It’s a humid evening, the ocean breeze deserts you, there is no sound. Even the Samsung flat screen in your living room is silent today, muted. Everyone is watching and waiting for you to take the oath that will determine your case. The Imam, the village elders, women and mostly men are here. Of course your lover is here too, so is your mother, their eyes on the thickly carpeted floor. Mortified.
They have now stopped talking; your daughter’s peeping school mates, the fishmongers who wait daily, patiently for fishermen on the beaches to exchange their swaying hips for fish; many men in white kanzurobes. They have all put their heads and mouths together, united in the condemnation and outraged by your betrayal. Hawkers and merchants, everyone seems to whisper, “But can you believe it!”
You know they will prescribe death by stoning, in public, but what can you do? This is it; your years of loving sex have ended. You wish you had not been found out, wish you could skip the oath, continue to deny it, but you have no choice. You know no one can lie holding the holy book; you would die.
What pains you is the pain to your mother. The scar and burden on her and your siblings will be beyond repair. No one will want to marry from your line now and mama’s disappointment will surely haunt you out of your grave.
People know you were raised a godly woman. From the cradle you faithfully followed religion. You cleansed for worship, prayed on time, wore hijabs with zeal and fasted. Your mother only wanted the best for her first-born daughter. “Your record builds this family’s repute.’’
Ah… your wedding at sixteen is still talked about. The gem-embellished dress still sparkles. Words like glamorous, flashy, flamboyant and grand still describe it. Again thanks to your mother. You want to scream out that you never cared for all that, that you have never loved your husband, but what’s the point? Mama hates ungratefulness. And you wouldn’t be ungrateful to her, who gave you a rich husband; and an almost happy ever after. Would you?
It’s your fault, not hers, it has come to this. You were every religious wife’s dream of a daughter, what every girl in the neighbourhood secretly wanted to grow up and be. But when you told them “be pure”, you felt bored. And lonely. The holy fasts nauseated you and the veils always choked. You yearn to be free now – to deliver yourself. But thank God no one knows this, or else Mama would be right, you are ungrateful.
You shiver as you raise your right hand, ready to confess and blurt out the whole truth at last and be freed. You see your mother rise, as in a dream, pushing her way through to you. She curtseys before the imams, begs to speak to you one last time, and drags you away, to your bedroom. There, she slaps you, pinches your inner thighs; words like “humiliation, ”ingratitude”, twinned with “Me”, spurt out of her mouth, hit you. She cries. And folds you inside her black flowing buibui, tightly embracing. Suddenly, she shoves her half-deflated balloon-like breast inside your mouth, whispering “mwanangu, my child…”, before dragging you back, in a daze.
Mortified, you hold the holy book with a shaking hand and raise it high, facing your lover and your mother, and you vow:
“I, Fatimah Aduda, solemnly swear: That from the last time that I suckled my mother’s breast, I have not slept with this man.”
Millie Dok is an event organizer at Storymoja. She seeks to share our untold stories, loves to question the wisdom of our times and lives and loves life. Feel free to contact this young, energetic avid reader who is working on her first book at email@example.com for details on upcoming events. We are open to exciting ideas on how to spread the love of reading,writing and performance arts.