Darra pushed on, further and farther into the dark, careful to evade any attention. Each time she was tempted to tread at a relaxed pace, fear of being apprehended and brought back to face Ma Aisha’s wrath sped her steps.
Oh, the horror!
Then there was Ma Gezele, tearfully monitoring her daughter’s fading outline until she could see no more, and only then contemplating what the unfolding departure meant for her and the rest of the family back home. And home she returned to resume lying by her husband, as if nothing ever happened. She might have been still on the straw mat, but the woman’s mind wandered.
Did she — and her daughter — really go unnoticed during their stealthy operation?
And, oh, that rustling she heard on her way back — was it just the wind at work or a force far more animate?
Far away, now covering kilometers, Darra had her own worries. As dawn approached, the faint light and rumbling sound of a motorcycle pierced the thick foggy stretch.
“Am I being pursued?” Darra wondered.
The sound seemed to approach suspiciously fast, and she ducked into the thicket along the dirt road as a precaution.
The bike got closer and Darra peered into the dark to see its rider: a middle-aged man presumably returning to Mion after conducting some business of his in one of the nearby villages — not hers, thankfully. Darra emerged from hiding just when he got close enough, pleading for a ride and convincing him with some made-up story. Kind enough to not deny a young girl help, the fellow picked her and rode on.
These events had taken place too fast, and neither Darra nor Ma Gezele could, with utter certainty, tell each grain of the hourglass. It was soon day, and Ma Gezele was still weaving an intricate excuse to save her own neck, now her precious daughter had been extricated. Messengers from the shrine were sent to notify the candidates and their families about the early commencement of the rites and, of course, the bitter consequences of not submitting. At this, Ma Gezele’s heart almost jumped out of her mouth.
Darra, though, had no such headache. She was now in Mion, although still a long way from safety. The rider reluctantly let Darra off, as her demeanor only invited suspicion. Almost immediately, she melted into the surrounding neighborhood, secured a quick change of clothes among some bushes and, with the little money in her pouch, got some food.
Doing all she could to steer clear of any company, be it in known places or — God forbid — with known faces, Darra got onto a bus at the station bound for Tamale, the regional capital. There, on her arrival, Darra’s escape was complete — well, almost. Instead of finding her relatives as instructed, she rather sat around looking all glum in a slum near the lorry park, sank into deep thought and worry.
In that state she remained until a familiar voice — belonging to a young man, an old classmate — broke the mental spell. Startled, she almost gave bound. His family relocated to the city some five years ago, but hardship had forced him onto the streets, fending and providing for himself each day.
The two spoke at length, with the boy eager to find out what Darra’s mission was and the latter just as keen not to let a word of that slip. Miles from home, and with Darra not in any haste to seek out her relatives, she was now almost untraceable. The village and its ‘threat’ seemed far behind Darra, but not her bigger concerns.
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