The day was gradually letting off its youthful glow and the air was getting really chilly. That was one major difference between his home state Kano and Lagos, it was always reasonably cool during the evenings. He was already starting to feel that homeliness, that peace and rest and sense of security you get when you are at your home; your own home. It had been a really long ride and they were gradually getting to his destination. He couldn’t just wait to get down from the bus for good and jump into the waiting arm of his mother. He would tell her stories about the big city, about the struggle, about all that happened today, about Hajiya Fatima, the angel Allah sent his way, about his new business;
‘don haka wannan hakikane? My new business! na Fadi sosai’ he almost screamed
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‘when I think say Allah dey vex for me ko, bai taba yin fushi ba, I will tell Hajiya Hauwa say I don start business, I no push barrow again. Walahi! I no push again.’ He envisaged how he was going to set up a kiosk at the front of his father’s house. He had a name in mind, he was going to call his shop “kasuwanci Ali” and he was going to ask all of his younger siblings to go inform all their friends that they could pay any of their bills through him and save themselves the stress of going to town. He was going to make so much money from his business and at the end of every month he would call Hajiya Fatima on phone and tell her ‘na gode’ and he would send her money for Kunu and Kilishi.
‘Oh Allah the most merciful, let your face shine on my new business Don Allah’ he made silent prayers.
The bus was now almost empty as a lot of persons dropped off at Kaduna. The Hajiya dropped off at Kano’s capital but Ali headed for Gwale a small local government in Kano. The Hajiya had taken time to teach him everything he needed to know about Tingg and its App and had started it up for him. She even bought airtime from him and became his very first customer. He didn’t know why the Hajiya was so nice to him but he knew he was going to remain grateful for a long long time. He believed that in no time he was going to pay back the money she lended him to start up and he would always show kindness to other people. He should have continued to bask in his imagination but he remembered that not all buses get to Gwale so he decided to ask the driver.
‘Driver, where you dey stop last? You go reach Gwale?
‘Na Gwale be my last stop, you still dey this bus ni?’
Ali on a normal day would have replied to the driver’s rhetorical question with a sarcastic answer but then he was not in the mood for meaningless banters. He was just happy he would soon be out of the bus and in his mother’s house.
‘troublesome people’ he scoffed
‘Driver when you get to the next junction stop me.’ Ali’s remaining company in the bus requested. It was clear he was going to spend the remaining 25 minutes of his journey alone with the driver and his already snoring conductor.
‘Alaye se iwó yoo la oju ré’ The driver yelled at his assistant. The poor guy was exhausted but he did manage to force his eyes open
‘Alaye, You get money to take reach your house if I stop you.’
‘Me?’ Ali asked shocked that the driver would be concerned
‘Who before? No be you lost your bag?’
‘I get two hundred naira, that one go carry me reach house’
‘ehn, oya make I add another 200 for you na so you no go just empty. Wà àtàtà omode Femi, give the man 2 H.’
‘Ah! I pray Allah bless you, Nagode,’ Ali appreciated his kindness, Nigerians could be sweet when they want to. A few minutes later he was out of the bus and trekking to his family’s compound, he was still hurt he couldn’t bring home something but he was grateful he was finally home.
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‘Aaaah! Kun Sanya hannuwanku a cikin idanuna, Mama na you laifi, Sherifat put e hand inside my eye,’ that was definitely Amina’s voice Ali thought and the others singing were his siblings from Hajiya Suliat. His father had two wives. He walked hastily into the compound and with the biggest smile on his face greeted his household.
‘Salama alaikum’ And the uproar followed
‘Ali ya dawo! Ali ya dawo!’ All of his siblings shouted and ran into his embrace, it is always so fulfilling to be with family. He walks towards his mothers
‘Barka da yamma Hajiya,’ he said and hugged Hajiya Hauwa so dearly, she held on so tightly too. It had been two years since they last saw each other, she had missed him so much. Hajiya Suliat ran into the house to call their husband, his father to come see his son.
‘Barka da gidaAli,’ his father’s voice beckoned on him from behind, he turned and prostrates before him.
‘Barka da yamma Alhaji,’ he greets
‘Welcome home Ali, Zó Amina go and bring seats for your brother and I! Suliat go and prepare something for him to eat, Ali me kuke so kuci?’
‘Miyan geda Alhaji, I am very hungry.’
‘Toh! You heard him, go and prepare it!’
‘dube ka, See how lean you have become bakuda nama Walahi! Zan ciyar da Kai kitse. Where is your bag? Didn’t you come with a bag?’ Hajiya Hauwa questioned, observed and questioned again. Ah! She is never going to change, Ali thought to himself and then tried to answer one after the other.
My journey was fine Hajiya, I made a friend on the bus and Hajiya you no dey go Lagos go fat o, walahi Lagos too hard, Yana da wahala. They even thief my bag for bus. Everything I bought for you and Amina and Hajiya Suliat, everything duk abin da na yiaikina’
‘kun Sha wahala Dana, sorry. Thank Allah you are here safe and sound. But you, you are always so careless da gaske’
‘so what are you going to do now? Kai mutum ne. Will you still be going back to Lagos? Because my friend said he is looking for someone to take care of his cows, if you want I can help you talk to him,’ His father suggested
‘Haba Alhaji, allow d boy enter house finish, he is just coming home’ Hajiya Hauwa ….
‘I already have something to do Alhaji, Kun tuna abin da na fada, the friend I said I met on the bus, her name is Hajiya Fatima, she introduced me to a very good business dagaske and I have already started.’
‘What business Kuna magana ne, A woman introduce you to a business and you are taking it serious’
‘Don’t worry Alhaji, I will explain everything very well to you but first I will build a small shop at the front of the house tomorrow so I will have a place for my business and ehn kafin na mata, When are you going to town to pay for the light?’
‘Friday, Kun san nesa, it’s too far, so I dey wait make Alhaji Yusuf don ready make I follow am, Na yi Magana da shi he said Friday,’
‘Yawa! I will help you pay now, Kar a matsawa kanka, go bring your money and tomorrow I will go and collect money from Alhaji Yusuf and help him pay, a zahiri everybody should bring their light bills to me let me help them pay,’
‘Are you going to town tonight Ali? You just got home, me like fada, you want to be helping people pay light bills, kana so ka zama Dan saurayi, I am taking you to meet my friend tomorrow. You will help him with taking care of his cows.’
‘Bana son duk wanna Alhaji, so this business talk cannot wait till tomorrow. Allow this boy rest don allah. Hajiya Suliat do you need help with the food? I am coming, Ali go and take your bath and Alhaji ka bar wannan yaron shi kadai, leave him alone.’ that was Hajiya Hauwa being her true protecting self
‘I am not running errands Alhaji, I am paying from my phone Mai sauki da sauri, How much b d money you wan pay for light?’
‘4500 naira, but Ali are you sure of what you are doing?’
‘Do not worry Alhaji, just go and bring your money. This is my new business!’