She raced through the swiftly rising water, desperate to reach home before darkness fell. Despite her tender age, no more than fourteen or fifteen, she had become accustomed to these sudden downpours – today was not the first, and it wouldn’t be the last. Still, the sticks and debris in the water always unnerved her, leaving her feeling sick, but that wouldn’t stop her from venturing out again if another deluge struck. Outside a shop, some adults sought shelter and urged her to join them, but she simply glanced at them and continued her frantic dash through the water.

Strangely, she preferred the water splashing against her face to the beatings inflicted by Iya Lami’s wrath. Each stick that struck her back and legs left its mark, and she dreaded the punishment she would receive at home.

As she ran, her shoes gave way, and she knelt down to remove them, clutching them in her hand as she continued her sprint. Upon reaching her house’s entrance hall, she found Lami’s mother tending to a fire. She glanced at the girl, which made the child shiver. The girl quickly explained, “By God, I tried to come back earlier, but the rain started.”

Shivering with cold, her teeth chattering, she held out her soaked clothes. “Give me,” the woman said, extending her hand, which trembled as she took the wet clothes.

“Shegiya, you’re such a stubborn child. Go and remove these clothes and come here. Your eyes are like dust, not protecting yourself from the rain,” the woman scolded. The girl rushed inside her room, changed her clothes, and hung the wet ones on the door. Even in her bones, she felt the bitter cold, but she emerged again and returned to the hall.

Kneeling by the stove, she tried to mend the fire. Feeling disoriented, she rested her head against her knees, the fever taking hold. Gradually, she sensed warmth in her neck, and she straightened up, looking at Iya Lami.

“Your son of a father, you thought I’d leave you alone in the rain? Keep your head down and wait until it stops. Have you no respect?” The woman chided, her tone stern.

The girl quickly checked the pot, adjusted the fire, and stepped outside once the rain had lessened. She sat before the fire until the pot was finished, then retrieved the water, which she poured into a basin for washing feet.

Returning to the hall, she placed bowls in Lami’s room and set up a basin for herself. As she poured water into the basin, she felt a sense of relief, knowing she hadn’t been touched by the rain.

“Bongel,” called out Baffa, lying on his mattress in his room. His spirit had been troubled since the rain began, and seeing her now brought him some solace.

“Yes, Baffa,” she responded.

“Are you back? Did the rain get you?” he inquired anxiously.

She shook her head. “No, it was just a light drizzle.”

“Alhamdulillah. I’ve been worrying about you since I saw the rain starting. I hope you’re okay.”

She remained silent, tending to his injured leg as Elijah had taught her. After carefully cleansing the wound, she replaced the bandage. Returning to sit by his side, she said nothing, understanding that Baffa had been deeply concerned about her.

Ever since the operation on his leg, he had become quite preoccupied with its well-being and had stopped walking altogether. She shouldered more than her fair share of the household chores. Iya Lami offered little support, frequently arguing with her and Baffa’s daughter.

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