‘In all the years I’ve attended tafsir sessions with you, I’ve never seen you ask the imam a question or send a request note Bint. What was so special today that you had to send this note, eventhough we won’t be around to hear it?’ Asabe asked as soon as we entered the car, after leaving the mosque.
‘Or it’s a just a request to have a firmer grip on Tahir’s heart. You know as we grow older, we need divine assistance to keep our men in check.’ I replied, with a laugh.
‘For that you do not need to come to the mosque in Ramadhan and request a public prayer. I mean being the prayer-warrior that you are, I know you would gladly remain awake at nights and make your special appeals to the Almighty. So quit the joke and tell me the truth, what was in that piece of paper that you had someone forward to the imam?’ She repeated her request, with eyes on the road ahead.
‘Ok, now that you’ve seen through my joke, I guess I have no choice but to say the truth. I actually requested a prayer against the menace of drug addiction among women. The figures we read about concerning female drug addicts are really scary. Though the fact that some cough syrups have been banned is commendable, the terrifying thing is that the addicts are said to have moved to other abusable brands of drugs. In short, the situation calls for nothing other than divine intervention. That’s why I sent the prayer request. I mean, in this month of great blessings, we need to raise our hands to Almighty Allah on each request. And you know that congregational supplications have better chances, especially on societal issues.’ I explained.
‘Yes, it’s true but you know I’ve always been skeptical about those figures that are being bandied about. They said two million bottles of cough syrup were being consumed by housewives daily, in Kano. If that was true, many houses would have remained without food because those women would be too busy sleeping to have time to cook or take care of their children. I mean the number one side effect of cough syrups is drowsiness and sleep inducement. And we have heard of no epidemic of sleeping wives in the ancient city. So how can this be true?’ Asabe asked.
‘You are right. I too had my doubts about the figures. And when I received a WhatsApp story about an incident that happened at a wedding, it reinforced my belief that some people were just trying to give Kano a bad name by saying their women were now drug addicts. The story was that a woman complained that her jewelry had been stolen at a wedding ceremony. The hosts requested that every handbag be checked to see whether the thief could be caught. In the process of looking for the missing jewelry, every handbag checked, and there were at least 200 women, had a bottle of cough syrup inside. This story sounded so incredible that I immediately rejected it. But I realised that there was still cause for concern when my niece, who was a house officer at the teaching hospital, told me that there is a growing number of psychiatric cases among women that are due to drug addiction. This is why I believe that the problem is real, even if it’s being exaggerated.’ I concluded.
‘But how did we get to this? I mean the one among youths, though unfortunate is still understandable. Too many boys idling about, out of school, feeling alienated from society and simply taking solace in what would at least eclipse the pain of their unhappy existence. But women, married women too, how did they come to rely on drugs and for what reason?’ She asked, turning to enter the road that leads to my house. I pondered her question for a while, then as we step foot into the hallway in my house, I responded.
‘Marital problems perhaps. Maybe there are too many of them trapped in unhappy marriages, coupled with poverty and no means of empowerment with which to help themselves; so they simply resort to cheap cough syrups that could send them high for a while, and then enable them to sleep soundly afterwards. A double gain of avoiding the pains of their painful reality, I think.’
‘But how about the young women?’ Tahir suddenly asked from behind me. I had no idea he was standing there when we arrived, till he joined the conversation. ‘You women always want to blame everything on husbands. But out there in hospital wards are unmarried, female drug addicts. Can you tell me what role husbands played in their case?’ He demanded.
To be continued.