Some Secret Society
© Copyright 2021 by Janaan.Dy
Photo by Lachlan Ross from Pexels
I wanted, as a kid, was go out, meet friends, play games or dramas
and watch TV.
Babanmu wanted, was for us to get educated. So all I wanted as a kid,
was crossed and replaced with Karatu. He’d say “Karatu
baya kashe mutum, kuyi karatu kamar zaaku mutu.” (Reading
doesn’t kill a person. Read as if you are going to die) And I
really felt like I would die
Our school fees was never paid per term, or per year, it was always three or six or twelve years in advance. It was like every time he got money, all he thought of was how to spend it on us and our education. We were more than a dozen, in the best school there was. He would always say, if he were to die at any moment, our education won’t abruptly stop because no one could send us home for not paying school fees. A king .
But that was all I wanted. To be sent home or sent out of class. And whenever the names of those owning the school some money were called out, I stare at them in admiration the way a kid admires an ice cream. Then they get sent out of classes and have the chance to play various games, under the tree or any shade. They were literally living my dream life. And I’d never experienced what it was like, because everyone knew how our fees were paid in advance, so I don’t think I’d ever attempted joining the kids outside. I can only watch from afar.
You’d think that was the end of my dilemma. Lol . Immediately we are brought home, we eat and start getting ready for another set of classes.
A class was built for us at home, our Malam was given a house to stay with his family, just a walking distance from our house, and was also made the Imam of our Masjid, basically meaning, after praying Asr, he won’t forget to come and teach us Quran. Then, when his daily activities sometimes delayed him, a bike was bought for him.
Easing his affairs, making mine more difficult because that meant, I can’t enjoy the 10 or 20 minutes delay, his activities blessed me with.
After Asr, we have two hours of Quranic classes, when it’s over, within minutes, it’s Magrib, we eat, then pray Isha, then another Malam would come for fiqh, Arabic, and other classes.
Did I cry while going to classes? Maybe. But I definitely nagged and complained and hide and dragged my legs and play sick and use whatever medium I could, to avoid anything that constituted learning.
All the TVs in the house had been confiscated, only one was left, where whatever we watch, can be monitored. Initially, we had Nilesat (dish), but Babanmu, even though he controlled the channels we watched, from his room, found it distracting because we kept sending the young kid, to urge him to change to channel 2. MBC 2.
There wasn’t any other MBC then. It was only the normal MBC, or MBC 2, which we called “channel 2”. Sometimes, I’m the kid that’s sent. Honestly, no one needs to send me even. I can go and shout “Baba a chanza channel 2” till it’s changed, or I get sent away.
One of my unforgettable days came when Babanmu disconnected the NileSat from our TV, living us with only NTA and the local TV station, BRTV. I died. How would I go from watching white people, to black people? I was all over the house. “My channel twooooooo”
Babanmu said, all we see on TV, is merely a product of imaginations. And that when we sleep, we can imagine those things and dream of them. That We need not to watch them. But all I dreamt as a kid, was outrunning my brother, the best runner in my house. Because whenever we play running games of any type, he came first and I admired him so much because as a sick child, I wasn’t allowed to participate in such games
My screen life changed. I went from watching turawa programs, to waiting for Tuesdays and Thursdays, when ‘This life’ and ‘Super story’ were aired on NTA. The local station was useless to me. They only aired’Tom and Jerry’ cartoons, in the morning at exactly the time I’m getting ready for school. I only get to watch it during weekends. The rest of their programs were urrrrg
At the beginning of every week, I anticipated the coming of Thursday.
1- The week of the Islamic school I went, ended on Thursdays.
2- At 8pm, there would be Super storyyyyy
Thursday was my Friday.
But then, I don’t know how, the Malam that comes after Isha, comes at the time for Super Story. It was devastating. I missed so many episodes and immediately we say the closing prayer, I run back to catch the “Next time, on super story” part. How much I envied those who at school, say they go to normal Islamiyyas and have Thursdays and Fridays off.
I never had a single day off and even on weekends, our Quran Malam would come either after Subh, or after breakfast and sometimes both. Then we have another extra lesson teacher, during holidays. Not always though. Sometimes, we are given a break from that.
Our house was referred to as “gidan karatu”. Our mothers had their Malama, our father at the end of the day had his own classes in his Parlour. Even though I haven’t read all, I learned of Ahalari, Ashmawi, Iziyyah, Risalah, from the way he’d repeatedly talked about them, in that sequence. Then us the kids? Haaaa. I felt like I was just immersed in an ocean of Karatu. We had files and drawers in his room, filled with our termly report cards and school related things.
I’d always thought my house was the only one doing that, till one of my seat mate, complained to me how she had no time of her own because all she did was read, at school or at home. And when she complained to her siblings, she was told “ai kukan daadi kike yi” because she was the last child and they’d went through more classes then she did at that age.
It was like finding a soul sister. She became my super story recap. She wasn’t allowed to watch any other station too but she had breaks on Thursdays. We’d compete over haddas, argue about our tribes, share what we’d like to be when we grow up and sing the super story songs of every new super story. I miss her.
Then, one of my sisters had the chance to visit one of her class mates. She came home and told us they also have a class built in their house. Just learning someone else is going through what you are going through, comes as a relief even when that doesn’t lessen yours. It meant you ain’t alone
As kids, there were times we shared secrets. You tell one person your secret, they tell you theirs, you both make promises to never share it with anyone else. Minutes after that bond of secrecy, you both find other parties to share the secrets you were entrusted with, urging them to not share it with anyone else, because it was a secret given to you too .
The “secret” keeps circulating as secret even when everyone knows about it, except the real owner of the secret.
So, one afternoon, we sat with one of my brother and someone who visits us during holidays, and shared our secrets.
I went first.
My secret wish was that, I’d like our Quran Malam to just die. I didn’t think about his family or anything. I was just thinking about the little break I’ll have, till another Malam is found.
My brother’s secret was for the malam to get into another accident with his bike. Weeks prior to when we had that our little secret society, the said malam had gotten into an accident. I can remember when one of my brothers ran and told me, the first thing that came to my mind was to ask wether there would be a class that day or not. We were given a break for less than a week, till he felt better. So, I totally relate to my brother’s secret wish. Besides, mine was only a pro Max version of his.
The third person, who was only visiting and much older than us, had a secret wish also. There was an old woman, who whenever he comes, she scolds him and tries to stop him from physically bullying us. So she was his enemy. And I can’t remember what he had wanted to happen to her, but it was something bad. He couldn’t relate to our disdain over our Malam, and we couldn’t relate to his disdain towards the woman. We all buried our secret wishes there.
Or did we???
Everything was moving normal. We had the normal day routine, Malam came, we were sent away to class while we found various reasons to delay going.
I might be searching for the other pair of my shoe, or my veil, or something but I went to class late. Immediately I stepped in, I knew something was wrong. All eyes turned and feasted on me. At first, I thought it was because I went more late than my usual late, but the anger on Malam’s face, and the look on my sibling faces, said my offense was more grave than just being late. I froze for some seconds before I was alerted by the thunderous voice of Malam, to sit!
Not knowing what I did to warrant such harshness was terrifying but it all made sense when I learnt, between hush whispers, said at moments when malam’s attention was on someone else, that everyone was told of my secret wish. Including Malam. Guy snitched on us!
I’m sure my heart went from beating lub-dub, to du-du-dub! Du-du-dub!!! That super story dramatic drum beat 🥁 before they go “This is super storyyyyy ”
It wasn’t Thursday, but my life was the super story episode of that day
Apparently, he went to the class early, and spilled everything. Everything we said, and probably added more. Then, I understood what that father in ‘This life’, had been telling his son, at the beginning of every episode.
He’d convinced his son to jump from the rooftop, that he’ll catch him, when the child jumped, he refused to catch him. And when the child started crying, he told him “NEVER TRUST ANY BODY! EVEN I, YOUR FATHER!!!.”
I’ve mastered that scene but never implemented it in my life. I thought it was just a scene.
Then, knowing what I DID to warrant such harshness was MORE terrifying. Mine was worse because At least, what my brother wanted to befall Malam, was only a repetition of what had once befallen him.
I WANTED. HIM. DEAD.
See how grave that was?But it was a secret I thought would never get out because we’ve all shared a secret we wouldn’t want to be out, and exposing one, meant exposing all. Exposing all, we did. But that didn’t change how abominable mine was
I can’t remember what happened during the rest of the class because everything became foggy . Whether at the end if the class, Malam lamented how disappointed and angry he was, issued out threats of reporting us to Babanmu and leaving the work, or it was my siblings who after the class, had meetings on our heads, telling us what Malam had said before I went, how terrible what we said was, and the consequences when Babanmu gets to learn about it.
Either way, if my anxiety was a bar, it was filled. 100%. I wished malam had just punished me instead of submitting my case to Babanmu.
What would he do? How would he react? With which cane would I be beaten? Who will save me? Where would I hide?
I don’t know what went on in my brother’s mind, my fellow secret society member, but I remember following him everywhere he went, including the Masjid. Even when we weren’t allowed to go out, I’d still follow him, find a place to hide and wait for the prayers to end so we can walk back and remain in the house together. Desperate times they say
At night, it was worse because I and my other sister, being asthmatic, were the only ones whose sleeping room, was at the side of Babanmu. He made our room close to his, so that whenever one of us had an attack, or even coughs at night, he’d be there with medications . Maybe he never slept, or did only a little. Honestly, once you become a parent, and a devoted one at that, you’ve lost your life. All you live for, is your kids and your aakirah. And ironically, you’ve found your life
Sha, for two days or more, after I’ve been found guilty of attempted murder (verbally)and sentenced to days of suspense and anxiety, I behaved myself, did whatever I was told to, avoided fighting with anyone, didn’t do whatever I was told not to, got ready for school early, attended classes early. I legit wore the best of my characters and avoided anything that’ll make me encounter the presence of Babanmu
Babanmu is back? Oh! What a perfect time for me to read my surah out loud, or do my assignment.
At night, when everyone goes to their rooms, and I had to go to ours, which was close to our fathers, I made sure I had no asthmatic attack, or let any coughing escape. I never gamble
I wasn’t beaten for that offense. I don’t even know whether Babanmu ever learned of it, or the merciful Lord had given Malam a change of heart . I don’t think he’d also punished me.
But sometimes, the silence of not being punished for something you’ve done, is more hurtful than being punished right away. It was a painful suspense. You never know when to expect what. And not being punished for an offense, is enough of a warning, to never repeat it because you definitely won’t get as lucky the next time.