If only eyes couldn’t reveal what the heart felt, Ramshidi wept but her heart didn’t.
Almost everyone watched her, as she boldly sat in front of the temple. A bead in her hand, a black veil worn around her head, revealing just her wet eyes.
She had been late this time too, which was normal since she always took Lanre to school every morning.
Let me tell you what I know of her. Ramshidi mattered to no one but somehow, I’m sure she does now.
There was something about the first wife of Mohammed and how she looked past everything that was supposed to hurt her, laughing blatantly at the shameful jokes made about her. Usually, she sat in the temple only when it was vacant, bowing for hours till it filled and emptied out. On good days, you would see the tears well up in her eyes and when she was mistreated on other days, you would see a smile curl on her lips.
Mohammed had gone against his family when he had brought an orphan and a new convert into their home. They had been clearly against it but their love was strong enough to win against his family.
Only their victory didn’t last when Ramshidi couldn’t reproduce after her first child, Lanre. Mohammed married again. Love must come with its powers or something like that, because as soon as that happened, Ramshidi became an outcast.
An outcast that only went to the market, at dawn or late evenings when it was almost empty, when no one would recognize her as the wife of rich Mohammed and wonder why she argued prices and bought half standard goods. Unlike the rich men wives, she had few friends. Myself and someone I was yet to meet. She served her oppressors, his family with a quiet smile. It had always been a thing of fright to see her smile and she did it so often.
At the last festival, she wore an old cloth and compared to her fellow wife, her legs didn’t jingle nor shine. She covered herself completely only revealing those eyes.
When she spoke to Mohammed in public, her eyes held his for a long while as if begging him to notice, maybe to warn him that she had long past her limit and was now a ticking bomb. He was always first to break their eye contact, he didn’t seem to care for it was no more his fight but hers.
So yesterday, when she began to weep as the prayers were being recited, she was forcefully taken out and warned not to come back in. This was a sign of what was to come, but we all ignored it. Mohammed didn’t go to her when she was sent out, instead he was afraid of what others would say and so was I.
After the prayers, I ran over to her place and she wasn’t there, I searched and searched. My heart was relieved when I found her.
“Ramshidi, I have searched for you, what happened today at the temple?” I asked.
“Latifa, I am fine. You worry too much about me. I was having a cold and my nose began to run all of a sudden,” she smiled rubbing her nose and began walking away.
“So what about the tears? You wept Ramshidi, do not fool me,” I said stopping her.
She smiled mysteriously, the sunlight reflecting on a gold tooth Mohammed had purchased for her in place of a wedding ring, as she walked past me hurriedly, leaving me more concerned.
But now we all sat in this dreaded color, mourning the whole family of Mohammed except her and her precious son.
According to sources, they had been attacked on their way to pilgrimage and as always Ramshidi had been left behind with her son who was asked to stay back for the first time. They always made her watch the house while they were away. Mohammed would kiss her and promise to get her many bangles while he left, tucked in the arms of his other wife.
Now as we made the preparations for the dead, Ramshidi sat in front leading the recitation. More than once, our eyes met and she didn’t bother to look away. I swear, I could see behind the guise, relief and happiness so conspicuous, that even the loud sobs she gave amidst the recitation, left me undeterred that she had planned this funeral.