|I’m quite horrible at telling stories unlike my friends Amina & Le Beau, & I’m definitely much more comfortable writing poetry than prose. But a friend told me I need to start working on prose. So here’s my second short story ever. The first was “Memories Race By” if you have the energy to dig through my blog to find it…
S/O to Hannah for editing this one. You can’t imaine how messy this would’ve looked without her help
Constructive commentary & criticism would be really appreciated.
A Mother’s Shield
A chikin sunan Yesu!!! Ba Abun da zai ta’ba kan dan-na!!! (in the name of Jesus! There’s nothing that can touch my son’s head!!!) the prayers rattled off Hauwa’s tongue like incantations flowing from the mouth of a skilled diviner. She had awoken with a start sometime around 2:35AM, and and felt a sudden, unexplainable urge to pray. She hadn’t had a bad dream or anything. All she knew was that she had felt something strike her spine, right at the same time she heard someone scream “ZAKARI!!!!!” in a blood curdling voice filled with fear and emerging tears. Hauwa knew that voice. That was Asiya’s voice.
She’d heard that voice transform from belonging to a little girl running around in her underwear, playing police and thief with her son Zakari in front of their house, to the beautiful woman who’s laugh always seemed to attract men to her like the voices of the fabled Greek Sirens would attract sailors to their island. They always seemed to attract every man except the one man both Hauwa and Asiya wanted it to attract; Zakari. Hauwa knew Asiya was in love with her son. She also knew that her son had never noticed it in the 22 odd years which they had been friends. But Hauwa had noticed. In fact, she knew when it had started.
The both of them had been 5 years old, and Zakari had just started learning Jeet Kun Do from his father Sanusi. Asiya had cried for days because her mother had refused to let her join Zak at the martial arts school. The woman was a Jehovah’s Witness, & was a firm believer in non-violence, especially among women. Asiya moped for days, and Zakari couldn’t cheer her up. One evening after dinner, she saw Zak leave the house quietly and go over to Asi’s house. He whistled their secret tune which Asi had taught him months before (the sound of the both of them whistling had almost driven her mad), and she crept out. She watched as Zak took Asi to their backyard, and begun teaching her the rudiments of JKD, as best as he could, considering the fact that he’d only started learning a week before then.
From that day on, Asiya begun to look at her son differently, and over the 20 years that passed, that look had never wavered. Zak had grown to be a fine specimen of a man. 6ft 2″ of pure manliness. He looked exactly like his father Sanusi had looked when he was 25. A face so beautiful, almost feminine, yet made masculine with the sheen of facial hair that covered it, and those sharp eyes that never missed a thing, yet could make knees melt when softened by that boyish grin they both had. Just like his father, he walked with a confidence that only a trained fighter could possess, and a trained fighter he was. Ruthlessly drilled day by day in his father’s school, he’d become easily the most lethal person in the area. And though he had a martial artist’s reserve, never jumping into fights, because he knew the damage he could cause, he still had his father’s arrogance; he was afraid of nobody, and would never back down from any situation, no matter how dangerous.
It was that arrogance that had always scared her and it was that same arrogance that she had been warned to pray about by her pastor last week Sunday. “The voice of a parent in the ears of God is shield that covers our children and pushes them out of harm’s way.” He had said to her after the service when she went to greet him. “Your husband Sanusi is no longer with us. Make sure your voice is loud enough for God to hear, to protect your son from himself.” She had no idea what those words meant, but waking up like this meant she had to make God hear her. “Allah, kar ka sa n bata abun kadai da ina da sha a dunia nan” (God, don’t let me lose the only thing I have left in this world.) She prayed fervently as she wiped a sheen of cold sweat from her forehead. Two hours after she woke up, her phone rang. It was Asiya. “Mama! Mama! Please wake up! Please come to the hospital quickly! Something’s happened to Zak!”
Between Hauwa’s throwing clothes on, and going to the hospital with the phone pressed to her ear, Asiya told her what happened. They had gone out that night to a club in V.I. “Caliente”, Asi had called it. They and their friends had just finished their final exams at uni, and decided to celebrate. There was a lot of drinking and partying going on. Then later in the night, some drunk rich thug had tried to force himself on Asiya. She defended herself well, using the fight techniques Zak had taught her, freeing herself, embarrassing the rich boy. But this wasn’t enough for Zak. Despite Asi’s pleas, he decided to teach the rich boy a lesson. He picked a fight with the boy & his friends. 6 drunk fools weren’t even close to being a match for him. Unfortunately, one of them snuck up behind him with a gun. All his years of Jeet Kun Do training, yet nothing had prepared him for that single bullet that hit him in the back. Hauwa found a taxi to carry her to Premier Hospital in V.I. Half crying, half praying, & almost going mad. She ran past the reception without even looking at the nurse that tried to stop her. Asiya was waiting for her. “He’s been in I.C.U for the last hour. The doctors won’t tell me anything.” Just then, a doctor came out, looked at Asi with recognition, & walked over to them. Images started pouring into Hauwa’s mind. Images of her crying over her dead son’s body as it was laid to rest. Images of her pushing him around in a wheelchair for the rest of his tortured life. She looked at the doctor with the petrified look of a woman who had raised a son for 25years, and couldn’t imagine a life without him…
“He’s alright. The bullet just narrowly missed his spine. We got it out, and he’ll be able to leave in a week.” She looked up at the doctor, daring him to say those words again. To give her hope again. To tell her that she still had a reason to live. “You’ll be able to see him in an hour.” Was all he said. An hour later, as she sat at the foot of his bed, crying so hard she soaked the blue hospital sheets, Zak looked at his mother and said to her in a weak voice “You know mama, just before I heard Asiya scream my name, and I felt that bullet hit me, I could’ve sworn I felt you push me. You know the way you always do when you want me to do something really quick.” All Hauwa could do was look at her son, her pride and joy, and cry. He had no idea…..absolutely no idea.
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