Audu Mohammed looked at his beautiful wife as she sat on the edge of the bed, one hand resting gently on her bulging pregnancy while the other played, with motherly affections with their 7year old daughter’s long black hair. The child has her mother’s beautiful profile and the smooth light skin common among her Fulani tribe. In a corner of the room sits a huge bag, crammed with a variety of baby things; clothes, diapers, hot water flask, soap, cream, oil and others. A Maternity card lies on the bed not far from a pair of neatly folded head ties. The room scents of the sweet lavender fragrance air freshener and the floor was covered with rich expensive looking rug.
Kadijat, Audu and Zainab were all waiting for the knock that would summon them to the garage for the ride that will take them to the hospital. Audu’s thoughts kept wandering to how things have turned out for him and the phone call he was pressed into making that morning. When his wife gave birth to Kadijat, that phone call was not necessary because, then, he had been living in the same town as his estranged father. Now he lives hundred of miles from his own parents and his wife was about to be delivered of their second child.
She pleaded with him to call the old man though she was the origin of the insistent disagreement between them. His mother picked the call and sounded quite happy to hear from him after almost a year. He told her that his wife would be going into the hospital to be delivered of their new baby and that he would be glad if his father would do him the honour of coming to perform the “sunat”.
“Audu, praise be to Allah for His mercies and grace. You mean your wife actually became pregnant again after all these years?.
“Yes oh, Alhaja. We are really grateful to Allah”.
“Alhamdulillah! I wish you people are close by; I would have loved to bathe the child myself. But you know that my condition won’t allow me to travel”.
“I understand, Alhaja. Please tell Alhaji that I and my wife will be highly honoured if he would be kind enough to come perform the naming ceremony. Also I feel this might be a boy, his first grandson. Please, Alhaja, help me to talk to him.”
“You just don’t worry Audu; I will do all of that and even more. He will be there to name his first grandson”.
“Thank you, Alhaja”. After a brief pause, Audu had asked about his two elder brothers.
“How are Abdul and Kareem doing”?
“They are both fine. I think I just heard Alhaji’s vehicle coming through the gate now. Let me go and talk to him as quickly as possible”.
She then promised to call Audu back soon as she spoke to his father.
“Thank you, Alhaja”, Audu said her again. His voice had become quite tight while speaking with his mother. He had always been close to her from his childhood. The decision to move far away was not an easy one for him.
“I will be expecting your call. Kadijat sends her love”
“Oh, my little angel; how I have missed her. Please tell her that I’ll speak with her when I call back today”.
“Ok ma, thank you very much for your help, Alhaja”
“Just take good care of your wife and tell her we’ll see her soon”.
“Ok ma. Bye ma”.
That was in the morning, more than six hours ago. Alhaji had not called back and neither of his brothers had bothered to check with him about his expected baby. He thought quietly thought to himself that maybe it was better if they didn’t call him at all. He could not imagine having to deal with his father’s unending judgmental attitudes towards everything and everyone who does not kowtow to his demands and God knows Zainab has had suffered enough of that attitude. He could vividly recall certain conversations in which Alhaji’s self serving ideas, clothed in parental advice and using the faith as another ready tool to back these selfish plans had ended in total disaster. He knew his father to be a very vindictive man who does not forgive easily. Audu used to joke with his wife that the man probably has a long list of people still waiting to be forgiven and going by their final exchange before he decided to move his family away, he was still somewhere very near the bottom of that list.
But his wife had prevailed upon him to initiate the process of reconciliation by making that call even when he knew in his heart that he was nowhere near being pardoned for standing up against the old man.
His mother had promised they would call back and even went ahead to assure him that his father would make the trip to Abuja to witness the birth of his newest grandchild.
Audu often finds it hard to imagine what he did right to deserve such a good fortune; to have a loving and devoted wife like Zainab and an angelic kid like Kadijat. He never stops being thankful to Allah for giving him the good sense to refuse his father’s agenda that he marry into a different family in a bid to expand the Mohammed’s dynasty. His insolence of course cost him to be cut off from his father’s wealth. A decision he did not begrudge the old man for. More so, with his new wife’s support, he had gone ahead to try his hands on a very different trade; vegetable farming. All his life, he had grown up to know that the bulk of the family’s money comes from pepper merchandising. Yet Zainab had the foresight to urge him into trying vegetable so as to avoid as much as was possible anything that would continue to put him on his father’s wrong side.
Success from vegetable was instant. Within a short time, he became a big time vegetable supplier to the insatiable Lagos market. He later found a better route into the FCT and that sealed his fortune. By becoming a player in the federal government’s unending circle of farm produce purchase, his breakthrough was complete.
Kadijat arrived barely a year into their marriage and Audu’ joy knew no bounds. He was determined to give his daughter the best life he could afford beginning with a quality education which most of his sister despite their father’s immense wealth were denied because of their gender. After the birth of Kadijat, they tried to have another child but to no avail. Every effort proved abortive. It was like they had been given all the heavens could afford to bestow on them as far as child bearing was concern, though Audu’s wealth continued to grow. So, both parents decided to put all their energy into raising their only child well.
It was when Kadijat turned 6 that Audu decided to move his family from Adamawa to Abuja so she could attend the best school available in the FCT. Five months after moving to the capital, Zainab became pregnant, almost seven years after her first child. She was naturally very happy knowing that her being pregnant again had put to rest all the fears of uncertainties surrounding her continued fertility.
Zainab also knew that having a new child would help fill the void created by Kadijat’s enrolment in a primary school. The distraction of taking care of a new child was a welcome one. Audu on the other hand had a different hope. He secretly hoped the child would be a boy so he’d have an heir to inherit his already considerate wealth. Zainab just wanted a child that would be as lovely and smart as her first child.
A calm and reserved man by nature, Audu took special care of his family. Little educated himself; he never felt any sense of inadequacy in his relationship with his wife who is a university graduate. Over the years, he had taken time out to keep himself well informed on issues that concern his family, his trade and the economy generally. Even with no ambition of becoming a politician, he still ensured he kept abreast of happenings within the political arena.
Audu has only one interest he cherished besides the continued success of his business and the wellbeing of his family; watching and reading about medical thrillers. He might have been a fine doctor if his path had been slightly different from what it was.
In recent weeks, he had become more observant on matters concerning his daughter having realized even now that some changes are inevitable with the impending arrival of the new baby. Now he was becoming quite bothered by some things he’d seen in their daughter recently. Shortly after they found out Zainab was pregnant, Audu had noticed some weird attitudes in Kadijat towards her mother whom she had always adored. The usually lively and charming girl would sometimes just slip into long spell of silence, doing nothing, saying nothing; just starring at her mother.
Audu initially took this as a sign of incomprehension of what pregnancy and child bearing means to a child. But then on some of these troubling spell of taciturnity, the girl would suddenly burst into tears. Neither of the parents could understand what the problem was so they just put it down to a child’s fear of having a new member added to the family; something that would pass away once she gets used to having a younger brother or sister.
His thoughts were interrupted by his wife; “Has Alhaji called yet”? asked Zainab, referring to her father in-law Alhaji Sanni Mohammed.
Audu smiled at his wife and replied “No”, he hasn’t yet, but don’t bother about that, lets just get ready for the hospital”.
Zainab nodded her agreement and returned her husband’s smile. Audu noticed something in her eyes and knew she was still worried about Kadijat. The girl was yet to have any of her crying spells in over a week and that was a relief. But now that the due date was here, she’s probably worried that her daughter might once again find it hard to cope with the arrival of a younger sibling.
They had waited for the knock on the door and had secretly hoped the call would come in first.
The call hadn’t come and they had finally driven to the hospital for Zainab to be prepped for delivery.