furairah stood there unmoving with a mist of tears in her eyes.

“This is Sumayya. Sumayya these are my friends Kamal, Na’imah and this is Furairah,” Mustapha made introductions.

Kamal said ‘hi’ to her and Na’imah and Furairah looked at Mustapha for more explanations. Sumayya gave all around a generous supply of smiles determined to impress them.

Just when Mustapha began to wonder how awkward the situation could be, Mustapha Jnr saved the situation and yelled out from the baby’s room. His parents dashed forward to get him. Sumayya sat down and the two others took the cue and sat too. Sumayya sat opposite to Furairah and Mustapha sat on the three-sitter separating them. The new parents came back into the room.

“So this is the Sumayya you were telling me about?” Kamal asked.

“Yes, there she is,” he answered.

Sumayya beamed with pleasure at the knowledge of been talked about.

“And this is your best friend that you told me about?” Sumayya asked smiling at Kamal.

“Don’t say that in front of him. It gets into his head,” Mustapha said.

Kamal smiled, shook his head and cuddled the baby.

“So!” Na’imah said with an impatient scream and a shrug, “since we are all in for another clumsy piece of theatre, I suppose as the female host in the house I should go get us some popcorn.”

Mustapha and Furairah understood what she meant. Kamal was quite familiar with his wife’s cynicism and humour but may not have understood the import. Sumayya was completely confused.

“She’s not acting, not this one, not this time.” Furairah said to Na’imah while looking straight at Sumayya.

Na’imah observed Sumayya as if deciding whether she likes her or not. She looked at Mustapha then she seemed to make up her mind and turned to Sumayya.

“I don’t know what is between you two but you need to know that you don’t want any of that…,” she said and she pointed a finger at Mustapha like she would a man-size piece of scum, “this may sound very strange but you have no idea what he did to Furairah…” and she tapped Furairah’s lap.

“I know. He told me. Just spare me the details,” Sumayya interrupted.

Na’imah and Furairah started, sat straight and looked at her. Kamal nudged at Mustapha with a scowl in his face on which was written the query: ‘you told her and you refused to tell me.’ Mustapha replied with a look that says ‘not now, buddy.’

“He told you?” Na’imah asked.

“Yes, he did,” Sumayya replied.

“And you still want him notwithstanding...?” Na’imah asked.

Sumayya looked at Mustapha and then at Furairah to whom she directed her answer.

“He is fixated at you…,”she said then she looked at Mustapha, “and I believe that that is what is holding us back. And yes, I am determined to have him if only you’d let him.”

“Well, you can’t have him,” Furairah said in a small steady voice.

“Why?” Sumayya asked.

“You can’t have him because he is mine, firstly. Secondly, because he has wronged me and he deserves no chance at happiness with any woman. Thirdly, because he is a dangerous piece of wreck, my wreck, and I have a duty towards all women to keep him away but mostly because he is mine,” Furairah said.

The parlour was silent for several seconds. Na’imah hissed violently and brought a sudden stop to the silence.

“I need to step into the bathroom, because if it’s all the same to you I’d rather leave before we come to the part where he gets asked to choose between you too,” she said and she regarded the two women with a patronizing look that had in it a little disdain.

Sumayya stood up and left the house. Kamal, Furairah and Mustapha sat on their seats. Kamal seemed determined not to miss any part of the ‘drama’ henceforth and he stayed on. After a while in the silence, Furairah stood up to follow Na’imah (who appeared to have changed her mind about going to the bathroom because she headed for the kitchen instead).

Mustapha and Kamal came out of the house too and drove off. While Kamal drove him to the hotel he tried to lighten the atmosphere. Squinting one of his eyes and pretending to think, he said: “I seem to recall a certain person who thought kneeling down to propose to a woman is pathetic.”

“I am not completely adverse to the idea especially when there is a genuine reason to do so,” Mustapha said.

“Genuine reason you say?” He said and patted Mustapha’s back. “You are growing up, son. Someday, I will have to teach you the facts of life.”

“That was my line.”

“You know, Musty, I know a time when you would have hurled back a retort or some cynical comment at Na’imah that will forever shake her self-esteem when she called you an undeserving wretch. It’s good to see that you have outgrown that tit for tat part of you.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, I haven’t. You know I wouldn’t do that to your wife.”

“No, you liar, you wouldn’t do that because she’s your friend,” Kamal said and continued. “You lucky bastard, a few hours ago you were a single guy given to brooding with a lugubrious expression. Now, you have two beautiful women fighting for you.”

“They weren’t fighting for me. They just had a civilized discussion about who gets to make me pay for what I did,” he said.

“Don’t be paranoid,” Kamal said.

“I’m not. I’m actually quite relieved a great deal. I feel free and for the first time in a long time I’m actually genuinely happy and like always its Furairah’s doing,” he said.

“Sumayya seems to be at an apparent disadvantage and she knew it but let’s examine the odds. Who will you choose among the two? The girl who is determined to have you or the girl whom you just proposed to?”

“I don’t know. Right now I just want to move on. Perhaps I might not have either if I have to choose but I’m done scheming and planning about love and I’m certainly done deciding what heart to break. I will let things work out the way they want to.”

“That doesn’t make sense to me at all.”

“I will let things fall into place or fall out of place. Whichever way it does I’m okay with it.”

“Don’t beat yourself up for nothing. You know we once talked about marrying two wives. Perhaps you should consider doing that. The girls already get along quite well.”

Mustapha sighed.

A text message came in. Mustapha checked it and the text read:

 

This doesn’t change a thing’.

 

 It was Furairah’s number. He had lost her number but he remembered it now as it appeared. It took him three years to memorize his GSM number and he had stopped attempting to memorize others’. He typed back a reply:

 

It does for me. I love you.’

 

“What is that?” Kamal asked.

“Never mind, it’s nothing.”

They drove past the hotel.

“Where are we going?” Mustapha asked.

“Suleja,” Kamal answered.

“What for?”

“Have you received Khalid’s message?”

“No.”

Kamal showed him a text message on his phone:

 

‘I am outrageously happy to inform you, while inviting you to Suleja, that on Saturday I will be getting married to the girl of my mother’s dreams.’

 

They laughed first then they stopped laughing and felt sorry for their friend.

 

****************************

 

He knew she lied. He saw it in her eyes. She hasn’t let go yet. She was hurt and she has learnt to cope with the pain but she still wants him if only to keep Sumayya from getting him. She had found her coping mechanism and she has made it a rigorous one. She used to be a lover not a radical, one who will endure changes going through the motion in the hope that it was just a slow moving dream from which she will wake up eventually. She wouldn’t have been the one advocating for it. He had turned her into what she is, angry and steady on a profound purpose. She has found in her new purpose a solid distraction but a distraction that is not strong enough to make her let go of the pain he had caused her. He owes her an apology for been the most wretched man alive in her world and he owes the world an apology for turning her, a happy and delighted lover into a fire eating radical who wants to set the world on fire, bring down the millennium old structures of society and build hers on its ruins.

The clock tick-tocks harder with assiduous diligence and the receding noise of traffic revive him from his reverie. He examines the piece of paper again and goes through the poem one last time. He examines the handwriting once again then he tears the paper into very tiny pieces. He rolls the pieces into a ball and tosses it into the dustbin. He gazes again at the painting on the wall and rises from his seat.

The clock strikes 8:45 a.m. The sun pours more rays of the early morning sunlight through the slants of the window blinds. He ties the beep around the neck of his collarless shirt while looking at his reflection on the shelf’s glass. He folded the black gown and places it with his wig into the dark-brown leather suitcase with the bold N.B.A logo on it. He picks up the green and brown files in front of him and walks out of the office. The morning air is invigorating. He feels refreshed and unexhausted. Na’ila is sitting in her chair in the reception and without raising her head, she says:

 “Have a nice day, sir.” 

-------------*--------------

Thank you for reading

Auwalu  Abdulazeez Esq.

Author

auwal.abdulazeez@yahoo.com

 


© Copyright 2018 Elradico. All rights reserved.

Chapters