My Faatimah, I write to you not with a heavy heart but with a heart filled with hope. Hope so plenty it spills onto the ground when I think of you. But before I begin let me tell you that I am no longer in the house of the mad man whom Alhaji married me off to. I overdosed his kunu with sleeping pills, took all the money underneath the mattress in the bedroom and by the time he is awake I will be long gone.
Do you remember how slightly over a year ago our biggest worry was deciding what colour of hijab to put on, mixing dried up nail polish with glitters and basking in the shadows of childhood. Childhood that was snatched away like a thief snatches a purse; without warning, without consent.
My lovely friend, a lot has happened within the time we have been apart.
The first time i threw up, I was grinding millet for kunu. Four days after, mama Aishat; my senior wife confirmed I was with child. Do you know the thought that ran through my mind when this confirmation was made? Faatimah, I thought to myself how can a baby carry a baby?
Three months later the baby was born in form of blood and pain. On four different occasions these continued to occur. Life would form and deform, it would pour out like water from a broken calabash.
Our people say Rua ba su yami banza – water does not get bitter without a cause. Nothing happens without a reason.
Faatimah, would you like to know the reason why I risked it all and defied decade old culture?
It is because years of obedience have brought me nothing but futility, four miscarriages and multiple scars.
There is a lot I want to tell you but time will not permit me, I am writing to you from a dimly lit hotel room, overcrowded with the stench of urine and sweat. The sun is going back home but perhaps if we could ask God to perform the miracle his followers claim He performed in Bibical times, for the sun to stand still, for day to remain. Perhaps then I will tell you all there is to know under a clear sky of fire and cloud. But for now just know that the moment dawn hits, I will be en route Osogbo, leaving this filthy life behind
I hope to hear from you soon
Your friend and sister
Haleemah, my Haleemah.
The moment this letter finds its rightful place in your hands, I will be seated in the front sit of a yellow taxi cab, my bags, tucked away at the back. My driver Yomade whose face is badly inflamed with eczema will most likely bore me to death with his unceasing talks of wife and children. By the time you read this, I would have left Kano. I would be coming to Osogbo, coming to you.
While you nursed children who never came to life, I nursed injuries. Deep cuts, black eyes, dislocated hip bones and a missing tooth. Your letter gave me hope and I resolved in my heart that since Alhaji has refused to return my dowry and take me back home, then he might as well come here and act as wife to this monster of a man.
I am a woman of many words, just as you know, but these days, these days my dear friend. These days I no longer have words to speak, they have all exited me and my soul is empty. I am unable to leave this house so it was impossible to get the sleeping pills you prescribed, instead I prepared tuwo with corn that should have been thrown out to the dogs. Whether his stomach upset will kill him or not, I do not know. Honestly I do not care. I will be arriving with five bags, three are mine and two contain jewellery, money and some other valuables – a soothing balm for all my sufferings.
Dunia birgima hankaka, en ka ga fari ka ga bakki – The world is full of changes and chances. Haleemah this is my chance for a change. I have left Kano, I will never return.
I should warn you that when you see me you might not recognise me, I have been dealt a great blow. Perhaps too many blows. A thunderstorm is pouring as I write this to you, there is something about the rain that intensifies your grief.
I hope that the waters of Osun will wash away our old lives and we will start over again.
Defiant daughters that we are!
I will see you soon
Your friend and sister