Metropole Magazine

Today's Weather: Abuja NG: Partly Cloudy, Day 360|Night 260

17 Dec Written by  Kimberly Ward

My 'Maiguard' is Getting Married

Our 'maiguard' has one of those faces that are neither old nor young: he could be 18; he could be 38. Small in stature and speaking a dialect of Hausa that baffles us, Aminu is a good, if absent-minded guard.

I remember when he first arrived from Zaria straight to our house. He was hunched and hesitant, with overgrown hair and a furtive, haunted look in his eyes. He used to grunt to alert you to his presence, and he had a permanent scowl on his face.

But after a few months with us, he became more self-assured, got regular hair-cuts, wore the clothes we gave him with pride and stood taller. He even replaced his grunts with words; it was like seeing the blossoming of a flower.

Soon he started cooking for himself and made friends with the other guards in the estate, and he smiled and laughed more. Even his brand of Hausa became more familiar to us.

Yet he remained our lowly, trust-worthy maiguard until he told us of his intentions to return to his native Zaria to get married. I was surprised. So Aminu, this young (or old, we still couldn’t ascertain his actual age-range) man who opens and closes our gate, weeds the yard, washes the cars and does other necessary work around the house for which we paid him an agreeable amount, wanted to get married?

He said that the girl had already been chosen for him by his family. She was the sister of a girl he had been dating previously, but that girl had been given out in marriage to another man when Aminu came to Abuja, so his family had accepted her sister for him.

I remember entering his messy maiguard house to the left of the gate to drop something for him, and on the floor was a picture of a light-skinned young woman wrapped in a red-veil from head to toe. She was lying down on her side and stared blankly at the camera. So when Aminu said he’d never met his bride-to-be but had been sent her picture, my mind recalled the girl in red.

She was rather pretty, I thought. Will she be pleased with Aminu, a diminutive man/boy with a semi-permanent scowl? He told us her bride-price was N70,000 and he’d been saving up for months for her. I wondered if N70,000 was considered the price for a top-drawer maiden in rural Zaria.

Last week, Aminu left to get married. I could sense his excitement as he said farewell to us. But he’ll come back soon, as his family has advised him to return to Abuja after marriage because there are no jobs in their community.

But he won’t be bringing his wife. So after a few days in Zaria, during which time he would not only meet his bride for the first time, but would have married her, he would bid farewell to his life-partner for a few months until he returned to Zaria again. Aminu will return a married man.

I wondered if, nine months later, Mrs Aminu would have a baby. Would Aminu still stay on in Abuja? Will he take on more wives? Can he look after a family on his modest maiguard wages?