Something happened last night that would change everything.

No, did I say “would change”?

It’s already changed for me. All that’s left is to notify the second person involved.

How can Safi do this to me? Oh, you’re wondering who Safi is. She’s the second person I was talking about; my girlfriend, my heartthrob. The best gift God gave to mankind. The same gift that managed to find herself in my grasp. I’m not just honored but lucky at the same time.

Yesterday like I said, the atmosphere of the restaurant was inviting. The place we chose, was a storey-building motel with a bar, restaurant, swimming pools, and snooker tables. It’s always been our favorite place. The place we first met.

I remember that day like yesterday.

It was a hot afternoon. My face was dripping with sweat. The place was scanty, the few people occupying a few tables were consumed by their conversations. I scanned around like someone on a hunt and saw prey. A prey, that was all she meant at the moment. A lady to pass the time with and ease the disappointment I got from my boss that afternoon.

As I advanced to her seat, a can of Hollandia yogurt sat on her table, half-open, the transparent glass beside it, blurred with white liquid. Her eyes were vacant as she stared at nothingness. Sadness shone in its depths. I must have made a sound with the chair because the next thing I saw were her eyes charging at me viciously.

“Hello,” came my soothing voice, “ Can I sit?” I said holding the chair. Her eyes furrowed but her smile said everything.

“I’m Goodluck and you are?”

“Cynthia. Do you carry good luck around or it’s just a name?” a mischievous smirk appeared on her face. I chuckled, sat, and gave her a dose of luck.

While eating, the conversation flowed seamlessly. Charmed by her witty retorts, lively chats, and understanding of issues and disappointment. Our friendly chatters moved to something deeper.

We talked like we’ve known each other for eons. I think we fell for each other, hard on that first day.

Yesternight, as we sat and locked our hands in. I knew my question and the answer I’d get as I kissed her forefinger. She was radiating in the colored lights and her eyes sparkled. She returned the favor with a light touch on my cheek.

There was one obstacle. Something of hers I intended to know. I pressed my pocket to be sure of the black box I bought at the supermarket the previous day.

“It’s time!” I muttered to myself.

“Darling,” I said, caressing her hand to the elbow. “What tribe are you?”

“I am Fulani.”

Destabilized by her answer, I recoiled but kept caressing her fingers. My eyes darted in different directions as my world and everything we shared flashed before me. I could feel my body come loose, clattering apart like a picket fence.

“Anything the matter?” she arched her brow.

“No!” I shook my head. “it’s fascinating to know you’re from there.”

“That’s not true. There’s something you’re not telling me, Goodluck. The look in your eyes…”

“Stop it! There’s nothing I’m hiding,” I must have snapped because she flinched and glared at me.

The change in my attitude startled her.

“Goodluck! Goodlu…” I heard her calling before walking out of the restaurant.

When she caught up with me, she was exasperated. And with harsh pants, she screamed at me.
“What is wrong with you?”

“You are wrong with me!”

“What do you mean by that?”

“How could you? How could you not tell me that you are from the Fulani tribe? Do you know my history with them? ”

Her arms flailed. “Your history with them? You are scaring me. What’s wrong?”

“You want to know? ”
She nodded.
“Okay, I’ll tell you.”

I grabbed her hand at that and led her through the maze of noise and traffic. As we walked her hands visibly shaking. I traced my fingers around it.

“Safi. Tell me the complete version of your name.”

“Safiyah… It means to be pure or Serene.”

“It is beginning to make sense—”

“Listen… When I was seven. My dad took us in his car to Kaduna. He said my uncle was getting married. We dressed in our best clothes and rode all the way. I have an eidetic memory and that’s why I remember this clearly.” We jumped a drainage together and she let out a whine.

“When we were all seated. I thought their traditional rites were close to ours. But it wasn’t. An elderly man rose and declared the occasion open. And before he sat, he said they’d kickstart with the Sharo celebration.”

“Men and women screamed in high-pitched voices. The youths began drumming. I joined in the fun fare, clapping and making funny sounds. My dad didn’t rebuke me. His eyes were focused on something else. I followed his eyesight and saw my uncle out in the square with two other men. I remember thinking that whatever made my dad’s face so serious would be bad. And it was; because the next I saw was a man handing my uncle a whip and whispering in his ear.

“The elderly man raised a hand, and the noise stopped. And with a flick of the hand, he motioned for them to begin. My uncle started receiving lashes of cane. I remember wondering out loud why they were flogging him and Dad who watched the whole time, counting, patting my head, “This is how to show the suitor is fit to marry a Fulani girl.”

“I joined my tight-lipped Dad to watch as twenty strokes of the cane landed on my uncle’s back. I remember the shout of the villagers when my uncle didn’t flinch or grimace throughout the exercise. And right there, with gifts and goodies lying around, I told my dad; I won’t ever marry a Fulani Lady …Safi, how could you let me fall in love with you before telling me you are a Fulani girl? Do you think I can undergo that inhumane treatment just for love?”

Irritated, she glared at me. “Like, Are you serious right now? So because of that tradition, you want to call our relationship off?”

I remained silent.

“Answer me,” she nudged me.

“I can do a lot of things for you love, but I can’t take twenty strokes of cane for love. Never.”

“Ah!” she burst into laughter.

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About the author

I'm Dav-Oz, and  I'm the Chief Editor of The Dav-Oz Blog, a graphic designer and upcoming fashion designer.

I'm just your regular young Nigerian lad with dreams and hope for a better future.

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