Marie Claire (South Africa) - - FILTER -

‘I RARELY SEE my 14-year-old sis­ter Lami, as she is al­ways busy, like a fac­tory worker, from dawn to late into the night. But when we are alone in her room, af­ter the day’s hard work and ex­haus­tion, she pours out her bit­ter­ness. She sighs as she touches my in­no­cent, sleepy face. “Know this, my lit­tle sis­ter: in the next few months I will grow full with child, and that will be the be­gin­ning of my jour­ney to obliv­ion, ei­ther through death or a per­ma­nent room at the hos­pi­tal. All th­ese things will hap­pen to me, de­spite the fact that I have not asked for them. Keep this in mind: I am not hu­man. I am just a woman. That is why some­body could sell me to a stranger, with­out my con­sent. I am here be­cause I am the so­lu­tion to some­one else’s prob­lem, and my fate is per­pet­ual sub­ju­ga­tion.” She winces. “Re­mem­ber this, lit­tle sis­ter, this world we are in is not our world; not meant for us. But I am sure there is an­other world out­side our world, out­side this dead world, for me and you. There is a world out there where women are free from ha­tred, labour and early death.” Tears roll down our cheeks. Slowly she touches my hair as I lie curled up like a cat.

“Don’t cry, my sis­ter; nd your own way out. on’t fall into this trap. ind that world. I am not sure where that par­adise is, but my soul tells me it ex­ists. Be wise and look for it. Be stead­fast and coura­geous. Es­cape!”

Three months later word comes that my sis­ter Lami is preg­nant. When she goes into labour, I watch as she howls from the pain. No­body is aware of the rag­ing bat­tle. She grabs my hands and cries, “Godiya, I am go­ing to die. When I am gone, leave this vil­lage.” er esh con­vulses, tears ow, blood oozes out like a bro­ken dam be­tween her thighs. It is only then that I grasp the enor­mity of my sis­ter’s pain, as we move her into the mid­wife’s bat­tered corn bed. Days later we are still at it, no respite. As our last op­tion, we trans­port her to the city clinic. That was the last time I saw my sis­ter. Two months later I am back in my father’s vil­lage. I hear my father talk­ing to my mother. “You saw how Malam took care of Lami and her lit­tle sis­ter. It was just her des­tiny to die. You can see that Godiya is a grown-up girl al­ready. I see no harm in mar­ry­ing her to Malam. That will strengthen the bond be­tween our two fam­i­lies.” They hag­gle. in­ally, I hear my mother: “May Al­lah bless this re­union,” she says. What can I do! Then my sis­ter’s voice echoes once again. Run away. Run. Run. I stand there look­ing over my shoul­der, my left, and then my right. I be­gin to run, like a plane taxi­ing on the run­way into the un­known.’


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