Amina Abubakar is one of the widows of Rock of Ages. Her husband died in 2013 of HIV and given that they are practicing Muslims, he was buried the same day without any fanfare whatsoever. For her, the discrimination started even in his lifetime as they were abandoned by friends and family. Apparently, society still gives persons living with HIV/AIDS a wide berth despite knowing that it cannot be contracted by mere physical contact.
Her husband suffered a great deal, battling with the disease and fighting to survive, before he finally gave up the ghost. His dying wish had been an express instruction that he was not to be put in the mortuary and she obeyed his wishes. She said that she had had to do battle with the hospital when they attempted to defy his wishes. Still weeping bitterly over his death, she had insisted that that they would only get to put him in the mortuary if they killed her and put in her corpse with his. Standing up to an entire hospital management and a crowd of doctors, nurses, and morticians all by herself had been harrowing and draining especially coming on the heels of losing her husband. But such was her devotion to her late husband, that she had been willing to sacrifice anything to fulfill his last wishes.
Amina confided in hushed tones that she was also HIV positive herself, haven been infected by her husband while he was alive. Her husband had three children from an earlier marriage and two from her and she helped train all five children during his lifetime. Luckily, the three children from the first wife have since grown and still regard her as their mother, occasionally chipping in some financial help to ease her burdens. Her children are still tender with the eldest being sixteen and the youngest ten and since the death of her husband, the sole responsibility of catering for and training them has fallen onto her shoulders.
Her husband died leaving them in debt and she has also had to bear that onerous burden alone. Her husband had left behind a car and a house but her in-laws seized the car and sold it under the pretext that they wanted to pay off his debts. Amina never saw a dime of that money till date. She asserted that the in-laws had been unable to take away the house because it was her own money which had been used to buy the land in her husband’s lifetime. However she said she nevertheless went ahead and marked the house ‘Not for Sale’ in order to forestall any funny business by her in-laws.
For Amina, the only silver lining in an otherwise dark sky, is the fact that her two daughters have tested negative to the disease she suffers from and she believes they have a better chance of survival with or without her, as a result. The only concession she makes to her health is to get a regular refill of her anti-retroviral drugs and maintain as healthy a diet as possible given her meager resources. She admitted that she had lost all her savings during her husband’s ill-health and has instead had to start selling akara (bean cake) to make ends meet.
Interestingly, Amina had already been empowered by Rock of Ages and is now highly skilled in catering by her own admission. Yet, she didn’t try to use the skills she had gained because she somehow thought it was beyond her to get customers in her locality who would want to patronize her.
Looking into her eyes, Amina is one of those strong women who can take a knock from life and bounce back on their feet; she weathered the storm of her husband’s death; weathered the storm of contracting HIV from him; and somehow managed to continue to raise her daughters single-handedly by sheer force of will and determination. Most women in her shoes would have, by word or action, tainted their children’s memory of their father, unconsciously blaming him for their medical condition; but she didn’t. She remained stoic and determined, holding the fort with quiet dignity. Yet surprisingly, despite her amazing inner strength, society convinced her that she wasn’t good enough to get patronage for a better business just because she’s a widow.