c or run away? How come I have no one to save me? No one understands. All they can see is that poverty will be lifted from my home. After all, just 500 cowries are enough to make any man rich in my village. No one cares that his last three wives died during childbirth. He marries them young - evil old man!
“Tito! You are about to be married, is this how you will wash your husband’s clothes to a tear?!” My mother’s words bring me back from my
thoughts. “My beautiful daughter suppress your marriage jitters, forget your worries and be a good and obedient wife” Mama said with a stern gaze.
“But Mama, does that mean my opinion doesn’t matter at all?!” I cried.
“My dear, we all know what’s best for you; besides you are truly blessed by the gods to have found such a good and rich man look our way.” Mama admonished
I let the tears roll down slowly. I couldn't object. My mom put the beads on my neck gently, smiling and saying words of blessings but to me they were curses. My best friend Adama came into my room all smiles and cheers, "Tito have you seen the big tubers of yams and other gifts outside
your compound? He bought more than papa told him for your list" she joyfully clapped her hands I didn't say anything. I couldn't. I had explained to my best friend Adama how I never wanted to get married – how I wanted to go to school, have
my own shop and make my own name - but she laughed and told me to speak quietly. Women in our community were born for one reason - MORE FEMALE CHILDREN.
Men had 5 or 6 wives to them - a sign of their wealth. But my father had only my mother, I was proud of their union and prayed that one day mine would be like theirs but I see that it would never. I would never have the chance to be who I want to be.
"Tito wipe the tears from your eyes!" my mother said "don't let your husband see you like this"
"Tito she is right, do you know how lucky you are? Your husband will provide for you, you will live in the biggest compound and your farm lands will be almost as large as this community. Tito you are truly lucky" Adama said, day-dreaming again. She had always wanted to be a wife, it
wasn't a bad thing. But being a wife to the man I'm about to call a husband is a death sentence. I look between my mother and friend this may be the last time I'll see them.
I looked at myself in the mirror. I am painfully beautiful today.
“Why me?!” I mutter under my breath.
Mama led me to where the villagers were gathered. The women who followed behind us were chanting songs of celebration.
"Tito, at least smile a little. It is not every day one gets to celebrate like this" mama said as she joined the women in their singing and dancing.
They took me to Alhaji and sat me on his laps. I stole a quick glance at him, he looked to me like he was excited but not in a good way. I looked at other girls my age also at the ceremony brewing with jealousy.
"If only we could swap places" I thought out loud and then realized Alhaji might have heard me.
"Are you alright Tito?" He asked touching my face as if to wipe the tears that were already gathering below my eyes.
"Don't mind her! She is just sad that she would be far from home, that's all" papa said as he poured himself a glass of dry gin.
After the ceremony, the women carried my clothes basket and many other gifts to Alhaji's car. Mama had given me some of her fine wrappers and even taught me how to tie them.
"Do everything you can to keep Alhaji happy" she whispered in my ears and then hugged me. Adama was standing afar off waving at me as the car drove off.

to be continued...

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