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‘If Maryam dares, I’ll kill her’ I mumbled under my breathe, rubbed my palms on my arms to heat it up and let out a shiver. 

If Maryam dares to end her marriage before I see her grandchildren, I’ll maim her, because I am in this situation of sufferness because of her wedding. I bobbed my head in the rain in affirmation of my conviction and looked on.

No car was even stopping. Imagine, stupid cars driven by undeserving people. They are not even fine cars! I hissed and looked down at my legs which were getting muddier by the minute.

That day was just unfortunate. I had dragged my last kobo,#1500 and had carried my two yam legs to the salon to stretch my hair because, team natural hair. Mama had already warned me to forget about it because the weather was unstable, one minute it will be clear, and the next it will be pregnant. But no,Amira didn’t listen, Amira had to slay.

My hair was hanging well below my shoulders after the yeye looking salon woman was done. I had already envisioned it hanging out of my gyale while I do rawan kai all over the wedding hall because the abokan ango were sure to be loaded. 

I mean his father was into oil, oily kids only hang around with fellow oily or political kids. Slayage was calling my name. And to top it all, I was going to be the MC to the event, all eyes were to be on me that night, looking drab was not even an option. 

So I had made my way against all odds because I couldn’t miss the golden chance to possibly get a good catch, they were going to be present, it was a shortcut and I was a booby trap in the making.

After my shrinkage and curls were straightened, I came out waiting for Napep without a kobo one me,I planned on asking Mama to give me the money after I reach home, like always. Story of a broke ass lady.

Imagine how my heart melted when I heard the rumble of thunder, I prayed harder than I ever had for that rain not to call but to no avail. I was scared of rains, I had rainophobia (if that’s something), the pelts of fat water felt like I was being stoned to death and I always felt claustrophobic no matter how open the space I was in. Rain suffocated me.

I had to look for a squattable tree to serve as shed as I didn’t find any building I could squat under but the rain was unrelenting. I felt every strand of my hair get wet and loose it’s strechiness until all I was left with was an empty pocket,a recently stretched hair turned kinky and a broken soul. 

Even the Napep men were running like crazy, clearly unwilling to stop, it was like they had x-rayed my wallet and had seen a fat zero.

About 5 minutes later when I had almost succumbed to the feeling of depression enveloping me, a car rolled over and stopped. The driver wound the glass down.

‘Get in’ he yelled over the rain. 

I was grateful. Even though I knew chances were he was a serial killer or kidnapper, I was still grateful. I’d take a human killing me over the rain any day and at that time, my breathing was already acting like a hormonal woman- moody.

As I stepped into the fine car (I have a soft spot for fine cars), I made up my mind that if he was a kidnapper, I’ll just tell him to kill me there. I know my Mama, she likes money too much, she won’t even listen to him not to talk of negotiating ransom, she will say she has five more kids, Allah ya sa na huta.

The man did not mind the fact that I entered the car along with enough rain water to fill a bucket and my shoes had carried almost all the mud of the world into the car, if he was a killer then he must be a nice one, and he wasn’t even bad looking. I peeked at his face again after my raspy breathing had almost returned to normal, you could even call him handsome if you are into that beardless look, I’m #beardgang forever.

‘Ina wuni’ I said after settling down. I have to showcase my tarbiya, maybe he will have mercy on me.

‘Lafiya yaya kike?’ he answered and started the engines.

‘Sorry about this’ I apologised for the mess I turned his front seat into. 

He smiled ‘No problem’.

Water was still dripping on the car seat. I resisted the strong urge to just wring my clothes in the car, he would have probably killed me early.

‘Are you from school?’ He asked maybe to break the uncomfortable silence.

‘No, the salon’ I answered.

‘Heading home?’

No I’m going to the abattoir. I thought sarcastically in my mind.

In reality, I merely nodded and gave him the address.

A few minutes later,he took a turn that was opposite mine. My heart skipped a bit. Calm down Amirah, I comforted myself, maybe he doesn’t know the way.

‘Ermm that’s not the turn. It’s the other way’.

‘Yes I know I just want to drop something at my sisters house. Sorry’.

I swallowed hard and let him drive on but a voice at the back of my mind was cautioning me that that’s how they deceive there victims. The moment he started taking some weird turns and going through some lungus,I knew I was in trouble. Just last month my best friend had been almost kidnapped, I never knew I was next…. this life!

‘Maybe you should just drop me here, the rain has even stopped’ my voice was obviously shaking and I could barely hear it over the sound of my heart beating 150km/minute. If I’m extremely lucky, a heart attack will kill me before he did. 

My fear was not of being murdered or kidnapped, it was of being raped. Dama Mama had warned me of the growing rate of ritualists disguised as kidnappers in Kaduna but did Amira listen? No. Now I am riding in a car with one, live and direct. Maybe the fine car was somebody’s destiny, or worse, blood money.

I tried to open the door but it was locked.

‘What are you doing?’ He asked with a frown.

‘Mallam dan Allah drop me here. I’m sorry for getting in the car. Wallahi my parents are not rich. You won’t even get anything from them’.

The problem with me is that I have a big, fat mouth but my panic always grows at an exponential rate so that the more I panic, the more I lose my wit and do something stupid. I didn’t even know tears were falling from my eyes.

‘Who told you I am trying to kidnap you?’

‘Mallam the nooks you are entering ai mun kusa barin Kaduna. You can kill me but please don’t destroy my dignity. Or please don’t even kill me’. I begged as a second thought. Call him Mallam, he might remember God and let you go.

At that point, I realised that I was scared of dying just as bad. Was I even ready to face God?

‘Look Mallama I was just trying to help you because I found you stranded in the rain. Ke ba ‘yar gidan Alhaji Zubair bace?’.

He even knew my fathers name. Maybe this was all planned. Maybe he had been stalking me.

He had probably noticed that my panic had renewed because he said ”Look maybe you don’t recognise me because you were younger when we last met, I am Anty Hassana’s brother and her daughter is getting married today. I just got some souvenirs and I am trying to take it there on time so that they can arrange it before the dinner then I’ll take you home’.

Then came a new rain, it wasn’t in it’s physical form, it was in the form of lasers of embarrassment. The kunya I felt could not be described. And it was after he said it that I recognized him. It wasn’t my fault, I hadn’t seen him in over ten years and the rate of kidnapping was enough to make me reach that conclusion. 

‘Then why are you following lungu?’ I asked in a small voice.

‘It’s a shortcut’. He answered, he sounded amused. Dafuq was he amused at?

‘Aw’ I mumbled. By the time we arrived Anty Hassana’s house, he was already laughing at me much to my chagrin. He didn’t even have the decency to pretend it wasn’t funny that I had made a complete fool of myself.

You know the worst part? It was the same wedding I was hosting and he attended the dinner. 

Throughout the wedding I was as uncomfortable as one with a diaper filled with poop because he was just staring at me and laughing. 

Did I slay? I didn’t even apply makeup oily children be damned. But I tried my best as a host despite the embarrassment eating me whole.

Bashir still never misses an opportunity to remind me of that incidence, and it still isn’t funny. 

He says ‘At least we have a story to tell the grandkids’.

‘The day you tell the grandkids will be the day you look for a new grandmother for them’. I always reply.

‘Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the most beautiful of them all?’ But she knew the answer. Jamila was still the most beautiful of them all.

She dipped her fingers inside the jar and lathered on more cream. Maybe if she was lighter skinned, it wouldn’t be Jamila. Maybe if she exercises more it wouldn’t be Jamila, maybe if her hair was to grow longer, it wouldn’t be Jamila. Because Jamila’s beauty was swaying even her boyfriend and she was not having any of it.

But she couldn’t fault her best friend for being so naturally Masha Allah. She could only just admire too. Jamila always had men on her heels. Her aura and looks drew men to her and made women envy her. 

‘They must wonder why Jamila is even friends with me’ she muttered to herself. ‘With this ugly duckling’.

She wasn’t mad at Jamila for getting her boyfriends attention, she had caught him stare in wonder at Jamila many times and she had been silently miffed. But she wanted to keep being friends with Jamila, she at least got some male attention when Jamila was around even if it was vicarious. Besides she didn’t want to see her best friend mad.

But he was going to have it because she had had enough, the fact that they were flirting on the phone was beyond keeping mum.

Jamila was about to come. She didn’t tell her mother this time because the last time her mother saw Jamila, she had a scared and confused look in her eyes. She reapplied the lipstick and patted some powder on it to give it a matte finish, it was too glossy. She wanted to look beautiful, her boyfriend was coming soon and Jamila was almost there… and still a threat.

She saw Jamila through the mirror. She looked beautiful as always. She was wearing makeup too but she would have looked great even without any. She smiled a bit.

‘How far?’ She asked.

Jamila replied from behind the mirror ‘I’m good. Is Le Hub in the waiting here yet?’ 

Jannah pressed her lips together in annoyance. She didn’t like the way Jamila acted as if he was dating them both, but she didn’t like the way Abdul was responding even more… she had read their chats.

Jamila smirked, as if she could read her mind. But maybe she could, Jannah wouldn’t put anything past Jamila.

As if on cue, her phone rang, it was Abdul. 

‘Le Hub is here’ Jamila chirped in delight and Jannah’s frown deepened. She snatched her veil and went out.

‘Hi’ Abdul said with a smile once she settled in the car.

Jannah didn’t respond. She just folded her arms and stared out through the window. She was so angry but she was a chicken. She couldn’t stand confrontation and that was why she avoided talking to bold Jannah about it. 

And for all the fuming she was doing she was loosing the steam now that she was near Abdul.

‘Hey, what’s wrong?’ Abdul asked a frown etched on his face. He should have been used to her mood swings but he still worried when she suddenly turned from cold to loving and from prudish to flirty.

She simply shook her head, then some seconds later as if as an afterthought, she turned face on and started 

‘ Why would you do that Abdul?’

He kept silent, he was trying to think up what he did that was wrong and at the same time trying to see where she was heading to.

‘I know I’m not particularly pretty or anything but you said you loved me, you chased me until I practically handed you my heart and now you are going behind my back flirting with my best friend? Why?’

‘Jannah what are you talking about?’ He asked perplexed. But he couldn’t fool her, in the seconds he was silent she had seen the guilt fleet through his eyes.

She laughed bitterly ‘ And here I was thinking you are the two people I trust most’.

‘What are you saying? Are you okay? Is this some joke or a test? Because it’s not funny’. Abdul cried. She wasn’t listening.

‘No don’t’ she stopped him with her palms. ‘Don’t even, because I saw your text messages and you were flirting with her. You were flirting with Jamila and you were even telling her how beautiful she is…’ she chocked on the tears and words both fighting to come out of her throat. She was furious and depleted at the same time. Couldn’t she have one thing of her own.

Abdul’s eyes were wide. He looked confused and scared. 

‘But that was you. What are you saying. You called me with that number months ago and I saved it and we chatted occasionally on it from that time, I had no idea it wasn’t your number’.

‘You are lying you double timing…’ she couldn’t say bastard. She wanted so bad to call him a bastard but she couldn’t. ‘You were calling her name you were saying Jamila, you were saying you even preferred her to me how could you’.

‘I thought’ he started then stopped ‘I thought it was an act. You said you are Jamila and I said you are because you deserve that name and you even sent me a picture, your picture! The voice notes were your voice. But’ he lowered his voice ‘but you were different’. He kept quiet and really studied her as she furiously went through her phone and shoved it in his face.

‘I have screenshots of your messages and this, this is Jamila’s picture’. 

Abdul didn’t say anything. He couldn’t. She was right, he had been chatting with Jamila. He had been dating two people; Jiddah and Jamila, and he didn’t even know it.

She scoffed bitterly and shook her head.

‘Cat got your tongue? You never thought I’ll find out did you?’

‘No’ he said with a small smile, ‘I never did’.

She looked through the side mirror and scorned. ‘Here comes your beauty queen’. 

And he looked too, and he did see Jamila, the same Jamila he saw on Jannah’s phone. And he must admit, the confidence, the poise, the aura, it was Jamila, but the person, it was all Jannah.

He never knew he’d be with one much less be so close as to contemplate marrying one but his girlfriend, his Jannah, his Jamila had split personality, like that movie Split. She had, he racked his brain to remember the disorder, ‘ Dissociative Identity Disorder’. She was two in order and only Allah knows how many more resided in her.

Jannah left Abdul and went back home. He had admitted and she couldn’t decide whether to break it with him or… it was all so confusing. She needed time to think things through. And Jamila; she had apologized and promised to stop talking to him but she couldn’t be so foolish as to believe.

She stood before the mirror clutching a hairbrush and asked softly like she’d always done since she was a teen when being bullied about her body image almost drove her mad, she whispered ‘Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the most beautiful of them all’.

And amidst the tears shading her eyes-she could see clearly through the mirror- Jamila looking back, a smug smile splayed on her face.