Safiya’s Eyes: by Anthony Madukwe

Photo credit: Janko Ferlic

Each time we sit cross-legged in the mosque to listen to the Sheik, like we are sitting today, there is a trembling that happens in my chest. It is as if the words he is saying are vibrating my heart and shaking my body and making me to be sweating.

“The heart can be evil and it is not Allah’s will that we will allow our thoughts to corrupt our bodies. It is also not his will that we become slaves to the things others do for pleasure. We must resist these things.”

The Sheik is a tall man with a long black beard that is almost covering his face. But the beard is not completely black. There are some strands of grey hair that are sticking out of it. I know this because I am always looking at his face when he is sitting in front of the mosque to give sermons. Each time he is speaking, I am looking at his face and his eyes and his beard. It is as if I am knowing every detail about him, this Sheik.

Allah is using him to be talking to me in the mosque. Allah is telling me to not be drinking alchohol, to not be thinking of the girls that live around my street in Bagemu Garji. If the Sheik is saying it, it is Allah that is saying it because the Sheik’s voice is sweet like kunu. But I want to be thinking of Safiya – Allah forgive me. I want to be thinking of her blue hijab and pointed nose and even though I am trying hard to always be remembering what Allah is telling me through the Sheik, I will always be thinking of Safiya. Even when I am sleeping.

Safiya walks like she is dancing. When I see her at the public tap where we all go to fetch water, I am always looking at the way she is walking when she carries a bucket on her head. The other boys are always laughing and shouting her name, but me I will be looking and sometimes she will be looking at me too. Her mother has a shop at Yankura market where she is selling provisions. My mother is always sending me to buy bread and soap from her shop and every time I go, Safiya is always hiding in the back of the shop and sending her younger sister to be selling me the bread. My friend Jamal says that is how girls are doing when they like you. He said they will be wanting to be hiding so you can pursue them.

Today is Valentine’s Day and the Sheik is saying people are doing plenty Haram in the name of love.

“When a boy and girl have not done their ‘aqd, if they lay together, it is fornication – zina. Allah does not permit it.”

He said many people will go to hell because they will offend Allah today.

But I am feeling it inside my stomach that today is a good day. In my street in Bagemu Garji, there were many people – boys and girls – who were wearing white and red this morning, walking on the street and holding hands. The way they were happy and smiling was making me to be remembering Safiya.

When we finish from the mosque, I tell Jamal that we should go to Yankura market, that I want to see Safiya. Jamal is surprised and is looking at me like I am carrying two heads. When we get there, Safiya is standing outside her mother’s shop pouring out water from a plastic basin. She sees me and Jamal and wants to be rushing back inside but I shout and tell her to wait. I don’t know where I am getting the boldness from but as I am standing in front of Safiya, I am telling her that I like her hijab. My mouth is shaking and my hand is sweating but I am telling her I like her pointed nose and her big eyes that is always blinking.

She is saying nothing but I am seeing that thing in her eyes. That thing that is showing in the eyes of all the boys and girls who are wearing red and white and holding hands along Kasuka Road and Bagemu Garji. I am seeing it and it is sweeting me. I know it is showing in my eyes too because Safiya’s face is becoming soft and her big eyes is closing a little and she is smiling now and me, I am smiling back at her.


Anthony Madukwe (@Tonydukwe ‏) is a lawyer living in the southern city of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The most of his spare time is spent writing, reading mostly stressful prose and surfing the Internet. He believes the Nigerian delicacy ‘bolle’ is heaven’s breakfast and that stories are the only way life makes sense.

Related country: Nigeria

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