At around 4:30 in the evening, Fatima arrived at the door of their house where her friend Ummulkhaeri was waiting for her. She had just come from the main road in her car.

Ummulkhaeri’s father was at home, sitting on the carpet and engrossed in reading a religious book when she arrived. Fatima greeted him and then knelt down to meet him.

“Hello, ßaßa,” Fatima greeted.

The father of Ummulkhaeri, who was Teacher Abdullahi, raised his head and greeted her in return.

“Is Ummulkhaeri here?” Fatima asked.

“Nice, ßaßa. She’s inside,” he replied.

“Thank you,” Fatima said before entering the house.

Inside the house, she greeted Raliya’s mother, who responded with a warm smile. Raliya’s mother was sitting in her room on a wheelchair, engaged in sewing in front of her. She was trying to thread a needle from a basket.

At first, Mama Raliya didn’t hear Fatima’s voice. She reached out and opened the room’s curtains, and her face lit up with joy when she saw Fatima, her daughter’s longtime best friend.

“Fatima, welcome!” she exclaimed with a wide smile. She couldn’t stop smiling, and her eyes were fixed on Fatima as she waited for her to enter the room.

Fatima politely took off her shoes and entered the room, greeting Mama Raliya as she did.

“Good afternoon,” Fatima said with a smile.

“Good afternoon,” Mama Raliya responded. She collected her thoughts and replied, “I hope you’re well.”

“I am, thank you,” Fatima said, kneeling down on the floor. “I heard that the Hajiyas are here.”

“They are safe,” Mama Raliya replied, returning her greeting.

“I heard that,” Fatima said, and then she turned her attention to Raliya’s mother, who was seated in a small chair beside her.

“Oh, Fatima, you’re done with school already, and here we are, still waiting for Umma,” Raliya’s mother said, shaking her head in amusement. “I asked her yesterday, ‘Are you sure you’re in school? You’ve been crying about exams as if they’re stuck in my eyes.'”

Fatima lowered her head and smiled. “My mother hasn’t been here since I came back from our vacation in Hajiya’s hometown near the Jigawa Mountains.”

“I see,” Mama Raliya replied. “Did you leave her well?”

“I left her safe,” Fatima assured her.

“That’s good,” Mama Raliya said to Fatima. “This is where you came in. Wait for her here; she’ll hear your voice.”

Fatima agreed, saying, “Okay, Mom,” and continued chatting with Raliya’s mother while waiting for Ummulkhaeri to finish her bath.

Fatima and Ummulkhaeri were close friends who had been together since primary school. They had completed their secondary education and were currently awaiting their exam results. Despite not living in the same neighborhood, they had made a pact to study together, motivated by the kindness of Ummulkhaeri’s father, who had taken care of her until she completed primary school and then brought her back home to her father in Gwammaja. Witnessing the bond between the girls and how much they cared for each other, Ummulkhaeri’s father had encouraged them to attend the same school so that they could continue their studies together, and both girls had eagerly agreed.

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