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At The Nick of Time

Apr 24, 2009, 8:32 AM | Article By: Isatou Dumbuya

Have you ever thought of being a girl-child? Or let's say were you once a girl? Being a girl-child comes with it's few disappointments. In some countries fetal sex determination has made it easier for expecting mothers to know the sex of their child. In most cases when it is a girl-child she is aborted and the mother starts another pregnancy, this time hoping
fervently that it will be a boy. Sometimes when she is lucky her birth is not greeted with enthusiasm. She is made to shoulder responsibilities at an early age. She cooks, she minds her siblings, she washes at the river when there is no tap, she sweeps and she sometimes goes to the market to sell little essentials.

Greater concerns mark the beginning of her puberty. She experiences female genital mutilation, a practice normally carried out in Africa. This is done so as to postpone her sexual desires till she is fixed to a male partner by marriage.

Then comes the nightmare, the worse of all. Arrangements are made for her marriage, usually with an older man. In the traditional African society, a girl's consent doesn't matter.

The go-ahead is the groom's and the girl's parents' consent. 

I have a story, but it is an imaginary story, and has no specific time or character. This is just to show you readers some of the plights girls and women are facing since time immemorial in Africa and around the world.

Incognizant of what is to befall her, Aisha watched the going and coming of everything and everyone on her wedding day. Barely 14, she didn't even know what people were telling her and not even a fair knowledge of marriage. All she knew was that today she was going to leave her parents' home for another home. And that saddened her. The time came for her to be taken to her husband's. Her husband, who was experienced and expecting to enjoy his marital rights when she comes, was on his feet like a scalded cat. Old enough to be her father, Pa Alagie was baldheaded and had a potbelly. His arms were as big as yams. And when he wore his favorite 'Chaya' with no shirt, his breasts launch forth like a teenage girl's. At nightfall, when everybody was gone, she lay down in her husband's house oblivious of her fate. Everything was silent except for the chirping of the crickets. The rhythmic sounds of the cricket and the echoing silence of the house seemed comforting to her. She missed her family. Pa Alagie was in the adjourning room savoring the knowledge that she would soon be his in every sense of the word. He leaned back on his wooden chair, eyelids closed as he chewed on his bitter-cola. As he munched on the bitter-cola, some of its juice ran down his chin and he used the back of his hand to wipe it. He got up, stretched his hands and took three strides to where Aisha was.

She must've had a few nods before she heard him grunting. She violently sat up straight at the corner of the bed. Heart in her mouth, she brought her arms around her bent knees and anticipated her misfortune. Pa Alagie hopped on the bed and forcefully pulled her to him. She struggled to escape, but he pinned her down with his weight. She bit the side of his fat cheek, before he could reach for her knickers. He screamed and rained insults on her in different incomprehensible languages. Still breathing down on her with his bad breathe and revealing yellowing teeth, she managed to push half of his weight aside and kicked him hard in his groin. He groaned helplessly and slumped on the hard floor. She ran for the door and unlatched the lock. She ran as if the devil himself was hot on her heels. When she reached a bend in the middle of the village in the dead of the night, she stopped and panted, clinging on to dear life. If she were in her parents' home she would be afraid to go out this far and alone in the night. But this is the survival of the fittest; she must save her own life. Quickly, she looked left and right and took to her heels. She didn't know where she was going, but she knew that she wasn't going back. Not even to her parents'. Because she knew that they wouldn't allow her in when they know of what she had done. She heard scary wails like young banshees crying, but that didn't stop her. As one of the best sprinters in her village, Aisha didn't get tire easily. She ran as fast as her legs could carry her with the only word run in her head. She stopped at the foot of a big tree, in the middle of no where, tired and spent, she sat down and quickly fell asleep. It was at the crack of dawn when Na Sira an old woman, was going to the forest to fetch firewood. She immediately stopped when she saw Aisha at the foot of the tree. She abruptly took a liking to her. What an angelic girl! Na Sira thought as she watched Aisha sleep with her mouth half-open.

She woke up when she felt someone else's presence. Na Sira was kind to her and Aisha explained her plight to her. Na Sira who was once a victim of early marriage, took her to her village and decided to take her in as her own daughter henceforth. She was glad that the girl was saved at the nick of time.

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