*Misau Town in Bauchi State*

She sat on a small chair, similar to those commonly used by women in their homes. The way she anxiously fiddled with the end of Tagumi’s father’s shawl in front of her was a clear indication of her worry. Her thoughts carried her far away, deep in contemplation.

Then, he emerged from the shadows, standing at the doorway. He was in the midst of performing his ablutions. To her surprise, this devout lady named Bilkisu had not moved from where she sat under her veil.

With great care, he unbuttoned his shirt cuffs before picking up his toothbrush and placing it in his mouth, all the while taking in how she sat there.

“Bilkisu…!” He called out, but silence met his first inquiry. Undeterred, he raised his voice and called out once more, “Bilkisu…!”

Finally, she heard his call. Saida released a sigh of relief, unclenching her fists. She responded, “Malam, did it come down from the mosque?”

Upon her query, he did not laugh, but rather he spoke with a solemn tone, “Perform your ablution and pray. When I return, we shall discuss your matter. I swear, I do not permit you to go to the barracks in search of your son. This is the path he has chosen for himself. He sees no honor in his own family. I am certain that one day he will seek us out if you refrain from searching for him.”

They both remained silent for a moment, but a loud voice interrupted their conversation. The voice belonged to someone who appeared to be aggrieved, saying, “Sir, it’s not my son’s fault that his wretched wife has come between us. I know he wants to come home, but he can’t because she’s keeping him away. She doesn’t want him to have any contact with his family. The women in the barracks are more venomous than snakes. Sir, please grant me permission to go out and look for him. It has been nearly a year since we last saw him.”

Malam Siru appeared contemplative, offering a brief smile before shaking his head. He responded, “This is the way of mothers; they would do anything for their children and blame others’ children while sparing their own. Do you even know the name of his wife? Do you know how the marriage was arranged or who acted as his agent? You all are unaware. One day, he entered the courtyard and announced that he was married. He didn’t even marry her properly. None of us were invited. It’s his fate. Since he finished his studies, he matured into a man, stood on his own two feet, and made his own choices. I must accept your points. Do not dare to search for him. He’s responsible for the choice he’s made in his life. My mistake was granting him too many privileges. He excelled in his studies since primary school. Remember, I even sold my farm and family heirlooms to provide for this child. But for what he’s done to me, I won’t forget the importance of my inheritance. Of course, I understand your words, Mr. Dalha. He’s just a child, and he’s not like that. He’s grown up the way you raised him. He didn’t realize this growing up. That’s why he felt the burden and told his parents. It’s been tough for him since I encouraged him to study abroad and pursue his dreams. There’s nothing for him here, and he’ll return to the village eventually. I’ve made peace with it, and I advise you to remove the thought of him from your heart because that would be the hardest for you. Let’s focus on the kingdom of God. His life is of his own choosing, and no matter how he came here, it’s his destiny in his own homeland. I’ll head to the mosque and inquire with the imam. There’s no need for you to come with me.”

She sat there for a while, pondering her options. Then, as she heard the call for the third unit of prayer from the mosque, she mumbled to herself with a sense of relief, believing that a solution had been found, and that she wouldn’t need to follow Malam. She set her gaze ahead, her mind finally at ease.

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