"That was not the end of my sorrows. As you know, your grandparents and uncles all died in the war, as bombs were dropped on our village. I didn't mourn for them. I had suffered too much at their hands to care. But before that, I had to suffer a little more."
"What do you mean?" I asked, unable to believe that she could have suffered more.
"I mean that they died when I was 16. That was almost six years of further suffering before I was free."
"What happened?" I asked intently, metaphorically on the edge of my seat, as my handcuffs prevented me from actually sitting at attention. She sighed, picking up her now cool tea and taking a sip, crinkling her nose at the lukewarm water. I might have laughed had our conversation not been so depressing and serious.
"I fell in love."
This was not at all the answer I expected. I had expected some form of horrible beating, some physical or psychological attack. I stared at her for some time, not quite believing her.

"I don't understand," I said finally, finding no other words to express my confusion.
"When I was fifteen, I fell in love with a local boy. He was well educated, from one of the wealthier families in the village, and was very kind. I didn't know much kindness in my life, so his smile and flirtatious words whenever I saw him quickly made me fall for him. I began imagining a life together, away from the monstrous one I had with my family. I thought it was a perfect match. He came from a good family, had money to pay a bride price, and I was certain his status would win over my stepmother, who still controlled my life with an iron fist. But when I brought my idea to her, in the hopes that she would begin negotiations with his father, she just laughed.

"She told me that she already had a husband picked out for me. A wealthier gentlemen who was willing to give them three cows as a form of dowry in exchange for my hand in marriage. I couldn't imagine who would want me enough to give up three cows. I tried to think of villagers with that kind of money, but failed. Needing to know who she intended for me, I naively asked, thinking maybe it wouldn't be as bad as I suspected. I loved the boy from the village, but he was a bit young for marriage still.

"'Chief. Danjuma has asked for you,' she replied with a wicked smile. I still remember the horrible feeling that filled my stomach as she told me this. Chief. Danjuma was indeed a wealthy man. He became wealthy because he performed a vital service for the community, as my stepmother pointed out. Danjuma was the man that had performed that horrible procedure on me when I was a child.

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