African StoriesLife and General Fiction Stories

The Lady Next Door

The setting of my story is in the hinterland of Tanzania, in a village bordered by two large booming markets, and heavily endowed with arable crops and vegetation.

I, like the proverbial parrot, sat atop a tall iroko, the only one in that community—as it was a thick Savannah region—to observe the diverse calibre of people in this community, a diversity that does not exist in their culture, as my telescope (my eyes) focused on this one community.

The diversity that I stood tall to see was that of ‘gender’; I saw the male child and I saw the female child; I heard the loud dance and merriment that followed the birth of the male child, and the low-tuned music or even noise that followed the birth of the female child.

I saw beautiful young girls sit at home during the day, while their brothers visited the newly built community school; I saw them in the kitchen when the boys learnt about the lands, and reared the cattle. I saw them marry at ages twelve to sixteen, or at even lesser ages. I saw them molested, abused, beaten, and even killed, yet my eyes could still look.

Then my searching eyes looked next door, and I saw something which glittered in the sun; it had curves and bubbles in its chest, and a subtle voice. I guess it was a girl; she looked pale and different from other girls, and the moment I saw her, I began to seek out her compatriots, and at that point my vision began to dim.

The other girls, when the guys went to school, learnt how to make silage and fodder, they sunned the hay, they weaved their hairs, they learnt some trade, and then, some of them even went to school.

But this girl next door sat alone in the dark, lonely and forsaken, I heard from her altercation with the other girls that there was no melody at her birth, she could not learn any trade as her left hand was replaced with green herbs, it was chopped off on her way to the stream, she sat alone singing a song ‘Same As You’, and when the melody hit my heart it melted, and the products that comes out of my eyes has clouded my vision.

This is a female child fighting a battle in two fronts—first as a female, and second as an albino. I have flown off my perch to sing her melody with her: ‘Same As You’.

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