Photo Credit: Seun James Taiwo Photography
MUA : Tope Akerele
Model: Favour Roberts
Before eventually losing another pregnancy in Kaduna, I assumed every other weird feeling I experienced was another warning of a slowly looming abortion, even the minutest of stomach upsets. I could recollect screaming violently out of sleep one night, thinking it had happened again but only to find out I had just dreamt about falling when a woman unknowingly tripped me in a market place. I later lost the pregnancy anyway. The many premonitions I had that year, late in 1998, were more agonising than losing a child I knew would not stay, although I was faithlessly hoping it would stay. I thought aloud severally, every single soul is destined to bring at least one plague into this world, perhaps mine was another fate to accept; to keep watching on as many unborn children bemoan my rasping destiny.
I heard the echo of another deep thought of mine, adoption! Our religion didn’t forbid it but what if our people did? ‘Who cares, anyway’ I muttered some boldness in English. But if the Gomo and his foot-lickers would succeed at preventing us from adopting a child, they would be playing the best cards of their lives. While they send me to the general market to pick garbage, Al-Ameen would probably be served with a beautiful girl as second wife, then my part would be done, I would be checkmated. After all, I’m only but a barren Zuru witch. Only that I was very sure Al-Ameen wasn’t such a man, he was never going to take a second wife. I was beginning to find a soothing escape in the possibility of adopting a child when I realised I was still a chained prisoner of my husband’s doing, or was it his undoing? In the middle of a no-man’s land, my tiny hands were tied with plumpy raffia. Here was far from home but closer to the sun during the day, and lighted by the massive satellite in the sky at nightfall. It was a fat valley laid in-between rugged steeps, with no easy without, only a depth I couldn’t tell where it led. The place was where my people would have called ‘a point of no return’. ‘I’m a survivor’ was the song echoing in my head, it was a common chanting in my village, especially during the yearly Uhola festival. I kept singing in Dakarkari. My four captors could neither speak nor hear Dakarkari, so they bothered themselves not. All they were concerned about was their next move. I heard them say, they were yet to receive orders from the boss, but could their boss be the DPO or Commissioner of police?
It was Sunday, 19th of November, 2000, a day after I was driven out of Kaduna to be camped in this ‘point of no return’. The orange sun was already retreating slowly in the west to give way for the enormous satellite for its night shift when some northerly currents started trooping down. It was getting cooler by each moment. I could tell their direction from a technique I learnt from my grandfather. The so called police officers were terribly shivering, I could hear the upper and lower jaws of the man called Attahiru vibrate on each other. It wasn’t that I didn’t shiver myself but remember I said I’m a survivor. Before we knew it, there followed a fast moving shadow from the sky like a mighty hand swimming violently towards the earth and in a blink of an eye, it had sent everywhere into a mere darkness. The powerful sandstorm blew me farther away from the camp site, I tried to look around for a safe hood but the sandy wind had covered everywhere. It also pulled the van that brought us on its side. I rolled to find a cover in between the open wheels of the van. With little gravity to hold, I followed the van as it lost balance and rolled down a huge depth. The only thing I could say was, ‘Allahu Akbar’, ‘ Allahu Akbar’. I kept saying ‘Allah is the greatest’ until I could say no more. How I didn’t get to be separated from the van, only Allah can tell. It was in the morning I was rescued by a kind hearted family of the downhill village. When I looked back from the swampy cleft unto the height I had fallen from, I saw a mighty hill. My survival was a clear evidence of Allah’s greatness. The log of water around the village was also a clear sign of an overnight heavy rain; the monstrous storm had brought with it a beautiful blessing to the downhill villagers. I didn’t care a bit whether my captors had survived the storm, besides they couldn’t have being real officers, if they were, then they probably went rogue. The most important thought that echoed from my mind was to find my dear Al-Ameen, or could it be that he has been taken?
Mariam Danladi’s journey so far: