In school I told Fatima my friend, who also lives three blocks away from me in the barrack.
Fatima listened carefully and then walked away. “Fatima! Fatima!” she called, but Fatima just went away and spent the rest of her break period in that quiet place around primary five classrooms.
All through P.H.E class, when Mrs Obinaso was explaining the difference between field events and track events, Fatima kept a straight face while stealing glances from where i was seated.
After school that same day, Fatima would burst out in tears, refusing to eat her Iya Bunmi’s popular fish roll and letting catarrh drip from her nose as she explained what her Alfa does to her weekly after Friday prayers behind the big mango tree.
Fatima said although it hurts at first, but she later came to enjoy it and that she even promised the Alfa not to tell anyone, but she felt the need to tell me because- like her, I am now a woman. She wiped her face with her hands.
“Now a woman.” Fatima what do you mean? She said her Alfa told her all about being a woman and that he has also pointed to her some girls at the mosque that he has helped become women – all of them were our age mates including Hadiza!
She said the “including Hadiza” in a hushed tone and i understood why – Hadiza was also in our class and for all we know she could be lurking around, since it’s school over and everyone is just hanging around doing one thing or the other, so we have to be careful and not shout.
Fatima said she’ll teach me how to place my legs next time so it won’t hurt. “Next time?” She nodded yes. I just realized that I haven’t said more than ten words since Fatima shared her own story.
Maybe it’s time I tell my mom everything or Mrs Taiwo- she seem like a cool teacher who would understand. Fatima gave me her fish roll to eat and said I could come and watch she and Alfa do it next time.
She said I can hide by the fence – it’s always very dark there so no one would notice me hiding there. She also said she’ll give me one of her hijab to wear – the blue one, she said this while laughing like a new bride, said the hijab is so I’ll be allowed inside the mosque. I love the hijab so much and tomorrow is Friday. So I said agreed.
Read Part 1 – Diary Of A Soldier’s Child (Part 1)