Seyii Tolof – Part 107 EPISODE 9 (Difficult Marriages – Forced, Arranged Child Marriage)

Amie Sillah

At the Hospital
Dalla took Naa and Jonsi to the main health centre for better professional treatment. 

The Team of Nurses
As soon as they arrived Jonsi was rushed to the At Risk ward and was given blood and water drips for sustenance as she was weary, weak and withered.

 She slept as a log due to physical, emotional and psychological exhaustion. Matron Gaye on her rounds met with Naa who suddenly woke up shaky.

She was very nice and compassionate as she showed her empathy.
“Is she your daughter?” Naa shook her head.
“How old is she?”
“She is 16 years and got married last year at 15 years.”
“This is child marriage your daughter is physically, emotionally, psychologically and intellectually immature to be a wife not to talk about a mother why do you allow this to happen as a mother?” Matron Gaye asked.

She sobbed bitterly.
“Matron! Haven’t I tried? Do women have a voice in this country? I fought alone and nobody came to my aid. My husband bargain and sold my daughter right in front of my eyes I protested but to no avail the money derived from the proceeds we use as fish money and the perpetrator promised to educate our only son to university level. Matron! Is that not the plight of women under patriarchy? Even though I was more resourceful and intelligent than my sibling brother Sorgi I was pulled out of school to give him chance to go to school and to any level. My daughter suffered the same fate.”

“I thought as much; as for me both my mom and I resisted my not going to school because my mom was educated up to Standard Four at her time. You should have stood your ground no matter what. Your child is in a critical situation, early marriage plus FGM/C caused her laceration in her genitalia and she can only give birth at a health facility please ask her husband to see me or the senior nurse in charge if I am not around.”

“Her husband can come any minute from now I’ll tell him.”

He came with provisions but met Matron was out senior nurse attended to him.

Senior Nurse Faal
“Matron wanted to speak to you about your daughter since we cannot see her husband but we have seen the mother. Jonsi here has psychological problem due to forceful penetration of her immature organs already inflicted with the FGM/C procedure. Where is her husband? We want to speak to him.”

He became infuriated.
“Why are you asking after her husband? What is your work to heal or to interfere in personal lives which do not concern you? If I tell you the Sokoto you are looking for is right here what would you say? Am I not fit to be Jonsi’ husband? Here I am, what would you want to know? Are you yourself married? How many abortions have you carried out?”

Nurse Faal
“I beg your pardon! Is your guilty conscience of marrying a child bride choking you to enrage me? You have failed miserably; you cannot judge me because you do not know me from Adam, for your information I am happily married with 2 beautiful kids and I did not marry my husband as a child bride but a fully matured, educated and trained one.
Your child bride is traumatized by FGM/C and forceful penetration she will stay here for one month to recuperate and be given professional care then she can come back home and wait for her delivery.”

He enraged, felt exposed and humiliated as he resorted to insults and throwing innuendoes. He left in a jiffy threatening to sue the hospital management.

At Home
Jonsi returned home as Naa rushed home to check on the family before returning back to the city to help ‘bambane’ her first grandchild.
Jonsi is busy sweeping the compound when she felt birth pangs and she screamed.
“The baby is coming! Help! Help!”

She came out from the house and saw Jonsi screaming for help she rushed to do just that and also shouting Antu’s name to bring out the car keys.
“Antu bring out the car keys and let us rush to hospital the baby is coming.”
Antu hesitated but Dalla took the keys from him and drove Jonsi to the hospital.
She phoned Naa and she exclaimed and expressed joy.
“Allah is praised my daughter has put to bed! I am off to the city to ‘bambane’ my first grand twins boy and girl.” She took permission from Baa and he agreed. The sibling wanted to come but couldn’t because Jewru is in school and Jaha takes care of the house when mom is away.

The Naming Ceremony
Everything was done replicated in two to honour the birth of the twins graced by close family members, friends and neighbours. Jonsi was on top of the world with the fanfare and joyous mood she escapes into ecstasy.

 Notable among the lot was Dalla who has now become a family friend ironically appreciated by Jonsi and Naa because she helps them deal with the unpredictable loose cannon Antu. She congratulated mother and grandma and they too appreciated and thank her for her kindness and empathy.

“Jonsi is a sweet girl and very brave I would not marry this crazy fool for any amount of money. He is mean and selfish but all the same you are now a mother of twins take care of them and ignore the rascal. As for me I only need him to settle my bills and nothing else whenever I criticize him for marrying a child bride he accused me for rejecting his offer; I cannot stand his unfaithfulness and penchant for following his friends’ wives.”
She gave Jonsi an envelope.
“This is my ‘ndolli’ (contribution)” She said.
“Thank you.”

Shade with Bola
The couple entered and Dalla winked the duo.
Jonsi whispered into Naa’ ear and she was alerted to their presence.

She greeted everyone in creole and went straight to the celebrant.
“Congrats oh! The twins are beautiful just like their parents.” She held each child and kissed him/her. She gave Jonsi an envelope and kissed her as well as she also greeted Naa.

  The couple greeted him with a hug.
“Congrats! Well done! The twins are as beautiful as their parents.” They said. Antu is very happy with his achievements. He bragged.
“Is this not my year; last year I married a beautiful bride whom critics/enemies called child bride as well as getting numerous government contracts; is my beautiful bride not a blessing to me?” He requested for a love song to be played for them.

She is shy and declined but Antu took the twin from her and gave her to her mother and the boy twin to his sister.
“Let us go and enjoy the piece this is our day our first twin children a boy and a girl, is Allah not wonderful? Is our family not blessed?”
The adulterers winked at each other as they danced with their partners, Naa and Dalla looked at each other and saw the drama.

 Part 108 EPISODE 9
She whispered into Naa’s ear
“Look at the adulteress winking the adulterer, ‘the wind has blown the hen back side’ everything has already been exposed.”
Naa asked her to be discrete until they are alone.
“Keep it for another day all eyes are on you it is your day enjoy it for once.”
He stopped bringing his girl friends for now with the exception of Dalla who is regarded a family friend by everyone including Naa.
She comes daily to offer her nursing services for free, she taught her many aspects of hygiene which thrilled Jonsi she has done Health Science in school. She also taught her how to care for her babies, Naa stayed for three months ‘Bambane’.

The twins have a Nursing room prepared for them as advised by Dalla. But Naa was always with them sharing indigenous knowledge with her daughter. She showed her how to massage different parts of their bodies Jonsi is always panicky as Naa gave them a good treat then robbed shea butter and mild balm into their bones and flesh after which they have a good nap.
“Well massage babies are strong and flexible and can become talented sportspersons. You see how Jewru is strong, talented and very sportive.”
“Don’t break my babies’ neck, it is hard oh! I saw hell in labour.”
Naa laughed incessantly;
“That was how I felt when I gave birth to 8 children and only 3 of you survived. You can only appreciate and empathize with your mother when you go through child birth.” Jonsi shook her head.
“Thank you Naa am very sorry for ever offending you.”
“You are welcome my daughter but promise me one thing that you’ll take good care of my grandchildren; take very good care of them and they in turn will take good care of you in the future.”
“Promise Naa! Promise!” She laughed and hugged her mom.

Violence against Women
   Antu has no respect for his mother in law whom she sees as ‘bush woman’ from a wretched, uncivilized family. Naa is weary and nervous whenever she sees Antu who deep down in her heart she sees as callous and hard hearted. She became very alert to observe and monitor his behaviour.

The reality confirms her dreaded fears
 She heard scolds, insults and threats then rushed to the direction which was the kitchen; what did she see but the shock of her life?
“Right at the middle of the kitchen was her 16 year old daughter putting a hot pot of rice upon her head while her babies were crying to be fed by exclusive breast feeding. There was her husband insulting and enjoying the torture as he slapped her.

“Useless village champ! What can you do right? Cook you cannot cook! Satisfy me in bed you cannot! I can only satisfy myself through my glamour girls! What use are you to me when your greedy wretched parents tasked me to the hilt; I am very tired of you but what can I do now? What cannot be helped must be endured at least you have given me two kids a beautiful girl and a handsome boy! I can cope with your silliness but at least take this punishment for now!”

She screamed and rushed to rescue her daughter and scolded Antu for being callous and wicked.
“How can you do this to a human being not to talk about your wife and a breast feeding one at that?” She put the pot upon the sink and took her daughter away to feed her twins as she shook with rage.
“I told my husband your greedy father that this animal cannot be trusted I saw his meanness the moment I set my eyes on him and now his cruel action has been proven beyond reasonable doubt.” She lamented.

She broke down in emotional tears.
“Antu has been callous and cruel since he brought me to his home; I am never right, he calls me names ‘bush girl’, ‘monkey’, ‘chimpanzee’ and all what not; he promised to take me to school but instead took me to a ‘baby making’ factory, here I am 16 years old with twins before thirty I’ll come up with a football team. I don’t want to marry him again and if you people insist I’ll kill myself and end it all I am very tired, exhausted and hurting.”

“I cannot make that decision my hands are tied, I am voiceless and helpless and was never part of this arrangement but an onlooker.  Bear my daughter and let us pray that God intervene and give us justice.”

He went to Naa and protested.
“Naa you are interfering into our private life you are supposed to ‘nanny and when she is sufficiently taught you go back to your home I see that you have overstayed I’ll shop and give you money for your troubles.”

She sobbed bitterly.
“You are maltreating my daughter and her life is in your hands, whatever you do God will judge you.”

 “Are you not ingrates? What have I not done to uplift your family status? I built your family a duplet at the village, send your welfare allowance monthly, I am sponsoring your only son at school and promise to do it up to university; Jaha is also being sponsored to learn a trade! What else do you want? Do you want me to give you my life? Your child is a ‘bush girl’ is stubborn and recalcitrant and I punish her only if she gone beyond the mark.”

“Jonsi is a child bride! What does she know if you as an adult, her husband doesn’t teach her? Show her love and respect, despite your big money and many flirtuous relationship she is the only woman who has given you beautiful and handsome twin; take it easy if not you’ll loss her care and affection.”

Saying Good Bye
Antu tried to impress his in-laws by buying them a lot of foot stuff and provisions of things eaten in the city and a luxury in the village; even chocolate and ice cream jars stored in coolers. Antu has already bought them a reconditioned refrigerator where Naa does ice business and sells ice blocks at the ‘lumoo’ weekly catchment market.  

Her mind is being blown off.
“All this food stuff! Do you want us open a grocery shop at the village?”

He laughed and bluffed her.
“Didn’t I tell you that your worry days are over? Am I not ‘Antu Dollar’ the local and International businessman? Just tell your daughter to behave and everything I have is yours.

Part 109 EPISODE 9
She does not want Naa to leave her with her husband.
She wept bitterly.
“I want to go home don’t leave me here if you do I’ll kill myself before he kills me.”

 She broke down emotionally;
“This is marriage which is not a bed of roses; look at your twins you are now a woman and no longer a girl; wipe out your tears ‘God day’ I’ll remember you in my prayers.” She turned to Antu;
“Please take it easy with your child bride, she is not mature and you are the one to see her through.”

“What can I say when both of you are crying plus the twins? I’ll just stay calm and wait until the tempers go down go in peace my in-law everything will be fine just leave in peace and safe journey and please stop calling her a child bride she has already given birth to twins she is now an adult bride.” He posited with sarcasm.

He arrived and was thrilled and asked;
“Where are all these goods going? Who is opening a shop?”

“My in-laws in the bush! But warn them this should take them for at least one year if not and if I learn that it has been misused I’ll take them to jail and will make them hungry for a year as a punishment.”

“They should be very grateful; what have you not done?” He turned to his elder sister.
“Didn’t I tell you? Your life will be turned for good just advise your daughter to behave herself as you know she is very stubborn.”
Naa just stared at him saying nothing but cuddling her daughter in emotional embrace both of them crying. Sorgi got impatient.
“Sister let us go I am in a hurry I am a business man and every second is important to me I have to drop you at the car park I have already found you a transport to the village.”
Mother and child still cuddled each other. Antu came and pulled Jonsi from her mother scolding her.

“Look at the ingrate! Am I going to eat you up? What haven’t I done for you? Look at the provision even your city uncle is amaze not to talk about villagers if they see it? You are shameless Jonsi look at you crying, your mother crying as well as your twins crying for breast milk; who will breast feed you as well as your mom? Aren’t you shameless? I am ashamed of you!” He yelled as he dragged his wife back to the house Naa wept bitterly afraid that her daughter is in great bondage.
Sorgi hurried her into his car virtually worshipping Antu. Naa is very angry with him. And as he drove along he started a conversation with his sister.
“You are not happy what is your problem? I think this man has done a lot for you and your family and you should show appreciation which I don’t see you doing.”

She hissed and said;
“You are insisting to hear my opinion I am not happy you can worship him but I don’t care what I do know is that he is wicked and callous and my daughter’ life is in his hands, my husband and yourself sold my daughter to the highest bidder and I am not interested in all this display of wealth were we not surviving before his arrival into our family?”

“Just take it easy many things are at stake at this moment; remember your only son’s education as well as Jaha’ skills training. Let us face the fact his intervention matters here.”
Naa refused to comment again until they arrived at the car park and Sorgi helped her off load her baggage and load them onto the transport to the village.
“Safe journey and just take it easy upon yourself Antu just meant well for your family.”

 “Shut up and go upstairs and feed the twins they want to be breastfed.” He ordered his wife.

At the Farm House
 The villagers were overwhelmed and thrilled as volunteers helped them carried the goods into their village house.

He was very surprised to see Naa being followed by volunteers carrying goodies into their store.
“What is happening here? Naa are you going to open a shop?”
Naa laughed and said;
“Take it easy my husband we will discuss later let me just go and supervise the volunteers.”
The village volunteers were overwhelmed as they commented on the quality of the provision.
“Be careful with the bags of rice, have you ever seen or eat such quality? It is consumed by the elite in the city if you burst any you cannot pay for it even if you are sold.” He commented with arrogance. Naa is not happy as she chipped in.

“Don’t mind Baa, these volunteers are very helpful the distance from the farm house to our village house is quite far we are very grateful come here tomorrow after breakfast and you’ll be tipped for your good work.” They thanked them and left.
“Darling that was arrogant; these young men left their work and assisted us which should be appreciated.”

“Are you not spoiling these fools? What do you want to give them? Do we not give them leftovers daily?

“Are you not sounding like Antu that arrogant fool of an in-law? Don’t look down upon the poor and voiceless as you climb up if not when you come down they will be the same people you’ll meet again.”
As soon as the volunteers left he asked urgent questions.

“How are my daughter and her twins and my good in-law Antu who has turned us into gentry at the struck of his magic wane?”

“I start with good news first; they are all healthy and hearty.”

“How can there be bad news? With all these goodies you’ve brought along plus the fat envelope and my daughter, husband and twins healthy and hearty, please be optimistic for once. We are very grateful to what Antouman did for our family and he should be thanked for it; look at the quality of provision you’ve brought into this village? The allowance he gave us for last month has still not been depleted and now this new stuff, are we not the envy of this village? I for once can see nothing wrong with our in-law but to pray for him and his family all the more.”

“Are you not jumping the gun? All that glitters is not gold, there is fire in the mountain and it will take courage and determination to quench it.”

“Are you trying to dampen my enthusiasm? Can water not quench it?”
“Not this one it will take for more than water to put it off.” Naa Posited.

To be Cont.