She sits alone in a hut, waiting for her mother to come and take her to Nkhata Bay, south of her village in Malawi, Africa. Earlier in the day when her mother rushed her from school, there was no time to even say goodbye to Leoni and Sephora, her best friends. Mother has only explained their hurried departure with a short comment, “We cannot afford to keep you any longer.”
Her father’s crops have suffered this year, and food is scare in their small village. Her little brother has been ill for a long time. It hurts to leave him.
A dog barks, somewhere a woman yells at her lazy husband. Time crawls.
Finally her mother appears in the doorway and beckons her to follow. They climb into a dented, dirty car waiting in the road. The driver is a stranger.
Mother doesn’t look at her as they sit in the back seat. A tear sits in the corner of one eye, and her hands are clenched tightly in her lap.
“Mayi, Mother,” the child whispers. “Please. Please tell me where you are taking me.”
“It is time for you to grow up, Daughter.” Her mother replies. “You will be the wife of a wealthy man in Nkhata Bay. You will be fed and live well. And we will have money to live.”
She looks at her mother in the darkness of the back seat, tears streaming down her cheeks.
“But Mayi, I am only in fifth grade.”
There is no answer.
jhg journal 01/2016