“Uncle, please don’t leave to sell your milk. Look at how Aisha is suffering from a sore throat,” the old lady said as she held a baby girl in her arms, who couldn’t have been more than three months old.

The uncle gazed silently at the old lady as she spoke. He understood the gravity of the situation. 

“Yakumbo, please postpone milking the cows. I know we need to go out and sell the milk, but Aisha is not feeling well,” the old lady pleaded.

Aisha, holding out her tiny hands, seemed to be asking for comfort.

“I don’t know Nijla’s condition, and you’re crying,” Aida said while adjusting Nijla’s support. “Get up, Aisha. The sun is scorching today, and the market is bustling. We need to be careful and not delay.”

The uncle remained silent as they walked from their village to the street, a considerable distance for him. Fortunately, luck was on their side, and they found a car waiting.

As they got into the car, the driver started the engine and collected the fare.

“Drive, and I apologize for asking for credit. Please don’t give me or Sisi just twenty naira,” the old lady said, addressing the driver. “I know you’re a Muslim, and you might ask, ‘You beggar, who do you think will pay you back?’ You’re the only support for an old man like me.”

“Don’t say such things,” the driver replied, showing understanding. “I won’t charge you for this ride.”

Just as the driver was about to speak further, the unexpected occurred. The car suddenly collided with another vehicle, causing chaos. Passengers screamed, and the scene quickly drew a crowd of onlookers. It was clear that this was not a place for ordinary passersby.

The accident was brutal, leaving only the driver alive. Nijla was in pain, and the pressure was on Aisha, who was cradling her.

The injured were rushed to the hospital, where emergency medical assistance was provided. Nijla’s cries were finally subdued by feeding her milk, but the driver was in critical condition, with injuries to his limbs.

Photos of the deceased were taken and circulated in the media as they searched for their relatives.

In another part of town, a teacher sat listening to the news on the radio. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

Dagudu, his servant, came out of the room and called out to Yakumbo, another servant. Yakumbo hurried out to answer the call.

“Master, what’s happened to you? Why are you shouting like this?” asked Yakumbo.

The teacher was unable to speak. He simply raised his hand in despair. Death had visited swiftly, and the pillar they depended on had crumbled. “Subhanallah,” the teacher muttered, “What happened? Who passed away? Tell me quickly before I lose my senses.”

“It’s my uncle, Yakumbo. My uncle has passed away,” the teacher replied with a heavy heart.

Before Yakumbo could react, Inna Baba, Aisha’s husband, entered and cried out upon hearing the news.

Together, they rushed to the hospital. There, they received the lifeless body of the uncle and Aisha, who was still nursing Nijla.

When they returned home, Aisha and her husband prayed for the departed souls. After the funeral rites, Inna held Nijla to shield her from her mother’s cries.

Aisha wept and said, “Mother, I don’t know how to take care of Nijla properly, and I see her as my uncle did. I can’t bear the thought of going out to the market, especially with her crying.”

Inna, tears in his eyes, replied, “I understand, but now I’ve lost my job, and I won’t be able to provide for both of you.”

With Nijla’s parents gone, Aisha inherited all their possessions, including the cows. She began milking them herself, and she felt closer to them with every passing day. She would often say, “Bama nijla,” meaning “I am Nijla.”

It took time, but as Nijla grew and became more independent, people in the community started to look out for her. They would come by and visit, and Abu Banda, the local religious leader, would often come to pray for her.

The teacher, although not in the best of health, continued to find ways to support them. Nijla was his only child, and he prayed that she would have a long and prosperous life.

Their life was not without its challenges, but their contentment and gratitude to God were their greatest sources of strength.

In their Fulani tradition, early marriages were common, and Nijla’s future remained uncertain.

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