My tears flowed as if my very soul were being wrung out by the torment of the moment. Today, I stood before my mother’s lifeless body, watching her stillness, not a breath escaping her. I let out a scream, my voice quivering, and shook my mother, my tears raining upon her. “Mother, please awaken and don’t leave me. If you’re truly gone, then I’ll surely wither away in this abyss of sorrow.”

A voice, sharp and unfeeling, pierced through my grief. “Who are you, acting like a madwoman? You cry in vain because your mother has passed, putting on such a display. It’s shameful. You’re nothing but a worthless harlot who allowed herself to become pregnant, and now your actions have led to your mother’s demise. You cry for naught, empty and devoid of purpose.”

Maman Nusaiba’s harsh words stung like a lash, but I could not respond. The tension and sorrow weighed heavily upon me, my eyes inflamed like fiery embers. I had no words for her, for the pain was too great, and their judgment had to be unleashed. I allowed myself to grieve fully, and then I fell into silence. A strange sensation coursed through me, as if the baby within me had awoken, moving with a strength I hadn’t felt since I’d become pregnant.

As my mother’s body was carried away by the mourners, I was left alone. Among those who came to offer comfort, there was no solace for me. I remained the sole mourner, my tears flowing ceaselessly. The relatives brought food, and young girls bustled about, attending to various tasks. I sat in my room, contemplating my life. At less than 15 years old, I found myself navigating a world colored by adversity.

I was summoned from my room by my father’s call. My body trembled, weakened by pregnancy and the lack of sustenance.

“You foolish girl, you should stay indoors and let the men handle these tasks. Why do you walk so far out?” my father admonished me sternly.

Even as I began the work assigned to me, an unsettling feeling lingered. I persisted, aware that my father’s condition might relapse. Eventually, I completed the task, cutting the vegetables, my thoughts dwelling on my mother’s painful cries.

“The aroma of cooking fills the house, wafting through the air, and the household staff diligently carry out their tasks. It’s a grand house, with an exquisite structure, unmistakably the dwelling of the wealthy.

In the heart of the garden stands a sizable mat with a warm message: ‘Welcome, My Lovely Son.’

Hajiya Barakat gracefully inspects the house, keenly observing the decorative details. She questions the responsible parties, acknowledging those who fulfilled their duties and chastising those who did not.

Her children, three daughters named Zeenat, Rabiat, Aisha, and Fatima, assemble before her. Soon, they will join their elder brother, Admiral Aliyu Muhammad, A.A M., in a family gathering.”

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