**Gratitude**

 

I begin with thanks to the Lord of all creation, who has blessed me with the gift of Islam and the ability to express myself through the written word. I humbly seek guidance from the higher and lower realms as I, a humble contributor to the literary world, attempt to share this brief story.

 

With a mischievous grin, Benaziratu playfully pointed at Marwanatu, causing her to laugh heartily. However, in her excitement, Benaziratu lost her grip on the object of her attention, and a loud scream pierced the air, echoing in Marwanatu’s ears. Benaziratu’s antics amused Marwanatu, and they shared a moment of innocent joy. It was as if these small incidents were signs that Marwa’s life was being protected.

 

As the laughter subsided, Marwanatu and Benaziratu found themselves in an unexpected predicament. They couldn’t escape, and the only shelter they found was in Hajja Yakura’s room. There, amidst the chaos, they accidentally knocked over a container of millet biscuits that Hajja Yakura had kept nearby. Panicked, Marwanatu attempted to help Benaziratu, who was on the verge of tears.

 

Benaziratu attempted to communicate something, but Marwanatu couldn’t discern her words due to the redness of her lips. As the commotion continued, Marwanatu decided to make a hasty exit. Unfortunately, she encountered Bakura, who blocked her path. In her mind, Marwanatu desperately sought a way to avoid his interference, but it was too late. He caught her and took her into the house.

 

Yakura, who had been enjoying a moment of peace, was startled by Marwanatu’s presence and inquired about the interruption. She suspected that Marwanatu had prevented Benaziratu from leaving. Marwanatu felt a pang of guilt because she knew that Yakura’s daughter needed to learn some discipline, as she often acted without restraint and even physically harmed Marwanatu.

 

Confused, Baana asked about the identity of the girl Marwanatu had stopped. Yakura expressed her frustration, wondering why Marwanatu would intervene in Benaziratu’s affairs. She chided Marwanatu for her actions, criticizing her Hausa pronunciation. Baana chuckled to himself, thinking about when Hajja Yakura might change her ways. There was a long silence before he rose to his feet, intending to rest and visit Abbagana.

 

Marwanatu and Benaziratu left the room together, leaving Yakura and Baana to converse. Yakura remained concerned about her daughter’s well-being and was sure that Marwanatu had somehow hindered Benaziratu. She cautioned Marwanatu not to let Benaziratu dominate her, as she had repeatedly warned her about the consequences of allowing Benaziratu to overpower her.

 

With a heavy heart, Marwanatu departed, knowing that she should treat Benaziratu with care as a child of the village, but her frustration grew. In silence, she pondered her responsibilities.

 

The following morning, around seven o’clock, Baana sat by the door of their house. He couldn’t help but be puzzled by the enigmatic nature of the girl’s life. Despite her calm demeanor, he sensed a depth of character beneath the surface. Baana didn’t notice when she approached to greet him, raising her hand in a friendly gesture as she entered their home.

 

However, as she turned away and made a peculiar hand gesture accompanied by a faint sound, Baana couldn’t help but feel bemused. She entered the house, her face veiled in serenity. Baana’s irritation had dissipated, and he viewed her differently from the way she had seen him, no longer as Benah but as someone akin to his son, who had ventured to the city for further education.

 

Suddenly, a loud voice exclaimed, “You, deaf girl!” Startled, she turned toward the source of the voice – it was Hajja Yakura. She lowered her head and greeted Hajja Yakura, her manner reminiscent of a mute person. Hajja Yakura approached and scolded her, grabbing her toy and causing her to cry out in pain. The waterworks began, and Yakura started to inquire about Marwanatu’s actions regarding Benaziratu.

 

The conversation was abruptly interrupted by Bakura’s loud snoring. Yakura continued to admonish Marwanatu, expressing her concerns and anger about the girl’s behavior. Marwanatu was on the verge of an emotional breakdown as she endured Yakura’s scolding.

 

Exhausted by the situation, Marwanatu sought to leave, clutching Benaziratu’s hand. However, as she turned away, she remembered the earlier gesture that Benaziratu had made. Despite her growing frustration, she dismissed it and returned home.

 

In a soft voice, her younger brother addressed her as “Marwah” and inquired about what had transpired with Benah. A faint smile crossed her lips as she appreciated her brother’s use of her name. She explained to him the events that had unfolded, and he shook his head in admiration of their mother’s patience, wondering when Hajja Yakura would change her ways.

 

Marwanatu returned home, her heart heavy with thoughts. She encountered many signs that indicated her deep concern. As she entered the house, her demeanor was calm, and she responded to her father’s questions without embellishments or revelations. Frustration had replaced anger, and Marwanatu harbored mixed feelings towards Benah, viewing her not just as a troublesome child but as a reflection of the complexities of life.

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