By Thiyam Ningol, Dr. Nalini
Grace was only 13 yrs old, but she had the appearance of a fully bloomed late teenage girl. She was 5 feet 10 inches tall, had a slender body with a slim waist. The ever smiling face made her much more attractive. Her manner of talking was unique. She made everybody feel comfortable to talk to her. She sensed that boys of her age and older ones loved talking to her and they enjoyed her company. But to Grace, nobody was actually appealing. Secretly she admired only one person, she adored his intelligence, she respected his reserved nature, and she acknowledged his ambition. She wished Alex at least once gave her the chance to express her feelings.
Soon, very unexpectedly her wish was fulfilled and she shattered her life.
Alex was one year ahead of her in the class. That day was his last day in the school before he gave his primary school leaving examination. Alex too, like any other young boy of his age noticed the beauty of Grace, but he never thought of anything to do with her. Grace knew it was her last chance of seeing him. While the opportunity was there, she greeted him casually and wished him good luck for the exam. She extended her hands for a handshake. When she touched his hands, she found his hands shivering and sweating. She wanted to pull back her hands but his grip tightened and would not let go off her hands. There was a crowd of students near them but they did not notice anyone of them.
It was not that late in the evening but it was rainy season. Particularly, that day was a cloudy day. It became dark sooner than usual. Softly Alex whispered “let’s go somewhere”. Silently without a word, she followed where he was taking her. On the way it started drizzling. The drizzles quickened, turned into raindrops, heavier rain drops and then heavy rains. They took a shelter under a mango tree. Both were soaked in rain, dripping. With the blouse wet, all the youthfulness of Grace could not be hidden anymore. In the cold, Alex started burning with hot flushes, burning with desire; desire to have Grace for himself, himself with Grace in passion.
Inevitable happened. Grace gave in too. After that day, they never met again.
Grace’s mother noticed her daughter’s unusual behaviour. She was 7 months pregnant. She knew her husband too well. He would not hesitate to sacrifice his daughter to save him from shame. She arranged with her sister for Grace to go and stay with her for 2/3 months till she delivered. Luckily no complication happened. Grace delivered a healthy baby boy. Two weeks after the delivery, her aunt forced her to come back to her parents and leave the baby behind. She had to give her exams, class 7 exams. Grace could not concentrate. She failed badly. She could not even manage to get the last position.
Soon after the examination result was announced, she fled from her house. Demanded her baby back from the aunt and disappeared from their sight. She named her baby -Arnold. Arnold was everything she cared. She was prepared to do anything for Arnold. She managed to buy herself a bus ticket to come to a bigger town, to Dar es Salaam. She remembered her distant cousin sister telling her “in the city, you can disappear easily.”
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