She knelt in front of her father, who was seated on one of the chairs in the room, his hand grasping a newspaper and a pair of reading glasses perched on his face. Absorbed in the paper, he remained focused for a few minutes before setting it down on the table and glancing at her, extending his hand. “Give me the paper,” he said, his voice tinged with frustration. She obliged, handing it over calmly. He quickly took it, perusing the contents for about five minutes before looking up. She lowered her head, anticipating the scolding she was about to receive.

“I don’t understand what’s troubling you, Hafsat. I work tirelessly to support your studies, but you need to concentrate. I didn’t ask you to be first; I just expect better than this,” he lamented.

“Be patient, Abba,” she responded softly, her demeanor composed despite the storm brewing inside her. She retreated to her room, the only space she shared with her youngest sister, Mufeedah, who was sound asleep in her small bed.

As she entered, she noticed Mufeedah resting peacefully and proceeded to sit on her own bed, crumpling her report sheet in her hands. With a heavy sigh, she covered her face, wrestling with her emotions. The ringing of her phone from the drawer interrupted her thoughts, and she hastily retrieved it. It was a modest Samsung phone with minimal features. “DEAR” flashed across the screen, surprising her. She hesitated for a moment before answering.

“Hello,” she said softly.

“How are you, my dear?” came the warm voice from the other end.

She felt her heart skip a beat. “I’m fine,” she replied, trying to regain her composure.

“Are you sure?”


“I don’t believe it.”


“Perhaps you’re keeping something from me, huh?”

“No, I just missed hearing your voice today,” she admitted, her words barely audible.

“Did you miss me, baby?”

She blushed, responding affectionately in Hausa. “Don’t be surprised.”

Their conversation continued, delving into the events of the day. Her companion shared details about chauffeuring his mother to a meeting and the ensuing argument. She interjected, ending the call abruptly to avoid any further contentious remarks. Their mother walked into the room and inquired about her phone usage. The exchange ended with her mother leaving the room, and she proceeded to get ready for prayers, finding solace in the familiarity of her evening routine.

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