I watched as they worked, so hard, hoping to make a difference, the children at their backs, task after another, they cared not of the scorching sun, of walking barefoot, of breaking down while at it they had to work. if only someone understood their pain, the agony they had to go through, most of them were married, for love you think? No, but to them they had no choice, they had to think of their children, of what the society dictated, behind closed doors they whispered, talking of the useless men they had married, of how tired they were of the beatings, of not being appreciated, of how hard they worked to please those men, but yet, they were just women, to cook, to care, to give birth, to beat, to use, to amuse, just women.
A week since I arrived to this beautiful valley, I had finally agreed to visit my friend, I taught her of the city life, its time I learn how to winnow, she said. She had warned me of how ignorant the people were around here, of enlightenment, of change, moving forward I called. After arrival, we had taken a walk through maize plantations, all excited for this place was a wonder, the shock I had on meeting Sarah, soaked in tears, the twelve year old had blood all over her dress, she couldn’t move, it took time to convince her to tell us what had happened to her, how could a leader in a society molest one in his care? I understood not how the father of such a poor soul would get goats as a payment for such damage, her poor mother was beaten for threatening to go to the police, Sarah had sought solitude at the maize plantation, good thing we arrived when we did, we took her to hospital, on speaking about it, my friend was condemned for talking back to her elders, for trying to change the way things were, the city life had corrupted her they said and her prostitute friend had come to infect the valley of her rotten ways, what parent allowed a girl to the city, she is just a woman, they said.
What a village, being a woman was a weakness one is born with, a man was a man depending on how many boys he had, I heard of a woman who was forced to another man to bear a son for the man she married, she did give him a son and yet the problem was her? Poor species, wife inheritance was bad enough, but the way women were treated around here, it was one to cry for, they were no better than a donkey, to work and be fed on grass. They would work to feed their children, and their drunken husbands, this is after washing off the urine and dirt they brought home, after a drinking spree, bragging on how they put their women to their place. Forcing themselves on their women was a way of things, ordering for food with no appreciation, of the burnt fingers, of the Smokey smelling hair, of the cracked feet, of the poor wrinkled face, of the abuse they took, the threat to be taken back to their mamas house, of the pain they endured for just being women.
Its no wonder they cooked with the Smoke filled firewood, to cry when no one noticed, yet if they spoke of gender violence, of how victimized they felt, of how they needed just a little appreciation, of how they wanted to be heard, of how they would rejoice in seeing their daughters educated and not married off, but then would that not make them hard headed? So I watched them work, scared of what fate awaited them, they had to survive a day, then another, I feared for them, for their children, feared for my friend, how could she bring up children here? The female ones would grow feeling unworthy with the male feeling superior and inconsiderate, should I say with no respect? Not even to their mothers. I looked at them, all calling for help but with their eyes, then I missed my father, my brothers missed the men I saw in the city carrying flowers for their women, I missed the men that knew how to respect women, the men who supported their women to push harder in their career, the men who cooked for their ladies just to appreciate them, I missed those men I saw applauding when a woman won, I missed the men that saw progress, victory, that saw power when a woman stood. I missed the men that saw no gender; to them it was not just a woman.
Just a woman, one that gave life to a man, a pure soul full of love, but to the not enlightened, she is a slave, an item to be owned. One to be possessed, adored, criticized, played with, a voiceless figure, to applause in silence when a man achieves, but did you know she can be more, more than just a woman?