Between blood covenant and my virginity

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My mother was the prayerful type. One thing she did not joke with was her midnight prayers. She went to bed early, then woke up a few minutes before midnight to patrol our house and make sure all her daughters were asleep before she went ahead to pray. My sisters and I were four in number. The eldest one got married and moved to the city with her husband. The second daughter had a baby out of wedlock and moved out. The third one had a boyfriend she liked to send me to. Me? My mother watched me with an eagle eye. She wanted me to go to school and get married like my eldest sister.

So she stopped me from getting too close to my sister and her boyfriend. She didn’t want them to be a bad influence. When I completed Junior Secondary School in 2003, I was one of the few virgins in my class. Most of my classmates had tasted the forbidden fruit and often spoke of its sweetness. I had no desire to taste anything. I just wanted to keep myself pure, find a good man who will marry me, and make my mother proud.

Although my mother was very strict, she allowed me a little freedom. There were orange sellers by the roadside close to our house. I and some other kids in the neighborhood would normally sit with her at night to talk and watch street activities till we got sleepy. My mother didn’t mind me sitting with the orange sellers, as long as I returned home before she woke up to pray.

It happened that during Christmas in 2003, one of our neighbors threw a Christmas party. All the kids in our neighborhood went there to dance. This means I was also there. I had fan yogurt in my mouth while I swayed my hips to the music. It felt intoxicating to let loose like that. I was lost in my own world of loud music when a boy groped my waist and whispered in my ears: “Give me a taste of your yogurt.” I was shocked and confused. So I put the frozen yogurt in his mouth. He took a bite and walked away.

For days I wondered about the strange boy who took a bite out of my fan yogurt. I wondered who he was and where he came from. Most importantly, I wondered if I would see him again. As soon as I had that thought, one of my friends came to me. She told me: “Someone wants to see you.” I was anxious. “Who is it?” She just laughed, “Don’t worry. You will see the person when we get there.” I could have refused to go but I was curious. So I followed her like a sheep follows its shepherd to the slaughterhouse. We got to the place only for me to see the strange boy from the Christmas party. His name is Osei.

He had an easy way about him. It was as if the world had never disappointed him. He smiled as though he gets everything he wants in life. It unnerved me. And I was annoyed when he said: “I like you and I want to take you as my girlfriend.” I wasn’t interested in him but I told him I’d think about it. He asked where I lived and I pointed to a house that wasn’t mine. When I got home I was happy that I lied to him and got away with it.

A week later, I saw Osei in our house. He was with one of our co-tenants. He looked at me for a minute and laughed. I don’t know what he said to our co-tenant but the guy called me and sent me on an errand. It wasn’t something unusual, so I went. When I returned, he left me and Osei alone in his room to talk. I felt cornered. It made me uncomfortable. Osei saw my discomfort and used it to his advantage. He whispered sweet nothings into my ear. He spoke of how much he loved me. He sounded sincere. I felt I would do him wrong if I turned him down, so I agreed to have him as my boyfriend.

I still wanted to make my mother proud so I told Osei: “I haven’t tasted the thing before, and I don’t want to do it until marriage.” He agreed. For the first few times, we met in my co-tenants room to talk. When I got comfortable around him he took me to his room. He had a nice and cozy room. I liked being there with him. He was a sweet boy who showed me a lot of love. I always went to him when I was expected to sit with the orange sellers by the roadside. And I hurried home right before my mum woke up to pray. She never suspected a thing. Nobody did.

One day I was with Osei when he brought out a blade. “My dear, I want us to cut our thumbs and suck each other’s blood. We’ll then promise to be together till death do us part. It’s called blood covenant. This is the only way I will know you will never leave me.” Before he finished talking, my stomach started hurting. I had to use the washroom. Sheer panic gave me diarrhea. I didn’t know much but my physical reaction to his request told me that something was wrong. I told him I was unwell and left for home.

Our relationship should have ended that day but I was a teenage girl in love. I went back to him again, hoping to reason with him. He told me: “There are two ways you can convince me that you love me. The first one is the blood covenant, and the second one is shuperu. Choose one.” At that age, no one told me I had a choice. I didn’t know that the right choice was to refuse to do either of the things and walk away from him. I thought it was my duty to make him happy. So I made the wrong choice between a rock and a hard place. I gave him the one thing my mother asked me to save for my husband. I gave my body to him. He was gentle with me, but I still cried because I failed my mother.

One day I went to him, and after shuperu we both fell asleep. When I woke up it was 1:00 am. My first thought was, “I am dead.” I woke Osei up and asked him to take me home. “It’s already late. Just sleep,” he said. I knew my mother wouldn’t sleep until I returned home, so I insisted on leaving. Just as I knew, my mother was waiting for me when I entered our room. The memory of the lashes she delivered all over my body is forever etched in my brain.

The next morning, she called my eldest sister in the city and told her what I had done. She told my sister: “The person I put my hopes on wants to disgrace me. Please come and take her away from this village.” I didn’t get the opportunity to see Osei before leaving with my sister for the city. Neither of us had a cell phone so we couldn’t keep in touch. That was the end of our relationship.

Eight years after I left the village, I returned to see my mother. I had completed midwifery training college by then. I saw Osei riding a motorbike. He was working as an “okada” man. He looked like life had beaten him down. He no longer smiled as if he always got what he wanted out of life. I stopped by him and we had a brief chat. “Life became difficult for me after you left town. What about you? How is life treating you?” he asked. I smiled, “I am a midwife now.” He seemed happy for me as he congratulated me.

The day I left the village, I saw him among his friends. We waved each other goodbye, and he said something to the guys. I saw them look at me and laugh. I don’t know what he said about me. Maybe he told them he was the one who broke me, or maybe they weren’t talking about me at all. It doesn’t matter now. All that matters is that my mother and my sister rescued me from a life of misery. Only God knows what would have become of me if I had continued to sneak out of the house to meet Osei every night.

Courtesy Beads Media

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