PLEASE, LET ME READ

PLEASE, LET ME READ

It is a fine morning in the village of Matisi.

It is around 4am, and I am already up by the 2nd cock crow. I am supposed to go a 5 kilometre distance, to fetch water for cooking and bathing, for my brothers and parents. With me, I have three 20- litre jerricans in a wheelbarrow. I can feel the cold seeping through to my bones. I try to rush so as to finish with my morning chores early and spare some time to read a magazine I borrowed from my teacher about spacecrafts.

Two hours later, I am back with the water and have to start setting the fire to prepare tea for the family Mother is in the farm tilling to the sugarcane and beans. Dad is listening to the radio, Radio Jambo to be specific for the morning musings. Wesonga, Kamau and Kibet, my brothers, are in their “simba” (men’s house after being circumcised), reading for the exams which are to start in a few days’ time. As the tea is brewing in one meko (firewood gas), I am peeling the potatoes and setting them up in the other meko to boil. My brothers finish preparing, and leave for school, and I follow two hours later. “You have not fed the pigs! What is wrong with you, stupid girl! My mom shouts.” I will be given the fourth punishment this week to wash toilets for being late, mother. And that means I will miss a half day’s classes,” I reply back.” Why do you care so much about studies, anyway. A real and respectable woman is that who knows how to do house chores, farm in the land and take care of the family at home. Why do you care anyway, since we will be arranging a wedding for you on your fourteenth birthday,” says mom. My heart sinks, and hot tears escape from my eyes.

I start thinking about my dreams of becoming a spacecraft engineer. I start thinking about having to sleep with a man almost my father’s age, because he is my husband, and that is our tradition. I start to think about my small belly holding a pregnancy for nine months, and being called a mother. And in that moment, I just want to run away. My community believes that the only value a woman brings on the table is bringing bride price home, and giving birth to children. But I have dreams bigger than that. I want to make rockets, spacecrafts and scapecships and travel to the moon, to Mars and explore the unkown galaxies and planets. Please, please, please, will you not let me read?

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