Her gaze faded into a distance, lost in a story she had but not hers to tell. The clouds grew heavy like the resentment in her heart and the winds whispered aspirations the world had for her but blew them away before they could settle like a gruesome tease. A constant push and pull that more often than not gave way to the one thing that hugged her back. Her tears. The sunset glistened on the flawless streams of pain cascading down to her chin giving a reflection of the world in front of her like a tiny glimmer of hope. Then the heavens opened as if to tone down the saltiness in them. It was time to get home. Her little brother should have arrived from school right now. Famished but delighted as always.
“Mama…. Mammmaaa…. Adwoa niararira ringi!!” -Adwoa is crying again!!- She hurriedly squats over to silence the little tattletale terribly afraid her father might have caught wind of it even with the thunderous clattering of the rain on the rusty iron sheets. She had heard a fair amount of his lectures and she wasn’t welcoming an idea of sitting through two hours of that again.
“It’s just rain…. See Chima…. o mbura tu”
“But your eyes are red Adwoa”
“It’s salty today”
She hastily carries him out of the rain before he has any ideas of sticking his tongue for a litmus test. “Mama prepared chicken today” and just like that she had her brother on a spell. She sets him down on the only place that’s not dripping and get’s him started on “his” homework.
“So what did you learn today Chima?”
Obviously excited, he shares the little he grasped from Madam Esi’s class when he was not dosing off. He briskly takes out his brown wood pulp exercise book to show off to his sister the hieroglyphics of alphabets he has. But no one’s more proud of them than him. He spreads it open on the earth floor and looks at his sister as if to say “behold.” They’re in no particular order but he tries his best to recall the correct sequence. “A…. B….D…. F…. E….. G….H…. J…..”
Meanwhile, their father struggles with the airwaves as he hopes to catch his favourite show before it starts. “Curse the heavens.” Mother visibly hides a laughter but a look at Adwoa clearly interested in her brother’s work brings back that grim face she had when her daughter was blatantly denied a chance to go to school. “The hand doesn’t dictate the head”
Classes come to an abrupt end when their smallest sibling Abena wakes up from the raging rain that had now fell in sync with father’s badly tuned radio. Adwoa goes to calm her and the scared little eyes of her sister meet her dismayed eyes. Blurred with a red hue from the once blissful white of a hopeful child like her sister. “It’s going to be okay.” Totally torn of who needed to hear that the most.
“…Hush, little baby don’t say a word
Papa’s gonna buy you a mocking bird
And if that mocking bird don’t sing
Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring
And if that diamond ring is brass….”
“Papa’s never taking you to class…”
//Adwoa’s tale isn’t a new one. It’s just a variation of the tons of stories why our girls never get to start or finish their education. Whether it’s lack of sanitary pads, or early marriage, female genital mutilation, or our own traditional patriarchal systems, the pain is always the same. Dreams that never got to leave the ground because of one reason or another. I believe we have a reason to celebrate the far we’ve come but there’s so much to be done still even as we celebrate the girl child this month. Octob-her can only be a start.//