Saturday, August 14, 2010


Moreni knew no other night would pass until they completed their mission. She could see the determination in the eyes of the little old woman everyone called Iya wa, which means our mother. The two stout men that served as Iya wa's bodyguard walked protectively behind the girls as they traveled through the dark forest, all engrossed in their troubled thoughts.

"They know this is wrong," Moreni thought quietly to herself, as hot tears rolled down her chubby cheeks.

"This is not about right or wrong," Iya wa's baritone voice echoed in her head. The full moon was a custom the people of Abule village firmly honored. A time when teenage virgins were usually selected from every home to be circumcised to indicate their readiness to be married to any man who could afford the bride price.

The Earth is cold tonight. No warmth came from the fire that blazed at the center of the compound. The motherly moon positioned its round figure over Iya wa's hut. The drummers and singers took their seat at the entrance of the hut, ready to sing and dance to Iya wa's favorite rhythm as Abule village awaits the pruned flowers to return home in pride, oblivious to the pain inflicted on these girls and the scars they are left to nurse into adulthood. How generations suffer from lack of knowledge.

Moreni helplessly watched on as the first girl was led into the hut. Her innocent look and breastless chest revealed her vulnerability to the full moon. Suddenly, a cry of pain rang through the night. Moreni felt her heart race in fear. Just one more girl and it would be her turn. The little courage she had left was dashed when the first group of girls came out walking with their two legs wide apart.

"Oh mother!" a girl screamed from the hut.

Although the door was shut, everyone could hear Iya wa commanding the girl to lie still. The singers began to hum mournfully, and Iya wa came out, her white wrapper soaked with the red blood of the innocent. She stared into the night and announced without remorse "she bled to death" before leading Moreni inside.

The only source of light in the room came from a small lantern. The floor was untilled, and a blood-stained mat was spread at the center of the hut. A small bowl of water and Iya wa's handbag were the only items in sight. Iya wa gestured towards the mat, as Moreni made to lie down, she was shocked to see a lifeless body on the floor. She took one look at Iya wa's cold face and ran out of the hut.

"Come back here!" Iya called out to her.

She heard heavy footsteps behind her, perhaps Iya wa's bodyguards in pursuit? She had to keep running.

"Moreni, the full moon is for your good, It is the pride of every woman in Abule village," her mother's untrue lines pierced into her heart. No one mentioned death, or the blood or the rusted knife Iya wa used for her operation.

She couldn't tell how far she must have ran. The full moon remained still in the sky. Moreni knew she couldn't hide from it!

"Freedom, here I come," she screamed in excitement.

Someone pulled at her shoulder. She turned to find Iya wa's bodyguard behind her. Dogs barked in the distance, and a forlorn silence fell on Abule village. Everyone knew the fate of any girl who tried to defile the full moon.

(c) Jennifer Ehidiamen

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