Mary rose and walked amidst parents, students, and guests, shifting weights from side to side. The only voice heard was for booing and jeering from pupils. The booing overtook the only cheering from lower classes as others joined the suit of their seniors. The parents murmured to each other to get a hint of the reason behind the jeer. The guest's curiosity did, beyond no doubt, want to know what was happening.
Contrary to this, there was supposed to be joy and cheering for the leading pupil overall in all activities. Additionally, a community believed that boys are better than girls; the happiness would be for her proving the opposite. She and her mother, however, knew the reason behind what was happening. She felt like fading away when she faced her mother and saw a face full of agony. The booing had increased as parents joined in after knowing what was happening. The teachers calmed them down, but mostly the deputy headmaster, Miss Janet, who was on Mary's side. Position two and three were called upon to join Mary on the podium. As opposed to what Mary received, the pupil and parents applauded them.
Mary was a pupil at Wonders Primary School. She was the firstborn of seven, and her mother, Elizabeth, was the fourth wife of Chief Zeku in Gaturiri village. Chief Zeku was a very popular chief known to be very influential and followed traditions very strictly. He was also known for his strict measures taken for anyone who went against the traditions. It didn't matter whether the person was of his blood. Nobody would have thought that on this dreadful day, his daughter would go through the embarrassment. But from his facial expression, bloodshot eyes which scared the wits out of everyone and furrowed eyebrows hinted anger. He sat on the podium as one of the guests of honor and as the chief of the village. But why was he angry? Is it because of Mary or the crowd for jeering his daughter?
Wonders Primary is the only School in Gaturiri Village. Prize giving day was one of the most anticipated events of the year. Most people did not look forward to it because of appreciating their pupils but mostly because it ushered to a new phenomenon. An event viewed to be more important than school. It was also practiced for ages and transformed most girls into being women. Girls would be circumcised, and later after a month or more of healing, married off to suitors the parents found for them. Girls' circumcision was happily accepted since people would shower those who have gone through the rite of passage with lots of gifts. All girls talked of the event and eagerly waited for it except Mary.
As Mary stood in the podium, waiting for her gift, memories swirled her mind. She was not only focused on her studies but looked forward to going to university and become a lawyer. However, her determination and hard work would be futile. It was against her wish to go through her circumcision, for she knew the dangers associated with that. Her mother had told her of stories of people losing their lives through loss of blood. Others got complications that affected their entire lives.
Moreover, getting married will hinder her from achieving her dream. She wanted to become a lawyer so that she would fight against girl circumcision of girls and the right for education. She would get money to improve the lives of her parent's living conditions. Just like the people living in the city as well as improves her village in terms of infrastructure. The world for her and her mother a few days before the prize-giving day was a real hell. She had told her dad that she was not going to be circumcised, and things had changed from love to hatred. He accused the mother of advising her to avoid the rite. Chief Zeku had turned to a sour man. His thick lips always puckered as if he had eaten lemons. She thought his breath smelt like limes for the only thing that came out of his mouth was bitter accusations and insults. He felt that her daughter was a disgrace and swore to force her circumcised or banish from that village. Mary would drift to sleep with tears in her eyes.
Mary remembered disclosing to her best friend, Irene, that she was not willing to undergo the cut. She, however, did not leave her expectations to keep it a secret. Within some two days later, the whole school knew about it. She would have gone through the rite two years ago only that she faked sickness. Every pupil had started avoiding and throwing insults on her saying she was a big child with breast. She only stomached the abuses and allowed them to torment her. What a pity! Now everyone in her school knew she was afraid of the cut hence a coward. Her stand brought her embarrassment on this day.
She was brought back to reality by a soft touch from Miss Janet, who gave her a basin as her gift. She found herself blinking to stop the tears from falling. She paved her way back to where she was seated as her feet trembled and sought extra energy to walk. She wished she had not held the position of being an overall best student as it would have saved the embarrassment. The adage goes that a person should suffer before gaining from his travails. But at this stage of her life, she was convinced. Persuaded that her miseries could never be matched by her any future gain. Punish a person according to the gravity of her offense. But what crime had she done to receive this treatment! Her refusal to be circumcised, which poses a lot of threats and will do more harm than good. Mary sat all lonely at the back of the hall. The first tear broke free, and the rest followed in an unbroken stream. A thing of one's own remains one's personality; therefore, her best performance was her effort, but how would they save her from her state.
Several guests gave their speeches, but Mary's absentmindedness would not allow her to get anything said. Amidst the guest was Mr. Mark, who was sent by the government to see the school progress. Two policemen accompanied him, for they had heard of strange stories of insecurity in the village. On a rare occasion, but it can be viewed as a God-given savior and opportunity for Mary's agony. His chance to address the gathering came. Everyone applauded him, for they regarded him as an essential guest. He gave a short speech after which to everyone's surprise; he called Mary in front of everyone. Little did they know that he got all information about her from Miss Janet? He looked so touched by the events that happened but could only wait for his time to speak. Mary's, mind reeling, gathered all strength to move to the front. Mr. Mark's voice made her feel puffed up with confidence and power to walk through the crowd, which was already cursing her. Holding Mary's shoulders, he said, "It's a pity to treat this bright girl with a bright future in such a rude manner that I have witnessed today," he paused. Murmuring was head amongst the pupils and parents as the elders and the chief faces reflected disappointment and anger. "I have a tender spot for broken things and therefore, will take this girl and sponsor her through her education till university. Female circumcision is not healthy, and if it is against her wish, no one is to force her. I am......." Interrupted by the voice of an angry father, Chief Zeku, "how dare you to talk ill about our traditions!"
When he dared to speak, the parents started hurling insults on him. He had no option than to leave as an angry man with Mary. He started living, holding Mary's hand only to meet face to face with the stubborn chief. Chief Zeku slapped him, and the rest of the crown followed the suit of throwing anything at him. Boom! Boom! Those were the sound of guns. The agitated crowd dispersed each running to their directions. "Good work!" Mr. Mark appreciated the police who accompanied him as he led Mary to his car, and they set off to the city. He promised Mary for a good life and education until she fulfills her dreams.
In conclusion, the world always turns, and the candle still burns, one can get the things she yearns. Mary promised herself to leave her dream. Indeed Mr. Mark ended my Mary's tears.
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