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Choices Chapter 11

Chapter 11 (Nurrain)
“We have to do something about this before that stupid girl does something more extreme next time” I told Nurah as I paced the length of the garage, he sat slumped sideways in the front seat of the parked car, his legs firmly on the ground but he didn’t have the will or energy to push up and actually get out of the car.
“She scared the hell out of me” he admits, rubbing his palms all over his face as if to rub the memories away. “I feel like grabbing her and running away where no one can find us” he mused and it’s like a light bulb went off in my head.
“You should totally do it!” I exclaimed and he gives me a look like I’ve lost my mind “what?”
“You should run away, that’s the only option left, just run off and get married once you’re hitched her dad will have no choice but to accept your union” he looks an equal major of hopeful and wary so I pushed a little bit more “think about it Man, there’s no other option left, if you roll your arms and do nothing 3 lives will be ruined,because with the way Maya is going she might do something much more drastic if push comes to shove”
“I hear you man but I’m really not in the best position to get married right now, my savings is maxed out with all the spending I’ve been doing on Mom’s hospital bills, I don’t have a place to live, I don’t have a job, what exactly can I offer her if I marry her now!”
“What are you even saying, and what do I look like, a statue that can’t help you. What’s mine is yours you’ve always known this so you don’t need to worry about all this. I’ll speak to Baffa and he’ll give you a position in the company, I know it’s not your area of expertise and you’ve always wanted to actually be an engineer but you can make do for now until something better comes along and I have enough in my savings for us to rent a house somewhere so that wouldn’t be a problem either. If you really want to do this I can make it happen for you, it won’t be a problem at all”
He didn’t answer for a while he just kept staring at me, a guarded expression on his face. “Why are you staring at me like that, is there something on my face?”
“No, it’s just I can’t believe I have such a great friend like you” he answered and I chuckle “don’t make this weird man, you’re my brother ofcoz I’ll do anything for you, so are we going to do this or not?”
“We are going to do the marriage part but not the job and house part”
I furrowed my brows in confusion “what’d you mean?”
He stands and walks towards me “look, I am beyond grateful for everything you and your family has  done for me so far, Baffa has been paying for my registration fee for five years, he has never once done anything for you without doing the same for me and it’s all because of you and our friendship, I owe you so much Nurrain I can’t take more from you. I am an adult and if I’m going to become somebody’s husband I want to do it through my own effort, it’s time I stop leaning on you and learn to stand on my own two feet”
Now it was my turn to stare at him “I didn’t know you felt that way. Man, we are family and family take care of each other, we don’t keep score or think of it as a favor. We take care of our own and I know if the roles were reversed you’d do the exact same for me so get that indebted rubbish out of your head and take me up on my offer. Things are already complicated there’s no use in making it harder for yourself when you don’t have to”
“I know you’re only trying to help but I need to do this on my own so please try and understand where I’m coming from”
“I don’t understand, but let’s table the conversation for now and focus on the marriage part, we need a plan” I told him just as my phone started ringing, I ignored it at first because it’s an unknown number but then they called again so I picked up, to my surprise in was Maya’s uncle muhammadu that’s calling. He didn’t say much just that he wants to help. I was skeptical at first because well, our last encounter didn’t end so well for me but he assured me it’s not like that and he sounded sincere enough so i believed him. I put him on speaker so Nurah can hear everything and the first thing he said is  “I don’t like you!”  Well this seems like a promising start, it seems we are being honest so I told him “I don’t like you either”
“That being said, I want my niece to be happy and right now she is anything but happy. I can’t keep watching her suffer for the sake of some backwards age old tradition of our family so I am willing to help you out. But before I do that I have to know if you’re serious about her because if you’re just playing games I will end you. Maya told me everything , but marriage is a huge responsibility so if you’re not serious be a man and tell me right here and now!”
“You don’t need to worry we are serious about this, so please how can you help” I assured him
” Maya is being released from the hospital tomorrow and the wedding will take place in a week.I have a friend who’s a clerk at the courthouse, they handle cases like this and he has agreed to speak to the judge and explain the situation. I’ll try and sneak Maya out of the house in the next few days and you’ll meet us at the courthouse. I’m sure your family is against this as well but you need to bring at least one person to stand for you. Once you’re married we can deal with the fallout later on, so have everything ready and wait for my call soon” he hung up once he was done talking without waiting for a reply or a goodbye. He is a charming as Maya it seems.
“Can you believe our luck, everything is falling into place Alhamdulillah!” Nurah’s face is beaming with happiness as he celebrates this achievement.
“Don’t be so happy yet, we still need to figure out everything before you can get hitched” I remind him
“I know but at least things are looking up” he replied
“True, now all you need is to find a job in the next week”
“And a relative to stand for me don’t forget that”
“I have an uncle that can help but him and Baffa don’t get along that’s why I didn’t mention him earlier but since we’re going to a courthouse and Baffa won’t be involved in any way it should be okay”
” It’s hard to imagine Baffa not getting along with anyone,your uncle must really be something else”.
“He’s a drunk that’ll do anything for enough money to buy his next bottle”
“That explains it, will he be able to help us?”
“I haven’t seen him in ten years now but I’m sure if we give him a little pocket money he’ll jump right on board,he lives in Dutse so we’ll go there tomorrow morning and fetch him”
We went in the house and had dinner with everyone after that, Nurah didn’t say much niether did I both of us feeling guilty for all the things we were doing behind their backs. When Ammi asked Nurah what is wrong he told her he’s worried about his mom and she was quick to assure him all will be fine.
“Maybe we should go visit her while you’re dealing with your school stuff here, I haven’t gotten the chance to check on her since she was hospitalized so I think it’s good if Ammi and I fly out to see her tomorrow” Baffa said and Ammi agreed. They asked yah Umar to take care of their flight arrangements and Nurah kept trying to dissuade them insisting they didn’t have to go to all that trouble until I kicked him on the shin under the table. He looked my way and I signaled him to keep quiet, he didn’t understand what I meant so I text him what I mean “let them go, it works in our favor, we have to go to Dutse tomorrow remember!” His mouth made an Oh shape as he read my text.
“No phones at the table!” Ammi reminds him having caught him trying to text me back. He sheepishly slid the phone back in his pocket and apologized.
“So Nurah you don’t have to feel guilty  for accepting the scholarship just because your mom is still in the hospital. If you ask me I think you shouldn’t let the opportunity pass you by besides your mom will want you to secure your future since they’re enough people to care for her”  Baffa said and we all turned to him perplexed. What scholarship is he going on about now.
“What scholarship?” Yah Umar asked exactly what I was thinking. Looking at Nurah who looks as confused as the rest of us.
“Wait, y’all didn’t know. You children never read the newspaper it seems”
“Ofcoz they don’t, all they care about is phones now” Ammi said
“The government is paying for all overall best students in each department of BUK to study abroad, they’re partnering with some international agencies to Foster diplomacy or something. They printed the list of students chosen in lastweek’s paper didn’t they email you? the trip is next week I thought that’s why you came to gather your documents and what not”
I was stunned.we have been busy running around after Maya’s issue that this opportunity will have passed Nurah. He looked shell shocked so I nudged him and asked him to check his email. He glanced at Ammi who gave him the go ahead “we are done eating anyway so go ahead and check” he pulled up his Gmail and sure enough he had three emails from Buk sitting in his mail box, the most recent was sent yesterday reminding him to come in for a screening tomorrow if he accepts the offer to study in the UK.
“I can’t believe it, how is this real? Thank God I still have my passport from that Egypt trip we took when scouting universities or there’s no way I can get a new one before the deadline” He laments and I Pat him on the shoulder “congratulations Man, all your hard work finally paid off” the rest of the house congratulate him as well and we made our escape to our room quickly “this changes everything Man, if you accept this scholarship you and Maya will have to say goodbye” I told him as I grab a Coke from our fridge and sat down.
“No, that won’t happen man. I read through the fine print of the offer, they make provisions for married people and you get to travel with your spouse so you see everything will work out perfectly. Maya and I will get married and escape to the UK Everybody’s temper and resentment will cool down before we get back in a few years”
“Yeah it’s great”
“Don’t sound too excited” he said calling me out on dull tone and I was quick to apologise “sorry man, I’m truly happy for you, you’re finally getting everything you deserve it’s just things won’t be the same without you here” he gave me a mocking smirk “awwwn! Poor baby are you going to miss me?”
“Shut up you fool! Let’s focus on making sure everything works smoothly before you get off to obodo ibo and leave us poor souls in our father land”
He started making calls to get his affairs in order for his trip and I decided to get some work done as well and return some pending emails, with all the star-crossed lovers drama going on I have been neglecting alot of my own personal affairs.
The next morning the entire house hold woke up early with everyone getting ready to head their separate ways. Ammi, Baffa and khursum who insisted on going along with them headed off to the airport, Yah Umar went to the office and I headed off to Dutse to find Kawu Habu while Nurah went off to deal with his scholarship stuff.
What was supposed to be a day trip turned into two because Kawu Habu apparently is on a bender and hasn’t been home in days, his family didn’t seem worried at all. They gave me a room and told me to wait as he normally doesn’t go missing for more than 5 days.
“He’ll come crawling back soon enough once his money runs out. Don’t worry about him, just relax and enjoy your visit with us it’s been so long since you came to see us” his wife Anty Larai told me and went on to serve me one dish after the other to get my mind off my missing uncle. Who apparently hasn’t been home in two days by the time I showed up on the scene. Admittedly, it was nice to spend time with Anty Larai and my cousins Hassan and Hussain since I rarely get to spend any time with that side of my family on normal days. Although the boys are just 12 making me twice their age but it was still nice to be an older brother to them even if it was for a little while. Khursum is grown now and doesn’t need her big brother much this days. I told Ammi I went to Lagos for a business meeting when she called to ask why they didn’t find me at home after they returned, she didn’t question it since it’s not the first time I’ve been on business trips elsewhere. We kept in touch with Nurah and everything was going well on his end, he successfully completed the seecreening and made arrangement for his mom’s care so nothing will go wrong while he’s away.
Kawu Habu showed up on day three all smiles and whistles when he saw me. He looked rumpled up which has always been his go to look but there was no traces of alcohol when he engulfed me in a thight hug so he must have showered it off before he came home. He told me he was on a business trip and he didn’t know I came or he’ll have dropped everything and rushed home, I was about to refute him when Anty Larai signalled me to go along with it so I did. When he headed to the bathroom she whispered to me “just let it go, or he’ll feel so embarrassed you know about what’s going on” I assured her I’ll let it go and we had a nice time catching up with my uncle about years gone by. I didn’t bring up the issue that brought me to his door steps until the next day. It didn’t take much convincing before he agreed to come along with me and help us out but with the condition I spent another day at his house so we could catch up some more, I touched base with Nurah and he told me there’s no need to hurry back since the court date is set for 3 days from now and their flight will be departing early the next day so the schedule worked out perfectly. It was all going to be over and done with in 3 days and I can finally focus on my own issues again, so I relaxed and enjoyed spending time with family.
We set out for Kano early on that Sunny Tuesday, when we arrived I lodged Kawu at a hotel and handed him some money to cover his expenses, we agreed I’ll pick him up early the next morning so we can get to court early. I begged him not to go out anywhere in case he bumps into anyone, it’s unlikely anyone will come to this hotel but you never know.
“Trust me, I’ll stay right here. Look at this room a soft bed and full blown AC what more do I need so don’t worry besides your family members are the last people I want to see right now”  he assured me and we said our goodbyes.
I headed home and Ammi was very happy I was back she decided we were going to have my favorite food for dinner, pounded yam and Eguisi soup much to Khursum’s dismay, who hates pounding duty more than anything. I left her to her grumbling as she followed Ammi into the kitchen to get started. I was chuckling to myself in amusement when I opened the door to the room surprised to find Nurah pacing back and forth in distress. “Ango! Ango! Are you getting cold feet now that you’re about to be shackled for life huh!” I teased softly as I closed the door behind me, I was sure he’ll laugh and preen like a peacock at being called Ango but he only managed a tight smile.
“Is something wrong? You’re getting married to the love of your life in less than 24hours from now you shouldn’t be this gloomy” I set down my overnight bag and got a drink from the fridge.
“It’s nothing, I’m just nervous I guess. Everything is hitting me all at once you know and I’m feeling a tad overwhelmed and I don’t know maybe all this is wrong and we mess up everything and what if I can’t be a good husband and she hates…….
“Oh no,hell no! We are not doing this. We are at the finish line you don’t get to spiral out of control right now! Calm down and stop doubting yourself. In the next twenty-four hours you are going to link your life with another human being and the responsibility of her life, her joy and her happiness is going to be on you. On top of that you’re all going to be in an unknown city with no family or friends to help you out so she needs you to be her strength, she needs to be able to lean on you,so if you’re loosing it how will you be her source of strength” he seems to be getting the message so I forged on “you love this girl and she loves you enough to leave her family for your sake. That is not an easy sacrifice, it is too high a price to pay for loving someone so please don’t take it for granted.
As you two leave together tomorrow make sure you become not just a husband to her but a family as well because you are all she has until you two start giving me nephews. The first one better be named after me!”
He laughed and points at me ” Dan iska kawai can you imagine a child named Nurrain Nurah Na’if. He’ll grow up traumatized by that name”
“At least he’ll be unique” I defended and he agreed “true that”
“So are you done with your little freak out”
“Yeah, Maya will be my wife soon and regardless of how things go down tomorrow after the wedding I’ll always try to be the best husband I can be”  he said and I was quick to assure him.
“There’s really no need to worry, nothing will go wrong tomorrow. Kawu Habu is here and ready to go, muhammadu will bring your bride to the court and you love birds can spend the night at the executive suite I booked for you today before you set out for greener pastures tomorrow”
His jaw almost hit the floor “why didn’t you tell me, what’d you do that for!”
“Don’t act like you don’t want it, consider this my wedding gift to you and your bride, I didn’t get to do all my best man duties since you’d end up eloping so let me do this for you at least” Maya called so I gave him space to do his weird romantic voice that makes me want to barf, so i hit the shower and cleaned up.
We didn’t sleep until about 2am that night just gisting about life, our plans and normal stuff. Nurah looked pensive all night,he was acting cagy and on edge the whole night I didn’t take it seriously thinking it was just nerves about the wedding.
I wish I had paid attention and pushed him to tell me the truth then maybe I could have managed to avoid the shit storm that went down at the courthouse. Maybe then I wouldn’t find myself neck deep in the mess I’m about to create.

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