prinsbinky Oluremi Zainab 🇬🇭

Hajara was a carefree young lady with her future mapped out for her by fate. She had the love of a good, young virile man and was ecstatic he proposed to her. Finally, she could introduce him to the family, and happiness was no longer a dream but something within her reach. However, everything came tumbling down and she was hit by a tide so huge she had and saw no way of escaping. She had to choose between her love and protecting the honor of her family. This was indeed a tough choice to make, and she felt her world come crashing down with such force and speed she got whiplashed. She had to give up on her love or risk dishonoring her family. In the blink of an eye, she was saddled with a man old enough to be her father. He was her father's bosom friend and had two other wives under his belt. She was going to be his third wife. Sucks right? Anyway, she decided to face her new reality head-on and make the best out of her new situation. She decided to build a happy home with her husband though he wasn't the one she had wanted. However, happiness seemed to be an elusive dream as she was unwittingly thrust into a battlefield. A battlefield between wives. She didn't want to fight. All she wanted was a moment of peace, but that wasn't in the cards for her as one of the wives saw her as a threat and waged a war against her. Each day was a fight for survival as she kept thwarting the black witch's attack. Yes, black witch because her soul was so dark, so evil, and she was out for blood. Her blood. And Hajara was not one to cave in, so gave as good as she got– well almost. In the midst of it all, she had to also confront her past when she least expected it. The man she left behind never moved on and she had to battle her feelings for him as she fought to survive the one being waged at home. In the end, her efforts came to naught and she lost everything; her unborn child, her husband's trust, her marital home, and her father. She felt then it was the end, but it was the beginning...the beginning of good things to come; the beginning of new friendships, of a new love, of a shot at happiness. Finally! NB: Guaranteed HEA (Happily Ever After). Please note no part of this work should be reproduced or distributed in any form and by any means electronic or otherwise without the consent of the author O.J Zainab. All rights reserved.


#15 içinde Romantizm #4 içinde romantik gerilim 13 yaşın altındaki çocuklar için değil. © Copyright 2022 by O.J Zainab. All rights reserved. No part of this publication maybe reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronics or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval syste...

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The heart wrenching decision


PROLOGUE.


The bad news...


***Hajara***


"Will you marry me?" He asked softly, going down on one knee and grasping her fingers gently, making her gasp in shock as her breath caught in her throat. Had she heard him right? She stared down at him with unrepentant joy, her heart quickening at the love and fire blazing in his soulful eyes; a love that reflected hers.

Had he planned all this just for her?

Hajara wondered silently in amazement as she took in the beauty around her. Their meeting spot had been transformed into a lover's nest, with blood-red rose petals carpeting the floor around them, and twinkling lights of various shades hugging the branches and trunks of the trees like the arms of a lover. It was simply beautiful and she loved it!

Hajara cleared her throat as gently as she could as tears of joy filled her eyes. "Yes, I will. Yes, I will marry you, Ibrahim. I will!" She gasped aloud as she quickly pulled him to his feet and hugged him passionately. She then showered him with kisses. Kisses dripping with passion; a passion of the heart.

"I would get you a real ring when I officially come to ask for your hand. But for now please wear this." He whispered with reverence as he placed on her ring finger an intricate makeshift ring made with synthetic glass or something. It felt and looked nice in its nestle on her finger. She smiled with happiness, her body still brimming with amazement.

"I love it, Ibrahim. Thank you."

"No, thank you for giving me the privilege to make you mine. I promise not to make you regret your decision."

"You better not," she warned only half-jokingly.

"I wouldn't. I promise."

"Good. I promise to do the same too, not to make you regret your choice. I promise to protect our love and cherish it," she said in a solemn voice filled with conviction as she smiled into his loving eyes.


***

Hajara couldn't contain her joy as she rushed home from her secret meeting with her lover. Neither could she hide her grin. Yes, she was so enamored with Ibrahim. She couldn't believe he proposed finally! It was time to introduce him to her folks, and she couldn't wait to share her gratifying news with her mum who was going to be elated! She smiled broadly as she urged her legs to take longer strides in her haste to reach home.

Hajara called chirpily to her mother who was busy cooking something that simply smelled delicious. What was going on? She asked herself silently. For it seemed her mother was cooking up a storm in the open kitchen. Did they have visitors? Who could come calling at this time? She just had to find out. "Mum I'm back. What's going on? It seems you are preparing a small feast. Do we have guests?" Hajara asked breathlessly in a rushed tone.

Her mum jumped up in excitement and took her by the hands, giving her a tight hug. "My daughter, what took you so long?" She asked rhetorically before rushing to add excitedly. "I have good news for you. Yes, we do have guests and they are mostly here for you!"

"What...How...Why?" Hajara sputtered with a slight frown. Something just doesn't feel right. She couldn't place her finger on it but could feel it deep in her bones. Why would they be here for her? Who could they be? It didn't make any sense. She stared at her mother, bewildered as she waited for her to contain her excitement and explain further.

"Don't be silly Hajara. They are here to ask for your hand in marriage and your dad has accepted!" She exclaimed happily, unaware of her daughter's escalating distress.

"What!" Hajara exclaimed astounded.

"What do you mean they asked for my hand? And...and father accepted? How could he? Without even asking me what I thought about this...this new development?" Hajara rasped agitatedly, raising her hands in distress. "Tell me mum, who does that?" Hajara couldn't contain her anxiety. She felt the walls closing in on her, and she couldn't breathe. It was like she had forgotten how to. The world was suddenly spinning and she felt like throwing up. She was drowning and didn't know how to save herself. "M..mum...he... help me. I...I can't breathe..." She rasped gasping for air.

Her mother realizing her daughter had lost it, quickly fetched a seat and pushed her into it. Patting her back soothingly, she murmured in a voice that was both soft and firm mingled with worry. "Calm down and breathe slowly. That's it. Yes just like that. Breathe in and out. Let it all out. That's it, good girl."

Hajara slowly reoriented herself and kept hearing her mother's chants like a Chinese mantra. In and out she kept breathing until she felt a smidgen of relief from the sorrow bearing down on her. How could this happen? She couldn't even begin to fathom the whys and hows. It's like fate was playing a sick joke on her and laughing its head off at her expense. It must all be a nightmare, the worst of its kind. She would wake up soon, as soon as she pinches herself into wakefulness. But when she raised her eyes to meet her mother's, the truth she saw reflected there took her breath away again. She started wheezing through her nose as she tried unsuccessfully to get a hold of herself.

"Hajara stop it this instant!" her mother warned. "What's wrong with you? Why are you panting in distress? I thought you would be happy with the news. You have always been a responsible girl..."

"Happy? Did you just say happy?" Hajara interjected, smoothly cutting her mother off. "How could I be happy mum? I don't even know the man in question!" she wailed.

"Neither did I when I married your father, but look at us now...We're happy. I'm happy."

"Are you? Are you truly happy with father?" She questioned knowingly.

"What's that supposed to mean Hajara?" Her mother hissed in a warning tone, but she was too far gone to heed it.

"Don't you think I know he beats you when he is moody? I see the bruises mum and figured it out. I'm not a kid anymore–"

"Then stop acting like one." She cut in swiftly. "Whatever is going on with you, fix it before your father finds out. Do not create trouble when you can avoid it." She scolded, smoothly skirting her daughter's comments.

"I can't mum. I'm sorry but I can't go along with this. I'm in love and he has proposed to me, and I accepted." She said in a dreamy voice. Thoughts of Ibrahim always made her dreamy and filled with unrepentant joy. Slowly she became aware of her surroundings and looked up to find her mother gaping at her with a mixture of astonishment, fear, and sadness. Her mother exhaled heavily and shook her head in reprimand at Hajara.

"Hajara, what are you saying? Since when has this been going on? Do you have any idea of the consequences when word gets to your father?"

"Mum, that's why you need to assist me in convincing him." She pleaded gently, trying unsuccessfully to convince her. Urging her mother with her eyes to understand. "I have been seeing him for a while now. We have been meeting up in secret and he–"

"Enough!" Her mother growled fuming. "Just stop it. Whatever this is, has no future. My daughter, it's simply too late now. Your father has accepted the proposal on your behalf, and a date has been set later this week for your marriage and things involved."

"What!" Hajara spewed pacing agitatedly.

"Yes. And you know your father, once he puts his mind on something, or gives his consent there's no turning back or changing his stand." She stated with a nonchalant shrug.

Hajara shook her head in defiance though deep down where it mattered the most she knew her mother was right. What was she going to do? She had no means of contacting Ibrahim, and come to their next meeting it simply would be too late. He would feel she betrayed him once he learned the truth. Oh God, what to do? Hajara broke down in tears. She couldn't stop it as she stared sorrowfully at her mother. A tiny fraction of the sadness she felt was reflected in her. That gave her a bit of solace that didn't last long. She was too far gone to care or feel relief. She watched on with teary eyes, a runny nose, and a heavy heart as her mother pulled her in for a tight hug; her way of showing Hajara she empathized with her. But Hajara could feel nothing, and it brought her no comfort for her mind was a whirlwind of emotions; mostly anger and helplessness now. Her heart was churning with pain mingled with regrets. Perhaps if she had mentioned Ibrahim sooner, things would have turned out differently. Perhaps...Perhaps...Perhaps. Hajara hugged her tighter, now needing her comfort to somehow drown her sorrow.

"Let it all out. Cry it all out. It's going to be okay Hajara." Her mother whispered into her ear, all the while patting her back soothingly. And Hajara knew– she simply knew nothing was ever going to be okay again. Nothing! She sniffled into her mother's temple, crushing harder into her, just needing her mother's warmth to console her.





CHAPTER 1



The heart-wrenching decision...



***Hajara***



Hajara hesitated at the entrance of the house. She felt weighed down by the tray of food. But that wasn't the only thing weighing her down. She thought inwardly with a silent sign. Her father had been restless, and repeatedly calling for her. She could no longer stall. It was time to face the music once and for all. She took a deep breath before entering the hall. The first thing she noticed was the guests seated and chatting animatedly. She looked from one face to another, trying to make sense of the chaos and pick out her prospective groom. But no one fitted the profile. They were all old enough to be her fathers or grandfathers.

What's going on here?

Was her future groom not present after all?

She hoped that was the case. She wasn't sure she was ready to meet him and didn't want to disappoint her father. Yes, she was such a good daughter, never doing anything to bring shame to the family. That was why she hadn't been able to give herself to Ibrahim intimately. She solely believed in intimacy within the comforts of marriage. Oh God, what a mess.

"Father." She called out gently, abruptly bringing everyone's attention to her. "The meal is ready. Shall I serve?" She watched silently as her father stood up from the chair with an agility that belied his age. He took the tray from her and placed it on the center table; that has seen better days, and took her hands in his, rapidly dragging her into the midst of the guests. She suddenly felt self-conscious and willed her palpitating heart to calm down. She watched on like a deer caught in headlights, so deeply rooted in shock. It was no wonder she missed her father calling to her. She jolted into consciousness when she felt a gentle but firm shake on her right shoulder.

"Hajara, are you okay? Did you hear what I said?" he asked calmly, his brows wrinkling in concern.

"Uh–no father. Somehow I missed your comments. So sorry," she said apologetically with a discernible sniffle. Her eyes were slowly but surely welling up with tears against her will. She took a deep calming breath to fortify her resolve not to run.

"Nevermind. I said these are your guests, they are here to ask for your hand in marriage. And I accepted, for I know the man in question. He is a good friend of mine and a hardworking one too. He saw you, became smitten with you, and wants you for a third wife. Isn't that great?" he said schmoozingly, his voice dripping with elation mingled with joy.

"W...what. Y...your friend? What... I... I–" her voice trailed off weakly as she failed to organize her jumbled thoughts into words. She must be mistaken. She couldn't have heard him right. His friend? Did he say his friend? But that couldn't be, for she knew all his friends to be of his age if not older. Does that mean she was to wed an old grouchy man? She was so astounded that she missed the sudden appearance of an elderly man beside her.

"Hajara. I'm Hamid–" he paused with a gentle smile. It was like he somehow sensed the storm brewing within her. She stared up at him in uncertainty; looked at him with no preconceived judgment and objectively. Two attributes stood out for her: he had the kindest eyes she had ever seen of a man his age and a disarming smile. "But my friends call me Sheikh, for I'm a scholar of the holy Qur'an and use its inherent knowledge to assist anyone in trouble. That's what I do for a living."

"So you're a Mallam?"

"Well, locally you may call me that– I think. But I only deal with the holy Quran," he added with an encouraging smile, which propelled her to ask in a tentative voice.

"Why do you want to marry me? Am I not too young for you?"

"Hajara! Mind your words! You–" her father warned briskly but was silenced by Hamid's laughter, which was rich and musical to the ears. She begrudgingly admitted he had a great laugh, and was pleased he wasn't quick to take offense. It meant he had an accommodating nature, which was a good thing; a plus in his corner. She couldn't help but smile inwardly for without a word he had stalled her father from lashing out at her. Maybe–just maybe her future wasn't going to be as bleak as she initially thought. True she wouldn't be able to love any other man like she did Ibrahim. But maybe she could have a calm life with Hamid. She always believes in taking the misfortunes that life dishes out to her in good faith. She would just chalk up this new development to one of such weird misfortunes, and make the best of it. For there was no foreseeable way out without bringing shame to her parents. She was their only child, and their expectations of her were grave if nothing else.

"My darling, age is just a number. And everything about you pulls me in. Come on, let's eat before the meal gets cold."

"Oh no, the meal is mainly for you all. I would be having mine outside with my mother. She would be expecting me right about now. Please enjoy your meal, and excuse me," she countered in a rushed voice with a slight bow of the knees, before making a hasty exit.



***Khadija***


Khadija paced the grassy floor of their cozy front yard agitatedly. She had set up their meal in the outdoor makeshift kitchen that was mostly used to prepare feasts for expected guests. She fervently hoped and prayed everything went well, and her daughter was able to rein in her emotions just enough to please her father and everyone present. Oh God, what a mess! She felt so torn and helpless. On one hand, she wanted to please her husband who wanted what was best for Hajara, and on the other she wanted Hajara to be happy. She felt the two opposing sides raging to gain dominance within her. But how could she have missed the telltale signs? Her daughter had been sneaking out more frequently, and she had caught her in the act on more than one occasion but had simply thought nothing of it because Hajara had always been responsible, doing nothing to stress or alarm them. Hajara had always walked on the righteous path. It was said; thatafter a foolish deed comes remorse. And she had been foolishly ignorant– well not fully ignorant because she had her suspicions. Nonetheless, she had ignored it and now was repentant. She jolted with fright from her musings when Hajara suddenly called out to her.

"Mother! Are you okay?"

"I should be asking you that," she said with a weak smile that barely reached her eyes. "Tell me, how did it go? How did your first meeting with your prospective husband go?"

Hajara simply gave off a noncommittal shrug as she was still reeling from the events of the day, and still trying to assimilate things. It would take a while to adjust. But one thing was for certain, this was now her reality, and the sooner she accepted and owned it, the better for everyone involved. She smiled sadly at her mother and whispered hoarsely, for it seemed her voice had been affected by her emotions. "All I can say is that this is my new reality and I have to accept it to make everyone but myself happy." Before she could blink, she was wrapped up in her mother's arms and was showered with kisses.

"Oh thank Allah (God). I was so worried! But now I'm so relieved."

Hajara stared in dismay as her mother's eyes welled up with tears. She realized then that she was not the only one affected. Her mother was also feeling her pain.

"Hajara you have made the right decision. Everything would be fine, you would see."

"But how? I don't even know what to do–where to start. I know I have to at least face Ibrahim to explain things. I...I just don't want to hurt him you know. And I know there's no avoiding it. God knows none of these is my fault. Absolutely none." Hajara tried unsuccessfully to quell the shivers that preceded her outburst.

"I know. I know it mustn't be easy. But you know something? The best way to eat an elephant in your path is to cut him up into little pieces." When Khadija noticed the dumbfounded expression on her daughter's face, she explained further. "Meaning the best approach to solve a problem is to take it bit by bit, you know, one at a time. In other words, take each step at a time as it comes. I have full faith in you. You will figure something out."

"Thanks, Mother. I needed to hear that. What will I do without you?" She asked rhetorically in a shuddering voice.

"Nothing I guess. Now cheer up and wipe off those tears I see brewing. It's time to eat, and as usual, I prepared your favorite." Khadija smiled with relief while pulling her daughter towards the kitchen.



***Hajara***


Later that night, Hajara laid on a mat on the open porch and stared up at the starry sky. It was beautiful tonight, the stars were twinkling brightly and vying for supremacy over the moon. She wasn't sure which was at the forefront, for they all looked so bright and perfect. If only she could be one of them or simply blend in with them not having a care in the world but to shine. She smiled wanly at her train of thoughts for life wasn't that easy, she was sure. Even the moon and stars must not have it easy. She signed loudly with distress. Come morning, her life would be upended and her home would be in a flurry of movements. She wouldn't be able to sneak out anymore. So how was she to solve this issue with Ibrahim? She very well could not send someone to do her dirty work, for she believed in facing one's music solely.

Like it was said somewhere in Africa; no one drinks medicine on behalf of a sick person. In other words, if one has something unpleasant to do, he or she will have to do it independently. In this case, she would have to do it herself, just take care of the issue at hand, no matter how unpleasant it made her feel.

Now how to go about it. "How does one handle such a precarious issue?" She whispered inquisitively into the sparkling night. So deep in her musings was she that the relentless sounds of the crickets and birds made no impact on the fortress surrounding her thoughts. She simply tuned out everything to ransack her brains. Then it occurred to her that she could just write Ibrahim a letter. Yes! A letter. A letter expressing what she could not do in person. Why did she not think of that earlier? She had no way of meeting him, as she knew not his residence. She regretted not taking him up on his offer to visit his place. So a letter was the best way. The only way. She would tackle that in the morning, right before she gets swept up in the pre-marriage activities.

Hajara let out a deep sigh filled with relief flavored with dejection. She was going to say goodbye to her hopes, her dreams, and, her plans with Ibrahim. She only hoped he forgive her, if not now someday. Against her will, she found herself in tears again. Tiny shivers wracked her slender body. She sniffled and wiped off her tears jerkily, annoyed at herself for succumbing to the grief lying dormant in her soul. Though she had promised to protect and cherish their love, she had to bow out because she simply could not disgrace her family. Not now. Not ever.

So she was doing the right thing by turning her back on her love. Yes, she was. Giving up her happiness was the right thing to do, wasn't it?

25 Temmuz 2023 12:48 2 Rapor Yerleştirmek Hikayeyi takip edin
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Sonraki bölümü okuyun The marriage proceedings

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İleti!
MS Manuel Skyler
You've really paid attention to your sentence.. great story lines..
September 18, 2023, 19:09
NT Nana Tee
Very interesting, can’t wait for more stories like this
September 10, 2023, 19:42
~

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