This world is full of mystery; I can’t believe many things that confront my eyes on a daily basis. My name is Hannatu Dangana, I’m originally from Bida in Niger State. The thing that twists my mind and causes me to be sore is the case of my childlessness. I have been barren for the 12 years I have been married.
I moved to Jos a few months after our marriage. Salihu, my husband, is a driver of luxury buses, he travels from Jos to Lagos and sometimes from Jos to Kano, so many times he is hardly at home. And at that time, many of our family said he should stop working as a transport person and stay at home to make me pregnant.
But Salihu would not hear, he prefers to be out there and before long, he brought home another wife. That was only just after two years of marriage to me. He brought home Larai. She is a very young girl but her eyes have been open to the ways of this world and that is because she is a garage girl. Salihu met her selling Kunu at one of the garages in Kano. Larai was about 15 years when Salihu brought her and quickly she was pregnant for him, they have three children already and I have none but thanks be to Allah, Salihu did not divorce me, even though his mother is always telling him to cut me off, I know deep in his heart, he loves me. That I cannot give him even one child makes me very sore.
How did I get involved with Hassana the mad woman? Everybody here knows Hassana. She has been mad for a long time, many years in fact. She walks about half naked and picks food from all the dustbins around here.
I don’t know what Hassana’s story is or how she became mad, but everybody knows Hassana the mad woman.
It was a few months back I noticed her picking food from the dustbin and vomiting. She’s a mad woman, who will notice such things? But the vomit was for many days and since she picks from the dustbin, who would imagine it to be anything else apart from the rubbish she eats?
But Hassana was pregnant. I noticed immediately after her colour began to change, she began to fill out and look pretty beneath the pile of dirt on her skin.
Two things beguiled me. How can anyone in their right senses have sex with a mad woman to the point of impregnating her? Secondly, here I am, a sane woman and I can’t even be pregnant. This world is full of mysteries.
So I began to leave food for Hassana. Though I told her to come every day but you know she is mad, she never remembers to come for the food I leave for her, so I have often had to go seek her about town to give her food.
And Allah is my witness, I had no motive in my mind but to feed a woman who is made pregnant and isn’t even aware of herself to take care or eat well for the sake of her unborn child.
Months after, everybody knew Hassana was pregnant. Pregnancy isn’t what you can hide even if you are not mad. People would ask Hassana who made her pregnant and she would answer, “Your husband.”
Same answer she gives even if the question came from a man. Isn’t that madness talking?
It was when it became obvious that Hassana was due to have a baby that the idea came to me. Hassana would never be able to take care of this child. Whereas, here I am, I would love the child and care for it like it were born from my belly. So I decided I would take the child that Hassana births.
And as Allah is so good, the evening she was to give birth, I had traced her to an abandoned building where she often stays. I went with food. There I saw Hassana in pain, she was walking legs apart with her face twisted in pain. I knew the child was due. I dropped the bowl of food and quickly helped as I saw her baby’s head was already coming out between her legs and she was standing just like that. I pushed her down and almost immediately, the baby came out. It was a girl.
Hassana just got up, with the cord still tying her to the baby and she went for the food and began to eat. No thought for the baby that came out of her body. I quickly found an object in her untidy heap to cut the cord. I removed my hijab and swathed the baby in it. I carried the baby home to clean and care for.
I can’t even remember the journey home. I couldn’t wait to tell Salihu. Larai and I are not so friendly and she had gone to see her family in Kano at that time, but even if she was around, I wouldn’t have told her the good news. A few days later, Salihu came home and I presented him with the baby and told him everything, he listened and at the end, he just brought the baby and myself to the police station. Here we are.
-compiled by Peju Akande