He drove slowly down the road, listening to his friend, his brother, who sat in the car with him. He leaned back and shook his head, speaking calmly, “I wish you’d consider changing your mind, Ahmad. I don’t see the point in this.”

Ahmad, his friend, chuckled and replied, “Well, it means a lot to me because I love her, and I want to marry her. Captain, please put aside your skepticism and tell me what’s wrong with Maryam. Enlighten me.”

The person referred to as Captain ran his fingers through his soft hair and said, “What’s wrong, you ask?” Ahmad fixed his gaze on him, eagerly awaiting an answer. Captain continued, “I want to know why you Hausas always focus solely on matters of love. There are so many meaningful things one can contribute to the world, yet love always takes precedence. Did you know that I recently discovered, in a study, that airplane water is teeming with bacteria? Not only that, but just yesterday, I found out that…”

Ahmad interrupted him, saying, “You’re influenced by people who think like you. What you’re saying won’t add any value to people like me, honestly.” Captain turned his full attention to driving, and Ahmad said, “Every time I bring up Maryam’s name, you manage to change the subject. Why is that?”

Captain responded, “Alright, you asked me about her flaws, if I recall correctly, right?” Ahmad confirmed, “Yes, that’s right.” Captain explained, “So, you’ve heard it. First of all, she’s not sophisticated, and secondly, she lacks qualities that would make you want to stay with her. Imagine, she’s just an undergraduate. To make matters worse, she isn’t even exceptionally attractive. Consider the high-profile women you left behind in Abuja. And then, there’s her hygiene, which leaves much to be desired, to put it mildly. That’s my biggest concern.”

Ahmad was taken aback, looking at him incredulously. Initially, he had advised him not to take any action, but now he asked, “Did you do something inappropriate?” Captain stared at him and said, “Ah, you’ll find out one day.”

Ahmad shook his head and stated, “You’re being excessive, Captain. Maryam possesses the qualities I value, and that’s all that matters to me. If you don’t like something, you should just move on. Discouraging someone isn’t fair.” Captain nodded and remarked, “Fair enough. Let’s put this topic to rest.”

As they spoke, Ahmad spotted a roadside vendor selling awara (a Nigerian snack), and he quickly said, “Captain, please stop, I want to get some. I forgot to get some when it was distributed before I left for the UK.”

Captain responded, “Just because I picked you up at the train station doesn’t mean I have to chauffeur you back to Hayi.”

Ahmad countered, “You dropped me off, so you have to pick me up. You offered, after all.”

Captain sighed, “Alright, how about this: we’ll go home, and we can pick some up for you. Honestly, I don’t like your local area.”

Calmly, Ahmad replied, “Aren’t these Abuturrab people?” Captain said, “Oh, that’s not what I meant. I meant… their hygiene practices, they don’t prioritize it, you understand.”

Ahmad quipped, “You don’t need to talk about hygiene; you’re the king of cleanliness, after all. I’ll buy it myself, and it won’t affect you.”

Captain didn’t respond. Instead, he noticed a parking lot up ahead and pulled over. He said, “Well, you’ll have to get off and buy it, but honestly, Ahmad, you’re too careless. A doctor who neglects hygiene.”

Ahmad turned to him and said, “Yes, I warned you not to eat potatoes, sir. I said they sell awara and potatoes here.”

Captain questioned, “What?” Ahmad replied, “It’s not the same.” Captain, while slowly driving, muttered to himself under his breath, “Ahmad is just too local for my liking.”

Ahmad then said, “I think there’s someone over there,” pointing to a woman who appeared to be asleep.

Captain pulled the car into the parking lot and looked at the woman, who seemed irritated. Ahmad, while waiting for the awara to be prepared, said, “What’s the price of my awara, and how much is yours?” Without looking at him, she replied, “Twenty naira.”

Ahmad widened his eyes and clutched his side, exclaiming, “Oh God, it’s like we’re fighting a war! What’s the cost?” 

Captain watched them but didn’t say anything. The woman, her mood still somewhat agitated, finally looked up at Ahmad and asked, “How much do you want?”

Ahmad shrugged and said, “Just five hundred.”

She responded, “It’s not for you. I have to wait for someone else’s order to fry.”

Ahmad replied, “Well, I don’t mind waiting in the car.” He turned his head away and gazed in the opposite direction.

The woman then handed him two plates and combined the contents into one. As she handed it over, she stood up and went to her car. She returned with the open plate and handed it to Ahmad.

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