Saturday, August 14, 2010

FULL MOON



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

RUNNING IN ERROR


In the heart of all men lies a burden of words of their feelings tied together in a knot, waiting to be let loose. I am fifteen years old, but I feel fifty, my bones crack in protest each time I move my bulging stomach, my pillow cry out to be relieved of my weight upon it. I sit in idleness every day, counting the minutes as it crawls into hours. I come from a “humble” home; my father is a poor man who makes a living from washing other people’s clothes. The meager some he makes from it is used for feeding his wife and six children. I am the second child, the only girl in my family. I hungered to see my family’s poor state reformed. It was this desire for a better life that made me wander away from home, into the hand of a boy whom fate has forced into a man.

Truthfully, I thought Hassan had what it takes to make my future bright in a split second, at least that was what he used to tell me each time I met him after school. He boasted about his father’s wealth; this led me to give myself freely to him without thinking twice about the consequences. I knew there was no turning back the day the doctor confirmed that I was three months pregnant. I only packed my bags and fled from school, into the home of my lover and friend. Hassan welcomed me with open arms thinking it was for the usual Night of bliss, but after I let the cat out of the bag, he lovingly stared into my eyes and begged me to abort the child. “Bisi, you are too young to be a mother, and at twenty I don’t think I am ready to take up the responsibility of a father,” Hassan said sadly.

“But I thought you love me, and you promised to give up anything to be with me.” I cried until I had no strength left for tears. I was perplexed. Did my parents look for me? Only my mother did, my father had no room for unconditional love.

Today marks the eleventh month since I left home, to me, it seems like a decade. As usual, my Mother is babysitting my daughters, Hassanatu and Halimatu.

“A twin brings healthy wealth to all who loves them,” she keeps telling my broken heart. Hassan is out working, and I am supposed to be resting. Rest? I know I will never find it. The devil with his long tail has used me in destroying the future of a young boy who has now been disowned by his father for rubbing his name in the mud of irresponsibility diluted with immorality. I have devastated my world, which until now was secured and bright in its little light. “A wasted investment” is what my elder brother calls me. I have brought two children into this world when I can barely take care of myself, and now another is on the way. What was it my Mother said? “Oh! My baby is manufacturing babies!” What a sad reality.

I tell myself every morning that it will get better, the fears and tears will be gone tomorrow, but I know these are lies I tell to help cover up my wound of shame. Now I understand why my father always say that life can only be fair when we play our role well in it. I have run in error, a race I pray no girl ever run again. I do not know how to begin. This is the story.

(c) Jennifer Ehidiamen