Author: Jeffrey Keya
Pursuing my education successfully has always been my desire. Being the only girl in our family always gave me the courage to prove a point to the rest of the villagers who did not take education quite seriously. Although my parents were too rooted in our traditions, that was not reason enough for me to lose hope with my dream.
I remember the 27th of April 1987 like it was yesterday. I got home at around 7:00 pm from the stream. The night was as silent as the graveyard. The moon lit the world like the sun did during the day. I could see my father seated outside at his favorite spot in the compound and was in company of a young man who appeared like he was from the city. Normally, it signified something serious was bound to happen. That got me worried as I approached the house. Just as I was nearing the house, my mother stepped out and pointed towards the direction my father was and the young man were seating. I directed my eyes towards them and as if I was part of their discussions, I nodded my head in agreement of whatever they were discussing. Just then, my mother spilled the beans on me that the young man had come to ask for my hand in marriage and that he had already reached an agreement with my father.
I took the news as a joke at first because my mother appeared to be joking. Then, the unfortunate happened. My father looked at us and called out my name. I hastily walked towards them and to my surprise, he reassured me of what my mother had just whispered to me some moments ago. I wasn’t sure of how to react to the news. I looked at the young man in disbelief and wished the ground could open and swallow him alive. I was not ready for marriage. Education was all I had in mind at that stage of my life.
‘Aren’t you going to say something?’ My father asked as he stared at me with fury.
‘I am not interes…No! No! No!’ I hopelessly replied. I knew my father would kill me for disobeying him in front of a ‘stranger’. I was worried about my future and at the same time, did not know how to help myself out of that situation. It was the duty of the children to obey their parents. Anything contrary to that towards one’s parents was considered an abomination in our culture. I therefore preferred to be silent instead.
‘You can now go.’ My father instructed.
I walked out still in disbelief of what was going on. Deep inside my heart, I knew I was not going to fall for it this time. I vowed to stand out strong against what my father was doing. Though it would be a sign of disobedience to him that was not what I cared for at the moment. I knew something had to be done very urgently to save the situation. Seating back, folding my hands and watch them destroy my future was not something I would do. That was the longest night of my life especially when I knew that I had no one’s back over what I was about to do. Definitely, I could not run to my mother since women were subjective to their husbands and whatever the men said were final before them. I could not blame her for this.
The following morning I woke up and dressed for school just as it was my tradition. I did not want to think about whatever that transpired last night. To me, I considered it a dream. A dream that I did not wish it reoccurred. This whole issue kept me worried the whole day. I kept thinking of what I would do to prevent the predicament that was about to befall my destiny.
I decided to go to the stream that evening after school to avoid the trouble that could be awaiting me at home. That was the only place I was assured of peace. Therefore, I was set for the stream. I enjoyed the chirping of birds and the sound made by the flow of water. The fresh air around the stream reassured me a peace of mind which was the only thing that I wanted as per the moment. I spoke my worries to the river as though it had ears to hear me pleas. I felt relieved although I knew that wouldn’t last. The more I talked to the stream, the more the ideas about what I would do to prevent my predicament I got. At long last, I settled on disappearing from the village as the only option I would take. I would go at my aunt’s place by the neighboring village. Though the distance was long, I would persevere to the end because I was doing it for the benefit of my own destiny.
It has been about two months since I was last seen at home and nobody seemed to care about my whereabouts. I loved the peace I enjoyed with my aunt. In fact, she encouraged me to focus on achieving my dreams and not to bother about those might ruin my future. Whenever I was free especially after having our evening meal, she would spare time to motivate and encourage me towards achieving my educational goals. I wished she had her own children to guide and motivate. Many of the young people, especially the girls in the community needed such parents to endure with the challenges in life.
This day, I can proudly stand and say that I successfully went through my academics, more reason why I am proud of myself. I sincerely appreciate the efforts of every individual out there trying to put everything in place to ensure that the young people are educated to lead a better life. I would wish that the girl child in Africa would receive equally the rights enjoyed by their male counterparts. By that, the society will be a better place for everyone.