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Jeremeeh Kousse collections: Tales from the savannah 15.

By Jeremeeh Kousse.
Jeremeeh Kousse is a playwright. A griot and a comedian.
He is also a crypto researcher.

From his collections: Tales from the savannah 15.

Assouama was known far and wide for her extraordinary beauty. Growing up in Esuk Nsidun, close to Duke Town Secondary School, she often turned heads as she walked to Bedwell Secondary School, where she was a student. Her father was a modest shopkeeper, and her mother sold crayfish and seafood at Urua White, providing just enough for their small family.

From the moment Assouama blossomed into adolescence, her beauty became the talk of the region. Stories of her allure spread like wildfire, reaching cities and towns far beyond their village. Suitors flocked to Esuk Nsidun from Lagos, Douala, Kinshasa, Nairobi, and even as far as Dakar and Accra, all hoping to win her hand in marriage. However, Assouama was notoriously picky, finding fault with each potential suitor. Some were too old, others too young; some were too arrogant, others too meek.

Her mother, ever the pragmatist, tried to counsel her daughter, urging her to consider the suitors seriously. “Beauty is fleeting, my daughter,” she would say. “A good match could secure your future and ours.” But Assouama, confident in her beauty and desirability, paid little heed to her mother’s advice. Her father, disappointed and frustrated, eventually stopped speaking to her, resigning himself to a bitter silence. He had dreamed of a wealthy son-in-law who would elevate their family’s status and fortune, but it seemed this dream would never be realized.

Years went by, and the once-endless stream of suitors began to dwindle. Assouama watched herself in the mirror, noting the subtle changes that time etched onto her face. Her parents passed away, leaving her alone with her younger brother, who was a student at Boys High School in Oron. Quiet and introspective, he too had harbored hopes that his sister would marry well, but these hopes faded with each passing year.

Eventually, unable to watch their family’s fortunes decline any further, her brother joined a group of adventurers and set off to sea. He ended up in Panya, where he found a job teaching English. His departure left Assouama even more isolated.

In the years that followed, Assouama found herself alone and increasingly overlooked. The vibrant, confident young woman who had once captivated everyone was now a shadow of her former self. Eventually, she married Ete Ba, a widower and a fisherman whose only possession of note was his canoe.

The villagers, who had once gossiped about her endless suitors, now whispered, “In the absence of fish, one can eat frog.” They saw her marriage as a stark contrast to the grand union they had once expected for the region’s most beautiful girl.

Life with Ete Ba was modest but stable. She found solace in the simplicity of their existence, and though it wasn’t the life she had envisioned, it was a life nonetheless. The village moved on, new stories and new faces replacing the old, but the tale of Assouama served as a poignant reminder of the transient nature of beauty and the impermanence of youth.

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