The Runaway Bride
Batulo is 18 years old divorced and a mother to a 3-year-old son, she was brought up by her grandmother since her parents were so poor to support her and her 11 other siblings. When she was 15 years old her father and her grandmother arranged an early marriage for her to a stranger “I had no say in any decision so I silently cried and accepted my fate, and when I was 6 months pregnant he divorced me; rumors were that he had a habit of predating on young girls; all he wanted was to deflower me and off he went for another vicious circle in another city! He duped my poor grandmother and father into his quagmire, they never saw it coming and he never even paid for the dowry he promised them and my father become a laughing stock” she said with a mischievous smile.
Batulo went back to her grandmother home where she delivered her son and lived for 3 years until her current predicament.
“My uncle summoned me to my grandmother’s chambers and together they informed me that they had a suitor for me, my uncle emphasized that he is a very wealthy man though elderly” she said. Batulo went silent and started fondling with her fingers, she was pondering and from the small wrinkle on her nose she looked disturbed, then she cleared her throat and continued “the story was too familiar and I made a vow to myself: never again! Although I knew my input was of very little consequence. But I had to stand for myself so I looked at both of them in the eyes and said NO!” Her grandmother and uncle were baffled it was a taboo for a girl of her age to stand up to her seniors on such matters “my grandmother threaten me with a mother of all curses and I decided to play my last card and I told them that as per Islamic sharia only my father had the jurisdiction over my marriage, I knew that my father was mostly embarrassed and felt duped in my previous marriage scandal and my bet worked he was on my side and asked my uncle not to go against my wish” she paused and gazed in the horizon and she continued “but my father is a very poor man and his stern decision swayed none and my uncle had already taken 2 camels from my so called suitor and my grandmother said that she was the one who brought me up and they made the decision that I marry the old man as his 4th wife!
The ceremony was expedited and to my dismay guards were hired to make sure I don’t escape” she chocked on her words picked up a napkin and blew her nose cleared her throat and continued “but on the day of the wedding after the nikkah everyone was so busy and I found a window and become a runaway bride, it was a very long journey and I got to my father’s shanty in Mogadishu at midnight, I felt like a free bird and slept like a queen. “However, Batulo’s merriment was short-lived, her uncle had disappeared after taking extra 3 camels as dowry from Batulo’s suitor and now the suitor wants his dowry back or his wife since he claims to have been legally married to her. Batulo says “my mother is now pressuring me to go back and settle down as a 4th wife and my father keeps reminding me that he can’t afford to buy 4 camels or trace my uncle, I am now bewildered and confused but am scared that soon my parents may mortgage me off to this old man, I don’t have any energy left in me to fight and I have just decided to sit and wait for my doom again” Narrates Batulo.