FULANI Complete Document Written By Khadeeja Candy


Falmata’s Perspective


Amidst the vigorous struggle to hoist the kite with waning strength, weariness and an insistent hunger gnawed at me, courtesy of my relentless father who put me on the forefront. I was brimming with dedication.

Finishing up with the surfing gear, I poured water into the adjacent container, intending to join the other surfers. Balancing the surfboard, I made my way towards the heated water.

“Well, little one, didn’t I tell you to fetch water from the Bohal when you’re done surfing? How many times must Fulani scold you?” Tumba’s voice cut through the difficulty, and Falmata, feeling as though the weight of the world had descended upon her, met her gaze.

“Mama, I’ll go get some once I’m done, I promise.”

“I don’t believe you. Go and start fetching it and do whatever else you need to do. This water you’re fetching is for work. I won’t waste it on useless surfing.”

Without another word, she headed towards the tall tree, retrieved the surfboard, then grabbed a sizable bucket and marched towards the exit. A respectful farewell escaped her lips, customary when leaving her parents’ presence. Upon reaching the Bohal, she scanned for a spot amidst the throng of people, young and old. Moving to the side, she gathered her garment, resembling a diligent worker preparing for the day’s toil.

Her composed demeanor stood out, and as she approached the tap to draw water, Tumba stood nearby, seemingly disapproving of her presence.

“Falmata, bring me a bucket,” Khadija’s friend instructed, not noticing Falmata. Swiftly, she reached Khadija, who stood holding her phone, and handed her the bucket.

“Thank you, my dear.”

“Don’t worry, you won’t lose anything where we are, my dear,” Falmata assured, prompting a raised eyebrow from Khadija. A smile graced Falmata’s face, highlighting her white teeth against her glistening black skin.

“Aren’t you going to the King’s house today? You’re the one cleaning the rooms for the three of them, right?” Khadija asked, her voice louder, causing the people nearby to take notice. Falmata, feeling embarrassed, averted her gaze, sensing a wave of humiliation wash over her.

“I’m going. I’ll be back tomorrow.”

She replied, the words spilling from her lips as though coerced, feeling utterly ashamed. As she filled the bucket to the brim, she heard a sharp hiss.

“Tsk, Falmata, you’re avoiding me, I’ve been trying to call you and you’re not picking up.”

It had become a ritual for her to lift her face, offering a smile, before speaking in her melodious, soothing voice.

“Khadija, I feel ashamed.”

Khadija regarded her with a quizzical expression.

“Ashamed of what? Your job at the King’s house? God forbid, Falmata, may He take us far from where we’ve started.”

Falmata’s laughter was silent this time, amused by her friend’s situation. In that moment, it felt like a joke, one that only she, not Khadija, could make.

“Well, it seems I’ve been at the job for a while now, or at least it feels like I’ve been there for ages. This time is my third shift, and I’ve seen…”

She trailed off, her expression betraying her concern, as various emotions played across her face.

“What’s wrong?”

Falmata studied Khadija, who returned her gaze.

“I feel like they don’t trust me…”

Khadija’s face registered surprise.

“I don’t understand.”

“You see, even though I’ve been hired, I haven’t even met the children yet. I’ve set up their room, but if I’m there to clean, they have to assign a chaperone to monitor me until I finish.”

“Are they hostile?”

“Not yet. I haven’t witnessed any hostility within the family, but it appears that they have difficulty trusting anyone.”

Khadija placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“Don’t worry, those in the palace are slow to trust, but they’ll soon see the worth of a good-hearted soul and trust you.”

Falmata chuckled, a smile lighting up her face.

“Amen to that. And let me tell you, it’s not just because of Tumba’s dark schemes that I work. I won’t squander everything I earn. I’ll hide half of my salary. Do you think I’ll dare let her find out? I’d sooner throw this food away, by God.”

Even Khadija’s expression hinted at being on the same page as Falmata, given her stepmother Tumba’s nature. Only God knew what plans she had in store for Falmata.

“My father said if I don’t pay her, he won’t forgive me. Even if she doesn’t know the job’s worth, I won’t waste it on her. And she already knows, if I stop her, she’ll beat me. Even Dad himself might. I have no freedom in this house, Khadija, you know.”

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