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An unlikely counselor

‘I had no idea you visit places this remote.’ I said to Asabe, as she navigated the un-tarred rural road with difficulty. ‘I never knew…

‘I had no idea you visit places this remote.’ I said to Asabe, as she navigated the un-tarred rural road with difficulty.
‘I never knew this place existed too, until a year ago.’ She replied, keenly driving, her eyes never leaving the road.
‘But what did you invest here that you said I should come and see the fruit of your labour?  Or did you mean that literally? I mean do you really own a farm here?’ I asked.
‘Not really, just wait and see Bint. No need to get all worked up about our destination. Or do you think I will take you to a village market and sell?’ she joked.
‘Don’t blame me if I think that way, you are the one who’s been acting so mysteriously.’ I replied.
‘And here we are’ She suddenly stopped under some trees and turned to look at me.
‘This is our destination? But I can’t see anything apart from these trees?’ I observed.
‘Yes that’s because I don’t want us to get too close since I don’t intend to speak to anyone. But look to your right, what can you see dear friend?’ Asabe asked, a smile on her lips.
‘I can see a small mosque, newly-painted. I suppose it’s not too small by rural standards. But it does look new.’ I replied.
‘That’s the reason we are here.’ She stated.
‘Is it the fruit of labour that you wanted me to see? Did you build this mosque all by yourself?’ I asked in amazement.
‘More or less.’ She answered, before going on to explain. ‘You see around this time last year I had the worst scare of my life. Certain attitudes and behaviours exhibited by my husband made me almost convinced that he was seeing someone and might even be thinking of getting married again. I became so disturbed yet I didn’t have the courage to face him and ask. What if I was wrong and he was just going through a certain phase in his life? And again, what if I was right and he admits to courting another woman? Will I be able to accept that or go into tantrums, threatening fire and brimstone?
While I was agonizing over this, I spoke to a married colleague at work and asked her what she would do in my place. She quickly advised me to seek spiritual help. She said I should look for a spiritualist and make sure he prevents my husband from taking a new wife. I told her I wasn’t sure he was really courting someone, though his actions suggested that, and my colleague said we must not chances. So she asked around and got me the name of a Malam who lives around here, in this village. I didn’t want to tell you Bint, knowing how you feel about visiting Malams, whom you choose to call sorcerers. But I was desperate because I didn’t want anything to disturb the peace I’d found ever since my second marriage.
Of course it wasn’t all rosy since I did have problems with some of his children who felt I was trying to take the place of their late mother. My own children too weren’t very happy that I chose to marry him even though they knew that their father divorced me irrevocably without reason. But despite these hitches my second husband and I were happy because we cared about each other and did not allow any third parties to come between us. Suddenly he began to pick those late night calls which he never answered till he walked away from me. Then those unexplained weekend outings which were becoming so regular.
I was disturbed and became desperate. So I drove here all alone one day and located the malam in question. He heard me out and then asked whether I was ready to do anything to get what I wanted. I told him I was, as long as it did not involve harming a human being. He said he understood but added that he had a better idea for me. He said it was a practical solution not a spiritual one. He asked me to follow him out of his house and when I did, we stood at the front, from where he pointed a finger this way. He said I should drive down a bit to the right and turn left, and there I will see a rundown building which was destroyed by rainstorm the year before. He said I should go and rebuild that mosque and let Almighty Allah solve my problems as a reward for my work.
‘Are you sure that’s all I need to do to stop my husband from taking another wife?’ I asked.
‘I know that you will be doing a lot of good to the community which can no longer pray in congregation because of what happened to the mosque. And I also know that whenever you help people who desperately need it, Almighty Allah solves some of your most pressing problems.’ He replied.
‘In other words you can’t guarantee me my problem will be solved but you can only assure me of divine rewards?’ I asked.
‘Yes, something like that. But they almost always come together. I mean the divine rewards and solution to problems are mostly a package deal. However, if after you’ve repaired the mosque, your problem remains, then leave everything to God because He knows what lies before you and after you and maybe what will happen is better for you than its alternative.’ He philosopied.
‘Haba Malam, how can you tell me that my husband being involved with another woman might be better for me than something else? What can be worse than your husband getting entangled with another woman just when you are living in peace and harmony like my husband and I are doing right now?’ I asked in anger.
‘Death, you can die and leave the scene all together. Let me tell you the story of my first wife. Like you and your husband we were very happy. We had three children. Suddenly she became obsessed with the idea that I will one day take another wife. She kept harping on that till one day she went to visit her mother. She returned from the visit and happily said to me that they done something that will not allow me to desire another woman apart from her. I laughed and said to her whatever God willed is what will happen but deep in my heart I really had no wish to marry anyone else. My words seemed to have comforted her. But in a matter of weeks she fell ill.
Her situation kept getting worse so that we had abandon herbal treatment and take her to hospital in the city. We continued that up and down between this village and the city but she wasn’t getting better. A year later she died. And exactly three months later my relatives and hers pressured me to take another wife because of our three little children. She didn’t have any unmarried sisters that her parents could offer me, so I had to marry an outsider. Just nine months later my new wife delivered her first child. Today she has four children for me. So you see those children were destined to be born and because my wife was totally against any other woman marrying me, she had to die to pave the way for what was decreed to happen. I don’t want you to encounter the same fate Hajiya.’ He concluded.

To be continued.

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