I am not sorry.
I am not sorry Gabriel, for seeing the glint in your eyes, for following that flicker in those eyes that did not belong to a man; for knowing things meant for angels.
I am not sorry for letting my soul bubble with laughter. Perhaps it was your lips always threatening to break into a smile that made things funny before you said them; perhaps your eyes, round and bright, that made things wise before you said them; or the confident arms akimbo, that made things brilliant before you did them.
They must have whispered it into your mother’s ears- those angels that gifted you to her- that she bore one of theirs, for her to insist that you would be called by an angel’s name. Gabriel, beloved among the angels. Gabriel, beloved messenger of heaven.
Your father wanted Irmiya, the fiery prophet. I am not as acquainted with the saints of your religion as I should be, only the snippets you shared with me but I know your father was wrong. There is nothing fiery about you dear. Not even when you told your father, clutching my hands, that unless I said I wasn’t interested, you were never going to let go.
Dear Gabriel- angel that appeared to me in Kwangila motor park on your way to Maiduguri- did you know it would turn out like this- me here, you there? Did you know when you smiled at me and let me have the seat by the door; when you shared your Orbit chewing gum with me?
I am not sorry, angel from the stars, that I fell asleep on your shoulder that first day in the car to Maiduguri and travelled to blissful worlds. I am not sorry that I started talking to you, that I was bolder, that I knew from your eyes that you wouldn’t read it the wrong way if I gave you my number.
I would commit murder if I was sure which of my father’s brothers led the masked men- soldiers of God poised to do His bidding. I want to strike them without mercy- this is what I feel now as my muscles contract and relax and hurt. How could they have said that it was you when I still have the torn edge of Leadership newspaper where I made you write your number? How could they have called you, Gabriel of the stars, a heathen? Could they not see God in your eyes? Were your words not magic, made in realms beyond their mortal sticks and daggers and evil hearts?
How could I have explained what we did not say with words or invent with our minds; that neither you or me asked to want or be wanted; that we just knew it, as a child knows its mother, when our lips found each other as we took shelter from the angry pelting rain, beneath the leaky zinc shack?
I AM sorry.
I am sorry that it took me so long to scream or say anything. You were an angel, all you needed to do was speak to calm the aggressors. You had God on your lips and God in your exhalation.
I am sorry that I thought it was all a dream when those men who had sent letters of warning to leave their sister alone, barged in and said you had hypnotised me so that I no longer knew East from West, holy from unholy, heathen from believer. Could they not see that every day I saw God, breathed God?
I am sorry Gabriel, of the stars, that I could not go with you; I am sorry I am a coward and could not thrust the knife through my heart because of the weight of your gift. Am I selfish, Gabriel, beloved of heaven? I, Fatimah of your dreams? Is this pain my punishment?
I lay here, these pangs of pain threatening to tear me apart, making the final push through blood and sweat and screaming, to bring forth your gift.
I take one look and see you in her eyes, hear your spirit in her shrill infantile screams, feel your soul in her pulsating body. I know you are hovering above me. There is no need to wait eight days. I will name her here. Fatimah. Fatimah bint Gabriel. Fatimah, daughter of an angel.