An African Sunset

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

Chapter 8 (v.1) - Chapter 8

Submitted: February 08, 2018

Reads: 19

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Submitted: February 08, 2018

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It’s a quarter past nine in the night. The campus was mildly cold and quiet. They sat on the grasses by the lake. The bushes surrounded the banks of the lake like short disheveled guards. He gazed across the water and she leaned towards him until her chin touched his shoulder. He inhaled the fragrant scent of cologne she wore. It became an enthralling scent when it mixed with the fresh lake air. The night got darker and the stars twinkled brighter. A cold singing breeze invaded the banks of the lake. He could not see farther than beyond the lake but he stared harder into the night’s horizon. Edison who was used to the densely populated communities of Edo State had lamented that Northern Nigeria has vast stretches of uninhabited land and he said it in such a way as if Northern Nigeria stole those lands from his hometown. The abandoned water treatment station on the Eastern bank was invisible in the darkness. The giant acacia trees on the far Northern bank looked like blots of ink on a grey background.

She laid back and rested her head on her book and stared at the stars. Her chest rose and fell with her breath. He watched her and he saw the delight in her eyes. She tried to count the stars and laughed when she lost count. He liked the ease and unpretentious way she carried her elegance while she sat in the auditorium with her legs crossed or laying down in the grass admiring the universe. She wore a black abaya on top of her Ankara patterned dress; she fitted in and merged into the scenery like a beautiful painting. Her lips parted and she breathed out a lot more than she inhaled. The moonlight poured over the lake and upon the dense shrubbery at the swamp. The trees swayed and the birds cooed in the enchantment of the moonlight. Gentle waves surged across the lake every few seconds racing and chasing the night breeze. He felt the urge of an intimate poetry but he couldn’t find it because that night, nature was in perfect harmony.

“In Hausa folklore, there are giant-headed monster dwarfs that live in water,” he said.

“Yes, and you are bringing this up when we are sitting at the banks of a lake at night?”

“Are you afraid?”

“No, I’m not,” she said, “I’m not afraid because you are here.”

 “Musty,” she called and she turned to him. “Do you know why I brought you here?”

“No. Why?”

“I brought you here to teach you about peace and happiness.”

“Peace and happiness? Why?”

“There is something deep down inside you that is making you sad. Sometimes I think I can see a faint trace of it in your eyes and I know I can feel it in your poetry and in your music,” she said.

He listened to her quietly and she continued.

“I brought you here to help you find something worth holding on to. Try to think about nothing but this moment. Think about the stars, the water, the trees and the birds huddling in the warmth of their nests. Let go of all your sadness. Let go of your fears as if they never mattered and never will, learn to think like a child when it comes to happiness.”

He followed the echo of her voice and obeyed it like a hypnotized victim. Her voice tingled with seduction.

“Did you bring me here for a psychotherapy session?” He asked.

“You can call it that,” she answered.

They lay by the banks of the lake watching the stars quietly for what appeared like a few minutes but it was forty-five minutes past ten. The night was many hours too little and midnight was several hours too near. The breeze soothed them and the night covered them like a formless blanket. The waves surged forward now to the southern banks of the lake and the trees swung back and forth in rhythm to the winds. The birds cooed and the crickets chirped. In the bushes the snakes hissed and wished for a fairer weather to roam.

“Do you know that when pigeons leave their nests, they never return home?”  Furairah asked him then without ceremony (as was her fashion) started a story, “my brother, Salim once bought a small brown bird. He named it Rayhana. He adored it and fed and played with it for hours. One day he asked me if it’s true that when pigeons fly away, they never return to their nest. He wanted to see Rayhana fly but he was scared of losing her. He was afraid to let the pigeon fly…” She said and kept quiet, and then she rose to her side and looked at him in the face.

“Mustapha, why are you afraid to let the pigeon fly?”  She asked.

He kept quiet. He listened to her talk and her voice thrilled the silent night, her laugh rang with echoes across the lake until it reached a point of delightful clarity.

“Look there’s the moon and Zara by his side,” she pointed at the moon and the star nearest to it, Zara, “do you know why they are always together?” She asked.

“Yes, in Hausa folklore, it is said that they two are lovers who ascended the sky after their deaths. Their love still shines down upon the earth. They say the moon was a commoner and Zara was a princess of Bornu. They met and fell in love, but her father, the Mai will not agree to their marriage, so they eloped together to the Mambila Plateau and lived there for several years. The army of the Bornu kingdom found them and upon the orders of the King, executed them. They died in each other’s arms vowing to always be together in life or death, hoping that their love shall shine eternally and guide the hearts of lovers for generations to come,” he said.

“Is it true?” She asked.

“You can believe that or you can face the fact that the moon and the stars are celestial bodies several million light years apart,” he said.

“Don’t ruin the moment with common sense. You know what I mean,” she said.

“Okay, if you say so then imagine this, beautiful miss, that perhaps we are the stars that the stars look upon. That we are the celestial bodies far above and the stars only reflect and twinkle below our lights,” he said.

“That’s beautiful and technically in the grand scheme of the universe there is no up or down, so perhaps you are right,” she said.

“Don’t ruin the moment with nerd,” he said.

She laughed and rolled on the grass.

“Tell me what you like about me,” she said.

“Okay. I find you fascinating, the way you smile and the way you look at me like you knew I was falling in love with you,” he said.

“How is that, how do I look at you?”

“It’s hard to describe, but it’s the kind of look I want to wake up to every day. It’s like tea. It gives me a kick,” he said and she laughed again.

“Do you want to know what I like most about you?” She asked.

“Yes, what do you like about me?”

“I like that you are calm and quiet and the way it seems like you have to summon some reserve of energy each time you need to talk.”

“Are you sure it’s not because of my money?”

She laughed loudly with mockery and rolled away on the grass and in between laughter said: “You have no money.”

“Oh! I guess you’re right.”

“My father is a judge. He is married to four wives including my mom. My mom is the third wife. I have 38 siblings? Ours is a big family and our house is so big and spacious there’s a farm in it although my Dad likes to call it a garden. Our mothers have apartments in the main building while my brothers all sleep in the boys’ quarters, which is kind of a dormitory that my father built himself. He built a rabbits’ hutch too out of red burnt clay. He reared two couples and now we have hundreds of rabbits in the house. He works in our garden every weekend. He plants cabbages, Irish potatoes, carrots and flowers. He keeps bees too and they produce honey. Other times, he just entertains the troop of visitors who come to see him. Some of my brothers will help him on the garden and he was genuinely surprised one day when I went to him, take up a small hoe and began to help him weed the garden. I always remember the look in his eyes. He is so proud of me for so many reasons that I don’t know. He manicure everyone’s fingernails in the house, all forty-four of us every two weeks and I’m always the first. I know that everyone likes to say what is good about their families, but I really have never seen a family like mine. My father is the gentlest of men and his character seems to have seeped into his wives that they hardly ever disagree about anything and my siblings; you wouldn’t know who belongs to which wife,” she said.

“You must miss them a lot,” he said.

“Yes, I miss them so much. Tell me about your family.”

“My family is unlike yours. I’m an only child of divorced parents. I have lived with my uncle and his family and a couple of other uncles and my parents in alternation. The rest of the story is quite typical I’m sure you would know.”

“Do you ever wish that your parents were together?” She asked.

“I don’t know. I never seem to think of that now,” he said.

“But do you miss them?”

"Not now and not as long as I can remember. It’s the story of my life. I don’t miss anyone and even as a child I don’t cry to mourn anyone’s death. Your family sounds great. It’s easy to see why you turned out this way,” he said.

“What do you mean by this way?”

“You have a beautiful purity inside of you that leaves you shining with bliss…”

They talked and lay on the grass until the campus was perfectly still and the birds have stopped cooing and the squirrels have gone to sleep. The owls have taken their posts and hooted the silence to gloom. The wind blew harder and the crickets chirped less.

 

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

 

Mustapha often wondered at what point Kamal and Na’imah bonded at the Law School. He remembered a day, on a cold Monday morning, Miss Rakwai, a lean and rigid looking lecturer with a bony face and bony hands and a croaking voice stood up to take over from Mr. Emeka. The day’s topic was the Lawyer’s corporate and regulation outfit. Miss Rakwai had earned herself a reputation for constantly reminding students of the upcoming ‘almighty Bar Finals Exam’ where more than half of the students often fail and Salman consequently gave her a nickname: Bar-Finals-Whiner.

“This is a profession where there are no ladies; you are all gentlemen in skirts. There are no ‘Barristresses’, everyone is a Barrister. The Court and this profession for that matter are awash in sobriety. When in court, you must not wear ornaments of glitter. No hair extensions or veils, no brightly coloured nails or girly behavior designed to draw attention. When you are in court, you are essentially a gentleman…”

Na’imah moved uneasily in her seat. Kamal sat beside her. He had given up his front sit for the middle rows and Furairah had given up her back seat (she was a famous noisemaker) for the middle rows where Mustapha and Na’imah like to sit. Na’imah raised her hand and the microphone was passed to her. Furairah whispered in Mustapha’s ears: ‘It’s about to go down.’

“I understand the need to dress formally and keep a sober attitude in Court,” she said and continued, “but I don’t see why a lady has to be a gentleman to be a Lawyer. Been a lady does not mean you are lacking in courtesy if that is the idea behind the need to be a gentleman. Why do we need to be robbed of our identity and become males to fit in into this profession?”

The hall fell silent for a moment then a hushed roar arose from the students. Miss Rakwai smiled and covered the microphone to whisper to Mrs Idris who sat on the lecturers’ seat. The excitement picked up gradually within both the audience and the podium. Na’imah continued:

“This is the twenty-first century and we need to cast aside archaic traditions that foster inequality and misogyny like this. I am not a man and it is unfair to me and a violation of my dignity that I should be made to behave like one. It is disrespectful to my nature that I should be forced to be what I am not. This is an absurd standard.”

She passed the microphone to the crowd and it was passed back to the podium. The excitement continued with the rising noise. Mr. Emeka rose from his seat where he had been reclining and took the microphone from Miss Rakwai. He seemed to stand up to address a silly impudence.

“Young lady,” he began, “this profession is steep in tradition. We wear a wig and a gown every day to court as medieval English gentlemen did several centuries ago. We refer to Judges as ‘Lords’ and Magistrates as ‘Your worships’. The principle of equality in the law is there to address valid concerns of injustice not random hormonal tantrums. As a Lawyer, you must learn to keep those emotional flares in check.”

Na’imah was angry for the rest of the day. Her eyes narrowed into dark furious slits. Kamal tried to comfort her with short approving assurances but she ignored him. The class rumbled with noises of approval from the male students and a rising protest from the females. Mr. Emeka continued lightheartedly:

“This idea of equality is not entirely without fault. Do you know the average woman lives longer than the average man and that women deal with depression better than men? I say, of course women deal better with their depression because they transfer it to us. We all know that housekeeping and taking care of children can be stressful and with stress comes depression. Now women deal with that by transferring the depression to us. And they do this by a universal medium called nagging. When a woman nags, she is relieving herself of depression. And that is what kills us. That’s why they live longer and there is something about these feminists, okay we concede that evolution and history has not been quite fair to the woman in that traditionally women have been relegated to the home and assigned the task of processing food, and to varying extents excluded from the economic, social and political spheres of life. Now, they are trying to turn things around. It’s not enough that they now have equality and the right to forge a path to social and domestic freedom. They want to turn the tables around and enslave us. That’s why you will hear many a woman say she likes men that cook. My wife once said that men who can cook are sexy and I just had to ask her what is sexy about cutting onions.”

Na’imah fumed with anger. She turned to Mustapha and seeing that she had ignored Kamal, he ignored her in solidarity with his friend. Furairah sat beside him unaffected by the furor and laughing along with the class.

“Why are men so insensitive?” Na’imah asked Mustapha.

He returned a glance at her and turned away.

“So this is just the ranting of a hormonal person…,” she said to no one in particular and continued, “please tell me you don’t agree with him. Do you think it is right that ladies should be denied this basic right to be themselves?” She asked again.

“Many a man sympathetic to the ideals of feminism is left confounded and often times humiliated for not agreeing with the next one of a million feminists or one of a million separate views of the next feminist. I’d rather you keep me out of these,” he said.

“That’s not good enough. I want to know what you think,” she said.

“Well then, I think deny isn’t the right word. Your rights aren’t ours to give in the first place. It’s yours whether a man recognizes it or not. I believe women arrived at the scene later than men did and tradition is slow to change,” he said.

“That is just a commentary,” she replied impatiently.

She turned away from Mustapha to Kamal and Kamal in his slow and calculated voice began to talk to her comfortingly in hushed whispers. Mustapha could not hear him but he knew whatever Kamal will say will be a betrayal to Mustapha’s ears and to the male team of the human species. That is what love does to a man, he knew. He observed her demeanor soon after and he knew that Kamal had succeeded in calming her down. She had stopped frowning and had turned to Kamal more often during the class. It was the beginning of a yearlong romance. Since that day Na’imah became the talk of the campus. She was popular with the lecturers and the students. Everyone called her a feminist. Femi gave the most disparaging assessment of her conduct in class in an advice to Kamal.

“That girl is a feminist, Kam,” he said.

“What is wrong with that?” Kamal asked.

 “Feminism is a hobby for ugly middle aged women who have a problem getting laid. When a beautiful girl subscribes to those radical views she has some serious issues I don’t want to know about,” he said.

That was the first of two times Mustapha saw Na’imah get very angry. The second was on a warm July morning at the tutorial class. They attended the same 5th tutorial class while Kamal attends the 7th tutorial class with Furairah. Kamal once joked that they should switch girlfriends for convenience reasons. A group of students composed of two ladies and three men, two young loud fellows and an older one they seem to look up to sat behind them. The discussion started in Ibo or some obscure language and progressed into Pidgin English until it quickly turned to ‘Queen’s English’ when one of the ladies chirped in in a European accent. A series of crude stereotypes were proposed against Northerners and Northern women and agreed upon quickly. Mustapha had wanted to leave the noisy place but decided to sit back and listen. Na’imah, with deliberate movements turned slightly to listen to them. The discussion continued and Mustapha felt the rise of a choking anger grip him in the throat. The lady with the small voice made a quick remark about Hausa women and Na’imah drew a long calming breath to check herself.

The discussion continued in louder tones and Mustapha wondered why they will hold on to such silly and offensive stereotypes. The girls may have latched on to the discussion in some misplaced and marginal envy while the men may have built theirs on the presumed assumption that Northern girls deliberately refused to be friendly to them like the Southern girls are to Northern men. He began to work out a response in his mind that will be stern and reprimanding and nonthreatening at the same time. In his mind, he started: ‘All that you have said says very little about Muslim girls and so much about yourselves. You need to be careful about the kind of things you say. I know that living in the South; you have all kinds of assumptions about the people here. I’m sure that by now, you’d see you are wrong about many things. We are ordinarily an accommodating and hospitable people but things do happen and a lot of that begins with careless and offensive statements like this. We are an educated lot here but you may find yourself in a different crowd out there. I’m not threatening you but you need to be careful about crude remarks like this. We do speak English too, remember.’

Perhaps he will leave out some parts of it he thought. He was getting ready to turn round and interrupt them at the right juncture when in a flash, Na’imah turned fully to them.

“Why don’t you retards find another pastime that does not involve an unhealthy obsession with Muslim women? Perhaps, go to a bar; buy some woman a few Naira worth of alcohol to suppress her moral conscience and better judgment, take her home to bed and find a retarded excuse to get rid of her in the morning. And if that doesn’t apply to you, why don’t you go get drunk, pass out in a drainage, get driven home by a Good Samaritan and wake up raped, you tribal bunch of idiots,” she ranted fierily.

He watched her riling at them while they looked on awe-struck. At first, the men had a leer of mockery and then their expressions turned aghast. He remembered the expression and had always described it as priceless. Their jaws dropped and remained so. The ladies cowered and murmured taut, inaudible explanations.  Na’imah rose from her seat and made for the door in a show of anger. He watched her leave. He thought that although she had poured a sharp and precise reply to their remarks, she had been too tough on them. They probably didn’t mean all that they said, but he liked that she did so. They looked at him pleadingly with cowed expressions that begged for a discussion to douse the tension but he decided to rise too and he followed her out. He wanted to let them know he thought the same of them, to be her minion.

Mr. Emeka continued with vigor: “Please women, we agree that we do live in the house too and we like to fix things. When you ask us to fix the sink, do remind us again when we don’t do it. And do remind us again if we still didn’t do it but if we didn’t fix the sink after that then it’s obvious we don’t want to fix the sink. Leave us alone and let us be, please”

The class laughed. 

Her eyes were wild and misty but he had seen the gratitude that he stood with her. She had since warmed up to him and they had become closer. Outside the tutorial class she stood with him until her anger subsided. He stood next to her, silent and calm while he tried to contain his own admiration and when he suspected that he had let slipped a hint, he reprimanded her lightly about using an ableist term. She had since sought his company in the class and out of it and one day; she called him to ask if he will like to read at the Tchad hall. When he said he preferred the library, she told him she will meet him there. He went to the library for the first time, apprehensive about what she wanted. He thought of telling Kamal but decided to wait until something happens.  She came to the library and sat beside him and after the few obligatory pleasantries; she got absorbed in Agada’s Civil Procedure Law and for hours didn’t say a word to him. He couldn’t read. Her presence was overpowering. Her face shined with a little deficiency of face powder. She wore a long brown dress that goes down to her toes and covers her furry flip flops. She was dressed in her casually elegant way, with nothing ornate or flowery on her or her dress except her innate confidence. Her veil was tinged with brown and lilac and she smelled of lavender and rose water. The library has tall shelves packed with old books that stood between the seats and that isolated readers from other readers and the traffic of students passing by outside. He would have found the library endearing if he was there alone. He would have found it enjoyable with a partner who doesn’t take joy in desecrating the sanctity of silence. He would have enjoyed it if he had come on his own volition. That Na’imah made him to and that she sat beside him made it uncomfortably endearing.

Several weeks after, they had continued doing that. They read until six-thirty in the evening and walked to the hostel mosque to pray. In the brief minutes between Maghrib and Isha prayers, they will chat and read poetry and discuss art. Mustapha gradually eased into the tradition and explained it to Kamal in carefully worded terms. Kamal thought the explanation was unnecessary. When she wrote a letter of protest against Mr. Emeka to the Deputy Director-General of the Nigerian Law School, she gave him the letter to read first and he advised her to tone down the anger in it and to his surprise she did. For several nights during the weeks, they sat in the mosque and she will read to him in Arabic and translate into English the poems of Rumi. He sat and listened and he will in turn read to her the book of Abubakar Imam, Magana Jari. She once asked:

What do you think of the poems of Rumi?

“I would understand if women find it fascinating,” he replied.

“Why do you say that?” She asked.

“He was an infatuated lover and women like to cause infatuation in men.”

“And what is wrong with that?”

“It’s too unreal, too irrational. I can’t relate much to it.”

“He wrote about love and spiritual bliss and there is so little of rationality in either.” She said and asked: “Do you have a problem with men who are expressive of their love?”

“I wouldn’t object to a more honest rendering of how we truly feel. Every young man penning down a love letter is more concerned about the impression it will have on the object of his admiration than on what he truly feels. Women on the other hand are more reserved about their affections for a man and often repressive of their feelings and somehow it is okay for a man to make such outpourings and a woman becomes the object who takes it and never the other way around,” he said.

“Don’t get all scientific about love. Love is all about letting yourself become stupid and doing stupid things, don’t get all serious,” she said and asked, “and how do you feel when you are in love?”

 “I am quite passionate, more passionate than you would imagine but at no point will I think of killing myself for anyone or think of saying so,” he replied.

“Then that is because you haven’t yet fallen in love. I think that’s why you feel that way. Love is an overwhelming feeling that rids you of rationality and common sense. If you don’t feel that way, then you are not there yet,” she said.

“I think I have felt something close to that before and this is probably a resigned resolution than a predisposition,” he said.

“Have you had your heart broken before?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“…and you developed apathy towards love?”

“It is more indifference than apathy.”

Na’imah was determined to end the discussion at that and she opened her book thoughtfully.

One day in the auditorium, one of the men from the tutorial class incident came to where they sat.

“Hi, I’m Anthony.”

“Hi, Anthony,” Mustapha replied.

“Look, about the other day, we meant no disrespect. We were just having a discussion about the complexities of this country,” he said quite unsure of himself.

Mustapha looked at him and did not reply.

“We may have said some things that aren’t kind, but you will have to excuse us. You people seldom identify yourself with others, and especially your girls.”

“I remember our girls were quite represented the other day,” Mustapha said.

“I like to say my mind. You look like someone who understands things. It may offend you but hear me out. Why is it that we can’t integrate as a people and as a nation? Our country is deeply divided. We rarely agree on anything. There is always the North/South dichotomy or the numerous tribal dichotomies. Think about it, why is it that the Hausa girls keep making noise in Hausa and seemed to only want to discuss in it, and I know that speaking English is not a measure of intelligence but there are valid reasons to suppose they can’t speak English which is not their fault. Think about it, why is it that Northern Nigeria has not reproduced remarkable people the likes of Chinua Achebe as the South did?” Anthony lectured.

“Northern Nigeria did not produce the likes of Chinua Achebe because things didn’t quite fall apart in the North as it did in the South. The British left us in roughly the same shape they found us. We were not new to the ambition of Kings or the imperialism of empires and that is why we reproduce leaders and a nation not writers. We are Nigerians with a Hausa identity which you will find has absorbed a lot of others. As it has not yet been settled or decided what a Nigerian has to be and the job of defining that has not been assigned to you, you will have to live with that,” Mustapha replied.

When Anthony asked Na’imah her name, she told him. He tried to engage her in the conversation and she replied. “I can only tolerate a certain dose of stupidity per day. I have already taken today’s dose.”

 

One day, a rainy August afternoon when the weather turn the afternoons into mornings and the sun disappeared behind the clouds, Kamal stopped Na’imah along a path in his usual calm and collected way.

“Na’imah, from the day I first saw you, I have found you to be unbelievably and irresistibly beautiful and I have since then endeavored to find out whether you are the same inside. I find it hard to express how I feel about you…

“Try,” she interrupted and after a pause asked, “how do you feel about me?”

The radical glow was in her eyes for a brief moment and Mustapha taught he saw her lips quiver when Kamal was talking. It was the first ever sign of emotional vulnerability he saw in her that wasn’t anger or fury. They were walking on a narrow path when Kamal stopped them. Mustapha and Furairah were following them close behind and a long troupe of students was following, walking behind them, hurrying to the tutorial classes. There was a jam and impatient voices from behind decried the holdup. Walking past the couple would require a maneuver through the grasses, a very discomforting task after the rains. When it appeared that the holdup was caused by a declaration of love, the crowd’s anger abated and the girls in the crowd lingered. Kamal took her reply like he does her other tempers.

“For the first time in a very long time I feel stupid, I cannot feel my brain. I cannot feel my legs either, it’s like I’m walking on the moon. I feel detached from myself because I find myself every day breaking every one of my rules for you. I feel like I have to have you or I die. I have escaped a robbery, ran through the bush for my life and was chased with guns and machetes and I have since gotten into a lot of other exciting moments but never has my heart beaten as tremendously as it does now. Never have I felt the way I feel when I’m with you. I want to have you and I want you to want to have me. I want to be the only one you want. I love you and it grows every day and every night and before it overwhelms me and turns me into a complete idiot I just have to ask you this…,” he stopped and stared into her eyes and asked, “Na’imah, will you marry me?”

Na’imah studied his eyes for a while then she turned to Mustapha at the last question. He felt the rise of a sudden alarm until he saw what was in her eyes. In her eyes was an enquiry that only he could have read. An enquiry that seemed to say ‘you know him, what do you think?’ The girls stood around unmoving, now standing quite comfortably with their hands on their chest and an identical expression on their faces with varying derivations of the exclamatory sound ‘awn!’ on their lips.

“He is the best man I know. He is one of only a few admittedly but he is.” Mustapha said to her. The attention of the crowd turned to him and went back to her.

She turned to Kamal and said: “I will marry you on the condition that I will be the only one for you as long as we are together. You will take me as I am and you will not try to change me. You will respect me and love me and if you at any point try to break my heart I will kill you.”

In Na’imah, Mustapha liked the fact that she always said what she wanted to say. Harsh words may be tempered and her voice may be lowered but she will always say what she intended. There was something steady and straightforward about her too that takes away any malevolence and meanness from her tone even then when she threatened to kill her lover. That, and her reputation worked together to keep the scene unruined. The girls sauntered away slowly talking about it and pointing at the two lovers and explaining what just happened to other girls who were unfortunate to have missed the best part. They were all quite moved. Furairah drew closer to Mustapha and stretched her height as if she was standing on her toes, pushed her chest forward and pulled her abdomen back. Her eyes were fixed on her two tall friends standing on the path and staring into each other’s eyes while Mustapha’s eyes were on hers.

Later that day, Kamal asked Mustapha how he did perform. Mustapha replied:

“It was intense…pathetic but intense nonetheless.”

Kamal, flushed with his success continued unaffected. “Do you think I should have gone down on my knees?”

“Yes, and then I would have kicked you in the testicles.”

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

“The hearsay rule is a rule of evidence that states that a witness can only give evidence of that which he knows, only that which he had experienced with his senses and not what someone said. It’s easy to see why this is so. As the story of events pass from one person to another it leads to the deprecation of truth through deliberate manipulation or human lapses.” Mr. Jasef said crossly.

He was unhappy that his practical experiment had been derided by the class. In the beginning of the day’s class, he called out all the students sitting on the front sits and whispered to them a piece of news to whisper to the next student behind them and the next until the whole class receives the news. The experiment picked up in the first few rows and soon after, everyone understood the idea for the experiment and the expected outcome. Male students used the chance to whisper a compliment into the ears of the female students behind them and the female students turned around to tell their female friends what compliments the male students told them until the whole exercise became noise and chatter and the piece of news got lost before it reached the middle rows and since it became too personal, few continued to pass it on. A girl with a small veil on her head turned to Mustapha and said:

 “Good morning.”

He replied: “Good morning.”

She laughed.

“No, the news is good morning,” she corrected.

He turned around to whisper the news to the student behind him and he saw the girl. She had been sitting behind him with her eyes very alert as if she had been expecting him to turn. On her desk were a packet of shortbread and a can of yoghurt. When he saw her, she raised an eyebrow in cynicism.

“What is your name?” He asked.

“Aisha,” she answered.

The meanness and defensiveness disappeared quickly and she smiled shyly. 

“Do you remember how you completely embarrassed me some time ago?” She asked.

“No. I don’t remember that. I only remember that I returned something that belonged to you.”

They both smiled remembering the incident.

“Next time I leave something of mine on your seat, put it in the dustbin, okay?” She said.

“Okay, I will try to remember that,” he said.

They had become friends after that and Aisha will play a part in his story that will forever keep her in his thoughts. Mr. Jasef continued, straying into a topic in Law in Practice.

“We know what some of you had to do to be here. Some of you, that aren’t quite fortunate to have rich parents will no doubt find the Law School fees prohibitive. We know you probably had to sell the family plot to get here and you probably owe your whole village a debt for their contribution to see that their village trains its first Lawyer. This is all the more reason why you must study hard. The Bar Finals exams can be the most demanding exam you have ever written in your life and it could be easy if you prepare for it…but the point here is no matter what you owe your people, it is unethical to take briefs at the home of your clients unless they are dying or in sickness or in extraordinary circumstances like matters of state security and so on. A Lawyer must always take briefs in his office. Do not let some village chief have you compromise the values and dignity that this profession upholds.”

***


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