Walking dead

They came for me in the wee hours, in the small of the night

I knew what they were planning. But nobody had hinted they would knock at our door at the crack of ungodly hours

Caught unawares, I didn’t fight back. Ok, I tried but they overpowered me. About 6 able bodied women.

My 13 year old slim frame wasn’t an issue for them. Two of them carried me, noiselessly through the animal compound, out of the back door

I could only see slivers of light in several houses, a few school children walking to school

And here I was, going for the slaughterhouse

They dumped me with 5 other girls, motioning us to be quiet. We had no options. They locked the door, leaving two heavily set women to guard us

Half an hour later the procession began its walk to the forest

Like sheep to the slaughterhouse, we marched, quietly, obediently, not even looking at each other

Deep into the forest, we stopped. Waiting

When it happened, I think we were numbed with fear

One girl after another. Directed to a lesso placed on the ground. An elderly woman, covered in traditional regalia, was stooped, murmuring incoherently

The piercing was quick. Sharp. Painful. And surreal

But it was over in a minute

I was a woman within a blink of an eye

My dowry had just doubled

And just like that my schooling was over too

My family must be proud of me, I thought as I watched a rivulet of dark blood dance its way between my legs, settling quietly on the morning ground

I dared not scream

They led me back to our compound

Hot porridge. Cassava. Black tea. They fed me like I had just delivered a bouncing baby boy. The pride of the community

Throughout the day, my family members walked in to check on me. Their little smiles concealing the pride they felt right then

Some other girls had gotten away. Disappeared into the night

I wished I was one of them

As I lay on a blanket made from a piece of animal skin, it dawned on me

My life was over. I was done. Like completely

I was shattered

All the things we had been told in camp – about losing our rights, about facing health consequences. Tough childbirth. Fistula.

I shuddered to think I had been a coward for not fighting back

Tears trickling down, I thought about the future. Or the little that was left of it

In between visits by the old women, I learned a suitable suitor had been found for me

A middle aged widower. With teen kids same age as me

And they didn’t even consider to ask for my opinions


And my little sister – 7 years old – was the next victim, I heard from the women

And there was nothing I could do. For myself or for little Chebet

A month later, they said I was ready for my next assignment to please my community

Getting married was not even part of my agenda. But then my life was not even my own

My husband came to see me

I was numb. I didn’t feel anything. Didn’t see his protracted face. Or his smile as he checked me out

They talked and talked and they gave my parents some animals on exchange

Just like that

It was over

The women whispered as I was being led away that I should make them proud

Whatever that meant

I was numb. Completely oblivious of whatever was happening

I was already dead

Walking dead