Brimstones and Rainbows: Memoirs of a Child Bride by Ololade Akintoye

Why do you smell like a dead rat?” Ajantala demanded, startling Iyunola from her sleep. He had not touched her since the delivery, and she had been dreading the day he would come to her room. She wished that he would ignore her forever. But here he was, seated right next to her on her mat. He had yanked the blanket off her body and was looking down at her with disgust.

“I asked you a question,” he raised his voice. “Did you defecate on yourself?” he demanded, jumping to his feet as soon as the stench trapped beneath her wrapper filled the room. “Does my wife now wet the bed?” he spat at her, his voice ringing out into the night like a war drum. She was exposed. “I started leaking since the baby,” Iyunola whispered, rising to her knees, hands clamped together in appeal.

“What baby?” He barked, landing a hot slap across her face. “You mean the one you sacrificed to your evil coven? You wretched abiku! As if it isn’t enough that you killed my son, you have also become a leaking basket. How long did you think you could hide this from me?” He yelled, grabbing her by the neck till her feet dangled, and dropping her suddenly so that her back landed on the hard floor.

“You disgust me!” he said, spitting in her face.

“Please,” Iyunola wept profusely, shaken by terror.

“Don’t you dare speak to me with your filthy mouth ever again! Your days are over in this house.” “I beg you, please …”

“Of what use is a filthy pig to me? A woman who can’t keep her husband warm on a cold night is useless! A woman who cannot birth a living child is as good as a witch! Get out of my sight before I throw you out myself!” He charged at Iyunola, who managed to scramble to her feet and stumble out of the hut into the night, wailing. The household was awake by now. She noticed the dim lights from their oil lamps streaming out through the slits between their doors and windows. She knew that by daybreak, the news of her incontinence would spread throughout the village and there would be no place to hide in Ojiji…

Also featured in our latest issue is an extract from the book- Brimstones and Rainbows- a gripping account of the strength and courage of Ruby, an orphaned girl in a third world region, forced into a child marriage at the age of 12, and her journey to healing and freedom after suffering from a debilitating childbirth complication, known as obstetric fistula.

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