After receiving that awful slap that nearly disfigured my pretty face from Papa, I still visited mama Uzo’s house but not admitted.
From that day, I started planning an escape route out of that marriage, out of that village, out of a bondage I was tied to.
I had three good friends; Amaka, Chinwe and Chioma all of which their marriages, like mine, were arranged. Four of us were secretly preparing to sit for JAMB unknown to our fathers.
That night, as we walked to the stream to fetch water, we lamented in various ways.
“Girls, do you know my dowry had been paid”? Chioma told us crying and betrayed by her voice.
“Yours was good news because you still have some marriage some rites to be performed” “Hmmm… next month, I will be bundled to my husband’s house” Amaka informed us with a sad look on her face.
Chinwe was the youngest amongst us. The marriage saga hasn’t gotten to her yet..
Mine was no news to them because everyone in the village knew I was getting married to Chief Ebube.
The journey to the stream was enlivened by each of us in reaching out to our home of thoughts. We were all thinking of ways of escaping from one bondage or the other. In our hearts of hearts, we just wished were wishing ourselves a thing; to pass JAMB and run away from the village never to come back until we were all graduates.
We got to the stream, fetched water and headed for our respective homes as we discussed other things but refusing to talk about anything concerning our planned marriages. In no time, we parted ways to our various homes. As always, I was the last to get home.
Approaching my father’s compound, I sensed we had a visitor which might be one of father’s friends. Upon getting home, i discovered the ‘visitor’ was my would be husband. Did I just say my husband? oh! How I hated that word.
As I passed everyone present, I murmured a greeting. I overheard papa telling me to drop my water and come greet their future son-in-law. With hidden anger, I dropped my bucket and went back to answer papa and his ‘beloved’ son-in-law.
“Greet your husband properly”, my father said smiling. I knelt down and greeted him and he smiled back showcasing a set of dis-arranged dentition. As he spoke, I could tell he must have swallowed a keg of palm wine, alone. A drunk, that was papa’s choice of husband for me, for his first daughter? I asked rhetorically and shook my head with a wry smile. Papa misinterpreted my smile for approval of his future son-in-law. “I told you. You will like him when you meet him but you didn’t believe me” he said. I can’t remember him telling me that, I wanted to say so but I decided to keep shut.
I excused myself and walked to the backyard saying to myself, “God please don’t let me end up this way. To JAMB (examining body), i muttered, “please don’t waste time in coming”. I joined mama in the kitchen to prepare dinner of “Oha soup and pounded yam” for the family.
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