EXTRACT FROM RAHMA SHERIF ABDUL MAJIDS BOOK OF LOVE MACE MUTUM
‘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.’
‘I AM NOT HUMAN. I AM JUST A WOMAN’