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Sulayman Jeng

Sulayman Jeng

Mbarodi Gainako hails from Daa nde maayo, a stone throw from Munku Baa-the cosmopolitan city of Yee lam ngalu. Mbarodi, as he is dotingly venerated, is medium in stature with a radiant chocolate skin. He is athletic. His childlike oval Fulani face has striking milky eyes glaringly accentuated by meticulously chiselled cheekbones and a pointed nose. He is shy but wears a magnetic aura of confidence and high self-esteem. Mbarodi’s stomach is neither flat nor beer bellied. His well-defined full chest hangs on a slightly crescent shoulder. Mbarodi’s strides are majestic and immaculate. When he speaks, his voice is soothingly soft and deep. Unlike his father, Mbarodi is a big softy with a cheeky sense of humour.

Mbarodi is third in a family of seven comprising four sisters and three brothers. Ngelajo, his father, was tall, muscular and grudgingly handsome. He had two wives: Affo, Mbarodi’s mum and Kodda-the youngest and pettiest of the two. Kodda was the favourite. However, unlike Affo, she is not blessed with the joy of motherhood. As a result, she was given Mbarodi to bring up as her own by Affo. Affo and Kodda were like two sisters. Many could not understand how these two opposite women sharing the love of their man get on so well. Others attributed their bond to Affo’s maturity and treatment of Kodda as a junior sister. Some awarded the credit to Ngelajo for been a stern head of the household. Ngelajo was an uncompromising disciplinarian. His eyes are huge and reddish which get even more blazer when he is tired and/or wakes up from a nap. Everyone was very afraid of Ngelajo despite he never hit his children or wives. Ngelajo spent most of his time at the market where he runs a butchery. While Penowo, their lousy neighbour, was convinced that Ngelajo has charmed his two wives to be very good friends, many concluded the mutual understanding and respect between them squarely rested on their warm and sociable personalities. Mbarodi grew up thinking Kodda was his biological mother until he discovered Affo was his real mother.

Mbarodi and Madea met at work, the Ngalu Development Bank. She was assigned to train him as a new cashier. Madea left her house early to catch up with some pending office work before her new trainee arrived. Her thoughts were interrupted by a loud knock on her office door. “Come in”, she shouted as she continued working on her desktop. “Madam Madea?” asked a young man in a slim-fit dark suit nervously.  She looked up, smiled and motioned for him to take a seat. “I can see you are an early bird too”, she said before leaning to shake his hand. “I am Mbarodi Gainako, the new trainee cashier”, as he flipped out some ID and letters. “I recognised you. I had a looked at your file couple of weeks ago and saw you during your interview. Great credentials”, she complimented. Madea is an enchanting ebony-skinned Mandingo girl from Kankary Kunda. She is slender with curvy hips and a judiciously carved spiral butt. Her charming face is dotted with two piercing gorgeous eyes and a leaned pointed nose. Madea’s deep necklines and folds bequeaths her with an entrancing beauty only bespoke the virgins in heaven. When she smiles, her succulent and silky lips retreat like ebbing surfs illuminating a set of evenly arranged whitish teeth which irradiate her smooth and sleek ebony skin like soothing stars in a milky way. What is even more beguiling about her is the dimples that surface on her cheeks every time she smiles giving her a flawless gorgeous look. She has so much confidence that she is void of any tension. Her calmness is equally contagious.

Gazing into her beautiful and innocent face in rapture, he realized he has just fallen in love with her. He thought it would be incredible if this angel falls for him too. Her caressing voice jolted him back to her office. He scolded himself for oafishly flirting with the idea of this successful gorgeous banker falling in love with a trainee-cashier. A couple of days ago, he was resolved not to fall in love with any girl until he builds a solid future for himself. He commits himself to be on a good footing before starting a family which he can provide for, support and protect.  Mbarodi loathes having children he cannot give a good start in life such as good education, comfortable housing and regular meals. Suddenly, he realised for the first time in his life he is compromising his resolution and life does not always turn out as planned.

“You seem to be miles away from here. Well, young man I will give you a word of advice. As a cashier dealing with huge amounts of cash the last thing you need is distraction. Whatever is consuming your concentration must wait at the door until you finished work. Otherwise your till will not balance and/or you may end up being in a hot soup. If you don’t mind me asking, is anything the matter?” she asked caringly. “Oh, no…no. nothing absolutely”, he stumbled. “Just checking, my darling. To be honest with you that look on your face a minute ago expressed something really more than nothing did. But if you don’t want to discuss it, I will respect your opinion. But always remember concentration is the key”, she assured him. One of her greatest traits is thoughtfulness complimented by her endearing personality. He was so wrapped up in her soothing voice and enchanting looks that he kangarooed when he heard her called him my darling. As if the two words had magic spell on him, he braved himself and sitting down he heard himself mumbling, “Madea, we have spoken about a great many things since I started my training with you. However, one thing we still did not talk about is…” he then lost his tongue. He felt humiliated. “How could I do this to myself before the woman I love?” he faulted himself quietly. “What didn’t we talk about, Mbarodi?” tested Madea after waiting for a while for him to say but to no avail. “Holidays”, he sheepishly managed to say. “Oh, I see. Holidays, sick leaves, wages and pension are all clearly stipulated in your contract letter. Perhaps, you need to carefully go over it one more time”, she suggested. She watched him so closely albeit she tried very hard to pretend she was not. She was getting fond of him too and she wished he were thinking what she was thinking.

They have spent so much time together since he has started work at the bank that her feelings for him were growing so fast she thought it was inconceivable she would fall in love just like that. Sometimes after work, a few of them will go out for a drink or meal. At other times, they would go and watch the nawetan together. They got on very well and soon word began to circulate within the corridors of the bank that they were dating. One evening after a good meal at Seddal Sahull Restaurant, Mbarodi gazing into her enchanting eyes said, “What I wanted to say the other day is we never talked about us, you and I”. He reached out for her hands and mumbled, “I really like you. Will you marry me?” The silence which descended on them was overpowering. Her brain became overloaded with thoughts and images of her and Mbarodi in each other’s arms. The feeling was beautiful. Is he really the one for me? Her thoughts started conflicting. “He is a fine gentleman”, said one.  “Oh, hell no. That has nothing to do with being a soul mate”, argued another. “He isn’t an angel but he is caring, loving and loyal-which are the hallmarks of any lasting relationship”, the first countered. “Whatever…something about him is just too good to be real”, retorted the second. “Madea”, interrupted Mbarodi, “you don’t have to give me an answer now. Think about it carefully and let me know your response whenever you ready. I am willing to wait for your love much longer”. “Oh, no…no. I am just lost for words. It was the last thing I expected you would say”, she mumbled softly. “I don’t know what made me think you would want me any away. Just forget my childish hallucination. I value our friendship and I don’t want anything to soil it”, he cowardly volunteered. “Don’t be silly. I like you too,” she said smiling. “Really? Did you just say you love me too?” he croaked. “I said I like you too. May be if you try harder I will eventually fall in love with you. But for now…” he leaned across the table and passionately kissed her on the forehead before sealing his lips with hers. The ambiance was romantic and soothing.

Their romance blossomed into an enviable relationship. Everyone call them the perfect match: young, ambitious and truly in love. After celebrating their first anniversary of being together, Madea thought it was time to introduce him to her parents. “I want you to meet my parents today after work”, she told him as soon as he walked into her office. “Did they know about this?” He queried. “Of course they do. My dad is looking forward to meet the young man who stole his daughter’s heart. They are very nice. Just be normal when you meet them”, she admonished. “I am really nervous. What if they don’t like me?” he demanded. “What made you think you will not pass their test? My parents are educated moreover; my dad is liberal and fond of me. He will love anyone man that I love. Maybe he will warn you strictly though if you ever hurt me, you will have him to deal with”, she added reassuringly.

“Don’t get me wrong, Madea, he is a perfect gentleman. There is no doubt that he loves you but have you thought of what people and my friends will be saying about you, behind our backs?” her father asked after Mbarodi left. “I don’t understand what you are insinuating Baba? Is there any problem?” she probed.  “I think you are about to make the biggest mistake in your life by marrying a Fulani goldsmith”, interjected her father. Baba, please tell me this is a joke”, she begged her dadIgnoring her sarcasism, he continued, “Until now, Madea, you have always made your mother and me proud. Besides, I don’t want you to be hurt. Can’t you see he is a fortune chaser? Please my darling for once stop and think again carefully what this relationship will bring to our family. I want you to understand that I am not instructing you to live your life according to my dictates but as your father, I know what is best for you because I have always and will love you dearly. Don’t you have any gratitude for your family’s happiness and pride?” her father coaxed. “Gratitude!” Oh, please Baba come off your high horse”, she argued in disbelief, paused for what seems like eternity before putting her father on the spotlight, “Baba how can you stand there contradicting your own values and beliefs. As a child you thought me to treat everyone equally. You also made me appreciate no one is more human than the other. Furthermore, you said as Muslims, the best among us are only those nearer to Allah. What stopped you from teaching me as a child that I was not supposed to marry a Fulani or a goldsmith? I see…the difference between you and Mbarodi is you are so shallow you don’t even remember how to love a woman as he loves me. Look at mum…” “Enough!” interrupted her fuming dad, “Enough of the insults. Even your mothers dares not talk to me like that”, before storming out of the house into the street.

She ran to her mum, tears surging down her cheeks. She dropped her head into her hands trying to make sense of what her dad, a man she cherishes and highly revered, said about the love of her life. The next couple of hours were hell, the worse in her life. How could he she aghast. She was choking in her own heartache. “Don’t grieve my child. Your father will come round. I know. He will sooner than you thought. We have been married for thirty years and Allah willing we will witness many more years together. His senses are marred by blind prejudice and ignorance”, she cheered Madea caressing her braids affectionately. Her heart wept watching her daughter in so much anguish. Part of her wanted to go and confront her husband and another part wanted her to let sleeping dogs lie. Confronting him will only worsen the situation. She remembered when they first met at her cousin’s house. He was young, immaculate, charming and liberal. Kelefa was the president of the student union and a human rights activist. Like her daughter, she was equally gutted by his sudden superficiality and narrow-mindedness. Who would have thought in a million years that Kelefa would discriminate against another person? “This is really beyond me, Nna. Baba disgusts me. Did Mbarodi choose to be born a Fulani or goldsmiths? Does either make him less of a human being?”  She solicited angrily.” Don’t talk about your Baba like that. He is just confused but I am certain he will turn around when he comes”, her mum accentuated.

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