A NEW DAWN

TITLE- A NEW DAWN

The priest concluded his preaching with the sentence ‘’There’s no enough room in your mind for both worry and faith, you must decide which one would live there.’’

Echoing the words of the priest, I whispered to God ‘’lord equip me with strength only you can give.’’

On this day two years ago my life changed drastically, I was headed down a path full of depression and incredible sadness. I wasn’t going to give up on God despite all the problems.

I had driven pass the church and the Reverend father’s sermon was still fresh in my head, it was a reassurance to me that God will make a way where there seems to be no way.The church was far from my house, forty five minutes gone and I was still driving. I used to live very close to the church when I was a kid and it was a lovely experience. There is a tremendous benefit when the church is your neighbor; getting to mass or confession is a whole lot easier, when your transit time is nothing more than a five minutes’ walk. the convenience of not having to drive to church can hardly be overstated.It was so good living close to the church that I could hear the church bells, even when I couldn’t make it to prayer time, simply hearing the bells made me pause and turn my thoughts to God.Of all the reasons to live near the church,I think the convenience of always going to pray at the sacrament was the best.I always feel such nostalgia for my childhood home whenever I had to drive to church, there wasn’t any catholic church close to my home so I had to drive more than an hour to church; Though it was worth every mile ,a church that teaches the word of God is more important than distance.

After about an hour and thirty minutes’ drive I was finally home. I honked for the gateman to open the gate and he hurriedly ran and opened it. Driving into the garage, I waved at him and he waved back with a smile.

‘’ Good evening ma’am’’ he greeted.

I parked my car and came out.

‘’Good evening Bernard‘’ I returned his greeting and walked into the house.

Bernard was in his early thirties, he was a young promising man and always cheerful. He does his duties with so much joy that anyone would want to become a gateman.I admired him so much with the way he showed love to his fiancée and everybody around him. The love he had for his fiancée was unimaginable, although they didn’t have much time to be together because I only allowed her visit twice a month so he can concentrate on his duty but there was not a day you wouldn’t hear him talk with her on the phone with so much excitement.They both supported each other ;having opened a beauty salon for her to meet ends meet, he still tried to make sure she become educated by struggling to send her to school, she attended evening classes and she supported him too with the money she made from her salon business. Love is an action word it supports and encourages loved ones into the fullness of their being. It was very clear to everyone that they treasured each other, the selflessness and commitment they had for each other was something that I admired greatly and I hope that my husband can find a deeper love for me that will help our marriage.

Love is a beautiful experience, a story I loved so much in the bible was the story of Boaz and Ruth .The book of Ruth is a true love story, it contains element of two people growing in love in a unique way, through it all they remained a man and woman with true character and loved God first.

On getting into the sitting room, I found junior lying on the floor. I dropped my bag and carried him to his bed, covered him with his blanket and gave him an amazing kiss on his cheek. He was my bundle of joy; he made me a proud mother. I adopted him two years ago when he was only a month old. I hadn’t   had my own child yet but that didn’t make me less of a mother, in my own words a mother is any human who takes care of a child; a protector, a disciplinarian a friend and a selfless loving human who sacrifices many things for the happiness of a child, showing love and care and I was all of that to junior; a mother, that’s what I’m.

I scoured the room and couldn’t find Katherine. Katherine was one of my helps,I had employed two helps, Katherine and Sophia .Sophia had gone to see her sick mother.

‘’ Katherine! Katherine! Katherine!’’

I called her name three times but didn’t hear any response; I wondered where she must have been. She was the youngest of my helps, she was only thirteen. I never met her parents or any of her relatives, she came alone to my house to beg to be employed as a help and I desperately needed one at that moment but she didn’t meet my criteria, she was so young and was supposed to be in school at that age. she desperately pleaded with me to employ her ,I had no other choice than to employ her out of default; since there was no other person to help, so I decided to keep her and sent her to school while I  searched for another help and luckily i got Sophia . Sophia was already done with high school and had plans to further her education.

I called Katherine’s name for more than five minutes and got tired of calling her name, I was really exhausted. It was 8:30 pm already, the evening mass ended a bit late today but was an amazing one. I sat on the sofa and fell asleep.I heard the sound of footsteps approaching close but I was so tired to open my eyes to see who it was. The sound of the footstep drew closer.

‘’Good evening ma’am ‘’

I reluctantly opened my eyes a bit to see who it was that couldn’t respect the fact that I was trying to sleep. It was Sophia, wasn’t she supposed to be with her sick mother to return end of the month. I wondered why she was already back this early.I didn’t want her to disturb me, I closed my eyes ,pretending not to hear her or notice her presence.but she continued to talk ,She stood in front of me like a  school prefect  trying to angrily wake a junior student up , only that she wasn’t as loud as a school prefect.

‘’Good evening ma’am, good evening ma’am ‘’

She greeted without stop, I opened my eyes frowning.

‘’Good evening ‘’I closed back my eyes.she just couldn’t respect the fact that I was trying to sleep, she continued talking.

‘’Ma’am, I’m back.’’

She had succeeded in making me not feel sleepy again; I raised my head up and looked at her.

‘’ why are you back so early, its only 11th weren’t you supposed to return end of the month?’’

‘’My mother is fine now, so I saw it no reason to stay back.’’

‘’ You would have just stayed back and use your permit wisely because I’m not going to give you another permit soon , except for Katherine it’s been long she travelled .’’

I paused a little and looked around the room, I remembered I was actually looking for Katherine before I fell asleep, where on earth was Katherine.

‘’ By the way have you seen Katherine?’’

‘’ No ma’am, I just came in. ‘’

Different thoughts began to run through my head, where could this thirteen year old be.

‘’you can go drop your things and resume your normal duties’’

She was about to go when I realized it was rather too late to do anything, and there was actually nothing for her to do, I didn’t leave my house dirty waiting for her to return.

‘’How far is your village?’’

‘’Ten hours’ drive, ma’am.’’

‘’ That’s a long one,go shower and rest, welcome back.’’

She thanked me and left to her room. She was so emaciated but was healthy and a bit plump when she left my house. it was obvious that she didn’t feed well this little time she was away .I looked at the wall clock and surprisingly it was already 9:30pm.  My husband, James was not yet back, I couldn’t get used to his staying out late after work.Love respect and care was missing from my marriage and these are the most important things. I met him when I was only twenty six years old for the first time in a coffee shop and met him again for the second time in church when I was twenty eight years old.when I was done with my master degree we started dating, two years later we got married in a grandstyle.He displayed the characteristics of a responsible man and things were very rosy not until after my thirty-fourth birthday he changed drastically. I thank God I’m a working class woman and can take care of myself,if not I would have been measurable because he no longer cared for me. He didn’t only keep latenights, but he stopped providing for Junior. The only thing he never did was hit me; I started living with a complete stranger. I lost my first pregnancy because of his carefree lifestyle ;when I was about to go into labor I  had no body to take me to the hospital , he came back late as usual and my screams couldn’t alert  the gateman ,at the time Sofia and Katherine were not working for me .I bled profusely and lost the baby . My doctor told me it was under probability that I was going to be able to conceive again because a lot of damage was caused due to the prolonged labor but I had met another doctor who said I will be able to give birth that my womb wasn’t completely damaged .After two years, I had no choice than to adopt junior not because I couldn’t conceive but because James never touched me, he always complained of being tired whenever he came back home.I suspected there was another girl in the picture because his attention completely deviated. The church was an anodyne to me, nothing but prayers could assuage my grief.I was so discreet about my marital issues that it was never disclosed to anyone not even to my mother.

At the moment I wasn’t too concerned about James, but I was freaking out about getting no respond from Katherine .she never left the house by this time , she usually close from school by 3pm  and her school was very close to the house .It was almost ten o clock and she was nowhere to be found. I was about going into my room when Bernard came into the sitting room.

‘’ Ma’am did you call me?’’

‘’ No, I didn’t, go back to the gate post.’’

He was about to leave when I called him back

‘’ Bernard, Have you seen Katherine?’’

‘’ No ma’am’’

‘’ what do you mean by no, aren’t you the gateman?’’

‘’ ma’am I haven’t seen her leave or enter the house today except Sophia who just returned. ‘’

‘’I wasn’t talking about Sophia. ‘’

I replied him rather angry.

‘’ I’m sorryma’am. ‘’

It was obvious that Katherine was missing,nobody knew her where about .what was I going to tell her parents, that I couldn’t take care of a thirteen year old ,how was I even going to contact them when I had never met them. Wasn’t my marital problem enough, where was this additional problem coming from? I didn’t know when I started crying,little things made me cry these days .Sophia ran out of her room along with junior ,I had woken them up with my screams .they all stood looking at me like soldiers trying to prove to me that they had not grown effete. Junior artlessly won over even the crankiest adults simply by smiling at them .he came close to me and I felt his tender hands on my right leg, I carried him and became quiet so he doesn’t know I was sad. He looked me straight into my eyes and muttered

‘’ mom I’m hungry, Catlin didn’t give me food she’s being crying in her room, she-’’

Immediately he said Cathin was in her room, there was a surge of relief. He was still learning how to pronounce Katherine correctly, we understood what he meant by Catlin. I didn’t even allow him complete his sentence I dropped him and walked hurriedly towards her room, to see if I will find her there and was followed by Bernard, Sophia and junior.

Her room door was a bit open, so we didn’t have to knock, we rushed into her room and I was perplexed; what happened, who did this to her? I was scared, different thoughts ran through my mind. She was sobbing uncontrollably with swollen red eyes.Just this morning I left her to work she was cheerful and bade me a glorious good bye,  I was shocked by the sudden change. I called her name but there was no respond, she didn’t even look up but it was obvious she noticed we were in her room.

‘‘Katherine can’t you realize who’s talking to you ‘’ Sophia spoke to her in a rather harsh tone.

Although I didn’t like the tone Sophia used on her but it made her realize my presence , She raised her head up and looked at me still sobbing.

‘’ Good- good afternoon,  sorry good evening ma’am .’’she greeted  faintly and bent her head.

She wasn’t even sure of the correct time,I didn’t bother to return her greetings.I moved close to her and asked her why she was crying ,she wasn’t ready to open up to me and I didn’t want to force herbut I needed to know why she was crying. I calmly persisted and she gave in ,she slowly whispered to me while looking at the direction of Bernard and Sophia.

‘’ I will tell you if only you tell them to go’’

‘’ Okay dear’’

I understood that whatever she was going to tell me she wanted it to be kept secret. I turned to Bernard and Sophia who were standing close to the door ready to listen to what she had to say ,I tried to send them  awaywithout them noticing that Katherine made the request.

‘’Bernard, go back to the gate post ,it can’t be left empty and I don’t  want my husband to come back and keep honking , he  wouldn’t find it funny. ‘’

‘’ Okay ma’am ‘’ he hurriedly left the room  . Sophia and Junior were still standing. I turned to Sophia

‘’ Take junior and feed him cereal, remember he just complained of hunger, when you are done feeding himgive him a warm shower and try to make him sleep.’’

‘’ Okay ma’am.‘’ I gave Junior a perk on his forehead and she carried him out of the room, leaving just I and Katherine.

I went straight to her bed and sat down close to her, I hadn’t sat down up to two minutes when my butt started itching me,I looked closely to her bedsheet and discovered it was so dirty . I didn’t want to scold her at this point. I stood up without her noticing anything   ,I drew out the reading chair close to her and sat down comfortably while I listened to what she had to say.

She told me her predicament and I was shocked beyond words, why would anybody do this to her.I paused for a while and was filled with surprise.

‘’ That’s the problem ma’am’’   she bent her head in shame as she completed her story and continued to sob.

‘’ So when did you receive the letter? .’’

‘’ Yesterday, but I didn’t read it until today.’’

‘’ How old are you again?’’ I asked for clarification  .

‘’ I’m thirteen years old .’’

‘’ What does your mother have to say about this.”

‘’ She has no say in this, my father makes the final decision.’’

I was completely perturbed,  Katherine was crying hopelessly. How could this be happening to a thirteen year old . Her father wasn’t helping matters why would he want to marry her off to an old man at such age , he had sent her a letter to return home.This was a serious issue and I couldn’t fathom why he wanted this for his teen daughter, didn’the know the implications.Child marriage is disproportionately affecting girls and endangering their lives,thepractice violates human rights and also threatens stability. What about vesico-vaginal fistula ,a serious issue underage face due to prolonged labor . I wasn’t going to sit back and watch Katherine go through this or any girl at all forced into marriage. I was ready to do anything to makesure she furthers her education. This wasn’t only her fight, it was my fight too.

I gave her a hug, and assured her everything was going to be alright.

‘’ You wouldn’t get into marriage at thirteen, that’s evil and it shall not stand ,I will make sure you complete your education .’’

‘’Thank youma’am.‘’ she felt a bit relieved, she was no longer sobbing. Sometimes all a person need is just a little love and concern to feel alright. I went into the kitchen and brought her food because she had been crying and had eaten nothing since morning, She ate and felt better.I left her room feeling too worried ,she was too young to get marriedall she needed was motherly love and not  a husband. I just couldn’t imagine how many girls have been forced into child marriage. I walked into my room and James was already in bed and was snoring so deeply. It was already 1:35am,I made a short prayer and jumped into my bed allowing  myself to fall into the hebetude of a lazy night rest.

 

Thank you God, my muscles are sore but they work and I’m alive. Itwas already 7:30am, my waking up by this time was an anomaly ; I usually wake up before 6am and leave for work before 7;00am.  Katherine’s problem was really eating me up , my mind was hardly quiescent in sleep : my dreams were busy sometimes even panicked.  James had left for work and he didn’t bother to wake me up. I hurriedly ran into the bathroom, had my bath and got dressed for work. I was about to leave to work when I found a note James dropped ,has this  become his new way to communicate with me .what exactly was in the note, I didn’t have time to open it I was already running late. Ipicked it up and squeezed it into my hand badand quickly hurried out for work.

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Being a lawyer is an exciting and noble goal ,the  profession generally pays well and the fact I got to put that cool ‘esquire’ after my name was amazing and  beyond that, I’ll know at everyday’s work that I’ve helped someone often profoundly. running my own chambers is arduous enough  in itself , having a lot of clients trip in and out of my office everyday with different attitude wasn’t really easy  ; some very appreciative and others completely the opposite, but I loved my job so much.

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It was few minutes past five o clock and I already had a hectic day. The last client that left my officewas really a torn in the fresh.Usually i don’t get scared of clients no matter theoffence,  there’s a shred of humanity in everyone.sometimes, however a client stands out as truly scary , my code of conduct still required I gave them the best of my abilitiesbut it can be tough when I’m worried. The last client I had suffered strabismus;the eye disorder when one eye looks the opposite direction of the other. It was difficult to know where to focus my attention, and he talked really fast .I kept on asking him to repeat himself, he got rather angry and asked how I could be his lawyer if I couldn’t even hear him. I had no other choice than  to reschedule. I was rather tired I called my secretary and ordered her to tell all other clients to reschedule.Cynthia has been my secretary for four years, she’s very enthusiastic and hardworking ,she never complained of workeven if I required her to redo much of the work  she had done , she was always amenable to the change in plans.

I took out the note I had squeezed into my bag and opened it to read.

 

Sweet, I am sorry for everything, I love you so much and we will make this work.

Yours truly, James.

Oh my God , tears of joy rolled down my eyes after reading the note. I knew there was something about the note that made me so curious about it, but why did he have to write it in a note what if I had not read it , what prevented him from saying it to my face.

‘’ I love you James ,thank you for everything. I forgive you’’

I held the note close to my mouth and kissed it and I smiled happily.

‘’ Barrister Rebecca it’s already 8pm, pleasecan I gohome?.‘’

I raised my head in disappointment and opened my eyes and checked my wrist watch to confirm the time and really it was already 8pm. How  did I sleep ? when did I sleep ?, I couldn’t remember falling asleep. All I could remember was me holding a pen trying to sign some documents and I was still holding the pen in my hand ,was this a dream.

‘’ Sorry dear , I never intended to keep you after 7pm but you have to stay here until I’m done . It doesn’t always happen like this you know ,I promise tomorrow will be better.’’

‘’okay ma’am’’

She walked out of my office and I couldn’t get over the dreamI just had . I finally looked into my bag and brought out the note to read, I did the sign of the cross and opened it.

‘’Rebecca I think I need space ,it’s not working I need a divorce .you are not happy and I’m not too , for the sake of love let me be… you will hear from my lawyer.’’

James

 

I couldn’t take what I had just read, I was shivering my hands were shaking. It was unbelievable,but why? I didn’t complain about not being happy, I wanted this to work I didn’t want a divorce. Tears rolled down my eyes as I put the note with my hands shaking back into my handbag. I didn’t have anymore strength to continue work, I was destabilized .I managed to put my things together

‘’ Cynthia’’

She walked into my office immediately I called her name , eventhough I wasn’t loud enough ,it was as if she was standing  in front of my door waiting to be called or maybe I was loud enough I didn’t know how I soundedI wasn’t thinking straight.

‘’ Lock up, I’m done for the day,Goodnight.’’

‘’ Goodnight Barrister Rebecca .’’

I sluggishly left the office and went close to my car park.I cried out looking straight to the sky

‘’ Oh lord help my marriage, I want this to work’’

I paused when I heard some whispers

‘’ Is that not the lawyer?.’’

‘’ Why is she crying ?.’’

‘’ Maybe she lost a court case which was going to fetch her a lot of money.’’

‘’ Come on ,she’s an adult that won’t make her cry .’’

‘’I heard she’s facinga great problem in her marriage.’’

‘’ I thought she’s a feminist do she need a man ?’’

They talked and laughed. I could care less, my magnanimity was such that I never gossiped or even worried what others said about me, I continued my prayers.

‘’ lord you said in Philippians 4:7 that we should not be anxious about anything’’

I hadn’t finished praying when I heard one of the gossips call my name

‘’ Barrister Rebecca ‘’

Their footsteps drew closer, I didn’t want to know who called my name and who they were .I hurriedly entered  my car and managed to drive out of their sight. I drove to ST MATTEWS catholic church which  was close to my office. I rushed out of my carwent straight to the sacrament and laid flat and cried out profusely to God .After two good hours of crying to God, I felt relieved .onlygoing to the sacrament to pray could appease my distressed state.it was 11’30pm and here was I a frustrated woman driving alone in the middle of the night ,only  God could take me home safely.

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When you educate a girl child you educate a nation. The girl child is very important and I see no reason why any girl should be deprived education for the sake of marriage or anything. Marriage is a beautiful thing butonly  whenit happens at the right time. I mean how was a girl child expected to tackle her marital issues if it arises.

It was two days already since James asked for a divorce and I didn’t want to wallow in self pity and ignore my promise to Katherine . I got a lot of food stuffs and clothes and I and Katherine were heading to her village to try to sort out things with her father ,he needed to understand why child marriage is a big no in the society and why  Katherine must complete  her Education.

Katherine spoke softly to me with a depressed look. ‘’ I will miss you’’

‘’ You are going to live with me and complete your Education.’’ I assured her

‘’I wish that is going to be possible ‘’ she wasn’t convinced; she bent her head in pity.

‘’ It’s the right of every child to go to school my dear and you are not excepted, okay?’’

She nodded her head showing a little relieve.

We made a short prayer,committed our journey into God hands and I drove off.

Being too scared to get behind the wheel to a long distance is an incapacitating phobia that can leave sufferers isolated while costing a fortune in taxi fares. This was my first time of driving myself out of town, apart from church and work and other close places around, I never drove very far. it was my husband who drove me or at times I boarded a taxi , I didn’t want to use a taxi today because I would be charged a whole lot and most taxies I had contacted didn’t want to drive out of town,so I decided to drive myself putting my fears aside.

Stress appeared to be one of the major factors in fear of driving long distance and I have benefitted from the advice to use music as a mood booster and watch my diet. I was driving with my ear phone listening to the music ‘’fingerprints of God ‘’by John Kreiser and Katherine was reading a book titled ’’little woman’’by Louisa Alcott. It was a good book to keep her busy during our five hours roadtrip.Katherine loves to read,she burgeoned into an eager reader shortly after I had put her into school.

I didn’t intend to spend more than a day in her village because I had a lot to do at work and didn’t tell James I was travelling. I hadn’t seen him since he asked for a divorce and I hadn’t seen his lawyer too,as long as we weren’t legally divorced he was still my husband .In my head I had cried and begged him to not divorce me, begged his family to plead with him and ran to his friendsBut in reality I didn’t do any of that I only prayed to God to take control.

The journey was quite a long one and the dilapidated status of the road leading to the village wasn’t encouraging in any way and made our journey slow,I had to be cautious of the potholes so I don’t have a flat tire and get stuck on a lonely road.we got to a place and the road was no longer accessible,I didn’t know what else to do I looked at Katherine for a solution and she gave me a pitiful lookand foldedher hands like a toddler.

‘’Ma’am we can’t continue. ‘’

‘’ How do you mean we can’t continue?.‘’

I gave her a perplexed gaze.

‘’ If you try to drive furtheryourcar is going to sink ma’am. ‘’

I was rather a bit furious , didn’t she know about the bad  road why  didn’t she say anything about it instead of putting me in another stress .I didn’t want to lose my temper but developed an equanimity of temperament .

‘’ So what are we going to do,how are we going to continue?.’’

I asked calmly.

‘’ we have to bike to the village ma’am ‘’

‘’what’s a bike?’’

‘’ A bicycle or motorcycle ma’am’’

All my life it has always being either a car or anairplane. I love to essay new things but not in this state of stress.

‘’I’m sorry ma’am.’’she kept on apologizing.

‘’ It’s okay,you didn’t make the road, you don’t have to be sorry for anything.’’

I just had to make her not to feel guilty of anything,I had promised to be there for her through thick and thinand the first trial was the bad road. I will only make her feel she’s all alone if I keep complaining about the road.

After waiting for fifteen minutes a very rickety bicycle came along and it was the only one available .it was very old,the frame was initially painted yellow but had worn out and the color became brownish with some yellow noticeablecolor. The wheels and spokemade a horrible noise like that of a bleating cow.The steering handle were shaky, Itdidn’t even have a side mirror .you could notice that the village cyclist was greatly managing his bicycle and rode even slower than a hoarse. How we both managed to ride in one very old bicycle was unbelievable. I held Katherine so tight so she doesn’t fall off,there wasn’t enough space for the both of us but we had to manage. I was assured by the young cyclist that my car was safe where it was parked. I wasn’t even scared of losing a car here because I knew no one willbe able to drive my car because there was a tracker and it required a professional thief to get away with it.

We finally got to the village and it was a veryremoteone, the villagers were in a state of indigence.It was difficult to understand what it felt like to live in such an environment .the tiny village consists of a cluster of mud huts, a few trees , some wells that are already going dry and tiny roadside stalls selling biscuits, sweetsetc. Clean drinking water and basic sanitation are luxuries that none could afford here.Some villagers sat patiently under a treereceiving fresh air while some little malnourished childrenbetween the ages of 3 and 4,wearing only pants ran after ourbicycle.

Finally we were in Katherine’scompound .I brought out some change from my bag and gave it to the cyclist; he thanked me and rode off joyfully. An old man came out of the mud hut, he looked at me furiously.

‘’ Good afternoon sir ‘’ I greeted

I was loud enough,very loud but he didn’t return my greetings, instead he went straight to where Katherine was standing and started yelling at her, uttering some words I didn’t quite understand. His caustic tone was unbearable; spit came out from his mouth as he yelled at her. I became frightened by the way he acted. A very tall middle aged woman came out from the hut, she was disturbed by the old man’s thunderous voice,and it looked as if shehad just woken up fromsleep. She had very red and bulging eyes, you could count the hair on her head, it was very scanty and the teeth in her mouth were not more than ten. She wore a short gown revealing her very thin legs.I wondered how he could manage to live with her because she looked so scary, the alchemy that transformed her into a beautiful woman in his eyes must be love.

‘’ Good afternoon ma’am ‘’ I greeted

She ignored my greetings too and walked towards the direction of the old man andKatherine   . At this point I realized they were her parents , this was my first time meeting them.

I didn’t understand what they spoke to Katherine but whatever they said was hurtful, though she cried out loudher father was adamant.  I tried to speak to them to please understand she’s already stressed and she shouldn’t be stressed morebut they couldn’t understand me, they were English challenged. He kept on pointing at me as he spoke to his daughter;my instinct told me he was asking her who I was. He didn’t want to stop yelling at her and I didn’t know how else to communicate with him. I walked up to them , they all looked at me with surprise as I knelt down before him and tried to communicate with him using sign language .my humility did much to alleviate his temper at the moment ,surprisingly  he stopped yelling at her . He furiously walked into his hut without another yell and was followed by his wife. Katherine went immediately into the huttoo, I waited for a while to see if I would be asked to come inside but didn’t hear any such thingso I decided to invite myself inside without any permission. The hut was stuffy ,  I could barely breathbut I had to pretend to be alright .we all stared at each other without saying anything , at the moment of total silence I remembered I had brought some food stuffs and clothes for them , I turned to Katherine who was standing close to me .

‘’ Go get the things I got for your parents in the car’’

‘’ Okay ma’am ‘’

She collected my car keys and left the room leaving me and her parents all alone. We stared at each other and they only spoke to each other and at intervals turned to look at me. I would smile at themnot having any idea of what they were saying; I was so uncomfortable but tried my best to act right. I started sweating profusely on my face and palm feeling guilty like I had committed a crime .I was so nervous that I almost urinated on myself .I remembered my  school days , I had never feared anybody like I feared my principal ,she was too much of a disciplinarian and no student came out of her office without feeling remorseful and having a sober reflection about life.she advised so calmly without raising her voice or hitting anyone but the way she did it even the toughest student felt remorseful and changed for the better .it was as if I was standing in the principal’s office again, her parents were not friendlyand it was a big problem that I didn’t understand their language.

‘’I’m back ma’am’’ she was holding the foodstuffs and clothes I got for her parents.

‘’what took you so long?’’

‘’ Sorry ma’am I couldn’t find a bike so I had to walkdown here.’’

‘’you what? Just to the car parked in front of the house you had to take this long.’’

I had already snapped at her when I realized the ordeal we faced when we were coming. I actually forgot where the car was parked; I didn’t wait for her to say anything when I immediately apologized.

‘’I’m sorry, I forgot that the car wasn’t   parked in front of the hut.’’

‘’ It’s alright ma’am.’’

‘’ Please don’t leave my sight again, your parents almost killed me with their stare they kept on pointing at me saying things I didn’t understand.’’

‘’They were admiring you ‘’ she said smiling.

‘’ Oh please, spare me that flatteror they were saying who the heck is this.‘’

‘’ I already told them you’re my boss so they know who you are.’’

I smiled and jokingly said.

‘’ So now they know I’m your boss hope I’ll get a little respect and be treated like a boss? ‘’

‘’ Notguaranteed ma’am ‘’

‘’ Ohplease remind them that I’m a lawyer too and will sue them for improper treatment if they don’t treat us well.’’

We both laughed andI felt a bit relieved from the stress.

She gave her parents my gift and they thanked me and kept them by the side of the room, making the room stuffier. it was obvious that they had no kitchen and they  put everything in the small hut . They cooked outside and had their bath outside too. They were indeed living in immerse poverty.

It was time to state my intentions to them I didn’t just travel to waste my time to come and stare at them. They didn’t look as sad as they were when I came in. the gift had lightened their mood, it cost a lot and they showed appreciation. I stood up from the small belch I was sitting on and began to talk to them while Katherine served as my interpreter so they get to understand me well.

‘’ I’m so happy to finally meet the parents of this amazing girl;you brought her up in the right way. ‘’

She interpreted to her parents and they were proud of her,it was every parents dream to be told that they did a good job in bringing up their children.They were so excited,and thenI decided to hit the nail on the head.

‘’ Sir,ma’am,Katherine is too young to get married and has to complete her schooling because education is power and everybody deserves to be educated.’’

I stopped and waited for her to interpret it to her parents before I continue. She started interpreting with a smile but wasn’t given the opportunity to complete her sentence.Her father stood up drew closer to her , held her so tight on her wrist and slapped her on the face and began to hit her . I tried so hard to calm him down but the only interest he had at the moment was to hit her. His wife didn’t even mind he was hurting her; she stood watching him without trying to stop him and ignoring the innocent girl’s loud cry. He pushed her and went straight to the corner of the room brought out all the things I got for them, and threw them at me.

‘’ Commot for here’’ he yelled at me, pointing to the door.

I understood what he said to mean leave my house.Without touching any of the things he threw at me I walked out ofhis hut. I couldn’t say anything to him again because Katherine my interpreter was crying and wasn’t ready to continue talking,so she doesn’t receive another beating from him.she came out in tears to meet me outside the hut.

‘’It’s not working , he is not ready to listen .I told you my father is very stubborn but you insisted I come, I would have just ran away and wouldn’t have ever come to this village again but now see what you have caused , I walked into prison with my two eyes open.’’

For the first time I noticed her talk to me in such an angry tone, I didn’t let that bother me at the moment. She had already given up on me but I hadn’t given up on her yet. I checked my wrist watch and it was already 6: pm. I intended to go back home and had no intention of sleeping in the village but I didn’t want to leave her in the village I had promised her that it was my fight too and I always love to win.  I went closer to her and gave her a pat on her back.

‘’I won’t give up on youeven if you are already giving up on me. I won’t go today anymore until I’m able to convince your father.’’

‘’ you must be kidding, that’s not possible you have to go my father won’t let you pass the night here.’’

‘’No, I won’t live without you, this is my fight.’’

‘’ you have to go, there’s no solution again.’’

‘’ Your education is important to me andto the world too, you are important my dear.’’

‘’But you have nowhere to sleep’’

‘’ I will be fine. ‘’

I was about leaving when she came closer to me and held my hands in tears

‘’ I want to be great, I want to be educated I don’t want to end up at this age in a man’s house. Thankyou ma’am for everything, God bless you but you have to leave. ‘’

She looked pitiable; I removed my hands from hers and gave her a hug.

‘’ You are importantdear and you will achieve your dreams, you are a conquer.’’

‘’ Thank you ma’am. ‘’

‘’Go inside be a good girl don’t argue with your parents, I will come back for you.’’

She thanked me and was reluctant to go inside but I assured her that everything was going to be alright.She watched me as I slowly walked out of her compound.

I wondered where I would sleep, walking around the village looking for shelter was harrowing to me, I could not help but feel lethargic.i didn’t know anybody around and I  wasn’t sure if anyone would want to accommodate me in their very small hut .prying eyes stared at me as I walked pass ,it was obvious that I was a stranger. From a distance I could see children gather in a particular place, I love children so much because their delight is always unfeigned and spontaneous.I was curious to know what they were doing out this late and decided to kill mycuriosity. I moved close and noticed there was a river and they were fetching and playing in it. The river wasn’t clean it was filled with trash ,I held my nose and breath and walked past quickly , I couldn’t stand the stench which smelled like rotten meat. I felt sorry for the people who lived close to it and breath in the dirty air and wondered howthe childrencould even survive in the river and make use of it.the dearth of clean water was due to improper drainage.Water pollution is a serious effect on human health it makes people sick with diseases such as diarrhea, bacterial infection and even cancer.poor hygiene is inimical to good health.

After I had walked round the village for thirty good minutes without finding shelterI decided to look for any open space to lay , I saw a mango tree and I was lucky enough to find a bench under the tree.I dropped my bag on the bench  and was about to take off my footwear and lie down  when I heard some footsteps coming towards my direction .I immediately stood up , took my handbag and hid behind the mango tree .I peeped and saw an old man carrying a sack bag on his shoulders and was followed by a woman who held a lantern;they looked suspicious as they tried not to make any noise . I slowly came out of my hiding to see what they were doing, to my greatest surprise the man began to dig while the woman holding the lantern looked around for him. When he was done, he put the sack bag into the ground and covered it. I hid back behind the mango tree as they walked pass me and peeped at them to make sure they were out of sight. When I couldn’t hear their footsteps or see them,I quietly tried to walk back under the mango tree,a snake was crawling on the bench, Iscreamed out so loud causing the snake to run back into the bush.i could not overcome my antipathy for snake I was still looking at the bench in fear to make sure the snake was no longer there, when suddenly I noticed the rays of light pointing to my direction. I was about to run back and hide behind the tree but didn’t notice the rotten mango on the ground, I stepped on itand it slipped me and made me fall down to the ground,producing a loud noise. When I looked up an old man was standing infront of me pointing a touch light directly to my face as if I were a criminal.

‘’Who you be?’’ what do you want, who send you?’’

Too many questions all for me at ones, where was I going to start from. I tried to look at him but it was difficult because of the touch light facing directly into my eyes.

‘’ I…I…’’

I couldn’t complete my sentence I was panting;he held my wrist with a tight firm grip.

‘’ Sir please atleast stop pointing the touch into my eyes I’m no thief, let me go.’’

I tried to remove my wrist from his grip but he was holding it so tight.

He gave me a stern look as if he was going to eat me and repeated himself in an acerbic tone.

‘’I said who you be?’’

‘’ I will explain myself if you leave me alone, holding me so tight will hurt me. ‘’

‘’ you run. ‘’

‘’I won’t run, I’m no thief and you don’t have to worry about me running I have no strength.’’

‘’Allyour strength you nose around.’’

This old man couldn’t speak English fluently but I could understand him. Grammar was the last thing to bother about at this moment .finally I struggled and pulled out my wrist from his grip .he didn’t bother to hold me again

‘’ Okay, I’m a stranger here. ‘’

‘’you be thief, you want to take the body and run. ‘’

‘’what body?’’

I was completely confused. What body was he talking about?

‘’you want to dug it out,tell me the true.’’at this point I realized he was the old manwho washolding the sack bag and the sack bag contained a dead body. I was completely terrified.

‘’you are a murderer; it was you and the old woman. ‘’

I confronted him. He came closer and used his hands to cover my mouth so I don’t shout and when I became calm he removed his hands and stepped aside.

‘’you are wear a finger rosary and I can see you Christian, I guess your religion teach you how not to judge, are you judge me? ‘’   His English was pathetic; one would only understand his English if one pays complete attention to him.

‘’you were the first to judge me you called  me a thief ,don’t act righteous here answer my question , who are you man? .’’

I threw his question back tohim

‘’I’m Saturday and the woman you see me come with, my wife she is. We come to bury our daughter this nightbecause there is no money to buy the thing they use to bury people, cofff….’’

He bent his head as he struggled to pronounce coffin.

‘’ your daughter, what happen?’’

‘’ The storylong.’’ he said scratching his head.

‘’ Make it short then. ‘’

I stood calmlytrying to catch my breathpaying a lot of attention to his story.

‘’ She marry last year but her brideprice was return backbecause her husband complaining of constant fluid and gas coming out from her body and she has serious infection fromunder the womanplace. I take her to the village specialist he say she curse , because the disease can’t be cured and because of the way she smell, nobody wanted to come close to her she die now after many suffering .’’

It wasn’t really easy understanding him, because of the way he organized his sentence,he didn’t know when to use past tense or present or a perfect grammarbut I tried to understandwhat he said. He was shy to pronounce ‘’vagina’’and instead called it the woman place or maybe he couldn’t even pronounce‘it.I was stunned, I couldn’t believe a human could be this ignorant;she had died of Vesico- vaginal fistula,tears rolled down mycheek.

‘’ Oh my God, sir how old is your daughter’’?

‘’ Shebe eleven years ‘’

‘’ You are kidding me,eleven andwas married?’’

‘’ yes elevenand married, she would have had baby too if the baby no die for delivery ‘’

I was terrified.

‘’ Do you have a male child sir’’?

‘’Yes, seven.’’

‘’ Any married yet? ‘’

He held his fingers like a toddler, trying to count

‘’yes only one is marry, He is my seniorson.’’

‘’Howold is he? ’’

‘’ He’s thirty-four, the rest have not ripe to marry.’’

‘’ Too young you mean? ‘’ He nodded his head to mean yes ‘’why then did you allow your eleven year old daughter to marry? ‘’

I was surprised and annoyed by the reply he gave me

‘’ Come on, she be girl. Woman place is in the kitchen, she for marry at 9 if she start seeing that woman thing ontime’’

He was talking about menstruation and I didn’t bother to correct him it was okay if he called it woman thing or anything at all, I understood what he meant.

‘’ Sir I thought you were educated? ‘’ I didn’t know when I voiced it out angrily.

‘’ yes I educate, you have problem with that.You are you educate?’’

He said innocently

As we got into a conversation and I interrogated him the more, I learned he had no formal education but had only worked in the city as a cook for an English speaking man who taught him little English. Butfailed to teach him the importance of a girl child. Most of the villagers understood English but not all could express themselves well in English and some didn’t understand at all like Katherine’sparents.

‘’ A girl child is important and equal to the male child and should be given same importance. your male children are not allowed to get married now because you believe they are too young, same should have applied to your daughter and by now she shouldn’t have died of V.V.F’’

‘’What’sVVF? She no dies of VVF, she was curse , and she no be the first to experience such thing, same happen to girls who are curse here too. Sheeven actsstrange. ‘’

I shook my head in disbelief.

‘’ VVF is an acronym for vesico-vaginal fistula. It is an abnormal fistula tract extending between the bladder and the vagina that allows the continuous involuntary discharge of urine into the vagina vault, and it can also have a profound effect on the patient’s emotional wellbeing, that’s why your daughter was acting strange too.

He looked at me without uttering a word, he was paying lot of attention to my lecture ‘’

‘’so sir she wasn’t cursed or evil.What sort of a superstition is that?’’ I had to discredit the ridiculous belief that she was cursed.

‘’ This has been a deeprooted believe in the village that whenever a girl has misfortune afterbirth she’scursed and sent back home byher husband’’

I was impressed he spokefluently, maybe he speaks fluently when he’s serious or he mastered how to say this so much.

‘’ Annoyingly funny, what a superstition’’

I looked into my bag and luckily my phone battery wasn’t completely dead, I brought out my phone and played some videos for him showing him girls who had suffered from fistula to make him believe it was mere superstition. He felt so ignorant after watching the videos.My phone battery was almost deadthere was no light in the village, I turned it off and kept it back into my bag. We both sat down on the bench and talked, he was a bit touched by the pathetic videos .until I explained the real reason of VVF it was taken as axiomatic that VVF sufferers were cursed.

‘’ Sir are you going to join me fight child marriage and give importance to the girl childeducation?’’

‘’ yes madam I will.’’

I smiledat him and brought out my hand for a handshake

‘’ Before I forget to introduce myself, I’m Barrister Rebecca , I’m a criminal lawyer and I run my private chambers , I also  have a catering  business one of the biggest in town, it is managed by a friend and I pursue my avocation of designing jewelry in the evening after returning home from work.’’

He looked at me surprised still holding my hands; I smiled and removed my hands.

‘’Any girl in this village can be as successful as I ‘m or even better,a girl’s life is in no kitchen and a girl shouldn’t be forced into child marriage.‘’

‘’ welcome lawyer.’’

Saturday was of an indeterminate age; he had gray hair and lined face but spoke and moved with the energy of ayouth .He took me to his family house where I could sleep,it was a small hutbut bigger than Katherine’s; itwas very neat and a bit comfortable. We both agreed on working on educating the village about the disadvantages of child marriage and the importance of the girl child. I wanted to talk with the villagersbefore I go back to the cityto educate them on a lot of things because they were really ignorant. He promised to disseminate the news round the village so theygather for my talk.

I wished I could have my bath I felt sweaty but I wasn’t ready to use the dirty water. I had a little bruise on my left elbow from the fall at the mango tree. I was tired I just had to manage and laid on the mat and allowed myself to fall asleep, it wasn’t the best night ever.

 

******** ******* ******* ******* ******* ******** ******* ****** ****** ****************

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Saturday had assembled a lot of people in the village square so I give my talk on child marriage and the importance of the girl child education. I was a bit nervous to speak to a huge crowd of uneducated people;I didn’t know what their reaction would belike; if they were going to give me a listening ear or not but I only hoped for the best.

Only food could allure the villagers to the village square,Feeding their stomach as well as feeding their brains was important. I gave Saturday’s wifemoney to get some food stuffs, so we prepare some food and got some drinks. Shewas a woman with a beautiful soul, shedid most of the cooking while I told her a lot of stories,and she was a cheerful woman. I tried to make her forget the death of her daughter but no mother could forget the death of a child so easily .she prepared the food with fire wood and it was believed that food prepared with fire wood are always the sweetest .the aroma of the foodwhich was richly prepared drew a lot of people to the village square. I was salivating myself, she was really a good cook but it was so unfortunate that she didn’t take her cooking to the next level she would have made a lot of money like I did if she had cooked for commercial purpose and I would have loved to employ her if we lived in the same citybut surprisingly her husband forbids her to work. But I was here to change their ignorant mindset.

Saturday was already waiting for me to get dressed so he gets me to meet my audience at the village square. I had already worn my cloth and was about to wear my shoewhen the breeze of sadness blew to my directionand I breathed in the sadness .I sat down on the bed and was immediately destabilized. When I was taking too long to come out,Saturday came into the hut anddrew very close to me.

‘’madam you dey cry ‘’

Immediately I stood up and cleaned my eyes with my handkerchief

‘No I’m not’’ I forced out a fake smile and wore my shoe.

‘’ No,madam I seeyou deycry .shareyour worry madam, a worry shared is a worry half solved’’

‘’ I’m fine sir, thank you for caring. ‘’I hated the fact that he called me madam, it reminded me of madam Bovary ,a novel   I read when I was in high school in literature class, I loved the novel so much but I didn’t like to be called madam, ma’am would have been preferable .

I gave him a fake smileagain to assure him that all was fine with me but hecaught me crying and wanted to know what the problem was by all means.

‘’I see you crying now, I’m old enough to be your papa, share with me the worry madam.’’

I didn’t know when I began to cry, I couldn’t hold it any more,I was pained. I looked at him and truly he was old enough to be my father even though he couldn’t do anything he was willing to listen.

‘’ I lovedhim so much’’

‘’ who my daughter, the person die?

‘’ Sorry I mean I love him so much ‘’

I didn’t know when I used the past tense of love,I was indeed pained. He came closer to me paying a lot of interest; all of a sudden he started calling me his daughter from madam to my daughter, what an old man trying to show too much care. He made me pour my problems because he showed he really cared.

‘’ Myhusband wants a divorce, he does not love me anymore, I have been praying, I’mtired.

I started crying like a child who needed a hug he didn’t say anything to me instead he stared at me for a while and what he said next made the tears dry up quickly

‘’ I think say feminist no need man, you still need ahusband?

I cleaned my tears  immediately and stopped crying, why must have to lecture him on everything.

‘’ well I understand you are among the people that have a misinterpretation of the term feminism. I love men, and we all need one another, feminism is not a hateterm for a man or any such ‘’

‘’I’m sorry; tell me small who feminist really is‘’

‘’ No you don’t need to be sorry,it is okay.I will tell you. A feminist is anyone who believes in the equality of the sexes; no fight no quarrel, so simple. ‘’

‘’Thank you, now I be feminist’’ he said smiling, revealing his broken rotten teeth.I smiled back at him

‘’yes, you are a feminist, we should all be feminist.’’

He looked at me apprehensively , I noticed he wanted to say something but stopped

‘’ Do you want to say something ‘’ he nodded and came closer

‘’ you said you are go church andyou pray .your God no deaf. When you plant you don’t harvest immediately or else it comes out premature .same with your God he will answer you for the appointed time.’’

I was astonished his words relieved me, even though I had to try too hard to understand his English.This was exactly what my preacher talked about, having faith in God.I was still staring at him when he brought forth his hand.

‘’ you like we make prayer together?’’

‘’sure’’

I stretched forth my hands and we held hands together. He prayed. I was still holding his hands closing my eyesthen he removed his hands and said

‘Amin’’ I understood it to meanAmen.

I wasn’t satisfiedwith his prayers he didn’t say anything much. I opened my eyes and looked at him

‘’ Are we done praying, you didn’t pray for my marriage ‘’

‘’ I pray’’

‘’ But you only said lord give her peace of mind’’

‘’That prayer carry weight my daughter ‘’ he said smiling.

‘’ Thank you’’

‘’ let’s go to the village square madam, the villagers done they wait since‘’ He wasindeed afunny man he changed immediately from calling me his daughter to madam after I had told him what the problem was. I stood up from the small bench

‘’I shouldn’t make them wait, I’m sorry’’

We both walked to the village square, I hope the villagers conduct themselves with decorum during my talk. i did a short prayer in my mind to buttress my courage ,I felt better and stronger . The villagers were not as bad as I had presumed,they were ready to listen. It wasa large crowdof women, children and men. I hadn’t addressed such a huge crowd before but I wasn’t scared, all the nervousness had gone. I introduced myself   and started to address them. They paid a lot of attention; I talked and talked to make sure they understood.

‘’Child marriage expose girls to vesico vagina fistula. if a girl is not fully developed and the pelvic not fully matured , during prolonged labor the vessels and tissues that lie in the birth canal would be compressed, they lose their blood supply and develop holes.’’

I thought they weren’t going to listen but they did, everyone was calm As I talked they were so interested in my talk .i noticed I was sweating seriously, I brought out my handkerchiefand cleaned my face, the heat enervated me so much but I didn’t allow it  prevent me from talking.

‘’ The girl child is important and education is very important for her too. Say no to child marriage the place of a girl is not in the kitchen ‘’

The crowd didn’t go well with what I had  just said ,they began to talk to each other and made the place rowdy .a very old  man raised his hands up and stood up

‘’ The place of the girl isin the kitchen. Women are very lazy they can’t even work in the farm they are no good,their place is in the kitchen, where they don’t require too much energy towork. ‘’

They cheered him when he was done;he adjusted his shirt feeling like a hero and sat down happily. He spoke fluently, I noticed that there were some villagers who spoke well, but what came out of their mouths was a prove that everyone could speak but not everyone understood what it meant to impactknowledge. I smiled and walked closer to him

‘‘you, can’t accuse all girls of being indolent,one female is lazy doesn’t mean all females are.If a boy is stubborn and not hardworking we don’t say all boysare stubborn but we say he is stubborn and a disgrace to manhood, so why should we say all girls are lazy?’’

Another man stood up to ask a question

‘’why should we educate a girl, is there any use? They grow up to disrespect their husbands. They feel too proud if they go to school and they are of no use anyway’’

They cheered him as he sat down. His fatuous question made me sick,I was taken aback by his bitter harangue against girls.I moved close to him

‘’ Education is important, educate one girl and you have educated anentire society.If I wasn’t educated , I wouldn’t be able to stand in front of you to talk ., I’m highly educated and I have been given a lot of accolades but I treat my husband well and never emasculate him, he is loved and respected.’’

Theywere shocked with what I had said,they beganto murmur.

‘’ she’s richer than her husband and she gives him respect’’

‘’ It is hard for a woman to respect her husband if she’s educated’’

‘’But she looks so humble, it may be true’’

Iignored them while they were murmuring and I looked around the crowd to see if I could findKatherine.I couldn’t find her but I could find her old father sitting quietly at one corner, I smiled and waved at him with the expression on my face that read ‘’hey old man I’m still here, you prevented me from educating you but now I’m educating the village‘’.He didn’t smile back or wave but that wasn’t my cup of tea, he could only drive me away from his house but not from the village .There were people sitting close to him to interpret to him and interpret to any English challengedperson present .I orderedElizabeth to begin to share the food, they were happy as they received their package. There was something unusual I noticed, the women were quiet and didn’t ask any question,they all sat down in same position folding their hands and the men were served first before the women. I went straight to Saturday.

‘’why are the women so quiet and why are the men served first?’’

‘’ Madam that’s because when a man is talking woman no fit talk and they are asked to fold their hands to show say them descent in public ,that’s why you find all woman folding their hands and  because  men provide so them eat first .  ‘’

‘’ Ridiculously interesting, but I’m a woman addressing them and the food I got it with my money.’’

‘’ It’s because of the food they agree you to talk. I’m sorry madam.’’

‘’ I see, do you believe in a gathering a woman shouldn’t talk?

‘’ I used to until I meet you and you teach me right ‘’

‘‘Good, thank you for learning ‘’ I smiled mischievously  and walked closer towards  the crowd , I pointed to a woman but she was very scared to stand up ,all eyes were on her I went close to her .

‘’Ma’am,do you have any question?’’

She shook her headwithout saying anything .I persisted

‘’ Are you sure, say something ask a questionyou have any question? ‘’

She nodded her head to mean yes

‘’Good ‘’ I was happy, the men were focused on the delicious food and this was their least interest at the moment.

‘’Food is coming you will get the biggest. ‘’ I smiled at her.

She smiledback,revealing her unpolished broken teeth. She looked sounkempt; her nails were unpolished and dirty. The air in the square was saturated with her smile.

‘’what’s your name?’’

She was sotimid;I wish she could overcome her diffidence and speak to me. She acted as if I was going to eat her; I was just a woman like her. That’s the disadvantage of not being enlightened you always feel inferior and find it hard to express yourself.

‘’I’m MRS ‘’ she said smiling and buried her face in her hands.

‘’ I know you are MRS , good you are married, what’s your name and  what do you do for a living’’ I smiled at her back.

‘’ I marry, I work for houseand I’mMRS ‘’she couldn’t express herself well in English

The villagers started to look towards our direction, we had become a center of attention .she didn’t want to say her nameor who knows maybe she didn’t even know her name. I gave up asking for her name.

‘’ Okay MRS, what’s your question? ‘’

‘’ You fine well ‘’

She smiled and other women cheered her I was amused and the same time felt sorry for them they couldn’t express themselves and I had important thing to say and all she could say to me is you fine was that a question .  I was highly disappointed but I couldn’t blame her she was so illiterate.

‘’Thank you anyway for the compliment,what’s your question?  ‘’

She looked at the men who were angrily staring at her,and thenshe bent her head.

‘’ I no get any question ‘’

I looked around and they were already serving the women, the men were already done eating. If I had known I would have allowed them serve them together they wouldn’t have had any choiceit was my food andpassing the women to serve the men was uncultured and big gender discrimination. I walked around and continued my talk

‘’ we teach girls to feel inferior, we make a girl an object to marriage ,at an early age you hear things like you are so beautiful your husband will enjoy , you say things like this  to an eleven year old . We say to a girl, this is what a man likes and do this otherwise you wouldn’t get marriage,and.’’

I wasn’t done talking when an angry man from the crowd interrupted me

‘’ What do youmean, are you saying marriage is not important? ‘’

‘’ Don’t get me wrong marriage is important and I love it but-‘’

‘’ But what, are you even married?’’

‘’ Yes‘’

‘’ So what are we not saying, go home and divorce your husband, then we know you mean all what you are saying ‘’ the asperity in which he spoke, revealed his anger about the situation.

At this moment my enthusiasm was attenuated when he mentioned‘’divorce’’, I hated the word divorce; I didn’t want my marriage to end.I tried my best to not get angry; I paused for a while, then took a deep breathand responded.

‘’Don’t get me wrong, I love marriage so much and have no reason to divorce my husband. Marriage is a beautiful thing. Talking about my marriage is a digression from what I’m here to talk about,I’m here to talk about child marriage, gender equality and to encourage women to earn a living and not dependsolely on onlytheir husbands. Please your concern should be germane to what I’m here to discuss. What does your wife do for a living?Where are your female children at thirteen or fourteen, in a man’s house, married instead of being in school, tell me does that seem right.’’

He turned around, looking to see if I was really talking to him.

‘’ Are you talking to me?’’ he asked surprised.

‘’ yes,you, weren’t you the one asking me questions, you can’t gainsay the fact that your wife does nothing and your childrenare already in their husbands house, it was just a guess, and didn’t I just guess rightanyway?’’

‘’ My wife does something her place is in the kitchen, she cooks and my two female children are married but they are not thirteen and fourteenyou guessed wrong, they are eleven and fifteen ‘’ he angrily said.

‘’ oops even worse, I was not even close.At eleven I had just started seeing my menstruation and I was still enjoying a mother’s love, nottaking care of a man or thinking of how I was going to satisfy a husband. At fifteen I was still in high school and didn’t even have a boyfriend , instead I was focused on my  education .and of course your wife cooks , I cook too ,I have a kitchen too .I didn’t say what does she do in the kitchen I said what does she do for a living. Don’t get me wrong that’s enough work.but why make your wife feel so inferior and not work. ‘’

‘’I care for her and the children ‘’

‘’ Oh wow, you are nice’’ I said sarcastically.  ‘’But God forbid if something happens tomorrow, who will care for them. ?

‘Nothing will happen. ‘’

‘’ But what if, then you render her useless, who’s going to care for the children? And sir with all due respect you are heartless to send your young daughters so innocent to aman’s house at such age. If you don’t want to be a major factor as to why we have a lot of illiterate women and offcourse rampart VVF sufferers take your children out of that dame marriage, yes it’s a dame marriage. Do you know the pain they go through, do you know what emotional trauma an eleven year old is facing in her marriage.’’

I became emotional, I brought out my handkerchief and cleaned the tears rolling down from my eyes .I tried not to cry but I felt the pain of the young girls forced into marriage and the huge rate of gender discrimination in the village.

They became so quiet; it was a feeling of sober reflection.   I walked around their midst looking at their sober faces, they had all being touched by my talk

‘’Any question?’’

They were still very quiet, they didn’t answer, so it meant they had no question. I continued

‘’ I’m going to sponsor hundred girls to school and empower 100 women.The girl child is important, say no to gender discrimination, say no to child marriage ‘’

They were marveled and the crowd was rowdy in excitement they began to cheer me

‘’ Thank you madam ‘’

‘’Thank you ‘’

‘’ God bless you ‘’

‘’ You are God sent.’’

‘’You are amazing ‘’

They kept on cheering and thanking me. I feltfulfilled,they were so happy and everywhere was so rowdy, it took me 10 minutes to finally calm them down andwhen they had become calm, I continued.

‘’I noticed the black river in the village, worry no more, I will work on giving you good water, good road and good electricity supply.’’

There was uproar they didn’t know how to control their excitement. They were jumping, clappingand thanking me with praises. I was happy too, I had worn their hearts.

‘’ If I wasn’t educated or hadmarried when I was eleven , if I had believed that my place is in the kitchen would I be able to stand before youand do so much for this village ?

‘’No’’

They all chorused

‘’Do you believe in the girl child’s education?’’

‘’yes’’ they all chorused.

‘’we should all encourage and support the girl child education and say no to gender discrimination. We should have more great women who aren’t cowards and girls who aren’t forced into marriage and if you have any daughter you forced into marriage, please bring her out. Thank you for listening and making this easy for me and I hope to see more of you all,God bless. ‘’

They clapped for me and kept on cheering me. I felt really accomplished.It was alreadygetting late, the villagers left happily one after the other. Saturday and his family were amazing, we stayed back to clear the plates they used in eating.  I thanked Saturday and his family for making my talk a success. We walked home happily.

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My stay in the village wouldn’t have been amazing if they didn’t cooperate with me. They were all amazing;all they needed was someone to educate them. It was time to say goodbye and I wished I didn’t have to go, it was as if I had known them forever but I had been away from home and work for three good days. I wasgoing to come back for Katherine since it wasn’t possible going back with her. I didn’t intend to stay longer than I had stayed I hadworn one cloth for almost three days,thank God I leave perfumes in my handbag if not I would have died of the smile of heat but the perfume killed the smell.

I didn’t expect what the villagers did for me, they organized together and sang me a farewell song they showed a lot of love and appreciation. I thanked everybody for their love and care and promised to be back as soon as possible to fulfill my promise. A bike was brought for me to take me to where I had parked my car. It looked better than the one I used to enter the village.The cyclist looked so young and cheerful. I was about to enter the bike when I felt a cold  touch on my shoulder , I looked to see who it was and to my  greatest surprise it was Katherine ’s father standing behind me withKatherine.

‘’ you can commot  with her ,I sorry for all the wrong’’

He managed to speak and I understood him perfectly well. I was super amazed, I knelt down before him

‘’ Thank you sir you won’t regret this I promise. ‘’

She looked at him and interpreted what I said happily. I stood up and hugged her so tight

‘’ I have missed you’’

‘’I have missed you too mom, I’m sorry I mean to say ma’am. Thank you for everything ‘’

‘’ you don’t have to be sorry you can call me that too, daughter.’’

We both smiled at each other, we removed our hands from each other and entered the bike .potbellied children in pant ran after our bike singing for us.Ironically, their distended bellies were a sign of their great hunger.The cyclist rode us to where my car was parked. My car was intact; it was only covered with dust.We both bade the cyclist a glorious goodbye and entered the car , and drove joyfully back to the city .

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Home sweet home. They were all happy to see me. On getting to my room everything had changed, I suspected James had brought in another woman, who decided to decorate her new room; I didn’t want to jump into conclusion. I hurriedly had my bath and was too tired to change into a night wear; I slept with my tower on.

Surprisingly when I woke up I noticed that I was wearing a night robe and I was shocked ,I didn’t know who clothed me . I was still trying to figure out who might have clothed me when the door opened and James walked into the room and knelt down before me with a beautiful flower. My mouth was widely opened

‘’I’m sorry for the pain I have caused you for the second time please   marry me; I promise we are going to have the best no gender marriage. Please will you marry me?’’

Tears rolled down my eyes, it was tears of joy,and I stood up and stretched out my hands towards him and raised him up.

‘’ it isokay, I forgive you’’

‘Are you sure, just like that? I ‘m very sorry believe me. ‘’

‘’ It’s okay,thank God for givingme thestrength to endure everything, everything happens for a reason.’’

He held me so tight and kissed me. It was a kiss so beautiful I had missed all the love and romance. I pulled him away slowly

‘’ you still have the best lips in the world. He said smiling

‘’ So how many have you tested lately ‘’ I responded jokingly

He held me so tight again and kissed me

‘’ It doesn’t matter how many I tested ,all that matters is I promise to be here forever and never live again, you are my everything and I love you .‘’

‘’ Hmm, interesting.’’

‘’ I was preparing breakfast for you ‘’

‘’Aw, you are cooking ‘’

‘’Yes’’

‘’oh wow!‘’

‘’ AndI will do that more often for us. Just a moment’’

He removed his hands from me and pecked me on my fore head; he hurriedly left the room to the kitchen. I was happy everything fell perfectly into place, it was a new dawn.I wasn’t the only  one experiencing a new dawn, everybody around me was, Katherine and her village were happy too and experiencing a new dawn.They had started believing in the girl child education and Katherine was going to complete her education and not forced into child marriage. I couldn’t thank God enough for giving us all a new dawn.

James walked into the room with a big tray containing a cup of coffee and a covered bowl.

‘’Breakfast on beg to the best woman alive ‘’ he gave me the tray.

He prepared eggsauce and boiledpotatoes .I was a strict vegetarian,I eschew eggs and dairy products in addition to meat and fish.But the plethora of fruits in the bowl overwhelmed me.

‘’ Thank you, but you forgot, I don’t eat eggs. ‘’

‘‘Oh I’m sorry ‘’

‘’ It’s okay, I will have the potatoes like that.’’

‘’No, you shouldn’t. I could make vegetable sauce for you, there’s sliced vegetables and tomatoes.It won’t take long ‘’

‘’You don’t have to I will manage’’

‘’you don’t have to myqueen.’’

‘’ If you insist ‘’

‘’ I insist’’ .he was about to leave the room when I called his attention

‘’Hey ‘’ he stopped and turned to me ‘’ I love you James

‘’I love you too my everything. He came closer and kissed me.

‘’ Baby,I should hurry to cook andI can’t wait to come back so you tell me about your trip.’’

I smiled at him like a new born child. He left the room to the kitchen.

After my arduous journey, it was good to return to my quotidian concern;caring for my family and focus on work.I checked my bag for my phone and connected it to the socket, when it was charged alittle, I took it and dialed my secretary’s number. It rang twice and she didn’t pick but answered when I called the third time.

‘’ Hello, I will be at work today a bit late, please peruse the report carefully before the meeting by 4pm.

‘’Okay, welcome back BarristerRebecca ‘’

‘’ Thank you, see you soon.’’ I hung up and left my phone to charge, it was only 10 percent, it was very low.

James walked into the room and served me a richly made vegetable sauce and potatoes.The aroma filled up the room.

‘’ I’m back vegetarian, you don’t forbid vegetables do you ‘’ he said smiling and handed me the food.

‘’ This is too much; this meal will satiate a whole village. ‘’

‘’ Oh come on we are not on our first date, I wouldn’t judge you for eating too much , and remember you ate more than this on our first date after all .’’ Hejokingly said.

He cooked really nice; I enjoyed the richly prepared vegetable sauce. He smiled and stared at me as I happily ate. It was indeed a new dawn for all of us.

THE END

 

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