‘I stood still for half a second, looking at him as he lay peacefully, fast asleep in his cot. Heart beat so strong as if to say i’m alive. Chest rising like a ticking clock, ticking away every single second. His small chubby face, soft, relaxed and adorable. It’s obvious life is good for this little man, but I’ve choose not to succumbed.
Once again, I’m in doubt of the fact that I made this breathing little soul, this body, this little man. I carried him in my tiny womb. I still remember the arches, the pain, the kicking I was told to expect. Memories I locked away not very long ago still threatens to rise like an army, the scars still fresh as all had to do is run my hand over the smooth C-section scare on my lower abdomen, or take a look at my once ever so flat tommy in a mirror, for the forgotten memories to come alive just like a voodoo.
The pain, sadness and violation I felt was despicable. I remembered when the doctors decided my vagina was too small to deliver a regular head baby. no one cared to hear my opinion or what I think about the decision regarding my life. Laying on a hospital bed, watching and waiting for people you don’t really know, make a decision about your life can become your worst nightmare.
I felt pure joy as soon as he was taking away from me after birth by Hajiya the older and first wive. I promised myself to pretend that it never happened, that I didn’t conceived him through my 55 years old husband. How do you try to erase such memory?
Hajiya is a lovely woman, one I can trust with good food, cloths and freedom but can’t call ‘mother’. Not only because she turned a blind eye to her husband taking me in as a wife. She shots her eyes and block her ears when she faces a situation bigger than her. She doesn’t ask question, mostly when the situation is related to tradition. What pulses me is that her three daughters are all successful women. Cynthia, the youngest is a student at the University of West Minster, studying law or so. Asa, is leaving in the US with her English husband, while Shade, is a medical doctor in France, and leaves with her husband and two children.
My life since my parents gave me away has been like the life of a walking zombie starved of human blood yet still leaving. They saw nothing wrong with it, as a matter of fact, they felt blessed when a good vine told them about how some powerful rich man is looking for a young wife to give him a male child in a foreign land. My parents lost it when they found more details about this rich man from another village. All his other 3 wives leave in a mansion abroad. At 55, he wants a son as his other wives had only female children. I had only started seeing my menses, mother gave me the lectures only few weeks ago, one thing she said was very clear. ‘Stay away from men! I didn’t understand when my parents got me ready and presented me to a friend who knows this powerful reach man. My parents are proud parents of 5 beautiful children, their only asset behind a failing farm land. ‘Oh she is perfect’. I heard this man who had become my parents middleman overnight said, smiling from ear to ear. ‘Is she ripe? I heard the man ask once again, curiously, he glanced at my skinny legs and almost flat chest. ‘Yes she is, she also started her fruits about a week ago’. ‘That is good, by the time we sort out all the marriage rights and send her to England, she will be fully riped. ‘Did you say England? my mother asked delighted.
This is another nightmare I never stop running through my head.
I have been called all sort of names, Imbecile, Zombie, Walking corpse, Idiots, stupid. I didn’t mind, Its not like I have a choice. I have giving the most powerful man I know what other women couldn’t give him, a male child. Which was what my purpose in this household was all about.
Alahji loves his other children very much. He is educated, well respected and well admired by everyone I’ve come across. Watching him speak to Anastasia his youngest daughter made me wonder why such an educated and open minded person as would take someone like me as a bride.
The first time I set my eyes on Ana, who comes back home from University every know and then gave me goosebumps. She is the most beautiful woman I have ever set my eyes on, tall, darks in completion with a beautiful heart shaped face to match, probably in her early 20s. I over heard she is studying business Law in the University of Essex. She never looked at me or talk to me, or even give any hint of my existence. As she doesn’t come home often, I never get to see her much. I tried to get her attention, it will be great to see her speak to me, ask a question or even send me for an errand. She never did. I gave up after some time. I thought and found the right excuse for her. “She is ashamed of what her father is doing with me and rather turn blind eyes to things that hurts, that way it wouldn’t hurt much”. But for me, all I wanted is someone to talk to, someone who can say to me, ‘Don’t be scared you are not alone’. That will do because I have already accepted my faith. The deed has been done!
I try to do things that make me happy, after the birth of Daniel, whom they named Diyari without my consent or approval. It was another unbearable moment in my life, knowing that my opinion or concern is not really needed when it comes to ‘This child’. Mother Ayshah who I leave under and who is the first wife of Alahaji said its for the Childs best interest. That was all she told me with no further explanation. I took her words, I had to.
The next few days after the birth of Daniel, I cried and cried again. I later came to an understanding with myself. ‘Just act like you never gave birth and all the pain will go away’. This was exactly what I began to do, It felt like a big chain was taken off me, I was also left to be, left to do what I want. When I was first brought to England, the restriction was very tight. I wasn’t allowed to leave the house, I wasn’t left on my own during the day, I wasn’t allowed to see or meet any visitor even the postman. Just like any other girl, who have been forcefully married and send to a place she is not familiar with, I cried, mostly at night when no one was watching.
I fully understood my dilemma and came face to face with the Demons the nights Alahaji came into my bedroom the first time, he came in unannounced, I froze and almost wet myself. One of the first things I was told was to never lock my bedroom door behind while sleeping at night. Of course I knew why, I was a bride after all and know this day will come some day. I did it for my family, even thou I had no choice or saying in the situation. My parents expects me to understand as the first child and daughter. The money they got out of my bride price helped to keep the family going, it helped to get my brothers the apprentice they needed. I am the guinea pig, an executed project of a powerful African business man in the United Kingdom.
Having my freedom gave me a new direction. I used this opportunity to embrace something I was not expose to very often — reading. deep inside my heart, I would like to be like Anastasia who speak perfectly and walk gracefully like the queen of England herself. I feel in love with the library the first time my two wobbly feet found themselves in one, a mare coincidence if what I called it. I remember that particular afternoon after launch, Hajiya was in a good mood, she noticed how un happy and lifeless I look.
‘What is it with you this child, won’t you make your self useful? ‘I don’t know what to do Ma, I’ve done all my choirs and possibly tired of sleeping, not one to talk to... ‘Please don’t start’, she cut me off with a hand gesture. ‘I hate when people say that, when there are plenty of things to do’. Why not read a book? she paused for a second thinking. ‘I know you’ve read all the easy ones I gave you, why not go to the library and get some new ones, there is a big one just across the main street in the big shopping centre, isn’t that something to do?
‘Well I guess it is, I replied anxiously. Finding a new book and exploring the library isn’t a bad idea’. I thought.
‘You see, these are the least of things you can do, why not go and have a look and get back in time for the preparation of dinner’. She said cheerfully. ‘Thank you ma, I said cheerfully before running off. The idea of hunting a new book is exciting actually, I will certainly be occupied for some few days.
I learnt not to moan or cry about my situation during the early days of the pregnancy, the kind of cold shoulder I got from Hajiya and the servants was unbearable, and to think of it, she is the only one who spoke to me like a person, I learnt not to upset her a long time ago,
I love and had been coming to the library for some few weeks now, Today, I noticed a pale blonde hair boy watching me so closely from a conner, eyes wide with interest . This got my heart racing. What reason would a boy look at me, an unattractive skinny, dark and invisible girl in an old Library. Undecided on which book to read, I grabbed something different from the fantasy novels I usually read. A biology book for students, I had become a curious mind, I had always been and for some reason, I thought this is the best time to widen my Knowledge.