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CHILD NOT BRIDE

Wednesday, 01 June 2016 17:58 DAVID CHIBUEZE
Print PDF
They all said it wasn't that bad. Afterall  all i had to do was lay down on my back for a few minutes and it would be over... I couldn't bear the shame that came with poverty, i must make it some how, anyhow.
Nobody warned me about VVF. Nobody told me about the disease that could destroy a girl's future. I only did it in acknowledgement of my family's sufferings.  Papa died when i was five and mama was immediately betrothed to his younger brother. We lost mama to the cruel hands of death when i was twelve. They didn't tell me what to do, how to handle my six younger ones, they didn't leave a dime behind, not even a goodbye. Papa's younger brother left with his other wives to the city immediately after mama's burial. 
We could barely afford my school fees when mama was alive. I was the only one that attended primary school, even with that it was one term in, two terms out but at least i could read and write.
And that's how my parents left with nothing to their name. Nothing to keep the family going after disaster struck. I wept. I panicked. I begged. Nobody was ready to help. They all said "all will be well in the end, haliza". But was this ever going to end? My 9month old brother fell sick all of a sudden. What next? There was no money for hospital bills, i couldn't even afford the herbs. He died.
In this same squalor and poverty, the two others aged 2 and 3 also died of malnutrition (kwashiokor)... Hmmmm. I couldn't sit still anymore. There had to be a way out. Some way, anyway. That's when i met Alhaji.
I met Alhaji Mustapha 6months after mama died and 3months after the simultaneous death of my 3 youngest ones. 
I was begging as usual by the roadside. I had moved from street to street and had barely realised 100 Naira. I was tired, famished and frustrated. Then i saw this black jeep coming towards my side of the road, i ran out of fear, thinking it was one of those policemen who chased beggars off the streets.  The car came after me and honked. I stopped out of fear. The driver came down and asked me to come in, Alhaji wanted to talk to me. Who is Alhaji? I wondered. I went in anyways, a beggar has no choice. Maybe he wanted to help. 
The car had sleek, leathery seats, so beautiful! I was awed by the beauty, i didn't even notice the man in Dansiki and cap till he cleared his throat.
"uh..uh...fine girl" he said "I've been watching you for a while now. i was told you lost your parents and you're now taking care of your siblings... Hmmmm... Let me help you out". 
I felt so much relief at the sound of the word 'help'. I didn't even bother to ask him how or why... I didn't need to anyway, he told me upfront. He said "I'll like to make you my small wife. Arrangements will be made immediately" and that was it. I told him "No!" and was about to jump down when i heard his sarcastic laughter. He said my siblings and I will die of poverty if i don't do this. He gave me his card and address. 
I got down anyways but i couldn't get our little discussion out of my mind.
This was the first person that tried to help, apart from our neighbors and my friends.
When i got home that evening i told Hadiza, my 11year old sister what Happened. She was frightened. She cried. I cried too. But what can tears do? 
I couldn't sleep that night. I rolled and rolled and begged sleep to come but no it didn't. By Dawn i had made up my mind. I was going to marry Alhaji. That's the only way to protect and provide for my siblings. It would be selfish of me to hold back and let them suffer.. 
I went to Alhaji's office that afternoon. In my tattered clothes. I gave him my consent and he told me to get myself ready, his boys were coming to pick me up the next day. He'll get my siblings a comfortable accommodation beside his house and we'll conduct the ceremony the next week..
I told the neighbors and they advised me to tolerate him in bed and be obedient. I was a young girl that suddenly took on the form of a woman. I wondered how Alhaji would be interested in my small body and bare chest.
Now,  one year after. I'm In a nursing home. My siblings visit me every Saturday. Alhaji has traveled out. I was diagnosed with Vaginal Fistula. I stink. I can't hold urine or faeces. i mess the whole place. I live on a tube. I carry it everywhere. I didn't get a chance to grow. I don't know how much time i have left.
CHILD NOT BRIDE
written by Fajingbesi Folakemi
From TheInspiredHouse
Last Updated ( Friday, 03 June 2016 04:55 )
 

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