He sits alone in the dark, perched upon a black chair in his room, unmoving, almost robotic. His gaze is fixed upon the large wooden window that faces the house’s courtyard. The wooden frame of the window, like most in the room, has succumbed to termites’ relentless onslaught.

More than four hours have passed since he settled into this solitary vigil, yet he remains in an almost trance-like state. His eyes aimlessly wander toward the ceiling, and he can’t discern what they are truly fixed upon.

The house has fallen into slumber, with only the old clock persistently ticking away, its sounds akin to a drunkard’s stagger, yet still determined. Occasional distant sounds pierce the night, but none disturb Sanusi, for he is consumed by a message he received earlier in the evening—an unbelievable message.

“Believe it or not,” it read, “Aziza’s marriage is over…”

This statement echoes in his mind, a constant scream that paralyzes his senses, compelling him to remain in this room, immobile, struggling to come to terms with the words.

The room is suddenly illuminated, and it is his younger sister, Asma’u, standing in the doorway with her hand on the room’s electric lamp switch, peering at him in surprise.

“What’s going on?” Sanusi asks her, his voice tinged with panic. She doesn’t enter the room but instead flicks on the light.

“Why are you sitting alone in the dark like this? Why aren’t you asleep?” Asma’u inquires. Sanusi covers his face with his hand and responds bitterly, “What does it matter to you or anyone else? I don’t want to answer too many questions these days…”

Asma’u quickly apologizes, visibly intimidated, for it’s been three years since she had any dealings with her brother.

Asma’u then adds, “Samira came earlier. She said she wanted to say goodbye because she heard you’re leaving early tomorrow morning.”

Sanusi looks at his sister with a mix of surprise and anger. “So, Samira was the one who came looking for me that night?” he asks.

Asma’u nods. Sanusi falls silent, his heart pounding for a moment. Then he raises his head and says, “Tell her I have no desire to see her.”

Asma’u hastily exits the room, leaving Sanusi alone in the darkness.


Even as the room plunges back into darkness, Sanusi feels darkness lingering in his thoughts. This time, however, his movements differ from before.

Samira… he thinks to himself. She’s still there, like a witch, he mutters. Slowly, he reaches into the darkness and touches the large bag containing his essentials—clothes, shoes, watches, toiletries, toothbrush, pants, and his military service certificate.

Sanusi is eagerly anticipating the arrival of his comrades. They are all set to depart for Zaria Military Training School in Kurata the next morning. There are six of them, each with their own reasons for joining the military. Two of them simply aspire to serve, while Sanusi, among the remaining four, enlists due to a deep-seated desire to become a military ruler.

Aziza’s failed marriage has shattered his world, and tears stream down his face, a mixture of joy and sorrow. These emotions have sent him spiraling into a state of madness, and his heart travels back in time to relive a happier period.

It all began with a traditional greeting, although in the Hausa culture, serious greetings between an unmarried man and woman often hint at a deeper connection. So it was with Aziza and Sanusi—an encounter orchestrated by fate, a fate that Sanusi would later describe as harsh, because in his belief, when God slaughters the chicken of hardship, He must cook it.

But what choice did a man with only a high school education have except to attend the graduation ceremony at Bayero University? On this Saturday, eminent professors, associate professors, and other highly regarded academics gathered from 6 a.m. onwards to partake in the bik festival.

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