Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Children belong to the father...or do they? Part 2

Before sundown that day, the dust-covered minivan carrying Hawah pulled into a swarming auto station in the town of Kani, toward the northern edge of Cote d'Ivoire. She climbed down and hung her luggage straps to her shoulder. It was a single satchel containing all she now owned in this world, two sets of clean clothes, an additional pair of shoes, her national identity card and a CFA 500 francs bill safely tucked in the folds of a weathered clutch. In the clutch, she also carried a folded envelop, a letter from her in-laws - ex in-laws - to her parents.

She walked the three mile distance to her parents' home where her unexpected arrival sparked a joyous clamor quickly followed by concerns. She showered, ate and remained in the room she once shared with her sisters. It now served as a storage and occasional guests room. Right after sunset prayer her father sent for her. She reached for the letter in her clutch and inserted it into her bras. 

Outside, a small assembly had already formed. Her mother and her sister wife - her father's other wife - sat side by side, a similarly afflicted demeanor on both their faces. Beside them, Madinah, one of Hawah's aunts mouthed a greeting and invited her to the stool near hers. Her paternal uncle was present along with another man from the community. 

"I invited you people here today as family and also as witnesses because I think something grave has happened," Sirima, Hawah's father began. 
"May God protect us," his brother replied. 
"Hawah has arrived here earlier today. I haven't heard from our in-laws ahead of time and none of us has called for her. So something is going on." Sirima paused and turning to his daughter, he asked, "Hawah, did they commission you with a message?"
"Yes," Hawah mouthed. Slowly, she reached for her camisole and pulled the envelop out.
"You are the literate one, so read it!" her uncle said.  

Hawah's arm folded reluctantly back toward her. Her trembling fingers fumbled and scrunched the paper until it finally opened. She cleared her throat, planted her elbows into her lap to gain control over her tremors, then she began. 

No comments:

Post a Comment