Celebrating East African Writing!
It all started with a routine call Duale placed to his father one Saturday evening. He expected to know his family’s whereabouts as was usual for him to do once in a fortnight or so but today his dad had more to say. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, dad put a question to the son: “Do you know a girl called Hibaaq?” he asked.
For a brief moment Duale lost his voice but before long, dad interjected with an elaboration.
“She is in the same school with Shamsa,” he added.
Duale was taken aback by the nature of the question and very many scenarios run through his mind. Was this a trick question? What would a yes in an answer to the question show about his character for he only saw the girl in the company of much talked about new students from Somalia from a distance when she first came to his university a few days before or after the beginning of September 2005.
Finally he mumbled a weak yes to the most unexpected question from his dad while recollecting the beautiful face he had seen from a distance almost three years earlier. He could recapture in his mind the light skinned face of the girl with the large eyebrows.
Now that Duale admitted knowledge of the girl in question, his dad told him to call back at around eight o’clock since at the time of that first call, which was at 5:00 pm, he could not talk much because of the company of the men he had.
It was a long wait of prolonged suspense and Duale kept wondering about this new turn of events. Questions kept propping up in his head. What did dad want with this girl? He would ask himself.
The much awaited 8:00 pm came and Duale decided to end his long anguish and placed the call to his dad to end his pain and misery. If being asked about a girl whom he saw ages ago or being asked to wait for three hours to hear what dad wanted to say concerning Hibaaq was pain and anguish then he would not have any adjectives to describe what his dad wanted with this particular girl!
The phone rang for two or three times before his dad answered it and gave him a short, almost like a prewritten speech and a well rehearsed one at that.
“Listen son, ” he said with firmness, the tender under tone betraying a little bit the urgency in his voice, “I wanted to talk to you about Hibaaq the last time we met in Nairobi but since you were in a hurry to return to school I didn’t feel it was appropriate to bother you much. But I think son this is a matter that needs some urgency if it is to be concluded with success and triumph.”
“I got to know about Hibaaq during the wedding of Shamsa and I met her at least three times in the short time I was in Nairobi and I was awestruck by her beauty and her aslub. I broached the idea of her marrying one of my sons half in jest and half in earnest, talking advantage of atmosphere at the time of Shamsa’ s wedding.”
“She responded to my proposition in a lady-like manner without portraying any out off-hand opposition to the idea. Son, I now want you to look for her since she is in Nakuru and…” he hesitated a little as if to swallow something. May be it was saliva he swallowed to irrigate his throat so that whatever that followed the brief pose will catch his son’s attention as much as saying it without mincing words.
“Son,” he repeated as if to remind the young man their father-son relationship and that he was still talking with his dad, “I want you to find her and let her know I sent you to ask her to marry you!” he concluded bluntly. Then he proceeded with a heartfelt plea as if to forestall any opposition to the idea from his son.
All Duale could master in the midst of this an unexpected plea from his dad was a hurried okay to end the conversation and catch his breath. He probably didn’t realize the burden of the undertaking he just agreed to. Was he going to regret this? Or was he going to cherish the experience?
Duale over the years learnt to expect surprises from his dad but this latest one was unparalleled both in magnitude and the sacrifice it will require on his person to execute for he all along thought that when it came to matters concerning marriage or the kind of girl he was to bring home to his parents, it will be his mother like it is common in across cultures, who would want to have the greater say but never did he expect his father to speak with that much authority as if he had seen something in a vision or a dream.
Duale took the rest of that week to let his father’s plea settle in his mind before he sought the counsel of his close friends engaging them on the matter in a hypothetical manner without obviously referring them to his situation. He will in turns ask them: what would you do if a member of your family suggested a certain person for you as a spouse? He will later narrow the questions to: what if it is your mother suggesting a girl for you? Or what if it was your father?
The views he collected were as varied as the people he put the questions to and after a lot of deliberations he gave in to his inner voice which kept telling him to be open minded about the whole situation.
You didn’t expect to find love in this manner, his inner voice will nag, but now you have to make do with the hand fate has dealt you. May be she is the girl you dreamt about all this time. So are you going to dismiss the opportunity just because she was suggested by the most unlikely of people? C’mon man. This can’t be it.
For once in your life do the unthinkable. Walk to a girl and tell her you have been sent by your father to ask her to marry you. Be silly, be crazy. It is what life is all about. Doing the daring acts!
Hallo! It is your only chance to sound, act and feel foolish. Take it or you gonna regret it.
Finally after much nagging from his inner voice, Duale decided it was time he tested the rough road towards what could probably end in love.
Almost a week and half since his dad’s ‘little request,’ Duale dialed the magic ten digit number without any plan or even a story but that first call went unanswered. A few days passed before he called her again to schedule a face to face meeting in the heart of Nakuru to which she agreed.
The day came. It was the 14th day of June 2008. He could not believe he was doing this but today he was going to see from a close range what His father saw a few months earlier. May be, just maybe, he will get his first chance to trip, slip and fall for her.
It was an afternoon to remember in which he established some common denominator between them. He was delighted to know they both had a thing for literature. He told her he wrote poems in English and she said she did too in Somali and as they walked out of the French bakers where they had their lunch that day, all he could only wish for was that some day in the not so distant future something will happen.
If what he was waiting to happen was a miracle of sorts, then the events that followed his arrival home for his short August holiday was it. He met his older sister Ubah and asked her the much she knew about Hibaaq whom they shared dwellings for a few months and she was all praise for the girl she described as generous, considerate and frank. He did not though betray any feelings of affection he may have had for Hibaaq to his sister.
Fast forward and as the end of August approached, Duale got a call from his older brother who till now they never discussed anything concerning women or marriage. The call was short and without much ado to the point.
“I was at Shamsa’s yesterday,” he said, “I met Hibaaq there and boy as your brother I will be very happy for you if you could have her as your wife in future.”
“Dad put to me a similar proposal about a month or so ago or are you not aware?” Duale retorted back almost protesting at the conspiracy he was trying to decipher from the members of his family.
Truly, there was a conspiracy of sorts and before long he was starting to question his own conscience.
“All these people who love you would not be desperately trying to push you towards a girl unless they genuinely thought you will connect and prosper together. May be they are right.” He will think to himself.
He was getting used to falling for a girl he only met once when his father returned to Nairobi and met Hibaaq and put the question to her: Will you marry my son?
© Mohamed Sheikh Abdiaziz 2011