"Hadiza" A Short Story By Kasim Shalom — Pawners Paper

The short story, Hadiza, presents the heroine in the states of desperation, unrest, a supposed betrayal and a pick inside the challenges faced by...

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Hadiza captures the themes of marriage, love, life, and a viable description of the classic environment and culture of the Nigeria societies in a glance. But not without a few more in-depth and nothing short of suspence. The opening paragraph creates some attachment with the readers, a zeal to read further as the writer treats his words gently and exquisitely like a pack of cards.

The short story, Hadiza, presents the heroine in the states of desperation, unrest, a supposed betrayal  and a pick inside the challenges faced by women in marriage. But then, the focus of the story was far much more.

If I were to say, I'd say "hadiza is a short story that pictures the uncertainties that revloves around life"

Black girl



Hadiza

Hadiza paced the room, a three-piece tafeta veil slipping off her shoulders, lazily following behind her. Her legs ached and her feet were sore, but she kept a steadily increasing pace to and from all the angles of the room. North-east. East-south. South-west. West-north. North-south. . .Her hands were folded across her chest, not sure whether her heart was beating too fast or rather too unpredictable as her paces. Earlier when she had started pacing the parlour half an hour ago, the flat-screen television had interrupted her thoughts at random intervals, punctuating her to stop for a few short seconds, stare at the television and resume pacing. Her hands had been behind her, then akimbo, then across her rather large breasts. The temperature was humid, thanks to yesterday's late-evening rain. She looked outside the window to the garage, hoping to see Sadik's Mitsubishi 17E Station Wagon in the shade, but saw space. If only he would come home for lunch break, she thought, they would straighten everything out.


Nine months ago, Hadiza had married Sadik, a 45 year old erthswile dansiki seller who literally lived from hand to mouth. He had been a coat dealer, whose business thrived until when in the early 90's Nigerians began protesting the subtle imperialism imposed on them by office ethics to dress well; well-tucked, tied, and coated. This protest had brought a down-market for coat sellers who quickly noticed that trends had changed, and switched to pro-Nigerian wears; agbada, dansiki, goggoro, buba, and tied-dyed materials. This arose a great deal of competition not only among the hitherto coat dealers, but among new dealers who had abandoned their former trades and joined the new trend market. Many hitherto coat dealers left Lagos, the Nigerian capital state, to other regions where marketing prospects abounded. Kano, Calabar, Enugu, Onitsha, and Abeokuta became epicenters for cloth dealers.


Hadiza was the daughter of Sadik's favourite customer in Birnin Daji. Alhaji Sa'idu had worked in Lagos as a clerk in a federal postal service for 27 years until he retired three years ago as a Senior Clerk Assistant. His penchance for adaptation had made him to learn the Yoruba language, and by his second year in Lagos he speak to anyone in the Yoruba language confidently, albeit not being correct all the time. He had returned to Birnin Daji as a new man, very much unlike the Sa'idu who his peers used to know. His friends would taunt him for being so much like the Yorubas, despite his being Fulani.


"Look, my friends," Alhaji would chuckle. "If you had been with those people, you will not be bothered to return home! At least I have returned home." He would break into a long laugh.


"Just like you have done," they would taunt further. "Look how you dress now."

"My dressing," he would clutch his agbada tightly, "explains who I have lived with."

Sadik and Alhaji had first met in a Saturday evening market.

"Omo dada, ba oni?" He proudly greeted.

"Lafiya kalau, Alhaji" Sadik replied, making a mental note on how quickly people from the north could grasp the Yoruba language, but hard for the reverse to happen. "I am fine, Alhaji."

"A'ah! You don't understand Yoruba? And you are selling dansikis ?" Alhaji looked surprised. "What tribe are you?"

"Kanuri."

"Eh! Our slave," he said rather loudly, drawing attention. "You are a slave o! Better know it today. The Kanuri man is always a slave to the Fulani. Isn't it?"

"Yes, Alhaji," Sadik smiled. "They used to be."

"See who is selling dansikis to make money." Alhaji half-laughed.

"Alhaji, see who is looking for someone selling dansikis."

They laughed loudly for minutes and talked of Doondari, Kanem Bornu empire, Senegal, and how the grasshoppers of Borno were scared away by the daily relocating herds of cattles from Gombe.


Alhaji asked for a brown dansiki with a fish design on it.

"Kash, Alhaji. The last one was bought not more than 20 minutes before you came." 

This was the dansiki sellers' trick to make their customers believe they sold all types of cloth materials. They would ask the customer to give them some time, this would give them ample time to scout the material. "But I will go to Dala tomorrow. I am sure I will get it there."

Two weeks later, Sadik walked into Alhaji's house, proudly clutching the dansiki he had ordered.

"Omo dad. . .Tada nyi, well done. You are a hardworking young man. I like you!" Alhaji was impressed.

"Thank you, Alhaji," Sadik fumbled, feeling shy at the sight of one of Alhaji's daughter who walked in.

"Come to my house tomorrow. I'll complete your money, and treat you the way good masters treat their servants."

Their friendship had grown mutually. When Alhaji heard that Sadik was a bachelor, he screamed. "Kai! My servant shouldn't be like that! Kai. . .kai. . .kai. Tada Kanuriben. Kai! Let me see what I can do."


One year later, Alhaji married off his daughter to Sadik, his favourite dansiki dealer and friend. He later told him "You know, Hadiza had loved you from start! She was just shy. You know them, Sadik. They will die than be the first to tell you! Poor, senseless creatures!" Alhaji laughed, Sadik softly chuckling. He considered it inappropriate laughing with his father-in-law.

----------------------------------------

Two hours later, Hadiza woke up from a troubled sleep and looked at the bed clock. 3 o'clock. One hour to closing hour. Should she wait till then only for him to come home, take a quick shower, eat lunch, and picks his car key to the tennis court? Or should she follow him to the court today? What would she look like, the only woman in a company of working class men all older than her? Or would she have to wait till he gets back from court and bring the issue up? Or should she just check up on him in the office? Or should she. . . or should she. . .or should she. . .

"Salama Alaikum," Sadik saluted, entering the room.

"Welcome, Sadik." She quickly sat up on the the edge of the queen size bed. "Sadik, tell me. You know I trust you with my life. What have I heard them saying about you? Is it true? Do you really intend to. . ."


Sadik took off his shoes and sat adjacent Hadiza, changing into a purple-blue track suit. "Hadiza, that's a poor way to start an evening. Not a welcome, not a hug, not even collecting my briefcase. First thing, you start seeking to clarify your doubts. Haba. I too have a heart full of suspicions, but have I ever walked into the room and started demanding clarifications? No! It is not. . ."

"Look, Sadik. Let's understand. . . well, okay. I'm sorry." She paused and moved closer to him. "But please, tell me the truth. Are you intending to take a second wife?"

"Hadiza," Sadik sighed. "You will still be my wife. No matter the number of wives I marry, you will always be uwargida. That is. . ."

"No, Sadik. This cannot be." Her voice was quaking. "You easily forget, Sadik. My father is why you are here, why you have a job. You were a poor, wretched devising young man with no prospects of any good in life until you met my father. He gave you a wife, a house, money, used his influence to get you an envious job, and literally transformed you! Yet you wake up one day to say you would marry another wife? A rival for this man's daughter that changed your life? No way!"

"Hadiza, stop these things you're saying," came his calm reply. "I am sure your father wouldn't be happy hearing you say them."
"Why wont he?!" She roared in anger, tears dripping from her eyes. "You know what? I take all men to be the same, though. You and my father are all the same. Lying cheats, beasts, egocentric demons, cheating, wild human species! That's what you all are."
Sadik picked his racket and stood to leave. 

"All those adjectives are for the father who birthed you, and the father of the child you carry in you, and probably for even the baby that knows nothing. A child you're expecting in the next two months." He looked at his wristwatch and picked his towel.

"Sadik!" She called after him as he closed the door. "Wherever you go, please remember your wife and your unborn child in the womb." She broke down in tears, sprawling on the cold tiled floor.

Sadik drove out of the house for the twenty-minute 3 kilometre distance to the tennis court. His mind wondered on why the court was the most distant sport centre from town. 

The court was the last project he had remembered donating funds to. His love for tennis stemmed from his childhood hobby of being good at throwing stones at his friends, and his innate ability to dodge their stones.


He joined the busy highway from the Mairo junction. His mind drifted back to Hadiza. She was 26, the rich graduate-daughter of a prominent man. Wasn't marrying her supposed to be a rare privilege? She had loved him, a mutual love that had predictably grew. Then out of nowhere, she begins suspecting he would take a second wife. As much as he tried to, he couldn't understand the rationale behind her suspicions.


He was thrilled, however by by the pleading tone she had used. He had never seen her melted as she had been some few minutes ago. She was a broken, defenceless lady that needed an assurance from her fears. Abu-Zaihra had once told him that women always reached a point of brokenness where they would gloat and cry until you assured them you were with them.

"She can cry for months until you assure her that her suspicions are merely fears."
"You do this every time?" Sadik had once asked him.

"Every day, man," Abu-Zaihra boasted. "That is how I have been living with my three wives. If I tell you the hell I have had in my house, you wouldn't believe it."

"You still do?" Sadik asked.

"Yes, man. I still do. But sometimes, I just ignore them. It makes them cling closer to me!"

That was four years ago when Sadik was still a bachelor. Now that Hadiza had started behaving in the way Abu-Zaihra had told him, he was sure to adapt his second strategy. Ignorance. He would leave Haidiza to gloat for weeks before assuring her her suspicions have only been fears. For now, he would watch her helpless and broken, until she longed for him.

Piiiii!!! Pi!! Pi!!!

Heh! Heh!

Innalillahi wa inna...! Kai! 

Kai, yaro! 

Kai! Kai!! 

There was a loud scream. Then silence.

People gathered around the Mitsubishi 17E Station Wagon. No one was talking, just a few low mumbles and loud sighs.

"He was smiling," someone said from behind the crowd.

"No," a little girl countered. "He was smiling widely."

Everyone turned to her. Someone said she looked liked the dead driver.

"And he was going to play tennis," the little girl added.




BIO

Kazim Shalom

KASIM Shalom is academic and creative writer, student of the Department of English and Literary Studies, Federal University Wukari, Nigeria. His poems have been published in local and international fora where he has received credit for them. An entrant of the 2020 Brunel University African Poetry Prize, he won the 2019 NSPP Excellence Award.

He freelances between reading, writing, and photography. He is a student of Wole Soyinka.






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Pawners Paper: "Hadiza" A Short Story By Kasim Shalom — Pawners Paper
"Hadiza" A Short Story By Kasim Shalom — Pawners Paper
The short story, Hadiza, presents the heroine in the states of desperation, unrest, a supposed betrayal and a pick inside the challenges faced by...
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