THE FUTURE IN HER HANDS

Chiadi listened as the rain poured heavily on the roof, the rhythm sounded like the beating of drums at the village square during the new yam festival. She sat with her legs folded on the mat and leaned against the wall. She prayed the rain will keep the suitors from coming for her hand today. She didn’t want to get married, she wanted to go to the university to become a doctor. She had passed her senior secondary exam and her jamb with flying colors and had secured admission at the City university which had always been her dream. She even passed the local government scholarship exam which was given by the richest man in the village Chief Osita Okafor. She was so happy about this and had already started packing her bags to resume school when her aunt told her that they have found a husband for her and they were coming to pay her bride price. She was 19 and she didn’t have an any interest in getting married which she told her aunt who in turn called her an ungrateful child. After taking her in after the death of her sister who got pregnant out of wedlock and died at childbirth, she should be thankful that they had put her through primary and secondary school and be content with that. If she got married to Obi Okolo the rich trader from the neighboring village, she will help out at his shops and also pay them back for raising her.

She had met with Chief Osita the day they awarded her the scholarship, it covered her tuition and accommodation till she finished the university and also a stipend every month for food and maintenance. All she needed to do was report at the university with the letter given her. She had hidden the letter under her Ghana must go bag as she didn’t tell her aunty about the scholarship. Her worry was that if they married her off, she won’t be able to go to school and become like all the powerful, independent women she saw whenever she turned on the TV when her aunty was not around. She made up her mind to run to the city, she had saved enough money from the little pocket money her uncle was kind enough to give her for transport when she was still in secondary school as her school was quite a distance from there house. She will enter the local bus to school and walk back home after school. Her aunty had never promised to send her to the university but she always assumed that she will since her eldest son was already studying there. The news of the marriage came as a surprise as they never discussed it with her. She had seen the look of sympathy on her uncle’s face when her aunty broke the news to her, but there was nothing he could do as it seemed the wife was always in charge.

The rain was still falling heavily as she stood up to go and warm the soup her aunty had made for her suitor and his people during the day, it was almost sunset and she knew they will not be coming again.  Her aunty came into the kitchen to tell her that her husband and his people will be coming tomorrow as the rain had spoilt the already bad road. When she left, Chiadi sat on the kitchen stool and cried, she cried for her mother who had left her in this miserable world and cried for her future which was unknown and which she has decided to take into her own hands. That night, while everybody slept, she stuffed her belonging into the Ghana must go bag she had bought from the small shop down the street and snuck out of the house, she will catch the first bus to the city and head to the university which will be resuming the day after tomorrow.

The university was so quite when she arrived on Sunday. She entered the catholic church by the gate and sat down at the seat on the back of the church. Later in the day as she went out to look around, she noticed students were already coming in with their luggage. She took her Ghana must go and headed in the direction where she saw the cars carrying the luggage going, which she learned  was where hostels were located and where would later become her home for the next 6years. The hostel provision store was open when she got there and she was so thirsty. She walked into the store to buy a sachet of water, she was drinking the water greedily when a chubby girl walked up to the store to buy soft drinks. She introduced herself as Tina and asked her if she was living in the hostel too. Chiadi went on tell her she just got admission and she didn’t have a hostel yet. Tina invited her to stay in her room as her roommates were not coming back till the upper week and by then a hostel would have been assigned to her. Tina she later learnt was a 2nd year medical student and who would later become her best friend over the years, who will be there for her during all her troubles and her success, giving her words of encouragement, who sat in the crowd with Chief Osita who later took an interest in her life and became the father she never had and cheered when she got the award for the best graduating student in the school of medicine and got several offers from the best hospitals in the city.

1st year and 2nd year where the hardest for Chiadi as she had to adjust to city life, live on the little stipend that was barely enough to cover her feeding, talk more of buy other necessities. It was during her 3rd year, when her performance report had gotten to her sponsor Chief Osita who could not believe such a genius existed, had come to pay her a visit. After hearing her story, he had taken it upon himself to make sure she never lacked anything. It was Chief Osita who after she graduated with the best result had told her to choose any university of her choice abroad to further her education if she wanted and who had been overjoyed when his son who had a thing for her from the first time he saw her asked for her hand in marriage.

She will never forget the look on her aunty’s face when she ran out to see the fine luxury cars parked outside her compound on the day she and her fiancé Osita junior and his relatives, had arrived in the village to seek their consent to marry her. They had shamefully collected her bride price and other gift items and have been marveled when she sent them a flight ticket to attend the white wedding months after.

Years later she will tell her daughters her story and let them know that you can take your fate in your hands and decide that this is what you want to be.

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