Alhaji only spoke to me twice as we undertook the journey from Benue to Kano. One when he fixed the sit belt around my tiny frame, and the other when we stopped by a fast-food joint to eat. I also didn't have anything to say to him for deep fear of him sat in my heart. Even when he was silent, he stole quick glances my way from time to time. After about 7 hours, as my naive mind could picture, Alhaji's Lamborghini pulled up before what seemed like a castle I had seen in one of the children books Aunty Ifeoma my primary school teacher often read from. My jaws dropped as I looked on in awe and admiration for where I found myself. His deep voice jostled me back to reality.
"We're home" he announced, with a northern be laden intonation. I
dropped from the vehicle and asked him what to carry. "The house boy will get the things out, my wife." He said baring teeth stained with tobacco and laced with gold. He appeared nice and the glints in his eyes revealed a new kind of interest that I didn't notice while we were in the village.

Walking behind Alhaji, we approached the building in silence. My mind was filled with so much questions and frustrations. I didn't need a reminder that I was all by myself here - how cruel?
There were a number of smaller apartments at every corner of the fenced land, and as we walked passed each, the doors screeched open with unhappy faces and murmuring of something I understood to be greetings. I caused under my breath,
“How can I cope here? my whole life is blown away for some
cowries” the tears began to threaten to fall again. I could feel the heat rise in my chest but I fought to keep a happy face for my husband proudly showing me off to the other slaves I will soon join.
The sitting room was larger than I would have imagined. Five women stood all dressed in a native wrapper, with no signs of smiles and happiness they greeted simultaneously.
"Ehhennn!... my new wife has arrived, Amina be kind to show her to the room next to mine and make her comfortable for the night as usual" I was more frustrated, "as usual?".

What will become of me here? The questions kept choking me with no answers. Alhaji walked away. The very dark skinned woman walked me into a room. This phase has just begun in my life and truly I am not ready for its mishap.

I found myself in an unwanted abode. The room looked gloomy and stuffy even though it will cost papa a century from his business to make this fortune. I would rather enjoy my dreamland adventure on my mat in papa's mud house than this fancy room.
"Are you sleeping already?" Amina called as she rubbed the wall slowly to locate the switch. "It must have been a long day; Benue to Kano is not a joke. This reminds me of my first day here 10 years ago. I was welcomed by only one woman … hmmm" I watched on as she tried to initiate a friendship I would never bargain for. "Pardon my manner pretty, my name is Amina and you are?" I stuttered then said, " M..mmy name is Tito".
"Feel free you are in your new home. You have to freshen up and join us in the dinning room. The unhappy faces you saw out there won't last for long" Amina said. I hadn't deciphered these words when one of the several wives of Alhaji dropped a bombshell at the corridor.
"You better inform her that Alhaji will ride her alone for the next

three weeks, you silly and unrepentant pretender." Zainab said. My tummy rumbled as I heard her hoarse voice while I remained voiceless in shackles.

I was really up for the worst. My life finally smashed against a hard rock, shattered beyond repair. I have embarked on a perilous journey of no return. This is the end of the tunnel for me, can't find any light. Darkness has overshadowed my destiny. I would have escaped before the marriage.
Was it really supposed to be called marriage? I was sold! Sold to a man I felt nothing for. A man sent from the pit of hell to ravish my life. How disgusting the thought of gracing his bed tonight feels. Tears sprung my eyes as realization dawned on me. I started shaking slightly. The thought of sleeping with Alhaji aroused nausea from my intestine.
"Are you okay Tito?", Amina asked, tapping my shoulder. I forced
myself not to cry in front of both women as I nodded slowly.
"You had better take a good bath, eat, rest and get ready. Alhaji is
old, but trust me, he is a good horse man". Zainab said sharply. I could sense she wasn't happy with that. It is really despicable to think she enjoys Alhaji riding on her. She looks young and beautiful. I had no choice but to get ready as supposed. He is my husband after all. He paid my dowry beyond expectations. My memory brought an image of what my life was before this whole marriage came into the picture. I was a young happy girl full of life. A day never passed without me reassuring my parents that I was going to make them proud one day. I was determined to go to school, and come out with the best result and elevate my family from misery and poverty. What a twist of fate. This was not what I had in mind but I guess the day couldn’t wait to come. Now, my parents are proud - I made them proud! I am marrying an old, pot-bellied man who gave them a fortune.
This was never how I wanted to make my family proud.

Sighing sadly, I realized I will become used to it sooner or later. The more I thought about it, the more the marriage, as repulsing as it was, appealed to me. At least I would never see my parents and siblings suffer again. I have paid the price with my whole. With a tired sigh, I slump down onto the bed.

I forced myself to have dinner with my new family but all I felt was food tearing my dry throat and lumping in my tight stomach.
“That’s enough” Zainab said and pulled my plate. “Your duty here is to keep our husband happy so don’t keep him waiting.”

I was confused as the room remained quiet. I viewed each woman’s face over the candle light lit room. No one said anything else. I pushed my legs through the long passage that led to Alhaji’s room. As soon as I tapped, the door opened for me. There he was unclad from chest up with so much hairs on display. I felt my stomach tighten. As he pushed my veil to the floor leading me gently to the bed, I took the last option I had. I swallowed the poisonous leaves that I plucked from my father’s compound and hid inside my dress.

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