Part 1: Aishat Mukaila
We served together in Enugu. When I resumed at my PPA ( place of primary assignment) she had settled already. There was no room available for me yet. There was a batch A corper that was leaving soon. I was asked to wait. Aishat asked me to stay with her.
I left the North with some anger and prejudice against Muslims. It was hard not to. After an SUG election turned to a religious skirmish, I was tired. Everyone insists that Islam is a religion of peace but my years in the North told me that I did not understand the meaning of the word peace.
I didn’t want to stay with her. I had hoped that the batch A Christian girl who was also a ‘mama’ would offer me to stay with her but she didn’t.
So I stayed with Aishat.
I have never met a better person in my life.
She embraced me to the point that it was embarrassing. I am not a morning person but I had to become one just so that I could stop her from washing my clothes. Yes. She would wake up and wash all clothes dirty. She would cook and clean and I was constantly battling her not to fuss or to let me do something.
She was devout and committed to her faith. It guided everything she said and did. We talked about our faiths all the time without judgement. I would ask her questions and she would answer without anger. She would ask about christianity and I would answer her.
She made me a better Christian. Simply because of how she cherished her faith I had to dust my own and honour it.
I did a deposit at union bank Jos before coming down to the village we were in. They assured me that I would have access to it when I got there. The money took forever to appear in my account…. almost 5weeks. So I was broke. I tried to hide it from Aishat. But she knew. She carried me for that period as I had not even bought foodstuff or cooking utensils because of the money that had to trek from Jos. Aishat kept trying to give me from the little that she had. I would lie that I didn’t want to eat food and she would read me the riot act and force me to eat. I tried to convince her that I loved black tea and biscuits (all I could afford and I hated imposing) but she saw through it.
We lost contact soon after we finished. But I have never forgotten her. If I did not have a faith I believed in, I would have followed her just based on her lifestyle.
Till we passed out, we never had a falling out. Differences in opinions but no fights. Such a kind person.
The sad thing was that she was seen as a pariah because of her hijab. We all know how the East feels about such things. The good thing is that no one ever acted on their reservations on covered Muslims. But the distrust was always there.
We can live together. Our religions can coexist. But some people will never give it a chance.
Part 2: The Reunion
Social media can be amazing. I shared with you all my youth service story and how I lived with a Muslim lady Aisha Mukaila for a whole year and the beautiful friendship we shared.
We parted ways and at some point we lost touch. Her old number wasn’t going through and I had a new number.
Once in a while, I would still try her number. I looked for her on social media but couldn’t find her. I was certain she was married and that was why I couldn’t find her.
I was looking for an item that took me to where my old pictures were. Jason can be patient. He sat with me and asked me questions about the different pictures. I came across the one we did with Aisha. I asked him to put it on my work table.
I shared our story and within 2 hours someone chatted me that he wanted to know the Aisha. I thought in my head that this person is looking for another wife abi. I told him we lost contact.
He then shared that she was his wife!!!! He sent me her number and we reconnected.
She lives in Abeokuta. We kept chatting till we fixed a date. I warned her I was so much bigger and she said so was she .
My husband and I drove to see her and her husband and family and it was an amazing reunion.
I am still overwhelmed.
Her family embraced us and treated us like royalty. Her husband hosted us to the point that he called an older member of his family so they could speak with us.
The post I did had gone viral and they had been flooded with so much positivity and love.
There was nothing awkward. It was as though we had not parted. There were a few tears and at the end the surprised me with a plaque!!!!!
The words I wrote were engraved with her response.
I was incredibly moved by this.
She actually got an official photographer!
As we were leaving they showered us with gifts to the point that we were overwhelmed. I was already happy with the Amala, Ewedu and Gbegiri we ate. So additional gifts were unexpected.
We have plans to see each other whenever we can.
Her family was just like I expected. A devout Muslim home with a mini mosque in front. Inscribed on the top of the entrance is “Allah is our goal”.
We talked about tolerance and how possible it was if we all just saw ourselves and our collective humanity.
Thank you Alhaji Kewulere Anifowose for your warm welcome. Thank you Alhaja Aisha Anifowose. May you be rewarded here on earth for all you do. I love you dear friend.