• My wife’s last night call  |  By Abdulhamid Al-Gazali
    "Yes, he is sleeping and when he sleeps normally he becomes virtually unconscious of everything..." my wife, Aisha, spoke into the phone. After seconds, just as I was wondering who that could be, she added in a rather, innocent tone: "No. He will not. We can talk". I was keen in the face of the rarity of her responses and the tone of her voice to take up my phone, placed on my chest to read what the time was, though that would mess up the show for my curiosity.

    I was totally worn out last night as I had a very engaging day. I conducted a very tedious fieldwork in the morning on my work on Boko Haram. I gave a two hour lecture to my students on Kanem Borno which lasted until 4:00pm. It did not end there, when I was done with the lecture, I had a meeting to attend in town with my friend, Barr. Shettima Mustapha, Musa Ali, Ibrahim Said, etc., on a proposed community initiative. So when I finally arrived home, I was really exhausted. So I went to bed unusually early. But because of the inherent insomnia, which in my case has long transformed into a norm, I could not sleep. I left her in the sitting room watching BBC Great Debate series on the LG LCD TV with Abdulgaffar, who like me, does not sleep early. In the course of our marriage, my wife too has begun to learn staying up late in the night. When we got married, I found it difficult to understand her schedule. As a doctor, she spent most of the day in her workplace, and when she returns, she's not only exhausted, but always insisted on, in spite of the cook I hired for her, cooking, for an ever grateful me.

    When she is done cooking, she would always endure to watch me eat, as though a kid, before she went on to sleep. She would amble between the kitchen and the dinning room several times, placing on the table different dazzling dishes, a twenty-first century thermo technology "stunts", as I sit in the sitting room to watch on the cable channels the many vexing things happening across the globe. After this was done, she would quietly go in to take her bath and change. Most of the time, when she is through, I am alarmed by the redolence of the "humra" perfume typical of Kanem Borno fashion only her knows where to get, that everything is ready. When the scent breezes in to dominate the atmosphere of the sitting room first, most of the time, preponderating the aroma of the meal she cooked, and the room freshening spray, I always could not wait to see her follow. One thing she knows doing best is matching colors--and whenever she appears, it is always a new outing. Apart from a naturally well carved out outlook, her dressing is her best charm: it always accentuated the beauty in her.

    Ordinarily she needed not to invite me to the table, because I always monitored her steps as she went about them, but the bigmanism typical of Nigerian husbands would not allow me to save her that. I wait until she invites me. She is always fond of leading me to the table, as I teased her. She dusts up and positions the emporium upholstered chair of the 19th century European antiques, to make a comfortable sitting, and asks me to sit. I have never missed to express my gratitude to her and commend her for cooking so well. On an instance, she shocked me when she asked whether I really enjoy the meals she has been cooking at all because she said I commend and praise her even before I would start eating. But my Aisha is unbeatable in the kitchen. Only God knows how this lady combined a busy medical career with internalising the institution of cooking.

    On the table, she would not allow me to serve myself because she knows I don't eat a lot. Soon as we both sit, she would place the sets of ceramic plates before me, grab the serving spoons, serve me and always warned that "you better not spare a piece of this". Seated next, she would watch me eat, holding sheets of floppy serviette in her hands, ready to clean my mouth, hands... I cannot understand why we cannot discuss serious issues with her at all. As I eat, all the conversations would be trading of jokes. When I am done eating, this visibly exhausted wife of mine heads straight to bed. I would get on to do some leftover office works, write my columns and etc.

    Whenever I go in to join her, she would wake up to quarrel me for being late. I would apologize and she says the night prayer for us before we sleep. We have always done that as a norm.

    Last night I was in bed, unusually, before her. But I could not sleep. I closed and opened my eyes several times but could not sleep still. The reason was simple: she was not beside me. I almost stood up to go meet them to tell her that I could not sleep without her next to me when she shut the door open. I then pretended I was sleeping. I heard her hum a couple of times. She walked from one place to the other for few minutes and finally sat on the bed's edge. I wanted to open my eyes and talk to her, but I resisted the urges. After a couple of minutes, she took her phone to make a call. My wife always puts off her phone once it is 9:00 pm. Though as a doctor she may be called upon to come over at any time for some emergencies, she had dropped my number in the office in the case of such. As much as I was not sure of the time, it was strange that she would speak on phone at that time. I told myself, having had the conversation, 'didn't she know that in spite of the heavy sleep, I may likely hear her'. The kind of things she said on the phone, I am still surprised that with all her smartness, she would make that call beside me.

    Soon as she ended the call, it did not take five minutes for a text message to pop in. I wondered what on earth could the content of that message be. I wanted to get up and collect the phone to read the message. But I did not. When we were bachelors, I remember, our girlfriends, including my wife, always insisted that we send them text messages late in the night. "Send me a lovely text", they would always say.

    When I was about to open my eyes finally, I heard her hum, and say: "thank God you are asleep early tonight. I will surprise you in this house." I could not understand why she had to say all these things. I became really keen and curious now. When I opened my eyes finally to demand explanation for what my ears heard, she had already located the switch and flicked the lights off. So she still didn't know that I was not sleeping. I normally don't care to check her phone. Yes, she always snapped me in the morning and showed me the photos. That is how far I go about contact with her phone. Most of the time, and all the time in the morning, she kept it on the lamp stand beside the bed. So since I did not know the contents of the message, but very certain that it was connected to the phone call, I decided that I would take up the phone in the morning to check. But I thought to myself that she might delete the text. But I know, with what my ears heard, she would not delete the message, especially that she thought I was asleep and knew my disinterest in delving into her phone. So I made up my mind on that. On that night, I could not have slept if not because I was very exhausted. It felt like a year before the new morning would set in.

Sunday, October 9, 2016 2:18 AM

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  • Just get it right! -Mustapha Modu Bama

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    Just get it right
    By Mustapha Modu Bama | October 2, 2016, 12:00 pm

    I write with high sense of joy to congratulate the editorial board of Yerwa Express News and everyone involved in taking this giant stride to be in the midst of thousands in the business of information management and dissemination at a time people of Borno and beyond need it the most. Being the first of its kind in the history of Yerwa (Maiduguri) and the entire north-eastern states, if I have not mistaken, Yerwa Express News should emulate the existing prominent newspaper organisations in the quest of disseminating authentic, reliable and timely news stories in and around Borno state.

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