Ramadan Sacrifices

Ramadan Sacrifices

Safiyya was in the middle of making her bed when her phone rang. It was her friend Hamra calling.

After she picked, she was greeted with Hamra’s chirpy voice yelling, “Amaryaaaa!”

Safiyya laughed and replied, “Hamra you’ll never change. How are you?”

“I’m good o, ya preparations for Ramadan? Hope you are ready to go all out, as per the first Ramadan in Habibi’s house!”

“Ahn Ahn.” Safiyya chuckled, “Which one is that one? Abeg o.”

“Please don’t tell me za a barki a baya? This is the time to step up your game o. Kill him with dishes. All those chicken escalopes, su naan bread, you know now, all your mede-mede food.”

At this point Safiyya was about to die of laughter, “Hamra doesn’t kill me, please. Where do you get all these ideas from?”

“Ahap. Stay there and be dulling. Better shine your eyes.”

Just then Safiyya heard her husband’s voice from the sitting room and she said, “I’ll call you back Hamra, Salim is back.”

Ah toh amarya, go and attend to your husband, we’ll talk later.”

Later at night, Safiyya could not stop thinking about what her friend said; she needed to go all out.

She started by writing down all the plans she had and the meals she would make but her biggest goal was completing the Qur’an in the holy month.

At the end of the night, she had everything mapped out and she could not wait for Ramadan to start.

It is now the 10th day of Ramadan and the number of dishes that were waiting for Safiyya in the sink had triggered the tears in her eyes.

She sat on one of the kitchen stools and let the tears flow.

“Babe?” Salim peeped into the kitchen but stopped dead in his tracks when he noticed she was crying.

“What’s wrong?” he asked rushing to her side.

Safiyya shook her head.

“Then why are you crying? What happened?”

“I’m just tired and stressed out and then look at all the dishes I have to do, I’m sure I would not be able to make it in time for Taraweeh and this is the fifth one I am missing and before you know it, it’ll be time for sahoor and I’ll be too tired to say my night prayers and I’m just exhausted.”

Salim let out a sigh and held her hand, “This is because you are taking in too much at a time. You know you do not have to cook like seven meals yeah?”

Safiyya raised her head in shock, “But I thought you wanted…”

“It does not matter, even if it’s a cup of water from you, it’s perfect. You really should not stress yourself going all out with so many meals. It’ll give you less time for ibadah and anytime you feel tired or like you are missing out on valuable time for ibadah, remember that feeding a fasting person has great rewards and there’s nothing I appreciate more than your strength and commitment and the sacrifices you make just to put a smile on my face; trust me, there is no greater reward than that.”

When she remembered his face at every iftar and sahoor, it was enough to clear away all the tiredness she was feeling and then she realized, the reward she was getting was all that mattered and there was no bigger and better sacrifice than this.

So she smiled.

“Now that’s more like it.” Salim said, “Come on, let’s do these dishes.”

Ramadan Sacrifices

It’s Not All Roses

“What do you mean you can’t find her?!” Suraiya asked, panic written all over her face.

Her aunt, Zainab rocked the baby trying to pacify him as they thought about where his mother had disappeared to.

“I came in after praying Subh to check up on her and I met the room empty with the baby sleeping on the bed, I thought she was in the bathroom but after waiting several minutes and knocking without any answer, I opened the door and she wasn’t inside.”

Suraiya listened to her aunt, her brain trying to pick up where her sister had gone to.

“Maybe she went for a walk? have you tried call…” Suraiya paused when she noticed her sister’s phone lying carelessly on the bed.

How were they going to find her now???

“Your sister is very unserious. how would you leave your baby unattended and go somewhere else?? kai Allah Ya shirya, this is a result of ……”

“Anty Zeeeeee.” Suraiya cut her off before she went into full-blown ‘aunty mode’ “now is not the time for all this, let’s worry about finding her first okay?”

Her aunt scoffed, muttering some words under her breath.

Suraiya didn’t care to listen as she stalked off to find her brother-in-law.

Suraiya was not surprised about Muraiya missing ever since she noticed the kind of atmosphere at her sister’s house.

The look of excitement, glee and happiness that normally accompanied the faces of new mothers was nowhere to be found on her sister’s, Muraiya.

Her mother, aunts and everyone were oblivious to it but she knew her sister, more than anyone.

Something was up.

She didn’t miss the blank expressions as aunt after aunt fussed over what and what should be done.

“Don’t sit like that”

“You don’t hold a baby that way?”

“Have you fed him?”

Muraiya shrugged or nodded to the instructions and didn’t say a word.

It was strange, Muraiya was a chatterbox, hardly ever kept shut no matter what.

Taking advantage of the now almost-empty room when everyone left to let the mother take a nap, Suraiya moved closer to her sister.

“Are you alright?” She asked, her voice laced with concern.

“Yes Adda, I’m fine,” Muraiya replied, pulling the blanket up to her chin. “Just want to close my eyes for a bit.”

Suraiya sensed she was trying to avoid a conversation so she let her be and exited the room.

Sleep was the last thing on Muraiya’s mind as the tears dropped, she could not describe the feeling in her heart at the moment.

She knew no one would understand her; heck even she did not understand what was going on with her.

The knock on the door made her hold her breath, she didn’t want anyone to see her like this so she pretended to be asleep.

The rasasi perfume was enough to tell her who it was, and he was the last person she wanted to see.

He put her in this predicament.

Aliyu walked in, his expression suddenly turned into that of disappointment when he called her name and she didn’t answer.

He could see right through her pretence; Muraiya was a light sleeper, a whisper from him was enough for her to wake up.

Sitting down on the couch beside the bed, he let out a sigh.

These past few days was one he fought to understand, his wife had gone from yay to meh, he could count how many times he had seen her smile or laugh.

At first, he dismissed it as pregnancy stress but then even after the baby had arrived, nothing changed.

In fact, she had gotten worse.

He had asked her several times about it but all she gave him was “nothing, I’m fine.”

Any discussion about the baby was met with monosyllabic responses; she wouldn’t even decide on a name, instead, she told him to go with whatever he wanted.

That was not how their marriage had been, it was always teamwork, a “we” thing.

As he watched the two most important people in his life, his heart filled with worry but most of all, he was afraid, he was losing his wife and he had no idea what to do.

Three hours later and still Muraiya was nowhere to be found, everyone was now in a state of worry.

“But where would she have gone to?” one of her aunts asked no one in particular.

“What do you expect from these new generation kids?!” another aunt cut in, “they think the whole world revolves around them and they just act anyhow.”

Suraiya rolled her eyes, all she cared about now as if her sister was okay, there was more to this.

Just then, a location popped up in her head and she immediately got up, making some excuse about going to the bathroom.

If her hunch was correct, she wanted to speak to her sister alone first before anyone, the last thing Muraiya needed was everyone’s scolding.

And just like she predicted, she found her in the storage closet, sitting with her back against the wall and a blank expression on her face.

“Murrsss.” she called softly.

She didn’t answer and just hugged her knees to her chest.

Suraiya rushed to her side and held her, “Mursss habibty. What’s wrong? why are you sitting here?”

“Adda, i-i…” Muraiya couldn’t hold it in any longer and she burst into tears.

She had cried so much, her head hurt. There was this overwhelming feeling in her heart she couldn’t control as she held her sister.

“You’ll be fine, Murss, you’ll be fine. cry it out, I’m here for you okay?”

Suraiya wanted to know what had gotten her sister this way so she dialled her brother-in-law.

His wife needed help ASAP.

Aliyu and Suraiya managed to get Muraiya safely to the hospital with the help of their mother who came up with a story to disperse the crowd.

There was this air of relief when the doctor told them it was not a major issue.

“Your wife is going through Postpartum Depression.” he explained, “also known as Postnatal Depression or Baby Blues. These are feelings of sadness that you may have in the first few days after having a baby and it can last for at least up to two weeks and doesn’t require any medical treatment. All that’s required of her right now is lots of rest and assurance.” he turned to face Aliyu, “Most especially from you her partner, let her know she’s not alone in all of this, she needs all emotional support she can get.”

“In sha Allah, I’ll do that. thank you, doctor,” he said stretching his hand out for a handshake.

“No problem. she can go home, and you can keep me updated on any other thing,” he said and left the room.

“I had a feeling that was what was going on,” Suraiya said. “I just wanted to be sure.”

“Well at least, we know what’s wrong now and I’m going to try my best to make her feel better. In sha Allah.”

Suraiya smiled. She knew he meant every word he said. Aliyu loved her sister so much and it was evident, in his eyes, the way he treated her, it was lovely to watch.

She was happy her sister had a supportive spouse and she said a little prayer for them.

“I think I should head home now,” she suggested.

“So I can inform them about what’s going on and also check on the baby before you guys get back?”

“Thank you so much, I appreciate it.”

“Anything for you both, just take care of my Murrs.” she opened the door to leave and then paused. “I’ll clear everyone out before you get back.”

He nodded, as she closed the door and moved closer to his wife.

His poor baby, she looked so tired even while asleep.

Just as he touched her face, she stirred and opened her eyes.

“What happened?” she croaked, struggling to get up.

He gently put his hands on her shoulder, holding her down, “Relax babes. you’re okay, you just blacked out.”

“I’m sorry Al. I’m sorry, I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I don’t even know how to describe how I feel, I’m just physically and mentally exhausted, everything is just…”

He reached out for her hands, “Babes. you don’t need to apologize okay? it’s not your fault you feel this way. Your feelings are valid, you just had a baby and it’s taking a toll on you, you’re new to this so it’s bound to happen, what I need from you right now is to trust me, we’re in this together, whatever it is, it’s we thing, we’ll go through it together, hundred per cent.”

Muraiya gave him the biggest grin she could afford at the moment, thanking the lord silently for giving her a husband as wonderful as Aliyu.

He made everything better and right now all she wanted was to be in his warm embrace so she pulled him towards her and he held her tight, his signature Rasasi perfume greeting her nose.

“Let’s go home,” she whispered in his ear and he kissed her cheek, knowing home was nothing without her.

Back home, Aliyu was grateful to Suraiya as she had kept her word about clearing everyone out.

The house was now quiet, the scent of bakhoor all over.

Suraiya handed the baby to Aliyu and moved to her sister.

“I’ve explained everything to mama, you don’t need to come back home for any 40 days of wahala, just stay here and take care of yourself, Anty Safiyya would be coming here tomorrow to help with the bathing and all, she doesn’t have any issues, Alhamdullilah. Promise me you’ll get lots of rest, and listen to Aliyu and Anty Safiyya.”

“Thank you, Adda Am.”

“You’re welcome, lil sis. Now I have to go, Khalid is waiting outside for me. bye.” She blew her a kiss and left.

Muraiya sat down on the bed as Aliyu placed the baby in her arms.

She looked at their bundle of joy and a tear escaped her eye.

He was a beautiful baby, a product of their love and she was going to fight those feelings just for him.

“Ahmad.” She said looking up at Aliyu. “It’s the perfect pick.”

“Then Ahmad it is, milady,” Aliyu replied with a mock salute and Muraiya burst into fits of laughter.

That was what she had always prayed for.

Happiness, love and laughter.

It’s Not All About the Grades

It’s Not All About the Grades

“When I was your age, I was taking the first position in class” Is a sentence we’ve heard from almost every parent and has gone on to build a lot of pressure on every child.

The only thing we were pushed to was to get good grades, pass our exams and ignore everything else.

Yes, being a straight-A student has its perks but then again, what happens to others who are not book smart but rather have the talent to be great at other things?

Schools have been known to place more emphasis on classroom happenings and little or no attention to extracurricular activities.

Speaking from the diary of someone who didn’t know what she wanted, went from wanting to be a teacher to an engineer to an architect and to a doctor all because I thought it was what I should be.

it was a struggle to find something you wanted to be within the doctrines of acceptability which was what your parents thought was the best for you.

Nothing else was acceptable.

Students with potential in other aspects of life aside from academics are mostly shut down and told to focus more on their books so they could go to good universities and have a great career.

But what is a great career?

Generally, to most parents, it involves sitting behind a desk at a law firm or a bank or rounds in a hospital.

It has always been these choices for them; lawyer, doctor, engineer or banker.

Nonetheless, these are wonderful careers but then again imagine a child who is passionate about football and would have been the heir to Messi and Ronaldo’s throne stuck in a bank because no one believed or gave them a platform to showcase what they’ve got.

I figured out a passion for writing at a very young age but I was always afraid to put out my stories or thoughts out there because it was not the norm and what was I going to do as a writer when the expectation was a 9-5 job?

With the way the world is moving, it seems there’s more to it than a 9-5.

I feel it children should be allowed to explore their talents because there’s more to life than good grades and you can be anything asides from doctors, lawyers and engineers.

The rate of unemployment is high because everyone thinks a white-collar job is the pinnacle of success. The opportunities in the creative world are endless.

We have to break barriers and make sacrifices for the upcoming generation.

The system has to start accommodating more artists, writers, gamers, tech gurus, footballers etc.

Take a look at Khaby Lame, making a fortune on tik tok without saying any word.

Let’s catch them young, give them the right platforms and the necessary support.

No talent or skill should be underrated or swept under the carpet.