As I stood in the balcony over looking the brook behind the house, I wondered why I was so restless in spite of the clam, peacefulness of the night. I heaved a frustrated sigh as I wondered what my chances really were in other for me to be happily married to Henry, my fiancé.
I have been dating Henry for the past three years, and four days ago when he asked me to be his wife I had willingly accepted, but right now I wasn’t sure I could still keep that promise.
I had followed Henry to his village two days ago to meet his people in respect to our traditional wedding, but from what I have been made to face so far, I’m beginning to wonder if this was the place I really wanted to be.
Three hours after my arrival, I was immediately taken to an ancient river where I was made to dip myself seven times after which I was kept inside a large bowl filled with milk and honey. I ate nothing all through the rest of the day except smoked fish and crabs with some bitter mixture of roots and herbs, which I was forced to drink.
Henry told me that his people believed that the procedures were a way of scaring away evil spirits surrounding me.
Yesterday the aged women from the family led me into a room and undressed me after which they scrutinized every single part of my body before using a razor on some sensitive part of my body. The experience was so painful and humiliating that the soothing scent oil, which they later rubbed all over my body only added to make the pains worst. Henry said that it was a kind of ritual every lady to be married into their land known as ‘Nwaanyị mba’ had to face in other to be successfully married to the sons of the land without facing future harassments from the women folks. He also hinted that if my body had displeased the women, that it was possible to end the marriage. I was getting over that humiliation when the women folks once again gathered around me wanting to know weather I was still chaste. When I nodded, they rejoiced and hugged me. I was wondering what was so exciting about my revelation when Henry’s mother told me that I couldn’t marry Henry if I was not chaste. I laughed, I tried to tell her how impossible achieving that was since any girl could fib about that. But she laughed the more. “It is impossible to escape that,” she began, “it is our culture that on a moonless night, the elderly members of the groom’s family will gather around a circle made with candles and chalks. The groom and bride will step inside the circle and become one after which the groom will show the white cloth with the blood of the bride to be on it to his family.”
“But that is totally humiliating especially to the girl,” I tried to explain, “how can everyone sit and watch them become one as if they were watching a weird movie from a cinema?”
“It has to be since we found out that our sons deceive us must of the time by presenting white clothes with animals blood on it, in other to marry because they are in love.
“But here, child, there is nothing like love as long as we still have our beliefs.” She paused. “Every son from the land must marry a pure blood and if after one month the girl is not pregnant, the marriage will still not hold.”
“Why?” I asked holding my breath.
“Well that shows that she is not a woman.”
I vomited immediately she left the room. “What was this place?” I wondered aloud to myself. This was one thing I couldn’t go through with. I could accept any other humiliation and pains, but definitely not being watched by goggle-eyed hungry old men, when I am be become one with the one I love.
At midnight I would be taken to a shrine. There the women would undress me, apply white chalks all over my body and lock me up in the dark spooky room where I heard corpses of possessed spirit in the past were buried. I was to be without food or water, nor will I be allowed to see the sunlight until the two-day purification periods was over. I didn’t care to listen to Henry to know what the purification period was all about because I had already had enough of the whole nonsense. And this time when they come to take me away, I would have to tell them that enough was enough.
But as the thoughts of loosing Henry stroked me, I realized how helpless I really was. Now I’m torn in-between shunning their culture and keeping my man.
“What do I do?”