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Sold by My Father

Esther uses stories to speak up about issues in the society. Her stories not only entertain but they give voice to the voiceless and educate

Child bride


It was a beautiful day as I took the path that led me from the farm to the house. Nature had always somehow been my comfort and motivation in a weird way. The chirping of the birds and the sound of the wind whizzing through my ears always moved my body to a rhythm only I could hear and then my mind would form lyrics to fit into the rhythm.

Work at the farm had been tedious as always but I was used to it. However, I looked forward to getting home and washing off the stink of sweat mixed with red mud on my skin and settle down to a delicious plate of tuwo and okra. Nana made the best and though I missed mother, Nana had tried to make up for it.

As I got to our settlement, I could hear Father's croaky laughter and wondered who he could be laughing with so carelessly. Father was well, father. Father was tall, lanky and had different arrows working in different directions on his face, I think that contributed to the frown he always wore.

Sometimes I wondered what he had ever done to deserve such ruthless markings on his facr but he wasn't the only one, so it must have been his entire generation. I dared not ask Father the reason why he had been branded so I tried asking Nana who referred me to Baba Sarki, her husband. That was the end of my curiosity, who dared question the Sarki Pawa. If Father exuded fear, Baba exuded terror.

As I walked into our settlement, I could tell from the attire of the man who sat facing Father that he was a man of affluence. I greeted both men properly and hurried off to the back to greet Nana. Nana was usually very happy to see me every evening as I returned from the farm but today she seemed to be muttering to herself and barely acknowledged my greeting.

When I touched her, she looked up to me with tears in her eyes. Nana never cried, she was a strong woman, the only woman who could face Sarki Pawa without flinching. I know it hurt Nana so much when mama died but even then, Nana didn't shed a tear, she wanted to be strong for us. She looked away from me and kept muttering to herself.

"He never listens, what more does he want to do with money", I heard her murmur. Was she talking about Father? Or had Baba done something again? I was too tired to think so I quickly went to wash myself and eat before figuring out what was going on in the house. After washing, I couldn't even eat, Nana's tears couldn't get off my mind but it was the look in her eyes that had me worried.

It was a look of pity.

I was beginning to sense something was definitely wrong.

So, I walked through the passage to my hiding spot to listen to Father and the stranger. They seemed to be talking about a business transaction. The stranger promised to send Father more machines for his farmlands asides the money he had tendered. He even promised to help Father export some of his produce to boost his business.

Father was in high spirits and couldn't stop thanking the stranger. That was a good thing but why was Nana worried about Father getting more money. My only problem was my wish for that money to be channeled into sending me to school but Father didn't see the need. All my reading and learning, I did by stealing books from my brothers and listening to the radio Nana always played to sharpen her English.

I was pulled from my thoughts when I heard my name. Father was calling me, but he never called me by that name, only mother ever did. I listened to be sure I heard right, then I heard it again. I silently ran out of my my spot to the back and answered before he came towards the backyard looking for me.

I came out front to answer Father and he smiled to the stranger who in turn looked at me with pleasure in his eyes. That's when it clicked! I was being sold! I was the bargaining chip for the transaction. Father had sold me off to a total stranger for machines and promises of exporting connections.

My opinion didn't matter neither was I consulted, the transaction had been sealed and soon the goods would be delivered. It didn't matter that I was only 14, no, the day I began to rain blood sealed the my entrance to womanhood and certified me as an adult ready to be sold off.

It had happened to Amina, Saratu and Dinatu, I just never thought I would be a mix after all, I was my Father's only daughter and he had too much money than he could finish in a life time, or so I thought.

The visions of getting an education slowly faded into oblivion as I looked into the stranger's eyes. Where would I run to if I ever thought to run? What would life become for me? Wasn't my life more than wades of naira notes and my body far more than farm tools?

I wanted to weep but the tears didn't flow, I smiled, did a courtesy and left to the backyard after I was dismissed.

Just like that, my fate had been sealed to Alhaji Badamasi, a man who sat in the circles of Baba and old enough to be my grandfather.

Somewhere in the world, a girl's fate is being sealed to a man without her opinion or consent. In fact those don't matter, because girls like her are born to marry and bear children, end of story.


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