I walked through the doorway straight to the sitting room, when it became obvious that there was no one to answer my salams. Suddenly I heard Badiya’s voice raised in anger.
At this point I did the salam one more time before I peeped in. Badiya was standing, arms akimbo, angrily saying some things that seemed to be causing her daughter, Fatima, a lot of distress.
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Fatima was seated on a chair, her head bowed. She looked like someone in tears though she had her face covered with her palms.
Badiya turned abruptly and faced me, the anger still visible on her face.
‘Amin wa alaikummus salam. You are welcome, Hajiya Bint. Sorry I didn’t hear you coming in.’ She answered.
‘And how can you hear me when you are hell-bent on screaming at my daughter. I thought by now you are already missing her. I mean, Fatima is just a few weeks away from her wedding, how can you have the strength to be shouting at her? You see I did the salams three times, at the door, before knocking and letting myself in, but you were too busy to hear me,’ I scolded.
‘It’s not what you think Bint,’ she replied, walking towards me to shake my hand.
‘So what is it?’ I demanded, accepting her hand.
‘I’m just warning her about the dangerous step she is about to take in life. She has no idea what far-reaching consequences it has on the rest of us,’ Badiya explained.
‘What dangerous step?’ I asked, walking past her and towards her now openly crying daughter. Fatima raised her bloodshot eyes to me and said.
‘You are welcome Aunty,’ Before she rose and extended her hand to me. I ignored her hand and hugged her instead.
‘Don’t cry anymore, Fatima. Please ignore your Mum, I think she’s already missing you and that’s why she’s being hard on you,’ I said.
‘Thanks a lot, Aunty. I really appreciate your understanding.’ She replied before leaving the room.
‘Like I’ve already said, Bint. It’s not what you think,’ badiya began. ‘But let me get you something to drink first,’ she offered.
‘No please, don’t bother about getting me a drink. Please sit down and tell me why you are determined to make Fatima’s last few days in your house a nightmare,’ I enquired.
‘Well, first of all, if I had my way, they won’t be her last few days. I’m hoping the wedding will be called off, She declared angrily.
‘You are hoping what?’ I asked in shock. ‘How can you wish for such a thing? And at this point in time too, when the wedding date is so close?’ I demanded.
‘Yes, Bint. It’s not something I’m doing with joy but we have no choice but to reject the groom after what we just learnt about him. You see it’s a confirmed thing that his late grandmother was a witch. She was so steeped in witchcraft that her neighbours and in-laws all suffered from her evil. Now it’s this same family that Fati wants to marry into. I’ve been trying to knock this truth into her head since morning but she’s not listening. She keeps arguing that even if it’s true, why would his grandmother’s witchcraft be of concern to them?’ Badiya explained.
‘But Fatima is right. Even if it can be proved that the old lady was a witch, what has that got to do with them?’ I asked.
‘Everything, Hajiya Bint. For one, witchcraft is only inherited through a female because it is transferred through breast milk. If it were his grandfather who was the wizard, we won’t be bothered because it won’t trickle down. But his grandma is a different story. She had transferred it to his mother and from his mother to him. When I learnt of this yesterday, I called Fati’s father, because he’s out of town, and told him. I also explained the implications of it on us. And he said I should try to talk her out of the wedding. That was what I was doing when you came in. And she wouldn’t listen to me at all,’ Badiya complained.
‘And I don’t blame her at all for the stand she took. How can you believe such a story in this day and age? I mean the claim that witchcraft is transferred through breast milk and such stuff is really laughable. But you believing it is even worse since you are an educated and enlightened woman. And how was it even proved that the old lady was a witch? You know there is no such provision in Islamic law for witchcraft because it can’t be seen or proved in court. How can you now say that because of such a rumour you want to deny two young, suitable and responsible people the chance to marry each other?’ I queried.
‘That’s because it’s not a rumour Bint. Many people who lived with that old lady died because of her witchcraft. She ate their souls, just like all witches do. We can’t allow anyone related to a witch to join our family since it is easily inherited, I won’t allow any child of mine to bring such a stain on our bloodline,’ Badiya insisted.
To be continued