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It was a cold harmattan morning in the middle of January. The sun had barely left its cradle, and the birds were stirring in their nests. Along the footpath leading to the village stream, only the strongest could be seen braving the bitter chill of the morning to fetch water for their families. Among them was Adesuwa. The eldest daughter of Chief and Mrs Omoregie, the eighteen year old beauty had just finished secondary school, managing to barely scrape enough credits to make her schooling worthwhile. To ward off the cold, most of the people on their way to the stream were chatting at the top of their voices to their friends accompanying them, but Adesuwa was silent. She had a lot on her mind and she didn’t pay attention to the endless babble around her. There were many issues pressing for her attention and she allowed her feet to carry her along the familiar road as her mind drifted far away.
All seemed hopeless at home. Though her father was a traditional chief, there was little or nothing to show for it in terms of finances, as the family constantly was in the red, having to make do without proper food for days on end. It was a miracle that she had even managed to finish school as she barely ever had sufficient money to pay the paltry school fees the ill equipped school she attended charged. In the village where she was brought up, it was fashionable to marry as many wives as possible, but her father had only one wife, her mother, because he could not afford to marry another. Chief Omoregie was not a lazy man. He had inherited a decent plot of land from his father when he died a long time ago, and he had put his best efforts into it, but it seemed the fates had conspired against him. Year after year, his yield had grown smaller, while the size of his family had become larger.
Nowm Adesuwa was the eldest sister of eight boys. All hope seemed to be on her to get a good job now that she had left school so she could support her parents and brothers, but she was in the village and job opportunities were limited. Her only hope now seemed to be to get married to a rich man and pull her family out of the mud, but that was the main thing troubling her mind. She was in love with Osas, a classmate from secondary school, and she had hoped to marry him, but her parents were arranging her marriage to an old chief, a man thrice her age, and who she knew she could never develop any feelings for. Her mother had told her times without number that she would grow to love him, but in her heart, she didn’t believe that before one second. Her parents were only interested in her as an economic commodity to be sold to the highest bidder, and it didn’t help matters that Osas was equally as poor as they were.
All these thoughts and more occupied her mind as she made her way to the stream, got her jerrycan filled with water and made the silent trek back home. She didn’t follow the normal route which every other person followed, but took a longer road that would take her past the house of Osas her sweetheart. He stayed a little distance from her home, and she hoped she could see him briefly before she made the journey home, as she was already tired from carrying the jerry can.
When she got to his house, she made her way quietly to the window of the room he occupied and knocked. He was still sleeping and took some time to stir awake, and when he opened it, he was delighted to see her there.
”Ahn, sorry baby, let me open the door for you and help you with the water” He told her as he shut the window and coming outside to where she stood smiling, he hefted the can of water off her head, setting it on the ground, and holding her hands, led her giggling into his room, bolting the door firmly.