This is a short story of two girls escaping force FGM
She appeared rather beaten by age. The wrinkles appearing from her uncovered parts of the body and really worn hands were scary. In her hands she held a razor, almost like a penknife, and a sharpening stone. She announced in a shaky old voice, “Today we mark the day when girls become women.” Songs and dances from women folk celebrating sounded like praises to a demigod in form of an old granny. They praised her for her age and experience in practicing this exercise.
I was scared at the sight of that razor as I imagined the pain it was going to inflict on me. I remembered the lady from the market who was talking to women on the dangers of FGM. The girl next to me almost was fainting in fear. We looked at each other with what seemed looks suggesting we must flee.
I realized that my education would be cut short my age of 13, to be married to my betrothed husband who already had two other wives. My culture was killing me, my fears multiplied but then I thought to myself, “the world is a big place, I might find a space for myself in the big community and probably a “beautiful” husband.”
Ladies from my village had most of our after school hours spent on encouraging us to go through the knife. We were promised heaven, after pain; wealthy husbands, cattle and flocks, and healthy children. Everything a girl in my community dreamt of. We were enthusiastic.
Our proposed husbands fattened bulls and goats for the season of this great feast. Priests, mostly very old men, made sacrifices in the sacred caves we were not allowed to approach. We were unclean until the knife. The whole village was a merry and party field.
At school, healthy workers took better time of our counseling sessions to woo us out of the idea of going through the knife. Hell! So it sounded. They often faced the wrath of our parents. Some girls, most of whom were my friends, had been taken away from by their mothers who claimed that school was foreign and went against our tradition.
“We gave birth to our children and we are still alive!” one would reason angrily from amidst a multitudes gathered to fight health workers.
Shaken, shivering, a thumping heart and a dry mouth in a very early morning. I was scared. This was a greater than torment; I was starting to feel numbness almost unable to lift my legs as we approached the Brook of Skins.
I looked around studiously. The valley walls went up high to the skies from our place, it looked like an open dungeon. There was no sound from the stream flow. It looked like a pool from a distance and dim of dawning. The only sound my ears heard was the whistling of the acacia and cooing of owls. It sounded strange; so un-musical. “Awkward!” I mused, “This exercise must be dangerous. Why in this hole like valley?”
I signaled my best friend; the girl next to me. I could read that she felt like me. Raising my eye brows meant we must run. We had re-invented our sign language during our all girls’ camp where the chief of women taught us very deep cultural secrets because she had gained confidence in us that we were ready.
My friend and I had decided that if the exercise had anything seemingly and likely to reveal the healthy worker’s counsel, then we shall run away. For this reason we took an oath of friendship. “We are friends, we are family. If any one of us shall betray the other, may their blood flow to the ground never to rise, may the jaws of hyenas break their bone. No one shall cry for them or remember them.” Then we mixed our blood with soil and buried it.
I pretended to be pressed for relieve and stopped the whole train of girls and rushed to a nearby bushy tree. My friend in pretense also well came as a guard.
She called me rather loudly, “Pion, it is going to be alright!”
“I know! Resson,” I answered
I went further into the long savannah grass. Squatting, I started my escapee journey unafraid of creeping and cunning animals. Resson followed me guiltily; I could feel her heavy breathing. The grass was thorny underneath my shoeless feet. This pain I could bear than dying at birthing a child. After more than a hundred meters away climbing, with a crouched body, we had the confidence of running worried that the procession was getting impatient as the freezing condition would run out at the rising of the sun which was gradually approaching. We climbed in haste till the top, where plateau begun.
Alarm was raised; whistles. This was to alert young warriors to go after us. We had no time. We sought un-common path it was believed to lead to a mountain of evil. Very few of my community could take this path; it was a tabooed region. We ran. The sun rose imperceptibly. I itched all over my body and was tired.
We could feel the sound of heels stamping heavily coming after us. At sea, I could not figure out where we were or to whom we were running. I was completely worn. Resson was even worse on stopping the run; she fell at my feet faintly. Her lips were dry and bleeding. Her face greased with perspiration. I had to do something. She was my only companion and confidence. I couldn’t bear the thought of lonesomeness through an uncertain journey; a jungle.
Water would be her cure then. We were surrounded by funny looking shrubs and thick stalked grass; uncommon to what we were used to seeing. The earth around us was rocky and loamy. There was no sign of water or quencher not even saps from those shrubs. Shade was our only luck.
The thought of loosing Resson revived my energy. I had to figure out a quencher for her resumption. Fluky me, there I saw bees busy with their activities and my prayers were answered. This was honey. I did my best to cover myself from their sting. My hands were unfortunate though, as I stole wax dripping with brown honey from this kingdom. I knelt down unable to whisper a thank you prayer to God because of excitement but the act in itself was justified. A weak Resson was invigorated by the taste of honey.
Night crept in and stole our only left peace. The world was all dark and frightening. We needed shelter, rest and warmth. My body ached; my heart beat rate was faster than normal. We could hardly sleep at the barking of jackals and the laughter of hyenas. Life was no life like we knew it. I started to miss my village only that this was a no return journey. Inasmuch as everything around gave us no peace, Resson found rest on my laps and my tired mind could not hold it anymore in spite of the cold I dozed off.