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(83): Yes Man (A Short Story)

Muhsin Ibrahim

Religion is one single thing many Nigerians of whatever dispensations take in high esteem. Religion is many a time, viewed as the opium for the subjugation of masses or as their Achilles’ heel. To Rahama, the story is different; religion means nothing to her. It is simply an identifier that she’s a Muslim lady. One might think having grown up in a multi-religious house would intuitively teach her to have the respect of some sort for religion, wrong. Her Imams and pastors do not use Qur’an or Bible.

A 28-year-old, stout Rahama Tsoho belongs to a disreputable family of three. Her father, an ex-service man, divorced their mother when she’s only two. She stays with the father, her sister with the mother. She had longed to marry since her teenage, but she couldn’t. She always attributes this to her look and family. So, she vows to live a better life in the future by hook or crook and begins to use highly effective and expensive bleaching creams to brighten her skin. She also hunts for a suitor via dubious ways such as flaunting her bosoms and derrière at the workplace and visiting the so-called Malamai, fortune-tellers and sorcerers.

After long and tedious trials and retrials, she meets a fine young man, a newly transferred staff from another state, in their office. Without a doubt, she knows he’s beyond her league, but she believes it’s worth a try. As feared, the fine-looking new staff turned down her offer outright.

“I swear I will marry that guy by all means”, she declares. Soon thereafter, she starts consulting her fixers for aid of whatever nature. “All I want”, she confesses to one of them, a very powerful sorcerer who lives atop a high mountain, “is to marry him”. 

“That’s easy for us as drinking water”, he assured her. “There are however rules, as you well know”.

“I am more than ready to abide by them. All of them provided my wish will be granted”.

For a start, she’s instructed to visit their family house which is far away, and which is uncommon in the culture of that locality. She unhesitatingly goes. She introduces herself as his colleague. Simple. She throughout her stay behaves the most innocent girl-type and spreads greetings to his stepmother and siblings and everyone who cares to respond.

Oga Rabiu has been very helpful”, she warily announces. “I, therefore, felt duty bound to visit his family as I am here for another reason, actually a relative’s wedding”.

In the evening of the same day, I saw Rabiu looking bothered and lonely. I was about to ask him what’s up when he started to tell me all about Rahama. He said that she’s a magic-savvy lady who shamelessly once told him that their marriage would yield lots of blessings. When he asked her how she knew that, she said her Mallam told her.

I was bewildered. I quite well know that she’s neither fit for him nor for his scholastic family. He halts my busy mind, which is trying hard to dissect the whole scenario: “Muhammad” he calls my name, “marrying Rahama would be the greatest mistake of my life”. That relieves my besieged mind, for I was just contemplating whether or not I should tell him to not accept her proposal. “So, rest assured, I will avoid it like a plague”. He adds.

A few days or weeks, I can’t recall exactly, passed by and I hear nothing from my dear neighbour cum friend, Rabiu or about Rahama’s blunt, in fact, unheard of, proposal. I have just started thinking the issue was dead and buried for good when he comes to me with a bombshell.

“I am getting married next week”. He tells me.

Wow! I said sotto voce. I know that he and his younger brother have been searching for a fitting life partner for him in the neighbourhoods. I also know that he’s rich enough to solemnize his marriage within a few days if both parties reached an agreement. Thus, I ask:

“Who’s the lucky girl?”

His look changed from thrilled to timidity in a split of a second. I wish I could retract my question. In this deportment, he managed to respond: “Rahama”.

After calculating the atmosphere, I feel convinced that no need of any further explanation on how it comes to that. Her magic, shameless pursuit and insincere insistence have ultimately worked out. I pray for the Almighty to bless the union and call it a day.

A few years later, I begin to think that we all, who earlier condemned her, were proven wrong. She seems a wife everyone would want to have: caring, loving, dutiful, and generous towards him and his family. Her major frailty still remains how she handles religion. That too I reason that she’s from a different background. Therefore, we shouldn’t expect her to behave the way we do, or as we want.

Unbeknown to us, she’s simply buying time to portray her real self. She’s a wolf in sheep’s cloth. She is now doing the unthinkable; Rabiu has literally been her “yes man”. He worships her; he does everything to please her, and parts with everyone she doesn’t like, including his brothers and sisters. He’s, to sum it up, blanketed in her world.

Rabiu is known for much discretion, but not any longer. You dare to tell him your undisclosed secret; you would hear it being spoken of in the neighbourhoods. If you ask who told them, they would say Rahama.

Uncharacteristically enough and against Islam, Rabiu has at several instances bequeathed his wealth be given to her should he die as they don’t have any child yet. He cannot even reflect or recall that his parents, who should rightly get the lion share, are still alive.

There is a single path to get to Rabiu now, and that’s through Rahama. Rabiu is for Rahama, and Rahama is for her family and pocket. He sees but he cannot decipher. Everyone believes that he’s conjured. And that doesn’t last forever.

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