“Nabila is that you?” Keerna spoke the words in Kanuri.
“N’am, open it is me.” Nabila responded alike.
She pulled the door open at once, and Nabila rushed in with a frown on her face.
“Where have you been Nabila?” Keerna trailed behind her.
Nabila pulled off the niqab she’d worn and tossed it on the bed. After subjecting her body to Mohammed’s mundane desires, he had given her nothing! She had hoped to get scandalous information about Amina, but everything Mohammed testified about the mistress was good.
“The mistress was to be sold to an old man for twenty horses. So she ran to a matchmaking home and advertised herself. Hazim had seen her advert in the city square. He showed master her picture and he fell in love with her instantly.” Nabila’s lips moved as she cried.
Keerna’s brows were raised as she listened. And it made her wonder why Nabila had gone to Mohammed for information in the first place.
“Were you hoping to get something bad about mistress Amina?” Keerna asked.
Nabila wiped her eyes and fired Keerna an angry look. Keerna averted Nabila’s killing gaze. She knew Nabila wouldn’t answer her question.
“You must give up your dreams and passion of marrying the master. A worthier man shall find you in no time. Believe in Allah and remain virtuous.” Keerna hoped her friend would take the advice.
“Shut your mouth you fool! What has come over you?” Nabila couldn’t believe Keerna was no longer on her side. Keerna had always been supportive of her plans to marry the master. What had changed?
Keerna decided she had enough of Nabila’s frustration, “I see only one fool in this room. You are the fool Nabila. You have refused to see reality.” Keerna’s voice was stern and annoyed.
Nabila whimpered, “How could you choose her over me? We have been friends all these years Keerna? I need you more than ever to stand with me. I want the master to be mine.”
Keerna did not like what she saw in Nabila’s eyes. She had seen the fire of obsession and lust. Nabila wasn’t in love with the master, she was obsessed and it was an unhealthy fixation.
“I supported you because Fatma was dead. Master is now a married man and you should move on with your life.”
In that moment, it dawned on Nabila that the world was against her love for Abdul. She could never let him go. She would guard him jealously within the walls of her heart.
“I will no longer share my plans with you…” Nabila waved a finger across Keerna’s face.
“Mark my words this day Keerna. I shall become mistress of this house soon and I would make your life miserable.”
Keerna sensed something macabre with the way Nabila spoke.
“Are you planning to harm the mistress in any way? I will never let you harm her.” Keerna moved away from Nabila.
“I never said I would harm her. Something else would. Amina does not belong here.”
Mohammed’s information had failed her, but the serpents she worshipped in secret could never disappoint. Nabila had grown up with pagan parents. They worshipped the sun god, La. And the emblem of the god was a serpent. Her parents had taught her the ways of the serpents; how to charm, please and control them. She would harness the dark energy in her. She would fight Amina to the death.
“This isn’t you Nabila, something evil has come over you.” Keerna protested, and tried to make her see reason.
Nabila’s lips moved slowly, giving way to a soft chuckle.
“Love brings out good or the evil in us.”
Amina’s days would be numbered. All she needed was time.
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“You hid my bride away from me, you are an unrepentant liar!” Idris’ voice thundered as he gripped Tukur by the throat. He had just returned from one of his raids to a small Hausa town, only to find out that Amina was missing. No one had set eyes on her in Dafa for some days now.
All his life, Idris had dreamt of ruling the cattle clans. He knew he was destined to rule from birth. He had slaughtered his seven brothers at the age of fourteen. He had taken all the sheep and cows their father had left them and started a ranch of his own.
Now, he was the biggest ranch owner in the Great Plain and no one could stand between him and his dream of conquering the cattle lands. Now of all women that Idris had set eyes upon, none had ever appealed to him like Amina. Her beauty was out of this world, and he had dreamt of making her his queen when he finally conquered the cattle lands.
“Get your hands off me Idris!” Tukur struggled with the taller man. Idris had been away from Dafa for a month. He had no idea that Amina had absconded by her own will. He had woken up to see the letter she had written, and that had broken his heart.
With all the strength he had left, he pushed Idris to the wall and fetched the sword that lay on his table. Idris had broken into his house with some of his fierce looking wranglers. And the moment they saw Tukur with a blade, they advanced towards him, but Idris called them back.
“You know what I am capable of Tukur. I have always desired your daughter, and you preyed on that desire. Your raised my hopes by bringing her to me. Amina is my wife and no man can come against us.
I ask you for the last time, where is she?”
“My daughter fled Dafa to a place I do not know. If you think I am lying, I shall give you proof. Why would I keep her away from you?” Tukur was infuriated by Idris’ suspicion of him.
Idris indicated interest in seeing the proof.
“Show me,” he said.
Tukur brought the letter that Amina had scribbled before eloping to an unknown destination.
“I tell you no lies.” He handed the scroll to Idris.
Idris was not learned. Though he could speak Arabic and other languages, he could neither read nor understand. He beckoned one of his men to read the letter to the hearing of everyone in the room.
“Dear father, I am sorry I have to do this, but you have left me with no choice…”
Idris’ insides cringed as each word sank into his mind. Amina despised him. How could that little fool reject him? No woman rejected Idris. He was the one that rejected women.
“Your daughter is a fool!” Idris thundered. He would search the whole world for Amina, he would break her will and enslave her in his harem.
“I should have known you will turn against me one day. How could you suspect me of hiding my own child?” He spat on the ground.
All these years, he had labored to help Idris with the progress of his ranch, but Idris had never showed him any appreciation. Tukur regretted all the decisions he had taken in the past. He wished he could go back in time and amend his ways. Idris had only used him to achieve his selfish desires, but he was done working for him.
“You spineless fool! How dare you speak to me that way?” Idris barked.
Tukur scoffed, “I am spineless, but I helped you defeat Abdul of Kanem Dazau many years back. You have a short memory. You easily forget the price I paid for your greatness.”
“Seize him! No one talks to the King of the cattle lands this way.” Idris snapped his fingers and called to his most trusted guard.
“Search everywhere in Dafa for Amina.”
Tukur struggled with the guards, but they overpowered him.
“You will pay for this Idris! Traitor!” He screamed as the men led him away.

To be continued…

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