Twist of Loyalty

By Sabina Wakilongo

Years ago, there was a family named Chisale, which consisted of eight people: a father, mother, and six daughters, living in the Malawian village of Namengwe, which is a community dedicated to gender cultural expectations. One day a father was called into the king’s room for a little chat about family matters concerning his girls. In Namangwe village, it is considered taboo for a family to only have female children. “What do you think about our cultural expectations, and when should we expect a baby boy in your family?” the king asked. Everybody was gazing at the father while he was stuttering with shame all over his face. He stood up and promised to bring the answer in two weeks.

“Where are you from and how have you been?” the mother asked her husband.

“You don’t have to follow my every move, and this should be the first and last time you ask me such a question; I am not one of those children who needs to be controlled,” the husband replied, frowning. From there on, the wife and children started experiencing negative behaviors from their father. One day, the older sister named Faustine decided to do research on the behavioral change of her father, but she could not find any evidence.

They had to wait about two weeks for the father to be expected at the palace for the response. He decided to tell his wife about the situation and the pressure the king was putting on him because he had no son.

“What if we go for a check-up at the hospital to see what could be the problem?” the mother suggested. Early in the morning, they went to see the doctor for the body examination; it was not easy waiting in the waiting room for the result. After an hour and a half, the doctor stepped in and called them to “enter the reception room.”

“So we have this concrete result,” says the doctor. “There is a problem with your chromosome combination, which means you will never have a boy child. However, do not be disappointed, because even girl children are still very relevant in your life.”

The husband left in a stressful way. It took two days for the king to receive the feedback.

From the hospital, Mr. Chisale told his wife to wait for him at the bus station that he is going to buy something from the shop, however this was his scheme to leave her there, so that he can go home alone. He entered the bus and went home. He was the first to reach home, but he did not find any of his daughters.

He was in deep thought about the answer he was going to give the king because he was a person who was very culturally attached, respected cultural expectations, and was a cultural patriot at a high level, so he was very disappointed that he could not realize his cultural values. He definitely had the idea of running away from the family and going outside the country.

He entered the room, picking up some of his clothes, and left a letter of disappointment to his wife, saying that he was abandoning the family because there was no way he could stay because of the  shame of not bearing a boy. When the mother finally arrived, she found no one at home. She called out to anyone in the house, but she decided to go to the borehole first to get some water before settling in after a long journey from the hospital.

While on the road, she met a friend of her husband, and he told her that her husband has traveled. She was confused because it was not possible for her husband to just go on a journey without informing her. She could not believe it and decided to bounce through the borehole. When she reached home, she found all her daughters already there. When she entered the house, she saw a piece of paper folded near the bed. She was intrigued to read it, only to discover that it was a farewell letter from her beloved husband. She entered her daughter’s room and informed them; it was a difficult time for all of them. Lucky enough, the mother was powerful and independent; she started to fight every corner in order to provide for her daughter.

After three years, when her husband left, she struck a deal to sell fish from the lake to the street outside the village, where she met a fisherman named Edmond. He was very charming and caring. As a friend from one workplace, he began to show her love and support. After some time, Edmond decided to voice his feelings. She was also deeply in love, and all the care and love she was receiving from Edmond was too much for her to quit; she got trapped in the hook and fell in love with him without telling him that she has six children. After four months of being in love, she found out that she was already pregnant. It was a very tough period. Therefore, she decided to tell Edmond.

“I am pregnant.” She said it with a remorseful face.

“Wowoowow, amazing; I have been waiting for this; I am very happy for this, so let’s move in, baby,” Edmond shouts in excitement.

She started overthinking how to tell Edmond about her children and wondered if he would be able to accept her with them. “I have something to tell you,” she told Edmond.

“Yeah, I am all ears,” Edmond responded very sweetly.

“Edmond, I know it is an important thing to say, but I am sorry for this late notice.I have six children, and I am the only one that is behind their help” she explained.

Edmond was very furious and blamed her for being too secretive about letting him know the truth so early. He was about to leave her, but she begged for him to stay. Edmond loved her a lot, but he could not manage to take her with her kids. So he told her simply that he could stay with her as long as she could abandon her daughters. She thought of past heartbreaks and could not allow this one to happen. With hopes that one day she could convince her husband and bring her children with her, she decided to leave her children and join Edmond.

Early in the morning, after finishing packing her staffs, she gathered all her daughters and gave the older one, Faustine, who was 17 years old, 100000 Malawian Kwacha, saying that she would be out for work and that they should use the money for expenses and rations when she is away for two months. They all happily accepted the money and bade their mother farewell, unaware that it was not for the better. When their mother started living with Edmond, she started to feel a loss of interest in her children, which was the result of Edmond playing with her mind with the help of the witch doctors, and slowly but surely, the interest in her children was drained out.

After three months, the children started experiencing silence from their mother—not a phone call, not a conversation, and other communication channels the money started to cease. From there, life began to be tough. The elder one went to ask for help from the king; however, because they were girls, no help was given to them. Faustine decided to go to the orphanage center nearby the town, as she was still too young to take care of the family. From there, they got help, they all moved in, and started living their life at their best and forgot about the past grieves, they joined school and started learning in order to prepare for their future.

 

 

 

 

17 March, 2023