I was born in a family of four people. Only I was a girl and the rest were boys. We lived in a village called Zola, and my family believed in horrible and dangerous cultural practices. When I was 4 years old, my parents looked for a man for me to marry. They waited for me to reach the womanhood period so that I could get married. I didn’t know anything about this as I was still a kid and could only remain home with my mother.
We lived like that, me not knowing anything because I was too young to realize it. When I reached 8 years old, I started going to a school of knowing how to manage the house and doing house chores, such as washing plates, sweeping and mothering. My brothers went to a normal school, learning biology and other subjects. One day I asked my brother why we learnt at different schools and very different subjects. He answered, it was because I was a girl and he was a boy. I understood and grew up with that spirit that girls learn about house chores while boys learn to improve the world and the state of the family. My brother said my school was better than theirs because I didn’t have to wake up every day in the morning to go to school or worry about exams and homeworks and I felt very happy about that.
We continued living like that, and my mother always taught me how to be a woman, how to take care of children and a husband. When my youngest brother was 4 months old, my mother would leave him with me for my practice on how to become a good mother. Sometimes I was left to cook for the whole family and do all the house chores alone. No boy was allowed to do any house related job but only allowed to study their books and homework. My mother told me how hard and tiresome reading books was but cooking was very simple and enjoyable. I was excited to know that I was the only one enjoying remaining home and doing house work . My mother said only boys are supposed to learn and not girls. I was so convinced because I never saw any girl going to school. Moreover, I thought I was the one being taught important things in life.
The night of my 12th birthday, my parents organized a party where they invited people from the village. During the party it was now time for me to be given gifts. A woman in the village gave me five new pairs of wrappers, three baby blankets, two slippers and one basin. I was very happy and thankful that day, but I asked my mother why they should give me baby blankets while I am already too mature to use them. My mother was too open to me. She told me that they are my in-laws and just as soon as I see my first menstruation I will go to my marriage and start living with my husband’s parents. These gifts were a sign for preparations for me to go to my own house. I asked my mother how that would be possible yet I am still a child and I was very confused that day but my mother explained to me clearly and I understood. She told me that by the time she reached my age, she was already married and her parents chose a husband for her. She had no choice because that was the culture from the ancestors. I was very excited about it because I knew I was going to do the same thing my mother did.
The night after the birthday party, my mother told me that the guy who used to come to our house to visit with his parents is my husband. Having a childish mindset I was very happy that night of my birthday party, seeing the handsome boy with big muscles compared to all my brothers. I supported my parents and started wishing to see my first menstruation as soon as possible. I thought getting married would be the most important event of my life. I told my brothers everything about my marriage and that soon I would go to my in-laws’ house. They encouraged me and said I should be a good girl.
One day when I was home doing house work, I overworked and started feeling waist pain. I told my mother and I went to take a rest. In bed I felt like urinating, and when I went to the toilet I saw blood on my pants! I was very excited and ran out and called my mother to come and see. She said wow my daughter you have made it. You are now a woman. She told me to bathe and wear protection. She told me what marriage was like and that I have to get ready for sex any time I go to my husband’s house. In the evening, she called my in-laws and explained to them about my womanhood. They were also very happy and congratulated me for becoming a woman. Eight days later, the traditional wedding was organized and all arrangements went as planned. We celebrated my wedding in happiness and harmony. All my brothers and family members were very happy for me. When all my family members left, I cried a lot thinking that I would never see them again. But my mother encouraged me and said they would visit quite often. I understood and took courage. I went with my husband who was 16 years old and I was 12 years old. And my brothers continued with their studies.
6 May, 2023