My Story – Twesa Ndovi

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Great! What a thick bundle of banknotes you have given me. This is a whole lot more of cash than what one can pay for my services in four months. In this business, never have I met a man like you. Isn’t it strange that you have driven me to this expensive hotel and you are saying you cannot sleep with me?  Are you serious that all you want is to ask me some questions without demanding the obvious? You are so strange.

Why did I become a prostitute? Well, this is my story. In my salad days, there was many a man who wanted to marry me but I was not interested in any of them. Of all these men, there was one man named Ovinda who kept asking for my hand in marriage. Each time he did, I rebuffed his marriage proposal outright.

Handsome? Of course he was handsome at least by village standards. Men can be funny, imagine Ovinda could follow me to the borehole, hide in the bush and on my way back when I was alone, he could reappear, stop me and tell me that he wanted to marry me. In the end, he became a nuisance to me. The other day he touched my breast while my hands were holding a pale of water on my head.

Mmmm! I didn’t pour water in his body but that thought crossed my mind. Now, I wish I did. I just told him that I would never accept to marry him no matter the situation. Surprisingly, he kept proposing to me each time we met.

Give him a chance? Maybe in another life and another world. He was not the type of a man I dreamt to marry in my life but the funny thing is that I ended up marrying him.

No! I didn’t accept his marriage proposal. I only married him because he fooled my kinsmen. You will digest what I will tell you to tell whether my marriage was craftily arranged or not. Some people told me that I was picked by the hand of fate to marry Ovinda but I don’t believe in fate.

How did I marry him? Well, this is my story. One Monday morning in June, I heard my father call my name with a loud unmistakable voice of an angry man while knocking on my door very hard. I was sleeping alone in the small hut after all my elder sisters got married. Children at a certain age are not allowed to sleep in their parents’ house that is why I was sleeping in a small hut just close to my parents’ house.

I pushed the door ajar, stepped outside and there was my father looking at me like a hungry predator maneuvering around its unsuspecting prey. Looking the other way, I saw Ovinda in a small short, barefooted and holding a gourd of water and a chewed stick on one end that saved as a toothbrush. My mother looked angry as well but said nothing.

Confused to see Ovinda? Yes, just as you would expect. In fact I had told my mother before this incident that Ovinda was persistently proposing to me and that I wasn’t interested in him. Then, my mother said, “So you have been lying to me all this time that you had no interest in Ovinda?”

No! I did not ask what went amiss. Just as I wanted, my father simply told me to keep quiet, pack my belongings and he immediately sent for my uncles and aunties. In a wink, the compound was filled with lots of relatives –uncles, aunties and cousins. Some of them were shaking their heads as they took their seats under a big mango tree in the compound. My mother told me to stay in my hut and that I would be called later.

Of course, they held a meeting in my absence but something about forced marriage crossed my mind though I hardly could get the gist of the rhubarbs that my kinsmen traded to be that sure. After an hour, I was called and told to sit in the middle of the gathering with Ovinda. The people who surrounded us looked at me in disgust.

My eldest uncle stood up and told me in no uncertain terms that I was a disgrace and that from that day; I was going to marry Ovinda. I looked at Ovinda; he smiled from ear to ear. Then, I took a peek at my mother, her face was completely deadpan. The kind of expression that would make your inside leap with fear. At last, I turned to my father; his facial expression was that of my mother.

In the long run, my uncle said to me, “we gather Ovinda has been proposing to you with a view to marrying you but you have always turned down his proposals. Today, we have decided that you should marry him and we have a good reason for making such a decision. I will ask Ovinda to stand up and say what he was doing here early in the morning.”

Yes, he did stand up and what he said paralyzed every part of my body. There was no aorta of truth in what he said. He stood up and said, “When my girlfriend’s father woke up early in the morning, he found me cleaning my teeth outside his daughter’s hut. He asked me what I was doing so I told him the truth. I told him that I spent the entire night with his daughter in her hut. He became angry and called all of you here. Now, you have made a decision that I should marry her. I cannot say no to that because that is what our culture demands. If a man sleeps with unmarried woman, he must marry her. Therefore, I wholeheartedly accept to marry her”

No! Ovinda lied but my relatives chose to believe him. My kinsmen escorted me to Ovinda’s hut. We met her parents and everything was settled. I couldn’t come to terms with the reality. I never loved him and I only stayed for a week, stole his money and run away to start prostitution in this city. I couldn’t accept to stay in the dark shadows cast by the evil culture.  It is now four years and I have never gone to meet my parents.

No! I never slept with him. In fact he beat me up for four consecutive days for refusing him his conjugal rights. He even threatened to consult the marriage advisers. I had no choice but run away when the opportunity arose. That is why I am a prostitute. No one should judge me without having walked in my shoes. I am very happy now and life is just normal.

What! You are a researcher? It is funny that some non-governmental organizations spend lots of money trying to find out the reasons girls and women start prostitution. Everyone has a story and I have just told mine.

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Author: Twesa Ndovi

A Malawian writer, Twesa Ndovi had some of his stories published in the local papers between 2008 and 2010. He enjoys reading and writing.