Aunty Mai Shadreck the Chief’s wife called me one day as l was about to go fetch some water. It wasn’t that often that he would do that ever since he fell ill a few months back. Entering his bedroom silently lm greet him and sit in the chair beside him. The illness has taken the vibrant funny but strict man leaving behind this frail and weak man. Although he might have taken me away from my ‘family’ l would have never wished for him to end up like this.
“You will be given to my late brother’s son as wife. You cannot stay here gathering dust for nothing. Your debts are paid after the first grandchild” the old chief announces without preamble. A rattling cough wrecks his thin frame choking some of his words.
Of all the things he could have said to me this was not on the list. Shock and well more shock wraps around my body. I was going to be dumped on his nephew? Had this been the plan all along?
“Why did you not tell me when you took me? After all these years l thought l was going to die here” I ask quietly. What l really wanted to know was how old he was.
“Because you came to us as a child Cloud. You needed that chance to grow and finish your education” he states.
Was this old man serious!? Oh he let me finish high school alright but refused to let me go to University or to take a small course.
“What will do you with a course when you stay in the village foolish girl! Soon you will be bearing me grandchildren and that needs no course.” Was his answer when l dared broach the subject.
Sad truth he was stating a fact. The day l stepped foot on this land l became an incubator-in-waiting for his precious grandkids. There was never a day l didn't’t forget my initial purpose for being here. I expected to be thrown to someone but with the years l had become complacent
As for raising me right that was not his doing l raised myself!
Kind people they might have been but growing up under my sperm donor’s house l learned to take care of myself and not wait for handouts. Being an industrious person unbeknownst to my ‘guardian’ l took on odd jobs around the farms and with the money l bought what l needed. Clothes shoes underwear cosmetics etc. that was all me. It’s not like they cared as long as l remained a virgin. Okay l’m belittling their efforts but the fact still remained that l did look after myself.
When l turned eighteen a friend from church told me the church was offering scholarships to take a course and insisted l go for it. She went as far as enrolling me into a distance learning course without my knowledge when l refused. Four years and countless tears later l held my Bachelor’s degree in Financial Management. Immense satisfaction filled my heart at achieving that myself.
Did l want to tell them about it?
Because this family had been nothing but kind to me but they were not my family. All my life anything that could have remotely made me happy was taken away from and it scared me that they would do the same. This was something l did myself and filled me with extreme happiness. To have someone tell me l couldn’t have it would have killed me.
"Get ready on the weekend Mai Shadreck and the uncles will take you to the city" the old man interrupted my musings. With a resigned sigh l leave his room and head to fetch water.
Plodding towards the community drilled borehole just over the mountain l use the forgotten path because it afforded me some time to myself. And here l was walking on this lonely path thinking about how my life was going to change yet again.
Loneliness has been my best friend ever since l got here. No one to comfort or tell me that everything was going to be okay. Maybe lend an ear even though they have no solution. At least back in Harare l had friends who loved me. Thinking about my two best friends Debra and Tafadzwa always made me cry. Having them with me at this time would have been such a Godsend.
The villagers who l had come to know felt pity but not enough to help the sacrificial girl. Girls my age only laughed at me the ugly village reject. And l was hardly close to those at church to tell them my business. For five years l have never felt as truly alone as l felt in this moment.
Now l was going back to the city l left at seventeen to become the city ugly reject instead.
It wasn't fair!