The bride’s makeup was impeccable; perfect brows, well-brushed pink lips, and smooth shiny glossy cheeks, even her forehead looked good to eat. She was simply glowing. The bride was smiling, revealing a perfect set of white teeth, it seemed everything about her was perfect.
Hannatu could not stop the rush of envy that overwhelmed her. Unconsciously she hissed, willing herself to concentrate on something else. But everywhere she looked, there were beautiful girls all wearing their best, laces and materials that spelt money, good money. Long heels that clicked as the ladies dance, henna designs radiating in the evening light of the hall. It seemed she was the only one in a bad mood. Overwhelmed, she hissed again.
“Hannatu, what is it?”
Hannatu turned with anger in her eyes. Unfortunately for her friend Maryam, she decided to unleash her anger on her. “It’s fine. And Maryam, my name is Hanny, not Hannatu”.
Hannatu hated the fact that she had reminded everyone to call her Hanny and not Hannatu. Who liked to be called Hannatu? It was old and sounded native. Hanny was classy.
Maryam burst out in laughter, chewing the peppered meat she had picked from the round table. Ignoring Hannatu, she picked a few more throwing it to her mouth one after the other, while looking at people on the dance floor. The bride was now dancing with the groom, swaying slowly to the romantic music that came from the background, it was lovely and for almost a minute she forgot her friend beside her.
“Hanny, you don’t have to look so glum. This is a wedding party. You’re allowed to enjoy yourself, or you can just eat if you don’t feel like doing anything”. She said playfully, she didn’t want to pick her friend’s bad temper.
Hannatu shrugged. How could she enjoy herself at a party when she was the only one looking shabby and miserable? Her dress had once been a trendy style, but it was outdated and no one ever wore it. Her make-up was hurriedly done, and her shoes were four years old. Besides, they were flat. What was more? Her veil didn’t glow or shine. So how could she enjoy herself? The more she thought about it, the more it seemed like they were spectators at the wedding when in reality they were good friends of the bride who had attended the same secondary school with them. But then her father was appointed for a political position and money flew in, and so things had changed between them.
Hannatu couldn’t just understand why everyone around her was having everything cool and she couldn’t even get the least things. Even Maryam looked good tonight. Hannatu and Maryam were sitting around a round table alone. All the nice ladies were sitting secluded on the adjacent tables, taking selfies and Tik Tok videos, flaunting iPhones here and there. Hannatu made sure to readjust to cover her worn-out ITel, it would be too embarrassing if anyone saw it. She heard the dancers on the dance floor let out an excited scream, and that was when she saw him.
“Him” was nothing like what Hannatu was used to. “Him” was handsome, No, not handsome. “Him” was beautiful.
Because she was least expecting it, the beautiful stranger on the dance floor looked at her directly from the dance floor and her legs turn to jelly.
Suddenly, her stomach felt strange and she could swear that she felt little butterflies swimming in her belly. Was the handsome guy staring at her? Maybe it was someone behind her, turning back the pale yellow wall facing her. She didn’t want to turn to look at him again, perhaps it was her stupid imagination. But what if it wasn’t? It would be too silly to stare at the wall for more than a few seconds. And so she decided to look at him again, but alas he was gone. Hannatu stretched her long neck searching for him, her eyes scannings through the throng of people at the dance floor and around, but no. She couldn’t spot him, “Him” was gone.
Perhaps it had been her imagination. No, she was sure of what she felt. No one had those reactions on just an imagination, and now he was gone. It was time to leave this wedding and go home. Everything about tonight had been a waste of time. She didn’t even get to gawk at the beautiful tall building of a handsome stranger at a wedding. Heaven knew when next she would see such beauty again. Her boyfriend, Musa was a long way from looking like half of the way “Him” looked.
Maryam was stuffing packs of food into her blue designer bag. Hm, even Maryam could afford a designer bag now, Hannatu thought, envy enveloping her heart once more.
“Maryam, let’s go. Stop behaving like a malnourished child”.
And from nowhere, she had a deep baritone voice that sounded like rich velvet cake.
Wait, how could a voice sound like a cake? Her brain had flipped through a million things within a second and even without turning. She knew it was “Him”.
It was unbelievable. How could one man have it all? Everything you could think of, “Him” had it. Hannatu could not get around how pointed and cute his nose was, almost like a baby. His eyes shone penetrating the depths of her soul. She realized he was staring at her, waiting for a reply.
His lips were wide, a mischievous grin playing on them, almost like he could tell exactly what was on her mind.
“Uhmm Hello”. She squeaked, her voice sounding strange even for her ears. Sweat was already beading around her forehead. The stranger was raising her temperature.
“Hi”. Maryam, forgotten, called out from behind her. Hannatu gave a sidewards glance to her friend as if to say “Don’t mess this up”.
“I couldn’t help but notice that you had been sitting here all alone. This is a wedding party, you know. You should enjoy yourself”. The rich velvet voice of the stranger came again. He was fair and dressed in dark navy blue traditional clothes, which made a clear contrast with his skin, further illuminating him in the evening light of the hall. And boy, “Him” was tall.
“That was the same thing I said to her just now”. Maryam piped in again. It was obvious that she was begging to be included, in the “tryst”.
“Him” spared a glance at Maryam, her eyes lit up and suddenly downed back when he looked away without even an acknowledgement. Hannatu felt mischievous happiness.
Served her right! That would put her in her place.
“So, what do you say; we go on the dance floor and have a nice dance?” His eyes glowed. Hannatu wanted to jump right into his arms and head to the dance floor, but she was worried about what she wore. Instead, she pretended to be shy, her eyes glancing downwards.”Him” smiled.
“You don’t want to dance alright, your plates are empty”. (PS. Maryam had consumed everything) “what do you say we go to the buffet table and grab some snacks?”.
“Alright”. Hannatu nodded repeatedly, it took her over five seconds to rise from her seat. They waded their way through the crowd, “Him” leading her along to the table. He stopped two times to say hi to few people. Hannatu could not help but note the plethora of attention that was directed their way. Hmm, Hannatu grinned. This party was becoming much better.
The table had several arrays of food like Hannatu had never seen. Jollof rice accompanied with hot spicy meat just like the one Maryam had consumed filled half of the table. There were moulds of Amala, with efo riro and ewedu soup (PS. The groom was Yoruba) and as the table went further, finger chops were everywhere. “Him” grabbed two glass plates, held her by that arm dragging her gently to the part of the table with finger chops. It was the first time a man was holding her arm, and Hannatu could not describe the electricity that coursed through her skin, and as a natural response, she was suddenly dizzy. Oh boy, this stranger was killing her.
“I hope you don’t mind that I touched you. It looked like you were about to disappear among the crowds”.
“No, I don’t mind.” Hannatu smiled to prove to him that it was okay and perhaps to let him know that he could try it again. Hannatu wouldn’t describe herself as quiet, but suddenly she couldn’t say more than a few words.
“Him” nodded handing over her plate, and grabbed a spoon, picking chops as they went making light talk. However, not much was said until they sat down in another part of the hall devoid of many people thus making it quiet.
Hannatu suddenly felt the need to ask him his name. It was not every day you get to pick food with a stranger at a wedding. For all she knew, he could be a serial killer whose target was medium height, dark girls, making her the next potential victim.
“So, Hannatu I know you’re here for the wedding, we both are. The groom is my friend, we’re both lecturers at the UNILAG. Are you a friend of the bride?”.
Now he wanted to know her. “Yes, we attended the same secondary school. But,” Hannatu paused to swallow the doughnut she was chewing, “but, you don’t look Yoruba.”
“Oh I’m not,” he responded, taking huge mouthfuls of the assortment on his plate. Hannatu felt like he was truly hungry. They’d now spend over three hours at the wedding party. The Yorubas never joked with their “Owanbe”. “But I’d lived my entire life at Lagos, I was even born there. And actually, my mother is Yoruba, but my dad is Fulani. Perfect match right?”.
Hannatu smiled, suddenly feeling downcast, so this stranger wasn’t from here. It dawned on her hopes of having a relationship with him. She decided to veer off-topic.
“So, how do you know my name? You just called me Hannatu earlier”.
“Him” smiled. “Your friend called you repeatedly when you zoned out while staring at me”.
Hannatu gasped. Such cockiness, rather than disgust her, the attraction she felt for him widened. She liked a confident man.
“My name is Aminu, a lecturer in the Department of History and International Relations. A businessman on the side. My second time in Kano”.
They both waited. Hannatu was sure that he was waiting for her to go next. But she was reluctant. There wasn’t much to say about her.
“My name is Hanny, not Hannatu. A recent graduate of Forestry and wildlife from KUST, wudil. Yet to be mobilized for NYSC, and ready to explore the world”.
Aminu’s eyes brightened, “Nice, you must like to travel”. He noted, looking sideways. Hannatu followed his eyes to see that a lot of partyers were gone and only a few remained. She spotted Maryam on her previous table fuming with anger. She gave her sign language. “Let’s go, it’s late”.
Hannatu dropped her plate regrettably, she was having such a nice time with Aminu that she didn’t feel like going home. What would it feel like to escape with this stranger? Oh, the things she would love to try on Earth.
“Yes, I love to travel. And so, right now I would like to travel to him before I have to sleep outside”.
Aminu gave a rich laugh, Hannatu noticed the way his Adam apple bobbed. Such manliness.
“You, Hanny, you are refreshing. I would like to keep in touch”.
And here they were again, the crazy butterflies in her tummy making her feel silly. “Alright Uhm, here’s my contact”. She reeled out the numbers in a hurry. Aminu was fast, his fingers rapidly playing across the screen with an air of mystery.
“Done” he murmured. “Saved as pretty Hanny. I would like to give you a ride home if you don’t mind”.
“It’s alright. Thanks”. And she hurriedly disappeared.
“So, all it takes you to forget about me is a handsome stranger dressed in blue right? Now I know better, now I know where I stand”.
They were standing on the huge roundabout that stood in midst of the city of Kano. It was close to eleven, and all the tricycles that passed were full of passengers. Maryam had been ranting in anger since they came out of the hall. She kept talking about friends, who didn’t understand what friendship was, about friends who were ready to bail out at the first sight of trouble. And she made it sound like Hannatu had just left her to fight a battle alone. But Hannatu wasn’t perturbed in the least, she knew what it was. She, herself, was no stranger to it. It was jealousy. Maryam was jealous that no handsome fellow had approached her at the wedding party and now she channelled all her frustration into the fact that Hannatu had left her all alone.
“Hannatu, are you even listening to me?” Maryam turned from the street looking at Hannatu squarely on the face.
“I’m not listening to you because you’re talking to Hannatu, but I’m Hanny”.
Maryam nodded her head looking at Hannatu with disdain, pretending like she just realised something new. “Oh, I see, Hanny, Okay”.
To be frank, Hannatu was distracted and wasn’t listening to Maryam. The only thing she could think of was the Handsome Aminu. After every second, she glanced through her phone to see if he had called. She couldn’t wait to hear his rich velvet voice once more. A tricycle appeared and they hopped in grateful to have found a ride by that time of the night. It was easy for Hannatu to have a nice time outside, but the same could not be said for home. Hannatu’s parents were typically Fulani strict parents who monitored their daughter’s movements like a hawk monitors her prey. They had a tight rein on their kids, especially the girls. And that was why Hannatu could feel the palpitations from her heart in her ear when she tried to sneak into the house. It wasn’t that she left without their permission, the curfew was nine on the dot. Nine and not one minutes late. She hoped her mother was already asleep. Mrs Fareeda was fire compared to her dad.
Hannatu held her breath as she carefully opened the door, the hinges creaking too loudly for her comfort. She let out a huge exhale when she was in her room. Swiftly removing her clothes, Hannatu’s mind raced through the evening’s event, how sourly it had started, and what a pleasant way it had ended. Life was beautiful to have thrown the handsome Aminu to her feet. Damn to everything that would stand in her with him, she could already feel the taste of liberation. There was a smile on her face as she wrapped the blanket around her placing her phone across her heart. She knew it was late, but Hannatu desperately hoped he would call. Just when she was about to fall asleep, the vibration across her chest woke up, making her heart jump to her mouth.
Glancing at the screen with the hope of seeing a strange number, she was utterly disappointed with what she saw.
Putting her phone in silent mode, she went to sleep without answering.
Hannatu’s Routine On this Very “not normal” day.
Aminu…” Him” was the first thing on Hannatus mind when her eyelids open. She recounted the events of the previous day and relished them with joy. Reaching for her phone, she was sure he had called. Why wouldn’t he? In her dreams, he was driving a red range rover with her sitting beside him and two lovely children at the back, and so when Hannatu woke up, she was sure he had called.
Her eyes lit up, cheeks spread out in joy. Aminu had called why she slept and what was more, he left a text.
“Woooohhh”. Hannatu screamed out in joy, going round the room. Aminu had texted her, it was something worth posting on her social media accounts. The next thing Hannatu did was a post on her WhatsApp status. “In love. Morning Fellas”. Not wanting to seem desperate she decided to linger for a while before replying. A girl has got to show some class. Hannatu spent five minutes less from her usual morning toilet rituals, she couldn’t contain her excitement and never had she felt more alive than this. She performed ablutions, rushed her prayers and hurriedly picked up her worn ITel and sent a reply.
“Oh thanks, pretty Hanny was fast asleep. Have a nice day, do hope to speak to you soon”.
Didn’t that sound a little too desperate? Hannatu decided to rephrase a bit.
“Oh thanks, I was fast asleep, Do have a nice day”.
Hannatu thought it sounded too official.
“Good morning Aminu, I was fast asleep when you called. But thanks, do have a lovely day ahead”.
Hannatu quickly pressed send before she could change her mind. She pressed the phone to her heart as she relished the moment.
Incoming phone call.
Was Aminu calling so fast?
But No! It was my boyfriend. Hannatu hissed and threw away the phone on her bed. Lots of good “boyfriend” did. Now when she thought about it, she wondered what foolishness led her to agree to a date, Musa. He was nothing like what she wanted in a guy. He had no car, he was too calm and for crying out loud, was a teacher at the same school with her. What business did she have dating a teacher? Well, that was about to change.
She brought out a book on which she wrote her bucket list.
°Meet a handsome guy with a car; Check baby! Full check.
Logging onto her WhatsApp one last time before she began to prepare breakfast, she noticed 2 views.
Great! She could swim in the river of jealousy. Life was just getting better for Hannatu.