“I didn’t say you’re bad, not at all. It’s just a matter of making the right choice. That’s all. I care about you and can distinguish between lies and truth.”

The two girls exchanged glances for a moment. Then the older woman, Asma’u, looked at her younger friend, Rabi’atu, and said, “What do you mean, Asma’u? What about me? I don’t quite understand this criticism of yours. I don’t know what Imran did to make you dislike him.”

“No one else, Rabi’atu, this year, it’s his love. All I want is for you to understand that I love you. He’s not as good for you as what I have in mind. You’ve been my dear friend since childhood, and I only wish to advise you to follow what I believe is right for you. It’s for your own benefit. I forbid you from doing anything that I believe might harm you.”

Asma’u fell silent, catching her breath, and then looked at Rabi’atu, who said, “Now you’re waiting for Imran to finish school so he can marry you? He’s just a student, still as young as these boys. Are you going to be patient, waiting for him even after he completes his studies? What do you mean?”

Asma’u gazed at Rabi’atu and then shook her head with concern. “Rabi’atu, I want you to understand that if there’s no other solution, then I’ll wait for him until he finishes because he’s everything to me. I don’t think I can live with anyone else, man, but him. I believe that’s what you want too, and I’m sure he loves you too, with God as our witness.”

“You’re putting me in an awkward position,” Asma’u continued. “But you have a job; you have to keep waiting for him. See if you can endure it. If you falter again, it’s goodbye. When he finishes school and marries someone else from here, you’ll have to bear the consequences. If you refuse to accept that you can’t live with anyone but him, what will you do if he dies?”

“He won’t die, Asma’u. You’re more than enough. What kind of talk is that? I’d rather die alongside him,” Rabi’atu replied confidently.

Asma’u chuckled, and the two friends continued their conversation. “Yes, you’re even willing to protect someone else,” Asma’u said with a smile.

“Well, it’s all in good spirits. You’re often headstrong, but I’m not surprised by what you said about Imran’s character. It’s like chewing gum; once you’re stuck with someone, you’re constantly wrestling with him. Greetings, and you refuse to give up.”

“Are you talking about Abdul?” Rabi’atu asked.

“Can’t you even say his name? It seems like you’re intentionally trying to humiliate him because of Imran.”

“I assure you, I didn’t mean to humiliate him at all. By God, Asma’u, you’re filled with malice.”

“Oh, come on! If it’s true, and he comes today, take care of him like everyone else.”

Asma’u fell silent for a moment, suppressing a hidden sneeze, before speaking again. “Rabi’atu, you should consider finding a balance between Imran and Abdul. I’ve told you many times that Abdul wants to marry you. Although his demeanor isn’t the best, he has hope because I’m confident he’ll soon be leaving for the city in four months. But you’re still fixated on Imran. Wait, Warabuka said the teacher turned down farming for tithes. By Allah, Rabi’atu, it’s all up to you. No one else is there to make this decision for you. I love you both and want you to marry the one who’s truly suitable for you. You might not realize it, but I just think Abdul is a better fit for you.”

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