For the longest time, Binta kept silent… not sure what to say. What could she say at this time? So, it was true. Aunt Aisha hadn’t exaggerated it. Amira was getting married! Married! At 19? Just like that, a chill began in her bones slowly spreading itself throughout her entire body and Binta’s hands began to shake as the memories came flooding in… The night her mother broke the news… her ignored pleas… the nights that she had spent contemplating suicide… the marriage. The more she recalled, the more she withdrew into herself until she heard Amira’s calls faintly intruding her thoughts. ‘Binta Yaayaa! Yaayaa! Yaayaa, are you alright? Please, say something so I know you’re alright.’
‘Kanuwaa, I… I… I’ll call you later. Please, let’s talk later.’ She managed to utter before she cut the call and bent over in tears. As soon as the dam was opened, there was no going back. Phone forgotten, she managed to lead herself up the stairs to her room before she broke down behind the closed doors. How did she not see this coming? How?
Amira tried her number again for about the tenth time. As usual, it rang until it stopped and Binta still wasn’t picking up. I hope she’s okay. Allah, I hope all is well. she thought. No matter what, she couldn’t shake off the guilt that was eating at her soul. It was her fault, wasn’t it? She had kept this away from Yaayaa knowing what it would come to. It would be so easy to blame Aunty Aisha and her big mouth but the news could have come from anyone. After all, the families had started visiting each other about a month back and word was getting out that a bond was beginning to form between them.
Thinking about it all, Amira groaned. She had pictured this day countless times, wondering how to tell her big sister that she was getting married at 19 after all the plans, the set goals, her dreams, everything. She could still remember those nights before Yaayaa was married off to Hassan..how her elder sister had cried herself to sleep in her arms, lamenting over all her wasted effort in school being a top scholar; only to graduate and be pushed into a man’s house. Hadn’t she promised Yaayaa that she would make it all up with her life? She had promised Binta Yaayaa that she would never let Maman and Baba do the same thing to her yet here she was today.
The more she thought about it, the more her worries multiplied. How was Yaayaa really taking this? Was she alright? She wasn’t picking up and she wasn’t replying messages. When it got to 6pm and there was no word from her, Amira began to contemplate stooping to her last resort – calling Hassan and risking getting on her Yaayaa’s even darker side. She couldn’t see any other way to make sure that she was alright so she made the dreaded call before she could talk herself out of it
‘Kanwar mata na! Wow. Amira, Amira! To what do I owe this wonderful August call?’ Amira couldn’t help but smile as she in response to the laughter and warmth in his voice. ‘Haba, Suruki. I’m not that bad now.’ She countered, knowing that she was indeed worse. ‘Oh, so I’m your brother-in-law now eh? The same one that you haven’t checked on in more than how many months?’ ‘Eh, Eh… It’s not like that now. You know how it is.’ ‘Yea, yea. I’m sure it’s not.’ Hassan said, obviously waiting for the reason behind her call. Knowing that she had no other option, Amira continued. ‘Suruki, I… I need a favour. Please…’ ‘Done. Just tell me and if I can, I will get it done.’
Hearing the confidence in his voice, Amira was hopeful but still, she couldn’t shake off the feeling that she was betraying her Yaayaa in no small way so she hesitated. Hassan must’ve noticed because he took a deep breath before gently prodding her. ‘Amira. Menene? Come on, you can talk to me.’ ‘Suruki, when will you be home?’ ‘Mmmn. Well, I’m just about done and I should be leaving here soon. Why?’ ‘It’s… It’s Yaayaa. We had a little thing… this afternoon and she was a bit upset when she cut the call. Err… Can you check on her for me please?’
‘Is that all?’ ‘Ai, Suruki. I’m just worried.’ ‘Okay. I’ll leave for home right now.’ ‘Alright. I’ll feel better.’ ‘Amira?’ ‘Eh?’ ‘It’s not that serious, is it? Should I be worried?’ ‘A-a, Suruki. It’s just sister troubles.’ Amira lied. ‘It’s alright. In sha’ Allah, I’m sure everything will be fine okay?’ ‘Eh! Na gode Suruki. Thank you very much.’ ‘You can call me anytime, Amira. Do you hear me? Anytime.’ ‘Eh. Thank you.’
As soon as she dropped the call, Amira buried her face in her hands. What had she done? Had she just made things worse for herself? Or worse, for Hassan and Yaayaa?
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