I walked with the basket of vegetables expertly perched on my crown. My arms were stylishly poised around my waist….like Nne Ngozi’s. My neck didn’t ache. I had practised in from of my mother’s full length mirror before I left home. I’ve been practising for weeks. Today I have been allowed to visit Chuka alone. Prior to today, on all my trips I had been accompanied by my older brother, Emeka. Emeka was free to roam with his  friends now, or visit with Nneka…. his intended.

My waist was adorned by four rows of brightly colored beads.  My thick curly hair were in six shiny corn rows. I wore no shoes. I never did.

Marriage. The word unleashed a plethora of emotions within me. All my older cousins had married earlier….sixteen, seventeen. My mother said she came to my father’s homestead a week short of her sixteenth birthday. So, I guess at eighteen, I would be considered over the hill. My mother had requested I finish high school. My father reluctantly agreed. “She will bring more to a marriage well schooled”. He didn’t argue. All their bantering on the subject had been done behind closed doors. She won. I won. As my slender limbs drew me closer to my destination I thought about the many suitors that has made their intentions clear. There was Mazi Ochuko, the village carpenter.  My skin crawled. A short, stocky fellow with a unibrow. He always drooled like a lecher whenever he saw me in the market.  When he came to ask for my hand in marriage, my father threw his head back and laughed. My father was a tall man with broad shoulders. His skin like polished wood. His teeth a sharp contrast to his complexion. Read More