Every day was just another day.Mundane.
The same tasks carried out over and over. Ruth washed all the family garments until her hands throbbed and turned red from the force she used. She washed, imagining that she was cleansing herself. She wished she could wipe off the traces of failure but to no avail as she still felt like she was worthless. She swept the compound grounds, the goats trotting around and bleating as she hummed silently to herself. She watered the vegetables in her mother’s garden and chased the pesky birds away, but in her mind she was in another world.
She had locked herself at home, locked herself out of the community but not voluntarily. She had been destroyed, the experiences of yesterday still fresh in her memories and haunting her at every turn. She had brought dishonor to her family, unable to carry out the tasks of a ‘real woman’ in the eyes of the community and in the eyes of the world.
Every morning she woke up to the crow of the fattened rooster, the sun rising from the valleys in the distance and the purple sky seeping in through the cracks of the house wall. Unlike before, she had no appreciation for the rooster, only being annoyed that she was to live another day.
She had been shunned by most of her family except her younger siblings, and was bound to live the rest of her days in the shadows, away from the scrutinizing eyes of the village elders.
She had ran away from her husband’s home, she had destroyed the sacred marriage. Who would have known that this young girl married off young and beautiful to a reasonably wealthy family would’ve brought disgrace?
She had been discovered as she trailed behind her father in the markets, holding bags containing the groceries for the family. She had stood out, with her deep dark purple robe adorning her young and fragile frame and her bright green eyes outlined in kohl, which she had snuck from her mother’s room.
She had stood out, because she wore colour in the sea of grey and black robes and the occasional white from the male traders. Her soon to be mother-in-law had immediately struck up conversation with her father and soon the plans were made. The promise of a wedding brought the community together, mouths salivating at the thought of all the exotic foods that would be present, bodies ready to sway to the melodies of the band and voices poised for the shouts of encouragement.
Everyone was so blinded by the promise of extravagance that they failed to see the fear that had gripped the young and vulnerable girl. They failed to see the way the life had escaped her eyes, they failed to see that she had lost a bit of weight as a result of refusing to eat three days before the ceremony, ignoring the pleading from her mother and father who eventually gave up.
The new in-laws whisked the young girl away, taking her in the dark of the night after the celebrations had died down, and her family stood in the doorway with cries and shouts, wildly waving at the dark car their pride and joy was seated in. They didn’t know that she was to suffer, they didn’t know that the in laws would beat her day and night as well as her so called husband. They didn’t know that she would be violated, physically and emotionally. She would be locked away when she didn’t do things the right way, she would be cursed if she dared to speak up.
And so they didn’t expect that one rainy night, close to midnight, this young girl would fight for her life. She tried to overcome the weight of the hideous man who was trying to attack her and she reached for the lamp by her side and knocked him in the face, the flame licking his neck as he screamed. She ran, opening the door wide and escaping into the valley with no shoes on.
She had been travelling for so long and was so exhausted. Hours later she fell on the ground, body weakened and clothing now soiled by the thick mud. Eventually she made her way home, with assistance from one of her village shepherds. Rather than coming home to open arms she had been shunned, her mother refusing to regard her broken daughter.
From then on, things had changed for the worst. The fights occurred every night as her parents debated over their miserable and now ‘worthless’ daughter, who had brought shame upon the family.
One day she stepped out of the house, driven by curiosity as she spotted a book on the ground. It was tattered and flattened, with holes dotting the pages. The streams of words contained in the book were intimidating but made her curiosity to grow. On the front of the book was a note written in the local language stating ‘’If found, return to Ibrahim’’, and next to the name was an address. The broken girl wanted to abandon the book and return to the confines of the compound but something willed her to take an adventure, and she walked the short distance quickly, eyes trained on the ground as she had been used to.
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