SIBI HILLTOP

ignames

It had rained the day before we went back to Sibi Hilltop, and so it wasn’t as dreadfully dusty. It was a place I wasn’t too happy going back to because the first time, a tall, dark, cute-faced Konkomba man had followed me all the way from his house to the roadside where I was to wait for my teammates, with his elder brother, to propose to me through him. He’d swept his arm in the direction to my left, saying that all the houses there were his, and that he had acres and acres of yams. Some of the women had told me that the Konkomba men were fond of marrying with charms that kept the women blind to better opportunities and stuck to them. He’d asked where I lived because he wanted to send yams to my home either in Accra, or where I lived in Kpassa; sacks of yams. I figured that the charm was possibly in those yams, so there was no way I was going to take them. My teammates had tried to convince me to, but I wasn’t about to start fighting the urge to elope to Sibi.

 

When we went back that day, I was anxious about running into him. I remembered the way he’d leered at me, exposing his thoughts. Thankfully, I didn’t. My interviews had run pretty fast, because the women on my list were made up of women whose children were all above age five, one who had just two tods, and one who had none at all – she’d been married for just about a year. When I went to her home, it was her husband I found. He looked to be not less than 50 years old, and spoke to me respectfully and with smiles, which was not my usual experience with the men I encountered. He told me his wife was in her dressmaking shop further up the hill, and got a little boy to go show me. When I got there, there was a plump, short-natural-haired girl seated behind a machine, and some others in an inner room cutting patterns. I mentioned the name of the man and asked where I could find his wife. She smiled and said “me nono” (that’s me). She was 17. It took a few seconds to get over my shock. I wasn’t expecting to meet a teen. She told me she had no children yet. She told me her husband’s first wife had had 5 kids for him, and so she didn’t feel pressured to give him any children yet. She told me her husband set up the dressmaking place for her. She told me her husband understood. She told me she had a boyfriend closer in age. She told me she was on injectables. She left me absolutely unsure how to feel, and equally unsure how she felt.

I sat there for a while, finalizing the e-questionnaire for later submission, and watched her shout instructions to those in the inner room. She was the boss.

As I walked back to the church building where we had been given permission to rest when we needed to, questions ran through my mind. Was it her husband who had sponsored her vocational training? Was that how come he married her? Is it a better case of child marriage, seeing that he treated her with respect and she seemed to have things going her way? Was that her way? Was that what she wanted? Was she not just making do with what she had? Was the man any better because he was “understanding”? How could I be thinking that? She was a child! Why wasn’t I enraged? Why wasn’t her situation making me sad? Everything had been unexpected and had ran off-script. What do you do when the story is not so straightforward? I wasn’t feeling what I thought I was supposed to feel. It was unsettling.

I laid down on a bench in the church hall and closed my eyes, not wanting to contemplate the situation further.

Or…

Had she been charmed?

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