Lola Opatayo

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Tales of a year: Wedding guns?

Short Story

Mary was excited, the future held
a lot of possibilities. She had just completed her WAEC and very soon would be
going to the university. No one in her family had a university degree; her
father who was a clerk in the local government office had only attended the
college of education. She was a brilliant student and was therefore confident
of the outcome of the examinations. She could already see herself dressed like
the university girls she saw in the home videos, she would finally be able to
use the lipstick her school forbade girls from using. After four years of studying
Banking and Finance, she would “serve” and then work for two, no, one year in a
bank in Lagos like Mr Ode’s nephew did then she would marry Emma. Ah! Emma. Now
that was another reason to be excited.
She had met him at her friend
Patience’s house during her grandmother’s burial ceremony. What a party that
was! There was enough beer and goat meat for the entire village and all the big
men from far away Lagos had even been in attendance. Emma and his friends had
been drinking and laughing boisterously while she and her friends giggled in
admiration, when suddenly he looked straight at her. For a moment, time froze
as she looked into in his brown eyes. He was so handsome! She looked away,
blushing and lowering her eyelids. No one had ever had that effect on her.
One month later, they were dating
and she was the envy of her friends. Emma ran two businesses; he owned a kiosk
where he sold mobile phone components, spare parts and recharge cards, and he had
a bike which he used for commercial purposes. He was the ideal man for a lot of
the girls in the village. He bought her new clothes and cheap jewelry
especially when he went to Otukpo on business. Her mother approved of him, how
could any mother not when she received countless gifts from her potential
son-in-law. Her friends in the Peace Society recently complimented her new
wrapper at Mama Maureen’s daughter’s wedding.
Mary really liked him, but
sometimes she had her doubts about him. Sometimes she desired more; she looked
forward to leaving her village and living a better life but she wasn’t so sure
that Emma shared this dream. Right now though, she was excited because Emma proposed
to her two weeks ago. She had told him of her dreams to further her studies and
live a better life and to her greatest surprise, he had not only promised to
wait for her, he also promised to sponsor her education. What more could a girl
ask for? It was even possible that he would change his mind about living in the
village, she was sure she could convince him otherwise.
It was the market day and she
approached the market feeling lighthearted, basket in hand. Suddenly, several
hands grabbed her and carried her to a waiting vehicle. She struggled fiercely,
screaming at the men to let her go while the market women cheered. This could
not be happening! She had explained! She suddenly became weak with fear. Her
captors laughed, teasing her and telling her not to worry. It was almost dark
when they got to their destination and as soon as she set her feet on the
ground, shots were fired from locally made guns. Out of nowhere, young men came
at her, rubbing ashes on her chest.
She was taken into a bedroom and
left alone. “I’ll reason with him. He loves me, he would understand’, she
thought. Finally the door opened and Emma stepped in, clad only in a wrapper.
“Mary” he called huskily, a
lustful smile stretching his perfect pink lips.
“Emma, what is this? This is not
what we agreed upon” she said furiously, unable to contain her anger.
“Did you really think I would let
you run off to the university? Don’t worry, I’ll lake care of you like I
promised” he said, his voice heavy with anticipated passion as he walked
towards her.
She struggled initially,
screaming with rage, fear, then pain but finally gave in when she realised he
had conquered her. She lay silently, enduring his unbridled desire throughout
the night and cried. She mourned her aborted dreams, full of despair at the
bleak future that awaited her. This was the custom. He had taken her
maidenhead, he had infact married her and her father would never allow her to
divorce him. She was sure now that she would never see the four walls of the
university she had dreamed of, there would be babies soon and the house to

the morning she arose and swept the family compound as was the custom, while
her husband and his family prepared her dowry which by now her family were
eagerly expecting.

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