Girl at large
Ma Sala and Razak wondered just where Darra could be, even as they wandered and inquired about when and where she was last seen.
The woman was deeply perturbed. Should she make a short trip to Tuya and report just how close she had come to finding Darra?
And if she did, what would be the repercussions for poor Ma Gezele, her sister, who had done everything – fair and foul – to shield Darra?
Darra had vanished right before them; there couldn’t be any other conclusion.
Though miles away from the clutches of haunting customs and hunting relatives, Darra was enjoying little respite on her Techiman-bound journey. In the middle of the vast savannah stretching southward, the bus broke down. Exhaustion and hunger found them sooner than food, water and lodging could, in an area notorious for being a haunt of bandits who ravaged stranded travelers.
Terror crept in, as some passengers related grim details of such horrifying encounters — never mind that few of them had actually experienced any of that horror. In her seat, Darra quivered.
After a few clinks and clanks of bolts and spanners, the driver-turned-mechanic revived the good old engine with the help of some passengers — and away they breezed. Grueling hours ticked off the clock, and sunrise found them approaching Techiman, the city famous for its trade and commerce. Many from afar – including Mion and surrounding villages – flooded Techiman’s thriving market, one of the biggest in West Africa.
In Techiman’s sheer size and buzz, Darra felt some security. Surely, in a place so large and busy, a lone girl could easily blend in without ever being sniffed out. Still, bent on making her escape airtight, Darra could not help but wonder if there was a bigger, more secure refuge within reach. Indeed there was, as her inquiries revealed: Sunyani, capital of the region and not many kilometers away. She had just enough to get her there, but was clueless about what would follow her arrival. After a night at the lorry station spent battling mosquitoes behind a booth, reaching Sunyani was the one firm resolve Darra woke up to.
So she hit the road again; thankfully, the trip was smoother this time, taking Darra to her destination without much trouble. The sun was right up and beating down mercilessly on anything beneath it. Pangs of hunger had Darra feeling miserable, but, with no money left on her, how could she get rid of them?
Then she heard it: a voice rattling fluent Sisaala.
Daara looked around, scanning for who spoke: cue a girl who looked far older than she actually was.
Surely, it was her; the peculiar scarification on those cheeks confirmed that much. Ah, here was one of her own!
Driven on by the ‘vim’ of hunger, Darra said a greeting in the language — her native tongue — to which the girl, Zoule, responded. With that warm exchange breaking the ice, Darra wasted little time in appealing for help.
The feedback was favorable. Led along to a shed around the bus terminal, Darra followed her new ‘friend’, but not without a bit of apprehension. Every now and then, she looked around for landmarks to guide her return — if she had to.
The girl spoke Twi — the local language — little better than Darra could and barely managed to communicate with the trader she lived and worked with, to whom she took Darra. After being given something to eat, a conversation ensued, facilitated with some difficulty by Darra’s guide and translator.
Even after just a few days, Darra found Sunyani more comfortable than Tamale or even Techiman. Fears of being found had finally been banished. And unwholesome company, like Amina’s, was not a problem either. Here, she felt truly welcome, if not exactly at home. Darra missed her family, of course, but now she could only forge ahead. That was the harsh reality, but just how harsh would life itself prove going forward?
She’d soon find out.
When The Sun Pointed South is a weekly series — exclusive to Daily Mail GH every Saturday — that tells the entirely fictional and incredibly inspiring story of a young girl who escaped the rigors of life in Ghana’s North, braved odds down South, and emerged smiling. Get the previous episode here if you missed it.
Mathy Adortsu — Daily Mail GH