Thursday, the 13th
Maryam is long gone now. She had rocked me till I had no more tears in my eyes. She made me dinner of roasted yam and palm oil and saw me to bed before taking her leave, promising to see me tomorrow. I lay my head to rest now, and allow myself take the painful trek down memory lane… for the last time again.
I had been married to Kamil for six years without a child. His family had cast aspersions time and time again calling me a witch amongst other horrible names. It was the normal practice for Hausas to marry as many wives as possible; but somehow with Kamil, that was not happening. I guess my luck shone so bright that out of a zillion girls, I found and married a man who promised to stick with me alone till death. Things had been going fine, despite threats from both our families to break ties with us. Our love kept us strong and together, until that Sunday…
It was sometime around 1:00am on that Sunday in Yelwa village near Shendam. The village was very much asleep when the riot began. At once, we knew they had come for us. The Herdsmen. Homes were invaded, women captured, men tied down, houses razed to ashes, and farmlands ripped to earth. Kamil and I took to the backyard to escape before they came any closer. He said he knew a path through the farmlands where only a few people trod. We were headed to Langtang for refuge. But fate was not smiling down on us that morning, as we were assailed by a gang of herders who had been stationed in the fields to watch out for any escapees. Kamil was tied up from mouth to feet and made to watch as the five men took turns to have sex with me. Kamil lay there in misery, protesting with muffled screams which earned him a hard knock from a herders rifle per time. I begged too, and went on to pray for death when they failed to heed. And it felt like I died for three hours or so… until my eyes flew open again to the reality of Kamil’s bruised and lifeless body and my own pain and shame. That was when I screamed. Why did God bring me back?
The days that followed are a full blur. But I returned to near- sanity some weeks after in a church, where the in-house doctors attending to myself and other survivors informed me of the growing child inside of me. I was stunned. Me? Child? I was at war with myself. I was happy that all that time with Kamil, I was not the problem; but uncertain I could embrace the truth surrounding a child as the one I carried. The pastors insisted it was an evil child that should be aborted, and that if I wanted to abhor evil within me, I should find some other place to live in. It was surprising but I couldn’t blame them, I guess they were afraid the child will grow to be like his father or fathers? My parents would not even hear of it. They swore to disown me if I kept the child. Kamil’s parents were the last people I would dare to visit… and so, it was just me against the cold world. Those were tough and lonely days when I chose rain and sun for shelter and the dirt- piled ground for bed, simply because I wanted to save and have a child whose only concern now seems to be of his father’s. Ah, where is God? Where has he been all this time? I have tried. I really have. And I don’t know how it is that I have kept it together until today.
I scream beside myself now, mourning my own truth afresh. It’s sad enough reliving the memory, talk less of sharing it with any other soul; and as I shut my tear- filled eyes eventually, in a bid to find sleep, I hope death visits before the day breaks.
© The Short Black Girl, 2015.