I fantasized all my life about how special my nuptial night would be. I had watched a thousand and one Indian films and I knew that unlike every other night, the nuptial night was supposed to be special and come once in a lifetime. For 13 years of my life, I remained a virgin. Before she passed on when I was 11, and my father remarried, My mother told me tales of how important a lady’s virginity is. My mother was Yoruba, my father, Hausa. Because I was the only child, My Grandmother accused my mother of being a witch. She accused her of bewitching my father into not wanting to have more wives like his father and uncles. And when, according to her, her prayers were answered, my mother passed on and left me in the cruel hands of the world.

Two years after my mother passed on, my father remarried Rahmat, the lady who left him extremely broke and devastated. While on a quest to being better, he met Alhaji who offered him a job as a clerical officer in his firm. After a while, my father found it rather insulting and annoying when Alhaji started throwing several sexual comments about my body. He was the first man to call my father’s attention to my fast growing breasts and hips. Everytime Alhaji threw a comment about my body, I would always see the pain and sadness in my father’s eyes. There was nothing he could do about it. We were broke and Alhaji was our only hope.

You should know that the clock of a woman is fast ticking. Time waits for no woman. Marry her off now that you have a rich suitor asking for her hand in marriage. Before you know it, she’ll be done with childbearing and go back to school. Besides, Alhaji has even promised not to touch her until she is done with her university education. You even know that it is haram for a lady to remain in her father’s house after her first menstrual period.”

Seated in our house with a bowl of Tuwo and in thick Hausa accent, these were the words of my father’s best friend who had been paid by Alhaji to ensure that he talks my father into letting him marry Alhaji.

The month after I started menstruating, I had an uncelebrated wedding to Alhaji.

With everything I had, I believed Alhaji’s promise of sending me to school. I waited patiently for the day he would finally call for me and ask me which school was my choice.

One evening, through his fourth wife, he sent for me. Hajia Maryam, as we fondly called her, took me to her room and took adequate care of my hygiene. Then she sent me off to Alhaji’s room.

I tried with all my might to resist his sexual advances towards me but when he made me understand the he had bought me off and I was his sole property, I became weak. He explained further that he had sent my father to the foreign man’s land and if I didn’t submit myself to him, he would throw me out on the streets. He had his way with me that night and the other nights that followed. Night after night, he tried every sexual thing he could think of with me. And day after day, I worked my way into being the favorite of all wives.

Today is my 16th birthday and my second daughter’s naming ceremony. I want her to bear Khadijah, after the Prophet’s wife. But Alhaji wants her to bear Kabirah. With fear in my mind and hope in my heart, I pray that she doesn’t suffer the same fate that I did. By the way, my name is Kabirah and This is my Story.

Now, I have to run along now. There’s a new bride waiting to be briefed about the rules and regulations guiding Alhaji’s household.

Till we meet again. Maa Salam

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