Listen to Your Heart, Love Doesn't Respect Ethnic and Religious Barriers
Let The Kids Decide Who to Marry
Robert wasn’t particularly hungry but the urge to behold the beautiful face of this mermaid on campus who has captured his heart, has been so strong since he saw her with her friends four days back on their way to the cafeteria. He knew the only place to get a glimpse of her and perhaps, steal a glance, was no other place than cafeteria.
He adjusted his sparkling white shirt and brand new blue jeans, making sure he looked impeccable. As he approached the cafeteria, she was leaving. He summoned courage and went over to her and said, “Hello!”
“Hi!” Amina said, barely looking at him. Stories of how campus guys used and dumped female students have created a kind of phobia in her. Whatever this guy wanted couldn’t work because of the obvious.
“Do you mind if I talk to you briefly?” Robert asked.
“About what? Amina snapped, obviously sending a clear signal of a hatred for talking to strangers, especially a male student. Disregarding Amina’s hostility, Robert quickly introduced himself.
“I’m Robert, a Pharmacy student from the Eastern part of the country. Actually, I’m in my final year. What about you?” he asked.
Amina regarded him with such contempt and just to make sure she doesn’t end up insulting a cultist in case Robert was one, she managed a simple, “Well, my name is Amina, Amina Suleiman.
“Is that all about you?” Robert inquired. And after waiting for a reply that never came, he quickly continued, “Common baby, I need to know more, I’m serious,” he pleaded.
Her curves were lush, sleek, with skin as smooth as polished marble with the sheen of fine silk. Whenever boys on campus took one look at what God had endowed her with and they shot straight into fantasy mood.
“Okay, okay,” Amina interrupted in an attempt to quickly discharge him. “I am in the Biochemistry Department… 300 level, and I know my name tells you I’m a Northerner.”
“That’s it!” Robert told himself. That night, the thought of the angel, kept him awake. He thought how he’d show Amina around to his friends just to prove he’s got a rare treasure. “She appears too rigid, too confident and untouched,” he soliloquized. “How am I going to make her succumb to my advance? Slow down man, you’ve got to slow real down or you’ll lose her,” he thought.
Amina has never felt the way she was feeling right now. “What could be wrong with me?” she questioned herself. She was being frank at the moment because no guy has made her feel the way Robert made her feel since they met. She had not found a great and enduring love, but believed it would come someday. She had been betrothed to Zakari as a baby; he has been helpful, but that is not what she actually wanted.
Zakari had recently bought her a brand new iphone, the laptop she requested during his previous visit, some additions to her wardrobe, and deposited one hundred thousand naira into her account for her upkeep. She knew she was brewing trouble for herself by thinking of Robert, but she could not help herself. But rejecting those things would send out signal to Zakari that all is not well. She was still thinking when she fell asleep.
This was her third time Robert was asking her for a date; she had refused the first two times he’d asked her out. This time she decided to go with him. Robert was accustomed to girls seeking his attention, his favor; he wasn’t accustomed at all to being turned down. Her seeming lack of interest in him had piqued his interest, because that was the thing about handsome boys from rich background. They expected others to pay attention to them. He had never before been with a girl who didn’t automatically try to please him, and he was intrigued by her aloofness.
Amina considered herself practical, intelligent and strong. Indeed, she couldn’t understand how anyone could be the latter without the two formers.
She was woken up the next day at 8am by Robert’s knock on her door. After breakfast together at her place, they departed for lectures and met again later that evening for study. It has become loving for both love-birds to study together after school hours. That gave them the chance to share knowledge on general courses and most importantly to be close to each other. One of the evenings, he didn’t like the way other guys were looking at Amina, so he pulled her a little closer to his side in one of those gestures guys use to signal other men that they are edging into personal territory.
Susan, Amina’s friend confronted her one fateful day while she studied with Robert, on why she had distanced herself from her friends. Amina explained that she liked Robert.
“You’re dealing with a campus playboy,” Susan said.
That evening Amina attacked Robert. “I’ve been reliably informed you are a playboy.”Amina said as Robert walked her back to her hostel. They had a heated argument that separated them for two weeks.
With barely one week to the start of his final semester examinations, Robert felt he needed to make peace with Amina else, he would perform badly, because he could not concentrate in his studies. He paid Amina a visit against her warning to him not to ever come around her again.
“There you goes again, just the playboy that you are,” Amina shot at him.
“You don’t truly believe that I came into your life to take advantage of you? We’ve been together for almost a year now and I have never attempted sleeping with you, can’t you get the point that I treasure you? Robert asked.
“I guessed it is all pretenses,” Amina replied.
“No baby! I love you,” Robert pressed on. Amina knew it was time to give up but that would mean destroying her only tactics with which to call off her relationship with the only male companion that had given her a reason to feel loved. “Robert,” she heard herself saying, “I’m sorry, I can longer continue with this relationship.”
“But baby why? I truly love you,” Robert pleaded.
“Listen to me,” Amina interjected, “hear me out, I love you Robert despite of our differences as regards culture, religion, background.”
This speech as far as Robert was concerned was taking them nowhere and to save the situation. “Marry me Amina, marry me, so I can prove my love for you,” Robert said, kneeling on one knee. Amina’s lips remained parted after it was thrown open on hearing the proposal. He brought a diamond ring out of his pocket and slipped it into Amina’s finger.
“Please get up. I love you so much,” Amina said with tears rolling down her cheeks as she helped him up. The moment presented another opportunity for both lovers to exchange passionate kisses which Robert wished would last forever. After that he a chain, he had brought along; dangling from the delicate gold chain, was a pendant of two intertwined hearts, connected by brilliant diamond. It was beautiful. Before she knew it, he was behind her, moving her long dark hair onto her shoulders and fastening the necklace.
“There is something you must know Robert,” she said, “I love you and will stand by you forever, but I’m afraid this can’t work,” she tried explaining. “Getting involved with me is wrong. You should kick me out of your life. Tell me to go away, leave you alone and never to bother you if you were smart.”
“I’m in love with you. Maybe it’s foolish. Maybe I’ll live to regret it. But I can’t change it. I don’t think I’d change it if I could. Loving you feel so incredible,” Robert replied.
Amina was the daughter of a Muslim family. Her mother died from complications that developed during her birth. “When I was a baby, I was betrothed to a man …since I grew up I’ve been faithful to him.”
Two months after naming ceremony was held for Amina, Jibril in a bid to reward Suleiman and perhaps, solidify their relationship for Suleiman’s timely intervention many years ago when he had accident, decided to let his son Zakari marry Amina. In a simple ceremony, the baby girl was betrothed to Zakari who was 27 years old at the time. Audu nearly died in horrific auto-crash. His injuries left him paralyzed for two years. Amina grew up into a decent and intelligent girl and things went well between both families as Zakari kept performing his duties of seeing to the welfare of Amina.
Robert’s countenance changed from sympathy to fury. “Jesus Christ! Why should your father betroth you to a man as a baby?”
“It’s our culture,” Amina explained.
“It’s wrong. The choice of who you marry should be yours,” Robert said
Trouble started at Suleiman’s house two days before Robert bid the campus farewell. Amina visited her father to inform him of her resolve to marry Robert who was the only man she loved. “Besides,” she insisted, “Zakari is too old for me and I’m sorry I don’t feel anything for him.” every effort to get her to see reasons to change her mind proved abortive.
Amina had gone to the university and came back civilized and was not ready for this primitive practice of her people. Her relations with their jaws hanging open listened to Amina, while she educated them of enlightened practices in civilized societies. Subsequently, Suleiman disowned her only daughter amidst pain and regrets for allowing her get into the university in the first place.
With no place to go after graduation, Amina joined Robert in Lagos. “When I love, I love completely, with all in me. No half measures. I’m your heart, mind, body and soul,” she told Robert.
Robert kissed her on the nape of neck. “I knew instinctively the moment I first saw you that you were different, that you were special. The feeling hit me like a bolt of thunder.”
A month later, she fell ill and tests at the hospital proved she was pregnant and surprisingly, Robert insisted they head to the registry to legalize their union.
A year later, Suleiman sat outside his house one cool evening and listened as his son Lamido read the content of the letter he received from Lagos. The same level of rage he felt when he disowned his only daughter came building up once again but when it got to the part where Anthony and Anthonia were mentioned as his grandchildren, he paused and few seconds later, burst into a wild dance of joy.
“I forgive you my daughter. I truly forgive you. I thank Allah you found happiness,” he kept shouting to Lamido’s surprise. “I am near sixty five years old, and I hope that I have learned some things from the mistakes I have made in my life. Perhaps the most important is the need to let young people make their own decisions of who to marry.