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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Being Given Away( A child-bride's tale.)

I kept fiddling with my fingers, shyness and nervousness getting a better part of me. Whenever I raised my head I caught the man gazing at me and when our eyes met, he'd wink. This may have been a strategy to get me shy and it worked.
Tiny wet cells in my armpit conversed endlessly. If I made the mistake to look up again, I'd catch him smiling, running his hands over his neat beards, winking still.
"You see," my father was saying, "when Ngaji my first wife was coming in and out of labour with tiny female tots, I felt like I was the only accursed man walking the face of the earth. That was when thoughts of taking another wife danced in my head and I could not resist the temptation though I was warned against it. I could not resist even though right now,I have borne the brunt. A new woman comes with a brand new set of palaver. New responsibilities, another brick house to erect, more school fees to pay, another woman prattling and bending your ears with her naggings.
"But now, years later, I see the profits. The handsome dowry, haha, I have come to see that daughters are a certain kind of treasure. I don't know if you are getting what I am saying, the point I am driving at."
"Mmhn" The men nodded in agreement. "We get your point."
My father delivered his long lecture, his area of specialty but all the while my gaze never left the man just as his hands never Ieft his beards.
So these are the hands that would knead me in the dead of the night like pounded yam, I thought. The same hands that would hit me if I became uncontrollable. Are these the arrogant eyes that would watch over me, my goings and comings, the face my children would take a semblance to? This half-man, half-hipster would lord it over me? I shook my head.
"My son has always been at the city apprenticing for his uncle but last month his uncle established him and he branched out. He came in few days ago and I believe he has found what he came for."
"So son, what exactly do you do?" Father asked.
"Importation and exportation."
"Mmmmm,' my father's mouth watered, 'that's impressive. You must be very industrious."
"We give God all the credit." He replied. What a modest man! I thought.
"Mgbeke, you can go now, let the men discuss."
As I arose I became overtly conscious of myself, I felt their eyes were boring holes in my backside. As if on cue, the other man said, "Ah, those hips were made for the birthing of sons." Till this day I can still hear their raucous laughter, that kind of laughter that triggers your own laughter.
So I was leaving… no I was being given away and would be sent back if I misbehaved. One would not call this leaving for one left willing, on her own accord. I was being traded for with a goat, stock fish, bags of rice, tubers of yam, cartons of milk and tin tomatoes…just name it.

(Excerpt from 'A Certain Kind Of Treasure', a story that appeared in The Kalahari Review http://bit.ly/153Q9IU)












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