Welcome to The World In Her Words! A platform dedicated to sharing fictional and nonfictional stories about women. Our first post is from our Founder – Aisha. It is part of a five part series titled “The Arewa Traveller”. “Arewa” is a term used to refer to Northern Nigeria. The story is set in present day Abuja – the capital of Nigeria and it is about a woman named Husna. We hope you enjoy reading the series!
It was a mildly hot day in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria – a country that lies in the west of Africa. A white Range Rover Evoque parked in front of the large golden gates of a white mansion in Maitama. Maitama was an affluent area in the capital city. The gates were almost a mile away from the actual house. The driver Zakariya knew this because she had been there several times.
Her best friend Husna “Mai Dalla” Musa lived there with her family. Husna’s father was Ali “Mai Dalla” Musa. Mai Dalla meant “the one with dollars”. It was a nickname given to him due to his immense wealth. Husna’s family had always been one of the wealthiest families in Nigeria. Zakariya had come to deliver some news she’d heard from a friend. She had called Husna earlier in the day to tell her the story and Husna invited her over to hear more details. The gates were opened by Danlami who was Husna’s gatekeeper. She waved at him as she drove in, her way of saying thank you.
Husna was sitting on her favourite couch in the brown room reading a book. Her big coily hair was tied in an afro bun on top of her head. She was wearing a long yellow print fitted atamfa dress. The yellow print complemented her dark skin beautifully and her clothes fit her body perfectly. Zakariya thought to herself, “When this is over, I must get her tailor’s number. Mine has been messing me up lately.”
Husna looked up when Zakariya walked in and smiled, exposing her perfect white teeth. She hugged her and said ‘Madam Trouble, tell me more about this time travel business.’
‘Okay look, I’m not sure if the whole thing is legit but Maimuna told me she did it and she’s not one to lie.’ Zakariya said taking off her headscarf and sitting next to Husna.
‘But the story is so bizarre. You really expect me to believe she travelled back in time and met her ancestors?’ Husna replied raising one of her eyebrows.
‘I’m telling you, that’s what she told me. She even had evidence to back up what she said. How do you explain her knowing that her mother wasn’t actually her grandfather’s child? No one in her family knew that. When she woke up, she asked her grandmother and she confessed.’ Zakariya replied with a look of both fear and excitement.'How do you explain her knowing that her mother wasn’t actually her grandfather’s child? No one in her family knew that. When she woke up, she asked her grandmother and she confessed.’ Tweet this
‘Hmm I’m not sure about trying this fa. What if we go back and we meet an evil ancestor that doesn’t wish us well? And if they follow us back to the present? Then what?’ Husna asked.
‘Ai Husna it’s technically a dream. They can’t follow you back from a dream. Once you wake up, it’s all finished. Maimuna said the Mallam will give you some herbs that will make you sleep. You’ll sleep for only hours but it will feel like you were there longer. Kin gane?’ Zakariya replied convincingly.
Husna pondered for a few minutes in silence. It would be good to meet some of her ancestors and learn more about her history. Growing up, Husna heard rumours that they were descendants of the legendary Mansa Musa that had emigrated to Northern Nigeria. It was said that Mansa Musa was one of the richest men that had ever lived. When she asked her father, he told her they weren’t able to trace their lineage that far back so she left it alone. It would be good to know whether the rumours were true.
‘Husna, stop dreaming.’ Zakariya said jolting Husna.
‘I think we should do it. But let’s not tell anybody else. If Baba finds out I’ve been doing stuff like this, he will not find it funny. I don’t want to get in trouble, kin ji ko?’ Husna said pulling one of her ears to emphasize her point.
‘Okay I won’t tell anybody. But we need to tell Maimuna since she’s the one with the hook up. We can tell her to swear she won’t tell. Besides we know her secret, I doubt she will want that to be common knowledge.’ Zakariya replied grinning.
‘Okay, let’s call her but don’t threaten her abeg. Let’s just ask her nicely not to tell anyone.’ Husna warned knowing Zakariya’s short fuse.
When Zakariya got off the phone with Maimuna, she said ‘Toh she won’t tell anyone but the Mallam is in Kuje in the forest. We can’t take our drivers there because they will snitch on us. How do we get there?’
‘Don’t worry about that. I will ask Ya Halim to take us.’ Husna replied.
‘Can we trust your older brother?’ Zakariya asked.
‘He won’t tell and you know he loves an adventure.’
The drive to the Mallam’s hut took almost two hours but Halim didn’t complain. He enjoyed the fresh air and being surrounded by trees and nature. When Husna asked him, he said yes immediately simply out of curiosity. Maimuna had shared the Mallam’s location via Google maps so he knew they were close.
They were driving on an untarred dirt road. Halim had prepared by taking his father’s Hummer jeep for the journey. As they drove further into the forest, they approached what appeared to be the end of the road as there were trees blocking them from moving forward.
‘I think we’re here.’ Husna said quietly.
‘Yes, it’s beyond these trees. A five-minute walk.’ Halim added pointing towards the trees.
‘Kai, I’m not sure about walking in this forest. Aren’t you scared of Aljannu?’ Zakariya asked biting one of her fingers. Aljannu or Jinn were spirits made of fire that sometimes possessed humans. In school, Husna and Zakariya were taught that Aljannu liked to live in trees and they could possess you if you left your hair open.
‘Abeg it’s 2pm in the afternoon. If it was late at night, I’d be worried. Tighten your scarf and let’s go.’ Husna said grabbing her purse and exiting the car.
The Mallam’s hut was moulded with red clay and it had symbols painted in white all over. Husna wondered what they meant but before she could speak, they heard a voice from the hut. It was loud and it seemed to echo across the forest mainly because it was so quiet. The voice spoke in Hausa which Husna expected....before she could speak, they heard a voice from the hut. It was loud and it seemed to echo across the forest mainly because it was so quiet. Tweet this
‘Husna, Halim and Zakariya, sannu.‘ the voice greeted.
They all froze in their tracks, Zakariya now hiding behind Halim. She was visibly shaking while her eyes darted around the forest at a phenomenal pace. The Mallam stepped out from the hut. He was using a walking stick made out of dark oak wood to help him walk as he was quite old. He wore a white kaftan with a hula on his head and his eyes were sharp and piercing. Halim looked at Husna alarmed and she knew why. They hadn’t told Maimuna they were bringing him. How did the Mallam know his name?
‘Don’t be afraid.’ the Mallam said.
‘How did you know my name?’ Halim asked the Mallam.
Husna sensed Halim was trying to appear less afraid than he was. She knew this because he was using the voice he used when he was addressing their father during the annual review of the company’s financial statements.
‘They told me you were coming.’ the Mallam replied still smiling.
‘They kuma? Who is they?’ Zakariya asked, still hiding behind Halim.
‘They.’ the Mallam replied gesturing around him with his hands.
‘Toh! Do you mean Aljannu?’ Husna asked suspecting his answer would be yes.
The Mallam nodded. ‘But they are the good ones. I don’t interact with the mischievous ones anymore. They always want something and the price is often costly.’
‘Anymore? So, you used to before?’ Zakariya asked stepping away slightly from Halim and closer to Husna.
‘Yes, many years ago when I was younger and not as wise. Come in and I will tell you more.’ the Mallam replied turning around and walking into his hut.
*End of Part 1*
So what happens next? Do they follow the Mallam into his hut? Subscribe using the form below to know when Part 2 comes out. If you enjoyed reading this, share the post on your social media using the buttons below. Tell us what you think happened next using our hashtags #TWIHW #theworldinherwords
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