So she said,
"Remember how you always say he’s a nice person? He wants to marry you."
I thought she was kidding. She told me that he was forty-five years old. I said,
And she kept going,
"Don’t worry. He has three wives and they willhelp take care of you."
"I don’t want to do this."
So after that it was ahuge fight in the house all the time. Then one day she said,
"I know you don’t love himnow but once you get
kakiya [genital mutilation],
you will learn to lovehim."
Soon after I woke up and she called me into her room and I saw all this beautifulclothing on the bed—dresses, jewelry, shoes—and she said,
"This is all from yourhusband. He wants you today. So tomorrow will be the day of kakiya."
"What! I am going to get married today?"
I had noidea what to do. The marriage proceeded and, after, they gave me the marriage licenseto sign, but I refused. My older sisters and brothers came, and we talked about it. They apologized for not doing anything to prevent things so far. My older sister was so upset.She told me not to cry—everything would be okay. She would make sure that nobody would do kakiya to me. But I didn’t believe her because there was nothing that she coulddo. I was somebody else’s wife now. She says,
"Don’t worry. Amaray and I will disguise you."
Amaray is what we call my mom; it means "bright."She told me not to sign the marriage license, told me not to worry. Everything would befine.
She came back in the middle of the night and we left the houseand crossed the border to Ghana.
The next available plane was to Germany.My sister gave me three thousand dollars, all the money she had. I got on the plane fromGermany to the United States by purchasing a passport. When the
immigrationofficer at Newark Airport
"Do you have any money?"
I showed herthe little money I had left and then told her that I wanted asylum. She said go sit overthere, and she would be with me shortly. So I sat waiting until she checked everybody and came to me. She said,
"Okay, tell me what you want from theUnited States."
I told her I wanted asylum. She told me I had to tell her what is theproblem. So I told her everything. Well, not everything, because it is so embarrassing.How could she understand?
I didn’t know the words even to say it inEnglish.
I didn’t know what it was called. I told her my father was dead and my mother had vanished, and my aunt wanted me to marry somebody I don’t want to marry and that I wanted to go back to school. That basically summarized everything—
I didn’tmention kakiya because I knew she probably couldn’t understandand she would also think I was crazy.
Whether I got asylum was up to the judge, she said, so I would go to prison, then see the consular official from my country,and then I could go home and be with my family.I started crying and screaming—telling her that I was only seventeen, and I didn’t doanything wrong, I didn’t want to go to prison. Then they brought the cops to the waitingarea where I was sitting.
Her supervisor said if I didn’t want to stay, then