Hannatu was late for school again.
It wasn’t a problem of punctuality, she just didn’t enjoy her job. She never knew why anyone would want to be a teacher. All they did was shout in class with the pupils for six hours. Hannatu taught in primary five, and one would think that she had it easier because the pupils were a bit older, but now they were all the same, if not worse. Thanks to her dad who had been a teacher too, she learned to read fluently before she got to primary five.
It was Monday morning and the medium size compound was neatly swept. The pupils had just finished marching into their respective classes and teaching had begun. She sighted her boyfriend in his class; Nursery two. Dodging him because she didn’t want to talk to him, Hannatu quickly sneaked into her class and so another boring day at school began. When the bell rang for recess, Hannatu wasn’t sure who was happier, her or the kids. Quickly ensuring that the kids were all out of the class, she brought out her phone to check up on her social media updates. Eleven new WhatsApp messages.
Maryam: 😡 in love??? Oh, now you’re in love with the stranger?
Mamman Afnan: 💃💃Allah ya kaimu rannan.
Hannatu burst out with laughter. Mamman Afnan was her dad’s younger sister and wouldn’t stop disturbing her about the need for her to get married. But no, Hannatu wasn’t ready to be tied down. There were a lot of places to visit and people to explore. She wondered what Aminu was doing right now, probably on his way back to Lagos. Was he driving or taking a flight? She wished she had gotten a picture of him or at least his surname, so she could search his social media handles. Her eyes couldn’t wait to rest on his sight.
Wait? Was she getting ahead of herself? Aminu could even be married. She knew next to nothing about him. But even as she thought about it, Hannatu knew that he wasn’t, someone like that was made just for her. Well, Snapchat was next, she needed to take some Monday work pictures.
Hannatu was dark, dark as the night that her skin even shone, and somehow it had attracted men to her wherever she went. Hannatu decided to love her skin and flaunt it as it was. This morning she was dressed in black jeans trousers, with a long white kimono that reached her mid-thighs, white veil to compliment her skin. Taking different shots at different angles, she didn’t realize that her boyfriend; Musa had sneaked behind her into the class.
His voice jolted her back to reality, that she was startled causing her to drop her phone heavily on the phone. Hannatu looked from the phone on the floor to Musa.
“Are you crazy Musa? What type of stupid joke is that?”
Musa hurriedly picked up the phone, trying to put back the case. He hadn’t meant to startle her and now he was sorry that he did. Hannatus’s anger was something no one should like to experience.
“Bani waya ta”. She snapped the phone from his hands, checking the condition. It was a relief that nothing was broken. Her poor ITel was her last connection to the internet and now her connected to Aminu. A current of guilt stabbed her, Musa had been nothing besides a really good boyfriend. He saw to her needs in his own little way. But her guilt was just momentarily, she wanted more.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. Hope there’s nothing wrong with the phone?” When she didn’t reply, Musa sighed and continued, “I tried to call you last night a few times but you weren’t picking. I concluded that you were already asleep”.
“Yes”. Hannatu mumbled and continued going through her phone.
Musa knew Hannatu too well, she was mad about her phone that had dropped. “So, how was the wedding?”
“Fine”. Came the reply again.
Musa proceeded forward and sat on one of the pupils’ desks. He could see her face from where she sat on the teacher’s chair. “I’m sorry about the phone mana, Hannatu must you make everything difficult?”
She gave him a glance that projected all her anger. “Musa, what do you want?”
“I came to see my girlfriend, last I checked that wasn’t a crime”.
Hannatu looked at her boyfriend and wondered again what misery led her to agree to date Musa. If only she had waited a year, Now that she had met Aminu, everything would have been perfect. He was nothing like Aminu, short and chubby, with a slightly protruding stomach. And that miserable shirt he wore almost three times a week. She couldn’t believe she had even posted his pictures on social media once. She should be ashamed of dating someone like that.
“Well, I’m busy Musa”. Hannatu promptly reply.
“I see, busy with Snapchat. Well, I just wanted to say Hi and asked if you enjoy the wedding. If you don’t want my company, I can go back to my class”. He said standing up.
This guy knew exactly how to make her feel guilty. “Wait Musa, I’m sorry. I just had a long night”.
Concern was immediately etched on his face. “Why? Was it the wedding or you just couldn’t sleep?”
“Yes. Couldn’t sleep. Lots of thoughts running through my head”. As Hannatu said it, she desperately tried to keep the grin from her face, her night had been all about Aminu.
“You have to learn how to keep the excitement out of your head Hannatu, the world isn’t going anywhere”. That was Musa and his stupid views.
Hannatu hissed. “The world isn’t going anywhere Musa, I know that. But we’re not going to be here forever. We’re all gonna die someday so I want to be able to live my life to the fullest”.
“You should” Musa replied passionately. “You should Hannatu, but at the end of the day you’ll realize that it is the little things that matter. You shouldn’t keep aiming at something that you cease to enjoy what you have”.
Hannatu rolled her eyes. “Toh naji Mallam Musa”.
Musa laughed, his dimple very prominent. No one in Musa’s company was sad. He knew how to throw life into a gathering.
“You never did like hearing the truth, do you Hannatu?”
Hannatu was furious. “Because I have different views from you doesn’t mean I don’t like hearing the truth, and for the last time it’s Hanny, not Hannatu”. She almost screamed. What was so difficult in calling her Hanny?
It was at that time “Him” chose to call. Hannatu had kept the phone on the table and now it vibrated loudly. All attention was drawn to it.
“Okay, Hanny”. Musa said, stressing “Hanny” with hands thrown up in mock surrender. “Why is your phone always on vibration? Sai kace wanda bata da gaskiya?”
You have no idea, Hannatu thought, swallowing. Not picking up would arouse Musa’s suspicions and even if she wanted to break up with him, this isn’t how she would want it to be. And so she lingered, and the vibration started again.
“Hanny pick your call. I’ll be going to my class. One of my pupils is sick, he threw up on my shoes this morning”.
Ewww. Hannatu balked. How did Musa enjoy teaching those kids? And more than that, she had never seen anyone so dedicated to teaching little children like him. The way he played recess with them and carried them up high in the sky was almost like a father would do to his child.
What was there to love in babies or little kids? They were disgusting, all they did was pee and cry.
“Oh alright then. See you later”. She replied relief clearly stamped in her voice. Musa must have noted it with the cursory look he gave her and the phone that kept vibrating on the table. Once Musa was out of the door, Hannatu grabbed the phone and swiped to the right. And there it was the rich velvet voice.
“Hi Aminu, Good morning”.
“Now that I’ve heard your voice, I’m finally having the best morning”.
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!!!
She chuckled lightly. Her voice was barely more than a whisper. “An tashi lafiya?“
“Most definitely. When your beautiful face was all I could think of.”
Oh boy! Hannatu felt strange happiness spread through her body. Oh, God life was good.
“Ohh alright, how’s your day starting out?”
“Still in bed pretty Hanny. I was on the flight home last night and didn’t get enough sleep. So when Lagosians were getting out of bed, I was falling into mine.”
Hannatu couldn’t stop her brain from imagining his tall and fair huge body falling into a soft lumpy bed with white sheets.
“Alright, so you just woke up?”
“Yes,” he replied, slightly yawning.
That means he called her first, Hannatu couldn’t be more pleased.
“I want to ask to see your face, but considering that we just met, I think you would be sceptical.” He came again.
Hannatu recognized the dare in his voice and she decided to flow with it. “Why don’t you try me?”
He laughed and his laughter was bliss, like the rise of the sun on “That’s my type of girl. So pretty Hanny, video call?”
“Yes, video call.”
Musa had a strong intuition, and what bothered him most was that his intuitions were never wrong. From his classroom, while tending the sick child, he watched Hannatu talking excitedly with someone on the phone. Someone whom she wasn’t comfortable picking his call in his presence. Musa was sure it was a “He”. He saw the name she had saved.
All the way to his classroom, Musa could see the way her lips spread wide almost touching her ears with sheer happiness. He knew Hannatu, she was a case of energy, she was like a soda can all shake up and waiting to be opened so she could fly. Over the course of the one year they had dated, he had a list of vocabulary that could perfectly describe Hannatu, vocabularies he wouldn’t dare utter in her presence. Hannatu was selfish and self-centred. And what was more, she cared about things that didn’t matter, iPhones and clothes she couldn’t afford. Why he kept dating her, was purely love. He could remember what he felt when he first set his eyes on her. Love, at first sight, was hogwash for Musa, not until the day he laid his eyes on a certain beauty called Hannatu. It surprised him that he still felt that love even when he saw her now. Nothing had changed.
The child on his laps was groaning with pain, the wet towel had helped only for a few whiles. The fever was back. It was time to take him to a hospital since his parents weren’t forthcoming. Contemplating if to tell Hannatu, he saw her on a video call, one of her favourite pastimes.
Musa decided against it and left, he truly loved Hannatu and would continue to fight for her till she truly accepted him for who he was and for the little he had.
Hannatu did all the right things for the wrong reasons. Selfishness may be used to describe her attitude, but Hannatu knew what she wanted and she could do whatever it takes to get what she wants, at all cost. And now what she wanted was to visit “Him” at Lagos. How had it all started?
” So pretty Hanny, video call?”
“Yes, video call!”
Hannatu had quickly put the phone down readjusted her veil, quickly touched her makeup, and put on her award-winning Hanny Smile.
And there he was, huge broad shoulders, even his neck was attractive. Hannatu could see the top of his crispy white singlet. And what was more, he had a rough morning stubble that further accentuated his handsome face.
“Oh what a beauty”. He said smiling widely. “you look more beautiful than last night if that is possible”.
“Oh thank you Aminu, I could say the same about you”.
” So”. Aminu readjusted his self on the bed. ” When next am I going to see you?”
“Isn’t that too fast?” Hannatu asked faking caution, but deep within her, she was glad he was straightforward without wasting time. One of the things she didn’t like about Musa, was the fact that he was calm, too calm. She liked speed, patience wasn’t one of her attributes.
“Well, we could take things slow. I don’t have a problem with that, but the last time I checked, slowly doesn’t get the job done. Risk-takers rule the world you know. And I’m prepared to take every risk if only I would see you again”.
With those words, Hannatu was sure that Lagos was her next destination.
“Or is it a problem with your family? I’m sure your parents wouldn’t let you travel that far or alone”.
” Well, uhm” Hannatu tilted the phone,” I’m 23 and a graduate. They wouldn’t stop me.”
” Are you sure?” Doubt was in his eyes. Because Hannatu didn’t want him to drop the idea she quickly reiterated that it was no issue. Her parents were not going to be a problem.
Chew words before you say them, else later you’ll think about a thousand things you could have said.Anonymous
And now as she looked at her mum praying la’asar, she knew it was impossible to get that woman to let her travel alone to Lagos for whatever reason. And that was why she implored to use the help of Maryam. Hannatu had a plan and she truly hoped it will work.
Hanny: Maryam kawata, how are you?
Maryam: Considering how you denounced me at that party, I’d say I’m fine.
Hanny: Haba Maryam, it was just for a few minutes, anyways kin san you’re my only friend Koh?
Maryam: (Rolls eyes) You need something, what is it?
Hanny: (Laughing emoji) That’s my girl. So, Aminu invited me over to Lagos next two weeks.
Maryam: Nice. Are you going?
Hannatu chuckled. She could already feel the jealousy seeping away from Maryam.
Hanny: Definitely, yes.
Maryam: Nice. Alone?
Maryam: and you need my help to cover for you? Right? Is that it?
Hanny: please Maryam, I know I’m not the best of friends but I really, really, really (pleading emoji) need you to do this for me and I’ll never forget you for the rest of my life.
Maryam: Potato Potato. That’s what you’ll always say, and ditch me once you get your favour. I know you, Hanny.
Hanny: I need you to come to the house now, so I can relay my plan to you.
Maryam: (Rolls eyes) I’ll be there in twenty.
Hanny: (friends sticker)
Hannatu looked up to find her mum staring at her. She knew how much her mother hated it when she became absolved in her phone. “It makes you behave like a crazy person. Smiling all by yourself”, Her mother would say. Bit despite her mother’s strictness, Hannatu found it easier to defy her mother.
“This phone Koh? Have you prayed?” She asked rolling up her prayer mat, looking at Hannatu intently waiting for her to say No.
“Yes, I have. And what’s wrong with my phone Umma? There’s nothing special about it. You need to see the phone my friends have. And that’s by the way, Umma I was just talking with Maryam, there’s a job I recently applied for and the screening date just came out, it’s next two weeks”.
And again, Hannatu found it easier to lie to her mother.
“Toh, Masha Allah. Where is the screening?”
Okay, here we go!
” Lagos!”, Mrs. Farida was bewildered, eyes open wide. ” Why so far away?”
“Hmm, Umma I was wondering the same thing too. Lagos is so far for that screening. But I still have to go.”
” Absolutely not”. Mrs. Fareeda replied with a note of finality in her voice.
“No? Umma, No? Do you want me to keep teaching forever? Umma, I’ll not get another opportunity like this again”.
“Will you be going alone?”
” Yes Umma. Just tell Abba about it and hear what he says, I have a friend who stays there, and the screening exercise will probably take me less than a week”.
” Hmm, toh naji”.
At that point, Maryam arrived and went to Hannatus’s room together after sharing pleasantries, Hannatu narrated what had transpired with Aminu not forgetting the cock and bull story she had woven for her mother.
“Look, Maryam, I just need you to confirm my story, in case my mother or dad asks, which I know they surely will”.
Maryam wasn’t pleased about the whole thing. Just before her eyes, things were changing for her friend while she was still stuck at the same point. “What about Musa? Are you forgetting about him?”
Hannatu hissed, her mood suddenly going down. Why did Maryam have to make her feel guilty now? “Look, Maryam, the truth is I don’t where I and Musa stand right now. I’m not attracted to him like I once was when we started dating. You know Musa doesn’t think far, he’s comfortable where he is.”
“What do you mean “Musa doesn’t think far”. Musa is currently pursuing his Master’s degree and also run a foundation for out-of-school children. How far do you want him to think?”
Hannatu was quiet for a while. She knew Musa did all those things but she wanted more. What was wrong with wanting to date a guy with a car, last she checked it wasn’t a crime.
“Maryam, yanzu dai manta da wanna, just cover for me Dan Allah, kinji”.
Her phone began to vibrate. ” Talk about the devil” Maryam muttered rolling her eyes.
” The angel you mean”. Hannatu replied, mouth wide with joy.
“Hello, pretty Hanny”. Oh, how she loved that rich velvet voice.
“Hello Aminu, I have a surprise for you”. The fan lazily swam the room providing little ventilation.
” Oh tell me, Hanny, I can’t wait”.
“I’ll be coming to Lagos soon”.
” Woah!!!! Nice I’m glad. Take a flight Hanny. Send me your account details and I’ll take care of that right now”.
Maryam watched the conversation with envy. They haven’t convinced her parents yet and she was already spreading information. She hoped her parents would disagree, she sincerely hoped that. A minute after Hannatu sent her account details, she got a text.