(The Menace Called Child Marriage).
Previously on Children not Brides Series click here.
'Rashidat, don't be afraid, it's a normal thing, it simply means you are now a woman, but quick help me hide the bed sheet before your father comes to see this, hurry!!' mama beckoned, trying to buy her daughter some time, she wasn't ready to loose her child to a premature marriage just yet. She was taken back by the sound she heard from behind, ' see what, oh my daughter, you are now a woman, congratulations' papa said with a smile on his face, that kind of smile that indicated that she was ready to be given off to Musa, the greedy and lustful animal (in mama's words).
'My husband please, don't you think we should wait a while before giving her away in marriage, please let's consider, she is still a little girl' mama said hoping that her words would change his mind, 'Nonsense how old were you when I married you?? She is even too old self' papa blunted out, 'you better prepare her because tomorrow she is going to meet her husband' papa said storming out of the house.
Mama called her baby, held her in arms and with tears in her eyes she said, 'Rashidat my child, remember when you told me that you can't wait to be a woman, I think Allah has answered your prayer, in a few days from now, you would be a woman of your own having your own husband. Remember all what I have taught you, learn to submit and agree with your husband, you feel be hurt at first but with time it would all heal, not just your body but your mind too. Remember I love you' she said sealing it with a hug and tears rolling down their eyes.
This new kind of lifestyle -the lifestyle of a teenage wife- was not what Rashidat had bargained for, mama barely prepared her well enough for this. She had to wake up very early in the morning to take care of Musa's huge compound, she would sweep the ground, cut the grasses and tidy the main house. Twice every week, she had to go to the farm to harvest some of the products, she also had to tend to the cattle everyday and finally whenever it her turn, she had to cook the meal for the whole house to eat.
These chores, coupled with the daily routine of washing and ironing his clothes often made her tired and when ever it was nightfall, being the newest bride it was her duty to satisfy her husband in bed. Musa never took 'No' for an answer, whenever it was dusk he didn't care what she had to do all day, all he cared about was satisfying his sexual urges. Musa was like a dog on heat, sometime he would go on and on for hours even when her young and fragile body couldn't take anymore, Musa didn't care. Sometimes when she couldn't handle it anymore, she would breakdown in tears and Musa would scream at her and sometimes hit her and call her 'childish' for crying like a baby. So sex became a frightening experience for her and everyday at dawn she would pray to Allah to give Musa a new bride so that he would at least give her wounded body time to heal
The other wives would sometimes try to comfort her, telling her tales of their experience and how time proved to heal all wounds. Some even tried to teach her their self invented way of escape, which involved drugging his diner which would cause him to sleep like a koala bear on hibernation and save her the stress of another horrific night episode. She quickly bought into this idea as it was better than the suicide and murder ideas that had filled her mind.
Few months later, she starting feeling uneasy. It felt like malaria but this was different from the type of malaria she had as a child, the symptoms seems so odd. Early morning inconveniences, nausea and frequent fatigues. She also notice the increase in size of her breast but because of her naïve, nature, she thought it was part of being a woman, she later complained to Mama who out of experience explained to her that these were signs of pregnancy and that soon her prayers of being a mother would be answered. What!! Pregnant? She exclaimed, 'mama am I not too young to have a baby? Would I survive? Mama I'm scared' drifting in and out of a cloud of thoughts, she hugged mama wishing she never had to let go.
Written by Omoyibo Akpobome (His_Storyteller).