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Kahani Bazaar

AND I LIVED!

image contains an girl sitting on sofa with her tablet
AND I LIVED!

 Muttering an incoherent curse under her breath, she struggled to her feet spewing out the congealing blood in her mouth.she could not stop bemoaning her  Ill-fated luck as she reminisced over her pathetic tales of woe...

 Imprisoned by the dictates of an outdated and barbaric tradition was not a situation she believed she could ever find herself but life itself is a basket of surprises...it tosses you in the direction you least expect to find yourself...but certainly, nothing could possibly be as bad as being betrothed to an old witchdoctor...she could not tell if it was her accursed fate or it has been predestined to happen...

She was a stillbirth and the only surviving child of her parents... Before her birth, Her mother has had throes of delivering stillborns who never survived the condition due to their susceptibility which can be alluded to their vulnerability being infants but her coming changed it all and brightened the situation... Probably why she was named "Comfort" so as to erase the past traumas of her parents and grant them fortitude.

Her infancy and early childhood were characterized by several unhealthy happenings as the "stillbirth syndrome" was taking its toll on her.it was severe to the extent that speculations were high on her chances of survival being slim yet she fought doggedly, "like a drowning swimmer clamoring for a floating life jacket", she was willing to survive but history was also struggling to repeat itself.  Her parents became the shadow of their former self as they were emotionally disturbed and psychologically disoriented. They feared they would lose the battle again... So they thought until Baba Jagbon, the crafty witchdoctor agreed to intervene on the condition that she must marry him when she is of age...Though displeased with his odd demand, the couples still had to bend to his wishes due to the fact that the life of their only surviving daughter is at stake. After threatening them that the penalty of them reneging on the agreement would lead to their daughter's death as the tradition demands, the witch doctor began to perform the cleansing rites on little comfort to ward off "evils" as he termed it.

Baby comfort became whole again.she grew bold and strong to the joy of her parents and the admiration of everyone. She was exceptionally brilliant, intellectually endowed, and very versatile in all her endeavors but her joy was short-lived when she grew up to the jarring news that she was to be the fourth wife to a witch doctor. It seemed incredulous to her initially but she came to realize with time that it was true. After being told the circumstances surrounding her birth and the reason that prompted such a confounding decision by her parents, she was in a dilemma as to whether she should blame or exonerate her parents for their deed.

Comfort could not be comforted as she grieved both privately and openly, she was disillusioned.her self-pride has been trampled upon, her ego has been abashed, her dignity torn into shreds, her human rights violated... How could her life be decided without her consent, her own life!! Sadly, there was little or nothing she could do than to grieve... Just when she was to get to the apex of her career after getting a scholarship to study abroad which was not a small feat to achieve in her society, that old dog decided it was high time she moved into his house to resume her wifely duties in his household.

Who has she offended to deal her such a fatal blow? She was just thirteen years of age...even though her stature and physique speak otherwise. She also cursed her robust stature which was enough to set any man drooling. Who knows maybe that was what allured the old man into making his latest submission. What worsened the situation was her parent's disposition towards the whole situation as they don't seem to be disturbed or shaken by the whole scenario that has been outplaying itself of recent. It seemed they have everything already mapped out before it started unfolding but that does not change her resolve to remain undaunted and maintain her stand irrespective of whatever comes her way. she still had a lot to achieve and besides, she felt she was just beginning to build her life and her career rather than being entrapped in the den of an old dog guided by the dictates of his loins who is bent on mutilating her career then bringing it to a tragic end.this was not what she planned for herself.

Ruminating on her mother's words, she laughed hysterically as she remembered her mother saying "What has been predestined can never be altered. You were predestined to come to this world as a stillborn and me and your father accepted you with joy.in a bid to ensure your longevity on earth was what warranted us to enter an alliance with Baba Jango the witchdoctor and we have to grant him any request as tradition stipulates. Sadly, he went for you and we had no choice but to agree on .its all for your own good as imminent death is looming over you if you fail to fulfill as tradition requires. We want you to accept your husband lovingly the same way we have accepted you. Do not bring shame and disrepute to me and your father. Sleepover this dear daughter". With this, her mother left her to her thoughts.

She was at crossroads - should she obey the dictates of her parents to become the wife of an old haggard witch doctor, aborting her education, crushing her dreams and goals, severing her feminine pride and ego? She was surprised that she was unmoved about the fact that her life is at stake, she was only dispirited about her education and career that was about to be cut short in it's prime. 'Isn't it better to die than to spend a lifetime with that spent old hag?', she thought.

There and then, she made her decision. She wasn't going to be a puppet to be molded haphazardly by a voiceless culture with its incoherent traditions and norms. She tried educating her mother on the causes of stillbirth as it is not associated with any spiritual, fetish, or traditional factor as propagandized by the priests and the inhabitants of the community but she only ended up incurring her mother's wrath who shunned her with anger against blaspheming about the norms and traditions of the land. She was beginning to despair, not until she came up with a plan.

Preparations for her wedding day as begun in earnest despite that she did not consent to the whole arrangement, but her consent was regarded as insignificant due to her parent's support and involvement therein.

She woke up at dawn, three days to her marriage eve, with nothing on her save a wrapper draped loosely over her naked body, she was lucky that the oil lamp went off quickly today as the light reflecting from it could have given her away, she stole out, stealthily,  like a bloodthirsty parasite on a blood-sucking mission, and was even luckier that the path she treated was free from encumbrances. She could hear the croaking snores emanating from her parent's room and it relieved her to know that they are still sound asleep.

As she stepped out of the house, she winced and bit on her lower lip to suppress a whimper as the cold morning air hit her bare skin like giant snowflakes. She had to escape and it's now or never.

She sauntered on, picking her way amongst thorns and giant weeds that embroiders the pathway and soon discovered that she has actually walked a distance. Looking forward, she nearly doubled over on the jarring sight that greeted her. Standing awkwardly like a rickety vehicle was her herbalist husband to be, he regarded her with a smirk on his crooked face and a toothless grin on his tobacco darkened lips. She was momentarily dazed but soon regained her composure. He dragged her like a lamb being dragged to be slaughtered in an abattoir and didn't stop until they got to the king's palace and it didn't take long for a crowd to gather as news often spread like wildfire in their community. Her parents were also in attendance and were dazed to find their daughter lying almost naked in the palace courtyard with bruises all over her.

Her treachery was condemned by all and sundry while the king pronounced a sentence of banishment on poor little comfort after being trounced badly as punishment for her actions and her parents broke down into tears and refused to be comforted.

Collectively, the villagers including her parents had to see her of the village borders where she was pushed out as a sign of rejection as it was believed she would eventually die, either of starvation, thirst, malnutrition or of her stillborn condition as a result of her betraying the herbalist as it has become a taboo for neighboring communities to accommodate or feed her. They all left her in the wild as they all went back to the village.

Muttering an incoherent curse under her breath, she struggled to her feet spewing out the congealing blood in her mouth.she could not stop bemoaning her Ill-fated luck as she reminiscised over her pathetic tales of woe that seems to be ever-increasing from the start of things...

She knew she wouldn't die because she strongly believes that her longevity on earth is too precious to be determined by a mere witch doctor who had nothing to do with her coming to life or existence.

She then remembered her scholarship opportunity and a glimmer of hope lit up in her. She decided to go to her local school that was five miles away from her village to solicit for help in preparing for the journey ahead. It was a long-distance requiring a long walk but she was undeterred. She fed on wild fruits in the day, drank from the flowing streams, and spent the night in caves while she continued her journey. She got to her school looking tattered and spent.

Luckily for her, she got the adequate support she needed and traveled abroad that same year. She strived and struggled to change her narrative positively and the struggles paid off handsomely. It's five years already and she is already planning to go back to her village from which she was banished to reorientate them from their primitive and barbaric ways and support them with infrastructural facilities and basic amenities to ensure sustainable development in her community and her village as a whole. They weren't bad people, they were only supporting a wrong cause due to their ignorance.

"I know I can achieve anything if I set my mind to it because there are no limits to my abilities. My name is Comfort, a girl's rights activist, and thanks for listening to my story.  And guess what, Yes I lived!".

Author- AJAYIBEMBE ADETOUN JANET

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