I can’t believe the news that you are finally going to Conakry. Fanta, you have broken my heart! You have ripped my heart out with your hands and shattered it like glass into smithereens. I remember the first day you came to my house. You were a sweet baby girl with chubby cheeks and curly hair. Your tiny eyes had rings of sorrow around them. You could barely walk and talk, you were barely one year old. They had brought you from the hospital. They said that a woman had dropped you and ran away. No one knew her or could stop her.
They requested that I take care of you for a short while until they could ascertain the identity of the woman who brought you to the hospital, and establish contact with her to find out who she was. Oh, my Fanta, I can still recall that day. It was a wet and cold day. The rain had fallen all morning and the somber sun only showed its face towards the evening. I had gone to my newly cultivated sugar cane farm to inspect the level of damage by the rain. When I got there, i was relieved when I saw that the rain didn’t destroy the crop, and so, was in good mood when I returned to meet Dr Kaba and our village head, Chief Cellou waiting for me in my living room.
I told them that I was going to take care of you. I told them that if it was the will of Allah, your parents would be found. They thanked me profusely and were relieved because they had thought I would decline. Fanta, you were crying when I handed you over to Mariame my wife to give you some food to eat. I don’t know what she said to you that made you stop crying. She whispered something in your ears and you smiled, and meekly followed her to her part of the compound. From that moment, Fanta, I knew that you would stay with us for a long time.
That evening I walked in to ask after you. I saw you sitting on the floor eating To with Maffi gombo. I watched you cut the tiny balls of To, dipped them into the okro sauce and swallowed in quick succession. You had a ravenous appetite. I watched as Mariame gave you an additional serving to eat. As I walked away I was glad that the good natured Mariame was taking care of you, the way she would do to her children.
You didn’t have any problem settling down in my household. You got on well with everybody especially Ibrahim and Binta my children. They accepted you as one of their own and played with you. Fanta, you were an obedient, industrious and trust worthy child. You helped Mariame out in the farm and did the house chores without complaints. You used to follow her to the forest to gather firewood for cooking. You would carry the wood on your head every evening.
Fanta, you know, I waited for two years for your parents or any relative of yours to come and take you away from me. But no one came. Dr Kaba told me that no one had come asking after you. They had not been able to track down the woman who dropped you at the hospital. The village head advised me to take up the role of a father to you. He said that you were now my daughter. Fanta, I gave you a surname because you didn’t have one. I told you that your name is Fanta Diallo. I didn’t use my surname, Yaya, because of what I had on my mind.
You were a brilliant child Fanta. You learnt very fast. I used to watch you prepare Maffi hakko bantura all by yourself. I used to watch you repair things in the house. Sometimes I wished you were a boy but I was glad that you were a girl because of what I had in mind for you.
Although i had little formal education as a child, I know the value of education. So I enrolled you in school, like I did to my own children. I took you by the hand and walked to the primary school to meet the head teacher, who enrolled you in the school and wrote down your name. I paid the fees, bought the uniform and exercise books for you.
You jumped up with excitement when we got home that day. I knew that you couldn’t wait to start attending school. You woke up very early the next day to prepare for school. Mariama took you to school that day and for the rest of the week. After a week, you began going by yourself. Every morning I would watch as you leave the house wearing your yellow blouse and green skirt uniform with your books kept in the small brown bag that I had bought for you. I would watch as you walk with Hadiatou the neighbour’s daughter to school, gossiping with her.
You performed excellently at school, Fanta. You were always top of your class. Your teacher told me on the final prize giving day that you would make a good doctor. She said that you should go to the big university in Conakry. Fanta, I was not comfortable with the idea of you going away to study to Conakry because of what I had in mind for you.
When you entered high school, I married Zaynab my second wife. I asked Mariama to release you to Zaynab. I wanted you to stay with her in her part of the compound and help her with the household chores like you did to Mariama. Zaynab was not pleased to have you around, Fanta. I knew that she felt that I was giving you too much attention. She complained about you to me a lot. Fanta, i wonder why some women are like Zaynab. I wonder why they feel threatened when their husband pays attention to another woman even if the person is a small girl. I had to return you to Mariama for peace to reign in my house. You were happy Fanta, you told me that you loved Mariama.
I was very proud of you Fanta throughout your high school. Your teachers would tell me about your academic achievements in the market. At the local bar when I go to drink skol lager beer, some men would joke about marrying my brilliant daughter.
But Fanta you know you had been mischievous sometimes. Do you remember the day Mariama sent you to the stream to fetch water for her to use in cooking dinner for me? You went and met some other kids at the cashew nut tree at the back of Banguru forest. You stayed there, throwing sticks at the tree to bring down the nuts, cracking them open and eating them. Mariama waited for three hours without seeing you. When the night began to fall, she became worried and informed me of your disappearance. I went out searching for you. I found you munching cashew nuts under the tree. I took you by the hand and brought you back home without saying a word. Ibrahim cut a flexible branch from the kapok tree in the front of the house for me and I used it to whip you. You cried and yelled a lot that night. That night you refused to eat Mariama’s food and went to bed on an empty stomach. Do you remember this, Fanta?
I watched you grow into a young beautiful and graceful woman. I watched your body change into a curvy shape. I have watched your breasts develop into two big balls that began to attract the attention of young men to you.
Fanta, I didn’t want to see any man around you because of what I have in mind for you. Like a jealous lover, I embarrassed and chased away any man I saw near you. But Fanta you encouraged some of them. What do you find attractive in these immature effeminate looking men with no beards? A mature man should have a big compound like mine, a big farm and a thriving business before chasing after women.
Fanta, your teacher told me that you have been offered a scholarship to study Medicine at the university in Conakry after passing your final exams.
Fanta, when I asked you and you confirmed the news, I asked you not to accept the scholarship offer. This is because of what I have in mind for you. I have been wondering how to tell you this, I have been wondering how you would react…
It’s not been easy for me. I keep struggling to find the right words but Fanta but I just have to let you know that i love you! After all these years I can’t let another man get to you. I have always loved you right from day one. I had given you shelter and protected you like a father would to his daughter because I want you.
Fanta, you are a jewel to me, you are a gift from Allah to me. You are a sweet rose that needs to be handled tenderly. If you go to Conakry, I will lose you forever. I will lose you to the temptations of the big city. Stay with me in Macenta, Fanta, I would give you everything you need. Fanta, please I want to marry you. I know I am almost 52 years while you are just turning 18 but give me a chance to be your lover. Let this scholarship go, I will sponsor your university education after our marriage. Don’t leave me Fanta Diallo, you are my rainbow. Don’t leave me in the cold, be my third wife Fanta Diallo. I love you Fanta