Chiamaka Ajunwa 1 year ago
@theuntamedwrit... 8 min read View comments 1 #short-stories

Dry Bloom

A short fictional story about the girl child...My name is Cheta, and this is my true life story...I was born and raised into the family of the late Chief and Lolo Jideofor Ekeocha. My father, Jideofor was a royal financial advisor to the king of izunga village, and my mother, Nebeolisa, was the chief royal cook at the royal palace. Three months later, they fell in love. They got married and gave birth to me and my twin sister Chilota. We became the happiest and most fulfilled family ever. But it didn't last long enough.

There was an attack on our village as a result of a struggle for land between my village and her sister's village. The attacking village proved to be stronger than us, and so we were defeated. Our village, the Izunga clan of the Ezeudo autonomous community history, was very skilled in things relating to finance and business. While Izunde, her sister clan, was noted as the strongest force in the seven communities of my village, and so they represented us during the war and came back victorious. But along the way, one brother stood up against his sibling because of land issues, and we became enemies for a long time.

I remember when our parents told us never to play with children from our sister village, and they, too, did the same. King Izunga and King Izunde's struggle for power affected their subjects. Our men were killed while our women and children were sold into slavery. It was such a grueling site as I watched my parents die before our eyes. My father, with other men, was tied and burnt alive. At the same time, my mother was captured and married off to another village entirely. My twin sister and I were sold as laborers for a man who had vast plantation land. But along the way, my sister fell ill and died while working on his farm due to starvation. That was the first phase of my problems.

When I was 13 years old, I was forcefully married to a man old enough to be my grandfather. It happened that before the early marriage, a kind widow decided to take me in as her daughter. She took care of me and made sure I lacked nothing. But just when I thought I had a happy life, calamity struck again. Kambili, as I usually called her, had an accident at her yam farm one day. She was bitten by a poisonous snake. Kambili couldn't respond to treatment as she fell ill and died in my arms one night. She had told me once that she would be going to meet her late husband and children. But I didn't think it would be so sudden. All that was left of her was her golden trinket.

I left and ran away. I was so bittered and depressed. Along the way, I became tired and lost consciousness. When I woke up, I was already in a dark, stuffy room, tied hands and feet, along with some young girls. For I was captured and was to be married off to appease a deadly village tradition; all they needed was to get young, pure girls and get them married off to camouflage a crime. Each girl was to be selected by a suitor and taken away.

On the night I was forcefully married, I was stripped of my dignity as a woman. I was bound to hands and feet as I was sexually messed up, even to the point of unconsciousness. I later found myself three days later, in a room, with a group of girls; some older than me, who were looking so damaged to the point of insanity. They, too, had been used and would soon be disposed of. But I wasn't sacrificed because something terrible happened to the Chief priest that day when it was my turn. And so I got married to a 65years old man.

For six years, I had to be a sex slave and a good wife to this evil man. Two years later, we started getting foreign visitors to our village. This was when Christianity was introduced in the village. They were white catholic missionaries. One of them, Richard Ericsson, an African history scholar from America, was assigned to help the missionaries in our village. He later found out about my predicament and decided to help. My husband knew of our escape plan. I was captured and taken away to be killed. According to their tradition, I was sleeping behind my husband's back.

I was beginning to get sick and tired of this nonsense and I told myself that it was either I escape or I die trying. The chief priest who was to commence the ritual fell oddly ill, and the ritual was postponed till he recovered. One night when I was still tied in a dark room, I thought I heard footsteps behind the door. I became still as I waited patiently for the cause of the little noise. After about an hour, the room door suddenly opened slightly, and I heard a faint voice in my head telling me to run. Just run.

A very strong force pulled me up and out of the room. It also gave me the strength to escape. I ran into a faraway forest, I had no idea where I was headed, but I kept running. I must have been running for a very long time. By daybreak, I was already half dead. The last thing I remembered was lying along a straight path as I heard a sound like one of Richard's car coming from the distance. Today, as I stand telling my story to those young University graduates, I wonder if what I'm doing is the right thing. A few of my trusted colleagues, whom I teach at the University here in the United States, whom I have shared my story with, implored and encouraged me to share my story. "But I can't," I would repeatedly tell them. "You are a survivor. Those young adults need to hear your story," they had replied.

After they heard of my story, I was given a standing ovation and awarded by the president of the United States as the first black woman to see the four walls of a school and become a medical practitioner. I'm now a certified gynecologist at the St Louis Hospital, one of the biggest of its kind. I have a child, an adopted child--Chikamso. Since I lost my womb, I decided to adopt her. She reminds me of my twin sister because they have the same hair and eyes; curly and light brown with skin as fair as the evening sun. I'm also running a non-governmental organization for the cater of girls married into early marriages.

And now, I'm seated here, in my house, staring at my last award of recognition from last week Wednesday, by the Commissioner: Cheta Evelyn JideoforMsc, Bsc, Ph.D., Gynaecologist, First Black Female Doctor. I'm seated on my balcony, staring at the evening sea. It's full yet empty, just like me. My name is Cheta, and this is my story.

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