She is a 17-year-old girl, and her appearance clearly reflects her rural upbringing. She wears a long dress and holan, with her modern attire fitting loosely on her body. Instead of wearing tight pants, she covers her hair and secures the tails of her pants around her neck. Her face is devoid of wrinkles, but it carries a visible expression of sadness. Her life in the city feels restrictive, as her guardian, Mami, forbids her from using makeup or lipstick, believing her natural beauty is sufficient. She associates with boys, similar to her friends back in the village, as she strives to balance her life with studies, including a certificate she dislikes. Even her faith in Islam pushes her towards pursuing success in another certification.

She paused upon reaching the main hall of Mami’s house to call Aunt Asma’u, as per Mami’s instructions. However, she noticed Aunt Asma’u sitting closely with Yaya Ma’aruf, engaged in a quiet conversation. She squinted to see their faces, and to her surprise, Yaya Ma’aruf appeared relaxed, even smiling broadly, revealing his teeth. There was no visible distance between the two of them.

“Wow! They are known in the city,” she whispered under her breath. She opened her mouth to speak but abruptly stopped upon seeing Yaya Ma’aruf holding Aunt Asma’u’s hand. She quickly covered her mouth, hidden behind the heavy living room curtains, ensuring they couldn’t see her or hear her movements.

Strangely, Aunt Asma’u was laughing heartily, almost falling onto Yaya Ma’aruf’s shoulder.

Unable to contain herself, she stepped out of her hiding place. “Thank God!” she exclaimed loudly, placing her hands on her head. They looked at her in shock, but they didn’t move. Ma’aruf uttered a curse, clearly irritated by her presence. She was already retreating, but as if he anticipated her intentions, he reached out and grabbed her.

She lowered her gaze. “Please, I’m sorry! How did you know, Ma’aruf?”

“Damn it!” He stopped her by placing two fingers on her lips. He opened his eyes and stared at her with a furrowed brow. Aunt Asma’u was already getting up, adjusting her veil meticulously. Her blush was evident everywhere on her body, and she seemed to avoid any place untouched by his gaze. Yaya Ma’aruf, clearly angered, didn’t even come close to her, giving her the impression that Yaya Rufai’s punishment would have been a thousand times harsher. They were also more attentive to her situation.

His kneeling in front of her left her bewildered. One glance at his face, and she quickly shifted her gaze back to Aunt Asma’u, who was attempting to leave the hall with haste, showing signs of embarrassment, with Bintu accompanying her.

He firmly held her ear, causing her to let out a small cry, and her legs twitched as she lowered her head in pain.

“Please, forgive me, Yaya. I promise not to do it again,” she cried, her voice trembling.

“For how long have you been deceiving us?” He questioned.

She sobbed, her voice quivering, “I didn’t deceive you, Yaya. It was my mother who insisted I call Aunt Asma’u, but…”

Before she could finish her sentence, he released her ear.

“Didn’t I forbid you from swearing like this? If I hear that you’ve been swearing falsely again, I’ll discipline you. Now, open your ears and heed the warning I’m giving you.”

She looked up at him, tears in her eyes, and quickly lowered her head again, continuing to sob softly.

“Okay,” she whispered. He nodded.

“Good,” he said, standing up and returning to his chair, watching her closely.

“Come here and kneel down,” he ordered.

She obediently knelt down and replied, “Yes, Yaya.”

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