It is about 5pm in the evening on a Thursday and I had just arrived from the farm with mum after a tiresome day of working under the sun planting new yam heads to wait for the rains. I didn’t get to go to school today so I could help on the farm as it was our only source of livelihood. I had planned on relaxing on the hammock for a little while and mum had gone to the kitchen to cook but there was no water for the evening meal so my nap was interrupted with me to get water from the stream to cook the yam we brought with us from the farm for dinner.
There are no pipes here and the entire village rely on the stream which is a long way off on the outskirts of the village. It will soon be dark, going alone wouldn’t be advisable as the paths are spooky with overhanging trees which acts as frightening stilettos in darkness and there is little to no light here. I passed by my friend Eli’s house so we could go together and have a little chat about school along the way as I was absent today and play games in the stream as we always do.
Eli was my childhood and only friend and we are so fond of each other, she lived a few meters away from our house and was frequently normal for anyone of us to call the other for a play or the stream. As I approached her house with my pot under my left arms and a shred of cloth hanging around my neck whilst eating a guava I picked from the tree next to our house, I realized there were unusual number of people gathered at the front side of Eli’s compound.
I was quite surprised about it and wondered what was going on and broke into a trot to reach there fast; on getting there I was met with the shock I wasn’t expecting so soon. It was Eli’s marriage ceremony to the man she was betrothed to. A man old enough to be her grandfather who already had three wives and children about the same age as her mum, this was the kind of man her parents were marrying her off to and frankly I wasn’t surprised as it was the norm of the society I lived in. I pushed my way through the crowd with the aim of getting in front to catch a glimpse of Eli.
There she was, sitting on a low stool with puffy eyelids from visibly prolonged tears and her head hanging low involved in what was going on around her. She must be engrossed in her own thoughts as she couldn’t see me weaving vigorously to get her attention when she briefly lifted her head to survey the growing crowd. I wished she could have looked up again and saw me but she didn’t. I felt pity and prayed briefly for her and myself that I don’t fall in the same fate at least when am not prepared.
My eyes lingered off to the old husband to be with his white mustache and brown teeth obviously from the kolas-a traditional fruit eaten as a snack and lack of brushing even with the local tooth stick. Getting a close look at him I realized he didn’t look familiar. I don’t know where he is from as I haven’t seen him in the village before.