September 17, 2021
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A CHRISTMAS LOVE STORY Episode 3

Mamana..so, say me hi to papa when he returns ko? Tell him i will call him as soon as i get to sister’s house”

Matilda said, hugging her sister lightly.

“Kai..i’ll miss you fa Matilda.. You know you can still change your mind ba?”

“Haba chetah..what is your problem? you want to make me change my mind? You know how badly i need to leave for somewhere better..”

Matilda said, emphasizing better with a stretch of her hands towards the 18 seater bus that would convey her from kano to Abuja

“Ehhh..so here is what? We that we’re here are what? We be nama ko?” Chetah retorted, folding her hands underneath her breast and pushing them upward

“I know you will miss me..just say so Chetah”

“Of course i will..who else will help us in distributing rice and drinks to alllll our numerous neighbors and customers this Christmas? Mama is gone Mati..you are our mother now..why are you leaving?”

Matilda flipped one end of her scarf over the other shoulder and played with the hand of her small traveling bag, moving her thumb back and forth beneath it, hoping the moment would pass fast

Chetah was sniffing, rubbing the hem of her white hijab on her eyes.

Matilda found herself thinking about why her sister enjoys wearing the hijab when they were Christians. She had them in different colours and length.

Their father had nothing against it. He even encouraged it, saying always that “when you are in Rome, you behave as the Romans”

It was one of his ways of reminding them that they do not belong here, in kano, even after almost 20 years of leaving Nsukka. But she also knew that it was part of a bigger strategy to help them gain the acceptance and loyalty of the larger Hausa community.

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Many foreign traders do this, and her father owns one of the biggest fabrics shop in Kano’s main market.

The other was to make them speak hausa consistently, even when they were not at the shop, and now they speak a mixture of igbo, hausa and English inadvertently.

There were even Fridays when her father would pull on a long white kaftan to his shop, with a cap placed precariously on his head.

Standing in front of the shop, he would wave to the Muslim traders as they troop to the mosque for the jumaat, telling some that he was coming right behind them. And as they returned, he would corner some of them and make them buy wrappers for their wives. Her father was a wise business mani.

But her mother had hated all of it
She had been the one who never found all of that important. She had called it hypocrisy and made sure she spoke igbo furiously with them. But now she was dead!

“Are you done with the blackmail Chetah?”

Matilda said as soon as she found the composure to speak without betraying any emotion.

“I’m sorry mati if that is how you’re seeing it”

Chetah said, lowering her eyes misty with tears

“We spoke about this and i thought you accepted that it was okay?”

Matilda said, desperately trying to shake off the guilt her sister already made her feel.

Their mother had died in January, and now she was leaving in December. But leaving in itself was a way of escaping all the sad memories.

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Was she supposed to stay here , pinning away with all the pain forever?

Kano has held so many sad memories for her since the last one year, and leaving would help her breath some fresh air.

Besides, she has her music and voice to show to a larger, less conservative world. It was one of the things that excited her more about leaving. Kano had never valued her.

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