THE FIFTEENTH WAR

The afternoon she slammed the door, Hadia stood and craned to where the guys sat under the large neem tree. Her face was smug because she realized they seemed to focus there. She stood a few more seconds like she was busily doing something till she finally pushed open the door again. “What am I looking for?” She imagined. She hated that attitude. Why would she have to feign over things? Was it anyone’s business? She encouraged her heart and slammed the door close the second time, stood behind the door’s veil, and glared through the translucency. It was blurry but she could determine if those guys were still focusing on her or not.

This is the fourteenth time Hadia had waged a fight. She lost over thirteen already and would likely prepare for the fifteenth if she failed to be loved.

Hadia was the one among the scarce beautiful women who ever struck palms against chest saying; beauty is everything. Have it and dictate!

The sun was craning. Her fluffy hair was beautiful under those fairly brown rays. She felt she was getting late. She gathered some vigor and slid out with a heartbeat. She strolled as her heart persisted pounding under her chest. She felt how those guys were looking at her inside her head, so she jolted along like an old car whose engine got shut. She tried to always correct her steps. A few walks to the sharp curve, she slid in and started to thank God. She sighed heavily, pushed her little black purse under her armpit, and slapped her elbow at it in grip as she left.

“Madam Hadiaa-aa!” Praised in a long voice, one of her neighbors, Manila, whom she was arriving at. She always loved that praise so she felt a breeze all over herself. She arrived as she offered her a seat. Around Hadia’s forehead were streams of perspiration. Her makeup started to flow like a solution. She watched the handkerchief in her right palm and felt sad. It was gradually becoming full with a solution of makeup. She made rectangular folds, pushed it inside the sizeable purse, and pulled out another.

“Why today. Your makeup is not stable?” Asked Manila.
She was her best friend with whom she discusses all her secret matters. Manila had two children now, who are in the school: One is in primary three and the other one would soon be taking her basic education certificate examination, BECE.

Probably, Manila was a responsible woman but had never spoken something good to her friend Hadia, in admonishment.

“Is our husband inside?” Asked Hadia as her eyes widened like an opened chapter. The question Manila first asked, about her makeups, she has not answered yet, but she let go.
“No, he just left and you arrived.” Said Manila, and now also looking to draw the stool she sat on closer. She first offered some water from the refrigerator and Hadia turned it down. She was busy on herself trying to think out something better to tell her friend.

“I don’t even know why. Those guys would sit and not mind their businesses.” She scowled, the new handkerchief she held paced around her forehead once again cleaning and drying all the thick-colored sweats.

“What do you mean by that?” Asked Manila and shifting in. “You know, now. You should.” “Ok, you mean they would always glare?” She looked smiley. And she also gazed from one corner of her eye nodding. “Worry not. If you know species, you understand how to handle them. Don’t simply look at them. Feel free to walk like a woman.” She suggested to Hadia and stood to demonstrate. At the same time, quickly peered through the tiny holes on the veranda gate to see if anyone is coming in their direction.

“Yes, walk like a woman and never care. Prove your caliber to them and pass by the street ready to be called.” She neared with her mouth, “look, your type, all those men who threw you from their marriage, do you think they are better? Go and see them now. They are regretting it.” She finished, drawing back her head.

Hadia found some full confidence and now felt cool completely. “I know, right? Do you think I mind at all? Wowoi!” She twisted her lips, wobbled her eyeballs to one side as if she wanted to be on her feet but quickly stopped. “I would have demonstrated for you to see.” She smiled and both finally burst into lasting laughs.

They kept talking for some time and finally Manila slid inside the room for something. She returned as they walked from the veranda out. Standing somewhere closer to the threshold, they felt it in their nerves, their laughter became higher so they high fived themselves like young teenagers. Manila would never give a bit of true advice to her friend and Hadia never even also knew anything about true advice.
Hadia never had a child but was now 40. She has no husband currently and she was very powerful in her own understanding in front of ordinary men.

She defined ‘ordinary’ as the one without money and a car. But for those with cars and money, they were the extraordinary. She loved those types and still looking around the street for one.
The last man she broke up with was a man starting a tiny business. She loved Manila well-well but felt exhausted paying for a lot of things. The night he arrived from work and realized that their chop money was below the required one, he urged his wife, Hadia to reduce her demands for too many things as a married woman. “Married women don’t do that.” He complained. She should reduce her demand for that morning alawas. What he, the man had been paying for over eleven months now. Hadia said if he can’t do it, why drew near it? When she said it, her friends who were closer laughed covering their lips with palms. And it was the fourteenth time she broke up.

“Hey, Salim. Stand out there and look if you can see a white car.” She yelled at a boy. The boy shortly returned and said there was no car. She felt bad so her face tilted downward at her wristwatch. It was almost getting to 6.00 pm. Her temperature rose to cause little warms under. She slid inside and took her phone to phone someone. Maybe, a man. They spoke for just 30 seconds and she threw it back on the bed, sat on one tip of this high-density cushion. One of her legs resting on the other as she clipped one side of her lip and seemed to wait for someone. But who? Who could that person be? Who was she waiting for? In a minute, there was a horn blaring outside and some light rays rushed inside. She already knew it. Her heart then calmed as she strolled like a speeding bed bug to the door. She cocked her head in the gate which had opened a fraction. No word and she turned back with happiness, looping her long middle finger into the long-standing handle of that black glistering handbag as she slipped out to enter this white car. They drove off.

“There is one thing about life which many people have not noticed yet, feeling big. It can take you to hell.” Grimaced a man with grey hair, resting in a settee. He must have been her father. Hadia’s father. He was called Danda. This was when Hadia arrived inside the large compound to collect some water and was called inside by that father.
“Father, and if you failed to have it too, they would trample on you like a useless rat.” She said, looking away. A little while, like four seconds, she stood and moving out with her water. Her dad had not succeeded in adding anything more.
She would bathe and forget about the bucket till the small boys in the compound came for it if someone needed it to also bathe. It was a family one. Hadia’s bigness must have been able to buy a personal bucket but…. No.

She bathed and was ready to move.

This was the next morning. It was too early and she would be going to Manila. She doesn’t know yet if her husband would still be around, so she was thinking on her bed. “Maybe, let me wait small.” She whispered. Shortly, she came to the threshold. She would also look to see if those guys were arriving to sit under the neem tree. Her heart would pound. She wants to leave faster before they come but she was uncertain also if Manila’s husband would go to work that early or not. She sat up to 30 minutes and stood to go. “I would prefer to go before these guys come around here.” She thought and shortly left. She was hanging around till the time she finally arrived at Manila’s place.

Her husband was still inside but she never knew. She must have failed in her calculation. Her voice called Manila from afar but no one responded. She repeated about three more times.
“Is this woman not around?” She muffled to herself and called again. No one responded and she stood and checked something around. She walked and finally got to the entrance, looked with attention and as if she was returning but a voice came. “I was just inside,” Manila said with a squint at the morning rays.
She demonstrated with her gestures that her husband was inside so, she should go and come later or another day. But she didn’t mention time.
It was a surprise to both of them. Mr. Dege had taken a one-week leave to relax for having moved his company to a loftier stage. It was part of his compensation. Manila’s husband works at one of the mobile communication networks.
She got the work just a year and a few months ago. They were preparing to soon also move into their new apartment, five stories with everything inside. Their current settlement was just a single room with a veranda.

When she gestured to Hadia, she perfectly got the meaning. She only nodded and slid slowly like a thief behind a cabin. She was sensitive to gesticulations. She knew and understood it more and more. They both used it often in their conversations as some sort of discreet understanding cues, which no other person could interpret. When she left the scene, Manila slid back inside, heart-beating.

“How many times did I tell you to stop her from coming to you?” Snarled her husband. Her face blushed. Her urge to cease a place near him on the bed diminished. “I said how many times?” Yelled more. Manila quivered, jolting back with fears. “Well, not me but if anyone of my children goes astray, then we will see who is the man.” He said, standing to wear his shirt. It was long sleeves so he swung it behind him, passing his hands through, he closes the buttons and slid into the veranda via the quacking door. It slams. When he was passing by her, she shook her lips like she wanted to say something mildly, but there was nothing to speak about. She felt sad and started conveying those dirty clothes on the bed and dumping them inside the tall standing basket to be sent into the veranda.

She woke the younger child called Nafisa to go out and brush. The senior one went to the borehole. Manila had a lot of matters to think out. She was feeling drowsy for having received the seventh warning from her husband about her friend Hadia. Manila grew up with her in Kumasi town. She would have been like her, perhaps, but she was lucky to be moved to her aunty at Wa, who was so wicked. She trained her very well. But Hadia was still around and never wanted to go anywhere. When they say one, she would say five. Even now her respect for humanity still stands at zero percent.

Manila came out of the veranda as her first daughter arrived with a basin of water. “Draw it inside the second barrel, and gather the utensils out. You would finish them before your extra classes.” She whispered and looking in the direction of her younger daughter. “Brush well and stop being lazy.” She said but couldn’t hold so she neared to assist. “You would never learn to do it well.” she slaps her naked shoulder holding her to do it well.

Hadia got home very late. She slid inside and her stomach twitched. What, a hunger? She needed some food so she left her gate ajar and slid inside the compound. Her door faced the outside with her window watching inside the compound. Inside her mother’s room, she found some food her mother prepared at dusk. She stole some and returned to her room. Her mother saw everything under the twilight but pressed her eyes to close over it. It was a daughter and no need to say anything. She came inside and finished the food. And was good this time, she cleansed the bowl, however, only left it inside her room as she dropped on her bed. Her eyes slowly dropped till the following morning.

The sun came out and shot her image inside, once more. There was no one under the neem tree so she was happy. She walked out and washed her face. She brushed already. About the next agenda, a thought came to mind. All the rich men who assured her never came around after she returned from each of them. She remembered something, so she quickly entered back and leaned against the cold wall on her bed. “I am getting another year older. And they don’t say anything.” She whispered. “I know Mr. Samuel won’t do me that. As for him, I see it. He is serious.” She smiled and standing, crouched about to do something. She reached for a pen on the table, which the large brown rectangular bag sat on, at the corner. She picked up the small book and jotted a contact from her phone. Aftermath, she checked for another contact somewhere inside, on one page. She would eat something too and would move on with a new agenda for the day.

She craned to the outside and sent a small boy to buy her some hot kooko from Adisatu. The small boy went and did more than an hour so, she was about to hang herself. She had constantly stood on the way and craned till her neck became longer. The small boy was still not arriving. Hadia glanced about and sent another boy till this first small boy returned with the porridge.
She grimaced with a smile. It was paining her and she pretended. She took it and even forgot to thank the small boy like she would do every time she sent them. Sometimes she awarded some coins. This is when it was issues about her sugar papas, arriving. These small boys would meet those cars, directing them to her place. But these men have never clashed with one another. They never knew about themselves, too. That means they came differently.

A few minutes, the porridge’s rubber landed inside the outside bin. She was done and took off to Manila. When she was reaching there, Manila started to scowl about Hadia’s coming. She had not laughed since when she arrived. But Hadia is doing everything to make her laugh. “This morning some mile headache, oo,” Manila complained inside the veranda. Her face dulled like rainy weather. “I know it was him.” She taunted. “You don’t know what is going on self.” Said Manila turning to one side of the corridor. Her head came back and Hadia said, “there is one Mr. Samuel who had promised me truthfully. I believe in him.” She whispered looking around. “Samuel? That first man?” “No, not him. Manila paa, look at me and look at him.” She threw her hand about and looked from one side. “This is a man with a big house and has not yet married.” “Are you sure he would…” “Oo, we discussed it, already. It is a matter of time. Just a few weeks from now.” She said and laughed. But it never tingles anything in Manila. “But are you sure your investigations are strong? Some may have wives or even promised other ladies, but you would never know.” “He doesn’t. I know. I moved with him. The only thing is, I have never gone to his house. That one saf, we are cooking up to.” She said and felt calmed. “That’s also perfect,” Manila said and rose inside but came back faster.

“I am trying to reach your stage, Manila.” Mocked, Hadia as she smiled. Probably, she added to Manila’s anger.
“Are you telling me am ok here?” “You know!” “But we started badly. And not yet sure from here.” She said and Hadia laughed clapping just once. “You want to tell me there is no big company anywhere?” She looked and smiling still. There was nothing for Manila to say. She knew it was all true. She didn’t want to mind her but she couldn’t ignore too, so she still defended. “I only loved him and was ready to be with him, as for the company, it came very late. It came and met the marriage.” She said and Hadia stopped smiling.

Well, she was not seeing anything. She has not reasoned deep to make sense out of what her friend was saying. Manila too, has not felt comfort since when her friend arrived. Their today’s conversation was unlike all others. Hadia pretended to notice it because she needed to still deliver her message. She has to say what was in her heart and she has already done it, and so any moment from now, she could flee. Manila sighed around in between the room and the veranda again, and like she had something crucial to tell her friend, but still would not say.

“She would feel bad.” She thought and sat back later after all the mini in-and-out walks.
“My husband was angry the last time you came.” She breathed, as Hadia’s stomach shivered. “Did he see me?” “I don’t think so. Perhaps he heard your voice.” She replied, and now, she could relate to it. It was true because that day she shouted like a small girl seeing her best friend once again after a long journey. She was becoming sad. Yes, Hadia was. Manila finds it hard to tell the real thing so they sat for long without words. “I will leave now.” She said as she stood to go. She knew about that husband. She had never met him laugh before. If she got that chance, she would tell Manila to find a different man. A man who would not destroy her relations with her childhood friend. But she didn’t say anything. She only thought and let go.

Whilst they both stepped out, felt guilty on their faces like each had something to say but was unable to. Looking guiltier, they moved in opposite ways unable to say what was hidden under their chests as Hadia went home and Manila coming back.

Hadia was now waiting for Mr. Samuel. He would come and they would go to his house. Aftermath, they both would come to her parents who are desperately waiting for a man to come, ask a hand in their daughter’s marriage. Mr. Samuel was on the way coming perhaps but seemed to delay. She was inside, that afternoon waiting for evening to arrive faster. She went out into the compound and out of joy, started informing her parents about the new man. She wanted to prove everybody wrong, including those men who always spied her from under the tree. She informed and they were happy but again doubted. They doubted. The neighbors in the compound never also liked that idea. They know it would simply not work. They believe marriage is more than what Hadia was always looking for and no true man was ready for her type. So they smiled and kept mute. She finished and came back to her room after her parents rejoiced halfway.

Mr. Samuel finally arrived, struck out the car’s door, and she slid in as they drove off that late. They would return but the time of returns was a mystery. No one knew. They toured all the big spots and finally returned home, she was dropped and Mr. Samuel went off. He had gone back, preparing to arrive for her on the scheduled date. It would be on the coming Monday and today is Thursday. Four days to go. She had succeeded in telling all those who were closer to her. All her friends would hear it, too. She would like to go back to Manila and tell her Mr. Samuel had committed to his words finally, and the marriage was to come off. But she would remember what she said about her husband’s reaction and stop.

She was inside arranging clothes in the large rectangular bag the next afternoon. Two boys pattered to her knocked and called that some two men were looking for her. Hadia came out unable to refuse. When she came out, in about two minutes’ walk, she arrived. It was one man whom she knew and another one who was a stranger. The one she knew whispered something into her ear. What could it be? Maybe, something hidden about that Mr. Samuel. Something heart aching which she seemed not to believe. She didn’t understand so the man repeated it in a very clearer voice. “He has nothing. That white car belongs to his master.” He said quite loudly and drew out his mouth from her one ear. Looked around and continued. “He is my friend at the workplace.” He finished. Hadia had known that man for long. How truthful he has been. He was the one who first informed her about those thieves and it was true. Today he had said a new thing. She was confused. She had nothing to say because that man has not been telling lies.
She only nodded, thanked, and went back.

She sat and started to reflect on how Mr. Samuel and her strolled along the long beautiful streets. To her, if a man is pretending to use someone’s car, could not do them. He couldn’t simply have the guts to buy those expensive items and drinks. She encouraged herself and thought everything out. She imagined of that man who said all these, as not serious himself. “He is never serious!” She thought.

She didn’t want to believe him this time around. She continues packing into that Eco-lack. She would still prepare and wait for Mr. Samuel. She did all those things and the day went down.
She came out that late evening to make some calls or so, but I could not tell the exact thing. A lady came around saying she was looking for Hadia. She gave in as she being that person. She stopped every matter of calls or so, as she stood well, with full attention. Her knuckles curled on her waist. What did she want to deliver? What was the matter? “Do you know me?” Asked that beautiful young lady. It all started calmly. “no.” Said, Hadia. Her heart pounding and wondering what could that mean? She asked if she also knew Mr. Samuel and Hadia nodded yes. The young beautiful lady told her that, she is the lady Mr. Samuel would marry very soon so she, Hadia, should stop everything with him. She should break her moves and find another man. Hadia became breathless, almost pissed off. “This is a disrespect!” snarled, Hadia. “Where did you know me?” At a glance, she bent over and came up with one of her high heels, swung it across the air in a target of the young lady. It was as if she had also learned some kunfu, she slides out with a slight bend and shifted, went down to also bring up her stone-like heel, swung it at Hadia, and failed the target.

Now, both had failed their targets. They stood throwing up some warm airs from their nostrils. Maybe, they were exhausted just now. Hadia was now adjusting her gown around her waist to face this lady well. But whilst she could notice it, this young lady had hurled out one more blow till the heel in her grip, this time, landed on Hadia’s beautifully looking forehead, leaving a large trench of a wound. Blood starts to spray like a leaking pipe born. She coiled her moderate lips into sadden outcry. Their noise had already roamed far inviting people closer. A few people came around and got them separated, asking to know why.

“Why all these? Erhn, why?” The voices played all about unceasingly. But in a very short while, all matters became clearer. These people then started to turn back as they complained something about Hadia’s attitude. Some were going and never minded her. It was some two men plus a woman who came around to rescue her.

They were sending her to the hospital when the rest still around started solacing the new lady. They continued to calm her and moved her off. The wound Hadia had picked on her forehead, left a lasting scar after four weeks, such that not even an ordinary man would attempt a proposal.

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