A JOURNEY OF GROWTH AND SELF-DISCOVERY! 13/06/23
“This series and the characters in it are fictitious. Certain long-standing institutions, agencies, and public offices are mentioned, and the religious rites are authentic, but the characters involved are wholly imaginary. “
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Copyright © 2023 by Hadiza Bagudu.
Alhaji Kura, his wife, and his daughter were sitting together at the food court of the Haram area, having a late lunch after sleeping for over 18 hours from exhaustion. They were well rested and refreshed, showered, and wearing clean clothes.
“Mama.” He referred to his daughter as Mama. He never called her by her name because she bears his mother’s name. “Yes, Abba.” She replied.
“Your mother and I have been talking. We have decided not to go along with the marriage and to let you choose who you want to spend the rest of your life with.”
“Yes, my darling. I know I have been very hard on you; understand that it’s because I care about you, and I am worried that you will destroy yourself. But since coming here, you have shown massive improvement, which I hope will continue. That is why we have decided to give you the benefit of the doubt and a second chance to prove yourself.”
“Oh, thank you, Abba, Thank you, Umma.” She hugged them excitedly.
“I hope we didn’t just make a mistake. I really hope you are not going to disappoint us again.” Alhaji Kura said.
“No, Abba. I promise. Honestly, I feel different and ashamed of my past. I am really sorry for my past behavior, and I ask for both your forgiveness and thank you for giving me a second chance.”
It’s ok. Just don’t disappoint us again.” Her mother said.
“But Abba, what about Alhaji Kabir?” She asked about her suitor.
“What about him? Do you still want to marry him?”
“No! I was just asking because I know he is your friend and will be very disappointed.”
“Don’t worry; I will handle it. Just focus on yourself and your studies.”
“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!”
The flight which would take them from Jeddah airport back to Nigeria will not come in the next three days, so many of the pilgrims used that as an opportunity to explore the city of Makkah and do more shopping. Many of them took buses to Jeddah, to experience the commercial city of Saudi Arabia, and even went shopping at the popular Kornish Market.
With the renewed love between them, Alhaji Ibrahim took his wife and children around all the hot tourist attractions and, the best restaurants to eat in Makkah and Jeddah. He was a new man, and Hajiya Safiya was delighted. She hoped and prayed that things won’t go back to the way they were when they return home.
“Baban Amir.” She referred to him as she had always done since giving birth to their firstborn, Amir. They were eating in an exclusive restaurant, and their children were busy with their ice cream cones and giggling with delight.
“Yes, Mami.” He replied, calling her by her pet name too.
“I have decided to quit my business and stay home with the kids.” He didn’t say anything. “I think it’s better I just stay home and be a full-time housewife… I mean, it’s not like we need the money.”
After what seemed like an eternity, he replied. “You don’t have to, Mami.”
“You don’t have to do that. What you are doing now is fine. I know I have been hard on you, unfair even. But try to understand that it’s because I worry about the children. I know that your business is important to you, and believe me, I haven’t forgotten when you put food on the table when I couldn’t.” She smiled. “But now, you don’t have to work so hard. Moreover, the children need you at home. They are very young and impressionable. No one on earth can care for or give them a proper upbringing like their mother, not even me. Every child needs their mother. Those nannies and servants, you don’t know what kind of effect they will have on the children. I have heard many horror stories of what servants do to young vulnerable children left in their care. I don’t want us to fall victim to such people. Of what good will our money be if we lose our children?”
“I am sorry, Baban Amir. I had no idea.”
“I know, and I don’t blame you. I should have taken the time to explain it to you, but I let my pride get to me.”
“Your family also.” She said quietly, without looking at him.
“Yes, my family too. I am sorry. I know my sister has been a constant source of pain for you, and I apologize. It is my fault. I sometimes talk to her about our problems when I am angry, or I try to solicit her advice about us, and for that reason, she must have started to think that she is a part of the marriage and can interfere at any time she likes. I listened to the Sheikh’s sermon, and he made me understand how wrong it is to let family interfere in your marital affairs unnecessarily. What happens between you and your spouse is private and should remain within you, come rain or shine. That is why from now on, I will limit her visits to us and even how long she stays when the need arises that she comes to see us.”
Hajiya Safiya felt as if she had just won a million Naira. “Oh Baban Amir, I don’t know what to say…” Tears started to flow from her eyes.
“You don’t need to say anything, my love. I am the one that needs to apologize. I am so sorry once again.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Nana Aisha felt like a kid again as she walked around a Mall with her parents. They had been very attentive to her and were showering her with a renewed kind of love and a lot of attention, one which she had missed. They had both been so busy with their businesses and her mother with philanthropy and hosting her husband’s guests that they had ignored her until she fell in with a bad crowd. They understood that now and were trying to make amendments. She was also very happy that she no longer had to marry that old man, and that she gets to choose her own husband. “Zakari is definitely out of the question!” She thought. As soon as she got home, she would break up with him and make sure that he stayed away this time.
She and her mother had shopped up a storm, and as they were struggling to push their over-loaded shopping carts, Alhaji Kura kept warning them about excess luggage and reminded them that they would still go to Dubai for more shopping.
“Really, Abba? I thought the wedding was called off.”
“It is. I haven’t spoken to him about it yet.” He saw the look of fear in her eyes.
“Don’t worry; II promise you will not have to marry him unless you want to.
“Thank you, Abba, and no, I don’t want to marry him.” Alhaji Kura laughed, and his wife smiled.
“Ok then, enough with the buying. Let’s go.”
“I still need to buy some of the new Hijabs.” Nana Aisha said.
“Me too, and I need to pick some stuff up for my mother as well.”
“Arrgh!” Alhaji Kura lamented. “I have had enough of this. You can both meet me at the hotel.
“OK.” They both said and with that, he left.
As the pilgrims started to leave for their various countries, several hotels started to have vacant rooms, so, he was able to book them a three-bedroom executive suit at the Sheraton Towers Makkah, where they would spend their last three days there. Even though the accommodations that were provided for them by the Nigerian Hajj committee were very comfortable, it wasn’t the luxury they were used to. He wanted them to at least get some vacation time before leaving.
After Shopping, Nana Aisha and her mother stopped at Canon, a Chinese restaurant near Makkah Mall, to eat before returning to the hotel. They were both tired. As they entered, they saw Munir there. He was buying some food for himself and his friends.
“Salamu Alaikum, young man.” Mrs. Kura greeted him. “You were the one that helped us the day we were looking for my daughter, right.”
“Alaikum Salam, Hajiya. Yes, it's me.” His eyes met Nana Aisha’s, and he felt shy again. She smiled and greeted him too. He replied and greeted her. She was pleased to hear that he had helped to save her.
“Thank you, my son. We are so grateful.”
“It’s ok, Hajiya. Anyone would have done it.”
“No, really, thank you.”
“Any time, Hajiya.”
“Tell me, where are you from, and what do you do?” He told her he was from Kano and about the Islamiyah. She was pleased and gave him her complimentary card, asking him to call her when he got home. He thanked her and left.
Nana Aisha didn’t talk much, but she was glad that her mother gave him her card because she felt that that was the Mr. Right she had been searching for.
The next day, a day before the flight was ready for Nigerian pilgrims, Alhaji Kura and his family boarded their private jet at the Jeddah airport and left for Dubai.
Alhaji Suleiman, Munir, Malam Shata, and Malam Tanko also enjoyed sightseeing on their last days in Saudi Arabia. They shopped and spent their nights praying and sleeping in the mosques. They wanted to get as much out of their journey as possible before returning home.
On the morning of their departure, Munir woke up for Fajr Prayer. He woke Malam Tanko first because he was closer to him. Alhaji Suleiman always woke up by himself and, most of the time, before them. But today, he was still asleep.
“Maybe he is sick.” Malam Tanko said. “Wake him up, all the same.”
Munir tried to wake him up, but he was frozen stiff, yet he looked so peaceful.
“Inna Lillahi wa inna ilaihir-raji'un.” He said tearfully. Malam Tanko and Malam Shata said the same.
Alhaji Suleiman died a day before returning home after completing his Hajj rites. He was able to pray for forgiveness and purge himself of most of his sins before passing.
“He is blessed, Baba.” Munir said.
“Yes, he is.” Malam Tanko said. “May Allah forgive him of all his sins and grant him Aljannah Firdaus.”
He was buried by Hajj officials, alongside many other pilgrims who died during the Hajj, in the Makkah official burial ground. Munir and Malam Tanko considered him lucky to be buried in one of the holiest places on earth.
His family members in Nigeria were also contacted and given the news in detail. And his belongings were entrusted to Munir and Malam Tanko to return to his family.
By 9 pm that night, they boarded the Emirates Airline to fly back home.
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I'm Hadiza Bagudu, a mom, blogger, poet, author, and podcaster. Join me each week as we embark on 'An Epic Journey of Faith!' A series about a group of pilgrims whose lives were transformed by the Hajj experience. Let's explore the power of faith, the beauty of human connection, and more captivating stories on love, family, and society. Come along, and let's dive into the world of literature together!