Cover

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Title page, Copyright

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pp. 4-5

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Early Life

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pp. 6-16

Habiba wandered into the shade of a large Neem tree feeling tired from the exhausting sun. She found an exposed root of the tree and settled her weary posterior, stretched her tired legs, and with her right hand, massaged her feet...

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A Change

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pp. 17-21

The future they say is not ours to tell. It is like a business venture full of risks. You take a dive to either soft-land or crash-land. Habiba had to take a chance on her life and Ummi’s. She could not bear to be separated...

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A Family

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pp. 22-26

Sadia set the tray on a large blue and red coloured mat, away from the white sheepskin that was spread over a section of the mat. On the tray, there were three covered dishes of different sizes containing the meal...

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A Suitor

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pp. 27-35

Early the next week, Saleh came out of his room having said his morning prayers. He was an early riser because he had to open his shop early enough to meet the needs of the tea sellers who often needed items like sugar...

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The Asking

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pp. 36-45

There was tangible freshness in the air that morning. The air had smelt of rains that had fallen somewhere not too far away from Maiduguri. It was about seven months since Habiba and Ummi had joined their father and his family. They had been enrolled in...

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Commitment

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pp. 46-55

The Imam’s voice, from the mosque on the street, blared through the microphone as he called for the Al-fajr (Morning) prayer. The sound filtered into Sadia’s subconscious mind as she remained in her sitting position, with her back still to the...

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The Storm

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pp. 56-67

The early hours of the morning were calm and bright. Within the neighbourhood, sounds of household chores went on as was evident by the sounds of voices from over the fence. Saleh’s compound was involved with its own activities. The children were up and the girls knew just what they...

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After the Storm

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pp. 68-77

Sadia sat on the floor not looking at the corner where she had kept the dead child. It was still in its wrapping like an unwanted gift which was never going to be opened. Her tear-stained face had a distant look. It was hours since they were struck by the...

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The Hospital

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pp. 78-84

Maimuna lifted the old woman to a sitting position because she needed to feed her. Like her mother, Maimuna was fat. She had borne seven children for her husband, the head butcher in Madagali. The bus driver, Mallam Mustapha Direba, who travelled the route to Mubi, told her about...

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Madagali

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pp. 85-94

Three weeks had passed since Maimuna’s arrival in Maiduguri to care for her mother in the hospital. In all of these weeks, she had never gone to Saleh’s house for once. Her baths and feeding were all in the hospital...

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The Old Woman

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pp. 95-102

It was seven weeks and three days since Maimuna went back to Madagali to mourn her husband. The old woman was more conscious of her environment than ever before. The regime at the hospital was tough for Saleh and more so, for Sadia who absorbed all the stress withou...

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Changes

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pp. 103-110

It was 10.00 am. Saleh sat in the room looking into the distance through the holes in the curtains. He could hear the children’s voices as they played in the compound. He had not opened his shop for three days because there was little or nothing left in the shop. Sadia was seated on a brown mat at another corner...

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Mallam Zubairu

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pp. 111-117

At the Gamboru market, along a range of stores sat four men. They were laughing at some jokes and eating roast meat, known as suya, from a large brown cement paper. Behind them, the salesboy, Jibrin, was searching for change for the customer who had just paid for a set of a piece...

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The First Step

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pp. 118-126

It was on one of those days in the month of December, when you woke to a morning that was misty and hazy at the same time. It was about 11.00 am in the morning and the sun was making an effort to undermine the haziness in the atmosphere...

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A Decision

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pp. 127-135

The cold wind stung right through the many layers of garment on everybody’s back. It blew across the land, relentlessly picking the dry fine ashy dust and blowing it through closed windows and doors. The cold was more severe than most people could...

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The Marriage

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pp. 136-159

That night, Habiba and Ummi could not escape from the house as Saleh had suspected their every move from the moment he had mentioned the matter to her. He had told the boys to watch their every movement. After supper that day, Ummi had sneaked...

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Saleh

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pp. 160-171

After the Fathiha that day, Saleh did not wait to thank the few people that attended the occasion. He had simply walked away from the small crowd. Kaana had seen him go towards the shop and had wondered what it was that he was up to but could not call after him as his attention...

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Mother Nature

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pp. 172-176

It was thundering and lightning in quick successions, the terrifying sounds seemed to descend from the heavens with such loud bangs that were deafening. The compound was awash with light even though electricity had been cut out and the splatter of hard substances on the aluminium...

Back cover

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pp. 177-177