The morning was bright and fresh, happy and cheery. Everyone or rather, almost everyone was up and about. Women were getting into their domestic duties; men, their family obligations; and young people, their chores.
The women could be seen sweeping all around their little compounds while their husbands prepared to set out for the day's work of checking traps, collecting latex from rubber trees, lumbering or even early morning hunting or fishing. This was not a sleepy community. Many of the men may be late risers, but most of the women had woken up long before daylight to prepare breakfast.
Yes, the sun was smiling affably and it seemed like every other normal day, but not everyone was feeling in sync with the weather. Newly-wed fourteen year old Caro was feeling apprehensive at the very least.
Today was the day appointed for her to officially assume the position of a wife in her middle aged husband's house. Right now, she was still in her father's house, pacing from wall to wall, experiencing the greatest moment of anxiety in her young life. She had a very important plan in mind and that plan must be executed before the next day. Why the rush, you ask? The key ingredient needed for the success of the plan had been promised her by a close friend and she wanted to receive it before she would leave for her new husband's house. Without that ingredient, her plan... in fact, there would be no plan at all. Her friend, Tina, had sworn on her life that she would deliver the item at the first sign of daybreak, but it was an hour past that time and still, Tina was missing in action.
Caro bit down hard on her finger as she regretted putting all her hopes on Tina's punctuality. She was one who never failed to have suitable alternatives, but this time, she could shamelessly say that there was no alternative to be found. She had to rely on Tina or nothing. But being disappointed like this? Haba!
As time went on, the speed of her pacing increased and she could hear herself praying. Very soon, she would be shipped off to the despicable creature she had been forced to marry and this chance would forever be lost. But wait... what was that? She came to a halt, her heart pounding like a jackhammer as she listened to what she thought was Tina greeting her mother outside. Speak of the devil... Tina walked in with a smiling face.
"So you are even smiling after keeping me waiting here for hours," Caro fumed.
"Eh eh eh, don't talk to me like that o," Tina shot back, trying hard not to break into a grin. "You should be thanking me for coming. If I didn't come now, you'll end up as one old cow with..."
"Come on, bring the thing here," her friend hissed.
Tina came forward and produced from the folds of her wrapper a little plastic bottle. Looking furtively around to ensure that they were alone, she carefully opened the bottle as Caro waited impatiently.
"Use small o, only small," she admonished as her friend took pinch after pinch of the powdery substance inside the bottle, stashing it into a little nylon.
"Tina, are you sure this thing will work very well?"
"Taste it na, you'll see what will happen. Ah ah. Do you want to take everything? It's my mother's own o."
"I know na," Caro nodded as she tied the half-filled nylon and secured it in the pocket of her frock. "I just hope it will work."
"Don't worry, it must work. My mother used to use it for my father when she wants to go out and it used to work everytime."
"Hmm. Then in that case, this my new husband will enjoy," Caro chuckled, clapping her hands merrily.
"So how much will you pay me?", Tina asked as she tucked the bottle back into her wrapper.
"Abeg, come and be going," Caro said, hurrying her towards the door. "I have to get ready. You and money eh... I'm sure it's money your enemies will use to kill you."
"God forbid! So I will do this big thing for you and you will not give me anything abi? Okay na, we shall see."
"Please, please, come and be going back to your father's house. Thank you. I will reward you in my next life."
After she had seen Tina out by way of her hands, Caro came back into the room and offered a short prayer of thanks to God. She checked the substance she had received, ensured its security and began preparations to leave for her new home.
But where will she go now? Where... how will she live? What and who will she call her own? Did she even do the right thing by running away?
When 14-year old Caro is suddenly chosen as a wife - the 6th wife - to a local chief old enough to be her father, she does not question her first instinct which is... escape! She runs to faraway Lagos to take refuge in the abode of a distant relative. But unfortunately, she is far from welcome!
Stranded in a strange city, with nowhere to go and no one to turn to, Caro braves the dangerous streets of Lagos in an endless quest for survival. But for how long can this runaway West African child bride survive on her own?